Most of our clients don’t have the luxury of unlimited ad spend – especially given the economic difficulties that have arisen due to the COVID-19 outbreak. So as their PPC managers, we’re always looking for quick, easy ways to reduce their cost per click (CPC) figures and increase the ROI they’re getting from their Google Ads campaigns.
It might sound too good to be true – but you really can make more money from this powerful paid search platform (even during these trying times) just by making simple adjustments to your campaign settings.
In this post, we’re going to bring you our best tips for generating a better return from your PPC advertising efforts without increasing your budgets.
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To give yourself the best chance of attracting customers who are ready to buy – and not those who are still in the research phase – you need to be using transactional keywords.
These are terms that indicate the user’s end goal is to complete some sort of online action.
Informational keywords are the kinds of phrases people use when they’re comparing their options or researching a particular topic. These kinds of keywords very rarely lead to a sale or action, because the individual has low commercial intent to begin with – so keep them out of your strategy.
Broad match targeting can help you reach a very wide audience, but it will trigger your ads for any search phrases that are vaguely relevant to your product or service – even synonyms, misspellings and abbreviated versions of your preferred keywords.
By adopting a broad match strategy, you’re leaving it up to the algorithm to think of suitable keyword variations, then stop showing your ads for searches that it believes aren’t driving any clicks. In theory, this can save you time. But by taking this gung-ho approach and leaving the hard work to Google, the costs can soon start to add up – and you can end up paying for irrelevant traffic that doesn’t convert.
Most businesses benefit from using [exact match] or “phrase match” keyword types. [Exact match] and “phrase match” keywords will generally help you achieve a higher click through rate, which should result in a better conversion rate.
The way you structure your ad groups can have a huge effect on the success of your campaigns. Some businesses choose to target multiple keywords with the same ads – but unfortunately, this often means they’re paying for clicks from search terms that they didn’t really want to target in the first place.
Single Keyword Ad Groups (SKAGs) are exactly what they say on the tin: they’re ad groups containing just one targeted keyword, or multiple match types of the same keyword.
Why do they work so well?
Because if you’re only using one keyword per ad group, you can make your ad copy extremely specific to the term you’re targeting. Users – and Google – will know what to expect from your landing page. And crucially, your click through rates will skyrocket, as will your conversions.
Google will assign a Quality Score (QS) to each of your ads. This is a measure of how relevant your ads are to the keywords you want to target. Its algorithm will give your efforts a rating of between 1 and 10, and this will be based on:
Your Quality Score will have a direct impact on your search performance, because ads with a higher QS generally rank higher and generate lower cost per clicks (CPCs). So, if you want to increase your exposure and lower your fees, work on improving the factors listed above. (And use SKAGs – they’ll help with your keyword-to-ad relevancy).
Not enough businesses are making good use of Google Ads’ negative keywords feature. This tool allows you to add a list of keywords to each ad group that you don’t want your ads to appear for, limiting exposure to the wrong kind of audience and keeping click wastage to a minimum.
The trick is to analyse your search terms reports regularly to identify the keywords that aren’t relevant or aren’t converting well. To save time, you can use Shared Library Negative Keyword Lists, which can contain up to 5,000 keywords and be applied across two or more campaigns.
Even if your campaign is performing well, there’s no need to settle for your current conversion rate. Always split test variations of each landing page to find out which version generates the most actions.
Don’t be tempted to trial two pages with completely different designs, though. Change one thing every time you split test so you know which element of the layout, copy or imagery has had the desired effect. We often use Google Optimise to dynamically change elements on a page, but other platforms like Optimizely, Convertize and Unbounce can work just as well.
If you’ve found that certain keywords or ads within your campaigns are more profitable than others, it makes sense to allocate more budget to these areas – but still set a maximum amount that you are willing to pay per click. You can do this by adjusting your keyword bids manually.
Alternatively, you could try Smart Bidding. It’s an automated bidding system that works out how likely it is that the user will click on your ad, based on their language, their location, the time of day and many other factors. It then adjusts your maximum cost per click (CPC) based on this calculation.
In our experience, it’s not the best approach; it takes Google time to ‘learn’ your campaigns, and in the meantime, the data it’s using to amend your bids may not be reflective of your target audience. However, its enhanced cost per click (ECPC) feature can be useful for conversion-first targeting.
If certain keywords just aren’t generating the traffic or conversions you’re hoping for, switch them off and refocus your efforts elsewhere.
In the Campaigns tab, sort your keywords by conversion rate. Pick out the keywords that have a high number of clicks, but a low conversion rate compared to the rest of the account, then pause them. This way, you’ll cut out the deadwood, and your budget will automatically be allocated to keywords that are better performing.
Make sure, however, that you extend the date ranges before making any drastic changes. If a certain term hasn’t performed very well in the past week or two, but was converting well several months ago, something else within your campaign – such as the ad copy, landing page or bidding strategy –may have changed to bring about this result.