Paid campaigns and PPC optimization are valuable assets to any marketing campaign and provide businesses with quick access to new audiences and boost lead generation, website traffic, engagement, and sales. However, if not optimized properly, PPC ads may become a substantial money drain without sufficient ROI to make up for the time and resources they require.
Ad optimization is a complex process that requires time, attention to detail, and strategic thinking. Even if you have already put deliberate effort into setting up a PPC, there’s a fair chance that there’s room for improvement. However, you may not need to fully revamp your campaigns to optimize them. Tweaking here and there may be enough to improve your click-through rates and conversions, and ensure that you are spending your marketing dollars well.
In this article, we’ll look at 8 actionable PPC optimization tips that can save your campaigns from failing, and get you back on track.
1. Be Diligent with Keyword Optimization
Keywords are the foundation of PPC campaigns and if you don’t get them right, you may not reach the desired audience. Furthermore, you risk wasting money on clicks that have no chance of conversion, or that deliver low-quality leads that may not provide value to your funnel.
The tasks listed below should be revisited regularly to make sure your strategy is up to date.
Perform Keyword Research
The number one mistake that even experienced marketers may make is to perform an initial keyword research when building their accounts and leave it to that. The popularity of search terms is constantly changing, and there may be new prominent high-volume keywords you are not targeting. Fresh additions to your strategy may result in more impressions and a click-through rate increase.
Furthermore, it’s a good practice to regularly revisit keyword groups. They should contain relevant variations and long-tail keywords, and be organized in subgroups for better targeting.
Revise Keyword Biddings
A keyword may have high volume and great conversion potential, but if your bidding is too low, it may still deliver poor results. Make sure to delegate enough budget to such prominent search terms and monitor how they perform after the changes.
However, if you give them a week or two and they still aren’t converting, you should consider pausing them, and investigating additional optimization factors that may affect your PPC success.
Google Ads’ manual bidding mode has a setting to automatically pause low-performing keywords, but you still need to keep an eye for when this happens and analyze the reports to find out what is causing the issues.
In addition, bidding too high on keywords should also be avoided, as you risk spending too much of your budget on a handful of keywords, instead of leveraging a more granular approach.
It’s always good to know what the competition is up to. Studying your rivals’ strategy via Semrush’s advertising tools or another similar solution may give you ideas for keywords that you’ve missed in your research. You can also find out how many other companies are already bidding on a certain search term and compare your own ad performance to theirs.
Seeing what other marketers are doing to extract more value from keywords and how they handle PPC optimization to improve results, may help you polish up your own ads.
Filter Negative Keywords
Marketers often overlook the importance of negative keywords. However, the fact is, that if they are not taken care of they may become a major budget drain.
There are different types of negative keywords:
- Semantically Close but Irrelevant. Some negative keywords are search terms that are semantically close to your products and services, but add no value to your campaign. For example, if you are selling bicycle accessories, motorbike accessories is probably a search term you don’t want your ads to show up for.
- Somewhat Relevant But Waste of Budget. In addition, there may be somewhat relevant keywords that your ads are associated with, but people either don’t click them or they rarely convert even if they do click. These phrases take from your budget but contribute little to your strategy and if there is no way to improve their performance and relevance, you should exclude them.
- Relevant Term, But Wrong Intent. Users perform online searches with different intent, and similarly to in organic SEO, in PPC keywords, your goals and the user’s also need to match. For example, if the goal of your campaign is to make more sales, words with educational search intent may have a high click-through rate but bring in no paying customers. That’s why they are considered negative keywords, and you should look to target only phrases with transactional intent.
However, while it is not always possible to think of all the keywords that can hurt the performance of your PPC, you can analyze your Search Term Reports to look for unexpected negative keywords that might be sneaking into your strategy, and wasting your budget.
2. Segment Your Audience
PPC providers offer a variety of audience segmentation options and you should take your time to study them well.
It is simpler to target a broad group of people and hope that with a large enough customer pool you have better chances of catching more leads. Indeed, it’s true that, statistically, the more people see your ads, the more people may click on them. However, those clicks are less likely to lead to conversions, and although there may be a slight boost to your click-through rate (CTR), your overall return on ad spend (ROAS) will suffer.
You want your campaigns to bring in high-quality leads, and in order to do so, they have to reach the right people, who will not only click but will be interested, and, hopefully, convert.
For example, if you set up a brand awareness ad on Facebook with a broad target audience, no specific keywords, and no other definitive settings, you may get page likes, but it’s doubtful that you’ll see anything more in the future. The people who liked your page without being particularly interested in the topic are not going to engage with your content, let alone make a purchase.
Another example, in a Google Ads lead generation campaign, when a segment lands on a certain page they are more likely to bounce, but they convert successfully if they stay to browse your website and reach a different page. Creating a separate PPC optimized for this may improve your results.
In a nutshell, without tweaking things a bit, you risk missing out on opportunities to reach new customers, and paying for clicks that don’t deliver actual value.
3. Design Compelling Landing Pages
Even if your PPC ads are well-optimized and reach the best audience, the landing page is what determines whether a customer will convert or not. When your ad promises a great experience, but doesn’t deliver, there is a great chance that your customers will leave.
The goal of landing pages is to make customers click the CTA button and take the next step. Whether they do it to share their information with you, book a call, or make a purchase depends on the campaign. However, regardless of the final objective, the landing page should be optimized, as well as eye-pleasing, provide enough information in accordance with the campaign’s goals, and urge the customer to take action.
In addition, it has to be relevant to the ad’s message and intent. For example, if you are targeting educational keywords but take people to a product page, they are less likely to convert.
4. Apply a Granular Approach towards Ad Groups
Once you’ve done the work to group your keywords, improve your landing pages, and segment your audience, you should also take the time to set up ad groups that match them. This goes especially for companies that have many different products, separated into various categories.
Instead of creating one ad that targets everything, and leads to a generalized landing page, create granular ad groups with multiple entries. Setting up and optimizing hundreds of PPC may be mundane, exhausting, and plain boring, but it delivers results.
By making sure that the right products show up to the right people, you will boost your CTR, conversions, and overall ROAS.
5. Work on Ad Copy
All that we’ve talked about so far, save the landing page, is the work needed to make sure your PPC ads are optimized to reach the customer. However, what makes people click is the marketing copy.
Most ads have limited text space, so you should work to make your ad’s message short, sweet, and to the point. It should provide the necessary information, be clear, and have a compelling element that attracts the customer.
For example, a review listicle of low-cost smartwatches may be called “Low-Cost Smartwatches Reviews” or “Top Low-Cost Smartwatches 2022”. We all know that adding “top” and the year to the text doesn’t change the content, but it does make it sound better and creates a feeling that the customer will obtain more value.
However, because each person is different, there is no way to be sure what works before testing it out. Create different versions of your ad copy, and then analyze the reports. This may provide insight into which segments are influenced by phrasing, what messaging works best for different types of conversions, and what overall changes affect efficiency.
Leveraging this information in your PPC optimization efforts and applying it to further granulate ad groups can maximize ROAS.
6. Set Realistic Goals
Aggregated ad performance numbers are rarely applied equally to all businesses. However, knowing what the benchmarks in your industry and niche are may help you assess just how much PPC optimization you need.
If you are quite a bit below average, you may have to do a full strategy revamp. Or, perhaps, you may find out that your ads are delivering better than expected, compared to the rest, and feel encouraged to keep up the good work.
Each industry has different CTR, lead conversion rates, average cost per lead, and average cost per click. Regularly checking on these stats will allow you to better optimize your ads, and stay ahead of changing behaviors.
7. Track Conversions
Tracking conversions and what your customers do enables you to better understand the results your ads deliver. By leveraging this information, you can delve deeper into optimizing PPC and find out how much each lead or customer costs you. This may also improve the way you calculate ROAS, allowing you to make adjustments and optimize your budget.
Using Google site-wide tagging, and attribution modeling, you can track the customer’s every step and understand what role the PPC plays in the conversion process even when it doesn’t directly contribute to the sale.
For example, as mentioned above, people may click an ad to your landing page and end up converting on another page after browsing the site
In a lead generation campaign, this may not be an issue, but it’s not the same for a sales one. If a high-bidding ad contributes to low-tier sales, this means that you may be spending more to sell the product than its value, and that you are actually losing money. Adjusting the bidding and the landing page will help you better distribute your budget.
8. A/B Test and A/B Test Again
Even if you are an analytics guru and a skilled strategist, your target audience can always surprise you with what they love and what drives them away.
A/B testing your PPC is a great way to compare how different versions of your landing pages, messages, and target audience perform. Furthermore, by testing out various combinations of these elements and analyzing the results, you may be able to find the ones that produce the most conversions.
Ads are a great way to reach a new audience and boost the performance of your marketing campaigns. However, PPC ads need regular attention, optimization, and improvements to deliver the stellar results you desire.
Companies that invest the time to study and analyze their reports, and understand their audience’s behavior, are able to improve their ad’s performance, optimize their budgets, and see a better overall advertising ROI.
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