A friend of mine recently asked me to help him with his PPC campaign. He has been using Adwords & Yahoo Search Marketing for over two months now and spent a little over $4,800 already. It may not be a huge figure for many of you, but for a tiny little business that he runs, it was quite a big deal. He told me: “PPC doesn’t work” and when I asked him why, his answer was plain and simple – “I lost all my money and didn’t get enough return”. Now that I’m helping him to clean up his ‘mess’ and also seeing all the campaigns he created and the keywords he was bidding on, it was clear to me that people who are ‘just’ starting PPC doesn’t actually understand the PPC game well enough. So I thought of sharing a simple set of tips that any average Joe can implement on their PPC campaign today and see some success straightaway. Since Christmas is right around the corner, you might want to look at these tips quickly and make necessary changes to your campaign.
7 Tips to Save Money on your PPC Campaign
- Stop using Broad Match – A lot of folks doesn’t know or probably doesn’t bother to use the different keyword match types that are available in Adwords. By default if you type in a keyword in your adwords campaign it is set as a “broad match”. The problem with a broad match is that your ad is often displayed in other different variations of your keywords, even if these terms aren’t in your keyword lists. Even though Google says that the broad match always uses relevant keywords, but we (‘advertisers’) know that its not often best for your business. For example, if Jeremy Schoemaker of Shoemoney.com wants to bid on the keyword “Shoe Money” on a broad match, Google will probably find a lot of shoe related queries as relevant. (Which certainly isn’t the case here).
So if you have done some work on your keyword research and you are confident with a couple of 2-3 words and long tail keywords, use the “Phrase” or [Exact Match] instead of a Broad Match.
- Use Negative Keywords Effectively – I have seen a lot of PPC campaigns that doesn’t implement this sweet Keyword matching feature – Negative Keywords. Suppose you run a web hosting business and you are bidding on the keyword “web hosting” on broad or phrase match. So now suppose If someone performs a search for “free web hosting”, its basically going to trigger your ad. But do you sell web hosting for Free? No! Then do you want to pay for that extra click and have those unwanted impressions which is probably lowering your CTR (Click-Through-Rate)?You can use Negative Keyword match feature to filter out keywords for which you don’t want your ads to show. So words like “free”, “cheap” are common Negative keywords. But its not limited to that. Its absolutely essential to have negative keywords if you have a lot of broad/phrase match keywords in your campaign.
If you are confused about your negative keywords, Go to Adwords Keyword Tool enter your keyword and choose the “Negative” in the drop-down under Match Type. This will show you a whole bunch of negative keywords that may suit your primary keyword.
- Smart Bidding – If you have played with some auction sites like Ebay you probably know this secret already. A smart way of bidding for anything is to do the unnatural. Don’t bid like any other Joe, always try to bid in odds (I personally prefers to bid in 1s, 3s and 7s). Now the question is why? Well the main reason is doing odd things gives you an advantage over others who are always playing by their ‘predictabe’ rules. Thus it sort of gives you a higher chance of winning the bid war.
So instead of bidding $0.10, I’d bid $0.13, and for $0.15 I’d prefer to bid $0.17. So for someone who is bidding in 5s (like 5, 10, 15, 20…), would need to place 4 bids to outbid my ($0.17). Moreover lets say if the highest bidder was $0.10, you can outbid him by only 1 cent ($0.11) rather than paying $0.15!
- Create Separate Ad Group, Ads and Landing Pages – If your PPC account looks like my friend’s (1 Campaign, 1 Adgroup, 1 Ad, 1 Landing Page, 20 Keywords) then you are doing the whole thing wrong. Try to group similar keywords in Individual ad groups and create Individual Ads for those and point them to their designated Landing pages. This will not only improve your CTR but also improve your conversion.
Lets say you are running a web hosting business, and you offer different types of hosting (e.g. Shared, Reseller, Dedicated etc). So for best result, you may want to split your whole keyword list into 3 logical segments related to the 3 different types of hosting you offer. And then use those keywords to create 3 different adgroups & Specific ads for the specific services. Point all those ads to your relevant landing pages (e.g. www.host.com/shared-hosting.html). This will definitely help you to get a better quality score as your ads & landing pages will become more relevant to the term the user is searching for. It is likely to increase your CTR & and will eventually lead to higher sales. So at the end of the day because of your good quality score you will be paying less and getting highly targeted audience to the highly targeted offer pages – All this just for a little bit of initial hard work from your side.
- Geographic Target - If you are just a bakery at queens, why would you want to pay for clicks that are outside your business zone? Use the GEO target facility to target your audience well, this will substantially help you to lower your ad impression, higher CTR, higher quality score and a better ROI.
- Time your Ads, Show your Ads When They Matter – If you are a local Pizza Store, would you want to show your ads when people at 3 AM search for Pizzas? (Assuming you don’t. have a 24 Hour Delivery). It would be ridicules and a big waste of money if you actually pay for clicks after your business hours where none of the searchers can actually order your pizza during that period of time.
So What would you do? Use Ad Scheduling to time your ads to match your requirements. Ad scheduling lets you control the days and times your AdWords campaigns appear. So if you are running “Special offers” for Fridays, you can use Ad Scheduling to only show ads (a specific one) on Fridays. Try to think of a time when your ad would actually matter to your customer. By default, your ads will run for 24 hours in a day by trial and error you might be able to find out that running ads on a specific time of the day gives you more conversion! (e.g. People would search for “morning headache” usually in the morning after getting up from bed..)
- Don’t bid on Content Network – I know some might disagree with me here but this is purely based on my own experience & what works best for me and my clients. I feel that even though bidding at content network is often cheaper, but in terms of conversion the performance of content network is very poor. Again, I’d say that this may be different for your case as some niches do really well in content networks. But if you are really starting out fresh with PPC & adwords, I’d urge you to remove content network from your campaign. This setting is set in the campaign level, so once you turn this off all the other ad groups that are in that particular campaign will be affected.
What if you want the content network, but you dont want to harm your quality score by having too many impression and low CTR? Easy solution is to create a completely separate campaign only for content network and test the results! Note: You should ALWAYS modify your content network bid as its much lower than the search network bids.
Wait…You just got lucky, Here is a bonus tip for you.
Track Your Results: Google offers a Search Query Performance report that can basically show you the exact term that a user typed into Google that triggered your ad, the match type between your keyword, and the search query alongside all of the standard AdWords reporting metrics like click through rate, conversion rate, cost per conversion, etc.
Google has also done AdWords Integration in their Google Analytics — its an awesome tool that provides in-depth reporting on all aspects of your campaign’s performance.
So what other simple strategies you use in your campaign? Share in Comments!
Update: Here are some more bonus tips from the readers:
Test Everything - Test everything. Split test, multivariate test, PAMVAR test… Test until the cows come home, and then test some more. (Shared by: Pete Wailes)
Pay-Per-Click is not like flying on a plane (Once you get up, you can’t just get out unless the plane lands). In PPC everything is very flexible. So test your campaigns over and over again and tweak it according to the results that you are getting.