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7 Tips to Save Money on Pay-Per-Click Campaign

save_money_ppcA 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

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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!

  4. 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.

  5. 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.
  6. 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..)

  7. 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.


  • Reply Pete W |

    8. Test everything. Split test, multivariate test, PAMVAR test… Test until the cows come home, and then test some more.

  • Reply Saurav Verma |

    Hey Saad, thanks for the nice and concise compilation. I can sure use it as a quick reference guide, a checklist to ensure I am not missing out on anything vital.

    Many people mistake Adwords to be ‘cake walk’ when it isn’t. It is simple but you gotta learn it a granular level. I am hoping that people who are already running or contemplating running a Adword campaign get to read this. I will tweet it.

  • Reply seosoeasy |

    Thanks for releasing this great tips at the time of X-mas and New year.I think that the main target of any business is to make money and not to save money.I hope your tips tells how to save money.I like the sixth one “Time your Ads, Show your Ads When They Matter” about the description of scheduling Ads which was new one and at the same time useful too.Thanks for your effort.

  • Reply kevin |

    nice article but you forgot to make sure ur ads are showing more evenly so you can better test them that is important

  • Reply Shirley |

    Another way to minimize cost is to select more specific, highly-targeted keywords. This way, they cost less and they will be more likely to convert.

  • Reply Saad |

    @Shirley – Thanks for your input Shirley. I agree… I guess i need to do some specific posts on Ad copy, keyword research for ppc and landing page optimization.

  • Reply dhiraj kumar |

    I totally agree, but when i use exact search got very few traffic but in broad search got required traffic and leads too, actually i am running campen for one of the support service provider to generate the call.

  • Reply Ryan Beale |

    Saad, Great Article! I think that if PPC Campaign Managers effectively Manage the Long Tail of Search and broad match against long tail terms, the result will tend to be Higher Quality Score/Lower Min Bids/Lower Cost-Per-Click/Lower Cost-Per-Conversion and Show Higher Intent by the Searcher clicking on your Ad.

  • Reply Shelley Ellis |

    Loved your tips – except for the part about “don’t bid on the content network”. I agree that the novice should wait until they are more familiar with AdWords to get into content targeting or at the very least, they should ease into it.

    On the flip side, content targeting can be extremely successful for generating leads and sales and most of the time for less cost per conversion than traditional paid search. You just have to know how. Here’s one great article from David Szetela but if you poke around this article and this site there are several more on tips for getting the most out of the content network: http://searchenginewatch.com/3629300

  • Reply Saad |

    @Shelley Ellis – Hallo Shelley. Thanks for dropping by.

    Well, yes like I mentioned content targeting can be useful when you know how to leverage it. But for newbies, i just don’t expect them to go on and do site targeting or have a separate bid for content network,

    So that’s why i usually advice them not to start with content network at first. But of course if they have mastered PPC already, they should definitely take advantage of the content network..

    Thanks for the link. I actually have read it before, very informative!

  • Reply Raaj |

    Well !!

    I think I am at right place from where I can meet my answer ,tell me some one how can i find the campaigns running study of our competitors site easily is there any tools.

    Looking forward to get answer

  • Reply JerseyGuy |

    Saad, what would be the order of importance on the following (exclusing adding good content):
    -article marketing
    -getting backlinks

  • Reply Ken Lyons |

    Saad, nice article.

    It’s true: the content network is a total crap shoot. And you’re right that it’s best to create an individual ad group for your content network so your quality score isn’t sullied by sky high impressions and low, low clicks.

    But performance issues aside, you can use the content network strategically and for discovery purposes. One example is if you’re seeing a lot of action from a particular placement, you can target that site for link building, seeing it’s proven to be a productive channel for marketing purposes. Once the link’s in place, you can then drop the advertising on that site.


  • Reply lminnik |

    Try SEMRush.com. The one of my favourite tool to analyze any site.
    Just enter the url and it will provide you with a report which includes organic and adwords keywords
    that you can find the site, positions, CPC by and more. And its all summurized in easy to understand charts.

  • Reply Web Design |

    Nice and Informative post. Thanks For sharing the Info about the Saving the Money on pay per click campaign. Many People are waste the Money in pay per click.

  • Reply Devin |

    for me, keywords are everything when create a PPC campaign, so have to ensure the keywords you’re bidding matches your targeted audience. soccer = football , but there’s difference, and i believe everyone knew it as well.

    By the way, i agreed with Saad’s 7+1 tips too . And well, a great cheaklist for me when creating PPC, Already bookmark this n love it.

    Thanks for the great work, Saad.

  • Reply Jim Alexander |


    I am going to make each of my clients read this wonderful post. There is not one of them that cannot profit from your insights.

    I serve their social media marketing needs and see, time and time again, poorly planned, executed and tracked PPC campaigns. Most of these campaigns are delivered by third party firms whose first order of business is their fee with campaign success a distant second. Sorry if this sounds like a rant but, I hate seeing “experts” play their uninformed and unsuspecting (initially) clients. Good work.

  • Reply Web Development India |

    Very useful article on PPC. Really i get very useful information. we follow your tips. Thanks

  • Reply Web Designing India |

    These Tips are helpful for all PPC Campaigners. actually i don’t have complete idea about ppc to tell. really it is very useful information.

So, what do you think ?