Running paid search campaigns can seem easy enough at first. Choose some keywords, write some ad copy and send visitors over to your website. How difficult could it be?
Well, here’s the thing. Adwords could be the most competitive ad platform ever created. Marketers have known for a while how powerful it is to be in front of purchase intent, and Adwords is one of the few platforms that provides this opportunity at scale.
But jumping into paid search without experience or knowledge is like getting into a high stakes poker game thinking you’ll do fine just because you know that a flush beats a straight.
If you don’t have experts by your side, here are 5 quick ways to improve your account performance. I’ve tried to include ideas that are relatively universal, but nothing is ALWAYS true. Be sure to keep an eye on the data after making any changes to see what impact your adjustments have had.
1) Don’t hit your daily campaign budget
This may seem counterintuitive, but you should almost never hit your campaign budget spend. If you’re hitting it every day, try lowering your bids until you come close to your budget every day, but not quite. You should be able to lower you all in CPA just by lowering your CPC bids (in situations where you consistently hit your campaign budgets).
2) Optimize ad rotation for conversions
With rare exceptions, most accounts should be optimizing for conversions in ad rotation. Optimizing for clicks may seem like a decent option, but ultimately your goals are conversions, not clicks. Certain copy may get attention but maybe your landing page can’t follow through on the promise of the copy. Set up conversion tracking (we almost always do this through Google Analytics goals), and rotate creative optimized for conversions.
3) Add all available ad extensions
If you’re not using all of the real estate available to you via ad extensions, you should be. Generally speaking, the more information you provide, the more qualified a click will be. Ad copy on Adwords ads is limited, so extensions can give you the ability to convey more information about your offer. And higher CTRs means higher Quality Scores means lower CPCs.
4) Remove Display Select (definitely) and Search Partners (probably)
One annoying (and maybe a bit nefarious) thing about Adwords is that they’ll almost always give new advertisers settings that get them to spend more money. An example of this is opting you into Display Select when you create a Search campaign. With this setting, your text ads will show in Display ads (i.e. not search). The performance here will almost always not be good in comparison for search. Remove this until you can really focus separately on your Display strategy.
Search Partners are different, as these are search ads, but just not on Google.com. I’ve seen accounts have success here, so this is not necessarily a no-go, but it is probably best to remove this until you have the ability and time to properly test/adjust.
5) Add phrase/exact match keywords for all keywords that have converted
One of the most important reports in an Adwords account to be checking is the search terms report. This is where you’ll see all of the actual queries that triggered clicks. Look through these reports consistently and add negative keywords to keep your ads from being shown to non-qualified searchers. Second, if you started casting a wide net with modified broad match keyword to start, you should look at the search terms report for every query that converted. Break those keywords out into their own Ad Groups so that you can even further refine the copy for those searchers and get even more clicks (remember, higher CTRs mean better Quality Scores means lower costs) and more conversions.
Implementing these 5 adjustments should improve your Adwords account performance soon. While no advice is 100% universal, these changes should have a net positive impact. Understanding the why is always important though, so feel free to reach out if you want some help understanding these concepts.
Thanks for reading!