Sometimes figuring out how to improve your Adwords performance can become a real pain. You find yourself browsing through all your campaigns, ad groups and keywords making little manual macro changes than in most cases end up quite ineffective. I’m going to give you a quick rundown of a several quick and easy things you can do to optimize your Adwords campaigns.
1. No need to aim for position #1
Marketers are always optimizing their campaign in order to reach the 1st position. While it’s very likely that being in position #1 will bring much more traffic, its not always likely to be worth the cost. There are many cases in which being #1 is way more expensive than #2 or #3 regardless of how great your quality score is. Your CPA will spike and might reach a point where you’re even losing. In addition, many users tend to click the first ad without even taking the time to read what it says, only to bounce away from your landing page right after discovering it’s not what they were looking for at all.
Instead, I would suggest aiming at position 2 and maybe even position 3. While you might not get as much volume as position #1, you will probably get traffic from more relevant users, pay less per click and so will your CPA costs.
2. Use SKAGs – Single Keyword Ad Groups
Many marketers try to avoid this time consuming process, but it is a very effective method. SKAGs will contain only one keyword, and you can combine all match types if you like. For example:
[plumber in Lancashire]
“plumber in Lancashire”
+plumber +in +Lancashire
The main advantage with SKAGs is that it allows you to build super targeted ads that are extremely relevant to the user’s search. This will result in a high CTR, QS and conversion rate and of course will reduce your CPA.
If you have a huge account with a ton of keywords, this could become a pretty long process. It’s easier if you started off with your top keywords and moved them into SKAGs with new more targeted written ads. Let these run for a while and then compare their performance to the previous ad groups. If you see an improvement, go ahead and apply the same to another batch of keywords.
3. Avoid bidding on competitors
I’ve heard of many Adwords managers that are targeting other brand names in their keywords in order to “steal” from their clientele. While this might seem like a clever idea, the true winner from such a move is no other than Google 🙂
While each brand should undoubtedly bid on their name as a keyword (even when you’re ranked #1 in the serps!), they should probably refrain from bidding on their competition’s brand name. This will almost always prove to be expensive and ineffective. In most cases you can’t use your competitors name in your ad copy which will also make your ad less relevant, lower your quality score and increase your cost per click.
You can still bid on your competitors brand names if any of the following applies:
- If you combine your competitor brand name with words such as “alternative” or “competitor”, you’ll actually give the user exactly what they were looking for!
- If your competitors neglected to bid on their own brand name (happens more often than you think), you should consider bidding on them just for the sake of getting cheap traffic.
- My least preferred reason – if your competitor does bid on your brand name, you can do the same just to raise their brand name keyword cpc as well, this might get them to reconsider if they should keep bidding on your brand.
4. Overkill and misuse of keywords insertions
Keyword insertion refers to automatically replacing part of your ad copy with whatever the user searched for. For instance, if the user searched for “berkeley digital marketing agency” and I’m using keyword insertion in my description, it would contain “berkeley digital marketing agency”
This is a powerful and common method for increase click through rate, and it works wonders. The thing is, it doesn’t necessarily improve conversion rates or CPA costs, it might actually end up doing the opposite.
While it does make the ad appear to be precisely what the user was searching for, and they are very likely to click your ad as well, there are many instances that it may be for the wrong reasons. Unless what you’re offering actually match the search query you’re probably never going to convert this user, and therefor your CPA will end up rising.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you should integrate your keywords in your ads, quite the contrary – that’s what you should aim for. This will improve all factors ranging from relevance, CTR and overall quality score. The problem is only when you do this automatically and you try to force an ad copy based on a search query. For instance, if the user search for “sales tax in SF” and the ad displays “File your taxes online”, the ad is not really what the user intended on finding but it does however appear and could get clicked on with a low chance of ever converting.
5. Phrase match might not work for you
Many of you have already heard me praise how much I prefer broad modifier match over phrase match anytime. The reason is that once you use bmm you really don’t need to use phrase match. They’re very similar, with the only difference being that broad modifier will be triggered by way more search terms. Broad match modifier basically includes the words that much be in the search query, similar to phrase match, only this time the order of the words doesn’t matter.
Since they cover pretty much the same search queries, giving up on using phrase match will save you plenty of time and money. I prefer building campaigns with exact and broad modifier matches only.
6. Use remarketing lists to exclude users
Normally remarketing is used to acquire users. Since a past visitor is more likely to click your ad and eventually convert than a user that’s never visited your site before. I always suggest remarketing to almost any advertiser, but many marketers don’t use remarketing it to exclude users, and hopefully now they’ll reconsider.
By applying negative remarketing, you’re excluding previous site visitors, but only those that were probably not interested in your product, service, etc. For instance, you can exclude anyone that has visited your site’s careers page since they are probably more interested in a job than buying anything. It’s also always a good practice to exclude existing customers as well unless you have a special promotion you want to offer them.
7. Build seperate RLSA campaigns
RLSA aka “remarketing lists for search ads” is remarketing lists that can be used to target past visitors when they are back searching for relevant search queries. Typically, campaign managers will use RLSA in the original search campaigns and ad groups and set a higher bid adjustment for users who are a part of the RLSA list. It’s definitely a great strategy, but there’s a way to improve it much more.
Split your campaigns two “cold” campaigns and RLSA campaigns. This gives you a better idea on how to adjust bids for your returning visitors. Although this does require more maintenance the full control and the ability to set higher bids (which you should do since returning visitors are worth higher bids in most cases) and in addition you’ll be able to write different ads that are directed at past visitors that may already be familiar with you.
You might not agree with everything I suggested here, but regardless it’s always a good practice to try new things and see how they affect your performance. I personally have tried all of these things before and they worked quite well for me. If you apply any of them, I suggest you start with only one or two at first before you do any further optimizations, just so that you can compare the results before and after each change you make.
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