Getting more clicks through PPC ads can make a big difference for your business. Nowadays, even brick and mortar companies depend on web traffic to grow their business with mobile search becoming increasing prevalent, and PPC ads are one of the most cost-effective ways to drive traffic your way.
If you find it successful for you, it can be tempting to simply throw more money at it. Or if it hasn’t been successful, it can seem like a drain on an already tight marketing budget. But before you go spending more cash or giving up on PPC ads entirely, try looking for ways to improve the ROI on your current budget.
A few tweaks can make a big difference in improving the relevance of click-throughs and increasing conversions, which can quickly turn an unsuccessful or moderately successful PPC campaign into a top-performing one.
Track results. Many people make the mistake of focusing on how many clicks an ad generated, but in most cases, this isn’t the whole story. What you need is conversions. This is where the money is for most businesses.
But Google can’t give you information on conversions if you don’t set them up in their system. In fact, you can even assign a monetary value per conversion, so you can really get a sense of how much of a return you’re getting on your budget.
Always be testing. It’s the “ABCs” (technically, ABTs, but that’s not as catchy) of PPC ads – the basics. It’s hard to improve if you simply implement a strategy and stick with it forever. Instead, always be A/B testing something, whether it’s keywords, ad copy, or the landing page. Set a schedule to check in and adjust on a regular basis – monthly, bi-weekly, or weekly, depending on how much time you can devote.
Check back here in a few weeks for our upcoming multi-part guide to A/B testing for PPC ads if you’re not sure where or how to start.
Optimize your landing pages. Landing pages are a crucial part of the process. After all, that’s where conversions happen. Yet they are often overlooked, and sometimes people simply link their ads to the home page of the site – a big mistake!
Following some basic best practices has tripled conversions for some of my clients. I have taken conversion rates of 2 to 3 % percent and seen them jump to 6 to 9 % percent over the entire PPC campaign. In specific keyword cases, conversion rates jumped up over 15%.
- Use the search keyword in the page headline. It should be clear that they’ve come to the right place.
- Include a form. Make it easy for people to connect with you.
- Offer a benefit that is relevant to the visitor to entice them, such as a PDF download, free trial, video access, whitepaper, or discount.
- Make navigation easy. Don’t put too many clicks between the landing page and your ultimate goal.
- Make sure the call to action is front and center. It should be prominent, not hidden away.
Redo keyword research. When was the last time you did it? In some cases, I’ve found that clients haven’t revisited their keyword list in years, but even a few months can make a big difference.
Find out how things have changed in terms of popularity and competition. It’s also possible that your company has changed in that time. Does it match your current business offerings?
Use negative keywords. Many of you are scratching your heads about this one. Negative keywords? Huh? Negative keywords are the opposite of regular keywords. When they appear in a search, it will prevent your ad from showing up. This helps keep you from having your ad show up for a search that isn’t relevant to what you offer. For example, if you run a cleaning company but you cater to larger buildings, like office complexes, medical facilities, and schools, you don’t want your ad showing up when someone searches for “home cleaning.”
You may be surprised just how much you are wasting on irrelevant keywords. After analyzing one client’s account, I found that they sunk $100,000 (yes, that’s the right number of zeros!) of their PPC budget on keywords that didn’t relate to their business because their ads were displayed using the broad matching type. Imagine how much more effective their PPC campaign could have been if they had spent that amount on relevant queries.
Use Google Search Query Report. How did I uncover all of those irrelevant searches? You won’t find them by looking at your PPC campaign overview. You need to dig a little deeper to your Search Query Report, which shows you all the keywords that Google has shown your ad for.
To get a good picture, look at several months’ time. In some cases, you may want to look at up to a year’s worth of results. It depends on the number of search and clicks you have, but generally the more data, the better. To make it easier to get right to the problem, sort the columns by the highest cost and start there. That way, you’re eliminating the costlier problems first.
Set clear expectations in your descriptions. Your ad needs to entice people to click through, but it should also make sure they know what they’ll find when they do. Use the title to hook them, and then provide details in the description.
Remember, you only want people to click through who are really interested in what you offer. Otherwise, it’s wasted money.
Look at mobile vs. desktop. Google allows you to choose whether your ad is shown on desktops, mobile, or both. This one is straightforward: is your site optimized for mobile? If not, consider leaving it out for ad placements. If your site doesn’t load quickly and easily on a mobile device, people will quickly click away anyway.
Search vs. Display Network. This is another choice that Google offers. Ads that appear in “search” are exactly what you’d expect. They are the ads that show up on top of or alongside search results. (It’s interesting to note that 40% of people don’t even realize that these are ads, instead assuming that they are part of organic search results.)
The other type of ad shows up in Google’s “Display Network.” These are a variety of news sites, blogs and other sites that have signed up to allow Google to place ads on their site. Take a look at how your ads are doing in the Display Network. Usually you’re not reaching a very targeted audience, so often the ads may be underperforming and can be eliminated.
Set a Max PPC. If in general your clicks aren’t generating enough revenue, consider setting a maximum so you don’t pay more than you earn. (You can help better determine if this is happening by assigning a value to those conversations you’ve already set up.)
Also, consider which item or service you are promoting with the ad. If it’s a high-cost item, you may be more willing to pay a higher amount for a click than a low-cost item. Crunch the numbers to see what makes sense.