Post Updated: 29/10/2021
With so many moving parts in PPC, it can be difficult to know where to start when it comes to improving your PPC campaigns. The goal of this post is to give you 5 real, actionable tips that will help improve your PPC performance and save you some money.
1. Keyword Match Types
Keywords are the most important part of any PPC campaign. No matter how good your ads or landing pages are, if you are not bidding on the right keywords, it simply won’t work.
While choosing keywords might seem quite easy and obvious, it’s the choice of match types that makes it more important. There are several different match types but my golden rule is to avoid broad match, unless you know what you are doing. Exact match and Phrase match are great options to help keep search term maintenance to a minimum.
2. Negative Keywords
Depending on what keyword match types you use will depend on how important negative keywords are for your campaign. Negative keywords allow you to stop your ads from showing for certain keywords, usually irrelevant or low-quality terms that you would prefer not to waste money on. If you use broad match or phrase match, keeping on top of your negative keywords will be more important than if you were using exact match, as the former are much more likely to show your ads for irrelevant search terms.
Adding negative keywords is really simple to do and something I recommend you do once a week as it should only take a few minutes if you have a small account. Simply look through the search term report in Google ads and make a list of any irrelevant or low-quality terms that you would like to avoid. Once you have your list, you then need to add them to the negative keyword list. When you see a bad search term, my advice would be to single out the bad word in that term instead of using the whole term as a negative.
For example, if you were a cleaning company and someone searched for ‘free cleaning service’, of course, you would not want to show for that search term. But the most effective thing to do here is add “free” as a negative keyword, which will stop any other search terms that include the word free. When doing this, I would recommend adding the negative keyword as a phrase match.
3. Conversion Tracking
Conversion tracking is an absolute must for any PPC campaign. Conversion tracking mostly commonly lets you see how many sales or enquiries have been generated, but it is completely up to you what a conversion is. You can also have micro-conversions which allow you to see smaller indications of engagement before they reach the primary conversion of a sale etc. This could things such as newsletter sign-ups or downloading brochures.
By having conversion tracking set up, you can directly see how many enquiries or sales have been generated over a certain period of time compared to the costs or any other metrics you want to compare it with. You can also see exactly what keywords, ads or landing pages are working best, allowing you to pause the poor performing parts or run experiments to improve the results further.
A study by Wordstream found that the average conversion rate for Google Ads across all industries is 4.40% for the search network, so keep that in mind when you are reviewing your own conversion rates.
4. Ad Schedule
Implementing an ad schedule is best done once you have some conversion data to work with. Some people leave it set to the default which is 24/7. Others might set it to only show during working hours. But there are cons with both of those approaches. Running ads at all hours of the day can accumulate some wasted budget, but setting it to work hours limits your chances of getting in front of the right people if they are searching late in the evening. It’s all about showing ads at the most convenient time for the consumer, not you.
Once you have a significant amount of conversion data, you can look at the overview tab in Google ads where there will be a graph allowing you to see the most popular times for conversions, both hours of the day and days of the week. Using this data, you can set an ad schedule to turn off the ads at the hours that cost the most but convert the little, which will ensure you have plenty of budget for when it does convert the best.
5. Ads & Extensions
For each ad group that you have, it’s recommended to have around 2 or 3 ads so that you can test ad variations and promotional messaging. The default setting is for Google to show the best performing ad more often, so it’s a good idea to keep an eye on your ads and keep testing new ad copy in replacement for ads that have the lowest click through rate. I always aim for a click through rate of at least 3%, but according to Wordstream, the average is between 4-6%.
Make sure you also make the most of ad extensions. These are additional pieces of information that show below your ad to help beef it up and make it stand out from the rest. It’s also a great way to get any extra promotional messaging out there. Character limits on the ads can make it very difficult to include everything that you want to say, so make the most of things like sitelinks, callouts and structured extensions to get it all in.
If you'd like to know what issues/opportunities you have with your own PPC campaigns, get yourself booked in for our PPC audit service so we can review your account from top to bottom, or give it a go yourself with our PPC audit checklist.