“After your advice I was able to cut my PPC spend while increasing the amount of clicks … we are getting three times as many enquiries as last year”, says Tony Brewin, MD of Wedding Caterers, SuperEvent.co.uk. That advice came from Ian Howie and here he shares it with you.
Ian is the author of Wordtracker's Masterclass ebook on PPC advertising.
In the tough trading conditions of 2009, SuperEvents.co.uk trebled their Google AdWords response after Tony Brewin (Managing Director) attended one of my Wordtracker Pay Per Click (PPC) Workshops.
The graph below compares his July 2009 (in blue) results with June 2008 (in green) and shows us that the Clickthrough Rate (CTR) has doubled. Cost Per Click (CPC) halved at the same time, allowing the increase in Clicks shown below.
Such dramatic improvements in results are only possible if you Never Stop Optimizing. Indeed, if you leave your Campaigns alone then they will slowly decline. Keep optimizing and you can always squeeze out better performance, with a lower Cost Per Click (CPC) or a higher Clickthrough Rate (CTR).
Below are the 7 Steps to AdWords Optimization that Tony used to fine tune his Pay Per Click (PPC) campaign and drive his business forward during difficult times.
1. Review, refine and add to your keyword list
If a keyword has a Clickthrough Rate (CTR) of less than 1% after you’ve tried to optimize it, then delete it. That was easy.
Remember you are bidding on keywords that real people search with and their popularity changes over time. Also, new keywords will always be emerging.
Add the new keywords you find to relevant existing Ad Groups. If there is no relevant group, start a new one.
Within your Ad Groups, always look for keywords that can be used to start new Ad Groups with their own adverts and landing pages.
This allows the old and new Ad Groups to each have adverts and landing pages more relevant to their keywords. And more relevant ads and landing pages means higher Quality Score, lower Cost Per Click (CPC) and higher Conversion Rates.
For example, one Ad Group might contain both Marquee Hire Kent and Wedding Catering Kent. To work for both these keywords, the ad copy will need to be generic and will struggle to mention both target keywords. Likewise, the landing page won't be able to focus on either keyword.
But if each of those phrases is given its own Ad Group they can have their own ad copy and landing pages that focus on their specific keywords.
2. Use Keyword Matching options to lower costs
Are all your keywords using Broad Match?
Make sure you are also using Phrase Match and Exact Match bid types.
Use the AdWords Keyword Estimator Tool to create a 'bid stack' which involves bidding on the same keyword with all three match types. Sounds crazy but it works. Here’s how and why …
Exact Match is the exact keyword you are targeting and so should deliver the best response. Of your three bids this one is for the highest amount because you know exactly what you’re bidding for and these are searchers you most want to see your ads.
Eg, I might bid $2.00 for an Exact Match with Marquee Hire. Meaning I will pay up to $2.00 for that exact keyword only.
Make your Phrase Match bid 75% of your Exact Match amount because these searches are not as good as Exact Match and you don’t want to pay as much for them.
Eg, I might bid $1.50 for a Phrase Match with Marquee Hire. Meaning I will pay $1.50 for any phrase that contains that exact keyword, eg, Marquee Hire in Kent, Wedding Marquee Hire.
Make your Broad Match searches just 25% of the Exact Match amount because such searches are, generally, the worst.
Eg, I might bid $0.50 for a Broad Match with keyword Marquee Hire. Meaning I will pay $0.50 for any phrase that contains those keywords, eg, Hire Marquee in Kent and also any keywords that Google decides are similar. This might include badly matching phrases like van hire. This is why our Broad Match bids should be low.
It seems complicated but it’s really simple and ensures that your ad first appears for the best keyword searches, ie, Exact Match. But your ad will only appear for less responsive keywords if it can do so for a much lower cost, ie, you'll pay less for Phrase and Broad Match.
You can really start to save money and increase Clickthrough Rate (CTR) if you add Negative Broad Match and Negative Exact Match keywords to your Phrase and Broad Match Ad Groups.
Rather than being keywords you want to bid on, Negative keywords are those that you do not want to bid on. For example, I might have an Ad Group that includes the following keywords that I do want to bid on with a Broad Match:
- marquee hire kent
- wedding hire kent
… and the following negative keywords that I do not want to bid on:
Which means that even though they contain my Ad Groups ‘positive’ keywords, I will not be bidding on the following:
- cheap marquee hire kent
- cheap wedding hire kent
- free marquee hire kent
- free wedding hire kent
- van hire kent
3. Keep testing your ad copy & landing pages
It is always possible to improve your ad copy and increase Clickthrough Rate (CTR). AdWords doesn’t charge you to test new ads so Always Be Testing one to three new ads against your current best performing ad.
You can also test new landing pages against your current page. Send 50% of clicks to landing page A (your existing or ‘control’ page) and 50% to a new landing page B (your ‘test’ page). If B performs better it becomes your new control which you then try to beat with a new test page.
You can test changing everything on your landing page, from the color of your response buttons to your choice of font. But try starting with your ‘offer’ – your product's price, discount and package.
Google's Website Optimizer allows powerful A / B testing of your landing pages and is available for free.
4. 200 is the magic number at which response can be judged
200 is the magic number. 200 ad impressions and 200 clicks.
If a Keyword gets 200 impressions then 200 people whose searches have matched your keyword bid have seen your ad. And 200 impressions is enough to judge your ad’s performance.
If your ad gets less than a 1% Clickthrough Rate (CTR) then you must either delete the keyword, add more negative keywords or improve your ad text.
If a Keyword gets 200 Clicks then 200 people who have seen your ad have clicked on it and visited your landing page. And 200 visits to your landing page is enough to judge its conversion rate and subsequent profitability.
Your unique bid cost, sales process and profit margins will determine what Conversion Rate is required to make a profit. But if you are converting at less than 1% then it’s likely that either something needs changing to improve conversion or that you should delete the keyword.
5. Use location targeting to show your ads only in relevant parts of the country
Many AdWords accounts only have one Campaign, targeted to one location.
If your product or service is location specific – you can use AdWords Location Targeting features to only target people in the areas you can sell to. You can configure this from the Audience section on your Campaign’s Settings page.
In Tony’s case he targets English counties such as Kent and Surrey. This allows Tony to tailor his ads and landing pages to these locations.
But the location service is not perfect as it’s based on IP address, and some IPs don’t match user location. To deal with this, you can run a second Campaign with much broader location settings - eg a whole country - but only bidding on keywords that include ‘location words’.
Eg, if you’re selling pizzas in Chicago, only bid on keywords containing Chicago and other words for relevant locations in Chicago.
Eg, if you’re Tony and selling to people in Kent and Sussex, then bid on keywords containing those words like:
- Wedding Caterer Kent (Phrase Match)
- Marquee Hire Sussex (Exact Match)
Smart location targeting like this should dramatically decrease your AdWords costs and increase relevancy.
6. Run Search Query Reports to find new keywords to bid on
Running a Search Query Report in Google AdWords will show the specific searches that your ads appeared for and you can use these to further refine your Ad Groups. Here’s how to do it …
Go to the ‘Keywords’ tab:
Click on the ‘See Search Terms’ box and then ‘All’. A pop-up window will appear like this:
Look at the Phrase and Broad Match keywords and consider adding them as specific keywords, perhaps with their own Ad Groups. Any inappropriate keywords can be added as negative keywords.
7. Schedule your Campaign to be on when customers respond
Fish when the fish are feeding.
You can easily increase your Clickthrough Rate (CTR) by making sure your campaign is on only when you get the best results. Find out when that is by studying response across different days of the week and times of the day (an hourly report is available to help you).
Your Campaigns’ current scheduling is summarized in the ‘Ad scheduling’ column in the ‘Settings’ tab view for all your campaigns. See right-hand column on the grab below.
The default setting is ‘Show ads all days and hours’.
You can configure a specific Campaign’s timing by clicking on its name in the above report or on its own ‘Settings’ tab. Then click on ‘Edit’ to the right of ‘Ad scheduling’ beneath ‘Advanced settings’. See grab:
This reveals your ‘Ad schedule’ window (see image below) in which you can control when your ads are on and off (green is on, gray is off) by clicking on the time on the ‘Time period’ column for each day.
If you click the ‘Bid adjustment’ link you can further refine your Campaigns with different bid amounts for different times of the day.
Summary of how to optimize your AdWords Campaigns
- Never stop optimizing your AdWords Campaigns.
- Regularly look for new keywords to add to your Ad Groups.
- Split Ad Groups up to allow more targeted ad copy and landing pages.
- Use different match type bids to create a 'bid stack'.
- Always be testing your ad text and landing pages to find higher clickthrough and conversion rates.
- Judge keywords after 200 page impressions.
- Judge landing pages after 200 clickthroughs.
- Cull keywords that you can’t get better than 1% clickthrough and conversion rates for.
- Use location targeting to show your ads only in relevant parts of the country.
- Run Search Query Reports to find new keywords to bid on.
- Schedule your Campaign to be on when customers respond.
We’ll let Tony from SuperEvent.co.uk summarize the results: “We are getting three times as many enquiries as last year. Had we not known how to optimize AdWords we’d have just turned up the budget or turned back to traditional advertising.”
About Ian Howie
Ian Howie started working in Search in 1995, turning professional in 2002 and specializing in PPC & Analytics since 2003. Ian has worked along side Wordtracker since 2006, authoring Google AdWords PPC Masterclass and contributing to Wordtracker Academy. Ian is both Google Adwords and Google Analytics qualified. Follow Ian Howie's PPC & analytics thoughts on Twitter @ihowie.