Constructing a cohesive Pay Per Click (PPC) campaign more challenging than it looks. Although it’s an intuitive and easy-to-use platform, Google AdWords still has a number of quirks that can go unnoticed by most beginners.
I was fortunate to have taken an AdWords intensive course with Perry Marshall back in 2013. He along with a handful of other PPC experts like Mike Rhodes unveiled these quirks while underscoring why most marketers fail with PPC advertising.
And while the AdWords platform has greatly evolved over the last four years, everything I’ve learned remains relevant. So in this elaborated PPC 101 syllabus, I touch on a few of those quirks while providing five important tips for AdWords beginners.
One of the biggest mistakes that new PPC advertisers make involves the organisation of ad groups. While each “campaign” is a general category, each ad group should be a very tight and focused grouping of related keywords. Too much overlap in keywords (or too few of ad groups to cover one length list of keywords,) will result in inefficiencies.
Think of this way: the ads you deliver are on an ad group basis. To ensure your ads are as relevant as possible, it’s vital to organise ad groups based on highly-focused groupings. This will help increase CTRs all while increasing qualities scores and overall cost-efficiency.
2. Avoid Broad Match Bidding
There are a number of keyword match types, or ways in which you bid on specific keyword queries in AdWords. Among the different match types is the most general of them all: broad match.
Broad match is infamously broad. Google provides the following example to provide insight:
Example keyword: women's hats
Example search: buy ladies hats
Here’s another great example that I to use:
Example keyword: red waggon
Example search: burgundy Subaru Outback waggon
Because broad match by itself is so broad, as a rule of thumb I advise never to use this empty form of keyword bidding. I have a theory that Google has made broad match so incredibly broad that it results in unaware advertisers to burn through their ad spend way more aggressively than intended. Whether or not that’s true, I suggest sticking with more precise bidding strategies that use exact match, phrase match and modified broad match.
3. Split-Test Many Ads at Once
When setting up your campaigns, be sure to adjust your Ad Rotation settings, which is found under the Advanced Settings option. Here you’ll want to select either “Rotate evenly” or “Rotate indefinitely” (choosing the latter if you anticipate a low volume of impressions, such as the case for local PPC.) This will ensure your ads are displayed evenly, giving you 100% control over you ad split-tests.
As you start writing ads for each ad group, be sure to include 3-5 variations that have different copy or verbiage. Over time, as your ads accumulate data, you can gauge which ad copy is performing the best.
A good tip to keep in mind when split-testing ads is to make subtle modifications. Changing a number of fields, such as both headlines AND the copy will make it difficult to pinpoint trends in what’s working best.
4. Leverage Ad Extensions
Next to good ad copywriting and ongoing split-testing, make use of all of the ad extensions you can. These are basically free features to increase the real estate of your ads while making them more eye-grabbing. Not all ad extensions will apply, but at the very least you should be leveraging the first three among all options:
- Sitelink extension
- Callout extension
- Call extension
- Structured snippet extension
- Location extension
- Affiliate location extension
- App extension
- Review extension
AdHawk has a nice guide on how to use ad extensions that you can check out here. And just like ad copy, you test different types of ad extensions, such as Sitelinks and Callouts, to further improve.
5. Continuously Optimize
There are countless ways in which you can continuously optimise your PPC efforts. Some of the most effective are:
Optimise Keyword Bids
Adjust the ad group column settings so that you can view the mainline bid estimate and top of page bid estimate. Ideally, you want average ad positionings (per keyword) to be just above the mainline (or in the ad set positioned at the top of the search results.) Ads that display at the bottom of the search results get dramatically fewer CTRs, and thus quality scores can cripple. As you check-in with your account from time to time, adjust keyword bids to ensure you're staying above the mainline bid estimate.
Find & Use Negatives
Otherwise known as unwanted keyword variations, leveraging negatives can further help improve performance. Using the “red waggon” example, common negatives might be “red waggon assembly” or “red waggon recall.”
At the top of the Keywords view, click “Search Terms.” Here can see historical keyword queries that have enabled your ads to trigger. If you see unwanted variations like “free, for rent, how to, etc.” you can include these terms in the negatives keyword list. This will prevent your ads from showing for these unwanted variations.
Improve Ad Copy
Once you’ve gathered enough statistically relevancy to make valid conclusions about your ad split-tests, pause the worst performing ads while creating new ads based on the copy that’s working best. Depending how much activity your ads receive, you should do this regularly, like once or month. Like mentioned above, better CTRs as a result of better ads will greatly improve the efficiency of your ad groups.
Peel n’ Stick
An effective strategy coined by Perry Marshall himself, Peel n’ Stick is the process of taking (or peeling) underperforming keywords and placing (or sticking) them in new or different ad groups. In most cases, if a keyword has a very low-quality score, you’re not bidding high enough, or the keyword may be better suited to a different ad group (even if that means making a new one.) As you sweep through your ad groups to assess performance, don’t hesitate to employ the Peel n’ Stick strategy. It only takes a few minutes to create a new ad group.
While there’s plenty more to PPC advertising, the latter tips should help steer your practices in the right direction.
Tyler Tafelsky is the senior search marketing specialists at Captivate Search Marketing based in Atlanta, Georgia. Since 2009, Tyler has been working in many facets of digital marketing, with particular expertise in organic SEO, PPC advertising, social media, and content strategy. Stay current with his work by following Captivate Search Marketing on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google Plus.