November 8, 2011
“Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.” -Michelangelo
You don’t have to be the Michelangelo of PPC to optimize a campaign, but optimizing is much like chipping away at a block of stone to discover the beautiful statue within.
1. Define Your Goal
What is it you want your PPC campaign to do for you? Before you can optimize you need to decide what you want to get out of your campaign. Hopefully your goal is related to generating more business, if not, it must be nice to have cash to burn.
Do you want more traffic to your site, to deliver a branding message, or to generate more sales, leads, downloads, conversions etc.?
Your goal is going to determine how you use the techniques below to optimize your campaign.
Be prepared to get ruthless with your keywords. You don’t have time or money to waste on keywords that aren’t performing.
A good rule of thumb is to give your keywords a minimum of 200 impressions before you do anything. If after receiving 200 impressions a keyword has less than 1% CTR, delete it.
For any keywords that are over 1% you’ll want to assign a keyword specific bid, or look to expand on it, which I’ll discuss below. If a keyword is barely over the 1% CTR, lean towards deleting it.
Be ruthless when deleting keywords and keep in mind that it’s good to have only high traffic and quality keywords in your campaign, even if you only have a small amount of keywords.
With PPC, being number 1 doesn’t mean you’re the best. So, set your bids accordingly and aim for position 3 or 4. Try to find your campaign’s “sweet spot”, where you are paying the least per click, earning the most, and still receiving a decent amount of traffic.
Keep in mind that the keywords you avoid are also very important. Add negative keywords by reviewing the search terms report and add any keywords that are unrelated to your campaign.
3. Ad Text
No need to reinvent the wheel, just add variations. When optimizing ad text use the same rule as keywords. Allow for 200 impressions per ad text and delete ad text that has a CTR below 1%.
If none of your ad text creatives have a 1% CTR then you’ll need to create a variation of the best performing one and try a completely new ad text creative.
Remember, don’t reinvent the wheel, just try variations. Try testing title case, display URL variations (www.yourdomain.com, YourDomain.com, www.YourDomain.com, YourDomain.com/Keyword), switch up your call to action, or swap description line 1 with line 2. But, try to build on what works.
Each ad group should have 2-3 ad text variations at all times.
4. Display Network
If you haven’t separated display and search traffic, do it now! These two traffic sources act and perform very differently, and you need to keep them separate in order to optimize properly. In order to optimize for display all you need to do is review your ad text (see above) and remove any undesirable sources of traffic.
With display network ad text and banner creatives aim for high CTR and constantly optimize by adding variations and new creatives. Keep things fresh! Review your automatic and managed placements and remove sources that don’t hit the 1% CTR, don’t convert, or are just undesirable.
5. Landing Pages
Your landing pages are the one part of your campaign that you have 100% control of. They also make or break your campaign’s success. If you can increase your landing page conversion rate by even 1%, how would that affect your campaign’s success?
Not testing landing page variations? It’s time to start, even if it’s just a simple A/B test. There are a number cost effective tools and services you can use. Start with A/B testing and consider multivariate testing in the future.
Track any landing page test by ad group, you’ll be surprised at how different landing pages perform with different ad groups. If you have the traffic you can get more granular and target by keyword or site.
Once you find some successes continue to refine and increase conversion rates by testing slight variations, and again, build on what works.
6. Campaign Expansion
Expand on what works! After a full review of your campaign you’ll know what keywords, creatives, and niches within your campaign work. Now take that information and expand on it.
Group your best performing keywords together in a new campaign or ad group, sort them by themes or niches, try new keyword match types, and use your best ad text creatives.
Take the top performing sites and put them in a new ad group. If you’ve found a site that works well, check to see if there are more placements available on the site. Then dominate that placement.
Create new landing pages that are customized for the niches, ad groups, keywords, and sites that work.
When you are expanding your keywords and sites be careful to pause the keywords or sites in their old ad groups to avoid competing with yourself.
Bonus tip: Keep in mind that quality score operates on multiple levels. So, deleting poor performing keywords, ad groups, and campaigns within your account can only help. Don’t be afraid to get ruthless!
Optimization is the difference maker with PPC campaigns, neglect at your own peril.
Mike Williams is the Founder and President of Clickworks Marketing. Mike has been involved in online marketing since 2004 and has a wealth of experience in lead generation, search engine marketing, landing page optimization and web marketing strategy. Mike is a Google Adwords Certified Professional and has years of experience managing advertising campaigns on Google, Yahoo!/Bing and Facebook.