Getting Intimate With Keyword-Level Bidding Strategies

By Carrie Albright | @Albright_C | Associate Director of Services at Hanapin Marketing

The month of May has brought us not only showers and flowers, but it’s also included the arrival of the Flexible Bidding Strategies as promised this spring!

This is another example of Google giving us additional control of the work we do. As the waves in the ocean of Enhanced Campaigns begin to die down, Google has been taking step after step to allow us more say-so in how we manage our accounts.

So you’re probably saying to yourself or a loved one sitting nearby, “What are my flexible bidding strategy options, anyway?”

You’ve got 4 choices:

  • Target CPA: Keyword bids are adjusted through a magical Google algorithm to best reach your designated cost per lead/acquisition
  • Target a Position: Your bid is altered in order to gain you a spot in the top section of search results (good old ad ranking 1-3) or on the first page of search results. Whether your keyword just performs better in a certain spot/section, or you’re hoping for a little more brand recognition in the long run, this option allows you to rest comfortably knowing Google’s on top of it!
  • Enhanced CPC: Google decides what levers to pull to get your keyword the clicks that will most likely turn into conversions
  • Maximized Clicks: Stay with me here, but this strategy helps maximize your clicks.  Boom.

So you’re not impressed- You’ve been using these strategies already, right? But at the ad group level? At the keyword level??



New to AdWords: Bidding Strategies at the keyword level!

When does a feature like this appeal to a PPC Hero? Two examples:

  1. If you know that a keyword has the potential to perform a particular way and you want to set a bidding strategy based on that knowledge
  2. Based on previous performance, you want to pursue a specific bidding strategy for a couple of keywords, but not necessarily all of them. Example: You’ve got a particular couple of keywords that aren’t hitting your CPA goals. Instead of affecting the entire campaign, these flexible bidding strategies let you select just those keywords for which you want to set Target CPA bidding.

Some specific applications of each bidding strategy might include the following:

Target CPA:

  • If you have different CPAs for keywords in a single ad group.  When would this be the case? If you find more value in these conversions, you may be willing to spend more on them than a neighboring keyword.

Target a Position:

  • If you have keywords that you want in the top results of your search results page or on the first page of your search results. Perhaps you have a new product or featured item for which you’re hoping to get maximum exposure but you don’t want to have to create an entirely separate ad group to be able to push the Top Position bid strategy.

Enhanced CPC:

  • This is much like the previous version of ECPC: Google has their own algorithm associated with that keyword and what bid they suspect will bring in the most conversions. (This is another one of those “Trust me, I’m a professional” moments.) As AdWords spots a trend on the ad rank and frequency with which people see, click on, and subsequently convert for a keyword, it will support that setting through regulating your bid for you. Google Magic!

Maximize Clicks:

  • This Bid Strategy approach lets you set the algorithm for a particular keyword that you think is bringing in all the right traffic. For example, if you’ve seen a particular exact match keyword bring in great conversion volume, it stands to reason that the more clicks you get, the more leads you’ll be raking in.

Great, I’m sold! How do I sign up for this fantastic feature??

It’s almost too easy, dear PPC Hero friends. The quick steps are as follows:

From within the AdWords interface, in either the ad group or keyword tab (depending on which you want to set), you’ll see a little something like this:


You’re going to have to choose a bid strategy first. And what that actually means is create a bid strategy.

Pick one

Now you get to choose!  Enhanced CPC is pretty straightforward. You name it. That’s it.


Target search page location has you name the strategy and then choose between top results and front page results. You are also prompted on a couple advanced “preferences” for the occasions when you are limited by budget within your campaign.


Advanced options:


Target CPA is oh-so-straightforward:


Maximize Clicks is also nice and simple:


Then you simply return to your ad group or keyword list, select it, and then when you open your “Edit Bid Strategy” tab, you’ll be able to select just the one you want!

Finished list

Almost too easy? We sure hope so!

Used ’em and love ’em? Great! Let us know what kinds of strategies you’ve found especially helpful or additional tools you would love to see!