This is the first post in our How I Manage A PPC Account With/Without ___________ series here on PPC Hero this week. Today I’ll be talking about how I manage a PPC account with overall low search volume. There can be many reasons your account has an overall low search volume; maybe the product/service you’re advertising is very specific or targeted, i.e. it’s just not something a lot of people are searching for. Or, maybe your product/brand isn’t that well known yet, so. Low search volume status isn’t always indicative of a low quality term (or low quality score). (For more detailed information about this, check out Caleb’s post on low search volume keywords.)

In any case, optimizing your results for low search volume campaigns can be tricky, and sometimes you’re simply challenged with low search volume keywords out of necessity. But, after managing a PPC account with an overall low search volume and seeing the account become more and more successful, I can offer some tips on how to optimize an account with overall low search volume. After all, you don’t necessarily need to reach a broader audience, you just have to target the right audience, especially if your account is conversion-focused.

Broadening Your Account

How do you broaden an account when keyword expansion isn’t viable? You’ve got all relevant keywords in your account, now what? First of all, make sure you’re testing all match types of your keywords. Maybe you’re limiting your traffic by excluding too many broad terms. If you’re running your account in Bing/Yahoo, make sure you’re using explicit bidding for each keyword match type.

Second, focus on your branded campaign(s), or if you aren’t currently running a branded campaign, create one! In my low search volume account, my branded campaigns outperform my other campaigns by leaps and bounds, even with low search volume keywords in tow. These campaigns have click-through rates with percentages 10 times higher than other campaigns in the account. One of my branded campaigns has a phenomenal click-through rate – 9.6%. So, if your product/service terms aren’t performing well, focus more on your company and branded names.

Along this line, also make sure you’ve set up a campaign to grab some traffic from people searching for your competitors.  I always see a few conversions a month from my Competitors campaign.

Identifying Your KPI

In low search volume accounts, hopefully you’re measuring more key performance indicators than clicks, impressions and click-through rate because otherwise you could be in for some serious frustration. In my account, my KPI (key performance indicator) is conversions, so as long as I can increase conversions month over month my client is happy.

In order to maximize conversions with low search volumes, my advice is to really pay attention to your account spend, especially if you’re limited by your monthly budget. If your low search volume campaigns are further handicapped by limited budgets, your account’s performance is only going to get worse. This is especially important if your keyword bids are high. Google will cap you campaigns somewhat prematurely to prevent them from overspending, because at a higher cost per click you’ll spend much more quickly. While this is a good thing in terms of managing cost, it’s not great for garnering more visibility, and sometimes you’ll need to set your budgets slightly higher than you’re actual budget to get them to spend your full goal amount.

Also, don’t start off spending too aggressively at the beginning of the month, as you’ll be much better served by gradually increasing your spend over the course of the month than having to pull back to stay within your budget goal. In my experience, during the months that I’ve started off too aggressively and had to pull back, my conversions have been the lowest, even when my cost per month has been the same from month to month.

Odds and Ends

I have just a final few tips to end on. Don’t discount the Opportunities tab in AdWords. Sometimes when I think I’ve exhausted all keyword options Google will suggest some really useful terms, and I can vouch for their success once they’ve been added to my account. Just be sure to take AdWords’ suggested location (campaign, ad group) with a grain of salt. Sometimes my best keywords have been suggested for other ad groups.

Lower search and click terms only make great (and relevant) landing pages that much more important. Once you’ve found your target audience and they click on your ad, you’ll want them to convert. So, invest the time and energy into developing quality pages, and research which type of page better serves your audience (long vs. short form, educational, etc.). If you need some help with your landing pages, be sure to check out our video post on landing page optimization. Dave also wrote a very helpful post on conducting a landing page audit.

I hope this post helps you better optimize your PPC account with an overall low search volume, and stay tuned for tomorrow’s post in our How I Manage A PPC Account With/Without ___________ series from Felicia about how she manages a PPC account with a small budget!