There are two ways that we lose impression share in our campaigns: because of rank and because of budget. (Check out the PPC Hero Article about Maximizing Impression Share: How to Use Adwords Competitive Metrics if you want a better understanding of impression share). Losing impression share due to budget is somewhat easy to mitigate by either throwing more money into the daily budget (if it’s available), raising keyword bids on top performing keywords to maximize efficient spend, or utilizing Google’s automated bidding techniques like top of page CPC or maximize for clicks. However, losing impression share due to rank requires a little more digging on a manager’s part to understand why we are being outranked in the auction. Why are our ads ranked low? Is it the correlation between our ads and a search query? Is it the congruency of ad language to the landing page? Why, if we have a high percentage of impression share we have low CTR or low conversions? These are questions that we need to answer to figure out how to decrease our lost impression share due to rank.
Keywords to Ad Groups
The first place to look would be at keywords. Doing a search query report can help you identify what searches are making your ads show. This can help you in two different ways: 1) give you keywords to add to your account that are relevant to your landing page to improve CTR and 2) show what searches that pull up your ads that are not relevant to your landing page to add as negative keywords. Even though a search may show your ad often, giving you a high percentage of impressions, if it is not relevant to your landing page it will hurt your CTR and ultimately, your quality score. From your keyword digging, look at where your keywords are placed in the account. You want to have tightly-themed ad groups to be able to write ads using the theme and language of each ad group.
Which leads us to the second place to look at—your ad copy. Ask yourself a few questions: 1) does my ad copy have language using keywords that I am targeting, 2) does my ad copy have terms used on the landing page, and 3) does my ad copy communicate the action I want a user to take on the landing page. Ads are what your users see; they are a first impression. You as a manager want to put your client’s best foot forward. These ads must be of the highest quality.
Speaking of quality, check out your quality score. Running a quality score analysis can give you an idea of where Google thinks you are and what areas of your account need the most attention to raise your quality score. If you want a deeper insight into quality score, read this PPC Hero Blog post, The Ultimate Guide to Google Adwords Quality Score. A quality score can give you a well-rounded picture of the health of your account. It will show you the congruency between your keywords and your ads and your landing page. It will show you the relevance of what your users are searching for and what you are putting out into the auction for them to find.
After reviewing your keywords, ad groups, and ad copy there are a few quick setting optimizations you can make that can help you improve your rank. Utilizing Google’s automated bidding rules can push your ads into auctions/spots that manually you cannot push yourself into. If your client has any sort of goals (CPC or CPA) you can use Google’s tools to set your thresholds per your client’s goals. For example, if your client has a maximum CPA goal and you’re losing impression share due to rank, raising your CPA goal (while still within your client’s CPA range) can improve your rank. So, if your CPA max is $100 and you’ve previously set your goal at $50 because you’ve wanted to spend efficiently, raising that threshold will improve your rank. At first, you may see spend and cost increase but as you gain rank, improve CTR, and improve your quality score, you will end up spending less.
Take the time to look at your account and really analyze the structure (keywords, ad groups, ad copy, URLs, QS, etc). Search for the holes that are making your performance bumpy. Search for the areas that need to be filled in. It’s important to look at historical data to improve performance for the future. With digital marketing, the data is all there for us to dig up to find the hidden gems; it’s up to us as managers to search for it.