7 Quick Wins to Squeeze the Most out of Your Paid Search Campaigns

April 24, 2015

Digital Marketing Chris Denham By Chris Denham

You probably know that optimizing a paid search campaign requires a lot of time spent analyzing data and then formulating the right strategies. And it can be especially hard to find that time if you don’t have an employee dedicated to paid search.

But the good news is that managing your pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns doesn’t have to take days out of your week. Based on our experience working with retailers like you, we’ve put together a simple guide to help you earn some ‘quick wins’ from your paid search efforts.

1.  Keyword Bids

We can’t stress enough how important it is to get your keyword bids right. Though your goals can vary, there are three ways to optimize any account:

  • Increase bids on all your keywords that are in a position lower than 2.5 and that have generated a sale in the last 30 days with a cost-per-sale (CPS) at or better than your target.
  • Decrease bids on all keywords that have generated sales with a CPS higher than your target.
  • Find out which keywords (if any) haven’t contributed to sales in 90 days. You can pause these to free up budget for successful campaigns.

2.  Campaign Structure and Budgets

Why is campaign structure so important? Because it dictates the ‘when’, the ‘where’ and the ‘how much’ for your account. And if you get your structure right, you can focus your PPC with laser precision.

Maximize your coverage by separating your structure into top performing keywords and products, regional targeted activity and type of keyword (long tail vs. category level terms).

By building out your structure effectively, you’ll be able to ensure that your best terms receive a greater proportion of your budget.

3.  Automated Rules

As detail oriented as we might try to be, even the most determined among us can lose focus after scrutinizing thousands of keywords.

We recommend setting automated rules to take care of the bulk, leaving you to focus on the elements that make the biggest difference, such as data quality or customer service.

Our top three recommendations to explore with automated rules:

  • Increase any bids to keywords under position 2.5 that have helped lead to a conversion
  • Pause any keywords with over 500 impressions but 0 clicks
  • Cut CPCs to any keywords that have a high CPS

4.  Long Tail and Negative Keywords

Another quick way to boost your PPC campaigns is to run regular search query reports in Google with a focus on expanding your negative and long tail keywords.

Make sure every search term that has led to a conversion is in exact match with a high bid. You should also add any search term that’s definitely not useful (e.g., ‘free’) as a campaign-level negative keyword to every campaign so you’re not paying for clicks on these keywords.

Finally, ensure that any term that generates your highest click or impression volume is added or removed via long tail or negative keywords if necessary. Doing so will improve your click-through rate and Google Quality Score. If you have a Keyword that is generating a lot of volume (be it impressions or clicks) you need to figure out whether that volume is good volume. If you have a keyword generating 1000 impressions but zero clicks, it’s costing you money so you should consider adding it as a  negative. Equally, if you have a keyword that is generating 1000 impressions and 800 clicks this doesn’t mean it’s automatically good. High click volume keywords might actually be doing the most harm as they are actually costing money ( you could be bidding on ‘digital camera’  on a wider match type and the search you appear against is “why is my digital camera not working” – meaning those 800 clicks are wasted spend).

5.  Google Shopping

Google’s Shopping campaigns have fast become an essential part of any paid search strategy. In many cases, they offer performance that betters traditional keyword and text ads.

If you aren’t running product listing ads (PLAs), we definitely recommend testing them. Our top three recommendations for squeezing more from your Shopping campaigns:

  • Bid at a product level, pushing top sellers in particular.
  • Remember that negative keywords also work with Shopping campaigns, so make sure to add them.
  • Look for keywords in your search query data that you can also use in your regular keyword and text ads. For top-selling products, always look to ‘double serve’ with both a text ad and a PLA on the search engine results page.

6.  Ad Scheduling

An often-overlooked optimization is also one of the quickest: ad scheduling. By optimizing your bids for peak times of day or days of the week, you can be sure you’re getting the most from your PPC.

We recommend being mindful of how people are likely to search throughout the week. Volume at peak commuter time on a Monday will be very different to that on a Sunday evening – and analyzing the pattern of searches can lead to some useful insights.

Once you’ve analysed performance, you can increase bids during your top converting hours and days of the week. Consider backing your bids down during particularly competitive times of day, unless sales performance is particularly good (e.g., 13:00 can often see CPC and CPS spike). If budget is an issue, consider pausing activity during poor performing times and go live only during times that perform well.

7.  Bing

Finally, always consider expanding your top performing keywords from Google into Bing. Although volume may be lower, you can almost always gain additional conversions quickly. Better yet, you can usually complete the process in less than 30 minutes.

To help speed up the process, we recommend using ChannelAdvisor, Google and Bing tools.

 

We hope these tips help you squeeze the most out of your PPC campaigns! For more ways to improve your digital marketing performance, download 10 Digital Marketing Bad Habits You Need to Break.

 

Blog post by Chris Denham, campaign manager at ChannelAdvisor.