Our guru Kevin Jackson shares five keys for brands seeking to maximize their investment in paid search.
It wasn’t too long ago that an effective paid search strategy meant buying up every keyword you could think of for your brand. But robust analytics and other advanced tools and principles have made maximizing one’s investment in paid search easier and more important than ever before.
Kevin Jackson, our paid search sensei, shares his top tips for brands seeking to optimize results from this mercurial and oft-misunderstood part of the marketing mix.
Optimization Tip One:
Identify PPC goals and performance benchmarks.
Determining your goals for paid search will help inform your strategy, performance analysis, and adjustments needed to improve performance.
Ask yourself what you hope to gain from paid search. Do you care most about raising brand awareness, driving traffic to your website, increasing sales or conversions, or improving ROI? Answering this question will help you choose what metrics to focus on and how you should set up your campaigns to meet your goals.
Consider setting benchmarks to measure against. What is your willingness to pay for a click or conversion? What is the monetary value of a lead, sale or other actions that users can take on your website? Thinking through these questions will help you measure success and determine what PPC campaign optimizations or changes you should make to more effectively achieve your goals.
Optimization Tip Two:
Organize your account, campaigns, and ad groups based on your website structure and campaign goals.
Taking a thoughtful approach to account structure is essential to finding success in paid search. A disorganized account can prove difficult to manage and will often lead to suboptimal performance.
When planning your account structure, reference the structure of your website to get started. For example, an online clothing retailer that has apparel categories for men, women and kids on its website might consider creating the following campaigns: Men – Shirts; Women – Shirts; Kids – Shirts.
Each of your campaigns will house ad groups that contain your keywords and ads. These should be themed appropriately, and you can once again find inspiration through your website. For instance, under the Men – Shirts campaign, there might be ad groups for T-Shirts, Dress Shirts or Polos, each of which would contain keywords and ads specific to those themes.
While it’s important to align your account structure with your website structure, it’s equally important to consider your campaign goals. Budget and settings (e.g. bid strategy, location target, etc.) are set at the campaign level, so keep that in mind when deciding how to organize your account. For example, do you want to ensure that a certain amount of your budget is allocated to specific campaigns? If so, that is a factor to consider when organizing your account.
Optimization Tip Three:
Utilize automation to reach your search campaign’s goals more effectively.
Automated tools and features have come a long way in the past decade. Today it’s possible to simply tell Google Ads what your goal is for a campaign, and it will recommend an automated bid strategy to achieve that goal – an excellent way to drive efficient results.
Google’s automated bidding algorithms are extremely sophisticated and use machine learning to place bids in real time based on several different data points and user signals, such as interests, device, location and time of day. Paid search marketers can choose from a number of different bid strategies based on the goals of their campaigns:
Maximize Clicks or Maximize Conversions will optimize bids to drive as many clicks or conversions as possible within your daily budget.
Target CPA will optimize bids to drive as many conversions as possible within your target cost-per-action.
Target ROAS will optimize bids to meet a target return on ad spend (when you value each conversion differently).
Maximize Conversion Value will optimize bids to get more conversion value while spending your budget.
Target Impression Share will optimize bids to increase visibility by meeting your impression share target.
Responsive Search Ads are an ad type that adapts to show more relevant messages to users based on a larger selection of headlines and description lines determined by the advertiser. Over time, Google Ads and Microsoft Advertising will test different combinations of these headlines and description lines to discover which combinations perform best and increase the likelihood of a click. These ads are also eligible to perform in more auctions than Expanded Text Ads, which allows them to compete in more auctions and potentially drive more clicks and conversions.
Dynamic Search Ads are another adaptable ad type that uses information from your landing pages to generate headlines closely related to user queries. Rather than keywords, Dynamic Search Ads only require a target landing page to reference for matching terms. Google Ads and Microsoft Advertising will serve an ad with headlines that are automatically generated using titles or frequently used terms from your website that relate to or match to the user’s query. Not only do Dynamic Search Ads improve the relevancy of your ad copy, but they also serve as an insightful keyword discovery tool and can help fill keyword gaps in standard campaigns and ad groups.
Optimization Tip Four:
Prioritize and leverage first-party data and similar audiences.
With the forthcoming disappearance of third-party cookies, targeting the most relevant and qualified audiences will be more challenging than ever.
To prepare for this change, it is critical that brands and advertisers develop strategies to build on direct connections with their consumers and capture first-party, privacy-friendly data. This first-party data can be incorporated into the paid search targeting strategy directly. Or it can be used to build similar audiences for more expansive targeting opportunities.
Optimization Tip Five:
Test and optimize to continually improve PPC performance.
As is the case for most digital marketing channels, paid search is never a “set it and forget it” tactic. There are always things to test and/or optimize to help push the account forward and continue driving efficient results.
Some of the most common and beneficial tests involve comparing different bid strategies, new ad copy messaging, or even different landing pages. There is always something to be learned from testing, which is why it is a crucial component to maximizing the effectiveness of paid search.In addition to testing, developing a routine cadence for optimizations is a key component to a successful paid search strategy. Adjusting bid strategy goals and constraints, keyword and negative keyword sets, and other campaign settings go a long way toward improving performance. Completing optimizations regularly will help ensure that you get the most out of your paid search efforts.
Are your paid search efforts paying off?