4 Strategies For Optimizing Search Campaigns Limited By Budget

Shelby Nousain - August 5, 2016

We’ve all had the painful experience of logging into an AdWords account and seeing those 3 bright orange words jump out at us: “Limited By Budget.” It’s as if Google is telling us we’re doing something wrong, or that there’s an error in our campaigns.

What this notification essentially means is that based on your keyword list, targeting criteria, and campaign budget you’re missing out on ad impressions; all of which could be fixed if the daily budget is increased.

The challenge is that as marketers we’re constantly balancing budgets between different marketing initiatives and priorities. It’s not always quite as simple as increasing the budget, then moving on to the next item of our to-do list.

So what’s a marketer to do when they see this notification in one of their campaigns?

Here are 4 strategies that can be used individually, or combined with each other depending on your specific needs.

1. Use ad scheduling

Not all clicks convert at the same rate. Conversion rates often vary by time of day, and even day of the week. Now is one of the best times to optimize your ad schedule to only run ads when they convert best.

To implement this you’ll first need to run a conversion report by hour of day, or day of week to understand when conversion rates are the highest. This can be done in the AdWords Dimensions tab by selecting the time dimension you’d like to optimize your campaigns by.

Google AdWords Dimensions Tab - Hour of Day


After determining optimal ad schedule, head over to the Campaign Settings and Ad Schedule tab to implement into your campaign.


Google AdWords Campaign Setting Ad Schedule Tab


2. Lower CPC Bids

Lowering CPC bids is a great way to stretch a limited budget further and drive more clicks with the same budget. It’ll also lower the ad’s average position. Oftentimes this is viewed as a negative consequence, but in this circumstance it’s better to get more clicks at a lower CPC, and at a lower ad position, than it is to be in the top position and have budget drained by lunch time.

An optimal strategy when lowering CPC bids is to set max CPC at, or close to the average CPC over the previous 30 day period. This should naturally limit the amount of clicks a campaign will receive by 15% – 25%.


Google AdWords Max CPC Bid Selection

3. Optimize Keywords

Now is the perfect time to take a deeper look at keywords to determine which ones perform significantly better or worse than others. Any underperforming keywords should be paused, leaving only the top converting keywords live. This’ll give your best performers more exposure while limiting the overall spend capabilities of the campaign.

This is also an important time to sift through the search terms report to weed out any search queries that aren’t best aligned with reaching your target audience.

4. Move Budget From Lower Converting Campaigns

Campaigns often convert at different rates, and now is the perfect time to separate the top performers from the lower performers. When optimizing campaigns and reviewing budget allocations it’s critical to ensure the most valuable campaigns have the largest budgets.

This can be one of the easiest and quickest optimizations to implement. Simply sort all campaigns by Cost Per Converted click, and you’ll very easily be able to see where you can re-balance budgets to give the best performing campaigns the most budget.

Google AdWords Cost Per Converted Click Column

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