Natural Progression of Campaign Optimization

Gerard Tollefsen - July 15, 2009

An important aspect of running a successful Pay-Per-Click (PPC) campaign is to identify strengths and weaknesses of the campaign and optimize based on relative data.  There is a natural progression to this optimization process and it’s important to avoid knee jerk reactions if you do not see stellar results right out of the gate.  Here are some ideas to consider when first launching a PPC campaign and what to look for when optimizing the campaign moving forward.

  1. Unless you already have a targeted audience or demographic in mind, it is always good to cast a “wide net” when first launching the campaign.  Be sure to conduct keyword research on popular search terms that are related to your business and identify the low, medium and high cost-per-click (CPC) terms.  To gain the greatest potential audience for your ads, set the match type in your campaign to broad match.
  2. Once your campaign has been active for a few weeks (timing may vary depending on how many clicks you generate at the start of your campaign and your budget) take a look at which keywords are converting and which are accruing multiple clicks without conversions.  Isolating the campaign or adgroup with the lowest performance can be a first step in the optimization process.  If you see your click-thru rate (CTR) is low, this could be an indication that your ad copy is not effective in attracting qualified visitors.  Test different ad variations with different calls to action.  If your click-thru rate is acceptable and your conversions are low, this could be an indication that your landing page needs work.  Test different landing page designs, adjust content and message; even moving images can make a difference.
  3. Be sure to analyze your keywords that are eating up a large portion of your budget without a return on your investment.  This could be a signal your campaign needs negative keywords.  Negative keywords can help limit your ad delivery on broad match terms that are relative to your business, but may also be associated with something completely different than your product or service.  For example, I have a client that sells Corona paint brushes, but I want to make sure the ads are not being displayed if someone is searching for Corona beer!
  4. If you find the “wide net” strategy cannot be implemented because of your budget, look to adjust the match types of your keywords.  Test both phrase match and exact match types for your keywords to limit your ad delivery.  This helps keep your daily spends in check while still having your ads delivered to highly targeted search queries.
  5. Converting keywords should also be optimized to ensure that you are gaining the highest return on your investment (ROI).  Review the average position of your keywords within the sponsored listings.  You may find that you can maintain a high conversion rate at a slightly lower position.  This can help bring down your cost per conversion, thus freeing up more budget to allocate to important keywords where the competition requires a slightly higher bid.

There are many ways to optimize a campaign but keep in mind there is no “standard operating procedure”.  Let the campaign data be your guide in the optimization process.  There is no better way to achieve success in your PPC campaign than to analyze your strengths and weaknesses and make smart decisions based on what the data tells you.  Stay the course and optimize with your main goal in mind.

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