So, you’re running Paid Placement Campaigns (PPC) in Google, Yahoo, and MSN. You have set them up and you’re finally getting visitors to your site. That’s all you need to do, right? Wrong! It is absolutely imperative to ensure that your paid campaigns are running properly, and that you are using the most effective keywords and ad copy, bidding appropriately, etc. One of the biggest mistakes often made is to sit back and let the campaigns run on “auto pilot”. I can pretty much guarantee that your competition is not doing that and therefore, you should not be either.
That being said, how do you improve the effectiveness of your campaigns? Sometimes it is just a matter of tweaking your ad copy or changing your keywords. Other times, it could be revising your match type or increasing your bids. Match type refers to the way an engine matches your keywords to the actual terms people are searching for. For example: Broad Match would be the widest range possible, which means you will get coverage for any variation of your keywords. This happens to be the default setting. Exact Match, on the other hand, would require the searcher to enter your keywords exactly how you have them in your campaign. This will obviously limit your exposure significantly. It might take some testing to determine which match type is best for you based on your particular keywords.
In an effort to create an optimal SEM campaign, many companies dump vast quantities of broad, semi-relevant keywords into an account and then proceed to wonder why they are paying so much money for such minimal results. Don’t get me wrong, if you can manage the account properly, it is okay to start out with a keyword list that is a bit longer. After all, how else would you determine what keywords work best if you don’t try them?
The key here is to be picky, stay organized and follow trends. Begin with the preliminary research and select keywords that are relevant to your campaign goals. For added analysis, utilize third party tools for keyword variations, traffic flows and competitiveness.
Once you have your list of selected keywords, break them down into their prospective ad groups. Avoid vague ad group titles that give no clear reference to what keywords are contained within. Be as clear as possible – as you probably won’t be the only individual to utilize the campaign you are creating.
Check to make sure you have no duplicates and include your variations. Be sure your keywords are relatively niche or at least not too general. If you do have keywords that have the potential to generate unwanted traffic, be sure to embed them as phrase or exact match types with negative keywords for filtering purposes.
Launch your new campaign with the majority of your keywords as ‘phrase match’. As time progresses, keep an eye out for any unwarranted traffic spikes and be sure to monitor your budget, adjusting accordingly. Once there is sufficient data, you can begin your evaluations.
At this point it should be easy to identify which keywords are performing and you can begin to optimize your campaigns. Start by pulling any keywords with high costs and little to no conversions. By this time, if they haven’t converted, they probably won’t and will continue to deplete your budget. Continue by removing any keywords with little to no impressions or clicks; keeping poorly performing keywords in a campaign will hurt and ultimately lower your Quality Score.
Increase your budget allocation for the keywords that are converting and consider expanding any performing ad groups by updating the match types, including variations and/or adding new keywords. Likewise, if the overall performance of an ad group is lacking, feel free to drop the entire group and focus your efforts elsewhere.
Keep up-to-speed on all your campaigns and periodically adjust your bid pricing, match types, etc. You can even continue your optimizations by locating seasonal keyword trends and focusing on your ad copy and landing pages – but that is for another blog.