Picture this scenario…
You enter a Sporting Goods Store and ask an associate where you can find the camping equipment section. You are in need of a tent for your upcoming camping trip, plus you’re in a big hurry. It’s your lunch break and you only have a short window of time before you are due back at work. You are there to find your tent, quickly buy it and get back to the office. The associate directs you all the way to the back of the store and to the far right. You follow the instructions and arrive at the destination you were just sent to. You look around for camping equipment, only to find nothing close to that. Instead, you see golf clubs, golf bags, putters, etc. Confused and agitated you scan the store for a sales associate to help you find what you are actually looking for, but sadly no one is around to assist you and the store is so big, you literally have no clue where to go. Tick tock, tick tock goes your watch; a clear reminder that you are in a hurry. Finally, you let out a disappointed sigh and walk out of the store without making a purchase.
This above scenario, while obviously hypothetical, is very similar to what happens far too often in the online world. If I had a dime for every time I click on a pay per click ad and get directed to a page that is completely irrelevant, I’d be rich. Well, maybe not rich, but I’d have a whole lot of dimes. The bottom line is this…shame on you if you are spending good money on pay per click traffic, yet sending potential shoppers to irrelevant pages. If my search query is campaign equipment, the ad I then click on should absolutely be just that.
Some retailers prefer to send everyone to their home page, no matter what their search query, which is essentially like making your visitors conduct their search all over again. Why would you do that? You want it to be a “win win” experience. In other words, a win for you; you captured the visitor’s attention to get him to click on your ad in the first place; a win for the visitor, since he was sent to the appropriate page he was searching for. Everyone’s happy and there is a much more likely chance of this visitor converting into a sale if you make the process a seamless one.
If you think it makes little to no difference where you send your paid visitors to, I encourage you to run a test utilizing different landing pages. The outcomes should speak for themselves.
If you’re running your own Google AdWords campaign, I can guarantee that you’re paying for clicks that you would not want to pay for. It’s just a part of search engine marketing. Whether it’s because of click fraud, incorrect geo targeting settings, match type or a multitude of other potential factors, you can’t stop it: you can only hope to contain it. Here are a few ways you can refine your campaigns and weed out those wasteful clicks that could be lowering your ROI.
1. Search Query Report — This report allows you to see what exact queries triggered your ad to show up for that particular search. If you are using broad or phrase match, your ad can appear on the results page for queries related to (or variations of your keyword). By running this report, you can uncover words or phrases you don’t want to show up for and add those to your negative keyword list. Your negative keyword list tells Google not to display your ads if a search query contains a particular word or phrase.
2. IP Exclusion — The IP Exclusion tools is another method to avoid wasteful clicks. The IP Exclusion tool allows you to block certain IP addresses from seeing your ads on their search results page. This is good for two reasons. The first is internal searches. If you or members of your company have to do frequent searches on your advertised terms (without clicking on your ads), your click through rate can go down, ultimately lowering your quality score, which is what Google uses to determine your ad position. To combat this, simply add your internal IP addresses to the exclusion tool. Another remedy is to utilize Google’s Ad Preview tool. The ad preview tool allows you to conduct searches without affecting your quality score.
The IP Exclusion tool is also useful to combat fraudulent clicks. Although, the major search engines have taken large strides in protecting advertisers, click fraud still exists. If you are able to monitor IP addresses of your inbound traffic, you could potentially find fraudulent click patterns and exclude those IP addresses from seeing your ads.
3. Site and Category Exclusion — This pertains to Google advertisers utilizing the Content network. If you’re not running a specific site targeted campaign, and are just running a general content campaign, your ads may be showing on non relevant sites or sites with content that you do not deem appropriate or would not want to be associated with. This could potentially do harm to your brand. The Site and Category Exclusion tool allows Google Advertisers to exclude certain sites from displaying their ads. To find out what sites you are running ads on, you’ll need to run an ad placement report, located in the report section of your Google AdWords account. This is very similar to the search query report but displays websites, not keywords.
Sometimes it pays to be negative…especially when optimizing a Pay-per-Click (PPC) campaign. The main goal of Google and the other search engines is to deliver the most relevant paid (and natural) results to a search query when a visitor uses their search engine. Seems pretty simple and works exceptionally well when you have a well structured PPC campaign. If someone searches on a keyword that you feel is relevant to your business, be sure that keyword is included in your campaign. But what happens when the search query triggers your ad and the visitor isn’t the most targeted prospect? Well, you still have to pay for that click and if that continues over time, you could be wasting a sizeable portion of your budget on unqualified traffic. Implement negative keywords into your campaign to help cut costs, optimize your campaign and zero-in on your target customer.
For example, if you provide a high-end product or service, utilize negative keywords like “cheap”, “low cost”, and “inexpensive”. This will help filter out visitors who are looking for your “type” of product or service, but aren’t the target customer who can afford your product or service. It seems like a simple idea but the savings are real and the higher your target budget, the greater the cost savings. In addition, negative keywords will help overall campaign optimization because your ads will not be delivered to the wrong search query. You could expect to see higher click-thru rates (CTR) and better conversions as the visitors generated by your sponsored ads become more targeted.
Google has a keyword tool which helps campaign managers develop keyword lists. This same tool can be used to develop negative keywords as well. Leverage the broad match search settings within the tool and it could return thousands of possible keywords, many of which can and should be added to the campaign as negative keywords. In addition, if you have Google Analytics tracking on your site, utilize that tool to determine your best and worst performing keywords. By reviewing both the organic and paid traffic (and the keywords that generate that traffic) you can further expand your negative keyword list with the non-performing, budget wasting keywords.
Quite simply, by implementing negative keywords you can help optimize your campaign, drive more targeted traffic to your site and save money on your PPC costs. That is the formula for success in search engine marketing and ensuring a favorable return on your advertising spend.