April 17, 2020
Pay-Per-Click marketing is one of the most popular and effective forms of online advertising available today.
In a nutshell, advertisers bid on keywords that are relevant to their business and they only pay when a searcher clicks on their ads.
The problem with running a Google Ads campaign is staying up-to-date. With Google and Microsoft constantly updating their platforms, it is very easy to fall behind by running outdated strategies and it’s your results that suffer.
Thankfully, Conduit has you covered! We took a deep dive through the Google Ads and Microsoft Ads platform, asked experts and reviewed all of our historical data to compile a comprehensive list of tips and tricks for building a highly-effective Google and Microsoft Ads campaign.
In any given month, we manage 1,400 campaigns over 90+ Nielsen markets so we know what it means to run a successful PPC campaign.
Want to crush results for your clients and drive even more ROI for their marketing dollars? Keep reading to learn our google ad tips and tricks to better optimize your campaigns.
GOOGLE ADS TIPS & TRICKS
You can’t create the perfect local search campaign without choosing the right goals. Are you looking to increase sales? Drive more leads? Obtain more website visitors? Knowing your goal is half the battle. Remember to choose the right goal that fits your business needs!
In order to boost your business to the top of the search results page when someone searches locally for one or more of your services, start off with a basic search campaign.
These campaigns are the bread and butter of the Google Ads platform. According to Blue Corona, 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine, and 47% of people click on one of the first three listings.
In order to effectively retarget people who previously visited your website, choose an RLSA (Remarketing List For Search Ads) campaign. If someone leaves your site without buying anything, this campaign type will help you reach these potential customers when they continue looking for what they need. Using an RLSA campaign has been proven to increase KPIs.
A plumber in Kentucky saw a 38% conversion rate increase leading to an increase in sales after the addition of an RLSA campaign!
Quickly direct potential customers to what they want by using a dynamic search campaign. If you have a well-developed website or a website that hosts a large inventory base, you should use a Dynamic Search Campaign to fill in any gaps that may exist in your keyword-based campaigns.
If someone searches for a product or service that you offer on your website, Google will use this content to select a relevant landing page while creating a clear, relevant headline for your ads.
An automotive dealer in Louisiana was looking to move used vehicle inventory off of their lot. A dynamic search campaign was implemented into their strategy which focused on the used vehicle inventory on their website. This local dealership saw a 200% increase in conversions!
If your main business goal is to keep the phone ringing, make sure you’re utilizing a call-only campaign. These campaigns are built to only show on mobile devices and will guide your searchers to call your business after they tap on your ad. Remember, you can set your call-only campaign to show during your business hours so you don’t miss any opportunity to connect.
A local plumbing company in Virginia added a call-only campaign to their strategy and saw a 53% increase in phone calls driven to their business in over just one month’s time! In addition to this, there was a 54% drop in cost per lead making the call-only campaign a success!
There are many advantages to baking a brand campaign into your strategy. Most local clients who are running a tight SEO strategy question whether or not they are wasting money by bidding on their brand name since they are already appearing at the top of the search results page anyway. This topic has been debated for years.
In short, the answer is no!
The more real estate you claim on the search results page, the better. Not only is bidding on your brand name cheap, if you don’t, your competitors will (if they aren’t already).
By running a brand campaign, you can craft ad copy that promotes all of your latest deals and grab the attention of your searcher which is something that you won’t be able to do organically.
Because of the relevancy between your branded keywords, ad copy, and landing pages you’ll also watch your account KPIs increase!
Not only will you grow your brand equity, but you can also evaluate just how people are searching for your brand online and quantify those searches.
Just sit back and watch your CTR (click-through-rate) and Quality Scores skyrocket!
After analyzing the data of a local cleaning company in Idaho, the incorporation of a brand campaign increased their conversion rate by 32% and decreased their cost per lead by 41%! Not only did their brand awareness increase significantly within their targeted area, but they also saw their phone ring off the hook!
The main purpose of your local search campaign is to fulfill your customer’s needs. Whatever services or products you’re offering, you want to make sure that everyone knows it!
Building out a search campaign that is tailored to your customers’ needs is your top priority. If there is one service or product that you’re looking to focus on, separate it from your services campaign and build it out on its own.
By doing this, you can control how much budget you put toward that particular campaign.
If you already have a Google Ads campaign running and you’re looking to optimize, you can break out high converting keywords into their own campaign for this same reason. It’s all about budget control.
Overthrowing your competition by running a conquest campaign is a no-brainer! Bidding on your competitor’s brand name is an effective way to steal their potential traffic, leads, and hard-earned sales.
There is one caveat, though. Your competitor’s brand name must not be trademarked. In order to avoid any massive penalties or legal issues, don’t mention your competitor’s name in your ad text.
Also, keep any mention of your competitor’s name out of your display URL.
For example, if you’re a local burger joint you don’t want the display URL attached to your ads to say “www.mysite.com/better_than_McDonalds.”
AD GROUP TIPS
Although ad groups are nothing more than containers that hold your keywords, structure matters! Get the perfect organizational structure by creating a tight-knit system that combines your keyword groupings, ad copy, and landing pages and ties them all together.
It’s also important to be consistent. The message in your ad copy and the landing pages you’re driving searchers to need to be relevant.
Doing these things will lead to more conversions and lower your cost. The reason you’ll generate more leads is simple.
For example, if someone is searching for “duct cleaning near me” and you’re an HVAC company that offers these services, you should have an ad group for duct cleaning.
Your ad copy boasts about your latest duct cleaning specials which entices the searcher. You then land the searcher on a landing page offering your latest duct cleaning special.
The odds that this potential customer will call you is much greater due to the relevancy between all of these things. You’re giving the client exactly what they’re searching for.
Creating ad groups that are well aligned will also lead to a higher quality score which in turn will lower your keywords cost per click. Paying less is something we all strive to do!
A pest control service in Indiana had a rather good average quality score of 6.5 out of 10. After making improvements to this client’s keywords and ads, their average quality score increased by 37% to 8.9. Year-over-year, their overall cost per click dropped by 45%!
A good rule of thumb when creating ad groups is to group them based on a common theme.
For example, let’s say you are a general contractor that offers home remodeling services. You offer flooring, home repairs, painting, room additions, and complete remodels.
While it may be easier to create one ad group and dump keywords for all of your service offerings in there, it’s not a good idea.
Someone searching for hardwood flooring wouldn’t benefit from seeing ads mentioning painting and vice versa.
In order to create an effective organizational hierarchy of ad groups, you should create at least one ad group for each service.
That way you can write your ad copy to be more relevant to the searcher who is looking for a specific service you offer.
By structuring your ad groups properly, you will maximize the effectiveness and profitability of your ads.
Google looks closely at your ad groups when deciding who should see your ads and when.
The more specific and focused you build out your ad groups, the more effective they will be.
By doing so, you aren’t only pleasing Google but you’re also creating a more user-friendly experience for your potential customer by giving them exactly what they’re looking for.
The key is to keep your messaging so highly targeted that the searcher has no choice but to convert!
In the PPC world, it’s all about customer intent. Although this is a controversial topic, most agencies will agree that SKAGs (Single Keyword Ad Groups) are a thing of the past.
It’s been thought that using one keyword in each ad group will allow for a more targeted approach and a more organized structure would be created.
The thinking is that if you build your ad groups to only focus on the exact keyword that someone is searching, chances are that your money would be well spent and lead to a conversion.
This is more than likely not going to be the case. Nearly a year ago, Google announced a change that was made to close variants of exact match keywords.
This change means that when someone is searching for a keyword or phrase, it no longer has to exactly match the keyword in your ad group.
Variations of your keyword, including implied words and paraphrases, are now taken into consideration.
Function words such as “the” and “for” can also be included. Ever since then, Google has gotten better at breaking down more complex long-tailed keywords.
If searches are now more based on intent, it only makes sense to build out your ad groups with that same mind frame.
If not, you could end up bidding against yourself due to the new rules of close variants.
For example, ‘auto dealership’ and ‘auto dealer’ are now considered the same and many SKAG ad groups are just variants of other keywords already in the account.
By using multi-keyword ad groups, you will not only save time and money but also reach your intended audience based on their intent.
A restaurant owner in Florida had an existing Google Ads account which was transferred over to Conduit. This account was structured using an extreme amount of SKAGs (single keyword ad groups). After restructuring the account into more manageable MKAGs (multi-keyword ad groups), we were able to eliminate excessive waste by 33% over the course of two months. In addition to this, the conversion rate increased by 54%!
According to Google’s best practices, all of your ad groups should contain at least three ETA’s (expanded text ads) and one RSA (responsive search ad). Doing so will allow you to test ad copy to see which ones are more relevant to your users’ search queries.
ADS & COPYWRITING TIPS
Effectively reaching your target audience with relatable and actionable ad text is crucial, but ensuring you aren’t a blip on the radar is also important. Make sure you are maxing out those character limits and taking up SERP real estate!
Increased screen-real estate means increased visibility, especially on mobile devices. Based on data collected by Wordstream, just by adding ad extensions, CTR has been seen to jump by 12% meaning that expanding your exposure further down the SERP will only help to increase awareness and engagement.
Using exact numbers when referring to price points or customers served is more believable when not using a generic-rounded number that blends in. For example, “Over 1,000 Satisfied Customers” doesn’t quite tell the story that “1,546 Satisfied Customers” does.
Conduit used this tactic when setting up Callout Extensions in a lawyer from Florida’s campaign, and we saw the conversion rate increase by 39% in the ads that showed the specific extension!
Using a keyword throughout the headlines and descriptions of an ad boost relevance in the eyes of Google and searchers. This will improve Quality Scores and help to reduce your cost per click.
Unless searching for Branded terms, consumers are looking to alleviate a need they have. Focusing on writing ad copy from the perspective of why the searcher is there in the first place is a great start.
Especially for brick and mortar stores, proximity and convenience are huge factors in a customer’s choice. Identifying yourself as a member of the local community creates a level of comfort and familiarity as well.
The beauty of Responsive Search Ads is in the freedom that Google has to mix and match your headlines and descriptions for the best performance.
Wordstream states that pinning headlines reduces this freedom, thus reducing the potential for the algorithm to find the optimal ad text combination.
Based on how Responsive Search Ads work, it is optimal to max out the headlines and descriptions in one ad than to have multiple ads.
Also, as mentioned earlier, utilizing Responsive Search Ads always advertisers to take advantage of Google’s algorithm which finds the best ad creative match up.
As previously stated, and according to Google, adding more ad content in the form of extensions increases the visibility and often the number of clicks your ad receives. However, do not get ad-extension fever and add extensions that don’t offer any value for your business.
From looking at our data, campaigns that include call outs, site links, and structured snippet extensions see an increase in CTR of 45%!
Extensions can be added at the Account, Campaign, or Ad Group level. For example, say you are running a campaign for an Electronics Store that has ad groups broken out by product types offered with one ad group focusing on ‘Televisions’. Using a Structured Snippet specifically listing the Brands of televisions at this ad group’s level to make the ad hyper-relevant to the searcher’s need.
Reassuring the fact that more ad content leads to more engagement, Google states that including sitelinks increases the click-through rate by 30%.
Sitelinks allow you to cast a wider net out to your target audience. Let us give you an example. If a campaign is selling sweaters, adding additional links to different types of sweaters will help increase the likelihood that you are displaying a solution to a specific consumer’s specific need when they are served your ad.
Google allows the option to add descriptions to your Sitelink extensions to include additional information about the page.
These descriptions also make each Sitelink extension more prominent on the SERP, in turn increases the visibility of your overall ad.
We used Sitelink Extensions for a client trying to sell newly-constructed condominiums in Florida giving users the option to go directly to the Contact page, see the basic blueprints of the units offered, and jump right to images of the residences.
When analyzing the data, we saw that ads that included Sitelink Extensions increased by click-through rate by 20%!
Use Callout Extensions to highlight additional unique selling points of choosing your business, whether overall at the account level or more specifically at the ad group level.
When the campaign for a plumber located in Indiana was launched by Conduit, we originally used campaign-level generic Callout Extensions.
We eventually broke the campaign into campaigns focusing specifically on ‘Installation’ and ‘Repair’ keywords respectively, and while doing this we created specific Callout Extensions to showcase the offers in these specific service areas.
Where you can, it is beneficial to showcase USPs that will give you an edge over the competition.
Structured Snippets allow you to create an extension centered around choosing a header or category, and showcasing what your business has to offer within that category, known as values.
For example, if you were advertising for a shoe store and creating a structured snippet at the account level, you may choose ‘Styles’ as the header and ‘Running’, ‘Casual’, ‘Dress’, and ‘Sandals’ as the values.
You want to make sure that the values you plan on showcasing align with the header you choose to go with.
This could create a mismatch and confusion in the eyes of the consumer, but the ads could also get disapproved by Google altogether.
Google reported that 70% of mobile searchers make a phone call to a business directly through the ads.
This ties back to the shorter path to conversion, as one less action needs to be taken. This is also more pertinent to Local campaigns, as a higher percentage of visitors will traditionally be searching from mobile devices.
For Local Businesses that are tied to a consumer’s need for a higher level of immediate contact and a sense of urgency, supplying them with a number to call as soon as they search can be a huge help to them and your conversion rate.
As often as possible, try and create a Call Extension using a number with a local area code as we have seen this familiarity increase the CTR.
A tow truck service in Indiana saw a 40% conversion rate when only looking at conversions generated by the call extension using a local area code.
Although still in beta, Lead Form extensions can be a great way to collect consumer data and generate leads.
By customizing the extension, lead form itself, and the submission message that users see after submitting their information, your ads can be set up to collect leads right from the SERP.
You’ll most likely want to attach your Lead Form Extension to a webhook, as the other option is a CSV download of all the submissions get wiped after 30 days, stated by Google.
To set this up, simply input your webhook’s URL and key under ‘Lead Delivery Option’ when setting up your Lead Form Extension.
Like Lead Form extensions, Message Extensions allow users to contact a business, or convert, directly from the SERP.
Decreasing the path-to-contact and increasing the size of your overall ad, CTR’s have been seen to increase by 50% when Message Extensions were included by Wordstream.
When setting up, you can choose to have messages sent directly to a phone number in the form of text messages.
The other option is to have the messages sent to an email address, and then your responses will get sent back to the customer in the form of a text message on their mobile device.
This is pretty self-explanatory, but if you choose to have messages sent to a phone number when setting up your Message Extension, the phone number you use must be able to receive and send text messages.
Like other ad extensions, you can use ad scheduling to dictate when your Message Extensions can accompany your ads when they are served.
If the business has limitations during certain days of the week or hours of the day in terms of being able to respond, make sure to schedule this while setting up your Message Extensions to ensure that leads are not being missed and inquisitive customers are not messaging a non-responsive number in their time of need.
Make sure to enable ‘Message Reporting’ to ensure that you are able to track and report on the data that your Message Extensions collect.
Location Extensions are set up by linking a Google My Business account to a Google Ads account.
By simply linking these accounts, the business location, as well as the contact information, will automatically display underneath your search ads.
Enabling a Location Extension, your ads will become eligible to show in search results of Google Maps, which becomes more crucial when reaching a user who has shown local intent.
Not sure how to link to your Google My Business listing? Look no further.
When running a hyper-local and mobile-focused auto body shop campaign in Alabama, Conduit saw that pairing mobile bid adjustments with the Location Extension generated a conversion rate of over 50%!
Make sure that the Google My Business account information is cleaned up and accurate, as Location Extensions give the advantage of including a clickable business address and phone number, which get pulled directly from the Google My Business listing.
These provide users with additional ways to convert and gain information about your business, especially those with more local intent.
Having your business information up to date on the listing is one of the quickest ways to optimize it to increase organic traffic!
SERP visibility has been linked to CTR increases in a multitude of these tips, and additionally serving ads in the Local Search Ads pack adds to this. Following a local search, Google will showcase eligible ads paired with ‘Get Directions’ and ‘Call Buttons’ underneath a map of where your business is located relative to the searcher.
These listings are shown amongst organic ‘local results’, but being eligible to serve ads here is one more point of visibility with action items that local searchers can take towards contacting or choosing your business.
Price Extensions allow you to include a carousel of snippets under your ad text containing the associated prices of up to 8 of your individual products or services.
As price is arguably the largest competitive advantage one can have, utilizing price extensions so showcase this can play a great role, especially in local markets.
When running a local summer-vacation destination’s campaign in New Jersey, we found that including price extensions tied to the activities that visitors would be able to find there (and more importantly that local competitors were also offering) specifically drove a click-through rate of 28%!
Google allows you to set up a ‘Price Qualifier’ to accompany the price you advertise per product or service. These qualifiers include ‘From’, ‘Up To’, and ‘Average’ that allow you to dictate how these prices are presented to searchers.
They also allow for a tad more freedom in terms of constantly keeping your Price Extensions contingent with the exact prices you are offering in-store.
While being able to include individual final URLs per product or service being showcased, you want to make sure that users are being taken to a relevant one.
A click on a specific price within the carousel implies more intent than a more general click on overall final URL, so you want to make the client’s path to conversion as fluid as possible.
Promotion Extensions are designed to advertise any enticing sales or discounts that a business is currently running and separates these out under the traditional ad text where they can blend in and get lost.
Google gives you the option of using ‘Monetary Discount’, ‘Percent Discount’, ‘Up To Monetary Discount’, or ‘Up To Percent Discount’ Promotion types.
You also have the option of using ‘On order over’ or ‘Promo Code’ Promotion details if there are certain requirements associated with the promotion being offered.
Promotion Extensions can be set up with start and end dates, meaning that you can very easily ensure that these extensions are not running outside the life of your sale or discount.
The account managers at Conduit have found it much simpler to use this method over the more-time-consuming and messier approach of duplicating ads, swapping out promotional headlines and descriptions, and applying automated rules to enable or pause certain ads when sales or discounts begin or end if the promotional ads are not driving to their own landing page.
Promotion Extensions give you the freedom of not worrying about promotional ad text running at inaccurate times, while also providing a very visible and enticing spot on the search results page to reach users.
If you are advertising for a business that values app downloads, utilizing App Extensions is a surefire way to increase exposure and generate conversions.
By linking to a page on an app store, you can create a direct link under your text ad accompanied by a call-to-action that you create.
You would never send traffic to an irrelevant, unenticing landing page, right? Right, you wouldn’t. So why send users to a poor page in the respective app store that doesn’t promote the path to conversion?
View these pages as any other traditional landing pages, that is, as the next important step to securing a conversion. Not sure how to create the perfect landing page for your ppc campaign? We’ve got you covered.
If your campaign is segmented by ad groups focusing on specific service areas or products that you offer, ensuring that your ads drive to hyper-relevant landing pages that match the keywords you are bidding on can impact ad performance immensely.
User experience is the driving force behind Google Quality Scores, and Landing Page Experience is one of the three pillars that impacts it.
Driving to a relevant Landing Page will increase Quality Scores which will, in turn, increase your click-through rate and help you drive more conversions.
Piggybacking off of the previous tip, creating specific ad groups that drive to pages that are as relevant as possible to the keywords that you are bidding on will reduce the path to conversion, which will, in turn, help you drive more conversions. The more you require users to navigate to where they ultimately are most likely to convert, the more bounce opportunities they are provided with.
An ad that shows when someone searches for “foam top surfboards” should drive to the page showcasing all of and only the foam top surfboards that you offer.
When optimizing the campaign for a Plastic Surgeon in Florida that had been running for some time, Conduit made the ad groups more granularly-focused while driving to procedure-specific subdomains on the site. After analyzing the data for a month, we saw the conversion rate increased by 17%!
Local intent is incredibly powerful, and understanding that nurturing this can help your business will go a long way.
Creating familiarity by using phone numbers with local area codes, showcasing business locations on maps, and using local imagery are all ways that you can relay your locality to page visitors.
After all, in a survey taken by Uberall, 82% of smartphone shoppers use “near me” while searching.
Driving users to a relevant landing page is crucial, but making conversion points clear, at the forefront, and above the fold of the other aspects of the page can have a major impact on optimizing your campaign’s conversion rate. Any additional step required by the user has the potential to be the point at which they bounce, so why drag out the path to conversion?
While running a campaign for a hospital in Kentucky, we A/B tested where the lead form and phone number were located on the landing page relevant to the statistics and informative text.
We found that pushing the lead form and phone number to the uppermost right corner of the landing page resulted in the conversion rate doubled!
Revisiting the idea that you want to make the conversion path as seamless as possible for the user, requesting impertinent information or including a tedious form that takes a long time to fill out will almost always result in a lower rate of conversion.
Especially with elastic services and products where the user has many options to satisfy their need, elongating the conversion process will negatively impact the user experience.
According to Wordstream, eclipsing 7 fields of information on a form results in a steep drop off.
Like anything else, there is always room for improvement. Even what may appear to be the obvious right choice in content or page-layout can be tested and will often times surprise you.
A/B testing one aspect of your page at a time over the life of your campaign will hone in on the most optimal landing page to drive to. This is a slow process, but one that surprisingly most marketers fail to utilize.
Conduit has been running a PPC campaign for a hospital specializing in cancer treatment in Tennessee, and while slowly A/B testing the landing page, we have been able to hone in on a page that has driven a 106% increase in conversions compared to the initial page!
Bidding on the brand name comes with a multitude of benefits that outshine the belief that users would reach your site and convert anyway.
While your organic listing will be in the search results as well, making sure that you have an ad in the #1 spot takes up more Branded space on the search results page and will also ensure that you stay listed above competitors who may be using conquesting keywords (i.e. bidding on your brand name.)
Also, being able to dictate the copy within the ad (unlike an organic listing) allows you to utilize current sales and promotions to pre-qualify searchers who are most likely further down the path to purchase relative to users who have not searched for branded terms.
To start, familiarizing yourself with and clicking through the subdomains of a website will help you hone in on an extensive list of products or services offered.
Keyword modifiers allow you to create additional ad groups with keywords more relevant to their respective ads.
To put it simply, modifiers create longer-tailed keywords with each modifier that is added. Searchers on mobile devices have shown a lot of local intent, which is why “near me” has been an immensely common modifier that marketers tend to include in their local campaigns. In this case, structuring an ad group around this modifier would allow you to test creating geo-based ad copy, increasing bid adjustments on mobile devices, and creating ad extensions with a larger focus on your proximity.
Regularly utilizing the power of the Search Terms Report is the backbone of finding new keywords, match types you should be including, and keywords or phrases that are eating up a budget that you should be negativing out of your campaign.
Having a scan through this report as often and as granularly as possible at the ad group level will be in your best interest.
As search terms build up over time, the list of search terms that you are paying for can get very expensive in a hurry and difficult to analyze.
Also, looking through the Search Term Report at the Campaign level can be difficult for this same reason, but more so because of the fact that you need to see which ad group pulled in each search term.
Analyzing the report at each ad group’s level is the best approach, as the list is smaller, you will know exactly what keywords you are bidding on relative to the search terms you are looking at, and optimizing right in that same ad group becomes easier.
Getting ahead and staying on top of implementing negative keywords can have a massive impact on the health and success of your campaigns.
Bidding on the ‘right’ keywords ensures that your ads are being served to your target audience, but negative keywords are equally as important because they ensure that your ads are not being served for the ‘wrong’ search terms.
Let’s look back at the shoe store example. If you were advertising men’s boots, but the business did not specifically sell waterproof men’s boots, then you would want to include “waterproof” as a negative keyword.
Plain and simple, when used effectively, implementing negative keywords is a surefire way to increase your campaigns’ ROI because you dwindle down your wasted ad spend from users outside of your target audience as you keep adding them.
The Search Term Report can be used to find keywords to bid on that you aren’t taking advantage of, but you can also use the report to see search terms that triggered your ads that you don’t want to be paying for.
Similar to using it to find keywords, you’ll want to stay on top of implementing these negative keywords by scanning over the Search Term Report as often as possible at the ad group level.
You also could be wasting ad spend at any moment.
Understanding match types will go a long way in terms of how your negative keywords impact your campaign.
Like regular keywords that you bid on, you can choose to make a negative keyword Broad Match, +Broad +Match +Modified, “Phrase Match”, or [Exact Match].
The differences between these match types and how they dictate how your negative keywords function will determine what search queries will serve your ads.
If you have created similar ad groups having keywords that are similar and maybe one modifier away from one another, it is important to make sure that they are not competing and cannibalizing each other.
You may see that a variation of a keyword is performing very well and decide to separate it out into its own ad group or campaign. When you do this, it is imperative to use this longer-tailed keyword as a negative in the other ad group.
Using the ‘waterproof men’s boots’ example yet again, when creating the ‘waterproof men’s boots ad group, also be sure to include “waterproof men’s boots” as a negative keyword within the “men’s boots” ad group.
Otherwise, these two ad groups would bid on the same keyword and compete with one another whenever a user in your location targeting search for “waterproof men’s boots”, in turn increasing your cost per click and your cost per conversion.
Many digital marketers view negative keywords as the go-to when looking for ways to optimize a PPC campaign, so why not launch a campaign that is already ahead of the optimization curve?
Including a negative keyword list into a campaign prior to going live will limit wasted ad spend from the start and make sure that the campaign is putting its best foot forward.
Many times, product or service campaigns can benefit from a generic list of negative keywords to start with.
Very common baked-in negative keywords include employment keyword modifiers like “jobs” or “hiring” for non-recruitment campaigns and informative keyword modifiers like “do it yourself” or “how-to” to negate users that aren’t looking for meet a need with your product or service.
That all being said about how great negative keywords can be for serving your ads to your target audience and boosting ROI, they should be handled with extreme care.
As you can imagine, a poorly placed negative keyword can flip the performance of your campaign upside down as it could hinder your ads from getting served to a portion or all of your target audience. This could have a devastating blow to your conversion rate and leave you scratching your head asking yourself, “Why has my conversion rate dropped 50%?”
All the while, a negative keyword was blocking your ads from serving! We recommend taking the time and adding negative keywords at the ad group level, as adding them at the campaign level increases the risk of including a nagging negative keyword in an ad group that it shouldn’t be.
Also, if negative keywords are being added in bulk at the start of a campaign or down the line, they should always be heavily vetted for any negative keywords that would negate valuable traffic.
Having a major impact on campaign efficiency, negative keywords filter out traffic outside of your target audience which can lead to drops in cost-per-click and cost-per-conversion.
This was the case for a home remodeling company in Idaho, as while we were continuously adding negative keywords that we found by looking through the Search Term Report over a 6-month period, we saw the cost-per-conversion drop by 53%!
Adding audience targeting to your PPC strategy has been proven to boost a search campaign’s performance by reaching people who are browsing websites, using apps, or watching videos. You can add audience targeting at the campaign or ad group level.
Doing so is a good way to reach people based on who they are, what their interests and habits are, or by how they’ve previously interacted with your website.
Don’t just add random audiences to your campaigns just for the sake of adding them. Be strategic!
If you’re looking to add in-market audiences to a campaign keep in mind you may sometimes be limited based on the categories provided by Google. For example, you’re looking to add relevant in-market audiences to a funeral home campaign.
There is no specific option in Google to choose anything slightly related to this industry. You can get creative and add in-market audiences to people who are actively searching for flowers in your area.
Since the two may go hand in hand, you may be able to reach people who are also looking for your services.
A weight-loss company in California was unable to add in-market audiences to their campaign due to the limited audiences listed in Google Ads.
After adding in-market audiences for food, baked goods, and chocolates, this company saw a 21% increase in conversions over the course of two months! Don’t be afraid to be creative!
Create a remarketing list that targets people who’ve visited your website but didn’t convert.
There’s only one caveat. Your remarketing list must contain at least 1,000 visitors before you’re able to add it to your search campaign.
Let’s say you’re a shoe store owner looking to target customers who previously interacted with your business.
If, for example, you have a user searching for running shoes, who then showed an interest in your website by looking at prices of the latest pair of Nike sneakers, this person may have left your website to continue comparing prices because they were only in the research stage.
If you have a remarketing tag on your website, cookies would be used to track this person and they would be added to your remarketing list.
Since they are in the research phase, they would more than likely be searching for shoes again and will get served your ad. Google’s best practice is to write ad copy that entices this person, boasting about specific savings given to first-time customers, for example.
Your odds of hooking them into the sale will be greater than someone whose ad is geared toward having a large inventory selection since the searcher’s intent is deeper down the funnel.
Not to mention, they already showed interest in your product or services. Also note, due to privacy concerns, there are some verticals in which remarketing is restricted such as in the healthcare industry for example.
Don’t let that stop you. Instead of using remarketing lists, try adding relevant in-market audiences to your campaigns.
You can use your online and offline data to target your customers in order to increase conversions or drive brand awareness. Start off by building a customer list using information your customers already shared with you.
The list may contain customers’ names, phone numbers, email addresses, and zip codes. This data can easily be downloaded to an excel file from your existing CRM system.
Don’t forget this list must consist of 1,000+ members. After uploading this list into your Google Ads account, you will be able to target ads to those specific customers and other customers just like them.
Choose from audience lists compiled by Google which consists of customers who are actively searching for products or services like yours.
These lists are categorized so you can easily choose them based on a consumer’s general interests and behavior. Google uses machine learning to compile these lists based on billions of search queries and browsing activity to predict purchase intent.
Because of this, you have the ability to target people who are lower in the purchase funnel and are closer to converting.
You can layer in-market audiences with other audience targeting options for a more granular approach.
According to Google, there is a limit of 5,000 audience lists you can add to an account but there’s no need to go above and beyond. Make sure you are adding an amount you can test and manage.
In order to reach new users who are similar to your already existing, top-performing remarketing audiences, focus on similar audiences.
These lists consist of new users with similar characteristics to your website visitors. Using these lists will help you reach new potential customers.
The Google Ads platform will look at the millions of people searching on Google and compare this information to the aggregated data collected in your current remarketing lists in order to build similar audiences.
Google will then automatically update your similar lists as your original remarketing lists evolve.
An appliance store in Alabama saw a 23% increase in conversions after adding similar audiences to their campaigns.
A remarketing list was created which consisted of users who purchased refrigerators.
Similar audiences analyzed the existing remarketing list and then gathered data from new users searching for terms such as “buy new refrigerator” and added them to this list.
Because of this, we were able to reach pre-qualified users searching for refrigerators who have never visited the website.
Implement Google’s affinity audiences to reach people based on their passions, habits, and lifestyles.
These audiences are created by Google based on browsing and search history. The targeting can be a bit broad so make sure to implement these lists into a well-thought-out strategy.
For example, if you’re looking to implement affinity audiences for a sporting goods company, consider adding the Sports Fan affinity audience.
Get your creative juices flowing by building your own highly tailored custom affinity audience lists.
With custom affinity, there are several unique advantages to choose from compared to the other targeting methods offered by Google.
First, you have the ability to target audiences based on specific URLs based on recent web activity.
Let’s say you have an auto dealership whose main focus is to sell used vehicles. More than likely, they have a website with a used vehicle page.
With custom affinity audiences, you’re free to target only those searchers who’ve visited the dealership’s used vehicle page. Remember, after inputting your variables, you’ll be able to preview the estimated size of your audience list!
Use custom affinity audiences to target users that visit your competitor’s website. All you have to do is build your list to include all of your top competitors by inputting their name of business or website URL and you’re off to the races!
Build a list that targets specific keywords and search terms based on people’s interests or places they might frequent.
For example, if you’re looking to create targeted lists that target surfers, consider entering places that an avid surfer might be interested in like gyms, a sporting goods store, or a health food store.
Use these terms to build out your audience list.
When building out your lists, it’s important to choose the right setting based on your campaign goal.
When implementing an audience, you can either choose to set it up as targeting or observation.
Choosing the wrong setting is one of the most common mistakes people make as it’s a crucial piece of the puzzle that will either make or break your campaign.
If you’re running a remarketing campaign, for example, be sure to set your RLSA audiences to “targeting.”
This means your ads will only be shown to people on that specific list. If, for example, you’re looking to implement in-market audiences into your search campaigns, be sure to choose the “observation” setting.
Doing so means you are not limiting your ads to only be shown to a specific list. If you accidentally set up your remarketing lists as “observation” you will see a lot more traffic coming in and costs will be a lot higher.
Because your search terms are broader, you could end up spending a ton of money on an audience that was meant to be limited.
After some time has passed and you are able to analyze how the lists are performing, you can introduce bid adjustments.
This will allow you to bid a bit higher on top-performing lists while attempting to bring in more conversions!
Conversely, if you want to bid more on one list, but less on another, you can always decrease your bids on a specific list.
Strategically reach your targeted audience using demographic targeting. Google collects demographic data from users based on their settings and their activity within your Google Ads account.
Because of this, you can target specific users based on their gender, age, household income, and parental status.
A cancer center in California was looking to schedule consultations for potential prostate cancer patients.
By layering in demographic targeting to reach men aged 50+, based on the fact that the risk for getting prostate cancer is greater after that age, the conversion rate increased by 18% in just one month!
Reaching the right audience and continuously testing is imperative to improve your campaign’s performance. If you have CRM data available to you, it would be beneficial to analyze this data to get to know who your customers are.
You can then take this knowledge and apply it to building audience lists in your local search campaigns.
Use demographic exclusions to omit specific demographic targeting. This function is similar to adding negative keywords to a search campaign.
There’s no need to waste ad spend any longer on people who don’t fit your demographic!
Once you’ve gathered data from your demographic targeting, you can segment bids based on the performance you’ve analyzed.
For example, implementing a bid modifier to your highest converting audiences can not only help you reduce wasted ad spend but also increase ROAS.
Be sure to enable auto-tagging under your account settings tab to ensure proper tracking is implemented.
By choosing to turn this feature on, Google will automatically place a tracking parameter to your URLs to help you track offline conversions and report on your performance using tracking platforms such as Google Analytics.
The information that’s gathered can help you see which keyword drove traffic to your website, which particular campaign the keyword came from, and the cost of that keyword.
Since enabling auto-tagging is one of Google’s best practices, we’ve made it one of ours as well!
Unless we are provided a specific URL that’s already UTM tagged by the client, we turn on auto-tagging every time!
Doing so allows us to go a step further in the customer journey by analyzing what happens after the ad click.
If you’re utilizing the message ad extension in your ads, make sure you turn on message reporting so you don’t miss an opportunity to gather detailed information about messages triggered by your ads.
According to Google, a forwarding phone number will be assigned to your ads which will allow for the tracking of messages.
What this feature will do is allow you to view reports that you can analyze and then make campaign optimization decisions.
Boost the performance of your local search campaigns by enabling ad suggestions.
Google will take variations of your existing ad copy and create text ads and automatically add them to your campaigns.
According to Google, research has shown that ad groups with 3 or more high-quality ads can get up to 5% to 15% more clicks or conversions than ad groups with only 1 ad, provided ad rotation has been optimized.
Not only will you save time by not having to create different variations of your ad copy, but you’re also taking advantage of Google’s savvy artificial intelligence.
If you don’t like a particular variation, all you have to do is edit or dismiss the suggestion!
If your business hours and days that you are open dictate when a customer can contact you, then it will be beneficial to use ad scheduling in your campaign.
If you’re advertising for a restaurant or a plumbing company that has off-hours where no one would pick up the phone, a click-to-call would result in wasted ad spend, and the customer would have a bad user experience.
Utilize Ad Scheduling so your ads only serve during times when someone is sitting on the other end of the phone to ensure you aren’t missing out on leads.
Understanding this can be extremely beneficial for Local campaigns and local intent, as you wouldn’t want users who are looking to visit your location to be served an ad when you are closed and potentially ruin customer relations.
Dayparting refers to using Ad Scheduling to only run your campaigns and ads during certain hours of the day.
Especially with a limited budget, dayparting allows you to schedule when your ads are running to optimize towards generating maximum conversions.
This may not be an actionable tactic for every campaign, but using it where it can help will help you squeeze every last drop out of your budget.
Another tactic that is similar is to utilize the bid adjustments within ad scheduling to bid more or less aggressively during certain times of the day or week.
This could be beneficial for a campaign that competitively cannot afford to not have ads running, but has actionable trends to take advantage of.
In these situations, you would essentially create a schedule to run all day with the bid adjusted portion of the day separated out so that you can increase or decrease bids within those hours, and run the rest of the day normally with no changes.
Within Google’s Pre-Defined reports in the top-right of the Google Ads platform, the ‘Time’ section gives you the option to see campaign data broken out by day, day, week, month, quarter, year, and hour of day.
For the purposes of setting up ad scheduling and dayparting, you will mostly only need to analyze the ‘hour of day’ and ‘day of week’ to get the data you need to make an analytical decision on if ad scheduling is a good option for you and when to set it up.
Noticing that your campaign drives many more phone calls during the evenings would be a lay-up if you were familiar with using Ad Scheduling.
Being able to run a call-only campaign from the hours of 4 PM to 11 PM would help you take full advantage of this analytical data!
A Conduit client who is a plumber in Missouri reached out to us to let us know that they would be getting more limited in terms of being able to answer lead phone calls.
So, we created ad schedules strictly around their business hours, and bid more aggressively during the morning hours as we saw the most conversions being generated then.
By utilizing this strategy, we were able to generate a 99% increase in conversions compared to the previous month that we were not using ad scheduling!
The Google Ads platform allows you to dictate what devices your ads can get served on. Using bid adjustments in the “Devices” tab within a campaign, you can manipulate how your campaigns bid on mobile devices, desktops, and tablets.
By decreasing a device’s bid by 100%, you can restrict your ads from serving on that device entirely.
By using a hyper-local tactic of targeting a small radius around the location and only serving ads on mobile devices, we were able to target the local audience and drive foot traffic to an auto body shop in Alabama resulting in a conversion rate of 51%!
Using Google Ads Reports, you can segment campaign data by ‘Device’ under the ‘Targeting’ section.
By analyzing your campaign’s data in this view, you’ll have the tools to make data-driven decisions on what device bid adjustments to make to your campaign to boost your conversions and make the most of your budget!
If you are advertising for a business that places a lot of value on phone call leads, then increasing bids to generate Calls within the ‘Advanced Bid Adjustment’ tab will be a useful feature.
Google explains that making these Advanced Bid Adjustments increases or decreases the frequency with which one of your ads is shown with the click-to-call Call extension.
This feature allows you to manipulate how often your number is shown, which can make all the difference for local businesses who place more value on users clicking to call.
After familiarizing yourself with a client’s website or just compiling a complete list of your own service areas and products offered, take advantage of the Keyword Planner in Google Ads.
By using the ‘Start With A Website’ option, Google will crawl the pages of your website and return a list of keywords based on search volume within the geographic and time parameters that you set. The ‘Start With Keywords Option’ allows you to input keywords that you have already compiled to see other related search terms and their respective search volume in Google.
This tool allows you to vet your list of keywords prior to launching a campaign to ensure that you are not missing out on any potential searches that would fall within your target audience.
Using the Keyword Planner in the same way as finding keywords to bid on, the tool can also open your eyes to related searches that you may want to make sure do not trigger your ads.
There may be some niche keywords that fall within a product or service category that you do not offer, and the Keyword Planner can help you identify them if you have not done so already.
As an example, Conduit manages a PPC campaign for a storage facility in Florida that specifically does not allow customers to store their automobiles on-site.
Using the keyword planner while searching for self-storage keywords, we were able to discover that “car storage” gets quite a lot of searches.
Using this in our negative keyword list, we were able to filter budget-wasting traffic prior to the campaign even going live.
While using the Keyword Planner for the purpose of ‘discovery’, it is important to do so with a wide-net approach. You’ll want to use ‘root’ or ‘parent’ keywords in order to widen the scope of relevant keywords that the tool will return.
Although the Google Keyword Planner is quite adept pulling a vast list of keywords, having this approach in mind will aid in making sure you have the scope necessary to start your campaign off on the right foot.
The Ad Preview and Diagnosis Tool allows you to gain insight into whether or not your ads are showing, what your full ad looks like on the search results page if it is showing, and why it might not be if it isn’t.
If your budget has run out for the day, a negative keyword is interfering, your Quality Score is too low, or your ad isn’t showing for other reasons, the Ad Preview and Diagnosis Tool is useful in determining this.
The Ad Preview and Diagnosis Tool returns the exact same search results that you would see if you were searching on Google, so why wouldn’t you utilize it? Searching on Google will only harm your campaign by inflating the data, and also wouldn’t provide the additional insight that the Ad Preview and Diagnosis Tool offers.
Managing a PPC campaign can be a lot of work, but utilizing Automated Rules can help you with monitoring aspects of your campaign and scale changes based on criteria that you set.
Rules can be set within campaigns, ad groups, ads, keywords, audiences and demographics which you can get pretty granular and creative with.
You have the option of setting Automated Rules to enable, pause, or send you an email (and change keyword bids and final URLs at the Keyword-level) based on conditions and a time that you set.
So, for example, you can automatically pause certain keywords if their Avg. CPCs eclipse a certain amount. Prior to creating rules, it is best to think of your daily or semi-daily ins and outs within an account and determine how automation could assist you.
Some clients will utilize landing pages specifically created for a certain finite promotion.
So, in this case, Conduit uses rules to pause ad groups to ensure that ads driving to promotional landing pages don’t run past the promotion end date.
When creating rules, the second step is to determine what your rule applies to. Make sure that your rule is set to the correct campaign data that you intend it to be.
If not, changes that you expect to be made will not be.
Use scripts to automate specific functions within Google Ads to save yourself time so you can focus more on the things that matter most, like optimizing your campaigns and analyzing how they’re performing.
There are a variety of scripts available that you can implement into your account. From running scripts that track your quality score to scripts that will pause keywords that have zero impressions, there are many options available that will give you back some time to focus on your next strategy.
Since Google Ads can spend up to twice your daily average budget, it makes managing your monthly budget a tedious activity.
To ensure you don’t exceed your allotted monthly budget, implement a simple script that will stop Google from overspending your budget.
This script can be set up to run every hour and pause any campaign that goes over the threshold you set.
We implement a budget script on all of our campaigns as a safety feature to ensure the monthly budget is never exceeded.
Based on your marketing goals, it’s crucial to track the proper conversions for your local lead generation campaigns.
Not setting up conversion tracking or having an improper set up can completely destroy your campaign.
All of the hard work you put into the account structure, doing your keyword research, and writing your ad copy will be useless if you can’t properly analyze your data.
There are a few options available for set up. You can either implement the conversion tracking code onto every page of your website or use Google Tag Manager (which is Conduit’s choice).
You can also go a step further and import your Google Analytics Goals into your Google Ads account after linking the two.
Be sure to track phone call conversions using the call extension in your ad. This conversion type is referred to as ‘calls from ads’ and will track just that.
Every phone call received from someone who clicked to call from your ad. If you’ve implemented call-only ads, it will allow you to track those as well.
Don’t forget to set up conversion tracking to track the calls on your website! Every missed call could be a potential opportunity lost.
Make sure you know what your searchers are doing after clicking on your high-quality ads! Conversion forms convert traffic into leads and that’s something you can’t afford to miss.
By properly tracking any lead form submissions on your website, you will be able to gather your potential customer’s information as well as monitor the performance of your campaigns.
Consider tracking third party chat platforms as conversions if there’s one available on your website.
A live chat box will pop up allowing for the communication between an operator and with someone searching for your products or services.
Once the chatbox has been completed, more than likely your potential client will have provided their contact information which is then sent to your CRM. You also have the ability to track text messages if you have a third-party texting service implemented.
Tracking these leads and knowing where they came from is extremely important in your marketing journey.
An auto dealership in Ohio saw a 36% increase in conversion rate after implementing a live chat feature on their website!
Be sure to link your Google My Business account to your Google Ads account in order to allow Google to automatically track even more conversion actions for you.
According to Google, these actions are created whenever someone completes an action that’s specific to your physical location (like a store) during or after interacting with your ad.
These actions happen on Google’s products and services such as Google Maps. Google can calculate store visit conversions after a user visits your physical location within 30 days of interacting with your ad.
This is one metric you don’t want to miss out on!
Thanks for checking out this extensive list of tips and tricks to optimize your Google Ads campaigns.
With these tips you will be able to outrank your competitors and drive more revenue to your clients’ business. Learn more about how our white label Pay Per Click advertising team uses these tactics to create incredible success for our partner agencies and their clients.