Every day, more than 200 million unique searches occur on major search engines (according to ComScore). Regardless of the industry you’re in, or whether your campaigns are managed internally or by an agency, in this two-part series of posts, I’ll provide seven actionable tactics that you can apply today to improve your paid search campaigns (and keep your agencies honest).
Paid Search Secret #1 - Granularity: Focus On A Single Keyword In Each Ad
A primary focus when building out your paid search campaign should be maximizing your keyword’s quality score. The Keyword Quality Score (scale of 1 – 10) is what Google and Bing use to determine the actual cost-per-click(CPC) you will pay when your keyword receives a click. The Quality Score is broadly determined by three main factors: relevancy of the keyword to the ads in its ad group and to the actual search query, the keyword’s click-through rate(CTR), and landing page (LP) quality. Because creating a paid search campaign does not include optimizing your LP to improve quality, we’ll instead focus on the first two components, relevancy and CTR.
In order to write ads that are as relevant as possible to the keyword being searched, I only put one unique keyword (two if the other is the plural version of the first) in each of my ad groups. This enables me to write headlines and descriptions for each group that speaks directly to the exact keyword that was queried. Google and Bing see a keyword-rich ad and reward me in the form of a high Keyword Quality Score (and by Bolding all occurrences of the queried keyword in the Ad). The user doing the search sees an Ad that is speaking directly to what they’re looking for and rewards me by clicking, thus improving my CTR and quality score. Though this step is extremely time consuming, it is imperative for the long-term success of your program.
Paid Search Secret #2 - Customized Display URLs: Target Your Display URLs To Match User Interest
Treat your display URL like another line of ad copy and take advantage of the maximum of 35 characters you’re allowed. Per the Google Display URL policy, the domain in the Display URL must match that of the landing page you’re sending traffic to, but anything after that is fair game. I recommend putting the keyword or ad group’s theme after the domain to give the user the perception that they’re being sent to a Landing Page that is specifically targeted to what they’ve searched on. For example, a user querying “online business degree” would ideally be shown an ad with the following display URL:
The benefits of having a targeted display URL are a higher CTR as a result of the perceived targeted landing page (and Google bolding all keywordss that were queried that show in the ad) and a possible increase in Keyword Quality Score as a result of the higher CTRs and additional keyword relevance of your ad.
Paid Search Secret #3 - Ad Copy Testing: Test Out Your Ads Every Quarter
No, setting your Google AdWords account to “Optimize for Clicks” or “Optimize for Conversions” is not ad copy testing. On a quarterly basis (ad copy performance varies with seasonality), you should set your ad rotation to “Rotate” and measure a minimum of three ads in each ad group against each other over at least a month (the length of test needed to get statistically significant learnings will vary based on traffic volume and number of ads). I measure performance based on a metric called “Conversions per Impression” (CPI) as opposed to the traditional CTR and CVR metrics. CPI takes into account both CTR and CVR because the only way to get a conversion off of an impression is if the user clicks (CTR), and of course converts (CVR). This way, you’re not just optimizing to get clicks or conversions, you’re maximizing both.
Click here to continue on to Part II.
About the Author
Ross Bucholc is the Director of Paid Media at Digital Media Solutions (DMS), an industry leader in providing end-to-end customer acquisition solutions that help clients grow their businesses and realize their marketing goals. In this role, Ross oversees search, display, social, programmatic, mobile and affiliate programs servicing DMS clients across industries. The DMS Paid Media team focuses on customer-centric, real-time marketing using robust data from multiple sources to understand each customer’s journey and optimize campaign performance. Since its inception, DMS has evolved into a full-service performance marketing company that services firms within highly complex and competitive industries including mortgage, education, insurance, consumer brands, automotive, jobs and careers. DMS has achieved incredible year-over-year growth, which has earned recognition on the Inc. 5000 list in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017.
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