15 Red Flags That Show Your Paid Search Campaign Has Room for Improvement

November 1, 2018 Ross Bucholc

Paid Search Red Flag

Your paid search campaign needs you. When otherwise thoughtfully executed campaigns go stale because they weren’t continually optimized, performance can suffer. Regular updates to reporting and campaign management options from Google and other search engines mean a “set it and forget it” approach could leave you vulnerable to under-performing paid search campaigns, leading to lost revenue and opportunities.

Here are 15 red flags to avoid in your paid search strategy and tips to help maximize your campaign for the best results:

Paid Search Red Flag #1: Your Paid Search Campaign Organization Doesn’t Match Your Marketing Needs

Like anything else in business, organization plays a key role in being able to see what is working and fix what is not. Ensure your campaigns are structured in a way that allows you to maximize budget spent on top-performing keywords and geos, while backfilling with lesser-performing keywords and geos.

Paid Search Red Flag #2: Your Networks Are All Lumped Together

Content and search are different channels. If you’re treating them the same, your performance may suffer.

Paid Search Red Flag #3: You’re Not Separating Paid Search Performance Out by Device When Reviewing Reporting

If you’re looking at desktop and mobile together in one view, you may be missing out on device-specific opportunities.

Paid Search Red Flag #4: You Don’t Have Brand Terms on Your Paid Search Campaign

Even if you’re ranking well organically, you should be live with your brand terms. Many searchers don’t differentiate between paid and organic listings ― don’t let a competitor get above you. Pay-per-click (PPC) Google Display Network campaigns can also help build brand awareness if you’re making the most of your Google partnership.

paid search

Paid Search Red Flag #5: Your Brand and Non-Brand Terms Are Grouped Together

Your brand terms should be your top performers. They need their own campaigns so you can maintain their quality scores and give them maximum presence with adequate budget and bids. If you’re managing brand and non-brand terms together, you may not be getting as much from your brand terms as you should.

Paid Search Red Flag #6: You Only Have a Few Ad Groups in Your Paid Search Campaign

Ad groups align keywords with ad copy and landing pages. Tight ad themes ensure keywords searched are matched to relevant ads and lead to relevant landing pages. This boosts your quality scores to help you get lower costs per click (CPCs), higher click through rates (CTRs) and more conversions. If you don’t have enough ad groups, your search results and landing pages are probably not as targeted as they should be.

Paid Search Red Flag #7: Your Ad Copy Is Stagnant

Ad copy is how you introduce your brand and earn the click. Rotate a variety of ad versions, regularly test new copy and optimize your campaigns to keep what works best. Don’t expect what worked six months ago to still be the best copy today.

Paid Search Red Flag #8: Your Ads Don’t Have Sitelinks, Callout Extensions or Structured Snippets

These additional lines of text that show with your ads provide incremental information and fill up extra search engine results page (SERP) real estate. Sitelinks can also enhance CTRs and boost conversions by taking searchers directly to the information they want. Ads without ad extensions are the equivalent to making everyone walk through the front door.

Paid Search Red Flag #9: Your Paid Search Campaign Doesn’t Include Call Extensions

Search is increasingly mobile. And in-bound calls are golden. If you’re not giving searchers a way to call you with just one click, they may call your competitor instead.

Paid Search Red Flag #10: Your Daily Budgets Are Maxing Out Mid-Day Because Your Paid Search Campaigns Are Live 24/7

If your budget is spread too thin, you risk missing out on high quality traffic later in the day. Don’t buy clicks that don’t convert. Once you have enough data to do an analysis, it’s time to determine which days of the week and hours of the day perform best. Performance likely varies by campaign, so dayparting should be completed at that level.

Paid Search Red Flag #11: Your Geotargeting Is Not Strategic

Custom geotargeting can push your campaign performance. If you’re targeting a list of states, a radius or all of the U.S., you’re paying for a lot of clicks that don’t convert. Take it down to the zip code level and customize by campaign.

Paid Search Red Flag #12: Your Landing Pages Are Inefficient

How well does your landing page drive traffic? Has it been optimized for mobile? Is there a clear call-to-action and a phone number on the page? If your landing page is not effective, you’re paying for clicks that are lost before they reach the next milestone.

Paid Search Red Flag #13: You’re Not Remarketing

Not everyone who comes to your site will convert immediately. If you’re not remarketing to them, you’re not encouraging them to return.

Google’s Advice About Paid Search Optimization

Paid Search Red Flag #14: You’re Not Taking Google’s Advice About Paid Search Optimization

Do you have a red exclamation over a bell icon in the top right corner of your Google Ads Manager dashboard? Google has ideas to help you. They’re usually quick fixes to help you boost performance. Most people ignore these notifications and miss out on free advice from the ultimate expert.

Paid Search Red Flag #15: You’re Not Linking Your PPC and SEO

You’re putting your PPC and SEO in silos, instead of a treating them as a choreographed effort. Many marketers feel SEO will poach their PPC, but when paired effectively, and with SEO and PPC teams working together, campaigns may see increased brand awareness, more targeted keywords and better Google recognition.

Reimagining Your Paid Search Win?

Do you have other questions about how to optimize your paid search campaign? DMS has the answers. As paid search experts, we’re here when you’re ready to make the most dynamic, effective paid search campaigns. Contact Digital Media Solutions today.

About the Author

Ross Bucholc

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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