Google Ads (previously Google AdWords) provides fantastic solutions to advertisers. Plus, Google’s new Smart Campaigns are designed to help advertisers get campaigns up and running quickly with campaigns intended to drive inbound calls, website visits, and foot traffic.
Easy, right? Not so fast.
A digital advertising giant, Google is a master at monetizing the traffic of their users. In 2017, the number of paid clicks on the Google-owned sites and YouTube grew by 48%. Sure their free services and support help advertisers, but they also drive Google’s bottom line.
If you’re relying solely on Google to optimize your paid search campaigns, it’s likely you’re not maximizing your paid search performance. If any of the scenarios listed below ring true for you, it’s time to bring in a paid search expert.
1. Your paid search campaign is targeting the entire U.S.
Many U.S.-based companies with an online presence target the entire U.S. with their paid search campaigns. But broad targeting almost always includes demographics outside of a brand’s target audience, resulting in wasted media spend.
Granular geographic targeting of paid search campaigns almost always delivers better results than national targeting. Based on historical geographic and keyword performance, paid search campaigns should target zip codes. Even targeting based on state, DMA or radius geographies can be too broad.
Geographic tiers take paid search targeting to the next level. Your paid search campaign manager should assign the most budget to zip codes and keywords that historically perform the best since those campaigns will attract the prospects with the highest propensity to convert. Daily campaign budgets should be reduced for lower-performing geographies, with the lowest budget going to the tiers least likely to drive strong conversion volume.
2. Your paid search campaign is live 24/7.
Is your paid search campaign live while your target audience is sleeping? It’s time to implement dayparting strategies.
Historical data can identify the hours of the day when your paid search campaigns sees the most and the least qualified traffic. Instead of being live 24/7, which can result in your campaign running out of money and going dark just when conversion traffic should pick up, your campaign manager can specify the hours of the day when your paid search ads appear.
If your brand is coast to coast, time zones matter, too. Data for each time zone should be analyzed separately to make sure you’re live for the best times across the country.
Lastly, don’t put your branded campaigns to bed. If consumers are searching for your brand, you want to be front and center, no matter the time of day.
3. Your paid search landing page isn’t landing conversions.
Many advertisers drive paid search traffic to their websites instead of to conversion driven landing pages, and the conversion performance suffers as a result.
Paid search landing pages need to be optimized for PPC campaigns. With a specific goal in mind, every element of your landing page should work toward driving a definite and measurable conversion.
Clear calls to action (CTAs) are a must on paid search landing pages. Make sure your audience can easily figure out how to connect with you. And provide a variety of methods to reach you, including trackable phone numbers.
Landing pages should be continually A/B tested to confirm they’re achieving optimal results. When performing A/B tests, only one element should be tested at a time so it’s easy to identify the variation that delivers the best results. Conduct tests for the shortest amount of time possible to omit external factors, but be sure your landing page receives enough volume and conversions for the results to be statistically accurate.
4. Your paid search ads don’t include sitelinks.
Sitelinks are additional lines of text that show with paid search ads, and they’re not deployed as much as they should be. In addition to providing additional information to searchers, sitelinks fill up extra real estate on the search engine results page (SERP), pushing the competition down.
Implemented correctly, sitelinks enhance paid search click-through rates (CTRs) and conversion rates by providing immediate access to information consumers want. Location extensions, however, can send traffic in the wrong direction — linking people to your location on Google Maps and not to your website, so pick extensions wisely.
5. You’re not leveraging unconverted traffic or old lists.
Most people who visit your website will not convert, but there are lots of ways to bring them back. If you’re not leveraging your unconverted traffic or old lists to drive low-cost conversions, you’re missing out.
Google Customer Match lets marketers target individuals from lists of gathered emails. Audiences can be targeted on the Google search network and Google shopping ads, Gmail ads and throughout YouTube. Because some sites (like YouTube) are better at driving awareness than clicks, conversion-focused campaigns typically perform better when media is purchased on a cost-per-click (CPC) basis than when cost per impression (CPM) payments are selected. If you’re not familiar with Google Customer Match, this can also be accomplished easily by linking your Google Analytics account with your Google Ads and setting up segments which can be targeted directly from Google Ads.
6. You’re not bidding on your branded keywords.
Lots of marketers with organic listings at the top of the SERP mistakenly believe there’s no value in bidding on branded keywords. But branded keywords can significantly boost paid search campaigns for the following reasons:
- With superb relevance, branded paid search campaigns can easily capture the very first listing spot at the top of the results page.
- The more listings you have on the first page of search results, the further down you push other search results.
- Unlike organic listings, paid search ads allow you to dictate the shown content and the conversion path.
7. You’re letting Google optimize your paid search campaign for you.
Google provides robust optimization tools based on what they believe are the best systems for paid search campaign optimization. However, their optimization strategies do not align with the objectives of every advertiser.
If your paid search campaign is running fully automated based on Google’s recommendations, you may be doing a better job of generating revenue for Google than generating conversions for your brand. Manual optimizations based on the needs of your campaigns key performance indicators (KPIs) will almost always lead to better paid search results.
8. You have all your keywords in one giant campaign.
Most paid search accounts are built out for management efficiency, unfortunately reducing the efficacy of the campaigns.
Paid search campaigns with multiple keywords are easier to implement than single keyword ad groups (SKAGs). But when multiple keywords are grouped together, the ad copy relevancy suffers.
A SKAG build out directly matches keywords with ads to boost click-through rates (CTRs) and quality scores. As a result, costs per click (CPCs) and costs per lead (CPLs) are generally lower for SKAG paid search campaigns.
9. You’re measuring the wrong results.
Paid search campaign managers are typically focused on improving the CTRs and conversion rates (CVRs) of their ad copy. But most advertisers make the mistake of analyzing the CTR and CVR metrics individually.
To properly gauge performance, a blended formula of conversions divided by impressions should be calculated. The conversion per impression (CPI) metric more properly evaluates the efficiency of ad performance.
Are you having trouble getting more of what you want and less of what you don’t want?
Google makes it easy to have success with paid search campaigns, but maximizing paid search campaigns isn’t so simple. Digital Media Solutions (DMS) paid search experts are focused on continually learning and implementing the tricks of the trade to take each paid search campaign we manage to its optimal level.