Your Google AdWords campaigns have reached a plateau. You're struggling to increase your sales, and struggling to keep click costs down. No matter how hard you try to optimize your campaigns, nothing seems to change.
If any of this sounds familiar, it may be worth taking a step back and reviewing your Google AdWords strategies. How were your keywords chosen? How did you group your keywords? How were your ad messages written?
Below are three key areas I've found can make a huge difference to mature PPC campaigns, along with some practical ideas and recommendations for helping to increase sales, reduce costs, and improve overall return on investment from PPC marketing.
1. Go After the Long Tail
Long tail keywords are those infrequently searched-for, yet highly-specific multi-word phrases such as 'cheap hawaii holiday packages from Melbourne' or 'luxury 2 bedroom apartments Melbourne CBD'.
Not only are long-tail keywords proven to be cheaper, but since people making long-tail searches have arguably carried out the majority of their pre-purchase research – and are further along in the buying cycle – conversion rates for long-tails can be considerably higher than for generic keywords. Combine the cheaper click costs with higher conversion rates, and you're on to a winner.
- Use Google's keyword tool to identify relevant keyword phrases which have approx 50-100 monthly searches – these often have less advertiser competition and can be extremely effective en masse
- Use broad match as a method to generate new long-tail keywords. Run a search query report and look for searches which have more than 1 click. If they are relevant, they add them as a new keyword and give them their own tailored ads
- Run an ad group report and make sure no more than 10% of your clicks or impressions are coming from a single ad group – if they are, look at the search queries of that ad group and see how it could benefit from being split out – you'll be surprised what you can find so quickly
2. Qualify Your Keywords
Different keywords specify different search intentions. The keyword '2 bedroom Melbourne apartment for sale' will naturally perform very different to the keyword '2 bedroom Melbourne apartment for rent', so it makes sense to keep different types of keywords separate.
For ecommerce websites, as soon as someone has included a word such as 'buy', 'order' or 'prices' in their search query, the commercial intention of their search instantly skyrockets. Use this to your advantage.
- Consider how the inclusion of certain words in searches can significantly change the meaning of the search, and keep different types of searches separate based on the amount of keyword qualification they contain
- Consider how keywords of different qualifications might need different ads – when someone mentions the word 'buy' in their search, it might be beneficial to include prices in your ads, whereas a more informative and feature-based approach may work better for searches made by people earlier in the buying cycle
- Use campaign and ad group negative keywords to funnel only the desired types of keywords to the desired campaigns – if you're a real estate agent renting and selling properties, add the words 'rent' and 'renting' as negative keywords in your 'for sale' campaign, and the words 'sale' 'buy' as negative keywords in your 'renting' campaign
3. Tailor Your Ads
Despite many people dubbing PPC marketing too saturated and competitive to deliver a good return on investment, there are massive opportunities everywhere for advertisers who take the time to provide highly-relevant ads which cater for the specific needs and requirements of searchers.
In some research I carried out on the state of PPC ads for Australian travel searches, I found a huge amount of search volume for highly-specific searches, yet few advertisers who took the time to carefully craft ad messages and landing pages for these niche searches. While current advertisers are no doubt struggling to gain traction using PPC marketing, this poor standard of competition presents is a fantastic opportunity for advertisers who make it their goal to provide a highly-personalised and tailored experience to thousands of highly-relevant searchers on Google.
- Include keywords in your ad titles and ad descriptions were character limits and grammar allows, but don't simply include keywords for the sake of including keywords – only do so if it isn't at the expense of your primary offer or message
- If a keyword in an ad group could benefit from a more tailored ad if it was given its own ad group, give the keyword its own ad group – sort your keywords from largest to smallest by clicks and see which keywords would benefit most from having their own ad groups with their own tailored ads
- Try to ignore Quality Score. Quality Score doesn't actually sell anything, so there is little point making high Quality Scores the ultimate goal of your PPC campaigns. Instead, use Quality Scores to give you a rough idea of what Google likes, but instead try to focus on creating highly-relevant and engaging ads. If your ads are tailored to the specific requirements of searches, and you provide personalized and well-crafted messages, your campaigns will naturally perform well, regardless of Quality Scores
While developing your PPC strategy, it's essential to keep one thing in mind: relevancy. Your keywords need to be relevant to your website goals, your ad groups need to be relevant to your keywords, your ads need to be relevant to your ad groups and keywords, and your landing pages need to be relevant to your keywords, ad groups, ads, and website goals.
Everything must be relevant to everything.
Only when you can be confident that you've maximized relevancy at every step of the user journey – from search query to ad message to landing page to conversion – can you be sure that your PPC campaigns have reached their full potential. Until them, keep improving and expanding, and watch your campaigns slowly start to improve.
Alan Mitchell is the founder of Calculate Marketing, helping businesses of all sizes improve their return on investment from PPC marketing with comprehensive long-tail keyword strategies and intelligent campaign analysis.