The world of PPC is a fast-changing and sometimes confusing and frustrating endeavor. Trust us, we know—we do it for a living. But, to help out those who might not have a ton of experience in this realm, our PPC team put together this guide to PPC for eCommerce merchants and retailers. We will cover everything you need to know as an eCommerce or marketing manager, director, or business owner who wants to stay informed about the best PPC tactics and trends in 2018 and beyond.
Since you are looking more into PPC, you probably have an idea of what it is—but we’ve found, over the years of managing PPC accounts, that there are a lot of different ideas of what people think PPC is.
We’ll define PPC (or Pay-Per-Click Advertising) as online search engine advertising in which advertisers pay when searchers click on their advertisement. In most cases, the goal here is to drive traffic to your website through these ads.
Sounds pretty simple, right? Not quite. It’s a science and art combined, and it can be quite complex. However, it’s advantageous for companies to include PPC in their marketing strategy.
As previously stated, PPC can be challenging and frustrating, but it is also one of the most profitable marketing channels out there. Unfortunately, too many businesses underestimate the importance and benefits of PPC. It can be used for a variety of different marketing goals, from increasing sales to promoting brand awareness.
There are several reasons why you need to make sure PPC is included in your overall marketing strategy. One reason? PPC is a time-effective tactic. You can land yourself on the first page of Google’s search results right away. You could also land yourself there through SEO, but that’s most likely going to take months if not years.
PPC also gives you a level of control which is hard to find in other marketing strategies. You have some control with SEO but, at the end of the day, Google has the most control over your rankings. With PPC, you have complete control over all of the variables involved in your campaign.
SEO and PPC are two very different beasts, but both marketing methods can boost your online traffic and increase conversions. They are so different that often marketers separate them completely. While this silo mentality can help in some regards, there are also some real dangers to taking it too far.
One of the biggest benefits of integrating your PPC and SEO efforts is the data that you can extract and use for both. Data needs to cross the gap here as frequently as possible. This is a great way to identify the strengths and weaknesses in each of your campaigns.
Let’s say one of the keywords that you have identified in your PPC keyword research is just way too expensive to fit into your budget. This is where an integration with SEO can come in handy. Instead of wasting your whole PPC budget on that one keyword, you can focus your SEO efforts on that keyword instead. This ability to designate tasks allows you to optimize your budget, using your strengths more effectively and allowing one team to cover the weakness of the other.
PPC is a bit of a broad term—it can refer to any means of advertising online in which advertisers accrue costs for placement. This can happen through a variety of different platforms, including Google, Bing, Facebook, or even Twitter.
However, for the purpose of this guide, we are going to be focused on PPC for Google, or, more specifically, Google AdWords. AdWords is, by far, the largest and most popular paid search platform. In fact, AdWords brought in $79.4 billion dollars for Google in 2016, which accounted for 97% of the company’s revenue. AdWords currently represents 33% of the world’s ad revenue. The next closest would be Facebook with $36 billion.
Launched in 2000, AdWords has gone through many different iterations of its pay-per-click model in the past 18 years. Today, you can run ads not only on Google but also on Search Partner sites and on Display Network Sites.
One of the great things about the AdWords platform is that it is geared toward such different types of companies—from small mom and pop shops to Fortune 500 organizations. AdWords allows any advertiser to create an ad to be displayed, bid on targeted keywords, and then pay for any clicks on its advertisements. Let’s break that down a little more.
It all starts when someone searches for something on Google. Let’s say you search for “PPC Company.” Google is going to turn to its AdWords pool and see if there are enough bids for an auction to occur. In this case (keyword = PPC company), there would definitely be an auction. However, if there aren’t enough advertisers bidding on keywords that Google deems relevant, it wouldn’t serve ads.
So, what is a Google auction? Well, an auction is where Google decides which ads are going to appear in its paid search results. Advertisers label the keywords that they want to bid on, and how much they will spend on that. Google then takes that keyword and your max bid and puts them into its auction.
Once you are entered in the auction, Google takes two factors into consideration when determining where it will rank your ad: your max bid and your quality score (we will go into this in more detail in just a bit). If your bid is high enough, and you have a good quality score, then you’ll be ranked high in the results.
Let’s say you end up #1, and you have searchers click on your ad—which is the goal here, right?—that’s when you have to pay up to Google. It didn’t make those $79.4 billion dollars by accident. On average, cost per click ranges between $1 and $2 on the search network; it’s under $1 on the Display Network. However, there are some keywords in AdWords that cost $50 or more per click.
However, the ultimate price that you pay is called your actual CPC (cost-per-click). You’re often charged less than the max bid that you set. The formula that Google uses to calculate your actual CPC is:
Now that we have gone over how AdWords works, let dive into the mysterious and ever-present Quality Score to get a better look at the full picture.
While Quality Score is one component of AdWords that seems to be shrouded in confusion and mystery, it is a big component of the platform. Quality Score was introduced to AdWords in 2008 as a way to protect Google’s search results, ensuring that only the most relevant results would show as paid advertisements. Before, there had been a flat Dutch auction (where the price is reduced until a buyer is found) for keyword bidding, where an advertiser could bid on any keyword they pleased. With the implementation of Quality Score, there was now a variable minimum bid.
Google defines Quality Score as “A measure of how relevant your ads, keywords, and landing page are to a person seeing your ad.” The higher your quality score is, the better your ad position will be and the lower your bid prices will be. Quality Score is calculated for each keyword each time a keyword perfectly matches a search query to measure the relevancy of keywords to search queries and corresponding ads.
Your quality score is measured on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest possible.
Unfortunately, it impossible to understand exactly how Google calculates Quality Score. However, we do know that it depends on a variety of factors, including but not limited to:
- Individual keyword historical click-through-rate
- Historical CTR of your entire account
- Ad Group Display URL CTR
- Landing page quality
- Relevance of keywords to ads
- Relevance of keywords and matched ad to search query
- Performance within your targeted locations
We also know that Quality Score is dependent on your account’s overall standing, which means that having a low-quality score in one of your ad groups can weigh you down across all your other ad groups and campaigns. Having a low-quality score is not something to take lightly. Your quality score has a direct impact on the actual CPC of a keyword and ad position.
Theoretically, you could have a higher quality score and a lower CPC bid but show in a higher position than a competitor’s keyword with a lower Quality Score. The opposite is also true: You could pay more per click if you have a lower quality score. For an ad to show in the top three positions above search results, the keyword that triggered the ad must meet a quality score and max CPC bid threshold. Therefore, it is very important to pay attention to your quality score.
In order to obtain a high-quality score, the biggest thing that you need to focus on is your relevance. Your ad needs to be highly relevant to what the user searches for in the first place. You also need to have a high click-through rate (which proves that your ad is relevant) and your landing page needs to be transparent and prove that it is trustworthy.
Here are some more tips for improving your quality score for ads in Google Search:
- Create tight keyword/ad group themes with keywords and minimize the number of keywords per ad group.
- Ensure ads within an ad group are unique to that ad group’s keywords.
- Ensure ads within an ad group contain text that semantically and explicitly represents all or more of the ad group’s keywords.
- Utilize specific landing pages with text content specifically reflecting that ad group’s keywords and ads.
- Pause, delete, or create new, more relevant ad groups for keywords with low-quality
- Pause, delete, or create new ad groups for keywords with low CTR. (Caution … low or zero impression keywords are not low CTR keywords.)
- Create brand campaign(s) in the account to boost account-level quality.
- Ensure brand campaign(s) is/are optimized to contain high QS keywords.
- Continually pause or delete ads with low CTR.
- Continually create and tweak ad text, promotions, etc. to improve CTR.
- Improve CTR by using Keyword Insertion. (Caution … this may produce ads that look strange or generic if not very carefully utilized.)
1. Search Network
There are several different types of campaign types that you can choose within AdWords. The most common is the Search Network. This consists of both Google.com and Google’s search partners. With the Search Network, your ads will be eligible to appear on Google’s results page.
You also have the option of extending your targeting to include Google’s search partners, which is a group of smaller search engines, such as AOL, Dog Pile, and even other sites like Amazon and eBay. This type of campaign is primarily keyword-based advertising, meaning that searchers type in a keyword query and then ads are shown based on this.
Search campaigns tend to be very effective because they are generally being served to an audience that is searching for a solution to a need. Because of this, these types of ads are most likely to get a higher conversion rate. However, this also tends to make these ads more expensive. In fact, search network campaigns tend to be the most expensive ad type. This can sometimes make it so smaller businesses can’t compete with larger businesses with an unlimited budget.
2. Display Network
Another type of AdWords Campaign is within the Display Network. With this type of campaign, ads are shown as banner ads on other websites within Google’s AdSense network. This network consists of over two million websites that have agreed to show Google ads. These sites feature blogs of all different sizes and on all different topics that you can target. However, because these ads are being shown on blogs, you tend to lack the searcher intent you need to drive conversions.
Generally speaking, click-through rates, conversion rates, and ROAS are lower on the display network, but this doesn’t mean that it should be overlooked. While the display network might not be right for every advertiser, it is a big traffic opportunity and, with the right strategy, you can maximize performance on this channel.
Most of the time, you are going to be serving your ads to people who are just surfing the web. This can be great for getting your name out there. Google claims that by advertising on the Display Network, you have the ability to reach about 90% of the internet’s visitors. While you might not be able to reach people who are ready to convert at the moment, when people do start researching a product, they will already know your product and brand.
One thing that you want to make sure you understand about the Display Network is that it doesn’t utilize traditional keyword-based targeting. Instead, it uses several different types of demographics for targeting options.
Targeting options on the Google Display Network:
- Display Keywords:
Just because the Display Network doesn’t tend to use keywords for its targeting, it doesn’t mean you can’t. You can use keywords on the Display Network, which is called contextual targeting.However, it is important to know that these keywords aren’t used in the same way that they are on the Search Network. These keywords are considered to be broad match and act more like a theme to match with websites that are similar. In fact, you need to only include broad match keywords, as Google claims that other match types are not recognized when matching out on the Display Network.You can use these keywords alone, or you can layer them with other targeting methods.
Webpage placements are the sites on which you show your Display Network ads. You have the option to let AdWords decide these placements based on targeting methods, or you can manually select placements. Manually selected placements are called Managed Placements.Regardless of whether you manage placements manually or not, one tip is to regularly pull placement reports which will help you identify good and bad site performance. Therefore, you can make sure that any site that is performing well is placed under your Managed Placements to ensure you’re capturing impressions from that site. You can also exclude any site that is performing poorly.
Topics are themes that you can select in the Display Network that work similarly to contextual keyword targeting. However, with Topics, you select the topic from Google instead of creating your own through keywords.Once you select a topic(s), Google will then use that information to find sites that match to display your ads on. You should select topics to target based on which ones best match your products or services. One caveat to this is that, if your goal is directed more toward branding and not conversions, you could also select topics which might not be directly related to you, but that you think your target audience would be interested in.
Another targeting option is Interests, which is very similar to targeting with topics. While topics target specific websites, Interests are going to target the specific user. Interests allows you to appear on any site that someone with your targeted interests visits, instead of just related sites.Google receives information on users, by their browsing history or if they are logged in to their Google account, by self-selected interests.
Gender can work similarly to Interest target but, instead of focusing on Interests, it focuses just on the gender of the user. Like Interests, gender is based on users’ browsing histories or by their self-selected information.This can be a great option if the product or service that you are marketing has different options or performances based on gender. Let’s say that you sell women’s undergarments—generally speaking, you would want to target women who are going to be using the product.
Targeting by age works in the exact same way as targeting by gender. It can work great if what you are marketing is age-specific. However, with both of these, you want to be careful and think about your target audience.Let’s say that your ideal customer is a 45-year-old woman who has two kids (more on that in a minute) and drives a minivan. You might select in your targeting options that you only want to target women older than 40. So, Google finds Susan Smith by her Google account. She’s is your perfect match and would be the perfect person to serve your ad to.However, Google probably doesn’t take into consideration that Susan also has two teenagers who use the family computer under her name. In this situation, you could be showing an ad to a 14-year-old teenage boy who has nothing to do with your target audience or what you are marketing.
- Parental Status
Back to Susan’s two kids—the Parental Status targeting allows you to target only people who have children. Obviously, if you are in the right market, this can be a huge win. Say you sell children’s clothes—it would be much more beneficial to target a 28-year-old parent of two, rather than a 28-year-old bachelor who lives at home with his parents.
Recommendations for the Display Network:
The Google Display Network can be a great option to drive traffic to your site. Since it has an average lower cost per click, you can get a larger volume of traffic compared to the Search Network. However, the traffic isn’t always as qualified on the Display Network as it is on the Search Network. Therefore, you want to make sure you test all of the different targeting options to ensure you are getting the most quality traffic.
You also want to make sure that you create high-quality image ads in every size that Google accepts for the GDN. We recommend testing two versions of each ad for each size. Also, make sure that you do not create ads in Flash format, as some browsers will block these by default.
Another recommendation for the Display Network that we have found to be beneficial is to start with campaigns that target keywords, and then layer topics, interests, and other targeting options on top of those. When you do this, set the targeting settings for keywords to “target and bid” and then set the targeting setting for everything else to “bid only.”
Although we wouldn’t recommend this for Search Network campaigns, it’s okay to set one bid at the ad group level, leaving all keywords with the same bid. Otherwise, traffic will often just shuffle to the keyword with the highest bid. The key to this display campaign approach is to focus on website placements from a bidding perspective. As you gather data on placements, (from that placement report we discussed earlier), you can place higher bids on the better-performing placements and either bid down or exclude poorly performing placements.
In addition, when creating a display campaign, it’s important to implement high-level exclusions. Consider excluding certain site category options from the start. We recommend excluding categories such as parked domains, error pages, sexually suggestive content, and GMob mobile app non-interstitial, among others. You will also want to add negative keywords and exclude placements as you gather data.
For a little-known tip, if you want to make sure that you exclude mobile app traffic, you will need to add a placement exclusion for adsenseformobileapps.com. Overall, we recommend bidding down mobile 100% to start. You can experiment with allowing ads to serve on mobile over time.
3. Search Network with Display Expansion
According to Google, this campaign option allows advertisers to expand the reach of their search campaigns to the GDN with greater confidence that their ads will be shown to relevant users.
You would set this campaign up just as you would with a regular Search Network Campaign. However, in this campaign type, ads can selectively be shown on the Display Network as well. Once your campaign is created, your budget will primarily go toward the Search Network, and it can show on the Display Network if you have a remaining daily budget.
The caveat here is that Google is the one that determines when and where ads may perform best. This takes away the control from advertisers. Also, as we pointed out earlier, normally searchers in each network are in different stages in the buying cycle.
Therefore, this option might not be the best for all businesses. It might be something you want to test out if you are currently running Search Network-only campaigns and you want to test out the GDN. If you are happy with the results after testing, however, the best practice is to separate Google Search and Display campaigns.
4. Google Shopping: Product Listing Ads
Product Listing Ads are ads that are shown on the Google Shopping Network and on Google SERPs. These ads tend to show richer product information than text ads—such as a product image, price, and the merchant of the product.
In order to be shown on the Shopping feed, you first have to submit a product feed to the Google Merchant Center. You also have to link your Merchant Center and AdWords accounts. Afterward, you can then create shopping campaign in AdWords.
Advertisers have the ability to create product groups to which they can bid on various feed attributes. Some of these attributes in the data feed include:
- Item ID
- Product Type
- Custom Attributes
One thing to be aware of is Shopping Network campaigns do not consider keywords at all. Instead, Google determines ad service and placement based on your product feed. They match user queries to the product that they deem most relevant. Therefore, it is extremely important that you ensure your products have the most accurate information possible.
Another feature of AdWords is a device preference for your ads, which means that AdWords can tell what type of device the user is searching on and modify the ads based on that. Being able to target different devices can have a huge outcome on the success of your ad. There are three main types of devices:
Desktops are computers (and laptops) with screens larger than a 7-in diagonal. Desktop used to be considered the standard for searches; however, Google now says that “more Google searches take place on mobile devices than on computers in 10 countries,” including the United States.
Tablets are considered to be mobile devices that aren’t phones.
More than 20% of all Google search traffic now comes from mobile devices. In addition, 50% of all local queries are made on mobile devices. With this big momentum swing toward mobile devices comes big implications for eCommerce retailers. In 2015, mobile commerce sales totaled $104 million—a 38.7% increase from the year before. This upswing has shown no evidence of slowing down anytime soon.
First and foremost, we recommend transitioning to a mobile-friendly website if you haven’t already. If you haven’t, you’re about two years behind. Google announced way back in 2015 that they were giving preference to mobile-friendly sites within organic search results. We speculate that this carries over into paid search results as well. So, get your site mobile-friendly, ASAP.
Within AdWords, you can create “mobile preferred” ads within the same ad group as regular ads, and Google will give these priority when the ad is triggered from a mobile device. While this is not mandatory, with this feature you can tailor ad copy and incorporate mobile ad extensions. For example, you could create a mobile-preferred ad and append “/mobile-friendly” to the display to the URL to let shoppers know they’ll land on a mobile-friendly site.
Google is always testing how they display ads on all devices. So, as a general best practice, we recommend monitoring how your ads look on mobile and adjusting mobile-preferred ad copy accordingly. Does it make sure to use the USPs in description line 1 or 2? Should your title be shorter? Different? A huge part of PPC is constantly testing and refining your process.
One thing to consider is that you can adjust mobile bids on the campaign and ad group level. Not all campaigns and ad groups are going to perform equally, so keep this in mind. For example, if you have a campaign dedicated to your brand name, you might want to keep the mobile bids at the same level as for desktop, whereas, for campaigns with broader general keywords, you might want to decrease mobile bids significantly at first. From there, you can tweak mobile bid modifiers based on performance data.
“Call Only” is another feature for mobile devices that you can implement. This isn’t very relevant for eCommerce businesses in general, but we wanted to at least mention it. These campaign types are only targeted on mobile devices and are displayed differently from standard ads. The headline is always displayed as your phone number and includes a prominent call button. When a searcher clicks on the ad or call button, they will be prompted with “Do You Want to Call …?” With one more click, the number will be dialed.
Call Only campaigns can be much more tedious to set up and to manage in AdWords than standard campaigns, so you will want to make sure this makes sense for your business. In many cases, Call Only campaigns are most effective for lead generation businesses that place a high value on phone calls. For eCommerce businesses that feel like Call Only ads could be beneficial, we recommend testing them alongside standard campaigns which also target mobile.
Google also gives you the ability to target users based on their geographic locations. This can get extremely granular—from states to cities, to even a select radius around certain zip codes. There are many different options to choose from that ensure your ads are only shown in the desired location.
For eCommerce stores, it is important to consider a couple of things when setting geo-targeting campaigns. First, you want to consider any shipping implications. If shoppers pay a premium for shipping to a particular region, you may want to consider excluding that area. In many cases, online retailers will only want to target the United States because shipping overseas is so expensive relative to domestic rates.
You also want to consider the probability that a shopper will convert. Even within the United States, businesses should consider whether or not it makes sense to serve certain areas. If the probability of converting drops off significantly for shoppers in Hawaii or Alaska due to shipping fees, you might not want to pay for clicks from those states.
Let’s say that you decide that you do want to serve ads to the United States. Rather than setting your campaign to target the whole country, you can opt to target every state individually. This way, you can set bid modifications on the state level, depending on how well those states perform. For example, if your return on ad spend is below goal in Arkansas, but exceeding in Missouri, you would want to bid down on Arkansas and potentially up your bid on Missouri. We recommend gathering data for at least six months before setting geographic bid adjustments.
Also, many retailers don’t realize this, but Google doesn’t always do a good job of preventing traffic from outside of your targeted region. If you notice impressions and clicks coming from areas that you would never want to target—i.e., overseas—then you might want to specifically add them to your list of exclusions. This will help minimize click costs from irrelevant places.
Within the AdWords platform, you also have the ability to run your ads at the times that you prefer. You want to be showing your ads when your target audience is searching. Maybe you find that you get more revenue during the weekends; you can then go in and adjust your bids by 10=20% for Saturday and Sunday.
To create a new ad schedule, go to Settings > Ad Schedule > +AD SCHEDULE button. Then choose your campaign and click “Create Custom Schedule.” You can use the time/date widget to set your schedule. Then just click Save.
When you create your campaign, you get to set an average daily budget for it. This budget tells Google how much you would like to spend each day; however, it might be that you are charged less or, sometimes, a bit more. When you reach your daily budget, your ad will stop showing for that day. Your delivery method determines how long your budget will last.
Also, you are able to change your budget at any time. You can decrease or increase your daily budget depending on your needs.
One thing to keep in mind is that Google came out with a major update to AdWords back in October of 2017 that affected daily budgets. On October 4, 2017, Google announced that AdWords campaigns may spend as much as twice the daily budget that advertisers set.
Google has stated that advertisers won’t be charged for any overages above the expected monthly budget.
This change is to account for any daily fluctuations in traffic. If your ads didn’t show very much on Sunday due to low traffic and only spent $10 out of your $20 budget, then Google will make up for that low by showing your ads more when traffic is higher.
There are two different methods which you can choose for your delivery:
1. Standard Delivery
This is the default setting for all campaigns. Here, your ads are going to be shown evenly throughout the day. This is a good option for advertisers that may have a budget restriction and want their ads shown at all times during the day. However, since Google is optimizing your budget throughout the day, you will most likely miss out on some searches.
2. Accelerated Delivery
This allows your ad to be shown until the budget is depleted. This method is better for larger advertisers who don’t have tight budget restrictions and want their ad shown for every query possible.
We tend to choose Accelerated delivery so we can optimize various factors without anything impeding ad service. However, there are reasons to choose Standard delivery. If a campaign is limited by budget, and other factors such as keyword bids, device bid adjustments, etc. cannot be optimized to overcome the budget limitation, Standard delivery may be the best option.
There are 4 types of ways that your ad can be rotated:
If you are looking to drive clicks, this is the best option. Whichever ad has gotten the most clicks previously will be more likely to show up in the future.
2. Optimize for Conversion
With this option, ads that are more likely to produce conversions are more likely to show up.
3. Rotate Evenly
With this option, ads will be rotated evenly, regardless of performance, for the first 90 days, and then, afterward, the better performing ads will be served more.
4. Rotate Indefinitely
With this option, your ads continue to always rotate evenly. There is no auto-optimization after 90 days.
Our recommendation for rotating your ads is going to depend on a number of factors. First, what bid setting are you using on your ad? If you are using smart bidding, then the ad rotation setting is chosen for you. (Optimize—although it will be for conversions.) However, if you are using a manual type of bidding, then you will need to choose the ad rotation setting.
Secondly, do you want to have all the control when you are trying out ad copy, or do you want to give over control to Google? If you’re going to be running your own tests, then you should choose to rotate your ads indefinitely, until you want to turn over control to Google (if ever.) You can still try out different types of ad copy on other settings, but it might be difficult to get enough data on all versions of ads.
If you’re okay with creating a few ads and letting Google’s machine learning optimize the ad service, then go with any of the top three options. It’s a personal preference.
While your homepage tends to be the hub of information, that doesn’t mean it is where you want to send all of your traffic from your PPC ads. Sure, your homepage provides your visitors with the most pertinent information for your business, but it doesn’t cater to all visitors.
Let’s say customers are looking to purchase a new sofa. They click on your ad, but then they are directed to your homepage from here. Your homepage is littered with promotions and listings for all the other various furniture you sell. They probably aren’t going to spend the time digging through your site to find a specific sofa. So, they bounce off your site.
Now, if you had sent them to a landing page that was centered around a particular sofa, (or even sofas in general), you would probably have a better chance of converting the customers. This is the ultimate goal, right? If you know they are looking at sofas, why would you send them anywhere else?
Unfortunately, only about 48% of marketers use landing pages for individual campaigns—more than half send their traffic directly to their homepage. This is not a best practice and isn’t going to cut it in the competitive eCommerce space. Let’s dive into landing pages a bit more to understand how to best use them for your PPC ads.
One of the biggest factors in PPC, and in marketing in general, is user intent. Marketers can get bogged down in the hard data and have a difficult time taking a step back to think about what it is a searcher is looking for.
There are generally two types of user intent when it comes to searches. Users are either looking to purchase something or they are researching something. Think about it like this. Let’s say users search for “Best Sofas.” They are most likely just looking to learn more about the best types of sofas, not necessarily ready to buy something at that moment.
However, if they search “Lazyboy Reclining Sofa on Sale,” they are more likely in the purchase phase. They know what they are looking for by brand name and are looking for a good price on it. This would indicate that they are more likely to buy a sofa than in the previous example.
By knowing this information and understanding the user intent of keywords, you can send users to different landing pages to help them convert or nurture them through the decision-making process. If you know they are ready to buy a sofa, you can send them to a landing page designed for that. If you know they are just researching sofas, you can send them to a landing page designed around more information on your sofas.
Keywords that are typically aligned with the purchase phase tend to be more competitive and have a lower search volume, but they should be the most important in your campaigns. These are the keywords that are more likely to convert, so they should be properly managed and attended to. These keywords should be segregated into their own ad groups or even their own campaigns because this granular grouping allows you to design specific landing pages and ad copy and allocate a specific budget.
Other conversion-intent phrases could include criteria like:
- Age of Buyers
- “Where to Buy”
- “Buy ___ Online”
According to Google, your landing page should:
1. Be Relevant and Original
You want to make sure that the content on your landing page is relevant to the text from the ad and the keyword you are targeting. You don’t want to be advertising for a sofa and then take them to a landing page for mattresses.
You also want the information on the landing page to be original to your site and be useful for the user about what it is that you are advertising.
2. Be Transparent
Your landing page should be transparent about both whatever it is that you are advertising and your company. You should explain what your product is, what it does, how it works, etc. You also need to provide information about your company—contact information, what you do, etc.
3. Be Fast
You don’t want your landing page to take an hour to load. In fact, it needs to load in under three seconds—on both desktop and mobile. If you want to see how your site scores on speed, you can test it here.
4. Be Easy to Use
You want your landing page to be designed so that it is easy to use for your visitors. You don’t want them to have to dig for information on your landing page. Instead, they should be able to quickly find the information that was mentioned in the ad.
Something to keep in mind here is the attention ratio, which is the ratio of interactive elements on your landing page to your conversion goal. Your conversion goal is always one. There is one goal for a landing page—but there could be a hundred interactive elements on a landing page if it isn’t designed correctly. On a homepage, there is typically a ratio of 40:1—this means a user has 39 chances of not converting. Your landing page needs to be 1:1.
So, if you understand the guidelines for what your landing page should be, what does it actually take to design this ideal page?
The first thing that your landing page needs is your USP or Unique Selling Proposition. This should be the main headline on your landing page. Your USP should tell searchers how you stand out from your competition. What makes you the best option for them?
2. Money Shot
Next, you want to make sure you include your money shot—an image (or video) of your product showing how it is used or within context. Humans are visual beings—in fact, our brains process visuals about 60,000 times faster than text. Images also help with grabbing attention and persuading your searcher to stay on the page—but make sure these images, whatever they might be, are of high quality. Nothing is going to turn away a prospective buyer quite like a low-res, blurry image.
In addition to an image showing your product, you also need to explain the benefits of your product. This should be a summary of the benefits in a bullet point list on the page. This helps show users how you can solve their problems. Don’t focus on the features of your product—look more toward benefits users will receive when they purchase your product.
Social proof is a great persuader to include on your landing page. Everyone turns to reviews today when they are contemplating purchasing something. Nielsen research data shows that over 80% of consumers put more trust in peer reviews than traditional advertisements. If you can show your users that other people have bought your product(service) and had a good experience, then they will be more likely to buy from you.
Perhaps the most important part of your landing page is your Call To Action. This should be a single, clear conversion goal. Make sure it is crystal clear what you want users to do. Don’t make it gray—this needs to be black and white: “Enroll Now,” “Purchase,” “Redeem Offer.”
If you don’t have specific landing pages catering to your mobile audience, you are way behind. That was in our 2016 guide. Because more and more people are searching on mobile devices, you have to meet them where they are.
Think about it. 74% of people use their phone to search when they are shopping for products. Yet pages look different on a mobile phone than they do on a desktop. The screen is much smaller, so, if you aren’t using a responsive design, your landing page is going to look like crap on a smartphone.
Therefore, you need to make sure your landing pages are mobile responsive. Here are a few best practices to use for mobile landing pages:
- Make sure your landing pages load quickly.
- Use as few fields as possible.
- Make the title short and concise.
- Sort content into bullet point
- Make sure that your photos are properly sized.
- Don’t include any unnecessary links.
- Make the CTA button clickable on the touchscreen.
- Make your phone number clickable.
- Allow for mobile payment options like PayPal or Apple Pay.
Like everything else with PPC (and marketing in general), you want to make sure that you are properly testing your landing pages to make sure you get the best conversion rates. By A/B testing your landing pages, you can uncover improvements and changes that can help you in ways you might not have thought of otherwise.
A/B testing involves testing your landing page by using two different versions. One is considered A, the control (which stays the same across the board), and B, the treatment (which is being tested). These two are then tested against each other to see what changes happen between the two when presented to the user.
There are a lot of different variables that you can test when it comes to your landing pages. We’ll stick to the top 5 here, which are:
There are important things that you should remember when you start out with testing your landing pages. First, only run one test at a time. If you are A/B testing your ad copy and your landing page at the same time, your data is going to be screwed up. Also, only test one variable at a time. Don’t test your landing page headline and CTA simultaneously, or, again, your results will be muddled.
Also, make sure you set up a control that you can test against. Use your normal landing page as your control, and then you can build variations of that landing to test against. For example, if you want to test whether or not adding a video on your landing page would increase conversions, you would start with a control landing page that did not have the video. Then you could create a variation and include the video.
After you have run your test, it’s important that you sit down and analyze the results. Running A/B tests are great, but you shouldn’t run them just for the sake of it. Spend some time considering why the winning variation was more successful. You can then use this information to build out further tests and, eventually, more successful landing pages.
Also, remember that A/B testing should be continuous—there will always be small variables that you can change that will affect your landing page’s conversion rate.
1. Keyword Research
The first thing that you need to do when building out a PPC campaign is keyword research. Keywords are the cornerstone of all PPC campaigns. Before you can start building ads and bidding, you have to know what keywords you want to target. In addition to choosing keywords that best reflect what you are marketing, you also need to figure out which keywords are most likely to result in conversions.
You can organize your keywords into the following types:
– Brand Terms: Keywords containing your brand or trademarked terms.
– Generic Terms: Terms relating to products or services offered.
– Related Terms: Keywords that don’t directly relate to what you are selling, but that users might be searching for.
– Competitor Terms: The brand names of competitors who are offering similar products or services as you.
First, you need to start with some brainstorming. Take a look at the landing page that you are going to be linking to with your ad. Look through the text and find any relevant keywords. You can also turn to your customer personas and put yourself in their shoes. What would they be searching for?
After you have a basic idea of your keywords, build out from those. Include different variations and synonyms of the keywords you currently have. Also, make sure you include misspelled words.
After you have a decent list of keywords, you can use various tools to help you expand your list. You can use Google’s Keyword Planner, which is free in the AdWords interface to help with this. There are also a number of paid tools that you can use if you have the budget.
Whatever tool you use, you want to make sure you are looking for keywords that have a high volume of searches but are also low competition. That way, you can drive traffic to your site but not completely drain your budget.
For more information on PPC keyword research, check out this article from our blog.
2. Match Type
Every keyword has to be assigned a match type. This will help to define the queries that your ads will be served to. There are four basic keyword match types:
- Exact Match: With an Exact Match, the query must be typed in exactly, meaning that your ads will only be served to queries that are identical to the keyword.For example: if I have the keyword “Women’s Blue High Heels” on exact match, and someone searches for “Women’s Blue Peep-Toe High Heels,” my ad wouldn’t show because it was not exactly the same as the search query.Exact match keywords are contained within brackets, such as:
- Phrase Match: With Phrase Match, the query must be typed in the correct order, but there can be additional terms before or after the query.For example: if I have the keyword “Women’s Blue High Heels” on phrase match and someone searches “Women’s Blue Peep-Toe High Heels,” my ad will appear. But, if someone searches for “Blue Women’s Peep-Toe High Heels,” my ad won’t show.Phrase match keywords are contained within quotation marks, such as:
- Broad Modified: With Broad Modified, the query can be typed in any order, but must include terms that contain a plus sign. This modifier allows you to target your ads only at queries that contain your broad match keywords or an extremely close variation of them.For example, if your keyword was “+Women’s Blue High +Heels” and you had it set to broad modified, your ad could show up for “Womens Blue High Heels”, “Women’s Blue High Hells”, etc.Broad Modified keywords must contain a plus sign on the individual terms inside your keyword, such as:
- Broad Match: With Broad Match, the query can be typed in any order and can potentially show ads for similar searches. With this type, Google will also serve your ad to any query that it deems relevant by its algorithm. This means that you lose a lot of your control and could end up paying more for clicks that aren’t in your target audience.For example, if I have the keyword “Women’s Blue High Heels” on broad match, my ad could be shown for a search query of “Blue Women’s High Heels with Pointed Toe,” Women’s Blue Heels,” “Women’s High Heels,” “Women’s Shoes” and so on.Broad match keywords are not surrounded by anything, such as:
We classify exact match, phrase match, and broad modified in one group, and broad, or “straight broad,” as we call it, in another. We recommend what we call a “3&1” account structure, also called alpha/beta. Within this structure, straight broad match keywords never live in the same campaigns as exact, phrase, or broad modified.
So, there are two campaigns containing the same keywords—one campaign contains these keywords in straight broad match, while the other contains the same keywords as the other three match types.
This match type allocation allows for apples-to-apples ad testing, clear visibility into keyword performance, and maximum control for intelligent bid optimizations. Generally speaking, you’ll want to place lower bids on straight broad keywords, rather than on exact, phrase, and broad modified keywords.
In addition, you can add the exact and phrase match keywords from the “alpha” campaigns as negative keywords in the corresponding straight broad (beta) campaigns. We refer to this strategy as “negative keyword funneling.” This will prevent straight broad match keywords from pulling in searches that are better off matching out to their exact, phrase, and broad modifiers counterparts. We will discuss this further in just a second.
With keyword match type segmentation and negative keyword funneling, you will improve optimization capabilities and management efficiency.
3. Low Search Volume
The “Low Search Volume” designation in Google AdWords has evolved over the past couple of years but hasn’t really been talked about too much. Google has started deeming more and more keywords as low search volume—meaning that not many people search for them, making them ineligible for ad auctions on Google. So, what does all of that mean? Basically, if a keyword is deemed low search volume, it won’t serve ads.
So, how do you overcome this? First, test out keywords when you are building out campaigns. This helps you get an idea of which types of keywords are going to be low search volume so that you can make informed decisions regarding account architecture. You also want to be as creative as possible when you are selecting your keywords. You should get as granular as possible, while still avoiding the low search volume designation.
Also, it is worth noting that just because a keyword is deemed low search volume, it doesn’t mean that it will always be ineligible. If that term becomes searched enough over time, then Google will serve ads on it. It is important that we don’t just throw out these low search volume keywords permanently and, instead, monitor them intermittently.
4. Negative Keywords
Mining your negative keywords needs to be a crucial part of your keyword strategy. Negative keywords can help make sure you eradicate unqualified traffic. You don’t want to be paying to show an ad to someone searching for “Free Running Shoes.” Therefore, you could add free as a negative keyword so you don’t get people who are not in your target audience.
Campaigns containing broad match keywords especially need attention. By weeding out phrases or terms irrelevant to your business, you can prevent lots of wasted spend, increase click-through rates, and, ultimately, increase ROAS
At a minimum, you need to run a search query report every couple of weeks. To do this, click on a shopping campaign and go to the keywords tab. There, click on search terms. You can then export the data to Excel from this screen.
One trick to this is to add the “keyword” column before you export the search term data. This column will not populate data in the UI, but it will show data in the export for which products triggered search terms. Once you have the data exported, you can analyze queries and create a list of negative keywords to add to the shopping campaign.
When you are building out, you will start by choosing keyword themes and, therefore, creating individual campaigns. These ad campaigns are usually made up of several different ad groups. You can group campaigns based on product, geography, targeted locations, brand, keyword, product type, and more.
For example, if you are an eCommerce retailer selling women’s shoes, you may create a campaign with the theme Boots. Within this campaign, you could have several different ad groups like Black Boots, Knee High Boots, Mid Calf Boots, and Brown Boots.
In your Black Boots ad group, you would contain keywords like Tall Black Boots, Short Black Boots, Black Boots on Sale, etc.
When you are architecting your account, we recommend that you have a very tightly knit group of keywords for each ad group. Generally, this means that you should have about 25 keywords or fewer per ad group, and these keywords should not vary greatly from each other.
For example, “XL Knee Brace” should not be in the same ad group as “Waterproof Knee Brace” because they are too different. Instead, “XL Knee Brace” might be in the same ad group as “XXL Knee Brace” or “Knee Brace XL.” The granularity of ad groups depends on the complexity of the account, search behavior, and various other factors. It’s important to find the balance between granularity and manageability.
Another trend emerging lately in both the Display and Search ad is Audience-Based Targeting. Most of the time, audiences are used for remarketing, but you can segment users in a variety of different ways. Audience can be created based on a number of things: pages per visit, time spent on site, etc.
Below are some examples, but we expect this capability to continue to grow in 2018:
- Affinity Audiences: With this type, you can show your ads to unique audiences based on their lifestyle, interests, and buying habits.
- Custom Affinity Audiences: This allows you to show your ads to unique audiences based on the affinity selections that you choose to define your audience.
- In Market Audiences: This function allows you to find audiences that are researching and are actively considering buying a product or service similar to yours.
- Custom Intent Audiences: This allows you to go beyond pre-defined audience categories and reach as your audience is making a purchase decision. You can do this by using keywords and URLs related to products/services.
- Auto-Created Intent Audiences: With this feature, Google uses machine learning technology to analyze your existing campaigns and auto-create custom intent audiences that aren’t covered by the predefined Google Audiences.
- Remarketing or Similar Audiences: With this, you can show ads to people who have visited your website before.
You can optimize your ad all day and add as many sitelinks as you want, but, if your ad itself isn’t engaging, then all of your other PPC efforts may not be worth anything. You need your ad copy to grab users’ attention—make them want to click on your ad.
Unfortunately, writing ad copy for PPC is not necessarily the easiest thing in the world. Just like the technical aspects of PPC, writing ad copy requires a deep understanding of both your brand and the PPC industry.
Before we go any further, let’s first look into the parts that make up a PPC ad.
1. The Headline
Your text ad consists of two headlines where you can enter up to 30 characters each. This is most likely going to be what users look at first. That means that your headline needs to grab their attention. At the same time, you also want to make sure that you use the keywords in your ad group that got users to your ad in the first place. This will help to increase your Quality Score.
2. The Description
You should use your description to highlight important details about your product/service. You should also include a CTA—showing users an action that you want them to take.
3. The URL
Also in your PPC ad is the URL. This is the display URL that will be visible to users. This display URL is made up of the domain from your final URL and the text in the optional “Path” fields. This is to allow people who are viewing your ad to get a better sense of where they will be taken if they click on your ad.
1. Establish Relevance
You want to make sure that you use the keyword (or a very close variation) that you used in your ad group within your PPC ad copy. Not only will this build trust within users’ minds, keywords that match users’ initial search queries will appear in bold in the search results, leading to a higher CTR.
2. Sell Yourself
People aren’t just going to click on your ad. You have to give them a reason to click on it. You have to grab their attention with your headline and then give them more reasons within the descriptions. You want to make sure you stand out from your competition. Tell them that your product or service is better than your competitors. What makes you the best option out there?
One thing to keep in mind, here, is that you only have two 35-character-long description lines. This means that you need to be short and to the point, You can’t have long, drawn-out messages here. You have to be able to communicate your unique values quickly.
3. Use a Strong Call to Action
After you’ve gotten their attention with your awesome headline and your value points, you have to then have a strong call to action in order to show them what you want them to do. Sometimes, especially in the fast-paced distracting world of internet marketing, you have to tell your audience what to do. This will help to increase your CTR and conversion rate. Here are a few strong calls to action:
– Shop Your Unbeatable Selection
– Contact Us Now
– Buy Now
– Get a Free Quote
– Call Now
– Contact Us
4. Use Promotions
Always make sure that you use any promotions that you have running at the moment. For example, if you have Free Shipping, make sure you mention this—Free Shipping is one of the best ways to beat out your competition (if they don’t have free shipping or don’t mention it in their ad copy). Or maybe you are running a Fourth of July Sale where everything is 40% off—let your audience know that. This will make them much more likely to click on your ad.
5. List Your Prices
Another great way to increase your CTR is to list your prices in your ads—that is, if your prices are competitive. This wouldn’t work if your prices are 15% higher than your competition, but, if you are priced competitively, then it should improve your conversions. It might reduce your CTR, but, if you are getting more qualified traffic to your landing page and site, it should balance out.
6. Show Off Your Brand
You can also use your brand power or product recognition if possible. Maybe you are an outdoors retailer that sells YETI coolers. This brand has a large recognition with buyers—some would be more likely to click on your ad knowing that you sell that product.
You can also show off your brand. If your brand has a following or presence, you want to make sure you include that in your ad copy.
Ad Extensions are important elements of a successful AdWords account, and Google is regularly making changes to them.
1. Purpose of Ad Extensions
Ad Extensions supplement the core of ad copy, providing searchers with more information about your business. Not only do they inform the searcher, but they also take up more real estate on the search results page.
However, these extensions do more than just aesthetically enhance ads. Google made a significant announcement when it revealed that ad extensions were to be included in the infamous quality score calculation. This means that the better your ad extensions are, the better your quality score will be—therefore, improving ad position and lowering cost-per-click.
2. Types of Ad Extensions
Ad Extensions come in several forms. You’ll want to implement as many ad extensions that you can as long as they make sense for your business. Here’s an explanation of each type of ad extensions currently available in AdWords:
Sitelinks are links that display underneath your core ad copy and which send users to specific pages on your website (other than the main landing page of the ad.)
Not only do they provide a shortcut to other areas of the website, but they also provide the searcher with a greater understanding of the business. Sitelinks can be one line, or you can add two additional lines of text to the main sitelink.
- Manual additions can be added in the interface or in the editor.
- Sitelinks should be relevant to the search term.
- Sitelinks can also include descriptions known as enhanced sitelinks.
A location extension shows your business info along with your ad, such as your address, phone number, and hours of operation. This is very important for local businesses running ads targeted to specific geographic locations around their physical store. It might not make sense to use location extensions if you are a national retailer with thousands of locations, but, if you do have a nearby brick and mortar, you should definitely include location extensions.
Location extensions are based on your Google My Business profile. You have to link at least one business location to your AdWords account for these extensions to work. We recommend advertisers always make sure that their Google My Business account is up to date and accurate. If you have multiple locations, make sure all of the information is correct for each one.
This is very important for searches that are conducted on mobile devices because, if you have a location extension enabled in your account, you are eligible for the “nearby business” mobile ad format. This mobile format displays directions and click-to-call links when someone searches for businesses “nearby” or “near me” on a mobile device. Again, this is more important for local stores than for national eCommerce stores.
Call extensions display your phone number with the ad. You have the ability to either use your phone number or a Google Forwarding number. By using a Google Forwarding number, you have more insights into the performance of the extension. Google also gives you the option to count phone calls as conversions. You can even set a threshold for how long the phone call must be before it is counted as a conversion.
Callout extensions are similar to sitelinks, but, instead of linking to a landing page, they give the advertisers the ability to say more about their business. Callout extensions are a great way to boast of any unique selling points, such as free shipping, price match guarantee, military discount, authorized dealer, free tech support, PayPal accepted, etc.
Structured Snippets Extensions
Structured snippets extensions allow your ads to highlight specific qualities about your product or service, which gives searchers more information before they click through to your site.
However, you can only use two at a time with your ad. Google offers a specific list of the types of structured snippets that you can use. They are:
In addition to providing the searcher with more information, structured snippets also take up more real estate on the search page, which can help to make your ad stand out, improve your click-through-rate, and improve your quality score.
You can use price extensions to showcase more of your business’s products or services. These are individual links that go back to your site, sending those who click on them to exactly what interests them on your website.
These appear below your text ad on desktop and mobile. These show up as a set of up to eight cards that show different offerings and prices.
These are not ad extensions that you manipulate within the AdWords UI, but they do show in the ad copy. Seller ratings appear as gold stars within text ads and indicate which advertisers have positive ratings for customer service. These stars increase CTR and draw more attention to the ad, as they help it stand out from the competition.
Not only that, but seller ratings help build immediate confidence in shoppers. Because of the added credibility, we’ve seen increases in conversion rating when seller ratings appear. All of these factors combined can make a noticeable impact on ROAS.
To be eligible to show seller ratings, you need the following:
- At least 30 reviews within the last 12 months
- Average star rating between 3.5-5
Seller ratings can come from the following sources:
- Google Trusted Stores
- Google Consumer Surveys
- Other independent review websites, such as Bizrate. You can find more review websites and information here.
App extensions give you the ability to link to your mobile app within your text ads. Google also has App Promotion Ads (which link to apps exclusively), which the company seems to favor over extensions.
Luckily, Google AdWords provides you with a lot of tools that can help make PPC a little a bit easier on you and help you save a bit of time. Wouldn’t you rather use that time optimizing your account? Let’s review some of the most useful tools within AdWords.
1. Change History
As the name might suggest, this tool shows you all of the changes that have been made in the account. There are a lot of different changes that are tracked here, including what the change was (budget, keyword, targeting, etc.), as well as when the change was made and the user that made the change. You can also export this data out of AdWords for further analysis.
2. Keyword Planner
AdWords’ Keyword Planner is one of the most useful and powerful tools within the interface. Again, as the name suggests, the Keyword Planner is a keyword research tool that can help you search for keyword ideas or get estimates on your keywords. It can also give you historical search data and forecast estimated traffic.
As we previously discussed, keyword research is paramount to PPC—it’s what your whole campaign is built around. This tool allows you to start searching keywords that are related to your product, get data on those keywords, and then save them in your account. You can then create ad group around those and set your bids.
3. Display Planner
The Display Planner is another research tool from AdWords that can help you when you are architecting your Google Display Network campaigns. It can recommend thousands of websites, keywords, topics, apps, interests, and more that your target audience is likely to utilize. This can help you find new placements for your ads or amp up your existing campaigns with new ideas.
4. Ad Preview and Diagnostics
The Ad Preview & Diagnosis tool can help you see your ad in action without any interference. This allows you to see your ad just as a searcher would, without affecting the performance of the ad—and these views won’t count, so your data won’t be skewed.
This tool can also help you make sure that all of your sitelinks are displaying properly. If they aren’t showing up correctly, this tool can help you figure out what is going wrong.
The Opportunities Tab can help you identify different ways to get more out of your campaigns and help you improve them with customized recommendations. This tool can help you see performance estimates based on historical data, make improvements without spending a ton of time, and keep your campaigns fresh.
Opportunities can introduce you to new features you might not be aware of and can help you improve your bidding strategy, add new keywords, add sitelinks, and so much more.
Google AdWords’ Label is a great tool to help you organize your campaigns. Think of Label kind of like Post-it notes. This tool allows you to create color-coded tags that give you a visual way to keep up with a ton of different aspects.
You can use Labels for pretty much anything—from grouping keywords to when an ad was created. This can be especially useful when you are working in an account with multiple users.
7. Call Tracking
In addition to numerous third-party call tracking solutions, AdWords provides its own call tracking within its interface. This gives AdWords the ability to count calls to the phone number on your site as conversions. Through this, you can identify the source of the PPC traffic that generates phone calls to the phone number on your website.
Learn how to set up call tracking in AdWords here.
One thing to note, here—website call tracking differs from tracking calls made to Google call extensions. Google call extension calls can also be counted as conversions. More information on that process can be found here.
8. AdWords Scripts
The good news with Scripts is that you don’t even have to know Java or coding to implement them. While it does help to have a basic understanding, thanks to the ready-made options almost anyone can use these to their advantage. Look for AdWords Scripts that seem like they would be advantageous for your accounts, and implement them. Afterward, you’ll want to monitor them closely to make sure they are working properly and aren’t breaking anything.
9. Automated Rules
Automated Rules can sometimes be looked at as a dumbed-down version of AdWords Scripts, but they can be powerful tools that shouldn’t be overlooked. Automated Rules, which are unique to AdWords, are rules that can set any number of things—from bid modifications to performance notifications. You just create the rules based on certain conditions, and then they run on a schedule.
Like Scripts, these don’t require any Java or coding knowledge. To create an Automated Rule, click the Automate button in your AdWords account. You can then create your rule based on the settings that you want. You can find more information on creating Automated Rules here.
Whether or not to use Automated Rules is really up to you. In our accounts, we set up Automated Rules to execute a variety of actions, like scheduling email notifications for when ad groups or campaigns are performing poorly, adjusting placement bids in display campaigns based on performance parameters, and bidding to a certain average position for keywords in search campaigns. Just remember, while these rules are meant to make managing your PPC account less tedious, they do require you to monitor them.
10. Google Analytics
Google Analytics and AdWords are two of the main tools that are used to successfully manage PPC campaigns, but what a lot of people don’t realize is that you can link the two together to help you better analyze your data. By doing so, you are able to see your Google Analytics data in your AdWords reports, import Analytics remarketing audiences, and import Google Analytics smart goals. You are also able to see more metrics, such as bounce rate, pages per session, average session duration, and percent of new sessions within AdWords.
We definitely recommend linking your Google Analytics and AdWords Accounts together. Because of the increased visibility of metrics, you should be able to better analyze your customer activity and, therefore, be able to continuously improve both your ad campaign and your website.
To do so, go to Settings > Linked Accounts > Google Analytics. Make sure auto-tagging is enabled, and link the appropriate Analytics account.
11. Google Merchant Center
The Google Merchant Center is a tool that lets you upload your store and product data into Google to use for AdWords and other Google services.
Before you can run any shopping campaigns, you have to make sure that you have connected your Google Merchant Center to AdWords. Once connected, you can take advantage of the data in both to improve your experience. You can learn more about linking the two together here.
Bid management is the core of optimizing PPC campaigns. In short, there are two ways to approach bid management—manual and automated. Technically, there’s a third approach that we use—a blend of automation and manual management. However, we are heavier on manual bidding, as it has always created the best results for our clients.
In case it’s not clear, manual bidding refers to manipulating bids directly in the interface or in a desktop tool, such as the AdWords Editor or Microsoft Excel. This means a real person analyzes the data and then physically changes bids.
Bid management can be automated through third party software, AdWords Scripts, Automated Rules, and the featured bidding strategies that AdWords offers in the UI. Also, AdWords currently offers the following automated bidding strategies within the UI which advertisers can select on the campaign level within the settings tab:
- Target Search page location
- Target CPA
- Target ROAS
- Target Outranking Share
- Maximize Clicks
- Enhanced CPC
Our personal recommendation for bid management is varied. We’ve seen mixed results with Google’s automated bidding strategies. In most cases, manual bidding has created better results. It’s important to know that when you select any of Google’s bidding strategies, you’re giving up some control—and, when things go wrong, they tend to go very wrong.
When it comes to bid management, our best advice is to make sure you find the right balance between automation and manual bid management. There are going to be some accounts that are conducive to automation and which require a personal touch. Also, some third-party bid management suites can be very expensive, so you have to decide whether or not the efficiency outweighs the costs
If third party software doesn’t’ make sense for you, then we recommend using a combination of AdWords Scripts, Automated Rules, and manual optimization. This blended approach keeps account managers in touch with their accounts and the nuances that demand manual attention.
One metric to pay attention to within AdWords is that of cross-device conversions. Previously, there was no visibility in the AdWords UI indicating conversions which originated from an ad click on one device but that were ultimately completed on another. Now, the cross-device conversion metric helps close the data gap
This metric, for the most part, can be interpreted as how many sales originated from mobile ads. It’s important to keep in mind that Google estimates this figure. It is not the true amount of sales spanning multiple devices. Rather, Google pulls from the enormous amount of data at its disposal to make estimates. Google claims it won’t report any cross-device conversion data unless it has “at least 95% confidence that the calculation is within 10% of the actual value.”
Because this metric is mostly an indication of mobile efficacy, we recommend using the cross-device conversion column when analyzing performance. You can see data on the campaign, ad group, and even keyword level. However, we’ve noticed some quirky patterns in how Google reports this data.
There might be zero cross-device conversions in a campaign for 20 days; then, all of a sudden, one keyword reports 25 cross-device conversions on a single day. Our assumption is that Google aggregates these estimates and reports them in some kind of “summarized” fashion. Therefore, we recommend using long date ranges and looking at the campaign level when analyzing this data.
Furthermore, Google offers the option to include cross-device conversions in the standard conversions column. Due to the uncertainty and irregularity of how this metric is reported, we don’t recommend doing so at this time. Keeping the conversion columns separated still allows advertisers and account managers to see both without creating the potential for any skewed data.
Here are some of the different types of metrics and reports that you will want to pay attention to:
1. Common Metrics
- Click Through Rate
Your CTR allows you to know if your ads are relevant or not, and it is an important factor to your Quality Score. If you see your CTR is low, it is probably a sign that you need to improve your keywords or your creative.
Impressions gives you the data on how many times your ad was displayed for a given keyword in a given time period.
Conversion rate gives you the ability to see how many people that clicked on your ad then went on to complete your CTA.
- Cost Per Click
Your CPC refers to the price that you are paying for each click you receive on your ad.
- Cost Per Conversion
Cost Per Conversion shows you how much you are paying for each conversion. For example, let’s say your conversion rate is .01, or, out of a 100 clicks, you had 1 conversion. If you pay $1 for each click, then you’re paying $100 per conversion.
2. Conversion Tracking
For eCommerce merchants, conversion and revenue tracking are among the most important aspects of running a successful PPC campaign. You want to be able to see the performance results of your campaign.
Unfortunately, it is surprisingly common to find businesses that aren’t maximizing measurability. In fact, many of the accounts that we take over have improperly implemented conversion tracking. Google offers advertisers the ability to create conversion goals and provides the AdWords conversion script to your website. You can also import your conversion from analytics. By doing so, you are able to see whether or not your ads are turning into conversions.
Google AdWords allows you to track many different types of conversions, but the three main ones are:
- Website Actions: Purchases, sign-ups, etc.
- Phone calls: Directly from your ad, from your site, or on your mobile site.
- App Installs/Actions: Installs of your mobile app, purchases in-app, and other activity within the app.
One of the great things about conversion tracking in AdWords is that you have the ability to set up conversion tracking for whatever it is that your business considers a conversion. After you figure out what it is that you want to track, you can set that up in AdWords. You can learn more about installing conversion tracking here.
However, make sure that you are only using one method of tracking your conversions. You don’t want to run the risk of double counting conversions. We recommend adding the AdWords tracking pixel to your eCommerce site and tracking conversions that way.
Also, check the conversion settings. Don’t count calls as conversions unless it makes sense to do so. If you do choose to count calls as conversions, keep in mind that this could throw off some metrics, such as average order value. Also, set the appropriate conversion window. 30 days is standard, but some businesses might decide it makes sense to extend that window.
Remember, tracking implementation is not complete without testing. Test your ads to make sure the conversion shows up in AdWords with the appropriate amount of revenue associated with that conversion.
3. Search Query Reports
Search query reports are one of the absolute top optimization tools out there. These can become very useful when you are trying to find irrelevant search queries to add to your negative keywords. You can also use these reports to find new keyword ideas. We recommend that you run SQRs at least twice a month.
4. Placement Reports
Another very important tool is your placement reports. These show which websites within the Display Network that showed your ad. By having this data, you can use it to determine if you need to adjust bids for certain websites or even exclude websites if they aren’t producing converting traffic. Like SQRs, we recommend running placement reports at least twice a month.
5. Auction Insights Reports
Running an Action Insight Report can allow you to see what companies you are competing against in the search auction. This insight can allow you to make determinations on whether or not you should increase your bids, increase your budget, add negative keywords, or redo your keyword strategy.
6. Segmentation Options
One thing to mention here is that when you are running a report, you can add segments to your data. You can segment out your data by many different options—device, time, etc.
Data feeds can also be used to create traditional search campaigns. We utilize a special software that transforms product data into keywords and ad copy. These text ads will display the product price, which dynamically updates daily, without having to create any new ads. Furthermore, as products go in and out of stock, ad groups will be paused and created automatically.
This allows for maximum product coverage and a robust buildout of highly targeted product level keywords. IDS campaigns are a great way to supplement product listing ads and take up more real estate on the search results page. This software is also compatible with Bing Ads. Call Visiture for additional information on this opportunity.
The average cart abandonment rate in retail is 72%. Customers tend to abandon their carts for a variety of reasons—unexpected costs, too expensive, website too slow, etc. That means that only a very small portion of customers will make a purchase the first time around. For those who split, you need to have a marketing plan in place to ensure that you get as many back as possible.
The theory with remarketing is that users who have visited your site before are more likely convert on a second try. They already know your brand and products, but they may need a small push to make a purchase. Therefore, you need to get them back on your site. One way that you can do that is through remarketing ads.
You can set up remarketing ads in the Shared Library. There is a remarketing code there that you can place across your site. Then you can set up lists to target based on what page users visit (or don’t visit) or based on when they visited (or didn’t visit). You can create a combination of remarketing lists—those who have visited your cart or your pricing page.
Dynamic remarketing takes traditional remarketing to another level. Like traditional remarketing, dynamic remarketing serves ads to previous website visitors as they browse other sites on the internet (within the Google Display Network). However, these ads dynamically populate images of the specific products that shoppers were looking at while previously on the site.
These campaigns pull product data from a merchant’s product feed in the Google Merchant Center. Therefore, having a product feed established is required for this feature. This can be a powerful campaign type for eCommerce businesses, as we have seen outstanding performance across industries.
Dynamic remarketing starts with the product feed. Just like you would with Google Shopping, you want to make sure that your product data is optimized, accurate, and updated regularly. In order to utilize this, you will need to add the dynamic remarketing tag with parameters to all pages of your site. In most cases, this requires a web development person/team, and, sometimes, even a Google tag implementation specialist might need to get involved.
Once you have the tag in place, you will need to wait for it to gather an audience. You can troubleshoot tag issues in the AdWords UI under Shared Library > Audiences (look for “tag details” in the “remarketing tag” box in the upper right-hand corner. To see the audience list size, go to Shared Library > Audiences, and you should see a list of audiences, such as Product Viewers, Shopping Cart Abandoners, and Past Buyers … and their corresponding sizes.
To create a dynamic remarketing campaign, click +Campaign > Display Network Only, and then follow the steps from there. Once you have created the campaign, we recommend creating separate ad groups for various audiences like the ones listed above. Also, note that you have to have the Google Merchant Center linked to use dynamic remarketing.
Google AdWords offers a type of search campaign that features “Dynamic Search Ads.” These campaigns originally rolled out a few years ago with negative reviews, but they have since been improved.
DSA campaigns do not contain keywords. Instead, Google automatically determines relevant search queries based on the advertiser’s website content. By crawling the site, Google matches out to search queries, dynamically generates an ad, and lands the searcher on the most relevant landing page.
DSA campaigns are similar to IDS campaigns but with much less control. As mentioned above, the advertiser does not determine the keyword to target, so a lot of the control is left up to Google. Furthermore, the ads are based on what is on the site rather than what is in the data feed. The new and improved version of DSAs can close gaps in keyword coverage with relative ease in workflow.
Here are some elements to consider when trying to determine whether or not you are a good fit for DSAs:
- Generally speaking, DSAs are better for eCommerce sites than Lead Generation.
- They are good for advertisers with a thousand products or more.
- They mesh with a diverse product offering.
- They work for those with frequently changing inventory.
- They fit for those with seasonal products that have regularly shifting inventory and demand.
- eCommerce sites that are properly optimized with relevant and descriptive title tags and H1s work well.
It is important to keep in mind that you want to use DSAs as a supplement, not a substitute. You’ll want to build out standard search campaigns with keywords for as much as your product offering as possible. Try DSAs once it is time to close gaps in keyword coverage.
Make sure that you monitor DSAs closely. You’re giving a lot of control to Google, so you’ll need to keep an eye on these campaigns. Mine your search queries and add negative keywords vigorously.
We also recommend that you bid low, in the beginning, in case Google matches out too broadly. Google attempts to give keyword-targeted campaigns precedence over DSA campaigns when competing in the same auction, but this is not an exact science.
Also, make sure you select which pages Google crawls for query parsing. Some elements that you can base this on are:
- Words in the page title
- Words on the page
- Words in the URL
Select categories to target, and then organize your campaign around them. Google automatically matches your site content to certain product categories. You can opt for which ones you want to advertise and set bids accordingly. Also, include ad extensions just as you would with a standard search campaign.
We hope this guide helps you to better manage your PPC accounts in 2018. Remember that, while you might think your campaigns are perfect, it’s worth it to be continuously testing and improving. While there are tools out there that can automate some of the work for you, PPC is still reliant on the human touch. Also, if you want to get amazing results out of your campaigns, then you are going to have to put work into them. Hopefully, this guide will help you do just that.