Spring Clean Your PPC Accounts in 5 Simple Steps

It’s apparently spring (we haven’t had snow in a month so guess it must be!), so what better time to give your paid search campaigns a good ol’ spring clean?! But, “where do I start?” I hear you ask… these few pointers might just help:

1 – Pull the Plug on Under Performing Keywords 

As much as we’d like to see all keywords convert well – it just doesn’t work like that. Once you’ve optimised your keywords as much as you can by adding negative keywords, tailoring ad copy to match and testing different landing pages, if you still can’t get the keyword to convert then it’s time to pull the plug. It’s like breaking up a relationship really – you really don’t want to do it but once you do, it will be the best thing you’ve ever done and you can start to move on with your life….. or something like that!

Sort your under performing keywords into two categories – the ‘no hopers’ and the ‘last chance’ keywords. Bin off the no hopers and optimise the last chance ones to do all you can to revive them. They’ll either turn into ‘no hopers’ or the ‘survive for another day’ers’ – a tad dramatic?!

pull the plug
2 – De-Clutter Your Accounts

Is your account full of paused keywords, ads or ad groups? If you have no intention of reactivating them, then you don’t need them cluttering up your account. Identify what you don’t need anymore and don’t be afraid to press that delete button!

3 – Review your Landing Pages

Landing pages can often be overlooked in optimising PPC accounts, but no matter how good your selection of keywords are or how great your ads look if you’re sending traffic to the wrong pages then they mean diddly squat.

Does the traffic your send to the homepage actually do anything? Is there a more relevant page you could send users to? Are you using all the possible pages? If you don’t know the answers to any of these questions, set up some A/B testing between different landing pages. Analyse the results then test another page.

4 – Add Negative Keywords

If you don’t already regularly look through your search query reports, then take the time to do so now! Search query reports show the exact queries used which trigger your ads. They are the most useful tool showing where you’re wasting your spend on keywords that are not relevant to you. Conversely, they are also useful to add the keywords triggering your ads on phrase, broad match and near exact terms as keywords in your accounts.

Plus, let’s face it, it’s always amusing to look at what people use search engines for!

5 – Look for Missed Opportunities

The opportunites tab in Google Adwords shows you where you are missing out on extra clicks and conversions either through budget constraints or by not having enough keywords in your account. This is a great tool to identify areas you can expand in, but that only tells you so much. When you work on the same accounts every day you can sometimes become blind to what is right in front of you and not spot opportunities that others may do. Ask a colleague to take a look at the account and provide any feedback on how it could be improved. You never know, you might just get some useful pointers that you hadn’t thought about – whether that’s tidying up an ad group, adding new keywords or restructuring a whole campaign.

Got any tips on spring cleaning your PPC accounts? Feel free to share them below!

Thanks for reading 🙂

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PPC Time Management Tips

Time Management is one of the skills that everyone likes to boast about on their CV’s/resumes, but once you start working in PPC that’s when your time management skills really come into their own! Different clients, different demands and never ending optimization you could do on your PPC accounts means every minute you have is precious! Here are a few tips to help you manage the time you spend on your paid search activity more effectively:

1 – Establish Your Priorities

We’ve all had days where we have an overflowing to-do list and feel like no matter how much time there is in the day, you wouldn’t be able to get all your tasks done. Sometimes, it’s simply not possible, in which case you need to establish what needs to be done first rather than doing half jobs of everything. No-one wants to let anyone down by not completing things that you should but by clarifying exactly what the priorities are by either someone senior to you or directly to a client, you’ll be less likely to ‘let anyone down’.

2 – Don’t Drown in Data

It’s no secret that us PPC Marketers love data, give us 10,000 rows of data, a pivot table & a V-lookup to do and we’ll be amused for hours. But as tempting as it is to get as much data as you can to analyse, you need to step back and question if you really need it. Data is only useful if you can turn it into something which you can actually do something in response. Do you really need information on what browser, operating system or screen resolution users are on? Probably not if you’re going to be able to do in response to the results.

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Search Engine Marketing News – February 2013

Well, what can we say about search engine marketing news this month…. you may have heard a thing or two about this little thing called ‘Enhanced Campaigns’. Enhanced campaigns has been the main talking point in the industry and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. I’ll recap on the main changes of Google’s Enhanced Campaigns and other changes that have happened in SEM this month (yes, there has been other news).

Google are giving us more control in our ‘multi-device world’? Brilliant…. oh no, wait!

I’ll admit when I first got the call from Google I was almost convinced (almost!) that the Enhanced Campaign change was a good thing. For some companies/agencies it may be, but not for the majority. Yes, there are some benefits but Google have gone about it the wrong way by ultimately giving us a lot less control.

  • Separate device bidding no longer possible (boo)
  • Tablet and desktop devices are now treated as one with no way of having separate bids for tablet (boo)
  • Mobile bid adjustments are available as multipliers from -100% to +300% at a campaign level (double boo)
  • Ad scheduling possible (woo)
  • Better call tracking (woo)
  • Data on individual site link extensions are available (finally!)

Enhanced Campaign changes have now been rolled out to Adwords Editor, making it easier for us to start making dreaded changes in our accounts.

Other News

Search Funnel Data

Finally some good news! Search funnel data is now available in the Adwords interface. We can now see data on assisting keywords directly in Adwords. It’s a good move by Google as we can see the number of assisting clicks, impressions and conversions without having to go to Analytics. It looks like this is one of the first steps in providing more attribution data, that most of us go somewhere else to find.

Google Penalising Inteflora

Google sent out a big message to advertisers this month by giving Interflora big SEO penalties. Although Google haven’t officially confirmed the penalty, there natural search results took a drastic turn for the worst… This great post by David Naylor shows how dramatic the shift was.

Interflora Rankings Dip

Free Shopping Comes to An End

Google shopping is no longer free to advertisers in the UK (and many other countries). It was good while it lasted here in the UK, but free shopping listings is no more, instead we have to set up product listing ads.

Google’s Unique Searches Drops

Google’s share of unique searches has dipped under 20%. Okay, so it’s still got the majority of searches but it’s slowly losing ground has Baidu, Bing, Yandex and Yahoo are seeing slightly increased global searches. Check out this post from Search Engine Land

Google Removes Not Provided From Webmaster Tools

The next place to not be able to get data on not provided terms was in Google Webmaster Tools. Just another update making it even harder for SEO agencies to explain to clients where there traffic is actually coming from.

So, it’s been a busy month for SEM in February…. roll on March!

Dealing With Life With Enhanced Campaigns

Now we’ve all had time to take in the changes from the Enhanced Campaigns, the reaction has shifted from disappointment/anger to acceptance and trying to work out the best plan of action to make the most out of the change. I’ve even stopped writing Enhanced Campaigns as “Enhanced Campaigns” – that’s acceptance for you, right there! For most of us the change is huge and will require hours of work on a lot of accounts and a change in strategy, leaving us with some very important questions to answer:

Should We Roll Out Now or Wait Until June?

The advantage of not waiting until June is that you can get a really good idea of how to make the change work. Rolling out a small number of campaigns to enhanced can teach us some valuable learnings before rolling out to all campaigns. Campaigns which target just mobile will be in no rush to upgrade, while those who could benefit from geographical bidding and site link extension scheduling will be more inclined to upgrade now.

Do We/How Do We Change Our Structure?

For accounts that split out mobile, tablet and desktop are naturally the ones who are left with a lot of questions on how to adapt the structure. Split high performing mobile keywords into their own campaigns and increase the bid modifiers by 300%? Take poor performing mobile keywords and bundle together to turn bids down/off? What to do with the keywords that convert on mobile but not desktop? Keep the curent structure and adjust mobile bids by a campaign average? The list of questions goes on!

What Bidding Strategy Shall We Use?

While we are no longer able to have separate bids for tablet and are really restricted to mobile bidding at just a campaign level, there are some benefits to enhanced campaigns in geographical bidding. How do you change your bidding strategy to best target people in your location? Turn down bids in locations where you don’t have a physical presence, or increase bids when people are near a store/dealership or try target areas where you see better conversion rates?

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How to Make The Most of Negative Keywords

In PPC advertising negative keywords are arguably as important as your regular keywords. Negative keywords ensure:

  • You only pay for what works
  • You’re not getting irrelevant traffic to your website
  • Users are more likely to convert

Search query reports in Google Adwords show you the exact search terms they have triggered your ad to be shown, which is great for identifying negative keywords to add. But the only problem with doing this is the terms have already given you traffic so it’s best to try prevent terms you don’t want your ad showing for before. Here are some tips to help you make the most of the negative keywords in Google Adwords:

Identify Products You Don’t Sell

The first place to start identifying the negative keywords to place in your account is by looking at your product list. Are there any particular products you don’t sell or have run out of stock for? For example, if you sell sports jackets but you don’t sell Nike ones, then you should set ‘Nike’ as a negative keyword so your ads are not shown for these searches. Look at your competitors websites and identify if they sell any products that you don’t, which are likely to trigger a keyword similar to the ones you’re using (on a phrase or broad match). Also, identify any types of products, brands, colours that you don’t sell which people are likely to be searching for and set these as negatives too.

Google Keyword Tool

The Google Keyword Tool is a really handy tool to see search volumes for keywords and show you opportunities for keywords to target, but it can be equally as useful to show related keywords which aren’t as useful. A good exercise is to take your keywords from an ad group and put them in the keyword ideas tool. This will show you any related terms and may highlight any which are not relevant to what you’re selling.

Cross Campaign/Ad Group Negatives

You want the ad copy a user sees to be the most relevant ad you have in your account, right? Setting ‘Cross Campaign Negatives’ ensure that your campaigns and ad groups are tight enough so that different phrase (or broad) matches don’t appear for the wrong campaign. For example, you may have two ad groups within one campaign – sports jackets and jackets. A search for ‘sports jacket’ could trigger an ad in either ad group if you have jacket on a phrase ad group. In this case you should set ‘sports’ as a negative keyword. Probably not the best example I could ever give, but it’s Monday and it’s been a long day!

Why is this important? By keeping your keyword grouping tight from ad group to ad group/campaign to campaign, you can ensure you’re using the most appropriate ad copy, URL’s and the right bid (you may want to bid less on certain ad groups).

Find Out What People Are Saying About Your Brand

No brand is free from a bit of bad publicity, it happens and even though it’s now easier with social media it’s easier to voice your ‘Brand Voice’ to help maintain your reputation and manage this bad press, there’s still something you can use negative keywords to help. If your brand or industry has had some bad press, you can use search engines to find related stories or see what people are saying on social media to give you some ideas of negative keywords to include in your campaigns. Terms like, ‘scam’, ‘rip off’, ‘con’are generally ones you’d want to include so your ad doesn’t show.

Obviously every case is different and things like this can be a delicate situation, but generally you wouldn’t want your brands ad to be shown for a keyword that wouldn’t show you in a good light.

Test Different Negative Keyword Match Types

Just like regular keywords, you are able to select broad, phrase or exact matches for your keywords. Usually exact or phrase matches are most appropriate, but you don’t want to restrict yourself too much and miss out on impressions and clicks so be careful when choosing the match type for your keywords.

Feel free to share your tips for making the most of your negative keywords below! Thanks for reading 🙂

The Winners and Losers Of Enhanced Campaigns

Okay, so it’s still a little too early to be declaring the winners and losers from the recent Enhanced Campaigns announcement by Google but it’s still clear to see who will benefit from this change, who will lose out and who will have to work extremely hard in the next months to find a campaign structure(s) which works best with the changes.

Winners

  • Businesses who have never bothered to target mobile devices and create mobile friendly landing page – They’ll now be able to automatically opt in to targeting mobile without ever spending the time to build an account which is optimised for mobile performance
  • Marketing agencies and PPC specialists – One thing that this change has highlighted is that you need the best PPC experts handling accounts to be able to adapt to these changes best.
  • Businesses with lots of physical locations – Arguably one of the best parts of this update is that you can now adjust bids based on geographic location. So if you own a retail store in the city centre you can raise bids to people on mobile devices within a few miles of your store. Free call tracking is also a bonus. Call extensions and phone numbers can be automatically replaced by sitelink extensions out of office hours.
  • And the biggest winners?….. Google! There might be a nice video and explanation on all the Google blogs to make it seem that Enhanced Campaigns are the best things since slice bread, but it’s pretty transparent to see their intentions. CPC’s on mobile devices were around 50% lower than desktop ones and with an ever increasing volume of mobile searches, how do Google increase revenue from mobile? Make everyone opt into mobile and make it more difficult to adjust mobile bids, easy!

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The Good, Bad and Ugly Of Google’s ‘Enhanced Campaigns’

After Google’s reps doing the rounds to give a ‘heads-up’ that a change was about to happen, they have now publicly announced their ‘enhanced campaigns‘, so we can now talk about this huge announcement that is going to affect every single one of us PPC marketers. Enhanced campaigns are set to completely disregard device types to attempt to focus on the person rather than the device.

Google will be automatically changing campaigns to run on all devices rather than splitting them out by mobile, tablet, desktop meaning ad-targeted capabilities are extremely limited. They will now be split into mobile and desktop & tablet.

Google are claiming that consumers behaviours on devices are becoming the same, but are they really?! I don’t believe so. Many people use their phones on the commute to work or just during the day to browse on the internet, not really looking to purchase until later on when they get home. At which point they (including me) use a computer/tablet to have a quick check on Google again before being ready to purchase. People DO use devices for different things and that’s why we need different messaging, URL’s and bids.

So, here’s the good, bad and ugly of this latest announcement (in reverse order):

Ugly

Most PPC accounts are now set up to to treat mobile, tablet and desktop as completely different entities (rightly so) whether that’s by using different landing pages, ad copy, keywords or bids. The ‘enhanced campaigns’ now mean that it is much more difficult to target devices differently. Bid multipliers will mean that you can change bids by a certain %, similar to how hour of the day bid management is set up. Campaigns will now have to be merged into one with no real targeting capabilities.

Bad

Without separate bid targeting per device, tablets and mobile devices which have seen considerably lower CPC’s will now be increased along with competition. Despite the huge reach in mobile and tablet devices, lots of businesses were still not targeting by mobile and tablet but will now be forced to, meaning competition is increased and therefore so are CPC’s. As I was typing this I just realised how bad this could be so it should really be under the ugly category too!

Quality scores will now be rolled into one, so you will not have different quality scores by device type. This could actually increase or decrease overall quality scores dependent on if an account had high or low quality scores for mobile and tablet devices.

Good

It is not expected to be rolled out until June, so it gives us all some time I guess.

Oh, and the best news to come out of this announcement….. sitelinks are finally getting sorted (woohoo…). We will now be able to see stats on each individual sitelink. Reporting will also be improved with the ability to still report on device,

There are many questions that still remain to be answered (other than, why Google, why?!) but at least we have a few months to think how it affects us and how we can make the best of the situation.

How will it affect your PPC campaigns?