By Pippa Nutt, Chief Digital Officer

Get your search campaigns back on track with these five tips to an improved bottom line.

1. Time to clean house

Step back for a minute and take a close look at your account structure. A lot can change over a year: campaigns may pass hands, budgets change, and keywords are constantly added or paused. Before you know it, you’ve lost sight of the logical campaign structure you once had (or, if you’re like 75% of all pay-per-click advertisers, perhaps you never had it). If you are a keyword hoarder, chances are some of your ad groups have grown significantly in size over the past year. To increase targeting efficiencies, spend some time scrubbing your keyword list and segmenting your keywords into new buckets. Then sit back and watch as your click-through rates start to climb.

2. Measure goals, not impressions and clicks

It may seem rudimentary, but it’s surprising how many pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns lack a clear or relevant conversion metric. Tracking clicks as conversions is not a clear measure of keyword effectiveness, at least not in a direct response context. When refining any paid search campaign, it is important to ensure your conversion goals are structured to identify both weakness and opportunity.How do you identify a conversion point? Ask yourself: what is the desired action I want people to take when visiting my site? Do you want them to supply an email address or contact information, download an information kit, call for more information, or purchase a product/service? Once your conversion metrics are in place, you can examine the cost and rate of conversion as they relate to your total goals, and adjust your media spend and campaign strategy accordingly.

3. Maximize your key performers

The search landscape is (pardon the pun) organic and constantly changing. Today, search marketers are seeing increased volatility represented by higher traffic volumes, more conservative online buying behavior, increased competition driving the cost per click up, and, in some cases, fewer conversions and sales. Now more than ever, a set-it-and-forget-it approach is guaranteed to fail.During times of increased volatility, you need to step back, isolate your key performers, focus on your core brand terms, and leverage the discount long tail phrases that are driving reliable volume at a lower cost. Keyword research and refinement are among of the most time-consuming aspects of search marketing, but are essential to improving campaign efficiencies. To get the most out of your investment, you need to track performance on a per-keyword level. I know that sounds incredibly labor-intensive, but your ROI depends on it. If you don’t have the resources in-house, consider outsourcing the daily management.

4. Block out unwanted traffic

Negative keywords help to prevent your ad from showing up in search queries unrelated to your website when you bid on broad or phrase matches. Identifying negative keywords ultimately allows you to control the distribution of your ad, freeing up budget that can be applied to better performers. This, in turn, can increase your click-through rate, improve your average position and lower the cost per click. After all, what’s the likelihood that someone searching for “travel insurance scams” is going to be ready to buy online? Not high, so why waste valuable impressions and budget?  Block it out, assign “scam” as a negative keyword and divert this unwanted traffic. How do you identify negative keywords? High impressions and relatively low clicks may indicate that a particular keyword or phrase is attracting unwanted attention. Examine your analytics to determine if traffic is being driven to your site for the wrong reason. Are people searching for one thing but ending up on your site by mistake and bouncing almost immediately? What search terms are they using? This will help you identify your negative keywords.

5. Continually test your ad copy

Some of the most significant improvements we’ve observed in PPC performance have resulted from ad copy testing. It makes good sense, but so few advertisers devote the necessary time and resources to testing. If you’re not practicing keyword inclusion in your ad copy, you are bypassing a significant opportunity to boost click share. Copywriting for search is a unique skill set not to be taken for granted. Consult with your direct response digital media agency to learn how to update or improve your PPC ads, and increase your click-through rate and overall ranking. You may be surprised to discover how a few small changes to your ad text can yield substantial improvement in campaign performance. Investing in social media? Take a look at the messaging coming from your audience posts, testimonials, comments or reviews. There are valuable insights in terms of positioning that can then be applied to make your paid search messaging more relevant.

Summary

Relevancy is the key to mastering the search landscape. Keep it relevant, and you’ll reap the rewards of a lower cost per click, premium position, and increased clicks and conversions. While the fluidity of the search landscape is an ongoing challenge, being able to respond to fluctuations in your account performance in a timely manner will help you maintain a leading position. It is clear that google search ads can definitely increase interest in your website, but make sure you run a system that isn’t going to cost you more than you’ll receive from people visiting your website and buying your services or products!

We can help optimize your search campaign.