Platforms like Google can make search engine advertising sound easy, but the truth of the matter is that there are a lot of moving parts when it comes to creating an effective ad campaign. Simply setting an ad up and letting it run without tracking performance is a great way to burn through a marketing budget. You need to be actively managing them. In this article, we’re going to cover 6 ways to optimize the performance of your paid search ads so you can make sure your time and money are not only well spent, but also yield a return on your investment.
Related: Online Advertising Guide (free eBook)
Simply put, bids are the amount of money you’re paying per click for each respective ad. But just because an ad may be getting a lot of clicks doesn’t mean it’s performing well; you have to look at how many of them are actually converting into leads or customers. By that same token, it’s never a good idea to run just one ad, because then you’ll have nothing to compare it to. To start, we recommend running at least 2 ads so you can compare their performance side by side and see which one is yielding better results. Ultimately, you want to reduce the amount you are spending on low-performing ads and increase your bid amount for higher performing ads.
Once you’ve picked out the keywords for each ad, you need to decide which match type is going to draw in the most targeted traffic. These determine the types of search queries Google will show your ad to, which are covered below.
Broad match will show your ad to anyone performing a Google search that includes your keyword in it, regardless of additional text in the query. This will give your ad the highest level of exposure, but you also run the risk of attracting the wrong kinds of customers to your landing page and wasting money. For example, if you’re selling “men’s shoes”, you wouldn’t want someone searching for “men’s black shoe polish” clicking on your ad.
Phrase match tells Google to only show your ads to users that search for your keywords in the exact order you’ve entered them, while still allowing words before or after. This match type is a nice middle ground that allows you to narrow your ads reach to a more targeted market so you limit the number of irrelevant clicks you receive. For example, if your keyword is “bar stools”, it can show up for searches like “cheap bar stools” or “buy bar stools”.
Exact match is the most restrictive match type, only showing your ad to users who search for your keywords exactly as you’ve entered them with no text before or after. While this can greatly limit your ads’ reach, it increases the likelihood that users clicking on your ad will be interested in your product or service. For example, if your keyword is “desk lamps”, your ad will only be shown to people that search that exact phrase. There is no one-size-fits-all approach as it depends on your marketing goals and budget, so experiment to see which match type works best for you.
Negative keywords give you the ability to better control who Google shows your ads to. If you’re using broad or phrase match types, your ad can be shown to users that use additional words in their query, increasing the risk of appearing for irrelevant searches. For instance, if you’re selling “men’s suits” and they’re fairly high-end, you probably wouldn’t want to draw traffic searching for “cheap men’s suits”.
Negative keywords allow you to exclude search terms from your campaigns so you can focus on targeting the right kind of clicks. To do this, start by brainstorming the obvious search queries you’d want to avoid. You’ll learn more about which negative keywords you should include for each ad as they continue to collect data and you can see the actual search phrases people are using, allowing you to limit exposure.
Keywords are going to determine who your ads are shown to, making them of paramount importance. However, just because a keyword may be working for you one month doesn’t mean it will perform as well the following. As an online advertiser, you have to stay on top of the best performing keywords and most popular search phrases that your target audience is using to stay ahead of the game. Make it a habit of regularly checking and tracking the performance of your keywords so you know which ones to avoid and which ones to capitalize on. This will help you identify trends and make it easier to adjust your bids accordingly. To come up with new keywords, use Google’s Keyword Planner tool (or any of these alternatives) to find new ideas that you can build ads around.
Outside of using the right keywords, negative keywords, and match types to design an effective paid search campaign, it’s the ad copy that will ultimately determine whether or not someone clicks on your ad. You don’t have to be a writing wizard when it comes to ad copy. In fact, sometimes keeping it simple and to the point works best. For every ad, you should have a few different text variations that you can try out to see which one works best with your target audience.
Experiment with different action words and phrases that clearly define what you’re offering. If you’re having a hard time, don’t be afraid to look at competitor ads to see what’s working for them.
As a business owner, if you don’t have the time to properly manage your online ads, it’s better to hire a professional service than let your ads run on autopilot. While it does cost money for these services, because you’ll have a team of professionals managing your campaigns and ensuring they’re optimized, the return on investment is usually far greater. This allows you to focus on more important aspects of the business while still being able to reap the rewards of online ad campaigns.
Paid search advertising can really work for your business, so long as you stay on top of your campaigns. Use these tips to ensure the time and money you’re putting into your SEM campaigns is well worth it.