How Do I Optimise My Paid Search Campaigns

Three things to focus on to set your paid search campaigns on track for performance.

optimise paid search

We’re often asked what’s involved in managing and optimising our clients paid search advertising campaigns.  This article aims to uncover just some of what goes on behind the scenes in ensuring we get the best possible results when managing SEM campaigns.

Before diving into the detail, it’s worth noting that there are three key areas that influence the quality of your existing search campaigns:

  1. Keywords – the keywords used in your account determine when your ads are displayed
  2. Ad copy/creative – this impacts how likely a customer is to click on your ad
  3. Landing Pages – matching your landing pages to your ads will maximise conversion rates, meaning you turn more of your visitors into customers

These are the three main factors influencing how customers interact with your paid search ads, the amount you pay for your paid search ads and the overall ROI of your search based advertising campaigns, now lets dive into each of these in a bit more detail.

Focus Area 1: Keywords

To understand how keywords are working it’s important to make sure that you’ve structured your Campaigns and Adgroups really well.   A good approach is to ensure each Adgroup contains keywords that are closely related to each other.  This will make it easier to manage things going forward.

During this analysis you should take note of how the different match types are working for you across keywords.  If your market is really niche you’re more likely to be using a lot of exact match keywords.  If you’re just starting out and you’re not sure how much volume each keyword is likely to deliver you can keep things broad to begin with and use the search query report to refine things later.

Here’s a quick summary of some common ways to assess and improve keyword performance on the Google search network:

  • Remember you don’t have to do all of this in the Adwords interface if it isn’t giving you the data you need, use the report download option to get hold of your keyword performance data – rather than researching and making all the changes that you need to make inside Adwords a good technique can be to download reports in CSV format for manipulation in a spreadsheet.  This way you can produce pivot tables and have absolute flexibility over how the data is displayed.
  • Break out your keyword data into columns and track the quality score performance over time.  If your QS is decreasing over time it’s worth checking whether the keyword and adcopy are both relevant to what the customer is searching for.
  • Use the search query report to find negative keywords
    • How are users actually searching for your website
    • Look for irrelevant keywords and add negative match
    • Too many top-of-funnel keywords can lead to lots of irrelevant traffic if not carefully monitored
    • Effects of this are huge – saves cost, improves CTR

Focus Area 2: Ad Copy/Creative

The whole purpose of search engines is to make it as quick and easy as possible for searchers to find what they’re looking for.  If you focus on improving the relevance of your ads to what your potential customers are searching for, this results in a higher quality scores, better positions on the search engine results pages (SERPs) and lower costs per click.  Giving you more bang for your buck!

Here’s our top 5 tips for improving your Ad Copy/Creative:

  1. Tie creatives to keyword (stats from Google)
    • Having search term keywords in headlines can improve CTR by 13-19%
    • Keywords in display URL can improve CTR by +7% to 9%
    • Keywords in headline and 1st description line leads to a positive CTR lift 68% of the time
    • If you’re running campaigns with lots of keywords and adgroups it can be a time consuming job to create specific ads for all the keywords you’re using.  Luckily there’s a solution, dynamic keyword insertion (DKI) ads automatically insert the users search keyword or phrase into your ad (assuming it fits inside the character limit).  You still need to ensure that the other components of your ad read appropriately but using DKI, at least to begin with can save you lots of time optimising adcopy for keywords that might never deliver results for your business.
  2. Write simple, compelling copy – there are a number of ways to ensure you’re doing this:
    • Create a specific call to action – sounds simple but this step is quite often neglected, for example if you want customer to call use “call now”, or if it’s a free trial “try it free today” or a donation ask “donate today”.
    • Tie your call to action closely to your landing page – action should be really apparent on landing page
    • Include one unique selling point in each ad – this will help differentiate your ads from competitor ads displaying for the same search term
    • Make effective use of your character limits – having your web site name in headline or description might not always help you appeal to customers as you’re already displaying it in the display URL.  Make sure you leave space for a solid call to action inside your character limit.  Sometimes name of brand or company can help.
    • Include your brand or company – often this is fulfilled using your display URL but if you’re advertising a specific brand that’s sold within your website it’s worth mentioning this in the ad copy.
    • Use title case in your ad creative – this means capitalising the first character of each word.  It can make ad stand out from others who are not using it. Some brands don’t like using title case and prefer to follow proper sentence syntax instead – this is up to you but title case can help drive more traffic to your site.
  3. Tailor ads for mobile searches – if you don’t have mobile ads set up then this can negatively impact your quality score and leave your paying inflated CPCs and/or missing out on impressions completely.  With this in mind it’s worth following some of the tips below:
    • Add at least one mobile preferred ad for each of your ad groups
    • Create and test multiple ad variations
    • Send users to mobile-optimised landing pages – after all what’s the point in driving mobile users to your site if they end up losing patience due to all the pinching and scrolling they end up doing.
  4. Use ad extensions – ad extensions, when they display, effectively give you a bigger share of the page real estate.  The additional space can help to increase relevance and CTRs thanks to the expanded creative and additional calls to action.  Remember, if you’re ad displays in the top position you can show a maximum of 6 sitelinks – getting you lots of extra attention!  All of this helps contribute to improved quality score thanks to the potential uplift in CTRs, check out the stats below from Google:
    • Site links increase CTR by 20-30% on average
    • Call extensions – CTR lift 9% on average
    • Location extensions CTR lift 10% on average
  5. Test and optimise creatives – you probably know your business really well but remember this doesn’t really mean that you know how well your customers will react to different types of messaging.  Creative testing and optimisation should be an ongoing part of your account maintenance, some important pointers:
    • Prioritise your creative testing
    • Create and test multiple ad variations at the same time, a minimum of 2-3 variations is a good starting point
    • Automate your creative optimisation, Adwords automatically delivers your best performing creatives more frequently than those with lower CTRs

Focus Area 3: Landing Pages

Always bear in mind that your adcopy not only needs to be relevant to your keywords and vice-versa but also that your landing pages must also tie in with your ads/keywords.   A disconnect between any of these 3 areas will lead to diminished results.  A landing page that doesn’t contain content that’s relevant to your keywords will result in a lower quality score and elevate the CPCs.

Optimisation of landing pages is often “easier” for eCommerce sites where each product has its own distinct landing page.  However, this process can be a little trickier for businesses focused on generating leads, where the same landing page might be used to capture information from multiple target audiences with very different interests and motivations for looking at your product/service.  We’ll cover this in more detail in a future post.

The three focus areas above cover just some of the work involved in the effective optimisation and management of paid search campaigns.  Our Ninja’s have developed lots of tools, processes and ways of working to streamline the work involved in managing even the most complex campaigns.  If you’d like to talk to a Ninja about how we might be able to help your organisation please contact us today.