Top Insider Tips To Create and Improve Your PPC Campaigns
So you’ve read about the huge successes people have found using Google Ads (formerly AdWords), but at the same time you have read the horror stories of small business ‘X’ spending their budget in 2 hours because they didn’t know how the budget system works.
Google Ads can feel like a minefield especially for an SME, which is why we recommend to get some professional advice at the very least to set up your campaigns (which is a large chunk of the upfront work), and ideally to manage and continually optimise too as the marketplace constantly changes and evolves and so too will your requirements, think new products or services to add and so on. That said we know many entrepreneurs like to manage this themselves or work in-house so these top tips are for you!
Never Underestimate the Importance of the Account Set-Up and Structure!
Many people are so keen to get something up and running (many agencies included here) they quickly put some ads up against various search terms without thinking about how they report on or analyse the traffic numbers and how exactly they want to segment and speak to their customer. It results in a big mess honestly and makes it impossible to know who is being served which ad, where in the country/chosen market, and impossible to understand what is working and what isn’t. I can not tell you how many times we’ve been asked to manage an account and have had to totally redesign the entire structure before we can get going.
A good place to start is simply take a good look at your website – can you create campaigns based on your headings? With ad groups being the individual products you are selling? Don’t forget a brand campaign for people who search for your brand name – and include mis-spells here. We find it helps to map campaign names and ad groups on a Google Sheet to make sure we capture everything possible, and that it’s clear, concise and makes sense.
Once you are happy with a structure we need to think about targeting, will all campaigns need to show to the whole of Australia? Or can you really only deliver/provide your service in New South Wales or perhaps a handful of suburbs? This is a crucial decision particularly to your budget! Keep it tightly targeted and not only will your results improve dramatically but it utilises every cent because ads will only be viewed by people who are really in the right place to make a purchase/use your service.
Now search terms. Each product/service sector will need a selection of terms to trigger your ads. Think if you were a customer what would you put into Google when looking for the product/service you’re selling/offering? You can use Google’s search term tool – Keyword Planner (free on their system) to help you think about possible variants. Once you have a decent list you are happy with, replicate and tweak these for each product/service offering.
I can’t say enough how important it is to spend time on this part of your campaigns. This is how you speak to your customers. This may be the first thing they will see, and the first way that they will interact with you. Say something great! Tell them what you offer, how wonderful you are and why you are a better option then the next ad along/better than your competitors.
Check the character spacing available and use it! The character spacing is literally the number of spaces available – this includes spaces between words and includes punctuation. For example, the main character spacing in a normal ad is as follows:
- Headline 1 (30 characters*) | Headline 2 (30 characters*) | Headline 3 (30 characters*)
- Description line 1 (90 characters*)
- Description line 2 (90 characters*)
- Final URL
*The total count of characters also includes spaces.
Play around with words/descriptions and sales incentives that would really speak to your customers. Can you add that you are the best provider in Sydney? Can you offer fast tracked delivery? Do you have an excellent reputation or business awards you can mention? Can you price match? Are you cheaper?
My advice would be to use Google Sheets or Excel here. This makes it very easy to check your character limits and play around with the text until you are super happy with it. Replicate this for all those different sections of the site, products and brand terms.
Think about where on your website will each ad deep-link to or which page you want each ad to land on. These are your destination URLs and you will need to assign one for each ad. If you have a product page do not land customers searching for that product on the homepage. Any extra clicks or searching the customer has to do on your site is an opportunity for them to leave your site and click back to Google and on to a more targeted ad that takes them to a product page for what they are looking for. Imagine how annoying it would be to search for “Tim Tam Woolworths” to be landed on the Woolworths home page with no relevant information about Tim Tam. Not a good experience, so make sure you link your ad through to the most relevant page for their search, giving them a great experience and allowing them to convert, increasing your ROI.
Use the ad text add-ons (ad extensions). I was going to add this as an additional point as it really does make a huge difference to the appearance of your ads but it is part of your ad text so I will leave it here – but don’t miss these out.
There are a number of ad extensions available for your ad text, try to use as many as possible. If you purchase a piece of advertisement real estate in a newspaper you would want as large an ad as possible so it stands out – the same applies here and these add-ons give you more real estate on the Google Search Engine Results Page. Of course it also provides more opportunity to give some important bits of information and sales taglines to make sure the customer clicks on your ad and not your competitors, always a bonus! In print you would pay for the size of your ad but that is not the case in Google so add as much info as possible to push your competitors ads down the page and make yours stand out. I’ve outlined a few of the more popular extensions you can use below.
These are like mini ads within your ad. They show as small pieces of text underneath your ad with a direct link to that specific page which can be clicked on directly. Usually companies link through to specific sections of their site, for example, About Us, Opening Hours, Our Team. If you have different categories of products or services you can link through to that collated page here. For example, if you sell bags, t-shirts, tops and jeans you could add a sitelink for each category.
These are small (total 25 characters including spaces and punctuation) that appear as a horizontal list below your ad. They are intended to act as small pieces of text to attract customers. Some ideal callouts could be:
- 4.8 Google Star Rating
- Express Shipping
- 24Hr Customer Helpline
- 50% Off
This is self explanatory really, you can add phone numbers directly to the ads. This is important and useful for the customer but it also allows you to target your customers correctly. For example, if you have five different stores in different suburbs you could target those (and surrounding suburbs) with different and specific ad text to their closest store and ensure the correct number shows for that specific search.
This point is crucial to get right especially if you are a novice to the system. Think realistically what you can afford to spend in a month as a total. Let’s say for example that you want to spend $3,000 maximum. You have worked out all your campaigns now and have 6 that you want to put live. Campaigns have a maximum daily budget which you need to put in. So for our example, we would take our $3k split this by 6 (no. of campaigns) giving us $500 per campaign. We will then divide this by the number of days in that month, let’s say 30. So 500/30 = $16.66 This is our daily budget per campaign. The maximum amount is monitored by the system and although it is supposed to be a cap we find the system frequently goes over this amount. Cost per clicks vary for each individual auction so it’s hard for the system to ensure exact amounts for every single search term out there. For this reason I would suggest to round it down and put a daily campaign budget of $15 here and review it frequently. The biggest mistake you can make is putting in an amount and not monitoring it very carefully – especially in those first few hours/days. Keep checking in so you can see that things are going as planned and that the budget is not running away!
Cost Per Clicks
These will greatly affect how your budget is used up.
If you are unsure what to set as a maximum cost per click you’re not alone. It’s a tricky one to work out and now that Google has removed the average position your ad shows in, it makes it harder still. If you have a totally new account/campaigns you may need to spend a little extra in the beginning just to get your terms up in the listings and receiving some traffic. Once that starts to happen Google’s system will start recording ‘history’ of your terms/ads/URLs. This is the time to invest a bit more. Google’s system is complex and there are many factors at play in each and every auction but generally the higher your click through rate (CTR) plus your history, quality score and campaign performance, the less your CPC’s are. If you invest a bit more to start with, (your ads CPC’s may be higher to get you higher up on the page), but as you get some great CTR’s (don’t forget your ads will be awesome, targeted and super relevant) these CPC’s will drop and you may find you’re paying much less in the long term.
When you submit your search terms into the system, Google will give you some indication of what you need to be paying to appear on the first page and in top positions so use these tools to help you understand what your maximum CPC should be.
You should also use tools such as the Google Ads Preview Tool. This allows you to search for your ad (as a customer would) but without affecting your impression numbers and taking into account your personal search history which will greatly affect what results you see especially given that Google moves more and more to personalisation. Bear in mind you do not want to increase your impression numbers (just to check on your ads) without receiving clicks as this will reduce your CTR’s and therefore if you search enough you could negatively affect your CPC’s yourself!
It’s super easy within Google to pull very simple reports showing your key stats such as impressions, clicks, CPC’s and spend. This information can be split by day/week/month/device or as needed. Ideally you would link your Google Ads campaigns to Google Analytics to allow for a greater picture of how your PPC investment is affecting your whole website traffic and sales. There are heaps of amazing tools out there but some can be costly and it’s really not essential especially for a smaller enterprise. You can get a very detailed report from Google Analytics – certainly enough to make changes and decisions about how to optimise your spend. You can also see spend by ad group and search term and match this to conversions (sales or actions) to really understand where the most profitable terms are and where we need to improve and make changes.
At Search Tribe we have developed our own tools using scripts and APIs which allow us to find out and drill down to fine details at the touch of a button. There is where a really skilful agency is worth every penny. We make the investment of time and money to create these tools and apply them to your campaigns to allow us to understand everything in very great detail. This means we can spend all of our time making optimisations and changes allowing you to make more money. What could be better than that!
Analysis and Optimisation
I mentioned a little about this in the paragraphs above but it really is essential to keep up with and be on top of what I like to call the 4 R’s:
Renewing + Revamping + Reevaluating = Results
We’ve now completed all the above steps – we have an awesome, highly targeted, relevant campaign(s), delivering ads to the right people at the right time. It’s spending our budget evenly over time and on the most relevant terms for our business. We’ve set detailed reporting and can see things are going great. So now what… Now we keep at it! Like any good relationship, your relationship with your customers needs time invested on it and devoted to it. You can bet (or have to believe) all your competitors are checking out what you are doing and they are continually making improvements to their ads, perhaps a new competitor has entered the field with an amazing sale on their products. Google have released new and improved functionality on their system or perhaps it’s just your ads have been running with the same messaging for months now and it’s time for a re-fresh.
My advice when analysing is to choose a decent chunk of data, don’t go too far back as things change all the time and old data can become irrelevant to what is happening now. If you have a good amount of clicks, a month’s worth of data should be sufficient. If you have less, perhaps 3 months would be better. The reason I say this is because if you look at one campaign and it only has 50 clicks and no sales you might think it’s not working and pause it altogether. However, with 50 clicks it’s not really enough data to be sure that the next click couldn’t create a conversion giving you a conversion rate of 2% and potentially a good ROI (this is obviously case by case, but you get my point). Perhaps think of a benchmark conversion rate to use (you can calculate this looking at your profit levels – what profit would you need to make in order to spend for X number of clicks at X CPC rate). Once you have pulled your data from Google Ads or Analytics the key things to be looking at and analysing are the percentages:
- CTR (Click Through Rate) %
- Conversion Rate %
- ROI or ROAS (return on investment or return on ad spend) %
This is a great starting point and each figure will point to or tell you something different and allow you to analyse further or make changes to refine and max out your return.
This is a great indication of how your ads are working. If your CTR is very low you need to consider, is the search term too generic and broad and I’m picking up way too many impressions for what I’m actually selling/providing? Here you should be pulling a search term report within Google Ads to see what search terms are triggering your ads. If there’s weird and totally unrelated stuff in there consider changing the match type of your search terms (exact match is more tightly targeted then broad match, for example) or adding these terms as negative search terms (these ensure when someone searches with the negative match word in their search query your ad will not appear next time). This can greatly reduce the wasted impressions you show for and as a side note – this negative match review/optimisation should be routinely done ideally once a week or if possible more, especially at the start.
Your CTR could also be low if your ad is just not as compelling as others. Once you’ve checked the match types and reviewed your negatives, look at what your competitors are writing in their ad text. Do they have really compelling ad text or a sale on at the moment which is grabbing everyone’s attention? Perhaps your ad is showing a bit too low down on the page to be getting a lot of clicks. This is an easy fix, simply increase your maximum CPC’s. Obviously keep an eye on those budgets if you increase your CPC’s greatly. You really want your CTR to be as high as possible, ideally 5% or above.
This will really tell you more about your product/service offering and your website performance. At this point the ad worked great, people are clicking and arriving on your site. Now are you converting them into customers? If the answer is no, look for simple answers like did you land them on the right page? If they ran a search on ‘black leather handbag’ and you gave them a great ad telling them about your fabulous black leather handbag, did you then land them on the page with the fabulous black leather handbag? If not, correct your URLs to give them a better chance to find the offering they want and make a purchase! If you did, but they are dropping off here, perhaps it’s a product that is very price sensitive and your price is just not competitive enough – do some competitor analysis to see where you stand here. If the customers are adding items to their basket but dropping off here, could it be a site issue? Are you pages loading too slowly? Do you not accept Afterpay or PayPal but your competitors do? Run some test bookings to check the process – do the same on competitor sites – is their process more fluid, simple or user friendly?
ROI or ROAS
This will really highlight which products are selling best and where you need to be pushing to capitalize on this. Similarly, where you need to reduce things and/or look at other factors for example, some of the items we mentioned above like competitor pricing and so on. You can run a simple report from Google Analytics to see which search terms are driving the highest levels of return for your dollars spent. For the items that are performing really well, what more can you do to maximise this? Can you add more search term variations to capture more traffic and sales for this offering? Can you increase the CPC’s slightly to try to get more clicks (as a general rule the higher you are on the search engine results page the more clicks you will get). Bear in mind you will obviously pay more so you don’t want to tip the balance of profit – it’s trial and error here, so try increasing the CPC slowly and check again in a few days did it have the desired effect? If not, simply reduce it down again.
If you’ve made it this far well done! It’s a fair bit of reading to get through, I know. But these points really highlight some important issues and key strategy to get you going and help you understand your Google Ads campaigns. These are tried and tested ways of starting, executing and managing campaigns that we use everyday when managing our clients valuable ad accounts.
I’m sure for the more seasoned users, you may be thinking – what… is this the end of the document? You haven’t mentioned ad scheduling or re-targeting (or whatever else you were hoping I would cover here)?! Of course there is an awful lot more I could go through but that’s where we would love to hear from you so we can really understand your business, what you need and show you where we can help in far greater detail.
We genuinely have the most experienced team in Australia, so you know you are getting the most expert advice.
At the moment, we also have a free 30 minute strategy call and a free review of your business presented to you by one of our top directors. This alone is worth more than $2,000. But we will not be doing this for long so please get in touch today and together we can reach for the stars! Thank you.