5 Ways To Improve The Performance Of Your Paid Search Campaign

With the flood of businesses choosing to advertise via Paid Search, it has become increasingly more difficult to gain the desired campaign ROI which was once so easy to achieve. The fact is, many organisations are making a number of mistakes and are not maximising there profits from Paid Search. Listed below are five ways to get the most out of your Paid Search campaigns.

1. Position one in Google isn’t always the best position to be in.

As marketers, this goes totally against our competitive nature. We all want our ads on the coveted position inside the cover of a magazine, or our TVC shown during primetime television. But the truth of the matter is that search engine advertising is different. Occupying the first ad position in Google is only important for a selection of keywords.

Generally, there are five steps to the consumer purchasing process;

1. Identify a need/want which needs to be satisfied

2. Search for a solution

3. Evaluation of alternatives

4. Purchase

5. Buyers dissonance

For search engine advertising, we focus on in the middle three steps, starting with ‘searching for a solution’. Typically consumers weigh up a number of alternatives before making a purchase. Consumers will click on two-three (sometimes more) ads before evaluating alternatives.  Therefore, advertisers can avoid paying the premium of occupying position one as lower ranked ads are going to be clicked. For example, if you owned a company selling dieting books, you wouldn’t want to rank number one for the search phrases ‘how to lose weight’ or ‘diets that work’ as these are ‘searching for a solution’ based phrases.

The same applies when consumers are evaluating their alternative solutions and would apply for broad product related searches such as ‘compare diet books’ or ‘top five gyms’.  Also, when consumers are doing comparison shopping they’ll click on a number of ads to check the offerings of different advertisers – in the same way people typically don’t buy from the first shop they walk in to. For such search queries the perfect ad position is the last one people click on – not the first!

Where you do want to rank high in the search results is for purchasing keywords. For example, you would want to occupy the top positions for keywords such as ‘buy diet books’ or ‘apply gym online’.

2. Failing to apply the correct match types to keywords will hurt your ROI.

Identify the right match type for your keywords is critical to the success of your campaign. With Google there are three match types, ‘Broad’, ‘Phrase’ and ‘Exact’. Yahoo! has two types; ‘Standard’ and ‘Advanced’. Google’s ‘Broad’ and Yahoo’s ‘Standard’ match types are the default when setting up your campaigns and as the names state, they provides the ability to drive a wide range of visitors through to you website, including those you want to target and those who are less valuable. By only using broad/standard match in your campaigns, you are channeling a high number of unqualified visitors to your website which reduces your ROAS and is essentially a waste of money.

Furthermore, if you were to target using only Google’s ‘Exact’ or yahoo’s ‘Advanced’ match there is the potential that you are neglecting qualified traffic which will be snatched up by your competitors.

By analysing your keywords and using the suitable match type, you are ensuring that you are driving quality traffic to your website which will convert.

3. Failing to include negative keywords will also hurt your ROI.

Negative keywords play a vital part in controlling the quality of the traffic being driven via your campaigns. Negative keywords can be either associated with the keywords that you are targeting within your campaign, but are not resulting in conversions, or keywords which when combined with your keywords have a different meaning e.g. you are a educational institution and targeting keywords such as ‘degree’, ‘courses’, ‘study’ etc… you would have the negative keywords ‘free’, ‘fake’, ‘buy’ as negatives . By using negative keywords, you are weeding out irrelevant searches and saving your budget for qualified traffic.

4. Having too broader ad groups makes it hard to target customers.

Simply put, your ads must match the keywords your customers are searching for. If your ads do not contain your keywords or there relevant synonyms then your ads will not appear relevant to your customers and will not stand out against the competition. This is magnified by the fact that when an ad contains the keywords a customer use within a search the matching keyword is highlighted in bold.

5. Test, test, then test again.

Testing variations of your ads is critical to your campaigns success. Starting with totally different ad copy and working through to the finer details can drastically improve your ROI. By testing your ads ‘call to action’, titles, the two lines of copy, and display URL you can fast discover what catches your customers eye and what doesn’t.

The bottom line is that by keeping a close eye on your Paid Search campaign and constantly tweaking all of its aspects both large and small you will provide the best possible chance of driving the right kind of traffic to your website.  However, in order to maximise your ROI from Paid Search requires investing a lot of time & effort into proactive & continuous campaign management. If you don’t have the time available or specialist skills necessary then it should be outsourced to specialists. So if you are taking a set and forget approach to Paid Search, perhaps it’s time to reassess your strategy. Otherwise you are wasting your time and money.

By Craig Whitaker

About the Author Mark Sceats

Mark is a Partner and Senior Consultant at SureFire which he founded back in 2002. Prior to establishing SureFire he worked for KPMG Consulting. Today Mark heads up SEO, embracing the challenges that can come with complex website implementations. Outside of work, his interests beyond his family are running, snowsports, diving and fishing (badly).

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