by Matt Parisi
Optimization is the key to a successful PPC campaign, but unfortunately it’s often overlooked. The below list encapsulates the most common mistakes we see when PPC campaigns are presented to us for evaluation. By no means is this an exhaustive list, but it does illustrate how simple setup issues can be a barrier to your PPC’s campaign success.
- Analytics and AdWords Not Linked Properly – By linking Google AdWords and Analytics, additional insights into campaign performance are available. This link will enable analysis of site usage by visitors from paid search campaigns. Without this data, it’s difficult to analyze how campaigns and web pages can be improved to better serve site visitors. Campaigns run through Microsoft AdCenter and measured in Google Analytics will need a more complex setup in order to track this traffic as paid search traffic.
- Only One Venue Leveraged – Given that different keywords will perform differently, it is essential to maximize campaign budget on the best performing keywords in order to optimize campaign performance. Any single venue will have a limited volume of search queries for a given keyword. As such, a key tactic to drive lower cost per conversions is to simply add venues to increase the available volume for highly desirable keywords. The addition of more than 1 venue should be tempered by the availability of resources to manage that additional venue.
- Campaign Setup Not Accountable – No Conversion tracking. It’s very difficult to evaluate campaign performance without conversion tracking and it’s challenging to even comment on how well a campaign is doing when there are no conversion metrics relating to how users from PPC used the destination web page or site. Conversion metrics should be selected that align with organizational goals and represent an increased likelihood of gaining revenue.
- No PPC-Dedicated Landing Pages in Use – Based on the user’s search, landing pages should be selected that best align with the user’s intent of the search query. This will maximize conversion rates by ensuring users are the minimum possible distance away from completing a desirable task relating to the intent of their search. In addition to better landing the user closer to a desirable end point based on their search query, a unique landing page separate from the site allows for design and messaging flexibility that is impossible on the normal website due to other concerns (SEO, usability, other marketing concerns, etc). Given that each click generated costs money, landing pages should be used to maximize that spend and generate the highest possible response.
- Broad Geo-targeting – In order to optimize performance, campaigns should be broken out for each country at the very least. This way budget can be better applied by the campaign manager (according to goals or other concerns) and performance for each country/region can be optimized independent of one another. Different countries/regions will have vastly different performance (depending on your product), so it’s important to break out campaigns and optimize individually in order to maximize return on investment.
- Keyword Match Types Not Utilized – A lack of keyword match types will lead to a significant missed opportunity to enhance campaign efficiency. Utilizing diverse match types allows for fine tuning of keyword selection by enabling more discrete keyword matching than broad matching (default matching option). By utilizing these additional match types, more incremental performance gains are possible by enabling campaign managers to fine tune performance across smaller chunks of traffic.
- Keyword Diversification – Keywords are heavily focused specially on one specific keyword space. While some keywords could certainly be the best, it is difficult to tell without a comparison to other similar keywords or keyword variations that searchers might utilize when searching for this type of product. There are likely other keyword spaces that should be evaluated based on actual performance, utilizing conversion tracking.
- Non-Optimal Ad Setup – In order to generate the best results, it is essential to maximize the effectiveness of campaign ads. Ad groups must have more than one ad in order to make optimization possible so they can be compared to one another for optimization. Ads should utilize dynamic keyword insertion or first line punctuation, which are tactics known to increase click through rate.
- Internal Account Competition – Overlapping keywords found in various campaigns and keyword ad groups. Effort should be taken to minimize keyword overlap between ad groups and campaigns to minimize competition internally within an account.
- Large Amount of Activity Coming from Just a Few Keywords – This makes performance optimization difficult because you only have one keyword to modify to change the majority of performance. Instead, by creating multiple, smaller keywords that can be managed more distinctly for optimal performance, campaign managers can exert more control and therefore create better performance over the long haul. Each ad group ideally should have 10 – 20 keywords, highly focused on a particular theme in order to allow for efficient campaign management.
As you can see, many mistakes with PPC campaigns are due to tracking issues or organization issues and not even issues with the campaign itself. It’s important to realize that performance improvement can come from providing greater insight to campaign managers in addition to making changes to the campaign.