Increase Paid Search Performance With These 5 Tips

Written by Kara Burns

Paid search marketing can be an effective online marketing channel because it allows you to drive immediate traffic to your website or landing page through relevant searches on major search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing.

In order to maximize your return on investment (ROI), it’s important that a member of your team, or a professional paid search management company, constantly monitor and update your campaign to optimize your results. Because paid search campaign management can be extremely complex, we've outlined 5 useful tips to help you enhance your campaign's performance and ROI.

Optimization tip #1: Adjust Your Ad Schedule

Once you have your paid search campaign up and running for at least 4 weeks, one important setting you’ll want to monitor and play with is your ad schedule.

Let’s say you started by running ads 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. When you open your ad schedule, it will tell you which days – and hours within those days – have generated the most impressions, clicks, conversions, etc. You can utilize that data to adjust your ad schedule.

In some cases, you may want to pause the days and / or hours that have performed the lowest to allow more of your budget to be used on better performing dates/times. Another potential solution is to create a bid decrease on days that have performed the lowest, and / or a bid increase on days that have performed the highest (more on this later).

Here's an example of what schedule-based bid modification looks like in AdWords:

Paid Search Ad Schedule

Optimization tip #2: Update Your Keywords Weekly, If Not Daily

There are several ways to optimize your paid search campaign through the use of effective keywords. One way is to utilize long tail keywords over short tail keywords. Long tail keywords are likely to be more specific to a user’s search, resulting in more qualified and relevant website traffic.

By utilizing long tail keywords,  you can also help improve the chances of your ads showing for relevant searches because your ads are less likely to show for searches that are minimally relevant to the user's search. Below are some examples of short tail versus long tail keywords:

  • Tennis shoes vs. blue women’s tennis shoes
  • Water bottle vs. purple water bottle for working out
  • Oil change vs. oil change for Volkswagen Jetta
  • Couch vs. brown leather couch

Beyond short and long tail keywords, you can also add ‘negative’ keywords to your keyword targeting list(s). This will help you prevent your ads from showing for searches that are not relevant to your campaign goals, or for searches you simply wouldn't want to be found for. Examples of negative keywords you might want to add to your campaigns include free, cheap, bargain, counterfeit, stolen, worst, faulty, etc.

One way to identify the exact keywords and phrases that have triggered your ads to show is to view your ‘Search Terms’ report. Weekly reviews of your ‘Search Terms’ report(s) can also help you identify keywords you would like to add to your campaign – including negative keywords.

Optimization tip #3: Ensure Your Ad Copy Coincides With Your Landing Page

In order for you to see a continual positive ROI, there are several steps that need to be correctly in place – one being how concisely your ad text matches up with your landing page content. When you maximize the relevance of your landing page to your ad text, your target audience will be less likely to leave your website because they didn't immediately find what they were looking for.

In order for your ads to be considered ‘relevant’, the ad text needs to precisely define what the user is going to see once they click on your ad. For example, if your ad is for blue women’s tennis shoes, your landing page should show specifically a variety of blue women’s tennis shoes – and nothing else. This will help qualify your ad as relevant, thus creating a higher chance of it being shown.

Optimization tip #4: Test Bid Adjustments

Bid adjustments can be used at the campaign level, or at the ad group level. These adjustments allow you to have a more competitive bidding strategy. Some examples where you might want to implement a bid adjustment include: location, day or the week, hour of the day, or device type. Depending on the goals of your campaign (ex: drive traffic, generate conversions, increase brand awareness, etc.), bid adjustments can help maximize your ROI.

For example, if you have 10 states you want to target your ads in, you might initially set them up all with the same budget. As time goes on, you may see Texas is performing better than Ohio. In this case, you can make the decision to set a bid adjustment - let’s say +10% - to allow more of the budget to be focused on Texas, while placing a -10% bid adjustment for Ohio. This allows your ads to have more of a focus/budget in a state that is doing very well, while still allowing your ads to show in a state that is performing lower – when the most relevant searches are applied.

Similar to the ad schedule example above, here is an example of a location based bid adjustment.

Paid Search Location Bid Adjustment

Optimization tip #5: Improve Ad Copy

After your ads are up and running for at least 4 weeks, you can start to adjust your ad copy to ensure your ads are always performing to their full potential. Take a look into your lowest performing ads and adjust a few words to make sure each ad produces specific, catchy and persuasive phrases to attract users attention and stand out against your competitors.

By looking into metrics such as impressions, clicks and click-through-rate (CTR), you can identify which ads are performing better than others, and which ads need improvement. If you start to see progress in each ad’s overall performance after adjustments are made, you will know the new ad text is working.

A few specifics to keep in mind for optimal ad text include:

  • Highlight unique offers, such as:
    • Free shipping
    • Buy one, get one free
  • Focus on attractive services
  • Promote sales and other promotions
  • Provide an actionable phrase, such as:
    • Buy now
    • Call today
    • Order now
  • Include your keyword phrases
  • Keep mobile users in mind
    • Consider adding a ‘call now’ button to make it easy for users to simply click and call you from your ad
    • Only run ads during the hours of the day when your business is open if you don't have someone to respond to prospective customers' phone calls after hours

Overall, paid search campaigns are effective at generating website or landing page traffic. In order to constantly drive a positive ROI and stay ahead of your competitors, it’s important to continually monitor your campaign’s statistics and make modifications when necessary.

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