Now and then, clients will come to us and ask us to fix their PPC campaigns. (We simply assume that by “fix them” they mean they just want more conversions.) They tried doing it themselves, but hadn’t seen any return. It seems a lot of do-it-yourselfers think that PPC is simplistic and runs on its own, like a refrigerator, but it isn’t something that works well when quickly set up, plugged in, and forgotten about. It’s not a fire-and-forget system. After said client sees how their campaigns should have been set up and the difference in performance once it is set up properly, they begin to understand just how much time and thought can go into a successful campaign. While it’s true that any business owner knows more about his industry than an average PPC specialist, PPC specialists know how to use Adwords to its fullest extent. I think this is where most of the DIYers fail miserably; they don’t use all that Adwords has to offer. So I give the three most common mistakes of underusing Adwords to all the DIYers out there and how to fix them.
I think the single most common error by DIYers is the lack of structure employed in campaigns. Adwords values good structure and good structure also allows for easy analyzation. The structure of an effective account starts with Keywords, Ad Groups, and Campaigns. It is not a best practice to have only one Ad Group in one campaign with hundreds of keywords, as I have seen so many times. Not only can this kill Quality Score of top generating keywords, but one will end up paying more for keywords that has nothing to do with your Ad Group. Not to mention one cannot ascertain which group of related words is performing best if they are not separated into their own Ad Groups. This is an easy fix though. Take all the Keywords in the Ad Group and put them into a spread sheet, then one-by-one, group the like words into their own separate columns. The new columns are now new Ad Groups. They are easy to see, and they will have their own statistics to analyze. Now, all one has to do is tailor write ads that correspond with the Keyword theme of the Ad Group.
It seems PPC DIYers skipped the part of the lesson about match types. Just because a business sells books doesn’t mean it should consider ‘books’ as a broad-matched keyword! Think of all the searches that are made with the word ‘book’ in them that have nothing to do with selling the product, i.e. ‘matchbook’ or ‘book a DJ for a party.’ One specific client’s account had broad based keywords from ‘Peace’ all the way to ‘Education’ and were showing for queries like “peaceful demonstrations in the Middle East” and “Texas Board of Education.” Neither search warranted an impression, but since it was broad-matched, it displayed. This is a wasted effort that in the end kills click-thru-rate (which is one of the greatest factors of Quality Score) and conversion rate. The fix is relatively simple too, but one has to know enough about search to make some judgment calls. First, delete most or all one word broad-matched keywords; they are practically useless. Focus on more long-tailed keywords. Test for both Phrase Match and Exact Match and see which boast the best numbers. In the specific example from above, I combined the two words and came up with ‘Education for peace’ which tested well. The exact-match had very few numbers to analyze, but the phrase match brought in some conversions.
One of the most underused and most important aspects of an effective ad campaign is using negative keywords. Solid campaigns must employ negative keywords. Negative keywords filter out searches a campaign wants nothing to do with. A good example is a company that exclusively sells used cars. Since they don’t sell new cars, two perfect negative keywords would be ‘new cars’ or ‘2011 autos.’ Adding negative keywords is a cinch. From the Campaigns tab click on keywords. Just under the graph is the ‘See search terms’ box. Click on it and select ‘All.’ These are the terms that users searched on where an ad displayed and received a click. Using the example above, select the box next to ‘2011 autos.’ After the box is selected, above the terms, a box titled ‘Add as negative keyword’ will appear. After clicking it, the option is given to adjust the search query and save it as a negative keyword.
If one can properly structure an account, use match types correctly, and employ negative keywords, the chances are much higher for success. These actions are simple and easy to do for any DIYer and will significantly affect the account. Be sure to note the stats before making these changes and use them as a base line to compare numbers a week or two later so that the change can be seen. Of course, there is a lot more to it than just these three things, as this is only the tip of the iceberg; the rabbit hole that is PPC goes as deep as you want to take it.