Paid search marketing through the top three search engines is growing. In fact, they are growing disproportionately to other marketing initiatives like print and broadcast. According to AdAge, television advertising spend has increased by a mere 22.56% since 2000. Internet advertising spend has increased by a whopping 481.67%, and about 40% of that (or about $13.96 billion, for those of you keeping track) is spent on search engine marketing.
This is reason enough alone to take your campaigns more seriously and squeeze more value out of them. After all, with search marketing spend trends on the rise (set to double in the next five years) you’d be doing yourself a huge disservice to treat them as less important than your other mediums. With that in mind, here are four quick things you can do to make sure you’re getting the most out of your paid search marketing campaigns.
1). Match Types
In Google and Yahoo!/Bing (or YaBing!), there are four different types of match types for keywords: broad, phrase, exact, and negative. Using the right match type in your campaign is critical to keeping in line with your budget and targeting the correct audience. First, let’s define these match types. According to Google:
Broad matches can get you into a lot of trouble. They are often times the most expensive keywords and tend to drive a lot of useless traffic, which of course raises your costs. You can control these unwanted visits through the use of negative keyword matches, but you’re still likely to bleed into other, unrelated topics by using too many of these.
Phrase matches are definitely a step in the right direction. These restrict many unwanted searches and are generally a little cheaper on a cost per click basis. You’ll still show up for some broader searches, but at least that search contains the phrase you want in the order it should appear. Mix this with a good negative keywords strategy and you’ll be in good shape, for the most part.
The most conservative and cost effective approach is using exact match types. This ensures that you’re only bidding on the keyword you entered. You won’t get useless clicks from irrelevant audiences (unless you selected bad keywords in the first place,) which keeps costs low, narrows in on qualified audiences, and improves your chances to convert visitors.
Search networks allow you to designate negative keywords so that your advertisements don’t show up for unrelated terms. For example, if you sell wallpaper for interior design, you don’t want your ads showing up for terms like “digital wallpaper”. These are less important if you’re using exact matches, but are still essential for an effective campaign.
Pro Tip: Start your campaigns off with exact match types only. Based on your impressions and click activity, branch out to phrase and broad matches while adding negative keywords.
2). Display Network
Whenever you make a campaign in Google AdWords, you’ll have a few networks turned on by default in the settings menu: Google Search, Search partners, and Display Network. If you are only running text ads and are only interested in paid search marketing, uncheck that little box next to Display Network.
The Display Network (formerly the Google Content Network) shows your ads as a Google sponsored ad on other websites around the Internet. As text ads, they generally receive few clicks and have no substantial impact on brand equity. This will only end with driving up impressions and wasting time and effort.
Pro Tip: Focus your energy on search marketing through Google and its partners to maximize your performance and stretch your budget.
3). Targeting the Wrong Region
If you have a product or service that can be sold regionally, then only sell it in that region! Unfortunately, all of the major search engines default your campaigns settings to show ads in the entire USA meaning you need to add in your geotargeting requirements. This not only wastes impressions, but it drives up costs tremendously.
Pro Tip: Carefully choose where you want your ads to show. If you only offer services in Michigan, then select Michigan. If your winter clothing line doesn’t sell well in Texas, then remove Texas.
4). Ad Rotation
Most search marketing networks offer the ability to rotate ads to maximize performance. You’ll be tempted to let them rotate according to clicks or conversions based on user engagement, but don’t do it. You want to control which ads are showing based on your own analysis, not Google’s or YaBing!’s.
When Google optimizes their ad rotations for clicks or conversions, the numbers skew quickly. For example, if your ad is clicked on infrequently, one or two clicks will be enough to convince Google that a particular ad should show over another even though there is no real statistical significance. Additionally, if you optimize for conversions, Google is only considering that the ad itself plays a role in the conversion. In reality, your landing page and website are much larger components of conversion rate optimization.
Pro Tip: While rotating ads evenly makes for more manual labor, it ensures that you’re showing only the top performing ads based on a thorough analysis of many factors rather than just one or two.
With paid search ad spend on the rise and interactive spend in general growing 20% each year, it’s clear that more time needs to be focused on cleaning up your online revenue sources. To recap, the following are relatively quick ways to improve your paid search performance:
- Be mindful of match types and their implications on your spend and visibility
- Stop using the Display Network if you’re unfamiliar with it and don’t have an appropriate campaign setup
- Regionalize your campaigns to reduce costs from a global and CPC perspective
- Manually manage your ad rotation to ensure you’re maximizing your click through and conversion rates