Tomorrow is the official First Day of Spring. That means blooming flowers (and pollen!), warmer weather, longer days, tax time, and of course, spring cleaning.
But spring cleaning doesn’t stop at home or even at the office if you’re advertising online. While you’re cleaning dust from the corners of your house or purging old files at the office, have you given any thought to sprucing up your PPC campaigns? We all know that search engines love fresh, optimized campaigns, and below are five easy spring cleaning tips for you to try:
1) Ad Group Review
This single step will likely take the most of your PPC spring cleaning time, but will have the fastest and most immediate impact. At our company, we regularly review our client’s ad groups and check for key factors such as relevancy, performance, and ROI.
To begin, start at the foundation of your ad group, the keywords. Locate the non-performers and pause them to make way for the shining stars who have been working so hard all winter long to get you traffic. Next, use a keyword tool to discover new words that users are searching on and add those to your ad group. Re-evaluate your max and min CPC bids; chances are you could be saving some money since the last time you set these prices.
The next step is to review your ad copy and ad headline. Ads work best when the keyword that you are using to fuel the ad is reflected somewhere in the ad – either the copy or headline, or both. Your ad groups should be focused enough to make this work, and if they are not it’s time to reorganize your ad groups and get creative. The incentives that worked six months ago may no longer work now and it might be time for upgrades! Examples: “big discount” might perform better as “deep discounts”, and that same old tired offer of 10% off of your order might perform better as “Free Shipping!” What’s better than free?
2) Impression Share*
Impression Share (IS) is a neat tool in Google which will let you know what your reach, or as Google describes it “voice” is in a particular vertical. If you saw that your normally top performing keyword has been suffering lately, take a look at the impression share. Chances are your competition is eating up the spotlight for your company. IS can be done at the campaign and ad group level in Google and you can even include your Lost IS in rank and and a value we all understand – money. The Lost IS rank will show you what percentage of impressions you lost due to low ad rank, while the Lost IS in budget terms shows you exactly what percentage of impressions you lost due to budget constraints. If your numbers are low here, go to step 1.
3) IP Exclusion / Site and Category Exclusion*
Did you know that you can block a certain IP address from viewing your ads on the search network? For that matter, you can block certain sites and even categories of sites from where your ad appears on the content network.
We’ll start with the IP exclusion. Have you ever noticed a huge spike in clicks without the conversions to back them up? Twice I’ve seen this happen and both times the culprit was a college class doing research on my client’s websites. The search engines will be able to identify the IP address (or block of IP’s) and prevent your ads from displaying on their machines. Try another, more familiar scenario: say you suspect a competitor from clicking on your ads – block their IP address and your ad won’t be served to their machines when they search for you.
Site and category exclusion are terrific tools if you are serving content ads. By running a placement report you can get a list of the domains which are serving your ads, visit these domains and see if this is a site where you want to have your ad running. If it’s not, a simple site exclusion will prevent your ad from displaying on the non-desirable site, and focus your content campaigns more effectively. Category exclusions are more broad and allow you to block your ad from displaying on certain page types (such as error and parked pages) as well as on a variety of sites which include topics like: international conflict, sexually suggestive material, juvenile material, crime and even profanity.
The bottom line is this: if you are running ads on the search and content networks, you have control over where you show up and what kind of traffic your site is getting from that ad.
4) Landing Page Review
I can’t say it enough, and search engines can’t say it enough: your landing page has got to be relevant to your ad group. Relevancy boosts your quality score which, in turn, allows you to place higher on search results pages and potentially pay less for that placement than your competitors.
Take a good long look at the page presented when a user clicks on an ad. Have you kept this page as up to date as you have kept your inventory, or do you need to sweep out a few cobwebs from the corners? Do you have keywords that are in your ad group listed on your landing page? Is your offer in text where search engine spiders can “read” it, or is it part of a graphic? For that matter, consider your graphics: do you sell a product which can really be best described in a short, concise video? So long as you’ve got the content to back it up, show your potential customer your product is better than the rest. Make your desired action: a newsletter subscription, an order button, or an information form-fill up front where it can be easily identified. Your customers have seen an entire page of ads vying for their attention, don’t waste their time now that they’ve selected you.
One last thing to consider when you are spring cleaning your landing page is your landing page load time. Google recently announced that they will be weighing landing page load time with an ad’s overall quality score. Don’t let all the videos you uploaded which showcase your products perfectly be in vain. Google will be rolling out a tool soon which will evaluate your landing page load time for you, and you can talk with your SEM manager on how to improve this time to get the best overall quality score that you can get.
5) Negative Keywords
I thought I’d end this PPC spring cleaning blog with a nice, easy tool to relieve the hard work you put in doing the previous four.
We all know that new products are being put on the market every day, and most of these products are seemingly unrelated to you and your business. Or are they? If you are a dentist advertising your services online, but you don’t do braces or veneers – those better be in your negative keyword bank or you risk paying for a visitor to your site who was never qualified in the first place. If you sell car theft prevention tools and alarms, have you considered adding the popular video game to your negative keyword bank? Look at your campaign objectively, and now turn your mind to pop culture and do some quick internet research, or pull a Search Query report in Google and see just what could be fueling your ads. Chances are you have some spring cleaning to do.
And you thought you were going to get a long Easter weekend relaxing!
* Sorry, these features are in Google only!