7 Ways to Get More Bang for Your Paid Search Buck

We’ve all heard the phrase, “You have to spend money to make money.” And that couldn’t be truer for paid search as part of your digital marketing strategy. Your paid search efforts — also referred to as pay-per-click or PPC advertising — can consume a large portion of your marketing budget, so it’s well worth looking at ways to take full advantage of your spend.


READ: Paid Search Do’s and Don’ts


Paid search is designed to increase visibility in online searches, drive website traffic, and ultimately, make sales. But whether you get the sale or not, paid search ads cost a defined amount of money every time they’re clicked on.


The link between quality and cost

A Quality Score — assigned by Google — is a dynamic variable given to each keyword, affecting your ad rank and cost per click. The higher your Quality Score, the higher the ad placement and click-through rates, and the lower the minimum bids for keywords (which translates into lower campaign costs). Your Quality Score is determined by:


  • Click-through rate (CTR)
  • Ad relevance
  • Landing page relevance


Using your paid search budget wisely can help bump up your Quality Score — boosting your paid search campaign performance and getting the results you want. As a digital marketing agent, d3 suggests seven highly effective tactics for getting the most from your paid search dollars:


#1 Optimize your keyword bids.

Bid adjustments can be done at several levels — type of device, time of day or audience, to name a few. We’ve found the most effective adjustments are done at the keyword level.


Strategic keyword bid optimizations can help drive more conversions for less. Sort your keywords by cost to determine if your top-spending keywords are generating the most conversions. You can also filter keywords by conversions and increase bids for the most successful. The logic is simple: Increase bids for keywords that perform well, decrease bids for those that don’t.


#2 Identify new and negative keywords.

Regularly check your search term reports for both new and negative keyword ideas to add to your campaigns.


  • New keywords. Pay close attention to the search terms that have generated conversions. If you’re bidding, focus on search terms that aren’t already keywords in your campaigns. Adding search terms that have converted as new keywords will ensure visibility for those terms.
  • Negative keywords. Negative keywords are the result of ads that trigger queries unlikely to generate a conversion. If you find a query that you don’t want to show ads for, add it as a negative keyword. You can add negative keywords at the ad group level or campaign level, or into a negative keyword list to make sure that you’re triggering for queries that are appropriate for your business.


#3 Structure campaigns into targeted ad groups.

If your PPC management lacks structure, it will show in the form of poor click-through rates and a low Quality Score across all your campaigns. So, take the time to systematically plan your campaigns and ad groups to see a difference in their efficiency.


Targeted ad groups increase the relevancy between the search query and the ad. Incorporate ad groups that are specific to the keywords they contain. In other words, don’t make the mistake of having just one or two ad groups with all your keywords. It’s smarter to have a smaller number of keywords per ad group. Look at your list of keywords and group them by themes, products or services.

#4 Make geographic bid adjustments.

You want your ads in front of the right people — in the right places. Thanks to Google, you can set up specific geographic targets for each campaign and make bid adjustments for multiple locations. Increase bids for places that perform well, and decrease bids in areas that don’t have a high conversion rate.


You can further optimize your geographic targets by adding demographics. Create demographic groups prior to enabling your campaigns based on what groups are most likely to make a purchase, and refine your bid strategies accordingly to funnel your budget toward your target audience.


#5 Target your landing pages.

You already know that a highly relevant landing page helps generate more conversions. So, design your landing pages with content that contains targeted keywords. Think about it: When someone clicks on your ad and is directed to your landing page, they want to find information that satisfies their query. Satisfied visitors are more likely to turn into customers.


Use the Google AdWords Keyword Tool to find out how Google views your pages, as well as the keywords associated with it.


#6 Decrease landing page load times.

Did you know your Quality Score can take a hit if your landing page load time is lagging? Test your load times, and if you discover a longer-than-usual wait, figure out what can be done to reduce the downtime. Longer load times are often attributed to:

  • Slow or multiple redirects
  • Sluggish servers
  • Interstitial pages
  • Large page size
  • Meta refreshes

Google offers tools like Page Speed so you can determine if slow landing pages are slowing your results.

#7 Measure ad performance.

Using different device platforms — computer, mobile and tablet — periodically test how your ads are running and adjust bids based on customer analytics data. For example, if most of your budget is allocated for desktop, but you garner higher conversions on mobile, prioritize the latter in your segmentation strategy. It’s often surprising to see how much device type can impact ad performance.


What have you got to lose?

Are you spending too much on your PPC efforts? Not enough? Still not sure? Try implementing some of these tips to increase your Quality Score and distinguish yourself among the competition. The results — higher ad placement, higher click-through rates and lower minimum bids — will make it worth your while.