This is a guest post by Caleb Levell, a search marketing, SEO and PPC consultant at Hanapin Marketing. His interests include search and social marketing, online collaboration, and social media for business and non-profit organizations. He blogs at PPC Hero and SEO Boy.
At the beginning of September, Google AdWords and I were in a relational rut. Our daily lives together had become monotonous and uninspired. Unfortunately, as much as I’d like to blame Google for our static relationship, the truth is Google was never short on ideas for me to implement into my client accounts. I, on the other hand, was stubborn and already knew what worked best for my accounts.
After talking to some colleagues, I have found that this is a common problem among PPC account managers. When managing accounts, we often find ourselves falling into daily, weekly, and monthly account maintenance routines, and while we are utilizing best practices, we are also missing out on unique and innovative growth opportunities.
Typically, any given day or week will include minor – although necessary – account optimization tasks like keyword bid adjustments, ad and placement performance reviews, and expanding negative keyword and site exclusion lists. These small account adjustments can really keep accounts fresh and keep them meeting goals. However, while simple optimizations are safe, reliable, and relatively easy to check off of a to-do list, the overall rewards are often as small as the adjustments made. Thus, in order to avoid a plateau in account performance, it comes down to having a bit of courage and taking a little risk.
In my experience, instigating broad campaign modifications as well as strategically, albeit sparingly, utilizing Google AdWords tools frequently brings me the most satisfying surprises. So I thought I would share some common Google tools that not only significantly impact account performance, but also significantly reduce time and stress if used appropriately.
ROI “Turbo Charge” Tools
Conversion Optimizer is a wonderful bidding option from Google for account managers who are not afraid to give up manual control of CPC bidding. Additionally, the conversion optimizer is catered to accounts with many conversions as well as a long established conversion history.
With the conversion optimizer, Google allows you to set a maximum or average CPA bid and then automatically adjusts your keyword bid to reach the target CPA. Personally, I have found working with campaigns that receive a healthy number of conversions in any given month and implementing a target average CPA has returned the best conversion results. My most important suggestion is to seriously consider taking Google’s recommended CPA goal. By taking the recommended CPA goal, Google can continue to operate a bidding strategy that has proven successful in the past while still optimizing to significantly improve the overall ROI.
Enhanced CPC Bidding can be considered the little brother of the conversion optimizer tool. While the conversion optimizer tool rolled out with much more community interest from advertisers, Enhanced CPC bidding silently took its rightful place in the AdWords settings.
Lack of attention shouldn’t detract you from the power in this handy bidding feature. Enhanced CPC bidding uses conversion history to raise or lower your max CPC bids by up to 30 percent. In other words, once a keyword triggers an ad, enhanced bidding will use historical conversion data to determine how likely that keyword is to convert. If it returns that the conversion is highly likely, your bid will increase by up to 30 percent, thus raising your ad position and the chances for your ad to be clicked. If the algorithm returns a less likely chance for conversion, the bid is decreased.
For those account managers who like to keep control over their individual keyword bids, this feature offers comparable ROI improvement to that of the conversion optimizer without sacrificing your bidding needs.
Account Restructuring Tools
The Keyword Grouping tool is a hidden gem in the Google AdWords Desktop Editor. Located under Tools in the editor menu bar, the Keyword Grouper will reduce the amount of time it takes to put keywords into tightly themed ad groups. This is a helpful AdWords Editor feature to run when reorganizing count and reducing the amount of keywords per ad group. However, before accepting all the ad group suggestions, make sure to manually check that keywords are placed in ad group themes that will align well with both old and new ads.
Another very useful tool for any PPC consultant is the “Find Duplicate Keywords” function. It is essential not to have the same keyword (with same match type) running in a number of campaigns or ad groups. If this is the case, your keywords will be competing against each other in the ad auction with no benefit to your ads. If you haven’t done so yet, I’d highly recommend taking a few minutes to run the Find Duplicate Keywords tool.
Irrelevant Traffic Tools
Another tool that is often forgotten about, but great to use when trying to increase ROI, is the Google Site and Category Exclusion Tool. The Display Network is notorious for spending money quickly without the best click-through or conversion rates. You can start to limit this irrelevant traffic by using the Site and Category Exclusion Tool. The content sources you are able to block include URLs, page types, page topics, and media types, and it will further help to spend your advertising dollars more wisely on the Display Network.
Ultimately, no matter the desired goal, Google AdWords provides a surplus of ideas and tools for advertisers to rejuvenate accounts. If you get creative enough and are willing to risk the current performance of your account for better long-term returns, then Google can help whether you want to increase click-throughs, decrease cost per click, or just achieving better return on investment.
In the end, thinking of strong risk-taking strategies is much easier than acting on those concepts; however, believe me when I say you are mostly in good hands with Google’s arsenal of PPC tools.