The Top 10 Best PPC Hacks ... Ever!


AdWords advertisers struggle constantly to keep pace in an ever-changing industry, where Google likes to switch things up with hundreds of changes to the platform each year.

What if you could cut through all the noise, seriously reduce your learning curve, and cut straight to the heart of the most effective and impactful PPC marketing tactics?

I recently led a webinar with Thue Madsen from KissMetrics and shared the 10 top PPC marketing hacks you need to optimize your pay-per-click strategy today. You can keep tweaking copy and testing button placement forever, but those minor changes won't have near the impact as these.

Here we go: these are my all-time top 10 PPC advertising hacks.

AdWords Hack #1: Optimize Quality Score!

Google wants you to think QS isn't all that important, but we know better.

Your Quality Score impacts your click-through rate and ad ranking in a big way. Google actually rewards high QS advertisers with lower costs per click and higher ad positions.

quality score hacks

In the illustration above, you can clearly see that Advertiser I, with the highest Quality Score, spends far less per click than the others.

Quality Score also plays a role in how often your ads will appear – and for which keywords. In fact, for every point you improve your Quality Score, you can expect to see a 9% increase in Impression Share.

ppc tricks

The opposite is true, as well; for every point lost in QS, you can expect Impression Share to drop 9%. 

Quality Score also has a huge impact on cost per conversion.

Remember, QS is just an algorithm and any algorithm can be hacked. Google knows the typical click-through rate for specific types of ads and ad rankings. If you fail to meet their expected click-through rate, you're going to be stuck with low Quality Scores. Beat that expected CTR and raise your Quality Scores!

The Hack: Get rid of the junk keywords and ads that are dragging your whole account down. Add 10% branded keyword terms to increase your average CTR; these keywords get super-high Quality Scores and lift your whole account. Finally, delete the bottom performing third of your account, reallocating that budget to remarketing.

AdWords Hack #2: Write Insane Ads that Appeal to Emotions

Of course, you don't want to write bad ads. You probably don't even think your ads are all that bad.

However, by definition, half of ads are average or below average performers. It's true – most ads suck.

ppc marketing hacks

See how similar the ads are in the search above? They're boring, they're all the same, and they're getting low single-digit clicks at best.

Then we have ads like this one that gets 6x the average number of clicks!

marketing hacks and tips

What makes this ad so special? I like to call these Unicorn Ads – ads that get exponentially greater clicks because they appeal to people on an emotional level.

marketing hacks

If you can make people truly feel something, you can make them click to find out more.

The Hack: Take a page from my friend and expert marketer Perry Marshall's playbook and write better ads using his Swiss Army Knife strategy. Get to know your customer's emotions – who do they love? Who do they hate? Who are their best friends and their worst enemies? What is their biggest problem and most importantly, why are you the one to solve it?

AdWords Hack #3: Use Bid Multipliers

Instead of trying to buy as many clicks as possible, you should be cherry-picking the best clicks for your business.

Bid multipliers allow you to do this by attributing greater worth to clicks at specific times of day, otherwise known as dayparting. For example, let's say ad clicks during office hours are more valuable to the advertiser in the image below. They have staff in the office during these hours to answer phone calls and email inquiries. Because they are a B2B company, the people searching on their keywords are more likely to be in a buying frame of mind during the workday.

ad scheduling

What they've done here is created a schedule so the bids for keywords in their optimal times are higher. If this advertiser were a restaurant, this would probably look completely different. They might place a higher value on clicks in the evening or on the weekend.

This is a great feature for local marketers, as well. You can place a higher bid value for the one-mile radius around your business, for example, or for users in different countries, depending on what your data tells you about the value of those conversions.

bid modifier hacks

Bid multipliers also allow you to adjust your bids based on the device used by the searcher. You might find that clicks from mobile devices are more valuable to your business – maybe people are more motivated when they're searching from mobile, or they're more likely to act on a click-to-call.

mobile bid modifiers

The Hack: Be picky and don't try to buy everything. Take advantage of the bid modifiers capability to bid more on the clicks that make the greatest impact for your business.

AdWords Hack #4: Optimize for Mobile

Next year, half of all searches will come from a mobile device. The greatest opportunity here for AdWords advertisers is the Click-to-Call button.

marketing hacks

Click-to-call is a game changer. Think of the differences between the desktop and the mobile conversion funnels:

conversion funnels

Mobile typically already has greater intent – people are on the go and they have a need to fulfill right now. In addition, you don't lose people with the extra clicks through the process of visiting the site and finding your contact information. You get people on the line right away, which is why this is definitely a feature worth testing.

The Hack: Mobile is super competitive, far more than desktop, thanks to the limited amount of space on the page. Aim for the top three positions so your ads have a chance to be seen by these valuable mobile searchers. How do you do that? Go back to Hack #1 and optimize your Quality Score, or you're going to be paying far more than you would otherwise for clicks on those top ad positions in mobile.

AdWords Hack #5: Remarketing

If you could only choose one AdWords hack on which to focus your efforts, it would have to be remarketing.

Typically, conversion rates suck – that's just the sad truth of it. Ninety-seven percent of people leave a website without having taking the action the marketer wanted them to take. That's pretty awful, right?

Remarketing allows you to get back in front of those lost visitors with targeted messaging, appropriate for their place in the conversion funnel.

remarketing tips

Here’s how it works: Website visitors are tagged with a cookie when they visit your site, so later you can remind them about your offers in other online locations – while they’re checking their Gmail or reading other websites, for example – to complete the action they had started.

adwords hacks

Remarketing exponentially expands your reach and helps to improve not only conversion rates, but brand recall, as well.

The Hack: Come up with an audience definition strategy and segment website visitors based on their interests. Create ads for each segment and use the Google Display Network – comprised of the AdSense Publisher Network, DoubleClick Ad Exchange, and other Google network properties like YouTube – to reach users with more targeted messaging that aligns with their goals.

AdWords Hack #6: RLSA

Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSAs) are great when you want to bid on hopelessly broad terms, including competitor names or other navigational terms. Those broad terms can be problematic, as they tend to get very low clicks and negatively affect Quality Score.

What you can do to alleviate this is apply RLSAs, so you target only your own previous site visitors in search when they seek information on these other terms.

remarketing lists

For example, you could target a competitor's name, but only to your remarketing list for search ads list of people who had already visited your site. These people are the most likely to have been comparison shopping and are already familiar with your brand, having visited your website. Now, when they search for competitor information, you can get in front of them again with targeted messaging that will appeal to them in that phase of their buying journey.

The Hack: Instead of targeting everyone with your broader, navigational keywords, target only those who have visited your website recently to tap into higher intent clicks and avoid low click Quality Score penalties.

AdWords Hack #7: In-Market Segments

One of the challenges in remarketing is that you have to have an audience to remarket to. What if you're a smaller business with a small amount of website traffic and therefore don't have your own large audience to remarket to?

In-market segments enable you to target people who are already in the market to buy.

in-market audiences

Google has a massive amount of audience intelligence at their disposal. They know your search habits, demographic information and much more that tells Google what it is people are in the market to buy.

Using in-market segments, you can show your real estate video to a person Google has identified as already in the market to buy a house, for example. You can get your parenting content in front of an audience of new parents. The possibilities are endless.

The Hack: Use in-market segments to get in front of a motivated audience with demonstrated intent, even if you don't have a large remarketing list of your own.

AdWords Hack #8: Gmail Ads

Gmail has had ads on the side of the page for years, but now you can appear right in the inbox with ads that look like real email.

ads in gmail

The new Gmail ads have a subject line and teaser and allow you to display a full HTML email to your target audience.

gmail ads

People tend to tune out the ads on the right. Use these new Gmail ads to get real estate where it's far more likely to get their attention – right in the inbox.

The Hack: Use Gmail ads and take advantage of targeting parameters like topic interests and domains they already receive emails from to better appeal to users.

AdWords Hack #9: YouTube Ads

A billion people use YouTube every day. It's crazy that so many companies are ignoring the entire platform! There are really fantastic ad formats available, including the popular TrueView ads.

youtube ads

TrueView ads play before other videos and users have the option to skip after 5 seconds of they don't want to watch it. The targeting options are super precise and powerful – and best of all, you don't pay if a user skips your ad.

You can target specific channels, or target by keywords, interests, search history and more. There is so much inventory on YouTube, the prices are very low.

in-video ads

YouTube also offers in-video ads (seen above), video search ads and more.

The Hack: Use YouTube! It's incredible that so many advertisers pass over the YouTube opportunity considering the competition is relatively lower than other platforms and the audience is so massive.

AdWords Hack #10: First Mover Advantage

This last top AdWords hack sounds simple enough, but considering the rapid pace at which AdWords changes, it's tougher than you might think.

In the last year, Google released nearly a thousand changes to how the AdWords platform functions. There is a huge advantage in being one of the first advertisers to catch on to a new feature or function. The bids are lower, competition is lower and you can be the first one appearing in front of your audience in a new way.

How can you keep up with the new features? Stay tuned here on the WordStream blog as we bring the latest important changes to light. Participate in social conversations like #ppcchat on Twitter and subscribe to the best PPC publications. Stay up to date and get into the newest features and functions on AdWords faster than your competitors to sharpen your competitive advantage.

Check out the full Top 10 PPC Hacks webinar below:

Find out how you're REALLY doing in AdWords!

Watch the video below on our Free AdWords Grader:

Visit the AdWords Grader.


Sep 30, 2014

This is a big pet peeve of mine. These aren't "hacks", they are regular features of PPC management. Quit the sensationalism.

Jakub Šikola
Oct 02, 2014

Great article!But I have one question. Can you give me example how to write unicorn ads for boring products? For example Big data or accounting software? Because I have experience that creative and interesting ads are great for higher CTR but not that good for conversions.

ppc service
Oct 16, 2014

You shared life change hacks, i really love it. In how many days you collect all these information?

Oct 21, 2014

PPC is a great platform to advertise your business and enhance your business profits.It is advanced form of Internet marketing strategy taht can help you to achieve high traffic towards your website or webpage.It can help you to achieve high ranking in search engine results.Pay Per Click is advanced phenomenon in which advertiser pay the publisher according to per click of add.It is advanced internet marketing strategy that directly enhance traffic towards your website.This technique can help you to achieve high profits in today's competitive world .As, we know people don't have much time to wander in market , they generally search on internet for respective products and services So in this busy world PPC can help you to recieve greater profits from your business and fulfill your all business dreams.

Nov 09, 2014

Nice one, thanks for sharing.

Dec 12, 2014

Really great post and Thanks for post..

Feb 05, 2015

Nice post and most of this info is still current from what I can tell. But I was wondering why you allow people to post what seem to be just spam comments?

Jun 02, 2015

Funny ads don't work in B2B advertising. Business people are looking for value. They tend to ignore funny and other types of ads.

Jun 23, 2015

Interesting.. ! thanks for sharing..

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