The 10 Best PPC Tips from My Inbound.org AMA (Ask Me Anything)

April 11, 2018

I recently had the opportunity to be the subject of an AMA (Ask Me Anything) at Inbound.org and was blown away by the response. Not only were there a ton of questions, but they were really, really good!

These questions led to a lot of great discussion and advice on PPC and AdWords, in particular. But in case you don’t want to dig through the whole thing, here are my top 10 best PPC tips from the Q&A.

1. What's the greatest, but most underused, opportunity in AdWords?


PPC Tips

Q. Kyle Petzinger asked, "What would you say is the single largest, mostly unused opportunity that AdWords advertisers can take advantage of? I realize this is pretty open-ended, but feel free to just spit out the first 'OMG DO THIS. WHY IS NO ONE DOING THIS' thought that comes to mind. Thanks a ton in advance! Love your work!"

A. Remarketing. Lot of companies are slow to adopt it. Possibly because the Google Content Network used to be a joke and got burned. But it's gotten a lot better and we're using it like crazy. I can't think of a reason why content marketers shouldn't be investing in remarketing. Also check out my top 10 AdWords features of 2013.

2. What are your best PPC tips for a brand new paid search advertiser?

Q. Dejeesh Dev asked, "What is your advice for a newbie paid advertiser?" 

A. The types of businesses that do great on paid search are those where people know what they're looking for but not where to get it. Hard-to-find specialty items (e.g. industrial-sized air conditioners, etc.) or services with decent margins or the possibility of repeat business (dentists, for example) are the best.

Most of the PPC accounts out there are run by lazy account managers. A small amount of work every week (tweaking your keywords, bids, landing pages, ad copy, etc.) would put you ahead of 99% of them.

3. What is the best defense against click fraud and wasted spend?

Q. Kevin Scarselli asked, "What's the best defense against click fraud and wasting ad spend on competitor clicks? I manage legal PPC campaigns, mostly for mass torts that can have CPC's upwards of $100. And I truly believe a large portion of ad spend goes to unrecognized invalid clicks -- mostly other lawyers/legal marketers checking out other landing pages, but more than average click fraud too from competition as well. We could lose thousands a day in just unrecognized invalid clicks... any tips on how to combat this?"

A. Google lets you block 50 IP addresses, so if you have a few IP addresses that appear to be doing bad stuff, you can block those from seeing your ad. Another idea would be to use remarketing lists for search advertising (RLSA). For example, I could decide to show search ads only to people who visited my blog in the last week. This would cut down on a lot of the fraudulent clicks since people who click would have had to have visited my blog in the last week.

4. How much impact do PLAs have on e-commerce campaigns?

Q. Vinny LaBarbera asked, "How significant of an impact (on average) have you seen PLAs make on e-commerce campaigns?"

A. PLAs are HUGE. Consumers are now seeing +80% of the above-the-fold SERP space dominated by ads for commercial searches.


Google Shopping Ads

What you might not know is that the fancy Product Listing Ads you see are commercial intent-sucking monsters and are stealing all the conversions from both the organic and non-PLA search results. PLAs are especially compelling with their images, descriptions and pricing info. Organic clicks still win when you're talking about all queries in general, but for those high intent, commercial keywords, ads are getting over 64% of clicks. People are actively looking for rich, detailed information in search when they're ready to buy and PLAs are the ticket for getting in front of them. [Note that Product Listing Ads are eventually being switched over to Shopping Campaigns.]

5. What do you say to all of us churning out "safe" ad copy?

Q. This question came from Ginny Marvin at Search Engine Land: "You're known for your position that QS matters, and you've also presented on writing ‘Unicorn’ out of the box ad copy to get better click-through rates. Ad headlines and copy are nearly identical on the SERPs because people are nervous QS will suffer if the keyword isn't in there at least once, twice, three times. What do you say to all of us churning out 'safe' ad copy?"

A. In AdWords, it's incredibly difficult to see the forest for the trees. You know that your CTR is 2%, or your conversion rate 5%, but what you dont see how great it could be, since Google doesn't tell you how other accounts are doing.  It's really hard to get a sense of where you stand competitively. I'm in a unique position in that I've looked at over $10 billion in AdWords spend across over 100k accounts, and what I found is that there is a big difference between the top 10%, or 5%, or 1% of accounts vs. the average or below-average accounts. There is a huge advantage in being remarkable and Quality Score is a big piece of that puzzle.

Your CPCs can be 600% less than another advertiser bidding on the exact same keyword. Your CPAs can be 80% less than another advertiser doing something very similar to you. The only way to see this is to step outside your comfort zone and try out insanely great ads and insanely great landing pages/offers. Safe ad copy generally tends to only generate average or slightly above average results.


Top PPC Tips

We've looked into the habits of the average AdWords advertiser before and let me tell you, the bar is pretty low. If you want to reach that top 10% or even top 1%, it's completely possible with a solid understanding of Quality Score optimization, better offers/ad creative and smart account management.

6. What are the best PPC resources out there?

Q. Marco Nobili asked, "What are the best resources about PPC/AdWords to know as much as you know (except experience)?"

A. I'd say if you don't know PPC/AdWords yourself, the people who are working in it daily and sharing their PPC tips and expertise are your best bet! WordStream Blog, PPC University, and PPC Hero are great resources. Also, try asking questions using the hashtag #PPCchat on Twitter. Lot of smart SEMs hang out there.

7. How is Google coping with the shift to mobile?

Q. Moz's Dr. Pete asked, "How do you think Google is going to cope, from an ad revenue and format perspective, to our shift to mobile? 'Enhanced' campaigns made it clear they see this shift as a real threat, and they're designing more and more with a mobile-first philosophy. Do you think their $60B advertising juggernaut is in real danger?"

A. Google has placed many bets on mobile and I think they'll do great. We're actually finding that calls from mobile devices are worth 3x more than clicks to a website (since the intent is stronger on mobile, people are looking to buy something right at that moment). Most businesses haven't figured this out yet since it's hard to measure, but when they do, I think mobile CPCs could go up! [Google’s recent announcements around app marketing and better mobile measurement just reinforce this.]

8. What are the biggest mistakes PPC agencies make in early days?

Q. Michael Erikson asked, "What are some of the biggest mistakes PPC agencies make in the first 3 years?"

A. The biggest is failure to understand churn and the impact of client churn on their financials. The second biggest mistake is closely related – the failure to adopt strategies and tactics to reduce client churn.

9. Should you outsource or handle PPC in-house?

Q. Alexander McGregor asked, "Would you advise a small business (under 200 employees) to run their own PPC programs or would you advise them to outsource?"

A. Depends on your budget. Obviously it doesn't make sense to hire a dedicated in-house person to manage a $2k / month budget and it would be very difficult to find an agency willing to take on such a small account. Conversely if you were spending millions on paid search per month, I'd think that you'd want to bring that in-house. I don't think the number of people in a company really matters in terms of making this decision.

10. What skills translate over well from the PPC world to social ads?

Q. Inbound.org's Dharmesh Shah asked, "We're seeing increasing interest in the social ads space (primarily Facebook and Twitter). What skills do you think translate over well from the PPC world?"

A. In general (and sorry for generalizing here; I'm not saying this is always the case), PPCs are super data-oriented and obsessed with key metrics like cost per conversion and return on ad spend. I think that's a super-valuable skill that is much needed in the social ads space. 

Want More PPC Tips? Ask Me More Stuff!

If you missed the AMA, drop your big PPC question in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them here or in a future post!

Larry Kim

Larry Kim

Larry Kim is the founder of WordStream and CEO of MobileMonkey, a chatbot building platform.