PPC Optimization Checklist
Nobody likes to waste their money, especially when it comes to advertising.
And yet, many advertisers waste their budgets simply because they jump straight into Google Ads without optimizing their campaigns. The right setup is a critical aspect of a well functioning, profitable Google Ads campaign.
Optimizing your Google Ads campaign from set up is easy to do, but what most people don’t realize, is that it’s easy to fix an existing account too. Following a few golden rules can make all the difference to your Google Ads performance, and we have created an Optimisation Checklist to help you get started! Some of the main aspects include:
- Account Set-Up
- Keyword Research
- Negative Keywords
- Landing Pages
- Conversion Tracking
How to Create a PPC campaign
The first step in any PPC Google Ads Campaign is to set up your account, and then create your Campaigns and Ad Groups. To get started, you’ll need an email address and a website for your business. If you don’t have a website, you can still advertise on Google using a Google Smart Campaign, and you can drive in-store visits or phone calls from customers.
Google Ads consists of a number of different campaign types, namely Google Search, Display, Video, Shopping and App.
- The Search Network consists of text ads on the Google Search Engine Results Page.
- The Display Network consists of image ads on various websites.
- The Video Network consists of video ads on Youtube.
- The Shopping Network consists of product listings on the Google Search Engine Results Page.
- The App Network allows you to promote your app across many different channels.
Before you create your first campaign, you need to decide how much you are willing to spend. Running a digital marketing agency, this is a question we get asked frequently. How much you should spend on Google Ads varies considerably, but will depend on:
- What are your sales and lead goals?
- How large of a geographical area are you targeting?
- How competitive is your industry on Google?
The next step here is determining how much it will cost you to acquire traffic to your site. We look at the metric CPC (Cost Per Click) here to determine the average cost of acquiring one visitor. This CPC will vary depending on the keywords you use in your campaigns.
The tool we use to do this research is Google Keyword Planner. Here you can enter keywords that relate to your industry, and you can find out the average CPC. So if you are a hairdresser based in Toronto, you might search keywords such as “hairdressers Toronto” “hairdressers near me” and “best hair salon”. These keywords may have an average CPC of $3, and so a monthly budget of $1,000 should amount to 333 website visits per month.
The other important aspect here will be your website conversion rate, or in other words, the percentage of your total website visitors that convert, whether that be a sale, sign up or another form of desired action. This will depend on how relevant and easy it is to navigate your website or landing page, we recommend having clear and distinct call to actions (CTA’s) to improve this.
So, taking our hairdresser example, if your conversion rate is 20%, you will receive 333 website visits, and 66 appointments. If the value of an appointment averages $40, your Google Ads campaign will have brought in $2,640 at a cost of $1,000. This means your Return on Investment (ROI) will be 264%.
$1,000 / 3 = 333 / 20 = 66 x $40 = $2,640 / 1,000 = 264%
Once you have determined your budget, the next step will be building out your campaign and ad groups. Your accounts campaigns are compromised of several ad groups. Your ad groups will then contain one or more ad, which shares similar keywords and bids. Campaigns control your advertising goal and budget, whilst ad groups oversee your bidding and targeting options. Ad groups can be a great way of segmenting your ads based on a number of factors, and this can help to control and optimize your ads. For example, you may wish to create different ad groups for the different locations you serve, or possibly for the range of different services you offer. The idea here is that each ad group should have its own distinct set of keywords.
When you create your first campaign, you will need to set a goal, or in other words, think about what you are trying to achieve. It may be more visits to your website, more phone calls or simply brand awareness. After this, it’s time to think about who you will target (Your Audience). Where you will target (Your Location) and your budget and bidding strategy.
With Google Ads, your audience can be segmented quite effectively based on intent. So the keywords that are being searched by your user help to segment your target audience. However, there are also options for further segmentation and targeting.
You can add audience segment targeting to ad groups to reach people based on who they are, their interests and habits, what they’re actively researching or how they’ve interacted with your business.
You can specifically target your ads towards an audience, or you can set up ‘observational’ audiences, where you can get data on your ads performance amongst this group, without limiting your ads to only target that group. At Salt Water Digital, we always recommend setting up Observational Audiences first and then analyzing ad performance amongst this group before using Targeted Audiences in your campaigns.
Below is a breakdown of the different types of audiences and how they work:
Affinity: These allow you to reach users based on what they’re passionate about and what their interests and habits are.
Detailed Demographics: These allow you to reach users based on long term life facts, such as age, gender or marital status.
In-Market: These allow you to reach users based on their recent purchase intent, and can be very useful for determining where in the buying cycle the customer is, and how likely they are to convert.
Your Data Segments: These allow you to reach users that have previously interacted with your business. This can be especially useful for creating remarking display campaigns.
The next crucial aspect of any Google Ads campaign is determining what location you wish to target. The two main things that will determine your location will be the area that your business can serve and your budget. When you target a larger area, generally you will need a larger budget in order to buy up a percentage of a larger amount of traffic.
In Google Ads location settings you can target specific countries and cities, and you can also avail of radius targeting. This allows you to select an exact location and target a radius area around that location. For example, if you are a pizza delivery service, you may wish to target users within a 20km radius of your business.
Choosing the correct bidding strategy is critical to the success of your campaign, and can help you drive down costs and maximize your ROI. You can choose from a number of Automated and Manual Bidding strategies, and we will breakdown the main options available to you below.
Maximize clicks is an automated bidding strategy based on your maximum daily budget. Google will attempt to drive the most clicks possible within your daily budget. If you are selecting an automated bidding strategy, we would usually recommend starting with a maximize clicks strategy until you can build up more conversion data in the account.
Maximize conversion is often our recommended bidding strategy once you have enough conversion data. We recommend having at least 30 days of conversion data before switching to maximize conversions, to allow google to optimize so that it can drive as many conversions as possible within your daily budget.
Target CPA (Cost Per Acquisition)
Target Cost Per Acquisition is an automated bidding strategy used to optimize conversions at a particular cost. Google focuses on maximizing conversions at a specific cost. With this method, Google will automatically set your bids on each campaign based on your CPA. It is important that your target CPA is close to industry standard, as setting this number too low will prevent your ads from running.
Enhanced CPC (Cost Per Click)
Simply put, enhanced CPC is a combination of both manual and automatic bidding strategies. It is manual because you set the basic CPC for each ad group and keyword, however, Google gets to optimize or raise/lower these bids based on the likelihood they will convert. Being able to manually adjust bids based on the keyword or ad group gives you much more control when it comes to optimization, as is the case with manual CPC.
Manual CPC (Cost Per Click)
This is a fully manual bidding strategy and the one that affords you the greatest amount of control when it comes to optimization. However, it also requires more attention so we only recommend using this strategy when you are well versed in Google Ads. Essentially, you can set specific max CPC bids for each individual keyword, usually based on intent and how well they are converting. For example, ‘hairdresser near me’ may have led to 10 appointment bookings this month, whereas ‘hairdresser’ may have led to 2. Using manual CPC I can adjust the max CPC on ‘hairdresser near me’ and raise it from $3 to $4. This will shift more of our budget towards the higher performing keyword.
Another important metric here is Search Impressions Share. This is the percentage of total searches for a keyword your ads fired. The closer this is to 100%, the less effective raising your max CPC will be. This is because raising your Max CPC allows you to perform better at the bidding auction and capture impressions.
PPC Keyword Research
Once you have your bidding strategy selected for each campaign and ad group, the next step will be to conduct keyword research for each campaign/ad group. The best way to do this is to brainstorm ways people search for your product or service, as well as having a look at how it is described on your website. You can then use keyword research tools online to determine search volume and competitiveness. So we want to find out how often that keyword is searched in my area, and how many competitors are also using that keyword. The overall search volume will determine the potential reach of your campaign, whilst the competitiveness will have a big part to play in the average CPC for that keyword.
PPC Negative Keywords
After developing your keyword lists for each ad group, you will also need to add negative keywords. Similar to how a keyword will make your ad fire when it is searched, a negative keyword will prevent your ad from firing when it is searched. Some recommended negative keywords include “scam” and “free” however these will depend on your industry and business.
PPC Ads & Landing Pages
So you have your campaign and ad groups, and your keyword lists for each. Now it’s time to start writing the ad copy that your users will see and interact with! From June 30th 2022, the only type of search ad available is the Responsive Search Ad. This is a form of ad where you write multiple headlines and descriptions, and Google will automatically choose which show based on how likely they are to convert. You can also pin specific headlines into positions 1, 2 or 3. For example, the common use of pinning is to pin your CTA to position 3, such as ‘Contact Us Today For a Free Quote’. We also recommend creating more than one variation in order to optimize and continually improve your ad copy.
You also need to include the landing page or final URL that your ad will take the customer to. This can be a specific page on your website or a tailor-made landing page. At Salt Water, we have created several tailor-made landing pages for a host of different clients, and they can make a huge difference in boosting conversions and making your google ads profitable.
PPC Conversion Tracking
One of the most important aspects of a Google Ads campaign is conversion tracking. This means that we can track users when they go to our website, and we can count conversion actions, such as sales, sign ups, and more. This is the only way that we can make Google Ads measurable and report on ROI, which is an imperative part of any advertising campaign. If you host a website with Shopify, Lightspeed or a similar platform, often the integration for sales conversions is very easy to set up. For more complex conversion tracking, we use Google Tag Manager to set up conversion events. Talk to us today about how we can optimize your conversion tracking process and set your campaigns up for success with our Fee Free Program.
Benefits of PPC Optimization
- You can set up and optimize for results quicker than most forms of digital marketing.
- You can reach audiences and drive conversions more cost effectively.
- You can lower your Cost per Conversion and increase ROI.
- Targeting options mean you can reach your ideal customer.
- Data from your PPC campaign can inform and optimize your SEO strategy.
PPC Campaign Checklist for Optimization
Check PPC KPIs
Make sure you have your overall business goals aligned with your Google Ads strategy and KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). If my goal is to drive as many sales as possible from within my budget, some crucial KPIs for my Google Ads campaigns will be Conversions, Cost Per Conversion and Conversion Value, or the total amount of revenue that was generated from Google Ads. I can then determine my ROI by dividing my revenue by my costs.
Search Term Report
The search term report shows us all of the search terms that users entered when seeing our ads. You will also be able to see specific metrics for each keyword, such as clicks, impressions and conversions. It is vital that you review this search term report regularly, adding search terms that are converting and relevant as keywords, and adding non-performing and irrelevant search terms as negative keywords. This is the best tool you have to optimize your keyword lists.
Research Keywords Trends
As part of this, you should also conduct regular keyword research, particularly when creating a new ad group or targeting a new location or segment. You should analyze keywords based on their relevance, search intent, competitiveness and search volume.
Optimize your ad Copy
It is vital that your ad copy is continually optimized. Here at Salt water, we always recommend creating two to three ads per ad group, each with different headlines and CTA’s. This is a great way to A/B ad copy and continually optimize your campaigns by pausing underperforming ads and drafting new ones. It is also important that your ad copy closely matches what the user will see on your website or landing page, in order to keep your messaging consistent and boost conversions.
Review Budget and Bids
Your overall budget and bidding strategy should also be reviewed regularly, to see how it is performing and whether or not a new approach could yield better results. For example, you may use a maximize bidding strategy but find that some keywords are much more qualified and products have more conversions. You may then wish to switch to a Manual CPC strategy here and raise your max CPC bids for these keywords. (Impression Share dependant)
Maintenance of Landing Pages and Links
You should also regularly check that your ads are going to landing pages that are active and working, and that the CTA’s and web forms on these landing pages are actively recording conversions.
Similarly, you should check extension links to ensure they are still active. Certain changes to a website can affect these links and potentially cause them to stop working.
Overall campaign metrics need to be analyzed regularly and recommendations need to be fed to decision makers in order to continually optimize campaign performance. Metrics such as Impressions, Clicks, CTR, CPC, Costs, Conversions, Cost Per Conversion, Conversion Value and Search Impression Share are vital for seeing how your campaigns are performing and can give insight into potential next steps and ways to optimize your campaign. You should always be thinking, is this the best way we can set up our campaigns for success?
Need help with your PPC Campaign and Strategy?
Here at Salt Water Digital, we are passionate about results. Every client is different and deserves a different strategy. We help clients all over the world make sense of the ever-changing Google Ads landscape and set up and run ROI positive campaigns across a range of industries. Whether you’re just setting out on your Google Ads journey, or you haven’t been achieving the result you want, we are here to help. Contact us today for a free consultation to see if Salt Water Digital could be right for you.
What are some good rules of thumb and techniques for optimizing PPC campaigns?
- Always conduct keyword research during the setup phase.
- Always review search term reports and remove non-relevant keywords.
- Always A/B test Ad copy and optimize continually.
- Always have conversion tracking set up before running a live campaign.
What’s the optimal daily budget for Google AdWords?
This very much depends on your industry and how competitive your keywords are on Google. As a rule of thumb, we would suggest a minimum of $500 per month, which works out as $16.48 daily.
How technical do I need to be to manage my Google Ads Campaign?
Some expertise is definitely required to manage effective Google Ads campaigns. Have you heard of our fee-free program? This includes:
- Keyword Research
- Ad Asset Creation
- Conversion Set Up
- Complete Campaign Set Up
- Account Optimisation
- 45 minute Training Session