8 PPC Mistakes Your Current Agency is Probably Making (and How to Fix Them)

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Pay per click advertising has the ability to increase traffic to your site and also increase the knowledge you have of your market. It can very quickly put money in your pocket or very quickly take it out.

Opening up a paid search account, adding a method of payment, and letting traffic flow only takes a few minutes. However, running a PPC campaign and running a successful PPC campaign are very different. A successful campaign takes time, energy, and a knowledgeable expert that can eliminate waste and take advantage of opportunity.

Here are eight mistakes that often turn what could be an otherwise successful campaign into a pure expense heavy nightmare.

1. Using large, non-targeted, broad keyword lists

Large lists of non-targeted keywords generally attract non-targeted visitors. Rather than focusing on these massive lists (sometimes referred to as keyword dumps), focus on smaller more targeted lists. In addition, refrain from using “broad match” keyword types without any offsetting negative keywords. The use of alternative match options will likely yield less traffic, but that traffic should be more qualified.

2. Paying too much attention to CTR and not enough to Conversion Rate

CTR (or Click Through Rate) means nothing if that traffic produced does not convert (i.e. generate sales or leads.) Focusing on CTR only as an indicator of paid search success will always end up costing money in the end. Instead pay more attention to conversion rate in relation to the CTR to get a better idea of whether a campaign is moving in the right direction or not.

3. Not looking at Value per Visitor in relation to Avg. CPC

Your Value per Visitor represents the amount of revenue you earn for each visitor that arrives at your website through a paid search click. Your Avg. CPC (Average Cost per Click) is the amount you spend on average to get one visitor to your site. Comparing the two tells you whether you are making money or not.

If your Avg. CPC is less than your Value per Visitor then you are making money. The further the two numbers are apart, the more money you are making. It goes without saying that if your Avg. CPC is more than your Value per Visitor then you may be losing money.

4. Using only one Ad Group for multiple sets of non-related keywords

Setting up only one Ad Group and loading it with multiple sets of non-related keywords does a number of bad things. It restricts the ability to more accurately target visitors based on ad copy. It can cause quality score to suffer. It costs more money and also can result in lower ad position. To sum it up: using one ad group will often result in non-targeted traffic at a higher cost with a lower ad position in the results. This is no way to succeed at paid search.

5. Using only one ad copy variation per ad group

We see it often while auditing campaigns for prospective clients. Ad campaigns that use only one ad to generate traffic. To be successful and find out what really converts, use at least two different variations of ad copy per ad group — and that’s only a gauge. Three to four different ad variations is even better.

When performed correctly, split testing different ad creative against each other within a single ad group provides insight as to what triggers visitors to take action. Using that insight to make additional refinements is what helps zero in on higher conversion rates.

6. Not turning off Google Search Partners and Display Network options at the start of a campaign

By default, all newly created search campaigns include the option to show ads on the Google Search Network and to Google Search Partners. To save expenses early on and generate more targeted traffic, uncheck the Google Search Partners option to exclude it. If the Display Network is also selected, it’s best to opt out of that as well. Rarely should one mix traditional search ads with display advertising under the same campaign.

Traffic from the search partners and display networks typically converts at a much lower rate than traffic generated through the search network alone — especially when the three are combined. There are ways to increase display network conversion figures (combining audience targeting with proper landing pages is an example) but it takes a lot of time to get it right. The longer the search partners network is turned on, the more money that will be spent and the lower the conversion rate of the campaign.

7. Not calculating and setting a daily budget

If a daily budget isn’t set that fits marketing objectives, you’re opening your business up to unexpected charges and possible wasted advertising dollars. The easiest way to set a daily budget is to start with the total monthly advertising budget allocated and divided that amount by 30.4 (the average number of days in a month). Then allocated that daily advertising spend across the total number of active campaigns in the account.

Keep in mind that Google says they can spend up to 2 times the set daily budget on any given day to meet the objectives of the campaign yet the total end of the month budget will be as close to the maximum set budget as possible. To prevent Google from overspending on the monthly budget, use scripts and rules as needed.

8. Driving all paid search traffic to a single landing page

Driving all PPC traffic to a single landing page (i.e. the home page) is going to result in less than desirable conversion rates. The better option is to set the final URL within each ad to a destination that fits the theme of the ad campaign. Think relevancy. Another option may be to set the destination URL at the individual keyword level to allow more control over where traffic is routed.

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