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10 Best Practices to Punch Up Your Google PPC Campaigns

September 30, 2020
Thomas Law
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Effective Google PPC campaign management is more important than ever.

With COVID-19 forcing people to stay home, individuals and businesses are spending more time online. As a result, digital marketing channels, such as Google Ads, are likely to become increasingly competitive.

What's more, the current recession has placed additional pressure on marketers. Many marketing budgets have taken a hit, but businesses need to maintain their revenue.

If you want to know how to improve pay-per-click (PPC) performance, we've got your covered.

Here are 10 Google Ads best practices that you can use to optimize PPC campaigns and generate a higher return on investment (ROI).

Here are Google Ads best practices that you can use to optimize PPC campaigns.
Source: Unsplash

1. Focus on High-Performing, Long-Tail Keywords

First things first: If you want to optimize Google ads, you need to start with your PPC keywords.

If the aim is to squeeze ROI out of your ad spend, your PPC keywords need to be highly focused. As a result, you shouldn't go too broad. Instead, add exact match long-tail keywords that fit the search intent you want to target.

What's a long-tail keyword?

Long-tail keywords are phrases used when searching for something specific — think 2-5 words.

For example, if a user searches "pizza," they could be looking for pizza restaurants, delivery services, recipes or even pizza making lessons.

However, the term "pizza delivery" rules many options out and helps us understand the user's search intent better. Even better, "Pizza delivery Manhattan" is a long-tail keyword that has a clear search intent. 

Optimizing Google PPC keywords involves using long-tail keywords.
Graph source: Wikipedia

The key is to balance volume with specificity.

For example, a long-tail PPC keyword such as "pizza delivery near me in Manhattan" might have a precise search intent, but it's likely to have a lower volume of searches.

Indeed, exact match long-tail PPC keywords typically:

  • Have less competition
  • Allow you to make lower bids
  • Have a higher search intent
  • Provide opportunities to write highly targeted ad copy

All in all, honing your exact match PPC keywords is a powerful way to optimize Google Ads PPC campaigns.

2. Remove Low-Performing Keywords From Your PPC Campaigns 

Once you've improved your exact match keywords, it's time to remove any keywords that are undercutting your PPC campaign performance.

To spot underperforming PPC keywords, look for low impressions and clicks. 

If PPC keywords don't generate many impressions, it's a clear sign that users aren't searching the term. Consider waiting a week to see if there's any improvement in the number of impressions. If not, remove the keyword.

Next, identify which PPC keywords have a healthy number of impressions but very few clicks. 

In this instance, Google shows your ad to users who submitted a query that includes your keyword. However, your ad isn't resonating with these users. Why? Likely, your ad doesn't match the search intent of the user.

Try to understand why your ad isn't aligning with the users' search intent. Then, try to rework your ad copy to better match the PPC keyword search intent. If you can't improve the ad copy to match the keyword, consider removing it from your PPC campaign.

All in all, removing low-performing keywords is one of the best ways to improve your Google Ads performance.

3. Add Negative Keywords to Improve PPC Performance

Removing keywords is one thing, but you should also add negative keywords

When you list a negative keyword, you're telling Google not to show your ads for that keyword.

For example, say that you sell fashionable leather jackets and use the PPC keyword "leather jackets" in your campaign. There's a chance that Google may show your ads to users who are searching for other types of jackets.

In this case, it would be a good idea to add "sports jackets" and "outdoors jackets" as negative keywords to prevent your ads from showing for these queries.

This tactic can help you focus your ads on the most relevant Google PPC keywords.

To sum up, make sure to spend time identifying keywords that aren't relevant to your goals — even if they generate impressions and clicks — and then add them as negative keywords.

4. Use Ad Extensions to Optimize Google Ads

Using Google Ad extensions is an essential part of optimizing your PPC campaigns.

Ad extensions are the different formats that show on Google search ads. If you've ever come across an ad with a call button, additional links, or calls to action (CTAs), you've seen ad extensions.

In the image below, you can see 2 Google Ads with extensions. 

For your Google PPC campaign make use of ad extensions.

Extensions improve visibility, offer extra information and provide additional ways for users to interact with ads. As a result, they're a fantastic way to improve your Google Ads performance. 

Usually, you need to set them up manually. However, Google will sometimes show them automatically, which is often the case with review extensions.

To optimize your PPC campaigns with Google Ad extensions, make sure to choose the right one for your needs. Popular extensions include:

  • Sitelink extensions that provide additional links to specific pages on your website.
  • Callouts that add additional CTA text to your ads.
  • Structured snippet extensions that display lists underneath ads highlighting specific aspects of your business.
  • Location extensions that show additional details such as your address and telephone number
  • Call extensions that provide a link to allow users to call your business directly from the search engine results pages (SERPs)
  • App extensions that prompt users to download your app

It's important to note that adding extensions doesn't guarantee they will show on your ads. Still, this Google Ads best practice is free and can help to improve your PPC campaign performance.

5. Write Compelling PPC Campaign Copy

Allow me to be frank: It doesn't matter how good your Google PPC campaign management is if your ads stink. Ad copy can make or break your PPC campaigns. 

So, you need to make sure your ad copy is engaging, informative and compelling. Here's an example of strong ad copy from freelancing platform Upwork.

Here is a Google ad example from Upwork.

The ad copy emphasizes trust — a key issue when it comes to hiring freelancers online. It also calls out important benefits, such as "freelancers come to you," "get more done" and "increased productivity."

Plus, the ad extension provides different links for users at different stages of the sales funnel. For example, "How Does it Work?" addresses the top of the funnel and "Hire the Best with Select" focuses on customers with a high purchase-intent near the end of the funnel.

Whatever you do, make sure to optimize your ad copy. You can do this by:

  • Getting straight to the point and making ads easy to scan
  • Including power words like "free," "guaranteed" and "best"
  • Speaking directly to your target market by using second-person language, such as "you" and "your"
  • Making sure to include target PPC keywords to connect the ad to users' search intent
  • Highlighting the key benefits of your product or service
  • Eliciting an emotional response from users
  • Including a strong CTA

6. Test Your PPC Campaign Copy

To get the most out of your Google PPC campaign ad copy, you need to test it.

Make sure to test the headlines, body and links. It also helps to test different combinations of copy. For example, you may want to test Headline A with Body B and Headline B with Body A. 

In the image below, you can see Google Ads from Priceline featuring different ad copy and combinations.

The more you test and improve your ad copy, the better your Google PPC campaigns will perform.

When testing different combinations, make sure that each part of the copy makes sense when shown in various combinations. 

For example, say your header reads "Free Shipping on All Orders," and your body reads, "Get free shipping on all orders today." You may want to switch up your ad copy so the point isn't repeated.

You can also test your ad copy with responsive ads or responsive display ads. These ads automatically adjust to the space and format in which they're displayed.

The more you test and improve your ad copy, the better your PPC campaigns will perform.

7. Hone Your PPC Campaign's Landing Pages

Landing pages are where you send users when they click on your ads. Increasing your landing page's conversion rate is a great way to optimize PPC performance.

To start, make sure you create dedicated landing pages for every important PPC keyword. This will help to improve your PPC performance by ensuring that users find what they want.

For example, the query "best VPN" returned this Google ad from ExpressVPN. 

For example, the query "best VPN" returned this Google ad from ExpressVPN.

Here's the genius part: When users click this link, they're taken to a landing page that continues to promote ExpressVPN as the "best VPN" — and provides plenty of reasons why it's the best VPN.

Optimize landing pages to improve PPC campaigns.

In other words, the landing page perfectly matches the search intent of the user. As a result, it's far more likely to convert traffic.

If your PPC campaign has plenty of clicks but few conversions, you need to optimize your landing page. 

Finally, make sure to test your landing pages to maximize results and ensure that they're optimized for mobile devices.

8. Create PPC Campaigns That Target Users on Different Devices

These days, people access the internet on mobile phones, tablets, laptops and wearables such as smartwatches. 

Now, Google PPC ads appear differently depending on the device being used.

Additional Google ad options also are available when advertising on mobile devices.

Additional ad options also are available when advertising on mobile devices, such as the call-only extension, which only displays on devices with calling capabilities.

This ad employs a mobile call-only extension.

What's more, you can use device targeting to focus ads on specific device types, operating systems, device models, carriers and wireless networks.

The bottom line? Take advantage of the many options to tailor your ads to specific devices.

9. Optimize PPC Campaigns for Strategic Times

Your target market likely will be more active during certain times of the day or week. So, you can improve PPC campaigns by showing ads at the most optimum times.

If you're in the business-to-business space, your audience is likely most active during weekday office hours. However, if you sell to consumers, things may be a little more tricky.

Regardless, whoever you're targeting, you'll need to run tests to find the best times to advertise.

To start, consider setting your PPC campaign schedule to 24/7. Although it will cost more at first, this should help you identify the most active timeframes.

Then, make some bid adjustments to use most of your ad spend during those times. You could also exclude certain low-performing times of the day.

You can add a schedule in Account Settings, Ad Schedule.

You can add a schedule in Account Settings, Ad Schedule.

10. Craft and Optimize Ads for Specific Locations

If you have a physical location or your target market is located in a particular area, make sure to optimize for local search.

According to BrightLocal, Google Local Services ads receive 13.8% of local SERP clicks.

You also can optimize your PPC campaigns for local searches.

You also can optimize your PPC campaigns for local search by:

  • Including your address and phone number
  • Using the call ad extension
  • Writing localized ad copy
  • Using location-specific landing pages
  • Strategically assigning your budget to certain areas

Google allows you to show ads based on users' locations, locations of interest or both. These options can help you dramatically increase the relevance of your ads, which can improve your PPC campaign performance.

Bolster Your Google PPC Campaign Management

If you're wondering how to improve google ads performance, here are 10 Google Ads tips to help you improve ROI:

  1. Home in on long-tail keywords that have low competition and high search intent.
  2. Identify and remove low-performing PPC keywords.
  3. Make sure to add negative keywords to your PPC campaigns.
  4. Take advantage of Google Ad extensions.
  5. Write engaging, information and compelling ad copy.
  6. Test your ad copy relentlessly to ensure it's as effective as possible.
  7. Optimize your landing pages to match your PPC keywords' search intent.
  8. Tailor your PPC campaigns to specific devices.
  9. Optimize your PPC campaigns for high-performing times.
  10. Create ads that are optimized for specific locations.

Effective Google PPC campaign management can provide incredible returns. Hal Varian, Google's chief economist, estimates that businesses generally make an average of $2 in revenue for every $1 they spend on Google Ads.

To be sure that you're getting the most bang for your buck, keep improving your Google ads campaign management.


Thomas Law

Thomas is a content marketing consultant and writer specializing in SaaS, ecommerce and digital marketing.

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