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Advanced Paid Search Learnings from Wordstream Live

Full "Stream” Ahead: Improve Your Paid Search Campaigns

Recently, I trekked over to the Google office in Chicago for Wordstream Live, a free all-day event filled with presentations about paid search and social media. I enjoyed my day at the event not only because I got free food and a Google sticker (which I promptly lost), but also because the presentations were much deeper than your typical high-level conference fluff and included real, actionable tips. So if you manage paid search campaigns, if you’re looking to get started, or if you’re one of the people who have been asking for my conference notes, keep reading for the 14 tips I learned on how to improve your campaigns.

DISCLAIMER: Symmetri is not a Wordstream customer. Additionally, these findings are a summary of Wordstream’s presentations and recommendations that were based on research of their own customer base. For more information on Wordstream or to find out when the next Wordstream Live event is, make sure to check out their blog and their free Google Ads account grader.

Source: Pexels

Wordstream recommends a multitude of best practices for setting up your paid search campaigns. Some of these may seem pretty common-sense; however, it is never a bad idea to revisit your campaigns and give them an update with these tips in mind. If your account is organized nicely and set up well, it will be easier to manage and analyze.


1. Use no more than five ad groups per campaign 


It was not specified whether having less than five ad groups is ok (I think it is ok), but when you have more than five, you run the risk of spreading your campaign budget too thin and having too much to manage. Similarly, it is considered a faux pas to have ad groups that are organized strictly by match type, are too divided, or are overly granular. You will miss out on key queries!


2. 10 to 15 keywords per ad group is ideal 


From what I gathered, this total includes different match types of keywords, since match type can indicate search intent. With that said, avoid using too many Single Keyword Ad Groups (SKAGs), which can be too narrow and clutter your account. And if you use broad match modified on all of your keywords, be careful. Broad keywords can drag your budget into unintended audiences, so try to use that match type only on long-tail keywords that have three words or more.


3. Create three or fewer ads per ad group 


This will make it easier to optimize your campaign and determine what is actually working so you can pause what is not performing well and quickly update ad copy accordingly. If you do not have the bandwidth to change ad copy often, instead focus on properly testing your ads so you have notes for improvement next time a copy refresh comes around.

Source: Pixabay 

Want to make sure your ads are only going to your target audience to avoid wasting ad spend? Wordstream demonstrated a few ways to achieve this using the settings in Google Ads along with Facebook.


4. Set up bid adjustments


Make sure you have bid adjustments set up for things like location to increase bids for high-converting regions or locations you specifically want to target. It is also recommended to use device bid modifiers. Although we live in a mobile-first world, mobile might not be the best converting device for your campaigns. Look at conversion rates by device type and increase bids for high-converting devices. There are a lot of campaign settings that can help you reach your audience better, so be sure to check them out!


5. Implement in-market audiences


Now available for search ads, start using in-market audiences. This audience type is more focused than age, gender, marital status and other basic demographics. With in-market audiences, you can target users that have been actively researching specific topics that relate to your industry.


6. Make an audience list with social


If basic demographics and in-market audiences are not granular enough, try using social media to create a more distinct audience list. You can use Facebook to target ad campaigns towards a more specific audience based on information like hometown, interests, job and so on. Then, in Google Analytics, create audience lists from your social campaign and target that list via remarketing in your search campaigns. GENIUS!

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Are you looking at your auction insights and finding you are losing to the competition? Do you want to have the top results in your industry? Wordstream suggested having a competitor campaign to block out other brands from results where your brand shows up. Keep in mind that these campaign types usually have lower quality scores because you are bidding on branded terms that are not yours. Nevertheless, these campaigns are useful and effective to have in your paid search arsenal.


7. Create a landing page for each competitor


If you are able to create a landing page per competitor that talks about why your brand provides a better experience, that is considered totally fair. Consider including content on the page like product comparisons and reviews. You can also include competitor keywords on these landing pages! If you are willing to do the work to build competitor campaigns and have landing pages with points of differentiation, you might see your quality score improve along with your impression share. However…


8. Keep competitor keywords out of ad copy.


Do not have your competitor’s branded terms in your paid search ad copy. Similarly, be careful when using dynamic keywords in competitor campaigns. You can get in legal trouble if a competitor’s branded keyword shows up in your ad and the ad takes them to YOUR website! A conference attendee at Wordstream Live mentioned they had actually been sued because of this, so just be aware.


9. Use negative competitor terms for all non-competitor campaigns


It is a best practice to add competitor terms to the negative keyword lists of every campaign except for your competitor campaigns. This can help avoid the aforementioned issue with dynamic keywords and legalities, and it also increases ad relevancy and quality scores.

Source: Pixabay

Once your paid search campaigns are set up according to best practices and go live, the work does not stop there! In order to get the best results for yourself or your clients, it is important to monitor campaign performance and optimize, optimize, OPTIMIZE! Wordstream offered some tips on how to find opportunities for improvement along with ways to clean up your paid search account to give your ads the best chance of driving conversions.


10. Clean up keyword redundancies


Do you have keywords that are similar or have the same search intent? Does one keyword have a better CPA or just perform better in general? Then delete the redundant keywords and save yourself some money! The same goes for match type. If you have the same keyword with different match types, determine which match types perform the best and delete the ones that do not.


11. Clean up keywords with low search volume and quality score


Low search volume and low quality score can drag your ads down in auction. To avoid this and boost your ad rankings, look at the percent of impressions coming from keywords with quality scores of three or below or that have low search volume. Consider deleting the keywords that fall into those categories that get little to no traffic and save yourself from bad rankings and wasted spend. But keep in mind that some industries are prone to low quality scores, so be careful when refining keywords if you fall into that category! 


12. Break out impression-heavy keywords


On the other hand, if a keyword is taking up a lot of your impressions, consider breaking it out to another ad group to give your other keywords a chance to perform and yourself a chance to more properly allocate budget.


13. Broad match to determine relevant queries


Remember when I said to be careful with broad match? Broad match is not always bad. It can be used to teach you how your target audience searches. Your auction prices may fluctuate when using broad match, but if you leverage the match type in a controlled environment, you can potentially learn what to target.

14. Put better copy in your ad headlines


Do you have ad description text that would have made great headlines? Do not miss opportunities to pull copy out of descriptions and put them in headlines! This will better attract audiences and drive them to click through to your landing page. Just be mindful of what is being promised in your ad copy and that the same promise is delivered on the landing page.

Overall, managing successful paid search campaigns does not have to be difficult. If you set up your campaigns following best practices, take advantage of your settings and targeting options, block out competitors, and continually optimize, you will most likely see improvements in your KPIs. Also, remember that there is no one way to do paid search. Not every tip listed above will work for you or be absolutely applicable to you. What is universal though: Look at your metrics and keep testing to find what works for you and your clients.

Looking for some guidance on how to your approach your paid search campaigns? Symmetri stays up to date with the latest trends and training in digital marketing. With our Google and Bing Ads certified team, you can confidently navigate paid search campaigns and give your company a prominent voice. We can manage, monitor and optimize your campaigns to help you reach your marketing goals. We would love to hear from you!