Optimizing your PPC keywords and bids

When looking at the overview of your keywords the first thing you will want to look at is the cost per lead of your highest volume keywords (lead wise). If you have just set up a campaign you will see higher than usual lead prices because it takes a while to get your quality score up (you should be prepared to take a loss for a while).

Looking at the keywords that produce the highest volume you should be able to make an immediate distinction. You can calculate a mean CPL and see what keywords deviate, based on which you can make a list of High, Medium and Low performers.

You can then follow a different strategy for all of these, the basic premise being that you put these groups in their own campaign.

High performance keywords are our stars. Making different ad groups for each individual keyword and writing customized ads will ensure that you get the best out of these HQ keywords. By simultaneously increasing the maximum CPC you will increase your much wanted traffic from these highest performers.

Medium performance keywords are usually the biggest group. Try to group these in relevant (ad group) clusters and spend some time to write relevant ads. Slightly decrease your bids and set the preferred position* to 3 to 5. Lowering the position will give you less – but more relevant – traffic which is what we need to lower the CPA further.

The bids for low performance keywords should be dramatically lowered and the preferred position should be set to 4 or lower.

*enable ‘Position preferences’ in the campaign settings, select the relevant keywords in your ad group overview, click ‘edit keyword settings’ and set a Position Preference.

Secondly we will want to look at our low volume keywords. We want to ask the question ‘why aren’t these keywords performing? There can be a couple of answers, and combinations thereof:

The keyword has a large number of impressions but isn’t clicked much
This most possibly means that the keyword you’re bidding on is not relevant for your business. If you feel this is the case you should delete the keyword. Another possible explanation can be that your ad text is not up to par, in which case you should increase the max CPC for this keyword (for a while) to compensate for the low quality score you now have and write a new (improved) ad.

The keyword has too low a position
If your keyword has too low a position (see Avg. Position) to be clicked a lot your CTR, and thus conversions, will suffer. Generally you will want to be higher than position 5. A quick fix is increasing your bid and seeing if that improves CPA and lead volume over time. If it doesn’t then it might be time to reconsider this keywords’ relevance.

The keyword doesn’t have a lot of impressions despite having a high average position
This generally means that the keyword is not searched for much. Besides showing your ad in additional countries and for additional languages there is nothing much to do about this.

The keyword isn’t active
If you look under status you will notice that some keywords are active while others are inactive. This is usually because of a low quality score. You can try sending the traffic to more relevant landingpages or improve the targeting by putting them in more targeted adgroups (with targeted ads). If nothing helps you should delete these keywords.

Keyword bidding can be done in a more methodical and sometimes even automated way. I have put together my strategy below, but be sure to adapt this to your needs.

  • Great converting keywords and low CPL’s -> Own adgroup per keyword, budget for 100% sov and bidding for pos. 1
  • Great converting keywords and medium CPL’s -> Own adgroup per keyword, budget for 100% SOV but bidding according to lead needs at that time/in that country (the whole quantity vs quality debate)
  • Great converting keywords and high CPL’s -> Own adgroup per keyword, budget for 100% SOV but bidding for lower positions
  • Converting keywords and low CPL’s -> up budget and bids for 100% SOV
  • Converting keywords and medium CPL’s -> same budget but lower bids
  • Converting keywords with high CPL’s -> minimum budget and minimum bids
  • Non converting keywords with low cost and low positions -> Look at relevance, if relevant up bids for higher position in low budget campaign. If not relevant delete
  • Non converting keywords with low cost and high positions -> Look at relevance, if relevant keep as is, if not relevant delete
  • Non converting keywords with medium and high cost -> delete

Then all is left is setting objective standards for High, Medium and Low: impressions, positions, CPL’s, number of leads and budgets.

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About Me

Thoughts on Direct and Online Marketing in the Financial Industry. By Bart Burggraaf. Bart is MD/Partner at MGL, a London based Financial Services Marketing Agency. The posts on this blog are the personal opinions of Bart Burggraaf and not the official view point of MGL or any of it's clients.