Making the Most Out of Your Paid Search Strategies

Making the Most Out of Your Paid Search Strategies

Pay-per-click and retargeting strategies are often put on simmer and left on the back burner. It can seem tedious and if it hasn't been successful in gaining conversions for your business, it can seem like a waste of time and resources. But paid search is all about putting in a little bit of time every day or every week and optimizing your ads and budget to make less investment go a longer way.. And when you've hit that stride in improving your paid search and retargeting for your segmented buying audience, you'll see conversions and sales boom, saving, and ultimately generating, thousands of dollars. Here's our roadmap for getting there:

Phase 1: Build a Better Foundation

Like improving any part of your life, the first step is habit forming. Log into Adwords right now and set a time on your calendar where you can dedicate 10 minutes every day, every other day, or once a week at the least to collect insights on your campaign ads and implement new A/B tests to seek perpetual improvement. 

When you start this process, begin with updating your old ads. No need to reinvent the wheel. We'll dive into collecting valuable insights through Google Analytics soon, but there are some general tips that can improve your paid search ads that you can begin with here.

Better ad copy is proven to increase click-through-rate (CTR)

Your ad copy doesn't have to be filled with jargon and hashtags and click-bait trickery. In fact, all of these things will detract visitors from clicking on your ad. No one trusts an eager sales pitch. When you're writing ad copy use action verbs and  use the exact brand name of the product you're selling in the ad. The action verbs will rally your audience to take action while the name matching will improve your quality score in the eyes of Google, which in turn will score your ad higher in search results. In A/B tests run by WordStream the use of action verbs and product matching increased CTR by 89% and 65% respectively. 

Implement Ad Extensions

Speaking of Quality Scores, Google highlights ads that use Google and third-party extensions to improve CTR. These extensions require minimal set-up, are free and  they generate definitive results to clicks and conversions on paid search ads. And chances are you've seen these extensions in action. These are the phone call icon on the side of an ad (which replaced in-line phone numbers after Google banned them), the sitelink extensions that direct viewers to multiple landing pages, the offer extensions and third-party product reviews. If you aren't utilizing any of these, they are extremely effective and worth the minimal effort required to set them up on your old ads. Here's a guide to get you started from an ex-Googler.

Target for Mobile Bidding

It's no secret that mobile web use has taken over, and our paid search ads need to take that into account. Searches on-the-go account for an insanely high percentage of the market, reaching over 48% in Q2 of 2018. The dominance means that mobile needs to play a central role in mobile PPC strategy. However, mobile bids are separate from their desktop kin, so make sure you are not losing money on mobile bids that are too high for your budget and double check the high bids for desktop to see if they're in your price-range for mobile to get a better edge on your competition.

Customize your Adwords and Analytics UI

Phase 2: Customize your Adwords and Analytics UI

The functions of Google Adwords and Analytics are like the keyring on a cartoon janitor's belt loop. Seemingly endless, overwhelming and when someone uses it correctly they almost seem magical. But the chances are, you won't need every function that Google offers, and the platforms make it easy to customize your dashboards to give you the insights and recommendations that you need for your paid search strategies to thrive.

When customizing your dashboard, consider a multi-tiered column view with filters like top converting, least converting, position < 4, low quality score and CPA above $xx,xxx (your target cost per acquisition) to get an easy scope into the ads that are working and the ads that need improvement. And absolutely utilize the opportunity tab in Adwords for Google-recommended optimizations. If Google is telling you how to improve your Google search, don't ignore it. Here are some functions to keep your eye on.

Negative Keywords Report

Negative keywords are the search queries that you're spending money that aren't generating, and never will generate, revenue for your business. Think of these keywords as homonyms, accidental routes that lead to your bid. For example, if you're selling watches and you pay for the search term "watch," you're also paying for searches like "where to watch football" or "watch free tv online." In Adwords, you can create a list of negative keywords that pull your add from searches near your ideal keywords from Google searches, so you can stop paying money for homonyms. By removing the negative search queries, you will be narrowing in on your target audience and ultimately lowering the CPA from your ads.

*Pro Tip: This also works for services that also get heavy traffic from job seekers. If you're spending money on people looking to work for you, be sure to add "jobs" as a negative keyword across your campaign.

Adjust Campaign Geolocation Settings

In Adwords you can trigger the locations report to see if there are certain cities that are giving your ads heavy traffic but aren't converting. If your service specific to a different location, you are burning money with these search queries. Add these areas to a break-out list and remove your ads from their searches. However, if this city is an opportunity, consider pulling them into a distinct ad group and put more money into A/B testing your copy and approach to find what works. You may find that they produce higher ROAS than even the areas that currently have a higher conversion rate.


The time and date reports show you when you are getting the most activity on your ads. This is when your audience is looking for your service. It could be that late-night eureka moment that someone needs new pillows or between 9-5 when they are in the office and start looking for a new marketing partner. To save money on ad spend, try limiting your ads to when this activity occurs, especially if you're running out of daily budget on a fairly regular basis. If you are B2B and sell to a more typical 9-5 employee, running ads at 100% of your budget 24/7 might be a waste. Also, if you notice that a higher number of people are clicking on your ads during lunch time, adjust your bidding to go up during those times in order to gain a better ad position to increase clicks and conversions.

When and Where Not to Optimize

Obviously don't change something that's nailing it. But sometimes deciphering what works isn't as cut and dry as looking at conversion rates and first-touch closes. Sometimes a visitor will click through an ad and dismiss it, only to come back to that same offer through direct search or from another ad. In this case, the ad is still effective but it's not getting the credit directly. In Analytics you can pull an assisted conversion report to account for these multi-touch conversions. Don't pull ads that are part of the team, they're still pulling their weight on the psychology of impulse-resistance.

Likewise, sometimes the ad is receiving a high click-through-rate but it isn't closing. Before scrapping the copy, consider that there may be a leaky landing page behind it. Of course, landing pages are going to have the highest percentage of leaks, it's where people spend money! People often abandon their shopping cart on a landing page and there are ample strategies to get visitors to the register. But if your ad is effective at pulling visitors in and your offer ends in a phone consultation, consider eliminating the landing page altogether and adding Google's call extension that I mentioned earlier.

Lastly, and this brings us to our last step, consider retargeting.

Retarget your Ads

Phase 3: Retarget your Ads

Retargeting your ad means that when a visitor visits your website or landing page, they pick up a cookie that will then show follow your visitor around the internet on Google sponsored websites, so your ad shows in the margins or in ad slots. Look, I know it sounds creepy. But truly the data shows that consumers don't care about ads following them, and in fact conversion rates actually increases  the more times a visitor sees an ad up to 3x! In retargeting, click-through rate will drop, but the impressions from those that ultimately do click after seeing your ad multiple times are up to 3x more likely to close.

Retargeting offers a hefty bunch of ulterior benefits outside of CRO. It builds branding through continuous impressions, it allows you the ability to advertise special offers on the second or third ad view, and it boosts your original ad's quality score on Google and Facebook.

When you're creating your retargeting campaign, start with a solid balance between broad reach and narrow/minimal expense. Over time, as you collect analytics on the successes and failures of you ad on specific sites and demographics you can create a retargeting tree, much like a buyer persona profile sheet, and optimize your retargeting efforts to segment the personas on your tree for super-retargeted marketing. This segmentation could be something like existing customers, new visitors, abandoned cart visitors. This strategy is going to be your golden ticket to paid ad brilliance.