Common PPC Advertising Pitfalls to Avoid

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Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is an effective way of boosting your marketing efforts by helping you reach more potential customers than you would if you relied entirely on organic search traffic.

The amount spent on paid search worldwide has increased from $73.04 billion in 2015 to $83.06 billion in 2016 and it’s expected to reach $92.4 billion in 2017. So people are certainly spending big on PPC, but unfortunately, you can easily waste a tonne of money if you don’t have a well thought out strategy.

Getting match types wrong

Choosing the wrong match type is one of the quickest ways to exhaust your funds without getting a good return on investment.

Although it takes some practice to pinpoint the keywords and match types which work for you, there are some helpful strategies you can follow while you refine your approach.

To begin with, avoid using broad match unless you are sure about what you are doing because it requires a lot of active maintenance to prevent you losing money. By using broad match, you risk your ads showing up for terms that aren’t relevant. Try using modified broad match instead, so you’ll have some control over when your ad is shown.

Of course, a broad match does have its place. For example, it can help you discover new keywords that trigger your ads. But if you do use it, don’t set up AdWords accounts that are based entirely on broad match. Spread your bids across different match types and reserve your higher bids for more specific search terms.

Not using negative keywords

Negative keywords specify the search terms you don’t want your ad to be triggered by. This helps give you extra control over when your ad is shown and is particularly useful if you are using broad match, or modified broad match.

For example, if you are a premium perfume brand, you might choose to add “cheap perfume” to your negative keyword list. This means you are less likely to get irrelevant traffic to your site, which will help improve your conversion rate and in turn boost your quality score and keep costs down.

Using research-related negative keywords such as “how to”, “information” or “article” are also useful for e-commerce sites because they will prevent you wasting money on people who aren’t ready to make a purchase yet.

A case study from the ski rental company GetOutfitted showed how a small business with a tiny budget used negative keywords to help them double their quality score in 30 days. One of the key things they did was use negative keywords like “sale” and “buy” to exclude visitors who were looking to buy rather than rent skis.

You can get plenty more ideas for negative keywords for your industry online.

Failing to carry out tests

No matter how good you are at PPC advertising, you can never afford to get complacent. Markets shift, consumers’ behaviour evolves rapidly nowadays and Google is prone to the odd update! So, you can’t assume that any strategy will work indefinitely.

Developing a great PPC strategy is an iterative process, so you need to regularly monitor your account’s performance and look for ways to optimise it.

To maximise your success, there are several aspects of your ads which you can test. Running multiple ads per ad group allows you to test different messages. You can experiment with different calls to action, adding a question, or including an offer, or social proof.

Effective landing pages are crucial to boosting your quality score, so don’t simply guess what will work for you – get some evidence by carrying out split tests. They will give you real insights into how to make consumers convert. Making changes to copy, colour and layout can all improve conversion rates. For example, when the CRM software providers Highrise added the picture of a person to their product page they increased signups by 102.5%.

Not bidding on your own brand name

This approach may not be necessary for everyone but you should certainly not ignore it, even if you are organically ranking number one. If you are worried about wasting money, bear in mind it should be easy to get a good quality score because your ad will be highly relevant, which will keep costs down.

Appearing in ads, as well as organic listings, can make people more likely to click through to your site.

If you choose not to bid on your brand name, remember that your competitor may do so instead and could end up stealing traffic from your site. Don’t give your competitors the chance to nab that top ad position and appear above your organic search ranking.

Not using ad extensions

Ad extensions are a great way of making your ad stand out when competition is tough.

They allow you to add extra information such as your location to text ads. This can help show customers how relevant you are to them, so you are more likely to get clicks that will result in conversions.

Ad extensions that highlight awards, reviews, or social proof, all send out trust signals and help increase your credibility and therefore improve your click through rate (CTR).

The hotel operator Accor Hotels tested several ad extensions to improve their PPC results. They managed to grow their CTRs by 19% using review extensions and nearly doubled their CTRs by using site links and image extensions.

Getting started with PPC advertising can be daunting, particularly if you have a restricted budget but these tips will help you avoid making some basic mistakes that could harm your profits.


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