If you’re new to the PPC world and looking for some insider tips on optimising your campaigns you’re in the right place, or even if you’ve been in the business a while now and just want to see what’s going on, jump on in and see a handful of the things I prioritise when optimising our PPC campaigns.

1. Split out your ad groups

Inside the campaign sits the ad groups, and within the ad groups sit the keywords and the ads. If your campaign isn’t well structured to begin with you’re inviting new problems into the mix before you’ve even written an ad.

Essentially you want to know where everything is without having to dig around. But the more segmented your ad groups are the easier it is for you to tailor your ads to specific keywords and then in turn because your ads are more relevant you will see a higher CTR. For instance if I was making a campaign for Nike Trainers, I’d do it like this:

And then I’d be able to customise my ads for basketball vs casual or men vs women.

2. Match types matter

There are three match types you can select for your keywords; exact, broad & phrase. It’s important to know which ones to use & when but also it is often best practice to use more than one!

Note: when you use more than one match type make sure you put them in different campaigns.

I cover what all the match types are in this blog, but today I’m going to talk about why they matter.

Broad match can help you capture long tail search queries, potentially some that you hadn’t even thought of. Exact match keywords work well for primary keywords that have high volume & value - for example brand terms.

With brand keywords you will often want these in multiple match types. You know your brand keyword (for example: Asda), so you add ‘asda’ as an exact match keyword but a lot of people will search differently to this. If you added ‘asda’ as a broad match keyword you can get visibility on a range of searches like ‘asda george’, ‘asda direct’, ‘asda home’ etc. over time you can then convert these broad keywords into exact if they are of good quality.

Little tip: when using both broad & exact match keywords for the same term make sure you negative out the exact match keyword in the broad campaign so that the broad campaign doesn’t steal the exact match traffic which usually comes at a slightly lower CPC.

3. Search query reports

Search query reports are premade reports provided by Google that are extremely valuable & easy to run. The keywords you have active can sometimes show up for searches that you don’t want to show up for. So if we go back to my Nike example: a broad match keyword for ‘nike’ might pick up a search for ‘nike vouchers’, which isn’t likely to hold as strong of a conversion rate. This is similar for terms like ‘location’, ‘post code’, ‘phone number’ - while these searches may seem relevant for a store like Nike, if someone wants to go in, they’ll find the address free of charge unless they click on your ad.

I go into more depth on search query reports & their importance in this blog.

4. Negative keywords

Following on from the search query reports, the easiest way to stop your ads turning up on search terms that aren’t ideal is to make them a negative keyword. Adding negative keywords to your account saves you money on irrelevant searches but also gives you some peace of mind that you don’t need to worry if your ads are showing up on irrelevant terms.

However to keep the negative keywords up to date you need to keep on top of the search term reports.

5. Test new ad copy (always)

It’s always possible to improve your ads & sometimes the smallest & most seemingly insignificant change will make the world of difference to how your ads perform. This can be as simple as using the word ‘buy’ instead of the word ‘shop’ in your CTA.

Different types of ads work better for different industries too, often you’ll find that an informational ad performs best but also often an ad that tells a story can also prove to do well & that’s why you must always test. Best practice is to run 3 expanded text ads and 1 responsive search ad in rotation at a time.

I wrote a blog on how to write great ads here & on call to actions here.

6. Lost impression share

Running a successful ads campaign means that people are seeing your ads, this is measured by impressions. You can get an understanding of whether your ad is getting a good amount of impressions by looking at the impression share. This is a percentage that will tell you how many impressions you received out of the amount of impressions that could have been received.

However there is also an option to monitor the amount of impression share you lost, through either budget or your ad rank. Impression share lost through budget is what it says on the tin, it means that a competitor is outbidding you and your ads aren’t as prominent as they would be if you spent more on them. This is an easier fix although obviously costs more. This is seen mostly in more competitive landscapes. Then there’s the impression share lost to ad rank, which is slightly harder to increase & takes more time & monitoring.

Ad rank is made up from a few factors combined, also including your bid amount. It takes the quality of your ad, the CTR it receives (or is expected to receive), the landing page experience on whatever platform the user is on and if one of these factors falls short to a competitor then you can expect to see some lost impression share.

It’s important to monitor your impression share & your lost impression share & on top of that your competitors’ impression shares through auction insights to make sure you get the most out of your ads.

7. Automated bidding

Something else that can influence the amount of impressions your ads receive is the bidding strategy that you are using on the campaign.

There’s a handful of bid strategies available to select from e.g. Maximise conversions, maximise clicks, target CPA, ROAS, or Impression share - these are all automated bid strategies where Google’s algorithm sets your bid during the auction based on the success it predicts from each individual user. So for instance if you were running maximise conversions and Google didn’t predict a conversion from the user, your ad probably won’t get that impression. If you’re running target impression share at 100% then there’s a good chance that the user will get served the ad.

There's a host of automated bid strategies available to choose from, which all perform in different ways, but we've summed all that up for you in this guide.

Oppose to these bid strategies there are manual ones too where you set your own bid and have control over it. However these aren’t favoured by Google. The best way for Google’s algorithm to learn is through experience, so it is always recommended by Google to use an auto bid strategy, and this is why those campaigns are awarded with priority, however if you want more control over your bids there is still the option - either way you need to keep a close eye on the general performance of your ads. You don’t have as much of the information as the algorithm has, but on the other hand it can make mistakes but ads running an automated bid strategy usually see a better ad rank and therefore less impression share lost to rank.

Thanks for reading my optimisation tips, I hope you enjoyed the blog, keep an eye out for part 2!

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Meet the author ...

Maddie Crawford

Senior PPC Executive

Maddie works in the PPC team. This means that she spends her time looking after our clients' paid ads accounts, covering platforms like Google, Microsoft, Apple & Amazon. ...