Written by Caroline Cox on Sep 12 , 2022

PPC marketing is a proven way to get fast results from digital advertising. But it requires refining, updating, and optimizing for best results.

Here, you’ll find:

  • Why Google Ads isn’t the only game in town
  • Reasons manual bidding is worth your attention
  • Expert tips on pay-per-click (PPC) optimization in 2022
  • What Core Web Vitals are and why they matter for PPC

We like to say that digital marketing is part art, part science. 

Sure, there are guidelines, processes, and steps — but without a heavy dose of creativity, your program isn’t likely to rise to the top. 

Well-versed paid search marketers know this. 

They also know that experimentation, analysis, and optimization are key components to creating a PPC strategy that isn’t just successful, but lasting too. 

Behaviors, competitors, and algorithms change fast. To stay on top of your game, you have to catch on before someone else does. Let these PPC optimization strategies guide your paid search efforts for the rest of 2022 and beyond.

1. Explore manual bidding

No matter how stellar your PPC advertising efforts are, your ads won’t achieve proper results without the right bidding strategy. The tactic you choose for your bids depends on your campaign goals.

If you want to achieve the highest number of clicks according to your set ad spend budget, you can use the traditional automatic cost-per-click (CPC) bidding system.

However, allowing Google to do the job for you comes with a couple of downsides. One is the limitation to adjust your campaign if it’s not performing properly. Manual bidding can fix this problem.

This hands-on, more customized bidding approach:

  • Increases ad visibility
  • Lowers your cost per action (CPA)
  • Allows you to prioritize keywords that convert better

That said, switching from automatic to manual bidding is an advanced strategy.

Often, it requires paying close attention to tactics such as:

  • Focusing on one campaign at a time, since the process can be time-consuming
  • Lowering bids for keywords that receive solid impressions but don’t generate sales or leads
  • Increasing bids for keywords that convert to boost the position of those ads and generate more conversions
  • Choosing the default bid, which is close to the average CPC in your automatic campaigns

Manual bidding is great when you need more control over bids. But this strategy also means more time goes into making sure you bid the right amount at the right time. 

You can streamline this by setting up automated rules to do things like pause poorly performing keywords, raise bids to top of page or first page, raise or lower bids during certain times of day, and more. 

Pro tip: When you leverage manual bidding, it’s a good idea to run the manual campaign for a couple of weeks to see if it achieves the goal of lowering CPC and generating sales. 

two people working in front of a white board

While recent data and privacy updates have posed some additional hurdles to remarketing, there are still ways to create ad groups that specifically target these prospects. (Image: Unsplash)

2. Take advantage of remarketing

Almost no one converts (aka completes a purchase) on their first website visit. Does that mean you’re wasting your money on PPC ads? 

Of course not. 

You just have to boost their success by pairing them with remarketing campaigns as part of your PPC optimization plan.

This process uses ads to re-engage potential customers who have clicked your ads or visited your site. Placing your ad in front of them serves as a tasteful reminder of the action they should take on your website.

While recent data and privacy updates have posed some additional hurdles to remarketing, there are still ways to create ad groups that specifically target these prospects.

3. Explore Microsoft Ads

Google Ads is the clear leader in the PPC marketing realm. But that doesn’t mean other avenues aren’t worth exploring. 

For some companies, using Microsoft Advertising can be just the solution they’ve been waiting for to increase their paid search ROI. 

Depending on your industry and the location you’re targeting, there’s often less competition on non-Google search engines and platforms, which means lower CPCs.

But while it’s easy to import a campaign over from Google Ads and let it run its course, you may be missing highly useful tools these platforms have to offer. 

For example, Microsoft advertising has:  

  • Action extensions – add call-to-action (CTA) buttons near your ad that link to the landing page of your choice
  • Review extensions – feature reviews from third-party sites below your ad
  • LinkedIn profile targeting – target people by company, job function, and the industry in which they work 
  • Competition insight – see how your ads compare to your competition

4. Pay attention to Amazon Ads

Amazon Advertising presents another PPC optimization opportunity for e-commerce brands. 

While the audience covered by the likes of Google, Microsoft, and Facebook Ads is huge, those who see your ad on those platforms aren’t necessarily in the decision stage of the buyer’s journey.

Amazon audiences, on the other hand, are generally closer to the bottom of the sales funnel. People who visit this shopping giant are likely ready to buy, which increases your chances of conversion tremendously.

These are the types of sponsored Amazon ads at your disposal:

  • Brand ads — display as banner ads in search results
  • Product ads — show within the search results for selected keywords as promoted relevant results
  • Brand videos — that auto-play while also showing an image, description, and link to the product
  • Lockscreen ads — for e-books

As far as targeting goes on Amazon, you can opt for automatic or manual targeting. The former includes close match, loose match, substitutes, or complements, and it relies on the ‘zon’s algorithm to determine the related keywords to target. As time goes on, it’ll compile data from clicks and purchases to (hopefully) increase your conversion rate. 

For manual targeting, you decide which keywords to bid on. Your ads should surface when a shopper searches using those keywords.

When it comes to optimizing Amazon PPC ads, you have a few options. As Seller App explains, those options include:

  • Setting up a structured ad campaign, ideally with campaigns for each primary product category
  • Being as precise and descriptive as possible in your ad copy
  • Leveraging Amazon’s Search Term Report to see which keywords to include in your title or headline
  • Using high-resolution, high-quality imagery
  • A/B testing and monitoring metrics to see what resonates with your audience so you can optimize and modify accordingly

For Amazon PPC optimization, what works for one brand may not work for another. This marketplace is vast — which means that, depending on your industry, you may have to employ some out-of-the-box strategizing to get your campaign to stand out.

Don’t be afraid to mix up your imagery (especially since Amazon lets you upload multiple images per product) and play off of relevant trends in your copy, then monitor campaign performance to see if you’ve hit the right note.

Pro tip: You don’t need to sell your products on Amazon to take advantage of this advertising option. 

5. Leverage responsive search ads

After first appearing in 2019, Responsive Search Ads (RSAs) quickly grew in popularity. That’s partly because these ads allow you to create 15 headlines and four different descriptions for your ad. 

Google then tests various combinations of these elements and selects those that perform best depending on factors like:

  • Keywords searched
  • Devices used
  • Browsing behavior

Lastly, responsive ads save time and money on A/B testing while allowing you to reach your target audience faster. 

Pro tip: Google sunsetted expanded text ads in June 2022, meaning RSAs are now Google’s preferred ad type.

creating a ppc optimizaton plan with pencils and sticky notes

Core Web Vitals show how good of user experience you should aim to offer your visitors. (Image: Unsplash)

6. Optimize your website

Even with PPC optimization, your marketing campaign results can still fall below expectations if you don’t optimize your website. 

Recently, Google has begun to factor in Core Web Vitals when determining the rank of your pages. These vitals include:

  • Loading performance – The page should load in under 2.5 seconds.
  • Visual stability – Page elements shouldn’t move when the user is reading the text (it usually happens when a piece of media loads), forcing the visitor to search for their lost place.
  • Interactivity – The time between the visitor taking action (like clicking a button or tab) and the website responding should be under 100 milliseconds.

Core Web Vitals show how good of a user experience you should aim to offer your visitors. Improving them won’t just improve search engine optimization efforts, but it’ll also help your PPC ad clickers actually convert.

Pro tip: While working on your website, make sure you’re prioritizing landing page optimization, too. When your landing page has content similar to keywords you’re using, it results in more relevant ads, which Google may reward with a higher Quality Score.

7. Revisit your keywords

When’s the last time you took a long, hard look at your keywords? 

There’s never a bad time to revisit your keyword research, consider expanding your current keyword lists, updating your negative keyword list, and getting rid of those that are underperforming.

Plus, a few keyword tweaks could bring big benefits. Even actions as minor as adding an adverb, removing a term with low search volume, or seeing which terms your competition is ranking for could bring you that much closer to more clicks and higher ROI.

Pro tip: Consult your user search term reports in Google Analytics (GA) to find new keywords to add that aren’t already in your account, then use Google Keyword Planner for additional research.

8. Check in on your conversion tracking

Conversions help marketers determine what is working in our campaigns, and what isn’t. Taking the extra time to ensure your conversion tracking is set up properly is well worth it so that you know you’re making data-informed decisions based on accurate numbers.

We highly recommend using GA and a tool like Google Tag Manager (GTM) for conversion tracking. 

Why? Let’s say you want to drive more form completions. You can configure your tags in GTM, build your goals in GA, and import those GA goals to Google Ads. 

If you have the same goal for multiple channels, e.g. paid social media and paid search or SEO and paid search, it streamlines the conversion setup. You can also configure Google Ads conversion tags directly in GTM. (This bypasses GA, which means you’re only recording Google Ads conversions). 

As a bonus, once you link your GA and Google Ads accounts — which you need to do before importing goals — you can also create remarketing audiences in GA and import those into your Google Ads.

If all this sounds like a bit too much to add to your plate, consider chatting with us – we’ve created our own unique marketing technology built to drive actionable insights, full-funnel attribution and high-quality conversions that continuously improve your bottom line. Learn more about ConversionIQ here.

The takeaway

PPC optimization is an ongoing process. 

Add that to the multiple new options and updates happening every year, and it’s nearly impossible to thrive without analyzing regularly so you can keep enhancing your strategies.

At the end of the day, the best PPC ads are clear, consistent, targeted to the right audience, and follow through on what they offer. Use the above tips to guide you as you work to maximize PPC marketing efforts through this year and beyond.

This article has been updated and was originally published in July 2020.

Caroline Cox

Caroline Cox

Caroline is HawkSEM's content marketing manager. She uses her more than 10 years of professional writing and editing experience to create SEO-friendly articles, educational thought leadership pieces, and savvy social media content to help market leaders create successful digital marketing strategies. She's a fan of seltzer water, print magazines, and huskies.

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