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Written by Sam Yadegar on Jul 8 , 2020

Real estate companies with the right paid search strategies can see a higher ROI, growing client base, and more wins over the competition.

Here, you’ll find:

  • Why paid search marketing is key for real estate companies
  • How to take advantage of retargeting
  • Ways to leverage location-based ads
  • Tips for effective paid search ads

Before the pandemic hit, home sales were reportedly at their highest in more than a decade. Sadly, the virus has caused many buyers to feel less confident about purchasing a home, and sellers less likely to put their homes on the market.

But there’s good news. Overall, experts are calling this a temporary dip and predict that the housing marketing will make a “V-shaped recovery.” 

Perhaps now more than ever, real estate companies should be taking advantage of all the resources at their disposal, particularly when it comes to marketing efforts. While search engine optimization (SEO) is a big part of any marketing strategy, only a limited number of companies end up on the first page of Google. That’s where paid search marketing comes in.

Making paid search a part of your digital marketing program can be hugely beneficial to your company, especially right now. Let’s break down why. 

hawksem: real estate paid search blog

One of the most important elements of paid search marketing for real estate companies is retargeting (also called remarketing). (Image via Unsplash)

Why real estate paid search marketing makes sense

When it comes to digital marketing, many companies start with SEO. That entails things like a speedy, well-designed website, quality content marketing, and an updated Google My Business page. 

Optimizing your marketing efforts to get high spots on the search engine results page (SERP) is great. However, when you work with an extremely specific, localized product like real estate services, you need to throw something else into the mix to truly stand out from competitors.

Paid search marketing gives you the opportunity to focus on your local target audience. It also allows you to differentiate between renters and buyers, potential homeowners and current homeowners, and much more.

In short, this approach allows you to place your ad in front of potential clients, even if they submit search queries using key phrases similar to unqualified searchers.

Other benefits of paid search marketing for real estate companies include:

  • Quick lead generation results
  • The ability to do clear budget planning
  • Access to detailed analytics
  • Enhanced brand awareness

Pro tip: Google recently announced an update to their ads policy which will “prohibit impacted employment, housing, and credit advertisers from targeting or excluding ads based on gender, age, parental status, marital status, or ZIP code.” This goes along with Google’s existing policies barring personalization based on race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, national origin or disability.

1. Take advantage of retargeting

One of the most important elements of paid search marketing for real estate companies is retargeting (also called remarketing). This strategy uses targeted ads to tastefully follow those who have visited your site or interacted with your brand in the past. 

People in the market for real estate do a lot of research. They can wander from one website to another, searching for deals, browsing options, or window shopping to compare prices. These people could visit your website but easily end up working with another company.

To avoid this pitfall, Google Ads offers a remarketing option. As potential clients leave your website, your ads pop-up elsewhere across the web. These ads serve as a gentle reminder about your company and keep you top of mind.   

2. Capitalize on branded searchers

The bottom of the funnel (BOFU) searchers are your highest-potential clients. These are the people who are serious about purchasing a property. However, many real estate agencies avoid taking full advantage of branded keywords for the fear of not getting enough ROI.

Branded search terms are for those people who have heard something about a real estate agency in your area and tend to add a brand name to the general key phrases.  

If you aren’t using branded keywords, your competitors could be taking advantage of them and luring away your hot leads. If you’re just starting out and haven’t raised much brand awareness yet, you could pivot and use this strategy to redirect the competition’s audience to your doorstep.

To make sure that all your qualified prospects stay yours, you should be taking full advantage of the branded keywords. Don’t leave them out for the competition to grab.

3. Explore geo-targeting

A real estate business is generally local, though of course there are national brands with local branches. Either way, when it comes to real estate purchases, location is everything. 

After all, people searching for real estate options almost always know exactly where they want to buy, sell, or rent a property. That’s why geo-targeting is one of biggest benefits when it comes to paid search for real estate companies.

Google Ads lets you adjust your ads to appear to clients in certain locations or a set of locations. Not only does this feature allow you to narrow down the search options, it can also help cut your PPC costs.

Pro tip: Google Ads geo-targeting also allows you to set up negative locations. This feature can be especially key for real estate marketing. It allows you to exclude locations you don’t need from your PPC campaign, like a same-named city in a different state.

hawksem blog: real estate paid search

Besides being more targeted and actionable, landing pages should provide a seamless user experience and gently guide the visitor down the marketing funnel. (Image via Unsplash)

4. Create optimized, dedicated landing pages

The success of your paid search marketing campaign heavily depends on the value you offer on the landing pages. As users click the ad, they should arrive at a high-quality page that answers their questions, feels tailored to them, and has a clear call to action (CTA) to lead them to that next step.

Pointing the traffic to a generic web page (like your homepage) increases the bounce rate and raises the cost per click. Besides being more targeted and actionable, landing pages should provide a seamless user experience and gently guide the visitor down the marketing funnel.

The best PPC landing pages for real estate businesses should contain:

  • Eye-catching, well-written copy
  • Strong contextual media
  • A single, strong CTA
  • Clear features and benefits of the offer from your ad
  • Testimonials or other proof points to support your claims

Pro tip: Google Ads rewards campaigns with high-quality landing pages by boosting the quality score and lowering the cost per click (CPC).

5. Run consistent A/B tests

A single element in your paid search ad — whether it’s the image, headline, or anything in between — can affect its success. That’s why A/B testing is crucial to figuring out how to best optimize your ads. 

You may consider adjusting headlines, images, text, layout, and other factors to see how it affects the ad’s performance. Then you can channel your budget toward the higher-performing ads.

Avoid split testing completely different ads — the tweaks should be minor. Otherwise, you won’t be able to figure out what exactly makes one ad better than the other.

6. Study the competition

As long as you don’t plan to copy your competitors exactly (which may work in the short term but isn’t a good look for your business), it’s wise to keep an eye on the tactics and tools they’re using in their paid search.

Check out what works for your competition, and see how you can potentially leverage their strategies for your own gain. 

Type your target key phrase into Google search and see which ads come up. From there, you can use tools like SpyFu, SERPstat, and Keyword Gap to see which keywords your competitors are aiming for. You can also check out their landing pages and see how they stack up against your own. 

The takeaway

There’s no reason for real estate companies to not take full advantage of paid search marketing. It generates fast results, allows for clear budget planning, offers a variety of ways to target a specific audience, and more.

For the real estate business, paid search ads aren’t just a nice addition. They can become the driving force behind your digital marketing program and bring you serious ROI. 

Want to learn more about paid search marketing tactics for real estate agencies? Let’s talk.  

 

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar is the co-founder and CEO of HawkSEM. Starting out as a software engineer, his penchant for solving problems quickly led him to the digital marketing world, where he has been helping clients for over 12 years. He loves doing everything he can to help brands "crush it" through ROI-driven digital marketing programs. He's also a fan of basketball and spending time with his family.

Questions or comments? Join the conversation here!

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Written by Caroline Cox on Jun 5 , 2020

From creating your account to optimizing and testing, these expert tips will ensure your e-commerce PPC ads are set up to stand out. 

Here, you’ll find:

  • How to create a proper PPC ad foundation
  • Tips for keeping campaigns organized
  • Ways to optimize your e-commerce PPC ads
  • What to test when it comes to your campaigns

People are buying almost everything online these days. Whether you’ve been doing e-commerce for years or have recently switched to a digital platform amid the pandemic, it’s always good to know what elements make up a successful search engine marketing (SEM) ad.

Let’s break down the must-haves when it comes to creating paid search ads for your e-commerce brand.

hawksem article: e-commerce ppc

How you get your products into Google Merchant Center to create the feed mostly depends on how many products you have. (Image via Rawpixel)

1. Set a good foundation 

It should come as no surprise that proper setup is key to creating successful e-commerce PPC ads. But that doesn’t mean that plenty of companies, whether they realize it or not, don’t have their accounts set up properly — which can lead to improper tracking and unnecessary steps. So, how do you ensure you’re starting off on the right foot?

To begin, you need to create a free Google Merchant Center (GMC) account. It’s best to use the same email you also use for programs like Google Ads and Google Analytics. That way, your accounts will all be linked together. From there, you can link your Google Ads account to GMC. It’s also a good idea to install “Ecommerce tracking” in your Google Analytics account for even more insight into performance metrics.

2. Stay on top of your product feed

How you get your products into GMC to create the feed mostly depends on how many products you have. If you have a large amount, you can integrate your e-commerce platform with the merchant center. If you have fewer products, you can integrate manually via a Google spreadsheet or even add products one by one. 

Making sure your product feed is updated is just as crucial as proper setup. After all, the last thing you want is to have someone click on your ad and see that the item is out of stock or priced higher than advertised.

Once you input products, they’ll remain active for 30 days. After that, those products will expire if you don’t update their info. You can update your products either by reprocessing your feed or setting up automatic processing on a daily or weekly basis, depending on how often your product inventory changes.

3. Get granular

Why is getting granular so important? Because the more specific a product search is, the higher the purchase intent, most likely. Therefore, the more you segment out your products, the more targeted your PPC ads will be. 

If you have a small number of products, each product can be in its own product group. Otherwise, you can split your campaign into ad groups, and then split those into product groups from there. 

You can also divide in other ways, like by devices. Simply put a -100% bid adjustment to separate desktop and mobile. For your desktop campaign, you’d put in a -100% bid adjustment on mobile to show only on desktop, and vice versa. You can also separate out traffic based on how specific the search is. You can do this by setting up campaign priorities and then using negative keywords to separate those searches.

hawksem: e-commerce PPC blog

Including prices in your ads can be a highly effective way to get more clicks than your competition. (Image via Rawpixel)

4. Remember to optimize

Without optimizing, your PPC campaign can only go so far. Optimizing will help you better manage your budget by putting more spend where you’re seeing more success. Many e-commerce companies optimize their bids by starting low, then adjusting accordingly. The more data you gather, the more informed your decisions will be.

Other ways to optimize include:

  • Experiment with different ad types (like product listing ads vs. text ads)
  • Leverage ad extensions to give ads more context
  • Add pricing to ads for a competitive edge
  • Test different campaign structures and categories

5. Consider including prices in ads

Speaking of pricing, including prices in your ads can be a highly effective way to get more clicks than your competition. Not only is this another way to qualify your traffic to ensure you get the right clicks, but it doesn’t take up a ton of valuable ad real estate.

As HubSpot explains, “This saves your ad spend for those qualified leads who saw your prices, know what to expect, might not be scared away by price, and are much more likely to convert into a sale.” 

Even if they don’t end up buying your product or service, you’ll have a higher chance of snagging them through remarketing, since they already know what your pricing looks like.

6. Test your ads — consistently

If you’ve read our past articles, we might sound like a broken record when we talk about the benefits of testing. But it can’t be denied that, if you want high-performing e-commerce PPC ads, testing repeatedly is an important step.

With e-commerce ads, you can A/B test elements like your imagery, verbiage, call to action (CTA), and more. After all, what works on your paid social media campaign might be a flop when it comes to SEM. See how a flat-lay image of an item on a white background performs against an image of a real-life scenario. 

Pro tip: The best testing comes with an open mind. You may think you know what your target audience wants, but the results could end up surprising you.

7. Leverage remarketing

Ah, yes, remarketing — otherwise known as “those ads that follow you around the internet,” as your friends or family may describe them. But the fact remains that remarketing works, particularly for cart abandoners.

While remarketing (also called retargeting) can be effective in various industries, it’s particularly useful for e-commerce. It can help you land more recurring sales, increase your campaign’s clickthrough rate (CTR), boost your ROI, and more. 

As we’ve mentioned before, setting up e-commerce remarketing often requires adding certain code to your site and making sure your GMC account is set up and running properly.

hawksem: e-commerce ppc ads

Amazon operates like a search engine in many ways, with ad types and structures similar to traditional paid search campaigns. (Image via Rawpixel)

8. Think outside of Google

It makes sense that, when you think of e-commerce PPC, you automatically think of Google. And while it’s holding strong in its place as the top global search engine, it’s not the only one worth looking into.

Microsoft’s search engine Bing has a user base that searches nearly 6 billion times a month total. Its own ad platform, Microsoft Ads, encompasses advertising on Bing as well as Yahoo and AOL.

Depending on your e-commerce product, you could see less competition on Bing that you’d see on Google, and a potentially cheaper cost per click (CPC). Not only that, but Microsoft Ads has a simple process for exporting existing Google Ads campaigns into its own platform, making it easy for you to leverage both. 

Pro tip: Think Amazon Advertising isn’t related to PPC? Think again. Amazon operates like a search engine in many ways, with ad types and structures similar to traditional paid search campaigns. 

The takeaway

Whether your e-commerce business has tons of competition or not, you’ve still got to work to make your PPC ads stand out.

Use the tips above when creating, optimizing, and testing your paid search campaigns to keep your digital marketing strategy going strong. 

Looking for more help with your e-commerce ads? You’ve come to the right place.

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.

Questions or comments? Join the conversation here!

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Written by Sam Yadegar on Jun 3 , 2020

Companies all over the world have to adjust to the new reality — which could mean rethinking current search engine marketing (SEM) strategies.

Here, you’ll find:

  • How SEM has changed in 2020
  • Ideas for adjusting your campaign
  • New industry trends and developments
  • Common campaign mistakes to avoid

The good news: with so much uncertainty about the future right now, search engine marketing is still worth leveraging. By making just a few tweaks, you can set up your SEM campaigns to succeed, no matter if the business climate is rocky or smooth sailing.

Changes to consider

Before adjusting your SEM strategy, you need to pinpoint what has changed about your target audience’s psychology and behavior, if anything.

  • Lower purchasing power – many consumers are experiencing a decrease in income and a shift in priorities, so purchasing power is dropping
  • Higher learning potential – with more time available, people are doing more research online, looking for educational materials, taking courses, and watching webinars
  • Demand for better digital interaction – consumers are spending more time at home and demand more convenience from remote service providers
  • Change of focus – consumers are shifting their focus to products of prime necessity
  • Remote operation – the majority of companies are moving their business online, increasing digital sales, and providing remote support
  • Lower costs – due to the decrease in demand, the cost per click (CPC) for paid search ads has dropped
hawksem: sem campaigns 2020 article

Be it your next blog article or an Instagram ad, you need to remove the filler. (Image via Unsplash)

What hasn’t changed is the need to promote your products and services. Experts say it’s OK to market your business during these times, as long as you lead with empathy, transparency, and with your customers’ current needs in mind. 

Since search engine marketing is an ongoing process, stopping it today may mean starting from scratch tomorrow. Adapting your promotional tactics to the new pain points and needs of the target audience is the key to your company’s success for the rest of 2020 and beyond.

1. Focus on content clarity

Be it your next blog article or an Instagram ad, you need to remove the filler. In 2020, consumers are spending more time online, which often means being bombarded by a ton of information. Because of this, they’re becoming more and more experienced in telling valuable information apart from thinly-veiled sales content.  

Google is also adjusting its algorithms to the new reality (as of its May 2020 core update) trying to focus on clarity. Here are some ways you can keep in the search engine’s good graces:

  • Focus on the readability of your content
  • Keep anything related to traveling or large gatherings out of your content
  • Don’t make any promises or wild predictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Focus on what you offer and how you follow through for your customers
  • Adjust your CTAs according to the latest developments (i.e. “visit our store” and “let’s meet” are rarely relevant these days)

2. Reevaluate your SEM campaign budget

Since the demand for products has shifted more towards essential goods in 2020, it may be a good idea to reevaluate your PPC campaign budget. With the average CPC dropping by 50% across the board, it’s an excellent time to redirect the budget to top performing SEM campaigns.

A good plan of action: Single out the highest performing ads and keywords, then channel more of your PPC budget to support them. To pace your campaign spend better, you may consider such settings as lifetime spend or monthly spend limits instead of daily budgets.

3. Beef up your educational content

As far as content types go, you can’t get much better than articles and other materials that aim to educate your audience. People love this kind of content because it provides a service and (ideally) helps them solve a problem or glean new information without having to make a purchase. 

With millions of people pivoting how they do their jobs (if they were lucky enough to keep them), the need for educational content is on the rise. In fact, consumers are 131% more likely to buy a product after reading educational content, according to a recent study.

The time and money you invest in the educational content right now can bring impressive results in the future.

4. Capitalize on your knowledge base

Is your knowledge base sitting idle, aimed solely at customer support? The year 2020 is an excellent time to take full advantage of it for SEO

Here are some ideas for how to capitalize on this resource:

  • Turn your FAQ documentation into separate educational blogs
  • Link to your knowledge base to improve your internal linking efforts (link to it in “ticket received/closed” responses as well)
  • Study your customers’ behavioral patterns by checking which information they access most frequently, then create content based on those findings
  • Use the knowledge base to establish yourself as an authority in your industry

Put your knowledge base content in a nice wrapper (like a readable structure with entertainment elements and personalized touches). Then, use it on your website, social media, and for guest posting.

hawksem: sem campaign article 2020

Right now, many people are rethinking their values, habits, and where they invest their time. (Image via Rawpixel)

5. Improve security

A crisis can create fertile ground for all kinds of fraudulent activity. Criminals across the globe create malware, use names of famous brands to offer fake discounts while phishing for sensitive information, and more. 

To date, almost 200,000 coronavirus-related cyber-attacks occur every week. Protect your information (and that of your customer’s) with tactics like:

  • Monitoring your log files for crawl errors to reveal if spambots are trying to access your website
  • Implementing Single Sign-On (SSO) technology for user authentication
  • Checking to see if the website is secured with SSL
  • Reviewing all your SEO add-ons and plugins for security, stability, and updates

6. Inspire your customers

Right now, many people are rethinking their values, habits, and where they invest their time. This is an excellent opportunity to inspire them to try something new. Create inspirational content for your website and PPC ad campaigns as a creative way to highlight products you may have had a hard time promoting in the past.

For example, you can take full advantage of an Instagram paid ads campaign to show how you can improve your customers’ lives during these trying times. Such an approach can turn into an efficient SEM campaign after the pandemic subsides as well.

7. Discover more paid social platforms

It’s likely that your target audience is spending more time online. Meanwhile, advertising costs are dropping. It’s the perfect environment for exploring new paid social platforms

These ad types are often on the more affordable side when it comes to digital ads. Social media ads also seamlessly fit into feeds in a way that lets you meet your prospects where they already are. 

If you’ve been advertising on Facebook and LinkedIn, it’s time to look at Instagram and Pinterest and vice versa. You can direct your attention to YouTube in-video ad placement as well.

The takeaway

The companies that survive through hardships aren’t the ones who say “we’re not going to change how we do things.” Rather, they work to think outside of the box, adapt to changing dynamics, and pivot their strategies in creative ways. 

This is the motto for a high-quality 2020 SEM campaign. By rethinking your audience’s needs and adjusting to the new demands, you can set your brand up to survive any crisis — and gain valuable experience to capitalize on in 2021 and beyond.

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar is the co-founder and CEO of HawkSEM. Starting out as a software engineer, his penchant for solving problems quickly led him to the digital marketing world, where he has been helping clients for over 12 years. He loves doing everything he can to help brands "crush it" through ROI-driven digital marketing programs. He's also a fan of basketball and spending time with his family.

Questions or comments? Join the conversation here!

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Written by Sam Yadegar on May 26 , 2020

Tried-and-tested PPC strategies to attract more (qualified) leads into your pipeline

Here you’ll learn:

  • Why quality is more important than quantity for PPC lead generation
  • How to generate high-quality leads
  • Ways to adjust your campaign for lead generation
  • Tips for cutting PPC marketing costs

When it comes to PPC lead generation, the more you invest in your paid search campaigns, the more leads you’re likely to see. The tricky part is that, in PPC lead generation, quantity isn’t equal to quality.

The good news? With the right approach, you can achieve your lead generation goals, attract the right kinds of leads, and enjoy a healthy campaign ROI. Read on to find out how.

hawksem: ppc lead generation

Look closely at how your target audience is searching for what you have to offer. (Image via Rawpixel)

PPC leads: quality vs. quantity

“Over the past month, we’ve generated 15,000 leads.” Sounds good, doesn’t it? But if only 100 of them convert, then you’ve got thousands of leads with very low ROI to show for it. 

Leads with a high conversion potential are harder to obtain. To get them, you’ve got to avoid those who:

  • Window-shop without an intent to buy
  • Click to get a free gift in exchange for contact information (and share fake details)
  • Are bored and click for fun
  • Think they’ll be getting something else due to poor ad copy

Meanwhile, even a low-quality lead can gain potential with a well-structured PPC campaign. Let’s look into the most important tips to help you tweak your approach.

1. Create customized landing pages

Your PPC ads are only as effective as the pages they lead to. Each ad should take the potential client to a landing page that provides exactly what your ad promised.

For example, a “Get a free e-book” call to action (CTA) should lead directly to a page where the user can download the content (with or without filling out a short form). If they have to make additional clicks, these people are likely to leave the website, upping your bounce rate.

Google may even punish you for leading clients to a different page from what you promised in the ad. Search engines consider this practice deceptive and may lower your Quality Score, increasing the ad price.

2. Practice target audience segmentation

If you set up your PPC campaigns to target each product or service separately, you may not be getting as many high-quality leads as possible. Look closely at how your target audience is searching for what you have to offer.

From there, you can divide your offering into as many groups as possible. Instead of segmenting by products, you have the option of segmenting by:

  • Industry
  • Sub-categories
  • Features
  • Benefits
  • Geographic locations

For example, you provide managed IT services in LA:

  • Industry: Managed IT services
  • Sub-category: Managed security, managed cloud infrastructure, managed SaaS, managed communication services
  • Features: antivirus software maintenance, hardware management, disaster recovery plan, software inventory management, quick response IT assistance
  • Benefit: high-quality IT services, quick response managed IT, low-cost managed IT services
  • Geographical location: Managed IT services in LA, remote managed IT services in LA

When you segment the audience according to the above plan, you may have an easier time setting up the campaign, using the right keywords, writing ad copy, and creating specific landing pages.

3. Fine-tune your ad copy

The quality of your PPC campaign hinges on the effectiveness of your ad copy. Along with writing catchy, clear sentences and an actionable CTA, it’s crucial to keep the user’s intent top of mind.

Which stage of the buyer’s journey is your targeted audience in? For example, if they’re at the awareness stage, leading them to product-oriented pages might not do much good. You have to create ad copy aimed at getting their attention through an offer they’ll find valuable.

When writing the text itself, these are some elements to keep in mind:

  • Always address the potential client directly (use “you” and “your”)
  • Leverage emotional triggers
  • Use exact numbers (feature statistics, show product’s price, advertise a sale)
  • Make use of the entire space offered by Google Ads — don’t leave any blank spaces
  • Show what makes your offer unique

And, of course, A/B test your ad design to see which one resonates most.

hawksem: ppc lead gen

There are five main keyword types you can explore for your PPC campaign. (Image via Rawpixel)

4. Focus on your “money” keywords

Keywords are the pillars of your PPC campaign. So, after segmenting your audience, you can dive into the keyword search.

Tools like SpyFu and UberSuggest exist to help you gather a list of relevant keywords while keeping the competition’s efforts in mind. You can arrange your keywords using SEMrush’s PPC Keyword Tool.

The keyword types to explore for your PPC campaign include:

  • Brand keywords — include brand names 
  • High-intent keywords — specific keywords for buyers at the bottom of the funnel
  • Low-intent keywords — to help expand your reach and increase brand awareness
  • Long-tail keywords — low-cost and low-competition keywords 
  • Competitive keywords — high-volume keywords used by many companies in your industry

Make sure to create a list of negative keywords too. You can filter them out by using the Search Term Report and determining which keywords are generating irrelevant clicks. By putting them on the negative keyword list, you can improve the quality of your leads while cutting campaign costs. (Win-win!)

5. Track your campaign

Your PPC campaign needs regular tweaking to ensure it’s as optimized as possible. Track your efforts to keep a pulse on what needs changing. You can get an idea of what works and what doesn’t by following the key PPC marketing KPIs:

  • Impressions — how many times your ads appeared in search results
  • Clicks — how many times users clicked your ad
  • Click-through rate (CTR) — the percentage of users who clicked the ad (Clicks divided by Impressions)
  • Average position — a position in which your ads appeared on the search engine results page
  • Conversions — how many leads who clicked the ad followed the CTA within a certain window of time
  • Quality Score — an indicator of your ad, keyword, and landing page relevance to the user
  • Cost per conversion — how much you spend to obtain a new client
  • Bounce rate — people who clicked but left without following the CTA

By linking your Google Ads account to Google Analytics, you can obtain valuable insight into your lead generation efforts.

The takeaway

Your PPC campaign should be geared toward generating high-quality leads. With the right approach to ad design, keyword search, analytics, and segmentation, you can achieve the desired conversions and enjoy an impressive ROI.

PPC lead generation may seem straightforward until you dig deeper into its nuances. Need help figuring them out? That’s what we’re here for.

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar is the co-founder and CEO of HawkSEM. Starting out as a software engineer, his penchant for solving problems quickly led him to the digital marketing world, where he has been helping clients for over 12 years. He loves doing everything he can to help brands "crush it" through ROI-driven digital marketing programs. He's also a fan of basketball and spending time with his family.

Questions or comments? Join the conversation here!

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Written by Sam Yadegar on May 21 , 2020

It’s vital to spend your hard-earned digital marketing budget on channels that bring you the best ROI. That’s why knowing the latest Google Ads updates is key.

Here, you’ll find:

  • Reasons to invest in Google Ads
  • How the paid search platform works
  • The latest Google Ads updates
  • Expert tips for leveraging the platform successfully

The best place to launch your digital marketing efforts is where your campaign attracts a massive audience — no surprise there. And, according to a 2019 report, Google led the list of the most popular search engines, commanding more than 62% of the American market share. 

Paid advertisements often come hyperlinked at the top of search engine result pages (SERPs). Sure, you can work to rank organically for a given search term through SEO strategies — and you should. But not only can Google Ads help you get higher up in search results more quickly in the form of PPC ads, but it helps you stay competitive against others in your industry. 

hawksem: google ads updates 2020

In March 2020, Google introduced more optimization score features to give marketers a better experience. (Image via Unsplash)

The benefits of Google Ads

You probably know how Google Ads works: It shows your online advertisement to prospective customers who may be interested in your business. You place bids on keywords and search terms and secure the top slots of SERPs if you win.

Being a pay-per-click (PPC) marketing strategy, you choose the maximum bid amount you wish to pay for each click on your ad. Your placement improves with your bid amount.

Since its inception in 2000 as Google Adwords, Google Ads has undergone many iterations and changes. Here are a few of the latest Google Ads updates that marketers should know about in 2020.

1.  Improved features in the mobile app

The Google Ads mobile app allows users to review their marketing campaigns in real-time, evaluate recommendations, and take prompt action to optimize performance. In March 2020, Google introduced more optimization score features to give marketers a better experience.

Optimization score allows you to prioritize recommendations so you can identify the most impactful ones and put them into motion. You can view your Google Ads account and optimization scores at a glance on the overview page. To give priority to the actions that best drive performance, campaigns with high-impact recommendations come first on the screen.

HawkSEM: Google Ads 2020

You can view your Google Ads optimization score from your mobile device. (via Google)

You can also create and edit ads right on your smartphone. Choose to receive notifications about changes in optimization scores by opting in on the Settings page. The app notifies you in real-time whenever your scores fall. Once you open the message, the system leads you to the recommendations page where you get guidance on how to raise your optimization score and improve performance.

You may have seen dark-mode options cropping up in your phone updates and your social media profiles. The new Google Ads app also has this option, which you can turn on in the settings page for more visual comfort. It’s an excellent addition when you’re working in a dark or low-light environment.

2.  Website link in call ads

Call volume management can be challenging for businesses with limited personnel. Another feature that Google has added to call ads (formerly call-only-ads) is an optional link to your website.

google call ads

How call ads look on the SERP. (via Google)

The verification URL you add to your call ads only verifies your business details and phone number. Clicking the headline on your call ads initiates calls to your business. If you want ads that allow prospects to call and open your site, you can provide a Final URL. This URL is a secondary web address on your call ad that takes your audience to the webpage you choose.

Call ads increase your online visibility by making it easier for users to open your website. If a customer doesn’t want to call your business but wants to learn more about it online, all they need to do is click the ‘Visit website’ link in your call ad.

hawksem blog: google ads updates 2020

Google Trends is a fascinating feature that allows you to view the topics people are searching online, as well trending topics, trends over time, and more. (Image via Rawpixel)

3.  The smart-bidding process

Google’s smart bidding aims to make marketing more manageable. The advertiser provides Google Ads with a budget, and Google algorithms get the best conversion value out of it. The intention is to maximize the total ROI of the campaigns.

Google algorithms find the opportunities that you might never spot, even if it’s promoting a low-priced product on your list. This approach is excellent for well-funded PPC campaigns that are already converting at a high rate.

Pro tip: Automation is great, but keep in mind that a “set it and forget it” mindset can only take you so far. The most effective paid search campaigns involve consistent analyzing, testing, and optimizing that can only come from experienced digital marketing pros.

4.  Google Trends for a dynamic environment

The digital marketing landscape changes rapidly and often, which can affect your business. Google Trends is a fascinating feature that allows you to view the topics people are searching online, as well trending topics, trends over time, and more.

For example, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to an influx of millions of office workers now working from home. For some, this has made it harder to keep up with the needs of consumers.

hawksem: google trends 2020

A look at the Google Trends results for “at home yoga” in the past 90 days. (via Google Trends)

Google Trends can provide insights into what is popular with your audience so you can modify your marketing efforts to match their expectations. If they’re searching for a business that offers home delivery, for instance, you can consider adding this service or something similar, like a pickup option.

5.  Seamless interactions on YouTube

Currently, YouTube has more than two billion users, making it a priceless video platform for marketing. Google (which owns YouTube) has launched a feature that allows viewers to interact with businesses without having to exit the platform.

Here’s how it works: A potential customer views your ad and clicks on the call to action (CTA). Then, a drop-down menu with actionable items appears. It could be telling the audience more about your business, like the physical location, contact information, and so on.

hawksem article: google on mobile

Google processes about 40,000 searches per second, making it a prime marketing ground for paid ads. (Image via Rawpixel)

6.  Lead form extensions

When it comes to marketing priorities, lead generation is usually at the top of the list. As part of your Google Ads campaign, you can include a new or existing lead form to generate more leads for your business. 

Lead forms have three primary benefits — they:

  • generate leads and boost sales
  • attract and engage visitors to help you create new remarketing lists
  • direct prospects into the marketing funnel via the form, leading to more conversions

When a Google user clicks the CTA of a Google ad, a lead form that carries their Google account details pops out. They can then submit the form, bridging the gap between your business and potential customers.

The takeaway

Google processes about 40,000 searches per second, making it a prime marketing ground for paid ads. The beauty (and sometimes frustration) of Google Ads is that it keeps on evolving, giving you new and innovative ways to capture the attention of searchers. 

Considering the authority of the search engine, staying on top of the latest Google Ads updates can only mean good things for your PPC program.

Need more help with your Google Ads campaigns? That’s what we’re here for.

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar is the co-founder and CEO of HawkSEM. Starting out as a software engineer, his penchant for solving problems quickly led him to the digital marketing world, where he has been helping clients for over 12 years. He loves doing everything he can to help brands "crush it" through ROI-driven digital marketing programs. He's also a fan of basketball and spending time with his family.

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Written by Sam Yadegar on May 15 , 2020

The way people search is changing. And, to be fair, it’s been evolving since search engines became a thing. (Ask Jeeves, anyone?) 

Here, you’ll find:

  • How online searches are evolving
  • Why natural voice and language trends are growing
  • How marketing teams can optimize for voice search
  • Data-backed predictions about the future of online searching

Over the last few years, virtual assistants like Siri, Alexa, and Cortana have grown in popularity. This meant fewer searches were being typed into search engines and more being conducted by asking virtual assistants questions. 

As a result, the phrasing and structure of searches morphed into a more natural, conversational form, and search engines had to keep up to stay relevant. Technology designed to recognize and understand human speech patterns is developing at a rapid pace. The most optimized marketing teams are pivoting accordingly.

Read on to learn more about how voice search is changing the world of digital marketing — and what you can do to keep your brand ahead of the curve. 

hawksem: voice search blog

65% of people ages 25-49 speak to a voice-enabled device at least once a day. (Image via Unsplash)

Voice search and natural language processing

Smartphones and smart speakers (like Google Home and Amazon Echo) have become thoroughly integrated into our lives. They’ve made it simple to find information quickly and in a way that can be done while we complete other tasks (like cooking or laundry) without having to pick up our phones. 

In fact, 65% of people ages 25-49 speak to a voice-enabled device at least once a day. People love voice search because it’s convenient, easy to use, and delivers the results you need immediately. It’s one way that technology is transforming our lives, and people have generally embraced it. But what happens when we ask Alexa for a cake recipe or Siri to help us install a faucet? How do they take our queries and turn them into the results we need?

Google is working to accommodate natural language trends

In 2019, Google released an updated algorithm called BERT, which strives to better understand the subtle nuances of human speech and the context of words in searches. This can help the search engine better match voice queries with more helpful results.

It’s the job of Google and other search engines to deliver the most helpful results on the first try, so search engines need to not only recognize the individual words in our searches, but also the context surrounding them. This is especially true in terms of voice search, where people often speak to their virtual assistant as if they’re speaking to another human. 

This is where natural language processing, or NLP, comes in. NLP strives to help machines understand human language beyond the simple definitions of words, like how words can change meaning when strung together.

How to optimize your marketing strategy for voice search

SEO is most likely a big part of your digital marketing strategy, so making sure your website is optimized when it comes to voice search will give you an edge. To stay relevant, it’s a good move to focus on your content. It’s likely that you already have a rich resource of informational content on your website, but many marketers are still focusing heavily on keywords. 

Of course, this isn’t to suggest you should ignore keywords. They still serve a purpose and can help search engines determine the meaning of your content. Rather, it’s wise to concentrate on delivering authentic, conversational, easy-to-read content.

Long-tail keywords are crucial here, as is user intent. Think carefully about what words a user might say to their assistant to find your business via a search engine — they might be different from what they might type into a search engine. 

Check out The SEO Content Strategy You Need: A Step-by-Step Guide

Understand how searches will continue to evolve

When users type their queries, they’re more likely to use shorter phrases because it’s faster. On the other hand, when voice searching, keywords and phrases get longer. This is why traditional SEO strategies that focus solely on individual keywords don’t work as well. Instead, use conversational phrases in your content and make sure that the content that you’re offering searchers is hyper-relevant to what they’re looking for. 

One of the biggest challenges that marketers face with voice search is how their results are delivered. If a user isn’t looking at a screen, a virtual assistant will only read a snippet of the top result. When searching on a screen, the top result is important — it’s what the search engine deems most relevant to the user. 

hawksem: voice search blog

It’s predicted that, by the end of 2020, around half of all online searches will be conducted by voice. (Image via Unsplash)

With a search engine results page (SERP), however, the user can choose from a host of other results displayed below the top-ranking results. In voice search, appearing in that top position is imperative. It’s the only information that the user will receive. Vying for that top spot means that competition will get tighter and optimization practices will likely evolve. 

For now, creating knowledgeable web content, social content, and blog posts are key. One good way to structure the content you create is by starting with a question that your users may have, then creating a post to answer it. This is also an effective strategy for integrating long-tail keywords and users’ potential questions into your content. The more relevant context you offer, the more likely a search engine will pair your website with a user’s query. 

The future of voice search 

NLP technology has uses that reach far beyond recognizing the context in voice search. Right now, NLP is booming and is likely to continue growing exponentially. In turn, voice searches will get smarter (Google Assistant gets 93% of questions right already), more efficient, and more useful to searchers. 

Despite this innovation being adopted so widely and so quickly, it’s still early in the life of voice search. After all, Siri was “born” in 2011, so much of this technology is pretty new, in the scheme of marketing. Trends can be watched, but it’s difficult to know exactly how the future will play out. 

It’s predicted that, by the end of 2020, around half of all online searches will be conducted by voice. There’s a big push for search engine technology to keep up with this demand. 

The takeaway

BERT was Google’s biggest update in years, so as a marketer, it’s important to pay attention. We can expect Google and other search engines to continue to implement new NLP technology, and as a result, machines will get better at understanding human language. 

If you want to stay at the forefront of the voice search revolution, work to create helpful, engaging content and keep track of any updates that Google makes to their algorithms.

 

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar is the co-founder and CEO of HawkSEM. Starting out as a software engineer, his penchant for solving problems quickly led him to the digital marketing world, where he has been helping clients for over 12 years. He loves doing everything he can to help brands "crush it" through ROI-driven digital marketing programs. He's also a fan of basketball and spending time with his family.

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Written by Sam Yadegar on May 11 , 2020

Don’t fall for these roadblocks on the path to PPC success.

Here, you’ll find:

  • The common PPC mistakes even seasoned marketers fall for
  • How to avoid these pitfalls in your own campaigns
  • What elements make up a successful PPC program
  • Why optimization, consistency, and proper targeting are key

Marketers have been trying to figure out the secret to effective pay-per-click (PPC) advertising since its inception. PPC ads are an essential part of any social media marketing strategy, but (as seasoned digital marketers know) creating great ads that get people to click can be tricky. 

It’s important to know some background of how PPC ads work and how you can use them effectively. Below, we’ve highlighted some of the top mistakes marketers make when creating their PPC ads — and what you can do to avoid them.

HawkSEM: PPC mistakes

Once you know your audience, you can choose better keywords and create stellar ad copy that gets your target audience to click. (Image via Unsplash)

1. Not having a concise goal and strategy

When you’re first starting out, don’t head into your PPC journey without a clear end goal in mind. This can leave you wandering in the dark, unsure about whether or not you’re making progress. Instead, start your campaign with a clear, specific goal in mind, and a timeframe in which to reach it. 

From there, create a map of how you plan to get to your goal. Define your audience as specifically as you can. After all, if you don’t know who your ads are for, how can you create effective ads in the first place? 

Once you know your audience, you can choose better keywords and create stellar ad copy that gets your target audience to click. 

2. Not geo-targeting

Even if you’re selling your product or service all over the country, geo-targeting can help your ads appeal to people on a more personal level. 

People are attracted to brands and ads that feel personalized and like they’re speaking to them. This goes for both local and national companies. Google will allow you to geo-target advertisements by state, so you can include the user’s home state in the header of your ad to grab their attention. 

Take it from the search engine itself: “Location targeting helps you focus your advertising on the areas where you’ll find the right customers, and restrict it in areas where you won’t,” explains Google. “This specific type of targeting could help increase your return on investment (ROI) as a result.”

3. Not using the right kinds of keywords

You already know how essential your keywords are in a campaign, but there are a few other things you need to be aware of to better make use of keywords. Keep in mind that the keywords that you’re using in your ad may not match exactly with a user’s search terms. 

Most searches are “longtail,” which means they are longer queries that may contain variations of your keywords. Focus more on these broader, long-tail keywords instead of on more specific keywords.

One of the PPC mistakes many companies fall for is failing to use negative keywords as a part of their strategy. Negative keywords are terms that you can use to tell Google which search terms you don’t want to show up in the results for. 

For example, if you were selling luxury bed sheets, and you’re using the keyword “bedsheets” in your campaign. You wouldn’t want to appear in a search query like “what to do with old bed sheets?” Using negative keywords can help improve the relevancy of your ads and make sure the right people are seeing them.

4. Not optimizing your landing pages

Where do people get sent when they click on your ad? If they’re not taken to a specific and optimized landing page, they may be unsure of what to do next. 

A landing page should have specific language about the next step a visitor to your site should take — aka the call to action (CTA). The CTA could ask them to sign up for your email list, schedule a consultation, fill out a form, or give you a call.

Make sure your landing page is written in clear, easy-to-understand language that matches the language in your ad, and that you have an explicit next step. Elements that make up a killer landing page include:

  • An eye-catching headline
  • An easy form
  • A mobile-friendly experience
  • A thoughtful design
HawkSEM: Common PPC mistakes

If people get different messages from your ads and landing pages, they may end up confused about who you are and what you offer. (Image via Unsplash)

5. Not having a consistent message

Throughout all the content you create (including ads and landing pages), your language, message, and branding should be consistent. If people get different messages from your ads and landing pages, they may end up confused about who you are and what you offer. 

Do your keywords match what you’re selling? Do they match the keywords on your landing page? If not, visitors may bounce from your page immediately, unsure of if your business is what they’re looking for. 

To remedy this, always repeat your ad copy on your landing page to keep visitors from getting lost or disoriented. You should also strive to have a similar design across all of your platforms and offerings, and keep the tone and voice consistent throughout as well.

6. Setting up a campaign and forgetting it

Another one of the most common PPC mistakes we see is thinking that you can simply set up a campaign and let run on its own. Rather, it requires consistent monitoring, analyzing, and updating to make sure your strategy is reaching its goal. 

Building a PPC campaign is a lot of work, so once it’s up and running, you may be tempted to leave it alone, sit back, and let it do its job for a while. But the truth is, you should be monitoring its performance daily. You’re paying for your ad daily, after all, so you should make sure your ad budget is being spent wisely.

Look at your KPIs and watch for a low click-through rate, a low number of conversions, keywords that aren’t converting, or other strange behavior or problematic issues. 

And as your campaign matures, you can start to think about scaling it. Once your campaign has collected enough data, you can work to expand your keyword lists, try new types of campaigns and bidding strategies, and set up additional campaigns.

7. Striving for #1

Everyone wants to come in first place with PPC advertising, but it may be difficult and unsustainable to strive for the top spot in the long term. 

While being in the number-one spot at the top of a search engine result page will pretty much guarantee you more clicks and an increase in web traffic, this isn’t always a great strategy for your budget. 

Ads further down the page can still have a great click-through and conversion rate and will end up costing you less in the long run. 

The takeaway

When it comes to creating PPC ads that work, you may need to use a little trial and error before you find a formula that gets you the results you want for your business. 

Avoiding the PPC mistakes above can help you on your journey towards creating a great PPC ad with a high click-through rate.  

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar is the co-founder and CEO of HawkSEM. Starting out as a software engineer, his penchant for solving problems quickly led him to the digital marketing world, where he has been helping clients for over 12 years. He loves doing everything he can to help brands "crush it" through ROI-driven digital marketing programs. He's also a fan of basketball and spending time with his family.

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Written by Caroline Cox on May 5 , 2020

In the competitive paid search landscape, “set it and forget it” just won’t cut it.

Here, you’ll find:

  • What a PPC audit is
  • How a PPC audit can improve your paid search
  • Experts tips for conducting PPC audits
  • How often you should audit your PPC program

We know there are the moving parts that come with running successful paid search campaigns. Sometimes, it can feel like balancing spinning plates while trying to ride a unicycle, Cirque du Soleil-style. Add that to all the other tasks on your to-do list, and the set-it-and-forget-it strategy starts to look appealing.

But the best, most profitable PPC campaign you can run is one that you’re consistently analyzing, testing, and improving. That’s where a PPC audit comes in. Here, Jordan Fultz, one of our esteemed SEM managers, breaks down the ins and outs of PPC audits — and why they’re worth your time.

HawkSEM: PPC audits

It’s easy to let PPC audits fall to the back-burner when you’re juggling multiple projects, but they’re one of the most effective ways to assess your PPC efforts. (Image via Unsplash)

What is a PPC audit?

A PPC audit is a detailed look into your PPC account to assess performance, strengths, weaknesses, and what could be tweaked for better results. Whether your account is a rousing success or underperforming, it’s worth conducting a PPC audit. 

It’s easy to let PPC audits fall to the back-burner when you’re juggling multiple projects. But they’re one of the most effective ways to find things in your paid search efforts you may have missed. This is particularly true if you’ve been working with the same account for a long period of time.

Why you should conduct a PPC audit

Multiple elements and settings go into a paid search campaign. That means they all deserve consideration and a closer look when you’re strategizing. It’s easy for subtle settings to function under the radar — even for experienced account managers. 

While it may sound painstaking to analyze each element, it’s key to ensuring your PPC is as high-performing as possible and you’re not wasting spend. After all, what business wouldn’t want to cut spend while increasing revenue? Getting granular with settings is how you do it. Questioning your PPC ad settings can help you consider how you can better aim your ads to searchers when it matters most. 

Pro tip: While quick wins will likely be found during these audits, the process as a whole is a long-term investment that should be honed and repeated for best results.

What a PPC audit can tell you about your brand

An audit can quickly reveal whether your PPC efforts have been working together in tandem toward a common goal or are simply a mishmash of individual campaigns operating in silos. Audits will reveal how much work your business has put into crafting your overall paid search strategy. 

Audits can also reveal how well paid search ads are being deployed according to plan. Even well-designed strategies don’t always follow the planned steps to a T. Corrections may be needed for settings and processes. You might also discover that your paid search data doesn’t completely sync up with your sales data and assumptions, such as increased demand for historically underperforming products or services. 

Lately, COVID-19 has caused many shifts in supply and demand. Thus, weekly audits of search terms and product groups have been especially key. Let this time serve as a reminder that there will always be unpredictable market shifts. PPC audits allow you to see what’s changing so adaptations can be easily implemented.

HawkSEM: PPC audits

During a PPC audit, it’s a good idea to go through every tab, view, and setting in your paid search accounts. (Image via Unsplash)

How to conduct a PPC audit

Audits begin with financial assessments that look at how well your PPC efforts are stacking up against your business goals. Once you have a snapshot, you can then dig into the settings and data to see what opportunities there might be moving forward. Every setting — from the account to the keyword — should be analyzed.

It’s a good idea to go through every tab, view, and setting in your paid search accounts, and to set up your columns so you can see relevant settings all at once.

For larger accounts, once your columns are set up in Google Ads, you can export the data to a spreadsheet to see how many campaigns are:

  • running with automated or manual bidding strategies
  • running with limited budgets
  • targeting different locations
  • and more

Google Ads’ Reports feature will be useful, especially when analyzing a shopping campaign’s product groups (particularly when using custom labels). You should also be analyzing ad copy and landing pages. E-commerce sites are particularly vulnerable to landing pages becoming forwarded or discontinued as products are added and sell out. These businesses in particular need to develop processes for auditing landing pages. 

Conversion actions should also be a primary concern during an audit. You can reference Google Analytics to see what kind of time lag is expected from ad click to conversion. New site visitors will likely behave differently from returning visitors, so you can start to get an idea of how audiences and interest segments will be useful for targeting, observation, or bid modification in Google Ads. Basically, everything should be questioned, tested, and recorded.

How often you should conduct a PPC audit

Generally speaking, planning for a quarterly PPC audit is a good place to start. But your specific frequency will depend on a few factors — namely:

  • your business needs
  • the age of your PPC account
  • the size of your team
  • the rate at which things are changing for your business

Once you go through the process a few times and get a feel for what you want out of your audits, you can then develop your own schedule that meets your needs. After a few quarterly audits, you may find your business needs them more or less frequently.

What steps you should take after your PPC audit

Once your PPC audit is complete, it’s time to dig into the results. Circle up with your team to discuss each finding. This is also the time to address any other questions, concerns, and ideas relating to your PPC initiatives. 

If you’ve performed your audit well, you’ll have plenty to review — even if your accounts have years of strategic iterating behind them. PPC audits aren’t just about looking for weaknesses in your strategy. They’re also a great opportunity to see where (and how) you can improve your PPC, and what parts are working well. 

HawkSEM: PPC audit

Nobody feels good after spending months on PPC efforts just to realize optimizations have been made based on misleading data. (Image via Unsplash)

PPC audit advice from an SEM agency expert:

Make sure your conversion actions are set up properly so you know you’re not double-counting conversions. Look at every single conversion setting, then ask yourself (or your team) if it should be changed. 

Nobody feels good after spending months on PPC efforts just to realize optimizations have been made based on misleading data. No matter your business, it’s key to focus on increasing revenue with paid search. Lock in the best conversion goals for improving the bottom line. 

As a secondary benefit, you’ll be able to test and trust automated bid strategies that rely on conversion actions to optimize themselves. Make sure you set them up for success so you can free up your paid search team’s time with a strategy-driven account suited to automated bid strategies.

The takeaway

 Tunnel vision is a common ailment of paid search teams that are fighting in the proverbial trenches every day. Because of that, fresh eyes can help identify opportunities and threats. 

If your paid search team has writer’s block or is too busy to develop new strategies and ideas, consider bringing in other teams or outside consultants to audit accounts. It’s a time-consuming process, but it’s worth it — there’s always more that can be done or tested. 

But don’t let auditing give your paid search team the impression that they’re not trusted. Audits should be seen as positive, helpful exercises. They’re meant to serve as honest assessments of what’s being done and what can be improved.

Fun fact: At HawkSEM, PPC audits are one of our specialties — see what we mean by requesting a free 10-point PPC analysis today.

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.

Questions or comments? Join the conversation here!

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Written by Sam Yadegar on Apr 14 , 2020

The goal of Quality Score is to provide searchers with the best information — and it can potentially save you money as an advertiser as well.

Here, you’ll find:

  • How to define Quality Score
  • Where to go to find your own score
  • Tips for improving your score
  • How your score can save you money

As a savvy marketer, you know reaching high-level rankings in search engines is pretty much table stakes when it comes to your digital marketing strategy. Of course, there’s no quick trick to making this happen — even with paid search, there’s no guarantee you’ll make it to the top. 

But while it’s nearly impossible to predict what changes will be made next to these search algorithms, there’s one way to get insight into how Google views your site: Quality Score. The search engine defines Quality Score as “an estimate of the quality of your ads, keywords, and landing pages.” The benefit? Higher quality ads can snag lower prices and better ad positions.

Each day, web users conduct more than 2.2 million searches on Google alone. With nearly 1.74 billion websites in the world vying for viewers’ attention, paid ad campaigns help set companies apart from the competition. While several factors contribute to the success of a paid ad campaign, Quality Score is one of the most important.

HawkSEM: How to Find Your Quality Score

The Quality Score of PPC ads will dictate how much you need to bid on keywords to ensure an optimal position in search engine results. (Image via Unsplash)

What is Quality Score?

As we mentioned, Google uses this score to rate the quality and relevance of keywords for pay-per-click (PPC) ads. The rating is meant to give advertisers a general idea of how significant their keywords are across all avenues they’re applied in. Google then uses this data to show more effective keywords to users each time an online search takes place. Your score is determined by three factors:

  • Expected clickthrough rate – How your ads historically perform
  • Ad relevance – How closely your ads align with your keywords
  • Landing page experience How relevant, useful, and user-friendly your content is

This information benefits advertisers because it helps determine what to optimize. You can see what keywords are driving search results and which words need to be re-evaluated. 

The Effects of Quality Score

Advertisers care about Quality Score because it’s one of the most important factors used to determine how ads are ranked and what advertisers’ cost per click (CPC) will be. 

The score of PPC ads will dictate how much you need to bid on keywords to ensure an optimal position in search engine results. Basically, the better your score, the less you’ll have to pay for your ads to show up in your preferred position.

When people who see your ad click on it, Google views your ads as relevant because they are meeting the needs of potential customers. As a result, you earn higher ad rankings and a lower CPC. Therefore, by optimizing your score, you increase your return on investment (ROI).

Determining Your Quality Score

Tracking your Quality Score allows you to assess your ad campaign performance and reconsider your budget allotment. To be able to do this, however, you must first identify your current score. 

To do this, log into your Google Ads account and create a new report under the Reports tab. Your report type will be Placement/Keyword Performance. There, under Advanced Settings, you’ll select Add or Remove Columns. 

Choose Keyword Quality Score Detail and then select your other report settings. Locate the Templates, Scheduling, and Email area and select Create Report. You’ll then be presented with your keywords’ Quality Score results. If you experience any difficulty, you can follow more detailed instructions in Google’s Help Center.

HawkSEM: How to Find Your Quality Score

Quality Score is an integral part of Google’s process when it comes to determining which ads to promote — and how to rank them. (Image via Unsplash)

4 Ways to Increase Your Quality Score

Quality Score determines where and how often your ads are shown. That’s why it’s important to work on boosting your rankings by continuing to improve your ads. Once you know where you stand in Google rankings, you can take the following steps to improve your score.  

1. Target Your Ad Groups  

Increase the relevance of your ad by targeting your campaigns into clearly defined groups. Assign each group of ads its own set of related keywords to effectively target groups you want to reach. Avoid irrelevant keywords just for the sake of having them. In this case, you want quality over quantity.

2. Research Keywords

Keywords are one of the most important factors in Quality Score success. Do your homework to determine how those words (and combinations) are performing and whether they’ll be effective for your campaign. Keyword research can reveal what keywords are being used, their importance to viewers, and how likely they are to drive traffic to your website.

3. Write High-Quality Content

When writing ad copy, streamline the content so it focuses on one product or service. Not only will this help target a more specific audience, but it will likely yield better results. Readers want to digest easy-to-comprehend information. Ads with too many areas of focus or calls to action (CTAs) can be ineffective, resulting in someone bouncing or continuing to scroll without clicking. 

4. Optimizing Landing Pages 

Your landing page is often a potential customer’s first impression of your business. Right away, it sends a message about your company. Quick loading time, relevant keywords, and clear, easy-to-read information can increase user engagement and earn you a higher Quality Score rating. 

The takeaway

Quality Score is an integral part of Google’s process when it comes to determining which ads to promote — and how to rank them. Tracking this info not only increases your chance at a higher ROI, but it can save you money in advertising costs.

Quality Score is a useful guideline to shed light on what’s working for you and can impact the way you develop your paid advertising campaigns to make them as effective and possible, resulting in a strong strategy overall. And who wouldn’t want that?

 

Ready to take your PPC ad campaign to the next level? We can help.

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar is the co-founder and CEO of HawkSEM. Starting out as a software engineer, his penchant for solving problems quickly led him to the digital marketing world, where he has been helping clients for over 12 years. He loves doing everything he can to help brands "crush it" through ROI-driven digital marketing programs. He's also a fan of basketball and spending time with his family.

Questions or comments? Join the conversation here!

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Written by Caroline Cox on Mar 5 , 2020

Tips for creating successful healthcare PPC campaigns in this highly regulated industry

Here, you’ll find:

  • How healthcare marketers can leverage paid search
  • Regulations for healthcare-related ads
  • The latest data surrounding healthcare PPC
  • Tips for standing out from industry competition

Marketers who are seasoned in the healthcare space know that it can be, in a word, finicky.

For that, you can thank Google’s core algorithm updates in recent years. At times, these updates have thrown the industry into near-chaos, with some sites losing nearly all of their traffic while others see huge growths. 

Because of this unpredictability, it makes sense that marketers would turn to healthcare PPC. Not only does paid search allow for audience targeting, but it can help you get to the top of the search engine results page (SERP) more quickly than relying on SEO and organic rankings. 

Around 80% of internet users have searched for a health-related topic online, according to Pew. And NewsCred expects that voice searches for healthcare topics will continue to rise.

Add to that the recent Moz data showing the #1 positioned organic search results are now further down the page than the worst-case scenario positioning in 2013, and it’s clear paid search can be more beneficial than ever.

For best practices when it comes to healthcare PPC, read on.

Google only allows pharmaceutical manufacturers to advertise in select countries. (Image via Unsplash)

Google only allows pharmaceutical manufacturers to advertise in select countries. (Image via Unsplash)

Understand the healthcare PPC regulations

Because healthcare is such a highly regulated industry, it makes sense that paid search guidelines would be, too. Luckily, both Google and Microsoft Ads (formerly Bing) have published clear parameters when it comes to this kind of ad content.

For example, Google only allows pharmaceutical manufacturers to advertise in select countries. Pharmaceutical manufacturers can only promote prescription drugs in Canada, New Zealand, and the United States (over-the-counter meds have a much longer list). You can use the handy drop-down menu to see which country allows which types of PPC ads.

Google’s healthcare ad policies include regulations related to:

  • Restricted drug terms
  • Unapproved substances
  • Unauthorized pharmacies
  • Speculative and experimental medical treatments

Microsoft states that their policy on pharmaceutical products “varies by market.” For example, those advertising drug or alcohol addiction services (such as rehab facilities, group therapy, and halfway houses) must be certified by a company called LegitScript first.

A Microsoft Ads healthcare ad verbiage example

A Microsoft Ads healthcare ad verbiage example

Microsoft’s healthcare PPC ad policies include regulations related to:

  • Invasive treatments and cosmetic surgery
  • Weight loss
  • Pharmacy and prescription-only medicine

No matter which part of the healthcare umbrella your company falls under, it’s a good idea to read over these guidelines. This way, you can make sure you’re not spending time on a campaign that’ll end up getting rejected or pulled. 

Be easily reachable

This may sound like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised to see how many companies (across multiple industries) make it difficult to get in touch with them. What’s a lead to do? In this case, they’ll likely keep scrolling to find a brand with a phone number, live chat, or address more readily available.

Setting up a call extension and location extension on your ad is a great first step. It’s also wise to include your contact info on each website page as well as your landing pages and even your social media profiles. This way, people will be able to reach out to you quickly, no matter where they land. 

Pro tip: If one of your main goals is to drive people to your location, don’t forget about correctly setting up your Google My Business profile. This can help increase local customer engagement across Google Maps and searches. 

Focus on E-A-T

Yes, this is an SEO term. But the idea behind it can be quite beneficial when it comes to healthcare PPC as well. (If you’re not familiar, E-A-T stands for expertise, authority, and trustworthiness.) 

E-A-T was first introduced in 2015 via a Google Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines document that explained how the search engine gauges website quality. It was brought up again in 2018 when these guidelines expanded to also include content authors. 

With the stiff competition — plus a focus on hard data and proven science — that comes with the healthcare industry, keeping E-A-T in mind when you’re creating ad copy and landing page content can be what sets your brand apart from the rest. 

When it comes to healthcare PPC messaging, keep it simple

Speaking of content, let’s talk about messaging. Think about when you’re searching for the meaning of certain symptoms or the nearest urgent care facility. You’re probably not in the mood for quirky headlines or sensationalist claims.

The most effective healthcare PPC messaging is clear and direct. Your ad will have the best shot at cutting through the clutter by speaking your audience’s language and being concise about what you’re offering. Sometimes a simple question, such as “Looking for a speedy urgent care center in Atlanta?” is all it takes. 

Straightforward ad copy from Mommy’s Bliss, a company that sells wellness products for moms and babies

Straightforward ad copy from Mommy’s Bliss, a company that sells wellness products for moms and babies

Pro tip: While ad copy should be simple, we suggest your landing pages be as thorough as possible. With landing pages, you’ve already cleared the hurdle of getting someone to click your ad. Now, you need to provide them with as much info as possible so they can feel confident and informed before moving forward and following your CTA.

Be thoughtful about keywords

Keywords are one of the most important aspects of paid search campaigns. Because of this, you want to build ads around the terms and phrases your prospects are using during their search. 

Depending on which part of the industry your company falls under, this could include things like:

  • The specific product or service you offer
  • The issue or condition your product or service addresses
  • Major symptoms that your product or service deals with
  • Your target audience
  • Company information (i.e. name, location, contact information)

If you go too generic with your keywords, you risk getting lost in the shuffle. Take things a step further by keeping in mind what questions prospects might be typing into search boxes, and what their concerns might be (such as cost or location). 

The more specific and targeted you can be within your budget, the better. You can even leverage negative keywords to keep unqualified clicks at bay. 

Know how to speak to your audience effectively

“A successful ad will speak to the user, but not in a ‘buy now’ sense,” explains Dylan Jones, an SEM manager here at HawkSEM. He explains that a common misstep many brands are having to walk back now is talking in a “marketing voice.” 

“Google is knocking down sites that are saying users need to buy the next great thing or that you need to call now if you are showing these signs,” he adds. “They are forcing us to think more as a user and less as a marketer.” Because of this, the brands with copy that gives actual facts — with the authority to back them up — are more likely to be the ones that see the most success.

Pro tip: Healthcare searches can potentially be a matter of life and death, but that doesn’t mean you should adopt a fear-based approach. Instead, consider things like question-based ad copy and even multimedia. For example, a Google survey found that 60% of hospital administrator respondents watch online procedures and product comparisons.

There’s a huge opportunity for those in the healthcare industry when it comes to paid search. (Image via Rawpixel)

There’s a huge opportunity for those in the healthcare industry when it comes to paid search. (Image via Rawpixel)

Don’t forget about mobile

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: not being mobile friendly can have serious adverse effects on your digital marketing program. Small Biz Trends reports that 60% of consumers interested in healthcare ads are going to visit the company’s website, and 53% of searches are coming from smartphones (with another 7% from tablets).

You can check to see that all of your landing pages are rendering properly on mobile using Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test Tool. You can even take things a step further by testing out mobile-specific ads and making mobile bid adjustments as needed. 

The takeaway

There’s a huge opportunity for those in the healthcare industry when it comes to paid search. While it’s one of the first places users go, there’s also a ton of information to be found online — with varying degrees of accuracy.

At its root, healthcare searches are about people and their families wanting to get well and stay well. It’s a topic that’s personal and important, no matter the demographic.

Being concise and direct with your ad copy will do wonders to help you cut through the clutter — and competition. As long as you’re thorough, honest, and keep those E-A-T principles in mind, you can be sure your healthcare PPC is slated to succeed.

Looking for more insight on creating strong healthcare paid search campaigns? Let us know!

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.

Questions or comments? Join the conversation here!

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