Tag Archives: paid search

Written by Caroline Cox on May 9, 2022

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
  • Pro tips for optimizing your campaigns
  • What to keep in mind when crafting landing pages
  • How video offers an edge over competitors

Spring 2022 is likely to go down in history as one of the hottest house buying seasons.

That’s one of the key reasons why 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 (or pay-per-click/PPC) marketing comes in.

Making PPC marketing a part of your real estate marketing strategy can be hugely beneficial to your company, especially right now. 

hawksem: real estate paid search blog

Many real estate agencies avoid taking full advantage of branded keywords for the fear of not getting enough ROI. (Image: 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 Business Profile (GDP). 

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, adding in paid search strategies can be the secret sauce to help you truly stand out from competitors.

Real estate paid search marketing gives you the opportunity to focus on your local target audience. It also aids in differentiating between renters and buyers, potential and current homeowners, and much more.

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 for real estate companies who leverage paid search include:

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

Pro tip: Housing ads come with certain targeting restrictions in an attempt to avoid discrimination by companies online — here’s what marketers should know about housing ad restrictions.

1. 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.

2. 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 the 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 help you to narrow down the search options, it can also cut your PPC costs.

Pro tip: Google Ads geo-targeting also lets 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.

3. Create optimized, dedicated landing pages

Your paid search marketing campaign’s success relies heavily on your 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) often increases bounce rates and raises the cost per click (CPC). 

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

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 CPC.

view standing in front of a white house with red roof

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

4. Run consistent A/B tests

A single element in your paid search ad — 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.

5. Study the competition

As long as you don’t plan to copy your competitors exactly (which isn’t ethical or a good look for your business), it’s wise to keep an eye on the tactics and tools they’re using in their real estate 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.

6. Focus on ad extensions

Ad extensions don’t just give your ad more real estate on the SERPs. They also provide valuable and catchy information to the potential buyer or client.

Adding a new ad extension can improve your CTR by 10-15%, and they don’t cost extra to include.

Extensions to pay attention to are:

  • Call extension – shows your phone number next to the ad
  • Message extension – allows the searcher to send you a message directly from the SERP
  • Location extension – lets searchers know your exact location

Another important extension is the price extension, since price is often the first thing real estate clients want to know. You can use this extension to promote specific listings.

7. Create a video ad campaign

Images and videos can play an important role in the success of your real estate PPC campaign. Since real estate products are highly visual, this can be a great opportunity to demonstrate all that a property has to offer via short video ads.

Reports show more than 70% of homeowners are more likely to hire a real estate agency that uses videos. The agencies that invest in video marketing know it can bring significant return on ad spend (ROAS).

Plus, by creating a paid video campaign, you’re targeting potential clients while sharing extensive details about your listings in a way that’s eye-catching and unique.

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. 

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.

Questions or comments? Join the conversation here!

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Written by Caroline Cox on Apr 20, 2022

Not currently using call tracking? Here’s a guide to filling in this attribution gap.

Here, you’ll find:

  • An explanation of call tracking
  • A breakdown of various tracking tiers
  • How tracking can help optimize campaigns
  • The latest call-tracking updates

When it comes to connecting with companies, people want options. 

That’s why most businesses have a phone number, even if most marketing, communications, and customer service happens online. 

And it’s a wise choice, since reports show click-to-call rates are four times better than online conversion rates.

The question is: Are you taking full advantage of all that phone calls have to offer your business? 

As Marketing Land explains, “If your marketing strategy involves driving potential customers to the phone, you could be missing out on important attribution data as well as the best source of first-party customer data.” 

Basically, if you’re not tracking calls, you could be missing a key element in your conversion tracking. Here’s how to set up call tracking for your ads, and why you should.

call tracking for digital marketing

There are various solutions available when it comes to call-tracking options for your business. (Image: Unsplash)

What is call tracking?

Call tracking is the process of gathering information about the phone calls people make to your company. Basic tracking helps you make sure you’re attributing calls to your ads to help optimize campaigns. 

More advanced tracking allows you to accrue data that will tell you more about your prospects and customers. This includes their wants, pain points, frequently asked questions, and more. 

Phone calls can be a key part of your buyer’s journey. Call tracking serves to help bridge the gap between online and offline touch points, giving you a clearer picture of your prospects and customers.

Know your call-tracking options

There are various solutions available when it comes to call-tracking options for your business. You can choose from a variety of softwares and tiers depending on your budget and needs. 

hawksem call on GBP

You can include a “Call” CTA on your company’s Google Business Profile as well. (Image: Google)

Tier 1 tracking

The basic, standard level of call tracking is simply to track phone number clicks on your website. This allows you to properly attribute the click to your campaigns. You can set up this level of call tracking through Google Tag Manager. 

It will give you some basic data about calls to your existing phone number, such as when someone clicks the phone number on your website via their smartphone to call you. 

Tier 2 tracking

The next level involves implementing call tracking into your Google Ads campaigns. At this level, Google will assign you a forwarding phone number. If someone clicks on your ads, the number on your website will route to your Google forwarding number.

This level also offers more sophisticated call data. When you implement Google call tracking through Google Tag Manager, you can set parameters for what counts as a conversion, such as calls only over a certain amount of seconds. 

This way, you’re not counting irrelevant phone calls (like accidental clicks, spam clickers, and quickly unqualified leads) as conversions. 

Pro tip: While Google call tracking is free, the number you’re assigned won’t necessarily be permanently assigned to you. Further down the line, someone could call that number in search of your business and not be able to reach you. 

Tier 3 tracking

If your company has the means to invest in paid call-tracking services, there are a ton of benefits to be found. For one, you’ll be able to purchase a dedicated phone number that won’t be in danger of being changed. 

With call-tracking services, you pay for dedicated tracking phone numbers, including a ZIP code that matches your area. In terms of data, you’re able to record phone calls (the caller is given a heads up, of course). 

You can go back and listen to how customer service was handled and get more information about the callers. These services also allow you to capture customer contact information in the platforms

Top-tier call tracking can often tell you what caused the person to call, what stage of the buyer’s journey they’re in, and it can even sync with other programs like Google Analytics, Salesforce, or your preferred customer relationship management (CRM) tool.

Pro tip: Think you’ve got tracking covered with your call center? While these centers track things like hold time and client satisfaction, proper call tracking can provide valuable data for marketers that can help optimize and improve campaigns. 

call tracking to enhance paid ads

With the rise of mobile search, it makes sense that Google call-only campaigns would follow suit. (Image: Unsplash)

How call tracking can improve your marketing

Gathering data is only half the battle. After all, what good is all that data if you don’t take the time to analyze and leverage it? 

Call tracking allows you to review calls and pinpoint patterns. What are some common issues customers seem to have? What products or services are they asking about most? 

It can also help you make these calls more efficient by allowing you to personalize and tailor the call experience.

This type of tracking can help maximize ROI by painting a more complete picture of what’s driving people to your business. 

The future of call tracking

In fall 2020, Google began testing a new Google Business Profile feature dubbed “call history.”

According to Search Engine Land, the feature was “designed to help businesses see and respond to missed calls coming from Google Search and Maps.” 

With the rise of mobile search, it makes sense that Google call-only campaigns would follow suit. If you’re a business like a doctor’s office (or if you have a stellar customer service team trained to quickly solve problems), this ad type is worth exploring.

This way, you have the chance to catch someone’s attention and allow them to immediately connect with you, rather than risking them not finding what they’re looking for on your website.

The takeaway

In marketing, the more data you have, the better. If you’re not tracking phone calls on some level, you’re missing out on a key component of your conversion tracking. 

It’s the same idea behind tracking forms on your website. You want to track all ways people can contact you. 

The result: Improved customer service, better insights into why people aren’t converting via phone, help training employees, and a fuller picture of your buyer persona.

This article has been updated and was originally published in November 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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Written by Sam Yadegar on Apr 1, 2022

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

No April Fool’s joking here: The best place to launch your digital marketing efforts is where your campaign attracts a massive audience.

According to a 2021 report, Google led the list of the most popular search engines, commanding more than 88% 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 get you higher up in search results more quickly via pay-per-click (PPC) ads, but it can also help you stay competitive in your industry. 

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.

As part of a 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 2022.

neon google logo in the dark

Google Trends allows you to view the topics people are searching online, as well as trending topics and trends over time. (Image: Unsplash)

1.  Privacy-minded updates

Privacy has been a hot topic for marketers in the past few years. That’s thanks in part to changes like Apple’s latest iOS update and Google’s Topic’s API, which they introduced to replace the soon-to-be sunset third-party cookies. 

With third-party tracking cookies on their way out, enhanced conversion aims to use consented (opt-in) and first-party data to fill in users’ insight gaps, particularly across multiple devices.

Pro tip: Google will be shutting down Universal Analytics (the version before Google Analytics 4) in July 2023, reportedly due to its inability to deliver insights across platforms. Universal Analytics 360 will process data for an additional three months, ending in October 2023.  

2.  Changes to phrase match and broad match modifier

In early 2021, Google announced that it was “making it easier to reach the right customers on Search” through updates to its phrase match and broad match modifier keyword types. 

Now, “broad match modifier” traffic instead falls under the “phrase match” umbrella.

The search engine notes that these changes won’t impact exact match, broad match, and negative keyword match types. They also recommend only using exact, phrase, or broad match when adding new keywords moving forward. 

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.

Google’s new smart bidding features aim to help marketers better manage bid strategies and drive more performance, according to experts

The new features also include top signals for target ROAS and max conversions, new opportunities on the Recommendations page, target impression share simulators, and manager account level seasonality adjustments.

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.

one piece swimsuit on google trends

A look at the Google Trends results for “one-piece swimsuit” over a 90-day period. (Image: Google Trends)

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 as trending topics, trends over time, and more.

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

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 curbside pickup option.

5.  Driving more leads via search ads

With the rise of mobile shopping or m-commerce and more brands moving their operations online than ever before because of the pandemic, the vast majority of shopping happens online.

With that in mind, Google has made it easier for businesses to capture leads through their search ads. Rather than sending users to a landing page, you can serve up a lead form as soon as someone taps the headline of your ad.

To activate this feature, simply go into your campaign and select the setting option. Once the form is submitted, the person can then decide if they want to head to your site or go back to the search engine results page (SERP). 

Pro tip: Search Engine Roundtable regularly catalogs the most recent Google algorithm updates. So far in 2022, they’ve highlighted updates on page experience update for desktop, product reviews, and more.

6. Enhanced holiday updates

During the last holiday season, many businesses were able to benefit from a range of e-commerce updates.

Google added the ability to highlight things like fulfillment options and return policies for customers to see right on the SERP. You can also have products appear in free listings that you can easily use by syncing your Shopify, WooCommerce, or GoDaddy store right to Google.

Plus, brands can now use their YouTube videos as a virtual storefront and connect easier with local customers. Social Media Today suggests keeping your Google Business Profile updated to sync properly with these new features.  

7. Destination requirement updates

To make it easier for advertisers to understand why they receive disapproval messages on their ads, Google has made some changes to their policy language and notifications.

There are three relevant disapproval messages subject to changes:

  • “Insufficient original content,” which covers web addresses with “coming soon” or “under construction” notifications
  • “Destination not accessible,” for addresses the target audience can’t reach based on their location and other limitations
  • “Destination not working,” which will appear if your address is “HTTP” or returns an error
google ads mobile app dark mode

You can use dark mode in the Google Ads app for a more comfortable, low-light visual experience. (Image: Google Ads Help)

8. Updates to the Google Ads app

There have been some exciting recent additions made to the Google Ads app. Specifically, the Google Ads mobile app for both Android and iOS offer three new features:

  • More detailed performance insights – They’ve added more context and explanations for insights to illuminate the influences behind each metric. Advertisers can now see better performance insights to get a deeper understanding of how searchers are reacting to campaigns and view how changes affect performance.
  • Advanced real-time search trends – There’s a new search trends report that will be kept updated to reflect real-time changes in search trends and consumer interests. You can click on search trends relevant to your business to get further details about what exactly users were looking for. Common queries and specific terms will give you an idea of what they hope to find. Then, you can modify your ads to better reach them.
  • In-app campaign creation – Now, you can create entire search ad campaigns right from your phone. In the Google Ads mobile app, simply touch the “+” sign in the bottom right to add a new campaign. From there, the app will walk you through the typical campaign settings like ad type and location. After your campaign is set up, you’ll be able to manage it right from your phone as well.

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. It also gives 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.

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

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 15, 2022

Bing can help you maximize your online reach and capture traffic you might miss with Google.

Here, you’ll find:

  • The benefits of advertising on both Google and Bing
  • How the Microsoft Ads platform compares to Google Ads
  • Tips to create top-quality ads for Bing
  • How Quality Score plays a role

Many businesses raise an eyebrow when first introduced to the idea of using Microsoft Advertising (formerly Bing Ads) to attract new customers. 

But you might be surprised to learn all that the Bing search engine has to offer. 

According to recent Statista data, Bing attracts over one billion users per month worldwide. The numbers continue growing as Microsoft Advertising expands by launching in new markets.

If you want to capture the large batch of users out there who use Bing, it’s necessary to explore Microsoft Ads.

bing homepage wildlife image

To make your job easier, Microsoft Ads allows you to import Google Ads campaigns seamlessly. (Image: Bing)

Microsoft Advertising vs. Google Ads

Of course, there are plenty of similarities to be found between Google Ads and Microsoft Ads, which show up on the Bing search engine. 

They’re both used to push highly relevant ads to users, with the goal of using targeted marketing to help attract more high-quality leads who are more likely to make a purchase. However, there are also a few key differences to keep in mind.

One notable difference is that, while Google Ads has a balanced network of both PPC (or paid search) and display ads, Bing has a much more limited display ad network that’s relegated to Microsoft-owned products including Windows operating systems, Outlook, Microsoft Edge, and Xbox.

You may also find that each platform uses a different language to describe its functions and metrics. For example, Google tends to use cost per acquisition (CPA) along with the cost of conversion, while Microsoft Ads only uses the term CPA. 

Other notable differences include:

  • Ad scheduling – Google Ads uses your time zone to schedule ads, while Microsoft Ads uses the ad viewer’s time zone.
  • Search partner targeting – Both Google and Microsoft Ads let you place your ads beyond the search engine results page (SERP). However, the way you select partner networks is different. Google gives you a choice to expand to these networks while Bing allows you to target Bing and Yahoo, just search partners, or both.
  • Close search variants – Google uses close search variants of keywords by default. Microsoft Ads allows this as an option.

Using both platforms can provide a noticeable boost to your marketing campaigns. However, it’s important to know how to use Microsoft Ads properly if you want to make the most of it and effectively supplement your Google Ads campaign. 

Next, let’s dig into some best practices that’ll help you create winning ads to attract the ideal Bing searcher. 

1. Import high-performing Google Ads campaigns to Microsoft Ads

To make your job easier, Microsoft Advertising allows you to import Google Ads campaigns seamlessly. Simply use the import feature to carry your campaigns over to Microsoft’s ad platform. 

While you can test your most successful Google Ads campaigns using Bing, keep in mind things may look and work a little differently when creating ads on Microsoft. 

Knowing the subtle differences when importing can help you transition from one platform to the other and use both to your advantage.

Things to check after the import include:

  • Bids and budgets
  • Negative keywords
  • Targeting options

As you make adjustments to your Google Ads campaign, you can apply them to the Microsoft Ads campaign through import.

Keep in mind that things you can’t import include:

  • Video campaigns (since they’re done through YouTube)
  • Retargeting lists
  • Age targeting
  • Exact location targeting

You can import changes to the Microsoft Ads campaign on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. This can cut the time you spend on Microsoft Ad campaign management dramatically.

Bing SERP rash guards

A smaller budget could take you much farther on Bing than it would with Google. (Image: Bing)

2. Create high-quality copy and images for your ads

You should always optimize your ads for people, not search engines. Keywords are important, but you’re ultimately creating ads to appeal directly to your target audience. With this goal in mind, try to:

  • Use on-brand colors that attract attention
  • Highlight product, service, or brand elements through images
  • Create ads using high-quality images without pixelation
  • Use images of people without accompanying text or logos
  • Keep ads clean and simple so you don’t overwhelm the user
  • Avoid lengthy headlines — stick to concise, easy-to-read phrases

3. Start broad and specify your audience based on results

To pinpoint the ideal audience, it’s a good idea to begin with a broad ad campaign that targets as many users as possible without going over your available budget. 

From there, you can begin to narrow down your audience based on the demographics and other traits of users that are likely to click on your ads. 

In the process, you can create more valuable ads that target the people who are most likely to be interested in your product or service offerings.

4. Make the most of your budget

Even if you’ve maxed out your Google Ads budget, you can still tailor your budget to help you perform well on Bing. 

Thanks largely to the lighter competition you’ll find on Bing, you could discover that a smaller budget takes you much farther on the platform than it would with Google.

You’re also likely to find less expensive costs per acquisition (CPAs) with Microsoft Ads while targeting potentially millions of daily search engine users.

5. Know your target audience on Bing

You might find that your Bing audience is different from your Google audience. If so, you should tailor your campaign audiences accordingly. Bing’s demographic tends to include older users who aren’t as quick to go to Google if Bing is their default search engine. 

While you may think this means your audience is potentially less tech-savvy, know that many of these users have accumulated more wealth and are willing to spend more money online than their younger counterparts. 

The fact that your audience on Bing is likely different from your Google audience only further emphasizes the importance of using both.

microsoft advertising benefits

Using a combination of Microsoft Advertising and Google Ads can help you find better paid search success and maximize your business’s overall reach online. (Image: Microsoft Advertising)

6. Make use of the UET tag

Microsoft Ads enables you to set up customized event and conversion actions using Universal Event Tracking (UET). With the help of this tool, you can create custom audiences as people perform certain actions. 

For example, you might create an audience that spends a certain amount of time on landing pages or visits only a few other pages before leaving your website after clicking on an ad. 

With a better understanding of user behavior through UET tags, you can cater campaigns to specific individuals to improve your campaigns’ overall performance.

7. Keep an eye on your Quality Score

Page or domain authority is a key component of a successful Bing campaign. That’s because it helps gauge the authoritativeness and popularity of a website. 

You can use Bing’s Quality Score metric to determine how much influence your website has on the search engine, which can help you determine your ads’ competitiveness. 

Heads up: Without any adjustments, you may find that your Quality Score in Microsoft Ads is lower than what you have in Google Ads.

The Quality Score ranges from 1 to 10, with the best score being 10. If you notice that your Quality Score is suffering, try to adjust your ads by:

  • Conducting more keyword research
  • Ensuring your published content is well-written, accurate, and updated
  • Optimizing your landing pages
  • Checking your ad group targeting

8. Take advantage of in-market audiences

Similar to Google Ads, Microsoft Ads offers marketers an intent-based targeting feature that brings the campaign to conversion-ready audiences. Bing uses artificial intelligence (AI) to create lists of users who have shown interest in purchasing items and services similar to yours.

In-market audiences allow you to reach potential buyers without running complex targeting campaigns. Not only does this feature save money and help increase conversions, but setup is easy. 

Microsoft is constantly adding new in-market audience categories, so if your industry isn’t there yet, continue monitoring the updates.

Keep in mind that Microsoft Ads in-market audience categories are different from in-market audiences on Google Ads. Adjust the settings for each one manually so you don’t miss out on some categories by assuming they’re the same.

woman using laptop while sitting on floor

Don’t forget to add captions to the video to improve its accessibility. (Image: Unsplash)

9. Import campaigns from Facebook Ads

As of summer 2021, you can import Facebook Ads campaigns to Microsoft

This feature can be especially useful for marketers who have a robust Facebook Ads campaign going. However, not all elements of the campaign can be imported in full — you still need to adjust some aspects manually.

Pro tip: Before allowing your imported Facebook campaign to appear on the Microsoft Audience Network, you have to preview all assets such as images, logos, and videos.

10. Explore video extensions

Microsoft Ads allows using videos as an extension feature on the search ads. Your video will appear next to your ad on the SERP, making it more appealing and engaging to the viewer.

The extension video has a call-to-action (CTA) button that takes the user to the landing page of your choice. Don’t forget to add captions to the video to improve its accessibility.

The cost per click for clicking on the video is the same as for clicking on an ad, but only for the first click. If the same user clicks to watch the video again, it’s free.

The takeaway

Using a combination of Microsoft Advertising and Google Ads can help you find better paid-search success and maximize your business’s overall reach online. 

Leveraging these best practices, taking the time to develop high-quality ad campaigns, and understanding your target audience on Bing can help you craft ads that are highly effective, no matter the search engine. 

This post has been updated and was originally published in August 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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These tried-and-tested PPC strategies can attract more (qualified) leads into your pipeline.

Here you’ll learn:

  • Why quality is key 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 pay-per-click (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 doesn’t equal quality.

The good news? With the right approach, you can achieve your lead gen goals, attract the right kinds of leads, and see the campaign ROI you deserve. Here’s how.

group of people celebrating with wine

Look closely at how your target audience is searching for what you have to offer. (Image: 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 and a 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)
  • Click out of boredom or aimless curiosity
  • Think they’ll get something else due to unclear or misleading ad copy

These reasons and more are why it’s a good idea to conduct lead scoring. This process can tell you how interested each lead is, weed out leads not worth your time, and even provide some insight into how your campaigns are working. 

Low-quality leads come with the territory — a certain number of them are basically inevitable. But, as referenced above, it’s possible your ads are drawing the wrong people’s attention.

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 their corresponding landing pages. Because of this, each ad should take the potential client to a landing page that provides exactly what your ad promised and inspires them to take that next desired action outlined in the call to action (CTA).

For example, a CTA that says “Get a free e-book” should lead directly to a page where the user can download the content (with or without filling out a short form). If it requires extra 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 than you promised in the ad. Search engines consider this practice deceptive and may lower your Quality Score, increasing the ad’s price as a result.

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

If, for example, you provide managed IT services in LA, you can segment by:

  • 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 accordingly, 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 your ad copy. Along with writing effective, clear sentences and an actionable CTA, it’s crucial to keep the user’s intent top of mind.

Ask yourself: 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. 

Create ad copy aimed at getting their attention through an offer they’ll find valuable. That means knowing your target audience and having a clear ideal client persona in mind throughout the copywriting process.

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

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

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

woman using laptop on a couch

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

4. Focus on your “money” keywords

Keywords are the pillars of your PPC campaign. So, after segmenting your audience, the next step is to 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 are:

  • 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

And don’t forget about negative keywords. 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 campaigns need regular fine-tuning to ensure they’re 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

Pro tip: By linking your Google Ads account to Google Analytics, you’ll get valuable data into your lead generation efforts.

The takeaway

Of course, you want your campaigns to generate qualified, high-quality leads. 

With a strategic, thoughtful approach to ad design, keyword search, analytics, and segmentation, you can achieve your conversion goals through PPC lead generation — and see an impressive ROI as a result.

This post has been updated and was originally published in May 2020.

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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Pay-per-click (PPC) ads are among the most effective marketing tactics to get your business in front of the right people at the right time.

Here, you’ll find:

  • What PPC marketing is
  • How to properly manage a PPC campaign
  • What makes PPC ads successful
  • The latest PPC stats

Ah, the ever-changing algorithm. Many a marketer wishes they knew the magic words to instantly land them at the top of search engine results. But we all know it’s not that simple.

And that’s too bad, because we also know that approximately three-fourths of users don’t read past the first page of search results. That’s where PPC ads come in.

PPC marketing falls under the search engine marketing umbrella and is also referred to as paid search marketing.

PPC ads are the hyperlinked results at the top of the search engine results page (SERP) above the organic, search engine optimized (SEO) results. They look similar to the organic results, except with a little green box denoting “ad” next to it.

PPC can be a highly effective tool in your digital marketing arsenal, whether your industry is SaaS, financial services, higher education, healthcare, insurance, or something in between. 

It can help connect you with potential clients through eye-catching copy that provides context and a hyperlink taking them straight to a targeted landing page on your site.

los angeles ppc agency on serp

PPC ads look similar to organic search results, except with “Ad” in bolded text next to it.

What is PPC marketing?

Paid search and PPC are a type of online advertising allowing marketers to have their brand’s ads show up in the sponsored results section of a SERP. 

And because of the pay-per-click nature of these ads, you only pay when someone actually clicks on your ad.

Getting the clicks — that’s the tricky part. To create the most effective PPC campaigns, you want your ads to appear in front of the right audience searching for the right keywords that make sense for your product or service.

From there, you place your bid to say how much you think a click is worth. When your ad shows up and gets clicked on, you’re charged a fee. (The fee can vary greatly depending on industry, competition, keywords, quality score, and more.)

Pro tip: It’s not just about the keywords you want to attract the right people. Choosing negative keywords can prevent unqualified leads from clicking your ads.

PPC vs. paid social ads

Paid social media advertising is a great way to meet your target audience where they are. Plus, it can help you subvert pesky platform algorithms that can keep your content from showing up in feeds.

But unlike PPC ads, you pay a flat rate for the ad space. Rates don’t change depending on impressions or engagement. This can translate into social ads being more expensive than PPC.

PPC vs. display ads

Display ads show up on almost every revenue-generating site across the web. These are the ads you see on the top, side, or bottom of a website you visit, a mobile app you use, or a video you watch.

Display ads are known for their high visibility rates. Ads created via the Google Display Network reportedly reach more than 90% of people on the Internet. Because of their prevalence, display ads often don’t have as high of a click-through rate (CTR) as PPC ads.

Most often, these ad types are used for branding, so you stay top of mind after someone visits your site, in conjunction with your PPC efforts.

What are the components of a PPC ad?

Let’s start with Google PPC ads. These can contain:

  • 1-3 headlines
  • A display URL
  • A description up to 90 characters long
  • Ad extensions
display URL on SERP

Your display URL can be your site’s homepage or a simple, clean URL that relates to the keywords and ad copy.

Headlines

Recently, Google upped the ante by allowing up to three headlines in a PPC ad, separated by a “|” or pipe symbol. Your headlines are where you have the opportunity to catch someone’s attention and highlight a product or service while being direct about what you offer.

When brainstorming PPC ad headlines, consider elements like:

  • Including keywords
  • Highlighting a common problem and/or solution
  • Getting as close to character limits as possible
  • Asking questions
  • Using concise, to-the-point language

Display URL

Your display URL can be your site’s homepage or a simple, clean URL that relates to the keywords and ad copy (such as hawksem.com/ppc). This clean display URL is simply what appears to users within your ad.

Ideally, though, the URL links to a targeted landing page on your site. The landing page should closely match with the look, feel, and verbiage of the ad, with a clearly defined CTA so the person knows what action to take next.

For example, if HawkSEM was creating a PPC ad that offered a free PPC audit, the display URL could be something like hawksem.com/free-ppc-audit. This way the offer is clearly matched with the ad itself. 

The link might then route to a more complex URL for tracking purposes, like
hawksem.com/ppc-audit/?utm_source=ppc&utm_medium=google-ads&utm_campaign=ppc-audit.

Descriptions

You’ve got a limited number of characters to work with for your PPC ad’s description — 90, to be exact. Make them count! 

Your description should speak specifically to your target audience, highlight benefits for them (vs. just talking about how great your offering is), and have a strong call to action (CTA).

Descriptions are most effective when they’re tangible, i.e. offering “25% off” instead of simply saying “we’re the best!” Plus, Google now allows for 2 descriptions, doubling your character count to 180.

Ad extensions

Ad extensions are no-cost additional lines of text that can help improve your CTR by adding more info and context to your ad (as well as more real estate on the SERP). As Google explains, ad extensions can include:

  • More text
  • Call buttons
  • Location info
  • Pricing info
  • Additional links to your website
  • Star ratings

Your extensions aren’t guaranteed to show up with your ad, but if your ranking is high enough and the extension is likely to improve performance, it will.

Suspect your PPC program might be broken? Here’s how to fix it.

bing serp

Microsoft Advertising PPC ads (formerly known as Bing ads) on the Bing search engine function and look similar to Google Ads.

What are Microsoft Advertising PPC ads?

Microsoft Advertising PPC ads (formerly known as Bing ads) function and look similar to Google Ads.

They feature the “ad” box next to the result, and include a headline, URL, and description. As you can see above, some ads include additional links and descriptions as well.

bing shopping serp

Shopping ads are more visual, often leading to a higher CTR than plain-text ads.

What are shopping PPC ads?

For e-commerce brands and those who sell products online, shopping ads can be a great way to get someone to “add to cart.” Shopping ads are more visual, often leading to a higher CTR than plain-text ads.

E-commerce search ads are automated based on data you send to the search engines. That’s why it’s crucial to fully optimize the product pages on your website. To set up your product to be included in the results feed, you’ve got to format your product information to be compatible with the Shopping feed’s ad platform.

Once you submit your product data to the search engine in the proper format, you’ll be primed to show up on the SERP’s ad section. The approval process can take 24-72 hours.

Merchant centers for Google and Bing have their own breakdowns to ensure you’re following the proper steps.

What are some PPC marketing stats?

  • The first PPC ad spaces were reportedly created in 1996 by Planet Oasis and Google as a research project at Stanford University.
  • Microsoft’s search network Bing attracts 687 million unique desktop searchers a year.
  • Brand awareness can be increased by up to 80% through Google paid ads.
  • The paid search market is worth approximately $60 billion in the U.S.
  • 36% of Bing users have household incomes in the top 25%.
  • Google processes over 40,000 search queries every second on average.
  • Mobile devices account for about 69% of all Google’s paid ads clicks in the U.S.

What are the benefits of PPC marketing ads?

With PPC marketing ads, you don’t have to fight against the algorithm to show up at the top of a SERP listing. These ads put your business in front people who are searching for something similar to what you have to offer.

Gone are the days of buying ads and crossing your fingers that they’re seen by enough interested people to be worth their price.

By conducting proper keyword research to target your audience and only paying for the clicks you actually get, you have a great chance of turning that click into a conversion.

How does bidding work?

You likely know how auctions work. There’s an item (or, in this case, a rank placement), and different people try to outbid each other to be the one who scores.

That’s how PPC bidding works, more or less. When someone enters a query into their chosen search engine, there’s an auction. The built-in algorithm picks what they determine as the most relevant paid and organic search results, and that’s what the user sees.

It’s up to you to determine the amount you’re willing to pay when someone clicks your ad. Essentially, you’re deciding how much each click is worth. What makes this tricky is that, unlike in a public auction, you don’t know how much your competitors are bidding on each keyword compared to yours.

If another advertiser outbids you, their ad is the one that’ll get shown. If you bid too high, you may get more clicks, but you can also go through your budget in a snap. To find the happy medium, it takes time and attention, whether that means you, a team member, or a digital marketing agency.

Keep an eye on your click volume and the types of clicks you’re getting — are they qualified leads or are they junk? These insights will help you modify both your bidding and your ad content accordingly.

What is a quality score?

Along with your bid, your quality score also factors into your ad ranking. Google decides on your overall quality score (on a scale from 1, which is not great, to 10, which is excellent).

This can be viewed in the keywords section of your Google Ads account. The better your quality score, the more you’ll rise through the ranks of results and the better cost-per-click (CPC) rate you’re likely to get.

photobooth atlanta ppc ad on the serp

Your PPC ad’s ranking at the top of a SERP depends on factors like the keywords you’re bidding on, the competition for those keywords, your bid amount, and your quality score.

What affects an ad’s ranking?

Your PPC marketing ad’s ranking depends on a few factors. These include which keywords you’re bidding on, the amount of competition for those keywords, the amount of your bid, and your quality score.

The formula looks something like this:

The ad ranked below you
———————————- + $0.01 = actual CPC
Your quality score

The higher your ranking, the greater your chances are of getting a click — pretty simple. If you want to up your ranking without increasing your spending, make sure your ads are compelling, accurate, and in line with the hyper-focused landing pages connected to them.

You also want to be mindful of who you’re targeting, when you’re targeting them, and where you’re targeting (from region to the search engine itself).

What is PPC lead scoring?

Generating leads is one thing — but knowing the value of the leads being generated is another altogether. 

When you know the true value of the leads coming in through lead scoring, you can better prioritize and iterate your PPC marketing strategies. This helps you drive more of the kind of leads you want in the future.

You can determine your lead value by setting up a lead-scoring system that connects your quality leads to the amount spent on each lead.

UTM parameters can be added to landing page URLs that gather info about who is clicking your ads. From there, you can pull this PPC marketing campaign data into your CRM to connect with lifetime value and lead score. 

This helps determine which campaigns are driving the best leads and value (and it’s part of ConversionIQ, HawkSEM’s unique approach to marketing). Armed with this info, you can better analyze your PPC campaigns and keywords to maximize your ROI.

How do you calculate PPC marketing ROI?

Put simply, you can calculate revenue per lead using the following formula:

Total Revenue Generated / Total Number of Leads = Average Revenue Per Lead

However, this doesn’t paint the whole picture. 

There are other factors at play as well, including your average sales cycle length, site traffic, customer relationship management (CRM) data, and lead scoring to determine your high-quality leads.

Ensure you’re properly measuring your PPC ROI by:

  • Setting up lead scoring
  • Tracking your leads and conversions properly
  • Adding in subjective data regarding experiences with the lead
  • Calculating anticipated ROI before anticipated site traffic

How can you optimize your SEM plan for PPC success?

You can have the best PPC ads around — but if the rest of your online presence is lackluster, you still risk those clicks turning into dead ends instead of closed deals.

Take another look at your search engine marketing (SEM) program. Are you leveraging the right keywords? Have you planned out your ROI goals? Is your site fully optimized? 

Being able to answer “yes” to all of these questions will give you and your team the peace of mind that you’re doing all you can when it comes to search engine marketing.

Plenty of companies make the mistake of letting conversion tracking fall by the wayside. Some set it up improperly, and some aren’t tracking this at all. Conversion tracking is crucial for giving you insight into performance while providing you with insightful data about customer actions.

A step-by-step plan for an ROI-driven PPC campaign

Think you’ve got the ROI-driven PPC thing down? Make sure you’re taking all of these steps when crafting your campaign:

  • Determine your campaign’s goals
  • Identify, prioritize, and categorize the right keywords for your campaign
  • Write out your ad copy
  • Set up your ads within your chosen ad platform
  • Determine the desired CTA
  • Make sure your landing pages are targeted, consistent, and optimized
  • Have proper tracking set up (More than 70% of our PPC audits turn up incorrect or with improper tracking.)

How to find the right PPC agency for you

Whether you’re not seeing the PPC results you want or just don’t have the time and resources to manage it all, partnering with an agency can be hugely beneficial. (OK, so maybe we’re a little biased.)

When you’re vetting out the agencies you potentially want to work with, it’s a good idea to prepare by:

Once you decide which agencies you want to actually connect with in-person or via phone, make sure you get an understanding of their fee structure, company culture, and communication style.

The takeaway

PPC ads have proven to be a way to reach your targeted audience and turn search engine users into customers. 

Not only can paid search ads significantly boost your brand awareness, but they can expand your reach, bring you more traffic, and, ultimately, make you more money.

Ready to take your PPC game to the next level? Let’s chat.

This article has been updated and was originally published in November 2019.

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

Here, you’ll find:

  • How to create a proper e-commerce PPC marketing foundation
  • Ways to optimize, organize, and test your PPC campaigns
  • How to grow your success beyond Google Shopping campaigns
  • SEM tricks to create successful ads that convert

E-commerce spending broke holiday records in 2021, with U.S. consumers spending a record $204.5 billion online.

But surprisingly, just 17% of brands say they’re ahead of the curve or leading in the e-commerce space in their industry. 

What that tells us is that there’s a wealth of opportunity for your e-commerce company to rise above the ranks. One of the most effective ways to do just that: paid search (also called pay-per-click or PPC) campaigns.

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. 

Traditional search campaigns are powered by keywords. But with e-commerce ads, it’s all about the product feed.

Wondering how to get started with e-commerce campaigns? You’ve come to the right place. Let’s break down what steps to take when creating paid search ads for your e-commerce brand.

hawksem article: e-commerce ppc

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

1. Set up your Google Merchant Center account properly

It should come as no surprise that the right setup is key to creating successful e-commerce ads. But plenty of companies, whether they realize it or not, don’t have their accounts set up properly. 

This can lead to improper tracking and unnecessary steps. So, how do you ensure you’re starting off on the right foot?

Link your account via a shared email address

To begin, you need to create a free Google Merchant Center (GMC) account. It’s best to use the same email you 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.

Choose a product data input method

Next, it’s time to get your products into the Google Merchant Center. A few things to consider when determining how to get your product data into GMC are:

  • Which e-commerce platform will you be leveraging?
  • How many products will you be uploading?
  • How many product variations with individual SKUs will you be uploading?
  • Do you have all the product details organized?

How you get your products into GMC to create the feed mostly depends on how many products you have. If you have a lot of products and are using a popular e-commerce platform such as Shopify or BigCommerce, you should be able to easily integrate this with GMC. 

This will help you map your product feed and submit the most updated info to GMC on a regular basis, ensuring your product data is always fresh. 

If you’ve got a smaller number of products, you can simply integrate manually via a Google spreadsheet. You can also manually add products one by one if you want to test out the platform first. 

Pro tip: If your product list is especially large, Google’s new file processor Centimani might be a great solution for you.

Optimize your Merchant Center settings

There are a lot of things in GMC settings that often get overlooked. One is enabling automatic updates. 

Google will crawl your page and find your most updated price and availability if you opt in to get automatic improvements. 

This is great if, for example, you run out of stock on a product, because it keeps you from running Google Ads to a page where your products aren’t available. However, if you have your site structured in a way that keeps Google from understanding your pricing, it’s probably best to turn off the automatic price updates.

Once you have everything in GMC, you’ll connect to your Google Ads account. In April 2020, Google announced that they’d run free listings on Google Shopping. This Shopping section is a lot like Amazon in that you can filter by things like price.

This means it’s more important than ever to get your GMC created with your products and prices because you’ll start getting an organic lift from being on the Shopping tab for free. This can be especially helpful for local SEO.

Pro tip: Even if your business doesn’t have the budget for new campaigns, we still recommend going into GMC and setting up a feed, because you’ll be eligible for free listings in the U.S. 

2. Stay on top of your product feed

Once your GMC account is set up, don’t fall into a set-it-and-forget-it mindset. 

Making sure your product feed is updated is just as crucial as proper setup. (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, right?)

Once you input products, they’ll remain active for 30 days. After that, those products will expire if you don’t update their info, meaning they won’t be eligible to show potential customers. 

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.

It’s also important to keep your prices updated. A 2021 GMC update increased the scrutiny on prices. Prices listed in your product data, on your landing pages, and at checkout must match. They’ll give you 28 days to resolve the mismatch before suspending your account.

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)

3. Set up your e-commerce ads campaign

It’s pretty easy to get started once you have GMC linked. It’s usually a good idea to start with a standard Shopping campaign. 

Smart Shopping is usually best fueled by having a solid foundation of account data. If you’re just getting started, you may want to run a manual cost-per-click (CPC) campaign first, then experiment with Smart Shopping or automated bidding down the road.

Get granular

The #1 way to set yourself up for campaign success is to get granular. That’s because the more specific a product search is, the higher the purchase intent is likely to be.

The more you segment out your products, the more targeted your PPC ads will be. It makes sense: someone searching for a specific brand, style, color, and size of running shoe is probably more motivated to buy than someone just searching with the term “running shoe.”

You can split products into separate campaigns and ad groups that can then be split further into product groups. If you have a small, manageable number of products, you can break everything out by single-product product groups.

An example: Let’s say your core products are sporting goods, but you also sell apparel as 20% of your business. It may be wise to put all of your apparel into a separate campaign to make sure you’re giving most of your budget to your core products. 

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 separate out traffic based on how specific the search is by setting up campaign priorities and then using negative keywords to separate those searches. Google’s 2021 GMC updates include additional sizing attributes which may be helpful as well.

Pro tip: Google Shopping is unique in that it has a priority system — you can set low, medium, and high priority campaigns. If you have several Shopping campaigns, this system dictates which ones serve an ad first.

Include prices in your ads

Your GMC account isn’t the only place you want to make sure your prices are visible. Including prices in your ads can be a highly effective way to get more clicks than your competition. Not only can this help 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.

Google recently added a “Deals” feed to the SERP page. When you’re running a promotion, sale, or have products with a recent price drop, consumers searching for deal- or sales-related listings will see your products. 

A look at how GMC has recently started reporting free clicks

A look at how GMC reports free clicks (via Google Merchant Center)

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. 

There are two major KPIs to consider when optimizing a Shopping campaign. If you’re on a manual bidding strategy, pay attention to conversion volume and the result of conversion value over cost. That will calculate a rough idea of your return on ad spend (ROAS).

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. 

After you’ve accrued some data, you can decrease bids on anything under your goal or average. You can also increase bids on items that are producing the most conversion value when compared to ad spend.

With Shopping, you can’t run a traditional experiment within Google Ads, but you can switch over for a time period and compare after a while. Automatic bidding strategies are powered by data, so the longer you run them, the better they should get. 

If you’re going to try Smart Shopping, it’s a good idea to pick a mix of high and low performers, then exclude those from your regular Shopping campaign. Don’t simply pick all your low performers from your regular Shopping campaign and put them in Smart Shopping. You want a mix to ensure you’re getting accurate results.

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

Pro tip: We don’t recommend running the same products in your traditional and Smart Shopping campaigns. If you do, Smart Shopping will automatically take precedence.

A remarketing email from Uncommon Goods triggered by cart abandonment.

A remarketing email from Uncommon Goods triggered by cart abandonment.

Leverage dynamic 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.

If you’re running Google Ads, you’re already paying for people to get to your website. But, as consumers ourselves, we know not everyone buys the first time they visit a site or product page. That’s where dynamic remarketing comes in.

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

Dynamic remarketing is a great way to nurture your funnel. At its core, this method aims to show users specific products they’ve viewed on your site. If they look at running shoes, you then show them that exact pair of shoes as a Shopping ad while they browse other sites on the web. 

To set up dynamic remarketing, you generally have to add a bit of code to your site. This is powered by your GMC feed, so you have to make sure your account is set up and working if you want it to be successful.

A lot of people put things in their carts while shopping online, then don’t end up following through with the purchase. You can remarket these products to cart abandoners and, if you have the e-commerce settings set up correctly in Google Analytics, you should already have some audiences available.

For even more tips for achieving success with e-commerce search campaigns, check out our webinar recording, Getting Started with E-Commerce Search Ads.

two woman looking at e-commerce site on laptop

Google will allow your products to remain active for 30 days without new product info. (Image via Unsplash)

4. Test your ads consistently

If you want high-performing e-commerce ads, testing repeatedly is an important step.

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. 

You may think you know what your target audience wants, but the results could end up surprising you.

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

5. Think beyond Google

It makes sense that, when you think of paid search e-commerce ads, 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. If you’re seeing success in Google and topping your impression share, why stop there?

You can easily carry your Shopping campaigns over to Bing, now rebranded to Microsoft Advertising. Along with the Bing search engine, this suite includes Yahoo!, MSN, AOL, and other sites. 

Bing has a user base that searches nearly 6 billion times a month in total. Depending on your e-commerce product, you could see less competition on Bing than on Google, and a potentially cheaper cost per click (CPC).

If you already have a Microsoft Ads account, it’s easy to get a merchant center account set up right from the ad platform. Microsoft will process this data just like Google. Once it reviews the product data, you can create a Shopping campaign within Microsoft or import a Shopping campaign from Google that’s already working well.

In Microsoft Ads, you can even import on a recurring basis. If you set up a recurring sync, you can optimize in one place and make sure it’s carried over easily, instead of having to manually optimize within each platform. You can even optimize based on the different platform behaviors if that proves advantageous.

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

The takeaway

No matter the size of your brand or number of competitors, you’ve still got to work to make your PPC ads stand out. E-commerce ads can help take your sales to the next level.

By making sure your Google Merchant Center account is set up properly, keeping product info fresh, experimenting to see what works well, and considering leveraging both Google and Microsoft, you’ll be set on the path to more sales and a strong digital marketing strategy that can help your company continue to thrive.

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

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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Is a competitor showing up for your company name on the SERP? Here’s what to do.

Here, you’ll find:

  • What happens when a competitor uses your name in a Google ad
  • Advice for dealing with competitors using your company name
  • What to know about competitors bidding on your brand name
  • Expert insights into bidding on other business names

Seeing your competitor’s name on the search engine results page (SERP) is never a great feeling. 

But an even worse feeling? When a rival brand shows up after someone searches for your brand’s name.

So, are companies allowed to use another company’s name in their paid search ads? What about as keywords for bidding? We answer these questions and more below.

Can a competitor use my brand name in their ad?

The rules around company names and trademarks can be confusing. Let’s break it down. 

The basic answer is: yes. In the late 2000s, Google lifted its restrictions that prevented brands from bidding on a competitor’s branded keyword.

That means brands can use your brand name in their Google ads, as long as the name isn’t trademarked and the way they’re using it can’t be deemed “deceptive.” (Deception tactics include things like the company impersonating your brand.)

If your company’s name is trademarked, that may be a different story. Often, bigger companies trademark their names. If this is the case, then they’re the exclusive owners. Per Google guidelines, no other brands can use that name in their ad copy. 

An exception to this rule is if the company using it is a legitimate reseller, such as Zappos creating an ad for Nike sneakers. 

Pro tip: Bing also allows competitors to bid on your brand name. Their policy states that “as an advertiser, you are responsible for ensuring that your keywords and ad content, including trademarks and logos, do not infringe or violate the intellectual property rights of others.”

competitor brand name bidding on the SERP

An example of what it looks like when one brand bids on another’s name. (via Google)

What are the rules about competitors bidding on my brand name?

Competitors can buy your brand name as a keyword, even if it’s trademarked. By using your brand name as a keyword, their ad could potentially show up on the SERP when someone is searching for your specific company. 

Unfortunately, you can’t do much of anything about the competitor using your brand name or trademarks as a keyword. 

However, there are things you can do to remain competitive. For starters, ensure you’re bidding on your own brand name. This way, competitors aren’t stealing any extra traffic that should be going to you. This also allows you to take up more real estate in the SERPs if you’re showing a paid ad and appearing in the organic results. 

If a competitor is bidding on your brand name and you aren’t? Then their ad will show above your organic result, which isn’t what you want. You can also bid on their brand name — more on that below.

Pro tip: If you have an existing amicable relationship with a competitor, consider contacting them for a truce and agree to not bid on each other’s terms. There’s no guarantee they’ll agree, but if you’re worried about your budget, it’s worth a shot!

Why would a competitor bid on my company’s brand name?

The main reason companies bid on another’s brand name is to try to steal traffic away from the competition. They want to target those who are looking for a product or service like theirs. 

This is especially the case in areas where the product or service is not as well known, so people aren’t searching for the services as much. This leaves few options for keywords, so brands bid on their competitors. 

brand name bidding

Before you get heated, it’s important to realize that they might not actually be bidding on your brand. (Image via Rawpixel)

How do I choose which competitor brand names to bid on, if any?

If you’re going to try bidding on a competitor’s name, we advise making sure you’re picking the right competitors to bid on (or that your agency has picked the right ones, if you’re not doing your own marketing). 

There’s not much point in bidding on brands that aren’t stealing business away from you, such as big-name brands with significantly more offerings. 

You’ll also want to tailor the ad copy to differentiate your brand from that particular competitor. One way to do this is by highlighting your unique selling propositions. For instance, if that particular competitor brand has a similar but more expensive product or service, highlight your brand as being the more affordable option.

Have more questions about paid search or Google Ads? You’ve come to the right place.

What if I think a competitor is bending or breaking the rules around using my brand name?

Before you get heated, it’s important to realize that they might not actually be bidding on your brand. If your brand is “Sunrise Senior Living,” for example, the company could simply be bidding on “senior living.” That’s what will match in Google’s algorithm — not necessarily the “Sunrise” part. 

Unfortunately, there’s not a lot you can do unless they’re using your trademarked term in their ad copy. If they are, you can submit a trademark complaint to Google

Aside from deciding to bid on their brand in return, another way to fight back would be to conduct keyword research (using tools like SpyFu or SEMrush) on what other keywords they’re using for search marketing efforts. 

In extreme cases, you could consider sending the company a cease and desist letter, though this will likely come at a cost and not guarantee the outcome you want.

semrush pricing SERP

just because a competitor is bidding on certain keywords, that doesn’t mean they’re the “right” keywords. (Image via Google)

Should I bid on my competitor’s brand name?

There’s no hard-and-fast answer to this. However, experience tells us that bidding on a competitor’s brand name shouldn’t be a top priority in your paid search strategy. 

If you have other keywords that are working well, it’s a better use of your ad spend to allocate your marketing budget toward those. 

If you have an excess budget, then you could try bidding on their brand as a keyword. We don’t suggest using another brand in your ad copy.

How can I use competitors bidding on my brand to my advantage?

If your products or services are similar enough, this could give you ideas for things to try on your own search marketing efforts. 

It’s also worth noting that, just because a competitor is bidding on certain keywords, that doesn’t mean they’re the “right” keywords. If a keyword doesn’t seem right to bid on for your business, don’t do it! (And maybe even add them to your campaign as negative keywords.) 

Consider reviewing their ad copy or strategy and taking inventory of what you uncover. How does yours compare? This is a great time to reflect on your own advertising efforts. 

Are you taking full advantage of Google’s ad offerings like ad extensions and sitelink extensions (if appropriate)? Ask yourself: If you were a consumer, would you click on your ad?

Pro tip: If you decide to bid on competitor terms, avoid using dynamic keyword insertion. This is a feature that involves the searched keyword auto-populating as an ad’s headline. This will cause your competitor’s name to show up in your ad. It could be deemed deceptive, even if it’s unintentional.

The takeaway

We find that, in general, bidding on your competitor’s brand is typically not a great idea. You could also get lower quality scores for those keywords. 

That’s because Google can see you’re not the brand whose name you’re bidding on. Plus, it’ll likely cost you more to bid on those branded keywords because the brand isn’t your own.

In the long run, it’ll be better for your marketing plan to focus on your unique products or services, make sure user experience is top-notch, and use ads to highlight your selling propositions that make you stand out.

This article has been updated and was originally published in December 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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Managing your PPC campaign shouldn’t be what frightens you most this Halloween. Make sure these mistakes don’t come back to haunt you.

Here, you’ll find:

  • Common PPC problems even seasoned marketers run into
  • Actionable solutions to help you avoid these problems
  • Pro tips to boost your PPC campaign
  • Best practices to help you stick to your budget

Ghouls, monsters, zombies, and underperforming pay-per-click (PPC) advertising campaigns — all pretty scary, right?

When it comes to paid search, it can be easy to spend your whole budget and still see underwhelming results. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Running a PPC campaign is like getting your first credit card. If used wisely, you’ll spend some money now and be rewarded for your good decisions later. 

But if you’re not especially thoughtful about your spending? You could be out of funds before you know it. 

While we can’t speak to your credit score, we can help you learn from the PPC mistakes of others without having to make these missteps yourself.

We’ve highlighted some common PPC problems, complete with solutions to help turn things around. Just beware: there’s spooky stuff ahead. 

three carved jack o lanterns

Don’t let Google’s reputation trick you into missing out on a great opportunity. (Image via Unsplash)

Problem #1: You don’t have a concise goal and strategy

You started a PPC campaign without a clear goal in mind. Without a specific target or timeframe, it’s difficult to track your progress or know how to measure success.

End goals are so important that Microsoft Advertising bases your campaign plan and recommendations on your goal. Plus, not having a goal can potentially make any strategy seem like it’s moving in the right direction.

Solution: Once you define your goal, you can create a plan for how to reach it. Define your audience as specifically as you can. Once you know your audience and strategy, you can choose better keywords and create stellar ad copy that gets your target audience to click. 

Problem #2: You’re not leveraging PPC beyond Google

Plenty of marketers get trapped in a Google-only mindset. But, as we’ve said before, Microsoft Advertising is a viable option for plenty of industries. 

Solution: Ads on Bing (Microsoft’s search engine) also run on the Yahoo! and AOL search networks. They have exclusive access to 66 million searchers who opt for the Microsoft search engine over Google, and over a third of their users are in the top quarter of earners. 

Don’t let Google’s reputation trick you into missing out on a great opportunity. Microsoft Advertising has a display network called the Audience Network that can be leveraged as well.

Problem #3: You’re not using negative keywords

You already know how essential keywords are in a campaign, but there are a few other things you need to be aware of to better make use of keywords.

One of the PPC problems many companies fall for is failing to use negative keywords in their strategy. 

Solution: 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’re selling luxury bedding, and “bedsheets” is your keyword, you wouldn’t want to appear in a search query like “what to do with old bedsheets?” Using negative keywords can help improve the relevancy of your ads and make sure the right people are seeing them.

Pro tip: Relatedly, don’t neglect your own branded keywords. Some companies will bid on the competition’s keywords to siphon off buyers looking for their brand. If your competition is bidding on your keywords and you aren’t, that could cost you.

Problem #4: You’re not taking advantage of available resources

Paid search platforms often have various features and tools to make managing your account easier. The trick is knowing what they are. 

Solution: Google has ad scripts that help you automate many important but tedious tasks. They can analyze your ads, send budget alerts, and assist with bid management.

Google also allows you to schedule your ads to run during certain times of the day. There are often windows of heightened conversion when your target audience will be most likely to see your ads. 

Ad extensions are another great resource. You can spotlight prices, location, site link, or features. They make the ads larger and more engaging. Ad extensions are free and can do wonders for your clickthrough rate (CTR). 

Problem #5: You don’t have a consistent message

Throughout all the content you create (including ads and landing pages), your tone, 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 be unsure about whether your business is what they’re looking for and bounce from your page.

Solution: To avoid PPC problems like this, it’s wise to repeat your ad copy on your landing page to keep visitors on track. 

Other best practices include having a similar design across all of your platforms and offerings, and keeping the tone and voice consistent throughout.

skeletons and neon lights

Leveraging tools to make your job easier is a win, but they work best when paired with a hands-on approach — no bones about it. (Image via Unsplash)

Need more help with your PPC? That’s why we’re here.

Problem #6: You’re driving traffic, but not conversions

You’ve decided on the copy, finalized the design, organized your campaigns, and launched your ads. Now, you’re seeing traffic numbers go up — that’s great! But conversions are another story.

Traffic is one thing, but if you’re not getting conversions, something is amiss. So, what gives? It may be a matter of where you’re sending that traffic on your site.

Solution: Create optimized landing pages. If your ads send leads to your homepage, you’re not making the best use of your traffic. As we’ve said before, quality traffic can lead to more conversions, sales, and a better-performing digital marketing strategy. 

When people click your ads and land on your homepage, it’s not always clear where they should go or what they should do next.

By sending this traffic to optimized landing pages instead, you can deliver a minimalist visual experience with a clear message that makes it easy for your leads to know exactly what action they should take. You can even tailor these various landing pages to different audience segments and speak directly to them.

Use 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 do something like sign up for your email list, schedule a consultation, fill out a form, or give you a call.

Problem #7: Your leads aren’t qualified

Sure, it’s great to have a large influx of leads coming your way. But if the bulk of your leads aren’t qualified, you’re using up time and money that could be better spent elsewhere. 

By not taking advantage of all of the keyword and targeting strategies at your disposal (like using too many overly broad keywords and not leveraging negative keywords), you risk running into PPC problems like having a high volume of leads that don’t actually translate into sales.

Solution: It may be time to look into the audiences you’re currently targeting. Where are they in your buyer’s journey?

By targeting your prospects who are further down the funnel and closer to the decision-making stage, you can create hyper-focused campaigns that’ll increase your odds of converting them.

It’s important not to focus solely on bottom-of-funnel prospects though. Every stage of the funnel will have different ideal tactics and serve a different purpose in the customer journey. It’s vital not to laser-focus on one stage at the detriment of all others.

Also, look into single keyword ad groups (SKAGs). Experts define SKAGs as ad groups designed with a one-to-one relationship between the root keyword and the ad. These groups can include multiple variations and long-tail keywords. 

By creating ads that match your keywords closely, you can pull more detailed reports and become that much more likely to attract qualified leads. 

Problem #8: Your PPC program relies too heavily on automation

Automated marketing can be great for time-saving and repetitive manual tasks. But being too hands-off with your PPC program can have drawbacks.

This can result in underperformance and a lack of understanding about what’s going right and what needs attention. When you opt for the “set it and forget it” model, you risk wasted ad spend and losing control of the whole operation.

Solution: At its core, marketing is about connecting with people. Because of this, it’s essential that you keep the human element at the center of any marketing strategy or initiative if you want to see long-term success.

Once your PPC campaign is 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, it’s a good idea to monitor its performance as often as possible. 

You’re paying for the ad daily, after all, so you want to make sure you’re spending your ad budget wisely.

Leveraging tools to make your job easier is a win, but they work best when paired with a hands-on approach — no bones about it. This means taking the time to understand your audience (in a way no algorithm can), revisiting your goals, and iterating when necessary. 

By continuing to test, track, and reconfigure your PPC program, you’ll land on the combination that works best for your company — with or without automation.

Pro tip: Split testing is a great way to see which campaigns and changes are more effective instead of running a bunch of ads without proper analysis, never knowing which one is more effective.

Problem #9: You’re not sticking to your budget

Another one of the PPC problems we often see is how easy it can be to go through your allotted budget in a snap. If your campaigns are bringing you a high volume of leads without resulting in substantial returns on investment (ROI), then there’s work to be done.

But, wait! Don’t throw more money into Google Ads to try to boost profits and fix your wasted ad spend issue just yet. You don’t necessarily need to modify your budget just because you’re consistently underspending and not hitting your goals. 

Solution: We’re all about money keywords — the keywords that bring you the most PPC ROI. By zooming in on the right data, you can get a better idea of your money keywords and the ones that can be scrapped.

First, check out your PPC performance over the last 3-4 months (as long as your current strategy has been in place at least that long).

Go into your Google Ads account in the Keywords tab. Next, identify all the keywords that haven’t produced any conversions during those months (you can organize this info in a spreadsheet or PivotTable) and dump them. 

(It’s worth noting here that branded keywords are a different story, as these can help boost your quality score, even if they don’t result in conversions.)

It’s not all about clicks and traffic, both of which may decrease after you eliminate those keywords. Look at which ones are driving the best customer lifetime value (CLV), then put as much of your budget as you can towards your money keywords. 

Ads further down the page can still have great CTRs and conversion rates, and will end up costing you less in the long run. 

Pro tip: Not hitting your budget? Try increasing your cost-per-click (CPC) bid limit and expanding your audience location. By creating a simple budget tracker that includes your overall budget, average spend rates, and actual monthly spend rates, you can get a grasp on where you are and where you want to be. 

The takeaway

Your paid search strategy shouldn’t be a mystery, and it shouldn’t feel like you’re simply throwing ideas at the wall and seeing what sticks.  

By identifying your PPC problems and arming yourself with the right information and solutions, you can turn a broken program into a high-performing strategy that yields big results and impressive ROI. 

Get solutions to even more PPC problems here: Our Ultimate Guide to Problem-Solving for Your PPC Program and Getting the ROI You Deserve.

This article has been updated and was originally published in October 2019.

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 Oct 6, 2021

When it comes to measuring the success of your pay-per-click (PPC) program, these are the top metrics to monitor. 

Here, you’ll find:

  • Ways to determine your specific PPC goals
  • How your goals relate to your KPIs
  • Tips for evaluating your business’s definition of success
  • Common KPIs used to measure PPC campaigns

Are you measuring key performance indicators (KPIs) for your marketing campaigns? 

If you’re unsure how your campaigns are really performing or you’re struggling to measure the effectiveness of your campaigns, it may be time to revisit your KPIs.

KPIs give your business an effective, measurable way to track your campaigns’ progress and performance. In the case of a PPC campaign, you want to be sure that you’re seeing a reasonable return on your overall investment. 

By establishing PPC KPIs, you can create goals in Google Analytics that connect with your Google Ads. This way, you’ll have visibility into campaign performance and can begin sourcing accurate data right from the start. 

If you haven’t yet determined what you’re trying to accomplish with your campaign, here are some factors to consider.

hawksem blog: PPC KPIs

When you’re first deciding on goals, consider your past marketing successes as well as what you want this specific campaign to accomplish. (Image via Unsplash)

What is your PPC campaign trying to accomplish?

Typically, the goal of a PPC campaign is to raise awareness of your brand and to encourage customers to click through the ad to your website over your competitors’. 

Your PPC campaign may focus on a specific stage of the buyer’s journey or encompass specific keywords that are related to your product or service. 

When determining what KPIs to track, make sure you’ve clearly defined what you’re trying to accomplish with the campaign. 

For example, if you’re creating a top-of-funnel campaign to raise brand awareness or spread information about a new product or solution, you may want to focus on direct clicks more than conversions. 

What does “success” look like for your marketing program?

Every industry — and every brand within those industries — has a different measure of success. A brand that has a significant marketing budget, for example, may have higher goals and be willing to spend more on a campaign. 

If you sell high-dollar products or services or see a significant customer lifetime value (CLV), you may be able to spend more to acquire a single customer than if you’re a small business with relatively low-price items or a lower CLV.

When you’re first deciding on goals, consider your past marketing achievements as well as what you want this specific campaign to accomplish. 

Ideally, you want to boost ROI through new sales. But if your goals are more focused on raising brand awareness or bringing customers to your website, you may not see that kind of return in the early stages of your campaign. 

You also don’t have to start with your final goal, as Search Engine Journal explains. You can start by raising awareness or building your email list in the hopes that the end result over time will be more sales.  

Common KPIs to help track PPC campaigns

Looking at common PPC KPIs used to measure a campaign can give you a better idea of what to focus on when evaluating your campaign. 

There are some platform-specific KPIs, like followers on social media, then there are more general, universal ones. No matter what platform you’re on, you may want to consider:

Clickthrough rate (CTR)

CTR measures how many people clicked on your ad after seeing it. You can assess clickthrough rate by taking the total number of impressions (the number of times the ad was seen) and dividing it by the number of clicks it received. 

For a view to qualify as an impression, the consumer doesn’t have to take any action or interact with the ad. 

However, the clickthrough rate can give you a better idea about what percentage of people you can expect to click through an ad based on the number of times it’s been seen. 

Cost per click

The cost per click determines how much it costs you when someone clicks on your ad. In the competitive digital ad space, particularly when it comes to specific, high-volume keywords, you may pay more per click than you would in the case of lower-frequency keywords. 

However, those higher costs may be well worth it when you end up with a better overall return on your investment for critical keywords than you do for low-volume keywords. 

people in a meeting about ppc kpis

Keep a close eye on your conversion rate as you consider the performance of your campaign. (Image via Unsplash)

Cost per conversion

As customers click through your ad, some of them will explore your site, join your mailing list, or even make a purchase. How much does it cost to convert customers through those ads? 

Your cost per conversion will naturally be higher than your cost-per-click rate. 

Not every customer who clicks through your ad will choose to convert, whether that means joining your list or making a purchase from your business. 

Notice that your cost per conversion is higher on a specific type of campaign, or based on specific keywords? You may want to consider revisiting those keywords or the elements of your campaign. 

This way, you can potentially create a more effective campaign that has a higher return on your investment. 

Need more help getting your PPC program off the ground? Let’s make it happen.

Conversion rate

Not only do you want to know the cost per conversion, but it’s also important to know how many prospects actually convert. 

If you notice your conversion rate decreasing — that is, that people are clicking through the ad, but not choosing to make a purchase from your business or to sign up for your mailing list — consider why. 

Is your campaign focusing on the wrong keywords? Does your landing page fail to deliver the information customers need, or not provide them with an effective call to action? Keep a close eye on your conversion rate as you consider the performance of your campaign. 

Pro tip: Quality Score is another KPI worth looking into. While this score is determined by Google, it’s based on factors like your expected CTR, ad relevance, and landing page experience. A higher quality score means you could rank higher while spending less. 

The takeaway

The last thing you want is to pour money into a PPC program without a clear goal in mind. 

Having key performance indicators helps you measure success and better pinpoint strengths and weaknesses in your campaigns.

By knowing what PPC KPIs are most important to your brand, you can build a solid plan to help ensure your goals are met.

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

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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