PPC marketing is a proven way to get fast results from digital advertising. But it requires refining, updating, and optimizing for best results.
Here, you’ll find:
- Why Google Ads isn’t the only game in town
- Reasons manual bidding is worth your attention
- Expert tips on PPC optimization in 2022
- What Core Web Vitals are and why they matter
We like to say that digital marketing is part art, part science.
Sure, there are guidelines, processes, and steps — but without a heavy dose of creativity, your program isn’t likely to rise to the top.
Well-versed paid search marketers know this.
They also know that experimentation, analysis, and optimization are key components to creating a PPC strategy that isn’t just successful, but lasting too.
Behaviors, competitors, and algorithms change fast. To stay on top of your game, you have to catch on before someone else does. Let these PPC optimization strategies guide your paid search efforts for the rest of 2022 and beyond.
1. Explore manual bidding
No matter how stellar your PPC ads are, they won’t achieve proper results without the right bidding strategy. The tactic you choose for your bids depends on your campaign goals.
If you want to achieve the highest number of clicks according to your set budget, you can use the traditional automatic cost-per-click (CPC) bidding system.
However, allowing Google to do the job for you comes with a couple of downsides. One of them is the lack of an easy way to adjust your campaign if it’s not performing properly. Manual bidding can fix this problem.
This hands-on, more customized bidding approach:
- Increases ad visibility
- Lowers your cost per action (CPA)
- Allows you to prioritize keywords that convert better
Switching from automatic to manual bidding is an advanced strategy.
Often, it requires paying close attention to tactics such as:
- Focusing on one campaign at a time, since the process can be time-consuming
- Lowering your bids for keywords that receive solid impressions but don’t generate sales
- Increasing bids for keywords that convert to increase the position of ads containing them and generate more conversions
- Choosing the default bid, which is close to the average CPC in your automatic campaigns
Manual bidding is great when you need more control over bids. But this strategy also means more time often goes into making sure you’re bidding the right amount at the right time.
You can streamline this by setting up automated rules to do things like pause poorly performing keywords, raise bids to top of page or first page, raise or lower bids during certain times of day, and more.
Pro tip: When you leverage manual bidding, it’s a good idea to run the manual campaign for a couple of weeks to see if it achieves the goal of lowering CPC and generating sales.
2. Take advantage of remarketing
It’s understood that almost no one converts (aka completes a purchase) on their first visit to a website. Does that mean you’re wasting your money on PPC ads?
Of course not.
You just have to boost their success by pairing them with remarketing campaigns.
This process involves using ads to follow potential clients who have clicked your ads or visited your site. Placing your ad in front of them serves as a tasteful reminder of the action they may have wanted to take on your website.
Creating an ad group with people who have already visited your landing pages can be the key to improving your conversion rate.
While recent updates to data and privacy have added some additional hurdles to remarketing, there are still ways to create these types of strategic campaigns with success.
3. Explore Microsoft Ads
Google Ads is the clear leader in the PPC marketing realm. But that doesn’t mean other avenues aren’t worth exploring.
For some companies, using Microsoft Advertising can be just the solution they’ve been waiting for to increase their paid search ROI.
Depending on your industry, there’s often less competition on non-Google search engines and platforms, which means lower CPCs.
But while it’s easy to import a campaign over from Google Ads and let it run its course, you may be missing highly useful tools these platforms have to offer.
For example, Microsoft advertising has:
- Action extensions – add call-to-action (CTA) buttons near your ad that link to the landing page of your choice
- Review extensions – feature reviews from third-party sites below your ad
- LinkedIn targeting – view the reactions of the LinkedIn audience to your ads for further adjustments
- Competition insight – see how your visibility compares to your competition, which shows up for the same search queries
4. Pay attention to Amazon Ads
Amazon Advertising presents another PPC optimization opportunity.
While the audience covered by the likes of Google, Microsoft, and Facebook Ads is huge, those who see your ad on those platforms aren’t necessarily in the decision stage of the buyer’s journey.
Amazon audiences, on the other hand, are generally closer to the bottom of the sales funnel. People who visit this shopping giant are likely ready to buy, which increases your chances of conversion tremendously.
These are the types of sponsored Amazon ads at your disposal:
- Brand ads display as banner ads in search results
- Product ads within the search results for selected keywords as promoted relevant results
- Brands videos that auto-play while also showing an image, description, and link to the product
- Lockscreen ads for e-books
Pro tip: You don’t need to sell your products on Amazon to take advantage of this advertising option.
5. Leverage responsive search ads
After first appearing in 2019, Responsive Search Ads (RSAs) quickly grew in popularity. That’s partly because these ads allow you to create 15 headlines and 4 different descriptions for your ad.
Google then tests various combinations of these elements and selects those that perform best depending on factors like:
- Keywords searched for
- Devices used
- Browsing behavior
Responsive ads save time and money on A/B testing while allowing you to reach your target audience faster.
Pro tip: Google is sunsetting expanded text ads, meaning RSAs will be Google’s preferred ad type as of June 2023.
6. Optimize your website
Your PPC campaign results can fall far below expectations if you don’t optimize your website to welcome your target audience once they arrive there.
Recently, Google has begun to factor in Core Web Vitals when determining the ranking of your pages. These vitals include:
- Loading performance – The page should load in under 2.5 seconds.
- Visual stability – Page elements shouldn’t move when the user is reading the text (it usually happens when a piece of media loads), forcing the visitor to search for their lost place.
- Interactivity – The time between the visitor taking action (like clicking a button or tab) and the website responding should be under 100 milliseconds.
Core Web Vitals show how good of a user experience you should aim to offer your visitors. Improving them won’t just improve search engine optimization efforts, but it’ll also help your PPC ad clickers actually convert.
Pro tip: While you’re working on your website, make sure you’re prioritizing landing page optimization, too. When your landing page has content similar to keywords you’re using, it strengthens the relevancy, which Google may reward with a higher Quality Score.
7. Revisit your keywords
When’s the last time you took a long, hard look at your keywords?
There’s never a bad time to consider expanding your current keyword lists, updating your negative keywords, and getting rid of those that are underperforming.
Plus, a few keyword tweaks could bring big benefits. Even actions as minor as adding an adverb, removing a term with low search volume, or seeing which terms your competition is ranking for could bring you that much closer to more clicks and higher ROI.
Pro tip: Consult your user search term reports in Google Analytics (GA) to find new keywords to add that aren’t already in your account, then use Google Keyword Planner for additional research.
8. Check in on your conversion tracking
We highly recommend using GA and a tool like Google Tag Manager (GTM) for conversion tracking.
Why? Let’s say you want to drive more form completions. You can configure your tags in GTM, build your goals in GA, and import those GA goals to Google Ads.
If you have the same goal for multiple channels, e.g. paid social and paid search or SEO and paid search, it streamlines the conversion setup.
You can also configure Google Ads conversion tags directly in GTM. (This bypasses GA, which means you’re only recording Google Ads conversions).
As a bonus, once you link your GA and Google Ads accounts — which you need to do before importing goals — you can also create remarketing audiences in GA and import those into your Google Ads.
Need more help optimizing your PPC campaigns in 2022? Let’s talk.
PPC optimization is an ongoing process.
Add that to the multiple new options and updates happening every year, and it’s nearly impossible to thrive without analyzing regularly so you can keep enhancing your strategies.
At the end of the day, the best PPC ads are clear, consistent, targeted to the right audience, and follow through on what they offer.
This article has been updated and was originally published in July 2020.