You’ve researched hundreds of long-tail keywords, organised them into granular ad groups, and crafted ad messages which closely match the ad group’s keywords. You then set your Google AdWords campaigns live.
But after a while, you realise your PPC campaigns are not delivering the desired return on investment. You start making changes to bids, budgets, and keywords. Still no improvement, so you make more changes.
And so on.
It’s not long until you’ve lost track of what’s working and what’s not. Your keywords and ad groups become disorganised, your Quality Scores start to fall, and you start paying excessively high CPCs to chase after visitors and sales.
If any of this sounds familiar, perhaps you need to take a step back and review your campaign optimisation strategy. Are you making intelligent and informed decisions based on reliable, insightful, and unbiased data? Or are your bids being changed and keywords paused in a random and haphazard fashion in a drastic effort to improve results?
Below are 5 optimisation mistakes I’ve found myself guilty of from time to time, and some tips on how to avoid these common pitfalls.
Data is a PPC advertiser’s best friend. Without knowing which keywords, ads, and landing pages perform better than other keywords, ads, and landing pages, it is almost impossible to create and maintain a profitable PPC campaign. But when assessing the performance of your campaigns, it’s all too easy to make uninformed changes to keyword bids and unnecessarily pause keywords and ads based on insignificant and unreliable data.
A keyword which has received 1 click and delivered 1 sale is not a high performing keyword. Similarly, a keyword which has received 50 clicks and delivered no sales is not a poor performing keyword.
Another common mistake is placing too much emphasis on the performance of individual keywords and individual ads, and failing to see the bigger picture. If you look at only keyword data, you will fail to spot how each of your ad groups and campaigns are performing.
Because it won’t. Well, not always anyway.
People make a wide range of unique searches, so just because you made a sale after someone searched for ‘cheap Bahamas deals summer 2012′, does not mean that bidding on the keyword ‘cheap Bahamas deals summer 2012’ will deliver another sale in the future.
One of the easiest yet most dangerous mistakes to make when optimising campaigns regularly is to overlap your date ranges. You’ve selected data for the ‘last 30 days’, made your keyword bid changes, then carry out another bid optimisation 2 weeks later, again using the ‘last 30 days’ of data. Your bidding decisions will be based on overlapping data, so your changes will be made with poor judgement.
Similarly, if you’ve changed bids in the middle of the month, but then view data for the whole of the month, your CPC, CTR, and average position data will not be representative of the current state of the campaigns.
There’s nothing more frustrating than investing huge amounts of time and effort into carrying out detailed analysis on your campaigns, only to find no findings whatsoever. After carefully compiling results to compare the profitability of prices versus non-prices in ads, or compare visitor engagement and returning visits of landing page A to landing page B, you secretly hope one proves to be a clear winner.
Really, you do.
But all too often, different ad messages and landing pages will perform exactly the same. When faced with such inconclusive and frustrating results, it’s often difficult to walk away and make absolutely no changes whatsoever to your campaigns. Despite the difficulty in doing so, walking away is essential to avoid making unnecessary and often detrimental changes to your campaigns.
PPC campaign optimisation is an art. Especially when you want to include engagement metrics such as time on site and returning visits. Changes to keywords and ads should not be made haphazardly – they should only be made after careful thought and analysis, using reliable and significant data sets.
Not only does efficient and informed PPC optimisation require a good understanding of data analysis, but it also requires a good intuition and experience on when to make changes and when to walk away. Sometimes the best work you can do to a PPC campaign is to do no work at all.