The guest tip is by Andrew Morris
Reducing your AdWords PPC campaign costs (as well as proper pay per click management) is crucial to ensuring you meet your conversion objectives. Cost control occurs at multiple levels in your campaign. There are a handful of manual adjustments that you can make to trim campaign costs. In addition, certain software tools—including bid management ones, in particular—can automatically control keyword costs. A search engine marketing company can really benefit from this concept.
It’s important to first inspect costs at the campaign level. If you are displaying ads on both Google’s search and content networks, ensure that you have one campaign targeting just search, and a duplicate one targeting just content. This will allow you to control budgets and modify ad group and keyword bids for each network independently. Also, for content campaigns, I strongly recommend using site and category exclusions to preserve your click dollars by preventing your ads from appearing on irrelevant sites or categories of web pages.
Next, analyze your brand and top-performing keywords and adjust those bids as necessary. Also, adding different query match types of existing keywords, especially ones that are costly or with high CPAs, allows you to set unique bids for each match type.
Check the Quality Scores of your keywords. Pause those terms with Quality Scores of four or less and having zero conversions. In addition to affecting a keyword’s cost per click (CPC) and first page bid estimate, Quality Score will influence your ad ranking and the keyword’s eligibility to enter the ad auction.
However, when you’re working with not just hundreds but thousands or hundreds of thousands of keywords, you need some automation to help you control and manage the costs of all those long-tail terms. Here are several [mostly] bid management tools that can help you to accomplish this:
- Acquisio SEARCH. Included in the Acquisio SEARCH platform is a powerful, rules-based campaign and bid management module. Among other things, the tool shows you which keywords should be paused, emails you when keywords have poor Quality Scores, and allows you to set maximum CPCs aligned with a dynamic expression like first page bid estimate.
- Clickable. Clickable’s ActEngine analyzes your campaign and automatically generates performance recommendations, namely, in the form of proposing bid increases on effective keywords, reducing bids of underperforming keywords, or notifying you of terms that have fallen below their first page estimates.
- DoubleClick DART Search. The automated bid management tool included in DART Search can bid on your keywords up to 12 times a day. It allows you to create a bid strategy by choosing two rules to be applied in a particular order. Bid rules include those based on position, ROI, etc.
- Omniture SearchCenter. Part of the Omniture Online Marketing Suite of applications, the SearchCenter automated bid engine offers the usual bid management tactics, including, rules-based and portfolio. Day-parting is another feature offered by SearchCenter, however, most modern PPC engines already provide this.
- Podium adCore. This bid management algorithm can adjust bids at the keyword- and ad group-levels, as well as help you test different ad creatives. There’s also a keyword cleanup feature for removing terms with click-through rates below a certain percentage, or having CPAs above a predefined value.
Even with automation tools at your disposal, regularly scheduled, hands-on management of campaign costs remains a necessity. Trimming fat from your campaigns—in addition to doing things like adding negative keywords or testing new ad copy and landing pages—should be an integral part of your regular account maintenance. The above cost-reducing methods and automation tools should keep your PPC campaigns lean, and in line with your conversion goals.
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