Optimizing Your Pay-per-Click (PPC) Campaign – Part 1

If you run a pay-per-click (PPC) campaign then you need to constantly optimize it’s performance. You’re paying for clicks so you can’t afford to begin a campaign and let it run without keeping a very close eye on its performance. Just being satisfied with the traffic is not going to deliver the ROI that you can gain from an effective PPC campaign. Don’t get me wrong, traffic can be a good measure, but targeted, relevant traffic that converts into sales and delivers a strong ROI should be your ultimate goal.

When it comes to PPC there are seven critical elements you need to pay close attention to in order to deliver high ROI. In this post I will focus on three of the seven: geo-targeting, the search query report and effective day-parting. I will cover placement bidding, landing page targeting by keyword and managing the content network in a subsequent post. Finally, in my last post I will discuss effective keyword discovery, research and utilization.

Geo Targeting on PPC Campaigns

Geo-targeting -  Whether you have an established business or one that is just coming up, you need to first evaluate where your most profitable customers are located. Do not make any assumptions and take a peek at your sales history, product performance to determine the major markets for your products.  Rank your geographic markets and set your PPC geo-target to the most profitable locations.

Google’s AdWords allows you to set multiple geo-targets. In my experience it is best to set one geo-target per campaign. This means you can closely monitor the performance of each market and turn off campaigns by markets. Effective geo-targeting requires testing so keep testing markets until you have a strong mix. As you monitor performance do not rely only on the metrics provided on the AdWords screen. It is very important to run a geographic report for each campaign every two weeks. When you do this you will discover additional performance metrics that will help improve performance. For example, if your geo-traget is regional in nature (entire Phoenix Metro area for example), then this report will break down campaign performance by  city (Scottsdale, Chandler, Tempe etc.) This breakdown allows you to further break down your market and focus on the more profitable areas.

search-query
Search Query Report
– In my experience I have found the search query report to be one of the most useful performance reports. The reason for this is because this report provides the exact search term visitors uses to arrive at your website. Even though the keyword report tells you which phrase or keyword converted, you still do not know the exact phrase that was the source of your conversion. For example, they keyword report might indicate that the phrase “phoenix hotel” was the converting phrase, but the search query report might show that “pet friend phoenix hotel” was in fact the phrase the visitor typed to arrive at your website.

This additional information helps you understand that not only was the visitor looking for a phoenix hotel but they were specifically looking for a pet friendly hotel.  This additional information can help you improve the ad text you use, the offers you include in promotions and also expand your keyword mix.

Effective Day Parting -  Google AdWords allows you to turn your campaign on and off during different times of the day. One of the easiest ways to optimize performance is to keep your campaigns active only during the most profitable times of day. If you are just starting with your PPC campaign then I recommend taking a look at the traffic patterns on your website (via your web analytics) to set an initial day parting schedule. However, finding the most profitable times requires constant testing.

While testing your day parting times, one thing to keep in mind is, even though you have set it up so the daily budget is evenly distributed through out the day, this is never the case. I recommend running an hourly (regardless of date) campaign report to determine how your money is being spent on any given day.  I generally look at the time at which 80% of the budget is spent and compare this against the conversions during this time.  This analysis helps to determine whether or not to split the day parting even further.

Next I will discuss placement bidding, landing page targeting by keyword and managing the content network.

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