Pay-per-click and paid search advertising

Optimising PPC campaigns

Guide

Once you have set up your pay-per-click (PPC) campaign, it's important to benchmark and continually measure campaign performance. By assessing and adapting your tactics you can ensure that your campaign is optimised - maximising your return on investment.

Some factors to consider include:

  • Re-analyse your keywords - check the keywords used are delivering the right kind of traffic and adjust your bids if necessary. Check the 'search terms' and bounce rate for an indicator of how relevant your keywords are.
  • Choose the right keyword matching option. A broad match, for instance, will trigger your ad more frequently but could mean your ad is less targeted resulting in a lower click-through rate (CTR). Using phrase match or exact match keywords should improve your CTR. Using negative keywords prevents wasting budget with irrelevant clicks.
  • Prepare your ads, taking into account that each ad group can link to several ad copy versions, so you can test which ads are working best. Remove the least effective versions and take notes on what works for future campaigns.
  • Check your keyword quality score. A low quality score indicates that your keywords, ad and landing page aren't as relevant to each other as they should be. This can have a negative impact on clicks and cost per click.
  • Check the advice from the major search engines on setting up campaigns and any extra tools they offer to support you in managing your campaigns.
  • Set up campaign landing pages so the destination URL in your ad takes users directly to the product that they want to buy. Make sure the landing pages are well designed and closely aligned to the advert. This will maximise your conversion rate - ie the percentage of people who actually buy the product. It will also help you reduce cost per click (CPC) because search engines reward the most relevant ads. See choose the right landing page for your PPC campaign.

A/B testing

Controlled A/B testing - also known as 'split testing' - involves varying a single element in your PPC adverts or landing pages, and analysing which gets the best response rate.

Variables could include the:

  • ad headline
  • ad copy
  • call to action
  • landing page design

You should take care to only test one variable at a time, to avoid confusing results. The right web analytics tool is crucial. See measure your online marketing.

Benchmarking

Once you have analysed which approaches get the best click-through rates and conversions, you can use these measures as a benchmark to analyse the success of future PPC campaigns. You can also compare your campaign's performance to that of your competitors - helping you to identify areas for future improvement.