Paid Search (PPC) Tips For Small Business Owners

You may already be familiar with many of the strategies covered in this guide. You have probably already implemented several of the techniques that are explained. You may even disagree with some of the strategies discussed because they may be too time consuming, not make sense for your product, etc. All that is fine. The purpose of this guide is simply to discuss strategies that have worked well for other PPC specialists in the past. Hopefully the guide will help you to discover a strategy that you are unfamiliar with, spark an idea or enable you to look at something from a different perspective that will help you to increase your account’s conversion rate.

The Golden Rule of Paid Search

When attempting to increase your conversion rate the most important thing to do is to remember the Golden Rule of Paid Search. The Golden Rule is very simple: “Give searchers what they are looking for.” Paid search is a pull and not a push marketing initiative and thus it is vital that we only present searchers with that which is most relevant to their query. So if a user searches for “pet friendly hotels in albuquerque” make sure that your ad copy mentions pet friendly hotels in Albuquerque and that your landing page shows the user a variety of hotels that are located in Albuquerque that are pet friendly. If you give searchers what they are looking for, they will buy, your conversion rate will be high and your accounts will perform well. The following are some strategies that will help you to maximize account performance:

Negative Keywords

Negative keywords are critically important in terms of optimization. They are important in two different ways:

1. Eliminating junk queries. A “junk query” for a site that sells hotel rooms, for example, would be any search query that does not indicate a searcher’s intent to purchase a hotel room. Examples would be non-hotel related queries (“flights to orlando,” “madison square garden,” “albuquerque new mexico,” etc.) as well as hotel-related queries in which there is clearly not an intent to purchase (“hotel jobs”, “hotel price index”, etc.). These queries need to be eliminated from all accounts and can most easily be eliminated using account wide negative keywords.

2. Funneling searchers to the correct ad group. Negative keywords are also extremely important in terms of channeling searchers to the correct ad group so that you can present the most optimized experience for a particular query.

Eliminating Junk Queries

In order to eliminate junk queries you should both be proactive and reactive. Being proactive means adding a list of negatives to an account before the irrelevant queries ever show up in a search query report. Being reactive means scrolling through a search query report and adding in negatives for irrelevant queries.

Proactive Ways To Deal With Negative Keywords

A universal list should be created of negative keywords for terms that you would never want to never want to show up for.

Reactive Ways To Deal With Negative Keywords

It is recommended that you crawl through search query reports to eliminate junk queries at least every other week. The fastest way to do this is to pull the SQR right in the Google interface and then you can add the query as an exact match campaign or ad group level negatives by checking the box next to the term. Unfortunately if you do this you may eliminate an unwanted query from one part of your account only to have it pop up in another part of your account or have a new undesirable query pop up in its place. For this reason, dealing reactively with negative keywords is no substitute for account level negatives and account wide proactive initiatives.

Landing Pages

Selecting the correct landing page is critically important in terms of optimizing for conversion rate. If you don’t have a landing page that gives searchers exactly what they are looking for, your conversion rate will be poor. So for a term such as “denver motels” the landing page should clearly be about “Denver Motels” (i.e. have “Denver Motels” in the title tag, H1 tag, etc) as well as list a variety of motels in Denver. Keep bids low for terms that you do not have good landing pages for so that even if your conversion rate is poor your cost per conversion will still be satisfactory.


If you are competing in an industry with really expensive keywords, then it would probably be best to invest in SEO. Paying $10 a click for paid search does not make a lot of sense when you can get the clicks for free in the organic portion of the SERPs. For example, for many lawyers, the CPC can be $8 or more.

Keywordless Ads

Google’s keywordless ads product is the ultimate keyword discovery tool; however, it is most definitely not the ultimate converting tool. The product matches to lots of irrelevant queries, and even the relevant queries typically don’t perform very well due to dynamically generated ads and in many cases sub-par landing pages.
For this reason it is recommended that you bid the product extremely low and utilize it primarily as a keyword discovery tool. Pull out any high volume terms and build them out in your other accounts. It is really best to rely on SEO to pick up the really low volume longtail keywords. If your site is needing more of a search engine optimization presence a highly recommended company is SEO Team.

Keyword Insert Ads

Unless it is absolutely necessary, never run keyword insert ads in ad groups that are running broad match. They will make your ads appear relevant even when in reality your landing page is not, causing your conversion rate to suffer. Keyword insert and broad match is a bad combination.

Set Campaign Settings to “Optimize for Conversions”

Some ads may get tons of traffic but convert poorly, which is why “Optimize for Clicks” is typically a poor option. Unless you are running some sort of a test, “Rotate” is also not the best choice and you will not be capturing the highest possible number of clicks and conversions. Choose “Optimize for Conversions.”

Gradually Shift Away from Broad Match

A best practice in terms of optimizing for conversion rate is to build out queries that broad match is matching to in exact match. This should be an ongoing part of your account optimization (building out queries that get over 100 impressions a week or so). There are several reasons for this:

1. Every single query has its own unique conversion rate; therefore, every single query should have its own unique bid. A broad match term may match to 100 different queries, so a broad match bid would just be an average of all of those queries even if some of the queries would convert extremely well with a higher bid/ position. There may be several high potential queries to break out.

2. Broad match does not convert as well. No matter how diligent you are with negative keywords you will always match to at least some irrelevant traffic. A mature, well optimized, high converting campaign should get the majority of its traffic from exact match. Broad should only be use to cover the low volume pockets of traffic that are not worth the time to build out in exact match.

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