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12 Holiday PPC Optimization Tips

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12 holiday ppc optimization tips

This year is coming to an end and we are almost through the holiday season. Here are some holiday PPC optimization tips you can make in your account right now. Some of these tips will help you reduce wasteful spending and improve ROAS.

SQRs/Negatives

It was not too long ago that Google expanded their keyword close variant matching. Microsoft Ads has also expanded its close variant matching. The search engines did this to help you show up in more searches. This also affects However, by that very design, it is a good idea to review your search query report (SQRs) weekly or bi-monthly at the minimum. You can also create a shared negative list to that can be applied to all accounts in all engines. Do not forget to check your Brand search queries too.

Tip: It is a good idea to look for keywords that frequently show up in phrases to identify the term that should be excluded.

Locations

If you are only targeting the United States in your campaigns, you could be missing out on some quick ways to optimize by locations. Sometimes we forget to drill down into the locations and identify areas of opportunity to reduce wasteful spending. In one campaign, we can see Georgia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Virginia have lower conversions rates and higher cost-per-lead (CPL). Bidding on all states will allow you to apply negative modifiers to these locations to reduce spend in these areas. You can also apply positive modifiers to the top locations Texas, New York, and Illinois.

location bids optimization

You can also create and save a filter that will help you easily find locations with no conversions, higher CPLs, or low ROAS. In the future, these filters will help you quickly find areas with poor performance to apply negative modifiers.

ppc location filters

Tip: Check your user location report to see if you are showing in other countries. If you are using the advanced location settings to target ‘People in or regularly in your targeted locations’, then you may want to add some location exclusions to reduce wasteful spending.

Ad Schedule

Depending on the account, there are sometimes specific days that do not convert as well as other days. In this account, we typically find that weekends do not typically have the best conversion performance. Since these days show decent conversion volume and conversions rates, I was a little more conservative with the negative bid modifiers at -15%.

ppc add schedule optimization

If your campaign has enough volume, you could review the hours of the day performance. For example, in this account, we see that performance is not as good on Tuesday and Wednesday, but performance improves between Friday – Sunday. Reducing bids on hours of the day that are not performing well is a great way to reduce wasteful spending.

ppc add schedule hours of day optimization

Tip: You can be more aggressive with negative bids, but it may be a good idea to be conservative with your positive modifiers.

Keywords Bids/Keyword Expansion

During the holidays, there can be fluctuations in the competitive landscape that may affect your Search Impression Share (Search IS). Check your top-performing keywords to ensure you are not losing out on Search IS due to rank. Additionally, are there keywords that have been converting well in your search query report that you could potentially add to your account? You can also review your top-performing keywords in your Shopping campaigns to find keyword expansion opportunities.

Bid Caps

If you are using any automated bid strategies in your account, it is a good idea to add bid caps to control spend. You can set-up max bid limits for Target CPA, Target ROAS, and Maximize Clicks bid strategies. You cannot set bid limits for Maximize Conversions, so keep an eye on these campaigns. In one account, they were using the Maximize Clicks bid strategy prior to onboarding with Hanapin and they did not have max bid limits set. The cost-per-click was as high as $45 per click for extremely long-tail keyword phrases. The campaign average CPC was $2.54, but there was no reason for them to have paid this much per click unless they are a lawyer.

ppc max bid limits bid caps

Promotion Extensions

Do you have a promotion available on your website? If so, you can add a promotion extension to your account to let your searchers know about this offer. In one account, there was an 80% increase in revenue during the promotion compared to the previous time frame.

ppc promotion extensions stats

If you add promotion extensions, don’t forget to set the displayed promotion dates and the dates when the promotion should be eligible to run. It may not be a good idea to show your promotion until the promotion is active. Showing a future promotion may cause searchers to postpone ordering until the date of the sale. The promotion schedule can be found under advanced options.

ppc promotion extensions settings

Ad Copy

Is your current ad copy relevant? Have you made any changes to your website that need to be updated in your ad? You may have ad copy with outdated messaging that is no longer the same as your website. Did you update the prices on your website and this change is not reflected in your ad copy? Do you have more than one ad per ad group in the account? It also can be a good idea to add Responsive Search Ads (RSAs) to your top ad groups. It is a good idea to check on the performance of the RSAs, in some accounts, the CPL ended up being lower and in others, it was much higher.

Placement/App Exclusions

If you are running any campaigns in Display, it is a good idea to regularly perform a placement analysis. Create a filter to find underperforming placements and apps to exclude from the campaign. If you have placements with mobileapp::mobileapp::2 these are apps. You cannot exclude these at placement level, but you should be able to exclude the app category if these apps have poor performance.

ppc placement

Demographic Bids

Another quick way to save some money is to review your demographic performance. Are there any age groups that are not performing well in the account? Does one gender perform better than another? Are there clear differences in household income level performance? In one account, we can see that males have a much higher CPL than females and unknown. Adding negative modifiers to males can help reduce the campaign CPL.

ppc demographic gender bids

Device Bids

You can also check out your device performance to determine if there are any opportunities. In one account, we recently added click-to-call tracking and our conversion volume improved by 30%. Now our mobile CPL is significantly lower than desktop for one campaign. Our previous +20% bids on desktop are no longer necessary and can be removed since it has the highest CPL at $85 compared to mobile at $58.

ppc device bids 1

Audience Targeting

If you have not added audiences to your campaigns, this something worth testing in your account. Recently, we added the Homeowners In-Market audience to one account. This has quickly become one of the top audiences with the most conversions and a ROAS of 430%. The All Visitors and Similar to All Visitors have a higher ROAS. To improve performance, we have increased the Homeowners to 25% and left the other bid adjustments the same.

ppc audience targeting

Ad Extensions

Another quick win is to make sure you have included all available ad extensions in your account. You should have at least 4 sitelink extensions at account-level or per campaign. Do you have structured snippets and call out extensions in your account? If you have a physical store location do you have location extensions in your account? If phone calls are important you will want to have Call Extensions in your account.

Hopefully all of these tips can help you make some optimizations that can improve your ROAS or reduce wasteful spending. If you are looking for some other tips you can check out this whitepaper about the newest ad features to try in your account.  You can also check out some PPC un-resolutions for next year.

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Boost Your Traffic in Google Discover

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Boost Your Traffic in Google Discover

2. Understand topical authority: Keywords vs. entities

Google has been talking about topical authority for a long time, and in Discover, it is completely relevant. Traditional SEO includes the use of keywords to position your web pages for a specific search, but the content strategy in Discover should be based on entities, i.e., concepts, characters, places, topics… everything that a Knowledge Panel can have. It is necessary to know in which topics Google considers we have more authority and relevance in order to talk about them.

3. Avoid clickbait in titles

“Use page titles that capture the essence of the content, but in a non-clickbait fashion.” This is the opening sentence that describes how headlines should be in Google’s documentation. I always say that it is not about using clickbait but a bit of creativity from the journalist. Generating a good H1 is also part of the job of content creation.

Google also adds:

“Avoid tactics to artificially inflate engagement by using misleading or exaggerated details in preview content (title, snippets, or images) to increase appeal, or by withholding crucial information required to understand what the content is about.”

“Avoid tactics that manipulate appeal by catering to morbid curiosity, titillation, or outrage.

Provide content that’s timely for current interests, tells a story well, or provides unique insights.”

Do you think this information fits with what you see every day on Google Discover? I would reckon there were many sites that did not comply with this and received a lot of traffic from Discover.

With the last core updates in 2023, Google was extremely hard on news sites and some niches with content focused on Discover, directly affecting E-E-A-T. The impact was so severe that many publishers shared drastic drops in Search Console with expert Lily Ray, who wrote an article with data from more than 150 publishers.

4. Images are important

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. If you look at your Discover feed, you’ll see most of the images catch your attention. They are detailed shots of delicious food, close-ups of a person’s face showing emotions, or even images where the character in question does not appear, such as “the new manicure that will be a trend in 2024,” persuading you to click.

Google’s documentation recommends adding “high-quality images in your content, especially large images that are more likely to generate visits from Discover” and notes important technical requirements such as images needing to be “at least 1200 px wide and enabled by the max-image-preview:large setting.” You may also have found that media outlets create their own collages in order to have images that stand out from competitors.

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Everything You Need to Know About Google Search Essentials (formerly Google Webmaster Guidelines)

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Everything You Need to Know About Google Search Essentials (formerly Google Webmaster Guidelines)

One of the most important parts of having a website is making sure your audience can find your site (and find what they’re looking for).

The good news is that Google Search Essentials, formerly called Google Webmaster Guidelines, simplifies the process of optimizing your site for search performance.

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Salesforce rolls out new edition of Marketing Cloud for small businesses

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Salesforce summer 2023 release: The business executive's guide

Today Salesforce announced Marketing Cloud Growth, an edition of Marketing Cloud designed specifically for small businesses.

With help from AI, this edition makes it easy for marketers to segment audiences, create and execute email campaigns from text to image, optimize campaign performance and create unified customer profiles. It also has a prompt builder that can store and manage known reliable prompts for organizations.

Dig deeper: 70% of SMB marketers willing to pay more for tools with AI or automation

Salesforce developed the new edition by looking at the most common use cases for which small businesses frequenty don’t have the people or resources. This includes things like personalizing campaigns and advanced testing.

The company is also letting small businesses (those with fewer than 200 employees) that have Sales or Service Enterprise Edition “get started with Data Cloud at no cost.” Marketing Cloud Growth will initially be available in the U.S. and Canada and is expected to roll out to Europe, the Middle East and Asia by the end of the year.

Why we care. First of all, small businesses need all the help they can get. This creates an opportunity to start using AI within a centralized marketing workflow rather than importing content from independent generative AI tools. Perhaps it’s also a sign of Salesforce moving to compete with platforms (can we say HubSpot?) that more overtly court SMB clients.

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