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12 Essential On-Page SEO Factors You Need To Know

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12 Essential On-Page SEO Factors You Need To Know

Did you ever play Tetris? If so, you probably remember how there was no real way to “beat” the game. It basically just got faster and faster with every level.

In some ways, search engine optimization (SEO) is the same.

Not in that it has a catchy 8-bit soundtrack or that it rewrites your dreams, but in that, it never ends.

There’s no point at which you can sit back and relax, content that your site is at the top of search engine results pages (SERPs) once and for all.

Sure, you might have reached the pinnacle today, but an SEO pro’s work is never done.

Every change to Google’s algorithm or competitor content could knock you off that top spot, which means you have to keep up with changes.

And that means your on-page SEO needs to be on point. But before we dive into that, it’s important to have a high-level overview of how Google and other search engines work.

Search Engine Basics

Search engines send out crawlers, or spiders, to explore the internet. They follow links from one site to another, building a map of the content called a search index.

In the process of exploring sites, these crawlers are also evaluating their content, determining what kind of information it contains.

This data is then used by the search engine’s algorithm to determine how well the content of that specific site answers queries from users.

The better it answers the query, the more highly it will be ranked on the SERP.

In Google’s never-ending quest to provide better results to users, its algorithm is updated frequently. This inevitably leads to changes in rankings, which then requires someone to optimize the website to improve or ensure rankings.

What Is On-Page SEO & Why Is It Important?

On-page SEO, which is sometimes called on-site SEO, is the process of tweaking a page’s content, tags, and internal links to improve search visibility and increase traffic.

In other words, it’s a means of optimizing your website to help search engines better understand your website.

And this, of course, comes with a whole host of benefits.

The first is in the amount of traffic.

The first five organic results on a search page get 67.60% of all clicks. The next five account for only 3.73%. And it drops from there. So, if you want to get traffic, you need to be near the top.

Secondly, high-ranking sites have much better click-through rates (CTR). The first Google mobile search result has an average organic CTR of 26.9%.

Now consider that 92.4% of internet users who search on their mobile phones for something nearby visit that business the same day and you can start to see the impact organic SEO can have on your bottom line. And on-page optimization is an important factor in your organic ranking.

Hopefully, by this point, you’ve grasped the importance of on-page SEO. Now it’s time to get started. Let’s dive right in…

12 Essential On-Page SEO Factors

On-page SEO can be broadly divided into three categories: content, HTML, and website architecture. We’ll look at each individually.

Content

You’ve heard it before: Content is king.

SEO without it is like a beautiful new sports car without an engine – it might look nice, but it’s going nowhere. But, not all content is not created equal.

Here are the content factors you need to consider to maximize your on-site SEO:

1. E-A-T

One way Google weights your site is based on E-A-T, or expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness.

In 175 pages of Google Search Quality Guidelines, it’s mentioned 135 times, which should be an indication of the role it plays in the search engine’s algorithms.

While Google has only confirmed a few elements of E-A-T (PageRank and links), it’s generally accepted in the SEO field that on-page signals play a big part in its evaluations.

For a deeper dive on E-A-T, read this piece.

2. Keywords

The most basic way to tell them your website’s content answers a user’s question is in the language you use.

Pages that feature the keywords used in a query, whether in the body, headings, or both, are more likely to be relevant to the search.

Sometimes this is easy to determine. If you’re optimizing the website of a furniture store, you’re probably going to want to include keywords like [sofa], [dining room set], and [end table].

If it’s a specialized furniture store, you’ll want to make sure you’re including long-tail keywords like [contemporary art-deco sideboards].

In short, you need to know what your target customers are searching for and create content that includes these terms. It’s always a good idea to do research, so you’re not missing any opportunities.

Get started by downloading our ebook on keyword research.

3. SEO Writing

Creating the type of content that both prioritizes search engines and converts human visitors to your site is something of an art.

Unless you’ve done it before, it can be quite challenging to write copy that reads well and still adheres to SEO best practices.

We have an entire piece dedicated to helping you master the art, but some of the key takeaways include:

  • Emphasize readability: Your content should be easily scannable, so users can quickly find the information they’re looking for.
  • Don’t overuse keywords: Also known as keyword stuffing, this technique was used in the past by unscrupulous SEO professionals to game the system, Google takes a dim view of sites that overuse keywords. If you’re caught doing this, your page could be demoted in SERPs or even removed altogether.
  • Keep sentences and paragraphs brief: If you’ve ever clicked on a webpage only to be assaulted by an unbroken wall of text, you know how hard it is to read lengthy pieces of copy. Avoid driving users away by keeping your sentences and paragraphs short.
  • Use subheadings: Subheads stand out because of their size, attracting attention from people who are scanning your page. Use an ample amount in your content to guide readers down the page.
  • Use bulleted lists: This may feel very meta, but bulleted lists are a good way to break information down into easily digestible chunks. Use them whenever they make sense.

4. Visual Assets

Using images, videos, and infographics do more than making your page visually interesting to visitors. It also gives you opportunities to boost your SEO.

More than 36% of consumers use visual search when they’re doing online shopping, which means if you’re not using images, you’re missing out on traffic.

Make sure you’re optimizing your accompanying text whenever possible.

Be aware of your image file sizes to prevent slow loading. Make your images shareable to identify opportunities for backlinking, which can help boost your E-A-T.

HTML

HyperText Markup Language or HTML is the code used to structure your webpages and their content.

They tell the user’s browser what to show and where to show it. And it tells search engines what your page is all about and where they should rank you.

Here are the on-page SEO HTML factors you need to consider:

5. Title Tags

This is one of those areas where it’s important to focus on the details.

On its own, this snippet of code that allows you to give a webpage a title probably isn’t going to have you shooting up SERP rankings.

But in context with other on-page elements (like the ones discussed here), it can help you build context and demonstrate your site’s relevancy.

For a more thorough look at how to optimize your title tags, read this.

6. Meta Description

Right now, a veteran SEO professional is throwing up her hands at the screen. “Oh, come on,” she’s saying, “Everyone knows meta descriptions aren’t an SEO ranking factor.”

She’s only partly right. While it’s true there is a lot of evidence against meta descriptions as a ranking factor, she’s wrong about everyone knowing that.

And don’t let negative Nancy here dissuade you from adding them to your site.

Despite their relative lack of use in SEO, they do offer two key benefits: They can help Google understand what your web page is all about, and more importantly, they have an outsized influence on your CTRs.

Better meta descriptions give searchers a better understanding of what your page is all about, which in turn leads to more clickthroughs. So, don’t neglect them.

7. Image Optimization

We already briefly touched on the importance of visual assets on your page, but now it’s time to look more closely at their technical aspects.

Here are some tips to help optimize yours:

  • Include SEO-friendly alt tags.
  • Choose the right format and file size for fast loading.
  • Customize file names instead of using something like IMG_08759.
  • Ensure your images are mobile-friendly.

Once again, we have an excellent resource for more in-depth information on HTML image optimization. Read it here.

8. Geotagging (For Local Search)

It may be a global economy, but most business is still done at a local level. Connect with the people in your neighborhood by optimizing your on-page local SEO.

While this is less important for mega-corporations like GMC or Pepsi, for small- and medium-sized businesses, this is their bread and butter.

There are three main SEO tactics to consider when focusing on local traffic:

  • Optimizing local listings and citations including name, address, and phone number (NAP), website URL, and business descriptions, using third-party apps, and getting reviews.
  • Optimizing your local content, including accommodating for “near me” searches, providing location-based content, or buying a local website or blog.
  • Optimizing and building links with other local businesses and organizations.

Be sure to include the name of your target location in your keywords and put them in your content wherever they fit.

For more information on building your own geotagging SEO strategy, read this.

Website Architecture

Having a well-structured website is important for two reasons: First, a website laid out in a logical manner will be crawled more effectively by search engines, and secondly, it will create richer user experiences.

Here are the factors to consider when optimizing your site’s architecture:

9. Site Speed

A clunky, slow-loading site does more than frustrate and drive away visitors – it actually hurts your search ranking too.

Search Engine Journal took a deep dive into the effect a page’s loading time has on SEO and confirmed page speed is a ranking factor in search results.

However, what minimum speed your site needs to meet is constantly changing.

It can currently be met by meeting Google’s Core Web Vitals minimum threshold. If your site isn’t currently meeting these standards, there are several steps you can take, including:

  • Enabling compression.
  • Reducing redirects.
  • Optimizing images.
  • Leveraging browser caches.

10. Responsive Design

In 2016, mobile search volume surpassed desktop for the very first time. And in the years following, that number has only grown.

Mobile now accounts for more than 56% of all internet usage, with tablets contributing another 2.4%.

Because more users are on mobile devices, Google followed the logical path and began to prioritize sites with responsive designs in mobile search rankings.

This mobile-friendly update only impacts search results performed on mobile devices, and while it’s still possible to rank in these results without responsive design, Google strongly recommends sites have a mobile version.

You can read more about the affect site responsiveness has on search results here.

11. URL Structure

There was a time when URLs played a large role in SEO. Professionals would make sure their keywords were included in web addresses to help them rank higher.

But Google, doing what Google does, changed the algorithm. And what was once so important to rankings, now plays a much smaller role.

That’s not to say it doesn’t matter. Search engines are still including your URLs in your overall score – they just don’t hold the same prominence they once did.

However, there is evidence they play a role in a site’s initial ranking, and some professionals believe they’re used to group pages. What this means is, that while they shouldn’t be your top SEO priority, you don’t want to ignore them either.

Read more about how URLs factor into Google rankings here.

12. Links

Remember E-A-T from way back at the beginning of this article?

One of the best ways your website can establish expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness is through links from other reputable websites.

Think of it this way: Who would you rather trust your 401(k) to – a financial advisor who manages Warren Buffet’s portfolio or your cousin Jimmy, who lives in your aunt’s basement? Jimmy might do a fine job; he could potentially even outperform Buffet’s guy. But he just doesn’t have the credibility that comes with a strong co-sign.

Links work in the same way.

There are three main types you need to know about for SEO:

  • Internal links – or ones that direct to another page on your website like this one.
  • Outbound links – also known as external links, these are the links that point to a site on a different domain, like this one pointing to Google’s SEO page.
  • Inbound links – sometimes called backlinks, these are links from other websites pointing to your page.

Of the three, inbound links are by far the most important. They provide the biggest SEO benefit, but they’re also the hardest to obtain.

There are a variety of methods SEO professionals use to generate quality incoming links, including using social media, creating sharable infographics, and even just asking for backlinks.

But beware: Not all inbound links are helpful. Some, especially those coming from link farms, forum posts, and guestbooks, can be fake links intended to cheat the rankings system. If you don’t disavow these, it can hurt your ranking.

Here’s information on how and when you should disavow links.

On-Page SEO vs. Off-Page SEO

We’ve talked a lot about on-page SEO, but there’s also something known as off-page SEO. The difference, as you could probably tell by the names, is where it happens.

On-page SEO is everything you can do internally to boost your rankings, including keyword optimization, meta descriptions, title tags, alt text, and website structure.

Off-page SEO is all the things that happen externally that impact your site’s rankings. This includes backlinks, E-A-T, local SEO, social media mentions, and pay-per-click.

Obviously, you have a lot more control over your on-page SEO, but it’s important to keep off-page SEO in mind as well – you need both to get where you want to go.

But, you should first focus on building a good, relevant webpage that’s fully optimized for search engines before you begin sinking a lot of resources into building links and promoting your site.

On-Page SEO Is An Ongoing Process

At the end of the day, search engine optimization boils down to one thing: Finding the best way to provide valuable information to searchers, and ensuring your website is at the top of SERPs.

Your goal is to provide richer experiences to users, while simultaneously demonstrating your value to search engines. Luckily, these two go hand-in-hand. And they start with on-page optimization.

Start with what you can control, carefully evaluating your current site for weaknesses and opportunities for growth.

Get all your on-site ducks in a row and you’ll start to see results – including an organic improvement in off-site factors.

Just remember, SEO, like Tetris, is never done. But keep reading and keep working, and you’ll get the results you deserve.


Featured Image: Paulo Bobita/Search Engine Journal

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What Is It & How To Write It

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What Is It & How To Write It

In this guide, you will learn about alternative text (known as alt text): what it is, why it is important for on-page SEO, how to use it correctly, and more.

It’s often overlooked, but every image on your website should have alt text. More information is better, and translating visual information into text is important for search engine bots attempting to understand your website and users with screen readers.

Alt text is one more source of information that relates ideas and content together on your website.

This practical and to-the-point guide contains tips and advice you can immediately use to improve your website’s image SEO and accessibility.

What Is Alt Text?

Alternative text (or alt text) – also known as the alt attribute or the alt tag (which is not technically correct because it is not a tag) – is simply a piece of text that describes the image in the HTML code.

What Are The Uses Of Alt Text?

The original function of alt text was simply to describe an image that could not be loaded.

Many years ago, when the internet was much slower, alt text would help you know the content of an image that was too heavy to be loaded in your browser.

Today, images rarely fail to load – but if they do, then it is the alt text you will see in place of an image.

Screenshot from Search Engine Journal, May 2024

Alt text also helps search engine bots understand the image’s content and context.

More importantly, alt text is critical for accessibility and for people using screen readers:

  • Alt text helps people with disabilities (for example, using screen readers) learn about the image’s content.

Of course, like every element of SEO, it is often misused or, in some cases, even abused.

Let’s now take a closer look at why alt text is important.

Why Alt Text Is Important

The web and websites are a very visual experience. It is hard to find a website without images or graphic elements.

That’s why alt text is very important.

Alt text helps translate the image’s content into words, thus making the image accessible to a wider audience, including people with disabilities and search engine bots that are not clever enough yet to fully understand every image, its context, and its meaning.

Why Alt Text Is Important For SEO

Alt text is an important element of on-page SEO optimization.

Proper alt text optimization makes your website stand a better chance of ranking in Google image searches.

Yes, alt text is a ranking factor for Google image search.

Depending on your website’s niche and specificity, Google image search traffic may play a huge role in your website’s overall success.

For example, in the case of ecommerce websites, users very often start their search for products with a Google image search instead of typing the product name into the standard Google search.

Screenshot from search for [Garmin forerunner]Screenshot from search for [Garmin forerunner], May 2024

Google and other search engines may display fewer product images (or not display them at all) if you fail to take care of their alt text optimization.

Without proper image optimization, you may lose a lot of potential traffic and customers.

Why Alt Text Is Important For Accessibility

Visibility in Google image search is very important, but there is an even more important consideration: Accessibility.

Fortunately, in recent years, more focus has been placed on accessibility (i.e., making the web accessible to everyone, including people with disabilities and/or using screen readers).

Suppose the alt text of your images actually describes their content instead of, for example, stuffing keywords. In that case, you are helping people who cannot see this image better understand it and the content of the entire web page.

Let’s say one of your web pages is an SEO audit guide that contains screenshots from various crawling tools.

Would it not be better to describe the content of each screenshot instead of placing the same alt text of “SEO audit” into every image?

Let’s take a look at a few examples.

Alt Text Examples

Finding many good and bad examples of alt text is not difficult. Let me show you a few, sticking to the above example with an SEO audit guide.

Good Alt Text Examples

So, our example SEO guide contains screenshots from tools such as Google Search Console and Screaming Frog.

Some good examples of alt text may include:

”The
”Google
”List
”Screaming

Tip: It is also a good idea to take care of the name of your file. Using descriptive file names is not a ranking factor, but I recommend this as a good SEO practice.

Bad And/Or Spammy Alt Text Examples

I’ve also seen many examples of bad alt text use, including keyword stuffing or spamming.

Here is how you can turn the above good examples into bad examples:

”google search console coverage report
”google
”seo
”seo

As you can see, the above examples do not provide any information on what these images actually show.

You can also find examples and even more image SEO tips on Google Search Central.

Common Alt Text Mistakes

Stuffing keywords in the alt text is not the only mistake you can make.

Here are a few examples of common alt text mistakes:

  • Failure to use the alt text or using empty alt text.
  • Using the same alt text for different images.
  • Using very general alt text that does not actually describe the image. For example, using the alt text of “dog” on the photo of a dog instead of describing the dog in more detail, its color, what it is doing, what breed it is, etc.
  • Automatically using the name of the file as the alt text – which may lead to very unfriendly alt text, such as “googlesearchconsole,” “google-search-console,” or “photo2323,” depending on the name of the file.

Alt Text Writing Tips

And finally, here are the tips on how to write correct alt text so that it actually fulfills its purpose:

  • Do not stuff keywords into the alt text. Doing so will not help your web page rank for these keywords.
  • Describe the image in detail, but still keep it relatively short. Avoid adding multiple sentences to the alt text.
  • Use your target keywords, but in a natural way, as part of the image’s description. If your target keyword does not fit into the image’s description, don’t use it.
  • Don’t use text on images. All text should be added in the form of HTML code.
  • Don’t write, “this is an image of.” Google and users know that this is an image. Just describe its content.
  • Make sure you can visualize the image’s content by just reading its alt text. That is the best exercise to make sure your alt text is OK.

How To Troubleshoot Image Alt Text

Now you know all the best practices and common mistakes of alt text. But how do you check what’s in the alt text of the images of a website?

You can analyze the alt text in the following ways:

Inspecting an element (right-click and select Inspect when hovering over an image) is a good way to check if a given image has alt text.

However, if you want to check that in bulk, I recommend one of the below two methods.

Install Web Developer Chrome extension.

Screenshot of Web Developer Extension in Chrome by authorScreenshot from Web Developer Extension, Chrome by author, May 2024

Next, open the page whose images you want to audit.

Click on Web Developer and navigate to Images > Display Alt Attributes. This way, you can see the content of the alt text of all images on a given web page.

The alt text of images is shown on the page.Screenshot from Web Developer Extension, Chrome by author, May 2024

How To Find And Fix Missing Alt Text

To check the alt text of the images of the entire website, use a crawler like Screaming Frog or Sitebulb.

Crawl the site, navigate to the image report, and review the alt text of all website images, as shown in the video guide below.

You can also export only images that have missing alt text and start fixing those issues.

Alt Text May Not Seem Like A Priority, But It’s Important

Every source of information about your content has value. Whether it’s for vision-impaired users or bots, alt text helps contextualize the images on your website.

While it’s only a ranking factor for image search, everything you do to help search engines understand your website can potentially help deliver more accurate results. Demonstrating a commitment to accessibility is also a critical component of modern digital marketing.

FAQ

What is the purpose of alt text in HTML?

Alternative text, or alt text, serves two main purposes in HTML. Its primary function is to provide a textual description of an image if it cannot be displayed. This text can help users understand the image content when technical issues prevent it from loading or if they use a screen reader due to visual impairments. Additionally, alt text aids search engine bots in understanding the image’s subject matter, which is critical for SEO, as indexing images correctly can enhance a website’s visibility in search results.

Can alt text improve website accessibility?

Yes, alt text is vital for website accessibility. It translates visual information into descriptive text that can be read by screen readers used by users with visual impairments. By accurately describing images, alt text ensures that all users, regardless of disability, can understand the content of a web page, making the web more inclusive and accessible to everyone.

More resources: 


Featured Image: BestForBest/Shutterstock

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Google Dials Back AI Overviews In Search Results, Study Finds

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Photo of a mobile device in mans hand with generative google AI Overview on the screen.

According to new research, Google’s AI-generated overviews have undergone significant adjustments since the initial rollout.

The study from SE Ranking analyzed 100,000 keywords and found Google has greatly reduced the frequency of AI overviews.

However, when they appear, they’re more detailed than they were previously.

The study digs into which topics and industries are more likely to get an AI overview. It also looks at how the AI snippets interact with other search features like featured snippets and ads.

Here’s an overview of the findings and what they mean for your SEO efforts.

Declining Frequency Of AI Overviews

In contrast to pre-rollout figures, 8% of the examined searches now trigger an AI Overview.

This represents a 52% drop compared to January levels.

Yevheniia Khromova, the study’s author, believes this means Google is taking a more measured approach, stating:

“The sharp decrease in AI Overview presence likely reflects Google’s efforts to boost the accuracy and trustworthiness of AI-generated answers.”

Longer AI Overviews

Although the frequency of AI overviews has decreased, the ones that do appear provide more detailed information.

The average length of the text has grown by nearly 25% to around 4,342 characters.

In another notable change, AI overviews now link to fewer sources on average – usually just four links after expanding the snippet.

However, 84% still include at least one domain from that query’s top 10 organic search results.

Niche Dynamics & Ranking Factors

The chances of getting an AI overview vary across different industries.

Searches related to relationships, food and beverages, and technology were most likely to trigger AI overviews.

Sensitive areas like healthcare, legal, and news had a low rate of showing AI summaries, less than 1%.

Longer search queries with ten words were more likely to generate an AI overview, with a 19% rate indicating that AI summaries are more useful for complex information needs.

Search terms with lower search volumes and lower cost-per-click were more likely to display AI summaries.

Other Characteristics Of AI Overviews

The research reveals that 45% of AI overviews appear alongside featured snippets, often sourced from the exact domains.

Around 87% of AI overviews now coexist with ads, compared to 73% previously, a statistic that could increase competition for advertising space.

What Does This Mean?

SE Ranking’s research on AI overviews has several implications:

  1. Reduced Risk Of Traffic Losses: Fewer searches trigger AI Overviews that directly answer queries, making organic listings less likely to be demoted or receive less traffic.
  2. Most Impacted Niches: AI overviews appear more in relationships, food, and technology niches. Publishers in these sectors should pay closer attention to Google’s AI overview strategy.
  3. Long-form & In-Depth Content Essential: As AI snippets become longer, companies may need to create more comprehensive content beyond what the overviews cover.

Looking Ahead

While the number of AI overviews has decreased recently, we can’t assume this trend will continue.

AI overviews will undoubtedly continue to transform over time.

It’s crucial to monitor developments closely, try different methods of dealing with them, and adjust game plans as needed.


Featured Image: DIA TV/Shutterstock

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10 Tips on How to Rock a Small PPC Budget

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10 Tips on How to Rock a Small PPC Budget

Many advertisers have a tight budget for pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, making it challenging to maximize results.

One of the first questions that often looms large is, “How much should we spend?” It’s a pivotal question, one that sets the stage for the entire PPC strategy.

Read on for tips to get started or further optimize budgets for your PPC program to maximize every dollar spent.

1. Set Expectations For The Account

With a smaller budget, managing expectations for the size and scope of the account will allow you to keep focus.

A very common question is: How much should our company spend on PPC?

To start, you must balance your company’s PPC budget with the cost, volume, and competition of keyword searches in your industry.

You’ll also want to implement a well-balanced PPC strategy with display and video formats to engage consumers.

First, determine your daily budget. For example, if the monthly budget is $2,000, the daily budget would be set at $66 per day for the entire account.

The daily budget will also determine how many campaigns you can run at the same time in the account because that $66 will be divided up among all campaigns.

Be aware that Google Ads and Microsoft Ads may occasionally exceed the daily budget to maximize results. The overall monthly budget, however, should not exceed the Daily x Number of Days in the Month.

Now that we know our daily budget, we can focus on prioritizing our goals.

2. Prioritize Goals

Advertisers often have multiple goals per account. A limited budget will also limit the number of campaigns – and the number of goals – you should focus on.

Some common goals include:

  • Brand awareness.
  • Leads.
  • Sales.
  • Repeat sales.

In the example below, the advertiser uses a small budget to promote a scholarship program.

They are using a combination of leads (search campaign) and awareness (display campaign) to divide up a daily budget of $82.

Screenshot from author, May 2024

The next several features can help you laser-focus campaigns to allocate your budget to where you need it most.

Remember, these settings will restrict traffic to the campaign. If you aren’t getting enough traffic, loosen up/expand the settings.

3. Location Targeting

Location targeting is a core consideration in reaching the right audience and helps manage a small ad budget.

To maximize a limited budget, you should focus on only the essential target locations where your customers are located.

While that seems obvious, you should also consider how to refine that to direct the limited budget to core locations. For example:

  • You can refine location targeting by states, cities, ZIP codes, or even a radius around your business.
  • Choosing locations to target should be focused on results.
  • The smaller the geographic area, the less traffic you will get, so balance relevance with budget.
  • Consider adding negative locations where you do not do business to prevent irrelevant clicks that use up precious budget.

If the reporting reveals targeted locations where campaigns are ineffective, consider removing targeting to those areas. You can also try a location bid modifier to reduce ad serving in those areas.

managing ppc budget by location interactionScreenshot by author from Google Ads, May 2024

4. Ad Scheduling

Ad scheduling also helps to control budget by only running ads on certain days and at certain hours of the day.

With a smaller budget, it can help to limit ads to serve only during hours of business operation. You can choose to expand that a bit to accommodate time zones and for searchers doing research outside of business hours.

If you sell online, you are always open, but review reporting for hourly results over time to determine if there are hours of the day with a negative return on investment (ROI).

Limit running PPC ads if the reporting reveals hours of the day when campaigns are ineffective.

Manage a small ppc budget by hour of dayScreenshot by author from Google Ads, May 2024

5. Set Negative Keywords

A well-planned negative keyword list is a golden tactic for controlling budgets.

The purpose is to prevent your ad from showing on keyword searches and websites that are not a good match for your business.

  • Generate negative keywords proactively by brainstorming keyword concepts that may trigger ads erroneously.
  • Review query reports to find irrelevant searches that have already led to clicks.
  • Create lists and apply to the campaign.
  • Repeat on a regular basis because ad trends are always evolving!

6. Smart Bidding

Smart Bidding is a game-changer for efficient ad campaigns. Powered by Google AI, it automatically adjusts bids to serve ads to the right audience within budget.

The AI optimizes the bid for each auction, ideally maximizing conversions while staying within your budget constraints.

Smart bidding strategies available include:

  • Maximize Conversions: Automatically adjust bids to generate as many conversions as possible for the budget.
  • Target Return on Ad Spend (ROAS): This method predicts the value of potential conversions and adjusts bids in real time to maximize return.
  • Target Cost Per Action (CPA): Advertisers set a target cost-per-action (CPA), and Google optimizes bids to get the most conversions within budget and the desired cost per action.

7. Try Display Only Campaigns

display ads for small ppc budgetsScreenshot by author from Google Ads, May 2024

For branding and awareness, a display campaign can expand your reach to a wider audience affordably.

Audience targeting is an art in itself, so review the best options for your budget, including topics, placements, demographics, and more.

Remarketing to your website visitors is a smart targeting strategy to include in your display campaigns to re-engage your audience based on their behavior on your website.

Let your ad performance reporting by placements, audiences, and more guide your optimizations toward the best fit for your business.

audience targeting options for small ppc budgetScreenshot by Lisa Raehsler from Google Ads, May 2024

8. Performance Max Campaigns

Performance Max (PMax) campaigns are available in Google Ads and Microsoft Ads.

In short, automation is used to maximize conversion results by serving ads across channels and with automated ad formats.

This campaign type can be useful for limited budgets in that it uses AI to create assets, select channels, and audiences in a single campaign rather than you dividing the budget among multiple campaign types.

Since the success of the PMax campaign depends on the use of conversion data, that data will need to be available and reliable.

9. Target Less Competitive Keywords

Some keywords can have very high cost-per-click (CPC) in a competitive market. Research keywords to compete effectively on a smaller budget.

Use your analytics account to discover organic searches leading to your website, Google autocomplete, and tools like Google Keyword Planner in the Google Ads account to compare and get estimates.

In this example, a keyword such as “business accounting software” potentially has a lower CPC but also lower volume.

Ideally, you would test both keywords to see how they perform in a live campaign scenario.

comparing keywords for small ppc budgetsScreenshot by author from Google Ads, May 2024

10. Manage Costly Keywords

High volume and competitive keywords can get expensive and put a real dent in the budget.

In addition to the tip above, if the keyword is a high volume/high cost, consider restructuring these keywords into their own campaign to monitor and possibly set more restrictive targeting and budget.

Levers that can impact costs on this include experimenting with match types and any of the tips in this article. Explore the opportunity to write more relevant ad copy to these costly keywords to improve quality.

Every Click Counts

As you navigate these strategies, you will see that managing a PPC account with a limited budget isn’t just about monetary constraints.

Rocking your small PPC budgets involves strategic campaign management, data-driven decisions, and ongoing optimizations.

In the dynamic landscape of paid search advertising, every click counts, and with the right approach, every click can translate into meaningful results.

More resources: 


Featured Image: bluefish_ds/Shutterstock

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