5 Foundational PPC Rules

“I tried Google Ads and it didn’t work.”

“I spent a lot of money, really fast, and got nothing out of it.”

“Why does it work for my competitors, but not for me?”

Although paid search is a complex, ever-changing discipline, there are a few core principles to follow. These five foundational paid search rules will set your paid search campaigns on the path to success.

It’s not that your campaigns didn’t work, but you might be making some paid search mistakes. Here are five common paid search mistakes – keep in mind that this is, by no means, an exhaustive list.

1. Take Time to Organize

Before you set up your PPC campaigns, map out how you want your campaigns organized. The more planning you do before you set up your campaigns, the more time and money you will save down the road.

Campaigns should be organized into specific themes, and ad groups should contain specific sets keywords that make sense together so that ads can be written that work for all the keywords. Organizing your campaigns well from the beginning will give you a clear picture of your account performance as data starts coming in. It will be easier to manage budgets and bids. You will also be able to cut down on wasted spend much easier if your campaigns are structured properly. A little planning up front can save you time and money down the road.

2. Choose the Right Landing Page

The goal of a landing page is to take your visitor to the most relevant page. Many advertisers take site visitors to their home page, which is fine if your home page is the most relevant for your keywords. However, you don’t want your visitor to have to search through your website to find what they are looking for.

If a visitor is searching for “red shoes,” don’t land them on a generic shoe page that displays products in every color. Rather, land the searcher on the most appropriate landing page, a page that shows all your red shoes.

If a searcher has to comb through your site to find what your ad promised them, then chances are they will bounce back out and click somewhere else. A relevant landing page will keep potential customers more engaged on your site and lead to more conversions.

3. Use Negative Keywords

You advertise to drive targeted traffic to your site to perform some sort of action, such as buying a product, signing up for a service, or filling out a lead form. As you build your account, take advantage of negative keywords to target more relevant searchers and reduce unnecessary spending.

Let’s say you sell hockey equipment. Do you really want to pay for people to visit your site who type in the word “cleaning hockey equipment?” Or what if you sell new hockey equipment, but the search is “used hockey equipment” or “hockey equipment craigslist?” It’s highly unlikely that searcher is looking to pay for your hockey equipment. Since you’re not in business to give away free products, you don’t want to pay for that visitor.

Save time, frustration, and money by including negative keywords in your PPC campaigns.

4. Give Your Campaign Enough Time

Sometimes advertisers can be quick to set up a campaign, only to shut it down after a week or two if they don’t see the results they were expecting. Of course, there are times when it’s appropriate to shut down a campaign after a week or two, but only if you have enough data to justify this decision. With most campaigns, it takes longer than a few weeks to gather data and analyze performance.

Digging into the data allows you learn more about your visitors, including how they find you and the types of actions they take on your site. With this information, you can refine and optimize your campaign to build off the successful items and eliminate the money-wasting items. Data analysis can also give you an idea of what you may need to change on your website.

But analysis is only possible if you have the data to work with in the first place. By allowing the platform the time to collect enough data, you can complete a more accurate assessment of performance and make better-informed decisions.

5. Actively Manage Your Account

While it might not always be at the top of your list and can even be a little tedious, your PPC account needs to be actively monitored and optimized.

The way people search changes every day. The ad platforms’ interfaces, rules, and policies also change frequently. What might be working today may not be working tomorrow or next month.

Maybe you have a slow campaign that isn’t generating much traffic. Maybe some outside factor is causing people to search keywords in your campaign. Maybe your bids are too low, and you are missing out on some very targeted traffic. Alternatively, perhaps your bids are too high and your spending has jumped through the roof.

Staying active in your account allows you to create a more efficient and consistent marketing approach. It can also mean the difference between paid search success and failure.

Of course, you can also be too active in your account. Making changes every day, without giving those changes time to perform – as discussed above – can be just as damaging than not optimizing your account at all.

Paid search is surprisingly complex – there are a many moving parts to a PPC campaign. It takes time and experience to learn which programs and settings to use when, what to optimize, and what to leave alone. While these five rules lay a strong PPC foundation, they only scratch the surface of what you need to do on an ongoing basis to get the paid search results you want.

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