Skip to Content

The author

Steve Baker

Chief Analyst

Welcome to the second part of 'How to Be Amazing at PPC.' In case you missed the first part, click here.

6. Be Patient

Everybody is guilty of impatience with their accounts sometimes. If you had a bad day yesterday, the immediate impulse is to hit the big red panic button, and start making changes. Obviously, in the cold light of day, this is not wise. In fact, unless the performance is truly dreadful (or you’re really bored), spending a couple of hours trying to identify what went wrong is a waste of time. You’ll probably find nothing, and the performance will usually have recovered by tomorrow.

It’s the same with bid adjustments. If you changed the bids on Monday, then you can only look at the performance since then in order to assess what the impact of those bid adjustments was. If your overall performance has been poor for a few days, it doesn’t mean that you should change the bids back – assuming that you changed them based on sufficient data in the first place, they are probably not the cause of the poor performance. The only exception to the ‘be patient’ rule is with advert testing. If you’ve been waiting a while, and neither advert is far ahead, then end the test, keep the original advert (probably) and try something else. The longer the test takes to get a result, the less impact choosing the better advert will have. Run another advert, and try to improve things a lot – big improvements are better than small ones, and they take less time to spot.

7. Get Their Attention

If nobody sees your advert, nobody is going to click on it. What looks like a good advert on an Excel spreadsheet, or in the Adwords interface, may disappear completely when you put it in the middle of ten others… A search for Bosch Drills shows a lot of very similar adverts. How many ways are there to say that you have good prices, a good range and quick delivery? If you’re at the top, this isn’t a problem, but what about the lower adverts? A few advertisers have used product feeds to make their advert more visible, which is definitely a good move. Screwfix have a rating, which also makes the advert stand out more. A few advertisers mention prices, which can help – particularly if you’re cheap. Eyes are drawn to numbers more than they are to text; just don’t do it if your prices are high! The point is this – if nobody even sees your advert, they won’t click on it. There are a number of ways to make your advert stand out – parroting the same ‘unique’ selling points as everyone else isn’t one of them.

8. Split Your Performance Data

So your account’s performing well, and you’re content. That’s nice, but unless you’ve sliced and diced your performance every way that it can be sliced and diced, you may be missing a trick. Google allows you to see your performance in Adwords split in many different ways. Your overall performance may be masking some big opportunities. For example, what happens when you split your campaign performance into Google Search vs Search Partners? The click through rates are likely to be very different, but that’s not really the point. We’ve found that for some campaigns, the performance of Search Partners is simply too poor to justify it, and that by turning it off and pushing the spend into Google Search, we can improve performance significantly. Unfortunately, whilst you can bid on Google without Search Partners, you can’t bid on Search Partners without Google. As a result, if both networks work to a greater or lesser extent, you can’t split your campaign into two, and bid on them separately… Another split worth investigating is Computers vs Mobile Devices. Frequently, the conversion rates can be very different, but this is only part of the story. As there are less paid adverts on Google on mobiles, click through rates can vary, and different adverts may be effective. It’s probably not worth splitting Mobiles out unless you’re getting enough clicks to make it worthwhile, but if you are spending enough on Mobiles, and the performance is significantly different, then you may be able to improve the overall performance just by splitting them out. By far the most important split is Brand vs Non-Brand. If you can afford to pay £20 per conversion, and you are paying £20 per conversion, you may be happy. But if Brand conversions are costing £1, and others are costing £50, things may not be so rosy. Since your brand performance is almost always better than the rest of the account, you should always split this out before assessing how you are doing. Otherwise, you could be bidding too much on everything else in your account, wasting big piles of money. You may find that the performance of your account varies by region (particularly if you are more well-known in some regions, or you have stores in some cities) – again, this may be worth checking. Finally, check whether your performance varies on certain days of the week, or times of day. This is a little bit iffy, as people may research in work hours, then convert in the evening (particularly for expensive commitments, where spousal sign-off is required!). But it’s quite possible that your bids should be different on different days, or at different times – it’s certainly worth investigating.

9. Use Advert Extensions

If your advert appears in the top few positions, and you don’t have advert extensions of some kind, you’re missing a big opportunity. Searches with high local intent will throw up a map – and you can put your marker on it at no additional cost: Alternatively, you can put a nice map to your location: Or add site-links: Or even phone numbers that you can click-to-call on mobile phones. All of these things have one thing in common – they make your advert, bigger, brighter and more noticeable.

10. Be Brave

If you try something new, and it doesn’t work, it’ll cost you a few pounds (or dollars, or yen, or zloty or whatever your local currency is). If you try something new, and it does work, it’ll make you money for years to come. Google are constantly rolling out new toys to play with – whether it’s Remarketing, Interest Targeting, Topic Targeting, In-Video YouTube adverts, or something completely different, it doesn’t hurt to try it out. Even if they don’t work, you can tell your boss (or client) what you’ve been trying, and they’ll be impressed with how proactive you are. And when they do work, you’ll get a warm and fuzzy feeling inside. The only exception to this is when Google offers you something to ‘reduce your workload.’ Don’t try automated bidding (unless your account is absolutely massive, and you really haven’t got time to adjust the bids yourself), ‘optimising’ your advert delivery, or anything else that means that Google will do things that you should be doing yourself. You decide when the bids need to be adjusted, and you decide when one advert is better than the other. That way, you know that the account is being managed to optimise performance, not to maximise spend.

Last Bit…

There are many other pieces of advice that I could give. I could go into detail, talking about writing effective adverts, the relationship between advert position, advert text and click through rate, or the importance (or unimportance) of the Quality Score. But this is only a blog, not a book, and I didn’t really mean to go as long as I have. That said, it’s possible that I’ve missed a critical tip – feel free to point any out that I’ve overlooked… [email protected]