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PPC Triage Now! Emergency Action Steps for Dying AdWords

Marty Weintraub
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ppc-triageLately prospective clients have been coming around with extremely colorful and eerily similar Google PPC disaster stories. Cost are skyrocketing, conversions are plummeting, and attaining decent paid rankings is difficult or impossible. This threatens the viability of PPC itself as a marketing strategy.

At least a dozen potential PPC client-portfolios have meandered across my desk this month with these exact symptoms, usually with a precipitous decline over the last 6-8 months.

There’s a shortage of qualified PPC professionals out there in the streets, so it might take a little time to find a vendor who’s a great fit for your firm. The purpose of this post is to provide immediate tactics for in-house marketers running PPC, to stem the downward spiral immediately.

There are many excellent authors writing about PPC tactics and techniques. Next week, Search Engine Strategies NYC has quite a few sessions which are well worth the investment.  Much has changed in the paid search world over the last year, rendering many (or most) set-it-and-forget-it PPC campaigns neutered. Here’s a 15 minute checklist of Emergency action items which will likely impact your bottom line immediately to help right the ship.

1   Check the landing page SEO. I know, that sounds counter-intuitive. SEO is only about organic search right? This is not so anymore. Whereas “bid” used to equal any given ad’s position on the paid SERPS, now the ever-imposing “Quality Score” (Q-Score) + “bid” equals position. Q-Score at it’s most basic level is Google’s algorithmic assessment of the relevancy-relationship between your keywords, ad copy and landing page. The Q-Score impacts the cost of placing your ads higher on the paid SERPS.

Go back to your SEO roots on the landing page. Check the landing page copy, which is more commonly associated with organic optimization. These days the landing page portion, of what are several Q-scores, is less stringent (Google decides yes/no on relevancy). Make PPC landing pages directly correlate to the AdGroup’s keywords and ad copy.  An excellent approach is to optimize the landing pages for keywords in the referring AdGroup with the highest Click-through Ratio (CTR).

Certainly include the ad copy and the most important keywords from the AdGroup on the landing page. It’s even a great choice to put the Ad headline in the landing page’s HTML Title Tag. If it’s emergency-time and PPC is tanking, take the approach that multiple AdGroups require multiple landing pages. Even if the algorithm does need read a particular SEO attribute, results could be affected as pertain to human behavior if not Q-Score. Finally, be advised that Google has recently announced that PPC landing page load times will soon affect the Q-Score.

2   Tighten up the relationships between AdGroups and the keywords within. One way to immediately move the needle is by segmenting the AdGroups to where every keyword is in the ad copy itself.  For instance, say the AdGroup is “Coupons” and contain keyword permutations of “Printable Coupons,” “Downloadable Coupons,” and “Food Coupons.” Create separate AdGroups to house each set of permutations.  To clarify now we’re talking about the “Printable Coupons,” “Downloadable Coupons,” and “Food Coupons” AdGroups. It then becomes easy to craft ad copy which literally contains every keyword in the group.

Combine the technique of hyper-focused AdGroups with landing page optimization and there lies the makings of a significantly improved Q-Score. This will lower costs, help attain higher ad placement on the paid SERPs, and increase CTR. It may just stem the decline in itself. Also users are more likely to convert, since the landing page is tightly focused to the incoming keyword query.

Another added benefit to this thinking is potential organic prominence for your PPC landing pages, provided there is a link-path from the homepage drilling into the PPC landing page. Landing pages can be placed at any level on the site. It’s not uncommon for PPC landing pages to be “makers” organically on the heels of this approach.

Google’s never ending quest to improve the relevancy of paid SERPs has led us all to work harder to improve Q-Score. In light of declining PPC effectiveness, take these steps to set things straight. As with all-things-SEM, there are basic best practices to undertake as first steps in every case. In Pay per Click, focusing landing page SEO and AdGroup segmentation should be the first emergency actions undertaken in set up or as effectiveness of an existing campaign plummets.


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