Small- and medium-sized businesses often find AdWords paid search a challenging channel to promote their businesses. There is no one-size-fits-all since the business models, resources, and budgets can vary so dramatically. Whatever the challenge, SMBs can use simple tactics to refine and keep an effective account - especially when these tips are used in combination.
Budgets: Automated Can Save Costs
Many of the tips described here are also ways to control your budget, but one specific setting is worth testing. Try using the automatic bidding. This will allow Google to automatically adjust the bids to whatever amount will get the most clicks within budget. Including a cost-per-click (CPC) limit means you place a cap on the maximum amount of the automated bid.
I have found that using this setting will keep the CPC lower, but the ad rank also slightly lowers, in the three or lower position. If you are married to the idea of having a top slot, this would not be for you.
Find this in the campaign settings, under bidding and budget.
Ad Scheduling: Laser Focus on Best Times
Using your sales and website analytics reports, try to determine if there are specific days of the week and times of the day that are sweet spots and any that fall flat in reaching your goals. For example, some SMBs find running ads in and around only business hours is a good way to control costs and focus budget. With the new Enhanced Campaigns available, advertisers can set budget in percentage increases/decreases, which will allow you to adjust for the most profitable time periods.
Find this in the campaign settings tab under advanced setting, ad scheduling.
We know through several studies that consumers move between devices to accomplish their goals online. For example, one may start researching or browsing a purchase from their smartphone, then go to their desktop to complete the purchase. The concept of the multi-screen world applies to all business types, not just big business or e-commerce. Including this as a strategy in your current program also makes PPC well-rounded, expanding reach.
The new Enhanced Campaigns in AdWords includes tablets and integrates mobile. Bids may be adjusted for mobile exposure and further customized to the business by budget, ad scheduling, and location. Take advantage of these settings to get highly relevant targeting and results.
Keywords: Find the Right Match
One of the simplest ways to run a highly relevant PPC program is through effective use of the keywords. The broader the keyword, the greater the reach, but unfortunately the relevancy can also slip. This can be a money pit for SMBs with limited budgets.
Avoid broad match, which allows your ad to show on similar phrases and close variations. Close variations include misspellings, singular and plural forms, acronyms, stemmings, abbreviations, and accents. This can further complicate things when your ads can also appear for "related searches" or when someone searches for synonyms of your keywords.
Instead, choose one of the following matching options, keeping in mind they limit traffic the more restricted the match type is:
Try one or some of these combinations in Google AdWords to find the optimal formula for small business. The key is to find the most relevant campaigns to your business, even if this sacrifices a bit of traffic or brand reach.
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Lisa Raehsler is the founder and principal strategist at Big Click Co., an online advertising company and Google AdWords Certified Partner, specializing in strategy and management of SEM and PPC for search engines, display, retargeting, and social media ad campaigns. Lisa has led strategy on dozens of PPC accounts and puts her experience into practice every day as a thought leader in integrating clients' search campaigns with ecommerce websites, behavioral targeting strategies, and web analytics. She has participated extensively in the local interactive community, as well as at national search engine marketing conferences. Lisa's recent speaking engagements include SES, OMS, MIMA, HeroConf, and SMX conferences, as well as numerous private and public training engagements. As a columnist for ClickZ and Search Engine Watch, she writes on the topic of paid search. Follow her on Twitter @LisaRocksSEM.
December 12, 2013
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