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10 Paid Search Optimization Tactics to Improve ROI

  |  July 30, 2014   |  Comments

Here are 10 tips, all applicable to both AdWords and Bing, to help you get the most of out of your paid search campaigns in order to maximize your return on investment.

In a paid search account, there are countless ways to optimize performance toward improving return on investment (ROI). With so many options, how do you choose?

Look at areas where the positive results can be expanded and low performers can be reduced or removed to improve overall ROI. There are many different tactics that can accomplish this end.

The following tips are applicable to both AdWords and Bing and can help directionally with other ad platforms as well.

1. Run keyword research on keywords that are performing well to find new variations that may also bring in results. Similarly, for display network targeting, consider expanding by targeting similar audiences.

2. Look for keywords that have never converted to a lead or sale, yet have costs associated with them. Customize reporting columns to include data on assisted clicks or click-assisted conversions. If the keyword did not contribute to an assist, time to pause it.


3. Increase bids slightly on best-performing keywords to get more visibility. Monitor to ensure the ROI is still acceptable.

4. Review ad copy and pause the lowest-performing ad version.

5. Run a search query report (starting at the highest volume campaigns for the purpose of prioritization) and scan for over-arching themes. For example, if the business sells accounting software, you may see queries for other industries. Rather than use the exact keywords as negative keywords, use the industry or broader themes to exclude.

6. Exclude user locations that are not relevant to your business. To do this, go to the dimensions tab. Then select user locations from the view menu. Here, sort by clicks to see clicks coming in from locations and examine their performance. If a location is getting many clicks and no conversions, you can exclude this location from serving.

7. Using the same technique as in number six, look for top converting states or other geography relevant to your business. If these geotargets are already targeted, use a bid adjustment to increase the bid for this location. If you are targeting a country, for example the U.S., you can add in states layered on top of that and increase the bid this way as well.


8. Try using review extensions. If you have positive write-ups, awards, or third-party rankings about your company, these can be added as a review extension in AdWords as either an exact or paraphrased quote. It provides an additional line of text in the ad and may improve click-through rates.

9. Check the ad copy that has been performing well, and try different calls-to-action or headlines.

10. Look at the results for mobile devices with full browsers vs. computers and tablets. Increase or decrease the bid adjustment depending on the performance.

As with any optimizations, monitor changes to ensure they are moving in a positive direction. What are your top optimization tips for paid search? Share with us in the comments.


Lisa Raehsler

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.

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