Keywords are, arguably, the most important piece of your pay per click (PPC) advertising strategy.
Choose the right keywords and you’ll reach the right people. You’ll get more impressions and clicks. You’ll get more purchases from the clicks you generate. And you’ll even spend less money in the long run, since you won’t be wasting money on bad matches or weak opportunities.
The problem is, choosing and controlling keywords in PPC advertising is challenging.
Yes, even for the pros.
There are so many keywords to choose from and so many different controls you can use to tinker with your campaign that it’s almost inevitable to make mistakes – and if not outright mistakes, then inefficiencies that reduce your potential.
Fortunately, once you understand some of the most common and impactful keyword mistakes in PPC advertising, you can take caution to avoid them and optimize your campaign for the better.
These are some of the most common keyword mistakes in PPC advertising we see from clients, competitors, and other advertisers online.
Optimizing a PPC ad campaign is all about improving efficiency. It’s almost impossible to be efficient if you’re using too many keywords at once. On one hand, we understand the temptation to keep adding keywords; each new keyword is a new potential demographic segment and a new opportunity for your brand. But it’s usually better to keep your selection of keywords relatively narrow and focused.
There are a few main problems with using too many keywords. For starters, your attention is going to be split across too many different areas; instead of becoming a true expert on a small handful of keywords, you’ll end up knowing very little about the dozens you’re following. Additionally, you’ll be wasting money on keywords that are strictly underperforming your best options.
If you want to fix this problem, simply focus on a narrower range of keywords. Generally, you should only keep the keywords that are generating around 200 clicks or more – and filter out any keywords that seem to perform worse than your best ones (as well as ones that seem irrelevant).
At first glance, using broad match keywords seems like a no brainer. With broad match turned on, your keywords are going to appear for a wide variety of different searches, including those that are synonymous with your main keyword and some types of related searches. That means your ad is going to appear to a wider range of people and earn more impressions.
However, using broad match keywords recklessly and without strategic focus is usually bad for your campaign. More isn’t always better in the world of PPC advertising; in fact, it’s usually worse. You’re better off targeting a small handful of people who are positioned to buy your product than targeting thousands of people who are practically irrelevant.
You can fix this in a few different ways. For example, you could stop leaning too heavily on broad match keywords and start focusing on phrase match and exact match keywords, which give you much more precise targeting options. You can also use broad match more effectively with the use of modifiers, which allow you to control how your keywords are considered with respect to user searches. As examples, adding a + to a word will ensure it appears in every search – and including phrases in [brackets] will make sure the entire phrase is present in every search.
Ad groups exist to give you more insight and control over your PPC ad campaigns, so try to avoid misusing them by compiling keywords into bulky and unnecessarily large groups. If you put all your conceivable targeting options into one gigantic mass, you’ll have difficulty delineating the different elements of your strategy.
Instead, make sure each of your ad groups is laser-focused on a specific theme (such as a product or service you offer, a geographic location, etc.). The exact theme doesn’t matter much, as long as you’re using ad groups strategically.
Most newcomers to the PPC game are so focused on finding the perfect keywords to add to their campaign that they don’t realize how powerful negative keywords can be. In case you aren’t familiar with them, negative keywords are keywords that you don’t want to appear for a given search. You can use these to filter out specific types of people who may not be interested in what you’re selling – and save money in the process.
If you don’t use negative keywords at all, you’re probably missing out on your true potential in this field. For example, imagine you’re advertising a bakery and you’re placing ads for people who are searching for “chocolate chip cookies.” You want to appeal to people who might buy your chocolate chip cookies, but people who search for this phrase might be looking for recipes or instructions for how to make their own; you can filter out this traffic simply by adding negative keywords like “-recipe.”
There’s a certain point in most PPC ad campaigns when managers begin to feel confident in what they’re doing. Your ads are working period you’re getting clicks. You can claim the campaign is profitable. What do you do at this point?
Novices are typically tempted to keep things running exactly as they are, potentially indefinitely. After all, if it ain’t broke, you don’t fix it, right?
The logic here makes sense, to a degree, but if you go this route, you’ll be crippling your potential. You’ll miss out on all the experiments that could push your campaign further and all the little refinements that could make your campaign even more efficient. Instead of remaining complacent with decent results, you should always strive for better results. That doesn’t mean you have to change your entire campaign, but you should be allocating at least a portion of your budget to pushing for more.
What’s your ad conversion rate like? If this metric is disappointingly low, it could be an indication that your ads aren’t relevant for the keywords you’re choosing. This may sound like a simple and obvious problem, but it’s something that many advertisers run into.
Remember, the people searching for this keyword phrase are looking for something specific. If your ad isn’t carefully crafted to appeal to those people, it’s not going to get much interaction. Always make sure that your keywords and advertisements are very closely aligned.
When it comes to audience targeting, you have to think beyond mere demographics. You also have to think beyond simple product or service searches. If you want to add more power to your campaign, you need to think about your specific sales funnel and how searchers might fall into that sales funnel.
Different businesses and different industries model their sales funnels in unique ways, but usually, sales funnels follow a process similar to awareness > consideration > purchase. Targeting the right people at the right stage of the sales funnel could dramatically increase your results. Choosing specific phrases and including keyword modifiers targeted to people at the end of the sales funnel could greatly increase the number of people making purchases after clicking your ads. At the same time, targeting people earlier in the sales funnel could help you avoid some of the most prominent competition in your industry, saving you money while earning you customer loyalty.
The only wrong approach is to ignore the sales funnel in your strategy entirely.
Landing pages play a massive role in determining the success of your PPC campaign. No matter how well your ads perform or how much traffic do you generate, your campaign is going to fall flat if you aren’t able to convert your new visitors.
The critical flaw here for most PPC advertisers is a landing page that doesn’t match the ad or doesn’t match the keyword phrase. If you promise a special discount in your ad, that discount better be present on your landing page. If you’re advertising running shoes, don’t take your visitors to a landing page that features boots.
Obviously, you’ll also need to spend time optimizing this landing page so it’s as persuasive and perceptibly trustworthy as possible.
The bulk of your campaign is going to focus on product and service keywords, but if you totally neglect brand keywords, you’ll be sabotaging your own potential.
Many people ignore brand keywords entirely because they feel like these targeting options are practically irrelevant. After all, if a customer already knows about your brand, there’s no use trying to raise their brand awareness further. And there’s a good chance your brand website is already ranking at position one for brand keyword searches.
However, there are some good reasons to bid on your own brand keywords. Branded keywords have the potential to increase your account’s quality score. They almost guarantee your brand will be featured at the top of the search results page. You’ll generate more traffic to your website. And perhaps best of all, this serves as a competitive defense – so your worst competitors can’t try and dethrone you by targeting your branded keywords.
Targeting competitor brand keywords, eh? If you’ve never considered the option before, you’re certainly considering it now. Bidding on the branded keywords of a competitor can be a powerful, if cutthroat move. You can siphon traffic from a major competitor, increasing your traffic while dealing a blow to your peers simultaneously.
However, it’s reckless to approach this without an effective strategy. If your ads aren’t relevant to the people conducting these searches, you’re not going to generate clicks, and your quality score could go down. If you don’t have a plan to convert these prospects, you’ll end up wasting money trying to sabotage competitors rather than building your own business. And the worst part is, if you’re actively trying to sabotage your competitors, you could end up harming your brand reputation.
None of this means that you have to avoid targeting competitor brand keywords. It just means you need to have a carefully considered strategy in place for them.
We’ve covered 10 of the most common mistakes that people make with keywords in the PPC world, but this list is by no means comprehensive. There are many other strategic flaws and examples of poor decision making that can negatively impact your campaign.
On top of that, the PPC ad world is always changing with new controls and features for advertisers, new competitors, and changing consumer attitudes.
If you want to avoid all PPC ad mistakes (or at least as many as possible), you should follow these important golden rules:
Are you tired of PPC advertising mistakes bogging down your otherwise profitable campaign?
Do you need some extra guidance in targeting the best possible PPC keywords?
PPC.co is here for you. We’ve got the experts. We’ve got the experience. All you need to do is reach out and we’ll send you a free proposal. Contact us today!