What is going to drive your target audience to engage with your ad? As previously discussed in Effective Pay Per Click Strategies to Drive Tourism, it’s important to recognize the two primary types of paid advertising on search engines when considering Pay Per Click Advertising (PPC) for your destination – the search network and the display network. There’s a myriad of ways to target audiences including keyword and contextual targeting as well as demographic, device and location targeting. Now, let’s look at optimized pay per click strategies. As of May 2017, Google has the highest percentage of desktop, mobile and combined search engine market shares, so for the purpose of our conversation we’ll use a lot of Google’s terminology and search network options. Let’s dig in.
Optimize your campaign
If your PPC is not performing as well as you would like, organizing keywords is an important structural change you can make. Because they can be organized by campaign, you will want to group similar keywords by theme, using approximately 25 keywords per campaign. Google Adwords will often provide you with keyword suggestions, and adding high performing keywords can often help raise your Click Through Rate (CTR), which in turn improves the Quality Score that Google uses as a metric to determine how frequently to show your ads. The end goal is to generate more impressions, lead to more clicks and repeat the cycle. Google’s search engine seeks to provide relevant searches to its users. This is important to note because the search network will penalize you if you don’t have an optimized, clearly organized and user-friendly website. Similar to organic search, the paid search network will not show your ads as frequently as a competitor’s if your site isn’t mobile-friendly, optimized for performance and proven relevant to search engine users.
Another way to optimize your campaign strategy is to add negative keywords to search phrases that aren’t relevant to your goals. Doing so instructs the search algorithm to ignore your site whenever a user searches on a keyword that you’ve identified as such. For example, a resort destination might input “hotel” as a negative keyword to ensure that it’s ads target users looking specifically for the resort experience. Likewise, if a destination is looking to distinguish itself from another city of the same name – such as Portland, Maine and Portland, Oregon – adding the other state as a negative keyword will prevent unwanted clicks and help preserve budget, in turn improving the return on investment (ROI) for the budget you spend.
Managing keywords by removing words with a lower CTR is another way to increase ROI. This will allow high performing keywords to receive even more budget in the campaign. Changing keyword search types can also help optimize the number of impressions you receive, in turn leading to more clicks. For example, changing the search phrase from “broad match” to “phrase match” or “exact match” could yield better results. Managing the keywords by adding negative words, removing low performing words or changing keyword search types in your overall campaign is an easy way to boost your search network performance.
In addition to ad groups and keywords, the landing page is another element that contributes to your quality score. Your landing page should be relevant, easy to navigate, mobile optimized, and – most importantly – include keywords from search terms and ad copy so that every element of the campaign has continuity.
Optimize your ad
PPC affords you the opportunity to showcase several digital ad types within your campaign. Text ads, which consist of only copy and video, are examples of the type of ads that show up in the search network, while image-based ads with banner graphics and responsive ads with rotating graphics show up in the display network.
Another way to achieve optimized pay per click performance is to implement A/B testing and adjust the ad copy accordingly. Provided your campaign groupings and keywords are in order, ad copy is the next most important element that contributes to your Quality Score and overall CTR. Adding a special offer or discount with a set time period for redemption is one of the most important elements of your ad copy and can generate higher click rates. Conducting A/B testing on ad groups added on the same day with the same offer is a great way to test which ads will perform best. Google offers two lines for a headline, so rearrange the order of the copy until you have found that one performs best. Once you have updated the copy to include an offer and have tested it, it’s a good idea to include keywords from the search network within your copy and on your landing page to make sure it not only meets the needs of the potential visitor, but also meets the requirements of Google’s search network for optimal performance.
There are also several ad extensions within the Google ad network which appear on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) that can help increase engagement.
- Sitelink extensions can boost performance and help achieve a higher CTR. There are six possible site link extensions, and a minimum of four is required. These relate to primary navigation and provide quick links to your website – such as Offers, Directions, Contact, etc.
- Call-out Extensions are not a part of the two, 35-character headlines that Google offers nor the 80 character keyword body copy, but they allow you to highlight an offer, such as free entrée with purchase. Call-outs are not clickable within the search engine results.
- Adding Location Extensions in the Ad Network will allow you to display the address and link to a map of your destination on mobile devices that will often get picked up as a geo-location.
- If you have a mobile app, App Extensions can also be added.
Optimize your budget
Lastly, manually or automatically adjusting your bidding can increase the Cost Per Click (CPC), which can lead to an uptick in impressions and CTR. Again, increased CTR can positively impact your Quality Score and will continue to boost performance based on Google’s algorithm for the ad network. You can also adjust your bid by location or day of the week, as well as by re-marketing to target additional demographics. Let’s say your campaign is targeted to everyone, but you would like to enhance the placement to millennials. You might consider increasing your ad group to this demographic and to mobile devices by 10%.
The bottom line is that there is more than one advanced tactic you can implement related to your pay per click campaign. The trick is to spend time regularly reviewing the search network settings and making changes to get optimized pay per click performance.