The major PPC engines are undergoing major changes as of late. They are growing and their features are expanding exponentially. With this, the complexity of managing a PPC campaign is also growing. Advertisers the world over are up in arms about under-performing PPC accounts. However, if you pay attention to the complainers, you’ll find some glaring errors and omissions that are no doubt to blame for their downturn.
Of course, best case scenario has you hiring a professional PPC manager. Not everyone is in the market for one of those, however. They cost money as their skills are in high demand. Barring that, then, here is a list of three of the most common PPC pitfalls, and how to fix them (or prevent them).
Poor Account Setup
I’ve seen many PPC accounts lately that consisted of just one campaign and one ad group. Huh? That is rarely the best way to organize your and structure your PPC account. This hurts your quality score and makes the account perilously difficult to manage.
Setting up multiple campaigns is definitely the way to go here. This allows you to manage each to it’s own set of objectives. It also provides the ability to adjust settings based on individual performance. This does not affect your entire account. In short, your are not bogged down by one poorly performing facet. Only as strong as our weakest link, yaknow?
Not Editing Account Default Settings
Many PPC advertisers forget that default account settings, especially in Google, are designed to maximize profit for the search engine. This doesn’t necessitate automatic maximum profit for the advertiser, though.
Right when you open an account, you should check on the settings. First thing. No waiting. In Google, you’ll find these in the Settings tab. In Yahoo, you’ll need to go to the Campaigns tab, select a campaign, and then click Campaign Settings. For Microsoft adCenter, click on the campaign name, and then click Change Settings.
First, you are gonna want to opt out of the content network. These can provide additional traffic and conversions but at a cost. It requires a totally different set-up strata then the rest of your account, making it an unmaneuverable hurdle when taken in context of your entire strategy. In Google and Yahoo, the opt-out setting is at the campaign level. In adCenter, it’s at the ad group level.
Also, change up your ad delivery options. The default setting in both Google and Yahoo is “optimize” — Google even goes so far as to term this the “recommended” setting. If you are running multiple ad variations, which you should be doing, the “optimize” setting will show the variation with the higher CTR more frequently. This is not always a good thing.
Of course it’s good for the search engines. It garners them more clicks. But is it good for you and your business? Remember, the ad with the most clicks may not be converting the best for you.
In order to ascertain what is going on here, change the setting to “rotate.” This will make sure each variation gets about the same number of impressions. This will eventually give you the data as to which one converts better. Don’t lose heart. It won’t take long and it’s well worth it.
Sending all Traffic to the Home Page
I am continually surprised by how many PPC campaigns that send all of the traffic to the home page. This is never the right landing page because it usually forces the user to, you know, search again. That’s what home pages are there for. Remember, your users have already searched once via the engine of their choice. Why make it harder on them?
This is where exemplary account set-up really pays off. Take the time to create distinct ad groups around a theme, be it product, service, or whatever. Then use the most relevant page of your site as the PPC destination. It’s really easy once you get the hang of it and it will pay handsomely.
For example, if the theme of your ad group is “buy blue widgets,” use the blue widget page of your web site as the destination URL. Don’t use the home page and make the visitor search again for “blue widgets.” There’s only so many times a person wants to type that phrase. Or read it for that matter. Sorry about that.
And most importantly, above all else, if you’ve made mistakes it’s never too late to set things right. Tools like Adwords Editor and adCenter Desktop make it easy to create new campaigns and ad groups, and to move keywords and ad copy from one to another. Editing destination URLs will become as simple as finding them and replacing them. With these tools, and an hour or so, you’ll be well on your way to setting your PPC campaign on track.