Understand and Improve Your Quality Score

Posted by on May 8, 2014 in Advertising | 8 Comments
Understand and Improve Your Quality Score

The elusive Quality Score… it’s all some search marketers seem to think about when optimizing their PPC campaigns. But there’s no reason to be intimidated. While it’s important to be aware of it, Quality Score is nothing to lose sleep over. In this post, we’ll take a look a look at how Quality Scores work, how they affect you, and learn some best practices to optimize your campaigns with it in mind.

About Quality Score

Quality Score is an estimate of how relevant your ads are. Both Google AdWords and Bing Ads assign your keywords with a Quality Score and you can use it to create more relevant ads.

How Quality Score is Calculated

It’s measured on a scale from 1 to 10. A Quality Score of 1 means your ad for that keyword is extremely irrelevant and it’s unlikely your ad will show regularly. A Quality Score of 10 means your ad for that keyword is extremely relevant and your ad will be shown frequently when eligible.

Although it’s assigned on the keyword level, Quality Score mostly takes your keyword, ad and landing page into consideration when estimating relevance.

Here is the full list of factors according to Google:

  • Your keyword’s expected clickthrough rate (CTR): The expected CTR is based in part on the keyword’s past CTR, or how often that keyword led to clicks on your ad
  • Your display URL’s past CTR: How often you received clicks with your display URL
  • Your account history: The overall CTR of all the ads and keywords in your account
  • The quality of your landing page: How relevant, transparent, and easy-to-navigate your page is
  • Your keyword/ad relevance: How relevant your keyword is to your ads
  • Your keyword/search relevance: How relevant your keyword is to what a customer searches for
  • Geographic performance: How successful your account has been in the regions you’re targeting
  • Your ad’s performance on a site: How well your ad’s been doing on this and similar sites (if you’re targeting the Display Network)
  • Your targeted devices: How well your ads have been performing on different types of devices, like desktops/laptops, mobile devices, and tablets – you get different Quality Scores for different types of devices

Example: Let’s say you’re promoting a website that sells backpacks. If a customer searched Google for “waterproof backpacks,” your ad should talk about waterproof backpacks and point to a page on your site about waterproof backpacks. That level of relevance should earn you a high Quality Score. But if your ad was just about backpacks in general and pointed to your home page, you’d likely earn a low Quality Score, since that is an irrelevant ad to show searchers.


Why Quality Score Matters

Ad networks prefer relevant ads because they offer searchers a great user experience by showing search results with exactly what they’re looking for. If your Quality Scores are high, you can expect to:

  • Earn more impressions and clicks on your ads.
  • Earn a higher position among the sponsored search results on the page.
  • Earn a discounted cost per click as your Ad Rank improves.
  • Include more ad extensions as many extensions require a minimum Quality Score to show.

How to Check Your Quality Score

You can check your Quality Score for campaigns in Google AdWords & Bing Ads by adding it as a column to your keyword table.

Check it in Google AdWords:

  1. Open a keyword table.
  2. Click “Columns,” then “Customize Columns.”
  3. From the “Attributes” metrics, add “Qual. score.”

how to add google adwords quality score columnhow to add google adwords quality score column

Check it in Bing Ads:

  1. Open a keyword table.
  2. Click “Columns.”
  3. Add “Qual. Score.”

how to add bing ads quality score column

Check Google & Bing Quality Scores together in AdStage:

You can see both Google & Bing quality scores together through AdStage.

  1. Open a keyword table (from the folder, campaign or ad group level).
  2. Click “Configure Table.”
  3. Add “Qual. Score.”

how to add adstage quality score column

Diagnose Your Quality Score (AdWords Web UI only)

When looking at a keyword table in the AdWords, you can get diagnose your quality score with additional information about each of the scoring factors. Just click the white speech bubbles next to keyword status to see Google’s estimate of:

google adwords quality score diagnosis

What’s a Good Quality Score?

Your quality score will vary based on how relevant the keyword is to your offer. If the keyword is your brand name, your Quality Score should be closer to 10. If you sell backpacks and the keyword is “duffel bags,” you quality score could be closer to 3.

Here’s my personal interpretation  of Quality Scores:

  • 7-10 – Great Quality Score. Your ads are at an advantage in the auction.
  • 4-6 – Good Quality Score. Your ads are relatively unaffected in the auction.
  • 1-3 – Bad Quality Score. Your ads are at a disadvantage in the auction.

Tips to Improve Your Quality Score

Because Quality Score can offer meaningful improvements to your campaign performance, it’s important to build campaigns with it in mind. The most important being steps that improve your clickthrough rate (CTR).

Reminder: You didn’t start advertising to optimize Quality Scores… so don’t lose sight of the KPIs that matter to you. You want to grow your business, not game your Quality Score.

 Here are the top ways to improve your Quality Score:

  • Add Negative Keywords – Add negative keywords to reduce out irrelevant impressions. Learn more about negative keywords.
  • Make Ads Relevant – Break out keywords into smaller ad groups and populate them with more relevant ads. Learn more about creating ad groups.
  • Make Ads Inviting – Ad Create more effective ad copy that encourages clicks. For example, offer an inviting call to action in your ad like “Try our demo free.” Learn more about creating effective ads.
  • Use Relevant Landing Pages – Choose the most relevant landing page for this keyword, or use a tool like Unbounce to create a new landing page devoted to this keyword. For the example of the keyword “waterproof backbacks,” I’d build a landing page that features content about waterproof backpacks. Learn more about choosing a landing page.

Do you have other tips to improve Quality Scores? Please share it in the comments!

How to Use Ad Groups to Serve Relevant Ads

Posted by on Dec 13, 2013 in Advertising | 7 Comments
How to Use Ad Groups to Serve Relevant Ads

Are you trying to wrap your head around ad groups to figure out to use them? This post will help you understand how ad groups work and provide you with winning strategies to use ad groups to build highly relevant and effective ads.

What are ad groups

Ad groups are containers that hold a set of ads and the keywords (or other methods of targeting) that trigger those ads. They also contain a default bid for keywords in the ad group along with keyword-level bids, if specified.

Since ad groups live in larger campaigns, they inherit the settings and ad extensions from the campaign they’re housed in, though you can also apply unique settings and extensions to the ad group.

How to use ad groups

Here are a couple of scenarios to show how you should use ad groups to organize your ads around a common theme:

For single-product campaigns

If you have one main product you want to advertise, you could create an ad group for each search intent. This way you can write different ads for each intent and send clicks on those ads directly to the page of your website with the most relevant information.

example of a relevant single product ad

This ad is very relevant for searches on “payroll software prices.”

For example, a payroll software startup could create an ad group for 1) payroll software, 2) alternatives to quickbooks, 3 ) prices 4) etc.

The ad group for prices would then contain keywords like 1) payroll software prices, 2) how much is payroll software, 3) cheap payroll software, 4) etc. along with ads that promote your product to a potential customer that’s concerned about pricing.

For multi-product campaigns

If you have many products or services you want to advertise, you could create an ad group for each product. This way you can write different ads for each product and send clicks on those ads directly to that product’s page on your website.

example of a relevant multi-product ad

This ad is very relevant for searches on “leaky pipes.”

For example, a plumber may create ad groups for 1) pipes, 2) water heaters 3) septic systems, 4) etc.

The ad group for pipes would then contain keywords like 1) burst pipes, 2) leaky pipes, 3) pipe repair, 4) etc. along with ads that speak directly to the problem of leaky pipes.

Relevance is key

The main thing is to use ad groups to serve the most relevant ad to each potential customer. If your “Pipes” ad group is showing ads about leaky pipes to a customer that is searching for “copper repiping,” you’ll want to create another ad group about repiping so you can show them the best ads.

The main thing is to use ad groups to serve the most relevant ad to each potential customer.

Don’t have a lot of time? Not sure where to start? Focus on your high-margin and high-volume products and services. Then, expand your ad groups from there.

Tracking Conversions With Google Analytics

Posted by on Nov 26, 2013 in Advertising, Search | 47 Comments
Tracking Conversions With Google Analytics

This post was updated on May 5, 2014
google analytics

Mature self-serve ad platforms like Google AdWords, Bing Ads & Facebook Ads each offer their own proprietary tools to track conversions generated by ads. But how do you measure conversions from other traffic sources like LinkedIn Ads that don’t yet come with conversion tracking solutions out-of-the-box? In this post, I’ll walk you through tracking conversions from any traffic source with the help of Google Analytics and their custom reports.

What Are Conversions?

A conversion takes place when a visitor to your site takes an action you care about and “converts” to a customer. This could be through filling out a form, completing a purchase, or by simply showing a high level of engagement with your site. This post will help you define and measure which traffic sources result in conversions.

How to Track Conversions

If you’re already using Google Analytics, all it takes is a defined goal and a special URL that reveals the source of the click. If you haven’t installed Google Analytics yet, you can learn to configure it here.

Step 1: Build your tracking URL

Google Analytics URL BuilderYou’ll need to use the Google Analytics URL Builder to tag your URLs with custom campaign tracking parameters. Simply fill out the form by inserting your landing page URL along with the rest of the campaign details.

For example, if I’m trying to track conversions from a new LinkedIn Ads campaign, I’d fill out the form as follows:

  • Website URL This is the URL of the page you are linking to:
  • Campaign Source This will record the campaign’s source:
  • Campaign Medium This will record the type of campaign:
  • Campaign Term This can be used to record the keyword that is being targeted:
  • Campaign Content This can be used to record the ad that was shown:
  • Campaign Name This will record the campaign’s name:

The URL Builder will take these details and return the following URL with the appropriate tracking parameters: https://www.adstage.io/?utm_source=LinkedIn&utm_medium=cpc&utm_content=clear-ppc-reporting&utm_campaign=AdStage-For-In-House-Marketers

Step 2: Use your tracking URL

new linkedin ad

Use the tagged URL as your ad destination

Now take your new URL and use it in your campaign in place of your standard URL.

Google Analytics will assume that anybody that clicks this URL is from this campaign. Consequently, it will attribute any actions they take to this campaign as well.

Step 3: Define your goal

If you don’t have them set up already, you’ll need to create goals in Google Analytics for the conversions you want to track.

For example, if you’re an e-commerce site, you’ll want to track shopping cart checkouts. You can do this by creating a goal that counts visits to the URL of the order confirmation page that customers see when they complete their order.

To create you goal in Google Analytics, follow these steps:

  1. Click “Admin” in the navigation bar.
  2. Click “Goals” under View.Google Analytics Admin Settings
  3. Click “+New Goal”.
  4. Create your goal by following the wizard.google-analytics-goals-page

Once you’ve created your goal, Google Analytics will track your goal performance and attribute it to the appropriate sources.

Creating Custom Reports

When you’ve created your goals in Google Analytics and you’ve tagged your ad URLs, you’ll be able to create easy-to-read reports that reveal your campaign’s performance. My favorite way of viewing this data is with Custom Reports in Google Analytics.

To create your first custom report follow these simple steps:

  1. Click “Customization” in the navigation bar.
  2. Click “+New Custom Report.”
  3. Give it a title.
  4. Click “+ add metric” and choose the metric columns you’d like to see. Search for the goal you just created and select the metric for Completions [e.g., Purchases (Goal 1 Completions)]. This will show you the number of conversions of this type. You can add multiple metrics columns.
    Google Analytics Metrics
  5. Click  “+ add dimension” and choose how you would like to break up the data in rows. You can also add multiple dimensions in order to drill down into each successive level. I suggest adding “Source / Medium” as the first dimension, then “Campaign.”
    Google Analytics Dimensions
  6. Click “Save” and you’ll be presented with a beautiful custom report to measure your conversion performance.
    Google Analytics Custom Report

With these steps, you can measure conversions across any digital source easily!

Looking to simplify your reporting across multiple traffic sources? Check out the conversion tracking capabilities of the AdStage all-in-one ad platform!

How to Audit Your Bing Ads Account

Posted by on Oct 30, 2013 in Advertising, Search | 14 Comments
How to Audit Your Bing Ads Account

Let’s be honest. Your Bing Ads account doesn’t get as much love and attention as your Google AdWords account. And your Bing account likely started out as a carbon copy of your AdWords account, imported once and left relatively unchanged. I understand. But just because Bing has less search volume than Google and represents a smaller portion of your overall ad spend doesn’t mean it should be covered in dust. Bing is a great source of low cost search clicks and you want to make sure you’re making the most of your investment. In this guide, I’ll walk you through a comprehensive account audit to identify opportunities to improve your Bing Ads account.

Here are the main sections I’ll cover:

  1. Account Organization
  2. Keywords
  3. Negative Keywords
  4. Ads
  5. Landing Pages
  6. Extensions

As you go through the guide, feel free to check each section off. Now let’s get started!

Account Organization Audit

The following steps will help you make sure your overall Bing Ads account is in good shape.

Structure – Is there a clear structure to the account’s campaigns and ad groups? A well-structured campaign helps prevent problems like missing or overlapping keywords and helps you spot opportunities in your reports. It also makes it easier for colleagues to help manage your campaigns if your team grows. For help, read How To Structure & Setup PPC Campaigns.

Conversion Tracking – Is conversion tracking set up? Is it working? Are the right conversions being tracked? With conversion tracking, you can optimize every aspect of your campaigns to maximize profit and eliminate wasted spend by measuring the impact ads have on your bottom line. Make sure you’re tracking the most important actions a visitor could take (e.g., shopping cart checkouts).

Brand & Nonbrand Split – Are brand and nonbrand campaigns split out into separate campaigns? All keywords that contain your brand name should live in their own campaign because branded keywords perform differently than nonbrand keywords: CTR is higher, Quality Score is higher, search intent is different, ad copy is different, cost per conversion is different. Keep brand and nonbrand separate so you can optimize accordingly.

Ad Group Focus – Are there any ad groups with far more than 10 keywords? Having too many keywords in a single ad group makes it very difficult to create focused and relevant ads. Split out keywords into new ad groups based on the main word and theme and drop in a custom ad that someone searching those keywords would want to see. For help writing focused ads, read 5 Tips For Creating Effective PPC Ads.

Approval Issues – Are there any keywords or ads that are marked as disapproved? Approval issues keep your ads from running but can be fixed quickly. If you find any, make the required change and set a reminder for yourself to check back in a few days to make sure the issue has been resolved.

Disapproved keyword in Bing

Campaign Setting Audit

Now that we’ve made sure your Bing Ads account is in good shape, let’s take a look at each campaign to make sure they’re set up optimally.

bing ads settings tab

Ad Rotation – Are the ads set to “optimize for clicks?” While “rotate ads more evenly” is great for split testing multiple ads, it requires you to manually monitor the test for a winner. Failing to pause ads that underperform will mean the losing ads keep serving. A great alternative is to set the ads to “optimize for clicks.” Unlike Google, ad rotation settings are found and set at the ad group level. With this setting, Bing Ads will test your ads on its own and serve the winners more quickly than if you were to do it manually.

Bing ads ad rotation

Set your ads to optimize for clicks

Budget – Is the daily budget adequate? Is the campaign consistently depleting its budget? Review your spend and budget to make sure your best-performing campaigns have a high enough budget to handle the volume. If the budget is maxed out, consider lowering your bids in order to reduce your cost per click– you just might get more clicks for your money.

Budget Delivery – Is the campaign budget set to “accelerated” delivery? If it isn’t and you’d like to get more clicks from your campaign, you may want to test it. Standard delivery distributes your budget throughout the day and helps you avoid running out of budget early in the day. Accelerated delivery shows your ads as soon as reasonably possible which means your ads could stop serving if you don’t raise the budget enough to capture the increase in traffic.

Bing ads budget delivery

Set your budget delivery to accelerated to capture more clicks

Location & Language – Are location and language targeting settings appropriate? Make sure your campaign and ad groups are targeting only the locations your business serves. And if your budget is limited, consider only targeting your most profitable locations for now.

Keyword Audit

Next, let’s take care of the keywords and make sure there are no issues or missed optimization opportunities.

Search Queries – Review the search query report and look for new keyword opportunities that stand out. Knowing which search queries triggered your ads and how they performed makes it easy for you to optimize your search campaign and save money by adding new exact match keywords. For help accessing and taking action on your search query report, read How to Use The Search Query Report.

Bing Ads Opportunities Tab

Review the Bing Ads opportunities tab

Opportunities Tab – Review the Bing Ads Opportunities tab. There may be good keyword recommendations for the campaign that you can take add in order to reach new customers. Make sure you add new keywords in relevant ad groups so your ads can be relevant as well.

Broad Match Modifier – Does the campaign have Broad Match Modifier keywords? Should any new BMM keywords be added? These broad match keywords contain a + before one or more words that are required to show up for searches. This keywords don’t have the high risk of irrelevance that comes with standard broad match keywords. For help with BMM, read our guide to keyword match types.

Missing Bids – If the campaign is using manual bidding, are there any keywords that don’t have a Max CPC bid set? If the bid is blank, the default ad group bid will be used, which isn’t optimal. Instead, set a bid based on that keyword’s value to your business.

Duplicate Keywords – Are there any duplicate keywords? Two identical keywords with the same match type shouldn’t exist in your account. While they won’t drive up your CPCs, they will compete and make it difficult to both optimize and control which one serves.

Bids by Match Type – Are bids set properly for each match type? If a keyword is present with multiple match types, each keyword should have a tiered bid to ensure the most appropriate match type is served. Set your exact match highest, then phrase, then broad match modifier, and finally broad with the lowest.

Low Quality Score – Are there any keywords with low quality scores? If the Quality Score is under 4 and the keyword is served regularly, you’ll want to take steps to optimize it. Move the keyword into its own ad group and give it a more relevant ad and landing page. This can improve your quality score and get you more clicks and more sales.

Negative Keyword Audit

On the other side of keyword optimization is the negative keyword list. Let’s make sure each campaign has an adequate negative keyword list so we can prevent your ads from showing up for clearly irrelevant queries.

Missing Negatives – Are there any campaigns that don’t have negative keywords? Negative keywords keep you from wasting money on vague or irrelevant searches. Check out the starter lists in the following guide to help you get started: How to Find and Use Negative Keywords.

Search Query Report Negatives – Review the search query report for negative keyword opportunities that stand out. Adding negatives based on performance data in the SQR will boost your CTR and Quality Score, as well as make your spend more efficient. Look through the report for irrelevant queries that you want to avoid and add them as negatives.

Bing ads negative keyword conflict report

Review Bing’s Negative Keyword Conflict report

Negative Keyword Conflicts – Are there any negative keyword conflicts that are blocking keywords in your campaign? Are there any that could be blocking relevant searches? Review Bing’s negative keyword conflicts report and removing conflicting negatives, or change them to negative exact match to limit the scope of their impact. Learn how to use the negative keyword conflict report.

Ad Audit

Now it’s time to address the part of your campaign potential customers see. Your ads are what you’re paying to promote, after all, so let’s make sure they’re strong.

Typos – Are there any typos or spelling issues in the ads? Typos reflect poorly on your business and obscure the message of your ad so address any issues.

Calls to Action – Does each ad have a call to action? Tell your customers what the next step they should take is and you’ll see an increase in the number of them that actually follow through.  For help writing ads, read 5 Tips For Creating Effective PPC Ads.

Include a call to action

Add a call to action

Ad Quantity – Does the campaign have two active ads in each ad group? Keeping two ad variations in an ad group makes it easy to test them both to find a winner. It also protects you from sudden disapprovals that could pause an ad without you knowing. But Bing doesn’t handle having multiple ads gracefully like Google, so you want to limit the number of ads in each ad group to two, or at most three.

Custom Display URLs – Do any ads have custom display URL subdirectories (the part after “.com/”) for the ad group? The display URL is a great place to tailor your ad to show relevance to the ad group. For example, an ad group about “Red Widget Prices” could feature the Display URL “www.widgets.com/red-widget-prices”. It’s possible that that display URL outperforms the real URL so you should test it. Just make sure you have redirects set up for these made-up URLs in case someone copies and pastes the link.

Landing Page Audit

404 page example

Make sure landing pages work

Landing Page Errors – Are any ads pointing to error “out of stock” pages? Landing page problems break your ads, frustrate potential customers and are a complete waste of money. Update the destination URLs of ads with broken landing pages and pause ads for products that are out of stock to make sure your money goes towards ads that can actually lead to conversions.

Landing Page Quality – Are you sending traffic to the right pages of your website? If a customer is searching for a specific product, don’t send them to your homepage and make them search– take them straight to that product so they can make a decision to buy. Review the ads of each ad group to make sure the most relevant page is being used in the Destination URL.

Landing Page Optimization – Are the landing pages optimized for conversions? You’re going through a great deal of effort to bring customers to your website; is there anything you can do to make the most of the visitors you already have? Consider removing distractions from the landing page, adding a clear call to action, testing headlines, etc. Tools like Unbounce can make this easy and the performance boost can make a huge difference.

Editorial Compliance – Does every landing page have the proper privacy policy & terms? Missing these could result in approval issues at best, and legal issues at worst. Make sure your landing pages have all the fine print your main pages have.

Extension Audit

Bing Ads Sitelinks

Configure sitelinks in your top campaigns

Sitelinks – Does the campaign have sitelink extensions configured? With sitelinks, you can include quick links to your top pages to segment your audience, list your benefits and win the click. There’s no extra cost to sitelinks and they will dramatically boost your CTR so make sure to add them, at least to your top campaigns. For help, read How to Use Sitelinks.

Other Extensions – Are all other appropriate extensions being used? Brick & mortar businesses should set up Location Extensions and businesses that handle inbound leads over the phone should set up Call Extensions. Extensions enhance your ads and can dramatically improve performance so test each extension that makes sense for your business.

How To Use the Search Terms Report

Posted by on Oct 24, 2013 in Advertising, Reporting | 8 Comments
How To Use the Search Terms Report

The search terms report is one of the most powerful sources of data in your PPC campaign. Tragically, it’s also the best hidden. This report tells you exactly what people who saw your ads were searching for.

Knowing which searches triggered your ads makes it easy to optimize your campaign.

Knowing which search queries triggered your ads and how they performed makes it easy for you to optimize your search campaign and save money by adding new keywords and negative keywords. In this post, I’ll walk you through the steps to take in order to pull these reports, analyze them and take action on them.

Accessing the Search Terms Report

The search terms report is notoriously hard to find, so let’s first walk through the process of generating the report for both Google & Bing.

Google AdWords

AdWords Search Terms Report

AdWords Search Terms Report

AdWords can generate a report with all search terms that were used by multiple people and received clicks in the past 30 days. All other search terms, along with those from the last day, will be summed up in the “Other search terms” row.

To generate your AdWords search terms report:

  1. Click the Campaigns tab.
  2. Click the Keywords tab.
  3. Click the Details button.
  4. Select All from the drop-down.
  5. Click the download button to export the data. 

Bing Ads

Bing Search Query Report

Bing Search Terms Report

Bing can generate a report with all search terms that resulted in at least one click during a one-hour reporting period. Because of this, the number of impressions listed in a Bing search terms report might be just a fraction of the total impressions actually generated during a search query.

To generate your Bing Ads search terms report:

  1. Click the Reports tab.
  2. Select Search Terms under Performance from the Report type drop-down.
  3. Include “Delivered match type,” “Keyword” & “Search query” from Choose your columns.

Access Google & Bing from AdStage

AdStage Search Query Report

AdStage Report Center

With AdStage PPC software, you can generate reports for both Google AdWords & Bing Ads from a single place.

To generate your Google AdWords & Bing Ads search terms reports within AdStage:

  1. Click Reports in the sidebar.
  2. Scroll to your desired network.
  3. Select Search Query Report from the Report Type drop-down.

Try AdStage free

Find New Keyword Opportunities

The search terms report is full of new keyword opportunities, especially if your campaign is full of broad and phrase matched keywords. You’ll want to look through the report for queries that performed well and aren’t yet in your campaign as exact match keywords.

To find keyword opportunities in your report:

  1. Filter the report so only broad and phrase match keywords are being shown. This way you can skip the exact match keywords that are already in your campaign.
  2. Sort by highest clicks or highest conversions to see which queries are performing best.
  3. Starting from the top, review the search queries in each row. Look at their CTR and conversion rates and compare them to other rows to gauge the quality of the keyword.
  4. Note which keywords are performing well and add them as exact match keywords. This way you can ensure your ads display for these queries in the future.

For other ways to discover keyword opportunities, read our Guide to the Google Keyword Planner.

Find Negative Keyword Opportunities

The search terms report can also reveal negative keyword opportunities, especially if your campaign is full of broad and phrase matched keywords. You’ll want to look through the report for irrelevant queries that you want to avoid advertising on in the future.

Find Negatives to Boost CTR & Quality Score:

  1. Filter the report so only broad and phrase match keywords are being shown. This way you can skip the exact match keywords that are already in your campaign.
  2. Sort by highest impressions to see the most popular queries your ads show up for.
  3. Starting from the top, review the search queries in each row. Look at their CTR, conversions and conversion rate and compare them to other rows to gauge the quality of the keyword.
  4. If the queries are irrelevant and aren’t resulting in conversions, you can add them as negative keywords. When you add negative keywords using this data, you’ll directly improve your CTR and Quality Score.

Find Negatives To Save Money & Lower CPA:

  1. Filter the report so only broad and phrase match keywords are being shown. This way you can skip the exact match keywords that are already in your campaign.
  2. Sort by highest spend to see which keywords are costing you the most money.
  3. Starting from the top, review the search queries in each row. Look at their CTR, conversions and conversion rate and compare them to other rows to gauge the quality of the keyword.
  4. If the queries are irrelevant and aren’t resulting in conversions, you can add them as negative keywords. When you add negative keywords using this data, you’ll save money and directly improve your cost per conversion.

For help with negative keywords, read our Guide to Negative Keywords.

How To Structure & Setup PPC Campaigns

Posted by on Oct 21, 2013 in Advertising | 11 Comments
How To Structure & Setup PPC Campaigns

Have you ever compared a mature PPC campaign with one from a new advertiser? The most striking difference is typically the campaign’s focus and its role in the overall account structure. That’s because an account’s structure becomes more and more complex as you take steps to optimize your accounts. Focused ad groups and campaigns give you tighter control over your spend and ads and go a long way to help you maximize your ROI. Advanced advertisers, in their infinite wisdom, don’t wait to build out focused campaigns and neither should you. In this post, I’ll walk you through some simple steps to help you plan out your account structure and setup high-performing PPC campaigns.

Advanced advertisers don’t wait to build out focused campaigns. Neither should you.

Note: While I’m writing with paid search campaigns across Google AdWords & Bing Ads in mind, many of these tips will still apply to Facebook Ads & LinkedIn Ads as well.

Splitting Up Campaigns

This chart below shows the basic structure of an account:

  • Accounts contain campaigns and account-specific settings.
  • Campaigns contain ad groups and campaign-specific settings.
  • Ad groups contain ads, keywords (or other targeting) and ad group-specific settings.
PPC Account Structure

PPC account structure. Source: AdWords Help

Tip: The more specific and fine-grain you make your account structure, the more relevant your ads will be and the better your quality scores will be. The better your quality scores, the greater the discount you receive on your advertising. High spend, high volume campaigns should especially have tight ad groups with focused keyword themes so ads can be relevant.

Split Campaigns by Goal

New advertisers often try to do it all with their first campaign. They create a simple campaign with one general ad about the business, allocate a small (but not insignificant) budget, and launch it with unrealistically high expectations. But let’s be real here: it takes more thought to build out an account with effective campaigns. It’s not necessarily difficult or time-intensive, but it does take some thought and planning.

Tip: It’s good to have a singular goal in mind for your campaign because it helps you craft your ads and landing pages to reach your goal. Here are some possible goals:

  • Do you want to generate awareness about your brand?
  • Are you trying to get traffic to your website?
  • Are you trying to sell products on your website?
  • Are you trying to generate calls to your call center?
  • Are you trying to drive traffic to your brick & mortar store?

Pick a goal for your campaign. If you have multiple goals, you may want to create a campaign for each. This also helps you measure that campaign’s success and allocate additional budget if it does well.

Split Campaigns by Category

An e-commerce website could structure their campaign by following their website navigation as a template. Simply create a campaign for each product category and an ad group for each sub category.

In the example below, the Plasma TV ad group will only contain plasma TV related keywords and plasma TV specific ads. So if someone searches Google for “Samsung plasma TV price,” your relevant and specific ad about plasma TVs will appear, rather than a vague ad about your online store.

The only way to create such specific ads is with tightly themed ad groups.

Tip: Specific ads that address the searcher’s intent will have dramatically higher click-through rates. More advanced advertisers could create a specific ad group for “Samsung plasma TV price” related keywords and populate it with ads that send searchers direct to their product catalog page for Samsung plasma TVs. The only way to create such specific ads is with tightly themed ad groups.

PPC Account Structure Example

PPC account structure example. Source: AdWords Help

Split Campaigns by Campaign Type

Another important reason to split up campaigns is to separate by campaign type. If you want to serve banner ads or advertise on blogs and niche sites, create a dedicated Google AdWords campaign that is set to serve on the Display Network Only.

Tip: You never want to create an AdWords campaign that’s set to serve on both the Search Network and Display Network because that makes the campaign difficult to optimize.

Split Campaigns by Budget

Finally, think through how you would like your budget to be distributed amongst your ad efforts. If you have a dedicated budget you’d like to put towards a specific promotion, create a separate campaign so it will have its own campaign so it has its own budget. This will ensure your money goes towards the right effort and isn’t cannibalized by another campaign. For more on this, read our post How To Set Your Campaign Budgets.

Tip: Splitting out campaigns also lets you allocate a set budget towards your best performing keywords and high margin products. If a keyword is making you a lot of money, split it up and give it a dedicated budget.

For more tips on getting started with search campaigns, check out our guides to Google AdWords & Bing Ads.

How To Set Your Campaign Budgets

Posted by on Oct 16, 2013 in Advertising | 9 Comments
How To Set Your Campaign Budgets

Are you looking to launch new ad campaigns and unsure of how your budgets should be set to start? We’ll walk you through the decision making process here to start you off on the right foot. And don’t worry, your budgets can always be changed and changing them will be one of the most enjoyable steps you take to optimize your campaigns.

How Campaign Budgets Work

First, let’s look at an overview of budgets. Budgets are set at the campaign level and dictate just how much you’re willing to spend on ads in that campaign over a given period of time. Typically, budgets are measured by day, although some networks like Bing Ads & Facebook Ads offer monthly and lifetime budgets as well.

Daily budgets are not always firm limits and, in the case of Google AdWords, you could go over your daily budget. AdWords may go over your daily budget by as much as 20% in order to compensate for fluctuations in search volume that happen in any given day. However, AdWords will prevent your campaign from going over your budget for the month as a whole and will credit you if spend goes over the effective monthly budget.

It’s unlikely that your campaigns will be profitable from the moment you launch them, so set aside a budget that will help you get started testing the waters and collecting data. It’s tough to say just how much is appropriate for you to test with, but I hope you can spend at least $30 per day per campaign. (Need to spend less? That’s ok, but you may need your campaign to run for several weeks to collect data. Able to spend more. Do it. Your budget will dictate just how much data you’re able to collect and how quickly you can get it.)

Choosing a Campaign Budget

To choose your campaign budget:

  1. Take the total budget you’ve set aside for digital advertising for the month and divide it by 30.4. This will be your overall daily budget.
  2. Take your overall daily budget and divide it by the total number of campaigns you are launching across the different ad networks. This will be the initial campaign daily budget.
  3. Apply the campaign daily budget to each campaign you are launching. This will help you manage your total budget across your campaigns.

Reallocating Budget

After the first days and weeks, you’ll collect traffic and conversion data for your campaigns. You can move money out of campaigns that aren’t spending their budget and use your performance data to reallocate money towards your best performers.

Reallocating by Spend

After a few days, you will be able to see which campaigns are spending through their daily budgets and which are hardly touching their budget. You can then take money out of the latter and reallocate it towards the former.

Reallocating by Value

It may take a few weeks, but if you’re tracking conversions you can see which campaigns are most profitable. With this data, you can move budget from the low converting campaigns into the high converting campaigns.

If you’re using AdStage to manage your campaigns and track conversions, you can group campaigns into a folder and use our budget optimizer to automatically reallocate your budget towards the campaigns that are resulting in the most conversions, regardless of network.

How to Use Sitelinks with Search Campaigns

Posted by on Oct 11, 2013 in Advertising | 8 Comments
How to Use Sitelinks with Search Campaigns

If you’re not using sitelinks in your search campaigns, you’re seriously missing out. And here’s why.

Your ads for generic keywords and brand terms are displayed to a very wide range of people and you have limited space to win them over. With sitelinks, you’re given much more space to segment your audience, boast about your benefits and persuade them to click through to a specific page on your website that meets their needs.

What are Sitelinks?

Sitelinks enhance your ads with additional links and copy.

The sitelinks ad extension is an add-on available for Google AdWords and Bing Ads (although this post will focus on Google’s implementation) that enhances your ads with additional links and copy. Rather than sending all people to the same landing page, sitelinks display up to six extra links below your ad that users can choose from. And as of June, sitelinks can include two lines of description text each– they’re like a cluster of free mini-ads!

example of google adwords upgraded sitelinks

You’ll still have your standard ad, but you’ll be able to supplement it with more messaging and direct links that take up more of the coveted real estate on the search engine results page. It’s no surprise that advertisers who use sitelinks see their ad clickthrough rates improve by 30% on average. Utilizing sitelinks is all upside!

When Do They Display?

Sitelinks are designed to show up in situations where Google thinks your ad is the best result for a search. The format of your sitelinks will vary and not every sitelink you create will be displayed together. Your sitelinks won’t always display, but they’ll likely show up for searches on your unique brand terms and when your ad’s in the top position with a high quality.

What Do They Cost?

There’s no cost to setting up sitelinks, you’ll simply pay the same cost per click as your standard add. And if someone clicks more than one link, Google will treat it as a duplicate (or invalid) click and you won’t be charged again.

How Are They Set Up?

To enable and create sitelinks for your campaign or ad group, follow these steps:

Within Google AdWords

  1. Go to your AdWords campaign.
  2. Click the Ad extensions tab.
  3. Choose Sitelinks.
  4. Next to the Sitelink settings link, click Edit
  5. Create a new sitelink or edit an existing sitelink by clicking it.
  6. Fill out the sitelink text and URL.
  7. The Description field is optional, but recommended.

google adwords sitelinks settings

If you run into any issues, take a look at the AdWords sitelink policies.

Within Bing Ads

  1. Go to your Bing campaign.
  2. Click the ad extensions tab.
  3. Click the Sitelinks Extensions tab.
  4. Click Create.
  5. Fill out the sitelink text and URL fields.

Bing ads sitelinks

Within AdStage

  1. Go to your Google or Bing campaign.
  2. Click the ad extensions tab.
  3. Click the Edit Settings button.
  4. Select the Sitelinks checkbox.
  5. Click +Create a new sitelink.
  6. Fill out the sitelink text and URL fields.

adstage sitelinks section

How Do I Make Them Awesome?

Sitelinks go a long way to help you create richer and more relevant ads. These tactics will make your sitelinks perform even better:

  • Create sitelinks for popular pages that people would want quick access to (e.g., About Us).
  • Create sitelinks for promotions to make updating your ads easier (e.g., Winter Sale).
  • Use sitelinks as an extension of your ad copy by mentioning benefits (e.g., Free Shipping).
  • Create sitelinks for calls to action (e.g., Make an Appointment, Get a Quote, etc.).
  • Set unique URLs for your sitelinks, or else they won’t show.
  • Create as many sitelinks as you can, then review their performance to improve them.
  • Keep the text brief and simple.

Creating Effective PPC Ads [Slideshow]

Posted by on Sep 13, 2013 in Advertising | 7 Comments
Creating Effective PPC Ads [Slideshow]

Looking to boost the effectiveness of your online ads? Check out this presentation for quick tips for writing effective PPC ads. You can also read the original blog post here.


How to Use Negative Keywords to Optimize Your PPC Campaign

Posted by on Sep 9, 2013 in Advertising | 30 Comments
How to Use Negative Keywords to Optimize Your PPC Campaign

Is your paid search campaign suffering from a low click through rate? Are you wasting money on ads targeting vague or irrelevant keywords? Regain control over your PPC campaign by adding negative keywords to stop showing ads to the wrong people.

Regain control over your PPC campaign by adding negative keywords.

While traditional keywords trigger your ads to display for relevant searches, negative keywords prevent your ads from being triggered. The search networks will know not to show your ad for anyone searching a phrase that contains your negative keyword.

An Example

If an electrician adds ‘jobs’ as a negative keyword to his PPC campaign or ad group, he’s telling Google or Bing not to show his ad if a user’s search contains the word ‘jobs.’ So ads for the keyword ‘electrician’ won’t display if a user searches ‘electrician jobs.’ Good thing, because this electrician isn’t hiring and doesn’t want to waste the money he set aside for new business on job hunters.

And here’s what happens if ‘jobs’ isn’t added as a negative keyword…

google search for electrician jobs

How to Discover Negative Keywords

Coming up with an initial list of negative keywords is pretty easy. Here are three different categories of sources to help you get started:

1. Starter Lists – There are a number of great negative keyword lists out there. Check them out for inspiration and add the most irrelevant keywords as negatives to your campaign.

2. Search Query Report – You can (and absolutely should) review your search query report to see which searches are currently triggering your ads. Once you’ve pulled the report, you can sort and filter it to find the low hanging fruit–frequently searched irrelevant queries that you’re wasting the most money on. For help, read our Guide to Using the Search Query Report.

Here are two ways I sort the data to look for negative keyword opportunities.

  1. Sort by highest impressions to see the most popular queries your ads show up for.
  2. Sort by highest spend to see which keywords are costing you the most money.

Once you’ve sorted your queries, look at their CTR, conversions and conversion rate to gauge the quality of the keyword. If the keyword is irrelevant and isn’t resulting in conversions, you can add it as a negative keyword.

3. Google Keyword Planner – This keyword research tool provides a wide list of common and related keywords. Once you’ve created a list in the tool, review it for negative keyword ideas. Learn how to use the Google Keyword Planner here.

Negative Keywords and Match Types

How Negative Keyword Match Types WorkYou can use negative keywords together with match types as well. This chart provides an example of the impact of negative broad, negative phrase, and negative exact match keywords. You can learn more about how negative match types work on each network by following these links for Google and Bing.

Please note that adding a negative keyword will stop your ads from showing up for affected words so use them with caution. To be safe, add negative keywords as exact match (with “quotes”). This gives you the most control and limits how broadly your negative prevents ads from displaying. Of course, some words, like  ‘jobs’ and ‘download,’ may be safe to add as broad negatives.

Next, read How Ignoring Match Types Can Kill Your PPC Campaign