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The 10 worst PPC Management Mistakes

By Paul Morris
What Jeffrey Brewer and Bill Gross ( developed and was then revolutionised by Google’s focus on quality is now a £multibillion industry that ensures Google et al ongoing happiness.

To ensure you keep your company happy (in addition to the user and Google’s quality score) you need to avoid pay per click (PPC) optimisation mistakes. Therefore without further ado here are my top 10 PPC management mistakes to avoid.

Note: This article is aimed at the intermediate PPC optimiser hence basic errors have been omitted e.g. no target keywords in your ad text, no tracking, just directing users to the homepage, looking at your ppc campaign less than once a week, etc.

1/ A lack of USP’s

This one sounds obvious.

Surely ensuring your USP’s are showcased in your ppc ad text is obvious?  

No it isn’t. Unfortunately I see so many companies who do not do this.  

You need to really think about your USP’s and then succinctly apply them to your targeted keyword ad text. After that you need to test which USP’s actually make a difference to boost CTR and conversion rate.

2/ Weak Categorisation

Lax categorisation is often linked with poor/ lazy PPC management and is key to effective budget control, testing and ease of management that ultimately impacts your quality score. You need to ensure you have tight campaigns and super tight ad groups.

3/ The obvious

Ensure ‘obvious’ default settings are correctly optimised e.g. correct geographic targeting and automatic default in to the content network and mobile advertising.   

4/ The less obvious 

Unlike the above, there are some optimisation opportunities that are not obvious.  

Negative match types, ad rotation options, the display network, mobile (e.g. different mobile carriers, operating systems, click to call, etc), enhanced CPC, Broad match modifier, remarketing, product extensions, product listing ads, other ad extensions (location, phone and sitelinks), integration with back end databases, etc are all PPC opportunities waiting to be optimised.   

For both 3/ and 4/ Google by default sets your account to “Make Google Money” mode and you need to be aware of all settings and test and optimise accordingly.

5/ Over use of Broad Match and a lack of long tail keywords

One of the most common/worst problems I see is the over use of broad match (without a whopping long list of negatives in-toe) and an under use of long tail keywords. As a result you will be paying over the odds for less qualified traffic.  

By using broad match modifiers, phrase match and exact match you will receive better ROI. I would much rather see a beast of a campaign that ‘overuses’ exact match with 1000’s of exact match keywords and/or phrase match with tons of negatives than a basic broad match campaign with few negatives.

6/ Poor bid management

Setting your bids too high or too low or stifling generics that generate customers higher up the sales funnel can create big problems for the number of sales you receive.

Now there is no magic answer here as to what position to go for (and in fact you should be optimising for ROI anyway) however entering in to a bidding war for position 1 or bidding for position 6-7 to get on the first page as cheaply as possible are not tactics I would usually recommend (In fact the later will likely damage your quality score leading to ever increasing cpc’s).

7/ Poor budget/ time management

By allocating a low budget to your ppc campaign will ensure you will show intermittently or you will use your entire ppc budget within hours of it going live.

You might turn PPC off at certain times of the day/ days of the week (e.g. you might be open 9-5 Monday – Friday and mirror these opening hours with your ppc ads).

Now I’m not saying either of the above decisions are incorrect however without thorough testing, understanding your customer and looking at search funnel analysis as to when people convert (but also when they search) means you are not maximising ROI.

8/  A weak testing methodology

Everything you do in PPC should be tested e.g. ad copy, target keywords, landing pages, etc. 

Have a testing plan (which you will deviate from by the way but it’s still a nice to have!) and keep referring back to it. Ensure all tests are statistically significant (if you are engaging in Google multivariate testing Google will help you) and you are not running too many/ too few tests at any one time.  

9/ A lack of landing Page optimisation

Optimise your landing page for Quality Score reasons and definitely optimise it for conversion rate (that will in turn ultimately affect your PPC ROI). As an example whatever you say in your ad should be repeated on the landing page in the page title, H1 tag, page copy, call to action messages, etc.

10/ No channel Integration

To those companies who cannot afford more expensive Multi Click attribution tools you should at least be using Google multi channel funnels alongside a joined/grown up acquisition channel analysis methodology.

With some clever testing and analysis you should at least be integrating ppc and seo. By turning ppc up, down or off on keywords you are/ are not showing up for in natural search you can take major search strategy decisions. E.g. should I be bidding on brand? Does the halo effect kick in when I am showing up prominently for natural and paid search? Is it worth turning ppc off for those terms I feature strongly for in natural search? Etc.

The last point I would like to make on integration is tracking phone calls that occur as a result of PPC activity – Make sure you track them! Tools such as Click Path or Media Hawk will help you here.