We manage millions of dollars in PPC ad spend every year, partner with numerous agencies, and do a lot of PPC account audits (if you need an audit for your PPC account, fill out our form here, and just let us know you’re looking for a PPC account audit). We’re always amazed at the amount of waste that exists in accounts across the board. Sometimes it’s screaming in plain site, other times it’s a little more hidden, but it’s almost always there. Doing a simple audit can help you recover a significant amount of money that can be reinvested into higher performing channels (PPC or elsewhere) to get you a significant return.
And let’s face it, most businesses could always use some extra cash for their marketing budgets.
If you’re looking for ways to save some money, here are 5 things to look for in your PPC campaigns (and before you start that, we recommend doing a quick overview look in your campaigns just to make sure what you think is there is really there – during audits we’ve found clear, simple things like entire campaigns spending hundreds of dollars per month on incorrectly copied/pasted keywords!)
1. Look for Errors
The first thing you need to do is look for flat out mistakes. These typically appear in one of two ways. First, check your ads for typos. Typos in your ads can quickly cause your clickthrough rates to fall and an immediate distrust of your company. Just take a quick look. Seriously, this is an ad that we saw in Google search results. They’re out there:
Second, test all the links in your ads. Yes, Google will typically disapprove an ad if the link goes to an error page. This isn’t foolproof, and we’ve seen live ads go to 404 pages, or just the wrong pages for one reason or another. If you have ads that are going to bad pages, that’s a quick fix and a way to plug the hole.
2. Look at Your Search Terms (not just Search Keywords)
There is a difference here that is important to understand. Search Keywords are the keywords that you’re targeting. These may be exact match, broad match, phrase match, etc., but essentially these are the keywords that you’re telling Google you want to target. It’s what you see when you look at the keywords in your Ad Groups. Of course, check these – we’ve seen some irrelevant keywords in there that have nothing to do with the services a client are offering (typically this is because Google suggests keywords and people add them in bulk, even though Google doesn’t necessarily know what’s best for your business).
However, you can also see your “search terms” by clicking (you guessed it…) “search terms” in the left menu under “keywords.” These search terms are what people actually searched that brought you impressions and clicks. Google is slowly trying to remove this data, but for the time being it is still there and very helpful. You will likely see a load of keywords in here that aren’t relevant and are costing you money every single month. Even though you’re targeting something specific, if you’re not using “exact match” keywords, there’s a range of what keywords may actually pull up your ads. For example, if you’re targeting “music lessons” and someone types “online music lessons” your ad may likely show up – even if you don’t have online lessons. So, it’s important to be looking at the search terms and subsequently adding undesired words and phrases to the “negative keyword” list. This ensures that if the unwanted keywords show up, you don’t show up (and pay).
3. Cut the Dead Weight
Most accounts have campaigns that are running, and they feel like good campaigns because the keywords seem goods and you like the ad copy. But what’s the bottom line? Is the conversion rate 1/4 of what the other campaigns are? Are they truly performing? They may bring awareness, which is good and can be helpful in the big picture. On the other hand, they may just be sucking budget that can go to another campaign that is raking it in. It may be time to switch up the campaigns and channel the money into the top performer. It may not technically be “waste,” but it may be incredible inefficiency, which is essentially waste. Don’t invest in lower performing campaigns until you higher performing campaigns are at max (or near-max) capacity.
4. Stop Investing in the Wrong Part of the Funnel
Most businesses will have some sort of funnel, regardless of whether or not you’re adhering to it. Here’s an example of the funnel that we use to guide decisions in healthcare marketing:
The lowest part of the funnel is typically where you’ll get the most value for your dollar (above branded, which is typically not new customers, but often a necessary evil for various reasons). If your primary goal is conversions, the lower part should be a heavy investment. The upper part of the funnel is good for initial contacts, some conversions, but more to begin a relationship with a new customer. Many campaigns are spread very evenly throughout the entire funnel. In most cases, there is extra wasteful spend as a result. Focus the money on what is going to grow your business. Treat other avenues separately.
5. Increase Your Quality Score
Most PPC accounts that we review have a significant number of keywords that they’re paying extra for because they have a low quality score. In simple terms, a quality score consists of 3 components:
- Expected Clickthrough Rate
- Ad Relevance
- Landing Page Experience
Google uses these three factors to alter the “buying power” of your bids. So, you could be paying well over double what you should be (sometimes as much as 4x) because you have a poor quality score. Changing your keywords, ads, and landing pages to accommodate for this can save you some big money very quickly. The easiest wins to look for are:
- Consistency between keyword, ad, and landing page (using the same language, etc.). This will probably be the biggest, quickest win.
- Keep similar keywords in the same Ad Groups, separate unlike keywords. This ensures the right keyword triggers the right ad.
- Use as many ad extensions as possible.
- Make sure your ad is something you would want to click.
Need an Audit? We Can Help!
We can almost guarantee that if you have a Google Ads account, there’s waste in there somewhere. Typically the fixes aren’t significantly time consuming (but there are additional fixes that can be of great help that are a little more in-depth). It’s all a matter of knowing what to look for.
If you’re still struggling and need some assistance, or if you’re an agency that just wants to white-label some analysis, let us know. We can typically turn around PPC audits in 1-2 weeks, and they can really help you make the most out of your campaigns. Get in touch!