Optimizing your AdWords campaigns can be a huge headache. Endlessly going through multiple campaigns, ad groups and keywords, is exhausting, and in many cases ineffective. In this post, we will share seven surprising ways you may have never thought of to quickly optimize your AdWords campaigns, and see a huge improvement with very little efforts.

1. Don’t always be number one

Average position is one of the most followed metrics by paid search marketers, who are constantly trying to rank higher than the competition and reach the 1st position. Having your ad appear as the first one at the top of the search results page will certainly get you more traffic, but does it really pay off? The answer is – most likely no!

Being in the first position usually requires a much higher bid compared to what it takes to be second or third, even if you have a high-quality score, and in most cases will dramatically increase your CPA, up to the point that it is not cost effective. Not only that, the highest ranking ad is the first thing the user see while searching on Google. Many times the first ad is clicked on, without being read which leads to a high bounce rate. So, stop having people randomly clicking on your ad, and imminently leave your website. This is an unnecessary waste of your budget.

What to do?

Focusing on average position of 2 or 3 is much more effective. Your ads will still be seen in high volumes, and get clicked on by more relevant users. It also requires much lower bids, so your CPA gets lower as well.

2. Use one keyword ad groups

One of the best (and least used) ways to improve your search campaigns performance, is switching to single keyword ad groups. A single keyword ad group will contain one keyword only, but it’s possible to combine various match type. For example:

[analytics for marketers]

“analytics for marketers”

+analytics +for +marketers

Switching to single keyword ad groups holds huge benefits. By having one keyword in your ad group, you will be able to write much more accurate ads that answer the performed search, which will increase your CTR, quality score and conversion rate. Obviously, the end result of this will be a lower CPA.

What to do?

Switching to single keyword ad groups can be a huge move if you already have hundreds or thousands of keywords. Start by taking your top ten keywords, and move them into new single keyword ad groups, with relevant ads. Compare their results with how they performed in their previous ad groups, and if you are happy with their performance, keep on doing that with the next batch of keywords.

3. Don’t bid on competitors names (unless they bid on yours)

It is very common on AdWords that competing brands are targeting each other’s brand names as keywords to “steal” customers. It might seem to make sense, but actually, the only winner here is Google!

Each brand should definitely use its own brand name as a keyword (yes, even if you are ranked #1 in organic results on your brand name), but in most cases, targeting your competitors brand name is far from being cost effective. Since you are not allowed to write the competing brand name in your ads, nor your website has its domain, your quality score will be very low, and your required bid will be extremely high.

What to do?

Definitely pass on using competitors brand names as keywords, except for when any of the followings applies:

  • The competing brand is using your brand name as a keyword. In this case, you should do the same, not to get back at them (just a little bit), but to interpret them, and make them pay more for their own brand name, which will make them reconsider.
  • You add the brand name to words like “alternative”, “competitors” etc. In this case, it is clear that your ad might be relevant to the searching user.
  • Your competitors were not smart enough to use their own brand name as a keyword. In this case, you will have no competition (other than other brands that are doing the same) and it will be much easier to gain traffic from that keyword.

4. Do not use keywords insertions all over your account

Keywords insertion means to automatically insert the search query the user is searching for into the ad. For example, if the user is searching for “simple analytics tool”, and I’m using keyword insertion in my ad headline, the headline will be “simple analytics tool”.

Keyword insertion is one of the most common tricks to increase the CTR, and it actually works. But does it also increase conversion rates and reduce CPA? Not necessarily, and in fact, from my experience, it significantly reduces conversion rate.

Having the exact search query in the ad text makes it more alluring for the searching user, and he is more likely to click on it, but not necessarily for the right reasons. If your offer doesn’t really answer the search query, chances are this user will not convert, and your CPA will be higher since you paid for non-converting clicks.

What to do?

Of course, it is highly important to integrate keywords in your ads. By doing so, you increase the search relevancy, CTR, and quality score. But, instead of doing so by automatic keyword insertions, try to actually write an ad that answers the search query. For example, if the search query is “invoice factoring” try an ad that says “instant cash for your invoices”. This ad is technically not exactly what the user was searching for, but it directly answers the search and therefore has a higher chance to convert the user who clicked on it.

5. Consider stopping using phrase match

This might seem crazy. Why would you pass on so much traffic? Well, there’s a very good reason for that. If you’re using modified broad match, you don’t really have to use phrase match as well. Modified broad and phrase matches are almost the same, except for the fact that modified broad will cover more search terms. With modified broad match type, you define exactly which words must be a part of the search query in order to bid on it, in addition to other words. This is exactly what phrase match does, except for the order of the words.

So, why pass on phrase match?

Since both match types can cover almost the same search queries, passing on phrase match can save you a lot of optimization time, and off course budget. Narrowing your campaigns to exact match and modified broad only, will help you focus your optimization efforts and get better results.

What to do?

Download your entire AdWords account data to an Excel file. Create a pivot table, and slice the data by match types. See if your phrase match keywords have a significant difference in results from modified broad. You will probably see lower volumes of traffic and conversions, with an equal or higher CPA. If that’s the case, pause all phrase match keywords, and spare yourself some optimization time and budget.

6. Use negative remarketing lists

Remarketing is an extremely powerful way to acquire users. A past website visitor has a higher chance of clicking on your ad, and convert than a “cold” user.  Using remarketing is absolutely a must for advertisers, and using negative remarketing is something most advertisers simply don’t think about, but definitely should.

With negative remarketing, you exclude users who visited your site, but most likely were not interested in your product or offer. For example, exclude the people who visited your jobs page. If they were browsing through it, they are certainly not interested in becoming a customer.

What to do?

Excluding remarketing lists is a very simple thing to do that will make sure your ads are displayed to relevant people, who were really interested in your product or offer. Exclude the people who visited your Jobs or other irrelevant pages, and certainly exclude your existing customers (unless you are advertising a specific offer for them)

7. Use RLSA in separated campaigns

RLSA stands for “remarketing lists for search ads”. Basically, RLSA is remarketing lists that can be used to target past visitors when they are back searching for relevant search queries. In most cases, advertisers use RLSA in the original search campaigns and ad groups and setting higher bid adjustments for users who are a part of the RLSA list. This is a great strategy that is definitely worth using, but there’s a way to improve it even more.

Try splitting your search campaigns to cold audience and RLSA. Exclude the RLSA lists from the cold audience campaigns, and target them in the RLSA campaigns.

What to do?

The downside of splitting RLSA into different campaigns is that it requires much more day to day maintenance. The benefits are that it enable you to fully control your RLSA bids (which should definitely be higher, since returning users are worth a higher bid), and you will be able to write your ads in a different way since these users are already familiar with you.

Final words

We know some of what we wrote here may seem weird, or even doesn’t make sense, but sometimes daring and trying the things that seem drastic can surprise you. We tried everything on the list, and it all worked. Start by trying one or two of the optimizations we offered, and see if it improve your results. If it does, go on try the others. Good luck.

We hope you enjoyed reading this post. If you wish to analyze your website and marketing efforts, and really improve results, you are welcome to try our new analytics tool for Free.