As an experienced marketing executive, you understand the importance of being visible on search engines; whether it’s via 1st-page organic listings, or as an ad that is based on a prospect’s query. If your products and services aren’t on page one or two of the organic results, then paid search ads via Google AdWords should be considered so that you can generate bottom funnel leads, targeting prospects who are using a search engine to find an answer to their business problems. The problem is that for very competitive keywords in a competitive industry, the cost of a click can be quite high. We’ve seen costs for many IT clients to be over $50 per click to be within the top four positions. The click costs, coupled with perhaps an average conversion rate landing page, and a long lead-to-sale process, can lead to a paid search ROI less than ideal.
So for this post, let’s conquer steps to reduce that cost-per-click, with the goal of generating more clicks within your budget and ensuring they are quality clicks.
Supercharge long-tail keywords
Review your seed keywords (one-two keywords in the query), and expand them with longer-tail versions, those with three or more words in the query. Many competitors jack up the price of clicks by bidding high on seed keywords. Long-tail keywords will have much less traffic, but your clicks should be of better quality, and that means better conversion rates. We’ll use Cloud Migration as an example:
Seed Keyword: Cloud Migration. Don’t bid on it by itself
Long Tail: Cloud Data Migration, Cloud Migration Steps, Cloud Migration Checklist, Cloud Migration Options, Migrating to the Cloud, Cloud Migration Tools
Add more negative keywords
Negative keywords within a query prevent your ad from showing for a query that includes the negative keyword. By having a good number of negatives, you prevent irrelevant clicks from being charged to your AdWords account. Let’s use Cloud Migration as an example again. It’s helpful to create a chart and list what your firm does to assist in cloud migration and a list of what you don’t do. Let’s say you’re a consultant that helps firms migrate successfully.
Positives (bid on these): Cloud migration vendors, cloud migration consultants, cloud migration solutions, cloud migration services
Negatives: software, best, top, tools, jobs, careers, cheap, free, keys
Lower Your Bids
Easier said than done, right? Well, Google desktop does show four ads above the organic listings at the top, and three at the bottom for a typically competitive search. Certainly, ads at the top are more visible, especially for mobile, but why not test lower bids, especially if you have a moderate budget? Here are some reasons to test bottom of page positioning.
In a competitive category, your prospects may click on a mix of organic listings as well as multiple ads for their solution. Let the competitors pay for the expensive clicks, and if your solution is relevant to the query, then prospects may click your bottom of page ad as well. Your ad must be as relevant to the query as possible. And you click cost is much lower than ads at the top of the page.
As prospects scan their search results, they will certainly scroll, and as they reach the bottom of the first page, your ad will appear at the bottom. A prospect is looking for the best solution that will encourage them to click. If your ad is indeed relevant to the query, again your ad can generate an inexpensive click. Think about it.
Bid Adjustment Optimization
The Google AdWords platform allows a myriad of techniques to keep your cost-per-click in line. With automated bidding rules and other bid option settings, bids can be managed. For example:
- Pause expensive keywords with low or zero conversion rate
- Lower bids for high performing keywords. Why bid high for keywords with good conversion rates? Lower the bids a bit and keep an eye
- As stated above, there’s no reason to bid for top two-three positions if the click cost is higher than you’re willing to pay. With automated rules, you can automatically adjust bids based on certain criteria. Examples:
- Ad position above three and average CPC is over $30? Reduce bids 25%
- Conversion rate less than 1% and CPC over $30? Reduce bids 25%
- Adjust bids based on time of day, day of week, device. Study conversion data and tweak frequently.
- Test Google’s Enhanced CPC bidding algorithm and let Google automatically tweak bids to maximize the conversion rate.
The cost of clicks in a competitive environment should not prevent your firm’s paid search programs from being profitable. Optimizing keywords and bid strategy are essential for ideal cost management. In addition, always ensure your landing pages are relevant to the keyword query. Relevancy is the key to overall proper paid search management because the more relevant a landing page is to the ad and the query, the lower your click costs will be. But, always be testing and refining.
For more on how NuSpark Marketing can optimize paid search campaigns for B2B firms of all sizes, check out our paid search services and contact us.