Stop Wasting Money and Improve Your Google AdWords Paid Search ROI

optimizeppcIf you’re focused on maximizing ROI for your firm, and you have a team or vendor managing your paid search campaigns, you may not be optimizing ROI. That’s because many PPC firms miss a few techniques to make sure your Google AdWords programs are working as they should. We’ve seen this again and again when we’ve taken over search campaigns over the last decade. Keep in mind the goal of paid search: to generate a click that converts. This is mostly likely to happen when the keyword query, ad, and landing page offer are all aligned.

• Query — I need this
• Ad — We have what you need- here’s a benefit and a tease to an offer
• Landing page — You should fill out the form because we can help solve your problems.

With that as a backdrop, we are now going to focus on some AdWords features that your digital marketing firm may be missing.

• Search Networks. If your budget is limited and you wish to focus only on Google due to results, you have the option of opting out of Google related properties (Google maps, for example) and search partners (other sites that use the Google search tool within them). AdWords allows you to compare results between Google and partners.

Device Management. Mobile search is huge, but what if your online lead or sale process is complicated on mobile (long/multi-page) check-out process? Or, do you have a long white paper or ebook you want people to download? Prospects may hesitate to download on their phone unless it’s clear they will get an email to download later on desktop. That said, if your conversion rates are higher on mobile, increase bids on mobile. If your desktop conversion rates are higher, decrease mobile bids (even to 100%). We usually split campaigns into desktop and mobile so that we can optimize performance by device.

Advanced Location Options. If you target certain regional markets, be sure to target people in your geographic location only. By default, Google targets the location, and people with an interest in your location. So if your sales region is Northeast USA, and someone in LA who has searched for something on Google in Philadelphia in the past searches for your product, it may appear in his/her query results. That could lead to paying for wasted clicks. So in this case you set the option to run ads in your target location only.

Ad Rotations. By default, Google shows ads more often that will likely generate more clicks. But, you can change this to show ads that generate more conversions. Make sure this setting is correct for your business.

Bid Strategy. I can do a whole post on bid strategy (and I will!) but Google does allow some automated bidding strategies, called Portfolio Bid Strategies, which optimize bids based on goals across campaigns, ad groups, and keywords. Each strategy is unique, and can be utilized to meet your needs. Let’s take a quick look:

  • Maximize Clicks
    Google sets bids to help get as many clicks as possible within a budget. Use this primarily to drive as much traffic as possible.
  • Target Search Position
    If you’re in a competitive industry and want to ensure visibility, you can have Google adjust bids to maintain 1st page or top of page positioning. For mobile campaigns, I set bids to 1st page position, then apply a mobile bid modifier.
  • Target Outranking Share
    Have a competitor you hate to see above you? As more of an ego strategy, you have the option to outbid this competitor if that’s your goal.
  • Target CPA
    If you have a target cost-per-acquisition, you can enter that into Google, and Google will optimize bids to get as many conversions as possible to reach the target CPA.
  • Enhanced CPC
    Google will adjust bids automatically to maximize the number of conversions within your budget.
  • Target Return on Ad Spend
    Have a target ROI? Google will adjust bids to reach that goal as well. If your goal is 200% ROI, then that’s what you should enter for Google to optimize on. It’s a valuable tool for ecommerce.

Keywords: Search Term Report You should be checking this report consistently. The search term report shows the queries people used to click on your ads. Many people don’t read ads clearly, and think they may be getting an answer to the query they entered but they are not. These means wasted clicks. Two issues come to mind:

  • Competitive clicks
    Do you want to pay for clicks that include a competitor in the query? Some could say yes to divert traffic from them to you. Others may say no, because that prospect wasn’t really looking for you and clicked casually. The search reports lets you add queries with competitors in them to your negative keyword lists.
  • Non-related clicks
    You sell a solution. Do you want to pay for clicks with non-related words in the query (jobs, reviews, free, etc.)? Our mantra is to pay for relevance.

Automated Ad Extension Exclusions Did you know that Google will automatically add ad extensions to your ads if they are not manually implemented? Automated extensions improve the quality of your ad by including additional information about your business (like links to your website). AdWords adds automated extensions to your text ads when it predicts that the extensions will improve your ad’s performance. But, let’s say you don’t like the way Google adds these extensions, as you feel they are irrelevant, or, if your seller and consumer ratings are not ideal. You can then have Google exclude some of these extensions.


These are just a few of the many optimizations Google AdWords allows. Obviously, paid search management is more than just “set up and watch.” If you feel is your current provider’s strategy, you know who to call (hint!).

The Google Display Network has its own optimization tools we’ll review another day. If you’re serious about optimal paid search management, challenge your firm to review these approaches. For more, feel free to download our “paid search for lead generation ebook.”

About Paul Mosenson

NuSpark Marketing Founder, Chief Lead Generation Strategist and Online Media Director An experienced B2B and B2C marketer, Paul has been helping clients generate leads and grow their businesses for over 25 years. Paul helps plan and optimize marketing and lead generation programs.