How to optimize your PPC (Google Adwords) spend?

With the adoption of E-commerce in all business models, PPC (Pay per click) has taken a prime importance when it comes to acquiring users. This is specially important for startups as PPC tends to give most targeted results with minimal investments as against offline marketing space.

Though PPC ads are very cheap individually, costs can really climb up if unchecked and organizations tend to rely completely on it. PPC should not be looked as the long term plan to acquire users and organizations should invest in building organic traffic over time.




Here I will show a quick method to check how you can save costs by pre-defined reports in Adwords as well work on a long term plan to build your organic traffic.

Download Search Term Report

  1. Login to your adwords account. You need to go in specific ads account and not the MCC account.
  2. Go to the reports tab and select ‘Search Term Report’ from Pre-defined reports.
  3. You can change columns by selecting from left depending on your preferences. One good attribute here is the device (mobile – desktop). This can give you some really good insights on how costs and other performance indicators differ on the two channels.
  4. Give a date range and download the report from the download button in a Excel .csv format.
  5. Now sort this list by no. of clicks (largest to smallest). This will give you the search terms in cost order from largest to smallest.
  6. Now depending on the size of the traffic coming to your site filter the list on the basis of some minimum benchmark of the clicks for the given period. Let’s say if you have taken a monthly report, you can filter on items where you have received more than 100 clicks.
  7. This list tells you the search terms wherein your organization has paid more than 100 times for that search term during that month.
  8. Now pick this list of search terms and feed it in to a keyword ranking software. There are many out there (free as well as paid), you can decide on the basis of your budget and comfort. What we want here is to check that where is our site ranking in organic results for these search terms.
  9. Once we have the rankings of these search terms, map it in to the original ‘search term’ report.
  10. Now combine this info with the conversion rates and you can define four lists. Thresholds for these attributes will differ from business to business:
    • Where clicks are high and conversion rate is high and your organic ranking is below page 1.
    • Where clicks are high and conversion rate is low.
    • Where clicks are low and conversion rates are high.
    • Where clicks are low and conversion rates are low.
  11. For the first list where clicks are high and conversion rates are high you need to start working on improving your organic ranking. As you would climb on organic rankings you can remove these search terms (by adding to negative list) from your ads and save cost. Though removing altogether from the ads will also depend on the competition on those search terms. Any which ways appearing in top organic results will save costs as a good part of traffic will move to the organic results.
  12. For the second and fourth list, you need to understand the reason of lower conversion rates. If conversion is low because your landing pages are not in line with search intent then you need to work on your landing pages as well as work for improving the organic rankings of these search terms as well, specially for the second list as this have higher paid traffic. If conversion rates are lower because your product does not meet the requirements of the search intent then you need to move these search terms as well to the negative list.
  13. You can leave the third list and continue to get traffic for those search terms through the paid route as the search on those specific search terms might not be worthwhile the time required to invest in improving the organic rankings.

Note: You can not extract a search term report with above steps for a DSA (Dynamic Search ads) campaign. DSA works by using your site content and presenting an ad in the search result if search terms matches with the site content. Benefit of DSA ads is that you don’t need to create individual ads for all the search terms relevant for your site, though downside is that you might end up paying for a lot of unwanted traffic.

How to download a search term report for DSA campaigns?

  1. Go to campaigns tab in your adwords account and then select ‘auto target’ tab.
  2. Select the ‘search term’ drop down and press all.
  3. You can now apply the steps mentioned in the first part to this search term report and prepare an action plan to reduce cost on these campaigns as well.

PS: I have covered here only one report from the google adwords reporting. There are many other reports which can give wonderful insights on optimizing your PPC spend. If you have any ideas on further improving this article please mention in comments.

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