SEM Fatigue? Boost Your Strategy With These 4 Tactics

Digital Marketing Strategy

We’ve all been there. You have a PPC account set up and are following all of Google’s best practices. Yet, deep down, you know there is something you can do to give your SEM strategy a boost. But what? Maybe you don’t know where to look. Maybe you’re getting stuck on the same tips and tricks you’ve been told time and time again. Well, good news! Today I’m sharing four helpful tactics that will give your campaign strategy the kick in the rear it needs to take it to the next level.

1. Higher position isn’t always best for ROI

If you’ve been working with SEM for a while, you know you need to find your top keywords and capitalize on them. This is true, but only to an extent. In a recent study, one analyst found that the CTR dropped from 12.2 percent at position 1 to 0.5 percent at position 2.5. This means that a higher position may get you a higher CTR, but it comes at a higher cost with no guarantee it will generate more conversions.

Rather than focusing on achieving the highest ad position, find the lowest position you can attain while still maintaining a solid conversion rate. Maybe it’s position two, three, or even four. Experiment with different positions to find your sweet spot. If you can generate the same amount of conversions at a lower average position, you could potentially save yourself lots of money.

“Rather than focusing on achieving the highest ad position, find the lowest position you can attain while still maintaining a solid conversion rate.”
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2. Organize ad groups by match type

This one sounds odd, right? But it will actually help your sanity in the long run by separating your best performing terms from your weakest terms. You likely already have your account structured in an efficient manner. The next step is to take every ad group you have and split the broad and exact match terms into different ad groups. Make sure you add the exact match phrase as a negative keyword to each broad match group. This will ensure exact match queries don’t trigger keywords in your broad match ad groups. You will use your broad match groups for keyword mining (digging through the search terms report, shown below) to identify high-value exact match keywords. If you want to control how much budget goes to each match type, you can segment these at the campaign level instead of the ad group level.

A screenshot of Google AdWords and Search Terms for keyword mining.

3. A/B testing 

Odds are you know how important A/B testing is and have run a few tests yourself. The following list includes some effective ways for optimizing your A/B testing strategies:

  • Only test one element at a time. It’s easy to get ahead of yourself when it comes to A/B testing. Make a list of the top five to 10 A/B tests you would like to perform, and do them one at a time. By doing so, your results will be more conclusive and accurate.
  • Trust your data. Your gut might tell you one thing, but with SEM, it’s the hard data that really matters in the end.
  • Give it time. Make sure to give your test plenty of time to accrue data. A few thousand impressions are needed to get a healthy serving of data.
  • Use experiments in AdWords. This feature is great for running a true A/B test with both a control and an experimental group. Google has a useful tutorial on the experiment feature, which should get you into shape for A/B testing in no time. You can find the experiment feature in the settings tab in each campaign.

Setup an experiment in Google AdWords for A/B testing.

4. Setting automated rules

Automated rules are a great way to optimize your PPC strategy and save you time in the long run. However, these rules can quickly turn from friend to foe. For instance, you could set a rule to raise bids on keywords with a low CPA, but what if those keywords start having huge CPAs? Yikes is right!

To manage automated rules effectively, set up opposing rules. In other words, set a “raise bids when” rule, and then set an opposing rule that will “lower bids when.” I would also recommend checking in on your rules once a week until you are comfortable working with them. You can see all your rule changes by clicking “Manage rules” under the automate rule tab in AdWords.

Optimize your PPC strategy with Google Adwords' automated rules.

Implement these four tactics today and your SEM strategy will be in tip-top shape in no time. Just remember not to “set and forget.” In order for these strategies to work in your favor, you’ll need to check on your changes regularly. Also, keep a close eye for common trends and additional ways to improve your campaign’s performance.

Have any to add? Share your SEM insights and advice in the comments below!

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