How to Lower Your CPC in Google Ads Without Losing the Quality Score

How to Lower Your CPC in Google Ads Without Losing the Quality Score

When it comes to purchase intent targeting strategy, pay per click advertising is the way to go. However, smaller businesses will often struggle with this model, losing dollars without remarkable results. The first step in determining the effectiveness of your campaign is to enable conversion tracking (Forbes 2018). While automatic bidding saves a lot of time, manual bidding gives you control on all levels to allocate your budget towards strategies that work. It’s fairly easy to go into your Google Ads (former AdWords) account and lower the max CPC or set a budget restriction on your campaign. But when it boils down to it, deciding when to bid less or more takes time and knowledge, just as anything else. Google Ads interface is easy to navigate, but carefully planning your campaign structure and knowing which metrics to look at and optimize towards makes all the difference. From the campaign setup to choosing the right ad formulation and optimizing on all the variables that determine to which user and when your ad is shown, there are steps to take that can ensure your budget is spent in an optimal way.

How to Structure Your Campaigns

Every industry is different and there’s no magic formula that works every time. If you’re building your first Google Ads campaign, you should follow your website or another catalog of your products/services. The campaign structure should be built from the top down. Making tight and targeted ad groups will ultimately help your Quality Score. Google Quality Score affects how your PPC ads perform and how much you pay for clicks. It’s based on Google’s rating of the relevance of your keywords, ads, and landing pages, as well as the user experience you offer (WordStream).

The ad groups are the ones containing keywords, ads and extensions, and landing pages. If you organize your groups properly, you’ll be able to target specific search queries with specific ads and lead users to relevant landing pages. This is where your SEO knowledge also kicks in. Providing relevant landing pages and quality user experience ultimately helps your website rank higher. For example, if someone searches for knee-high boots, leading them to a specific page where only that type of boot is showcased will work better than landing the user to your page where all footwear is displayed.

Keywords Research

No amount of time spent on keyword research is too much. It’s about finding those gems that will transform clicks into conversions. It’s also about discovering less competitive formulations that still have a large search volume. There are a lot of free tools out there that allow kicking off the research – if you need a starting point, check out this Ahref’s list.

Long tail keywords are a great place to start. While they tend to have lower search volume, the more specific they are, the greater the users’ purchase intent gets. They are also less likely to be as competitive as popular general search queries with just a couple of words. Of course, you’ll always end up with at least some highly relevant general terms. In order to avoid massing clicks that don’t result in conversions, you’ll want to avoid the search terms that are similar to your targeted keywords but are in no way related to the product or service you’re offering. Negative keywords serve this purpose and are just as valuable as targeted keywords. There’s a lot of guides on how to properly conduct negative keyword research, however, once your campaign launches, it’s important to continue looking at the search queries that yield no conversions and add them to the negative keyword list if they are in no way relevant to the offer.

Another decision to make is whether to use broad match or exact match type for the keywords you’re going to use. This will greatly impact the cost of the clicks, and while broad match type is usually less expensive than exact or phrase matches, finding less competitive long tail formulations might even out this difference (ClickZ) while yielding more conversions.

Optimization Until the Very Last Minute

Once the campaign is up and running, constant monitoring and tweaking are imperative. You need to keep an eye on the cost/conversion value result. You should also regularly check the Auction Insights, where you’ll be able to see the impression share you’re getting compared to the top competitors, as well as the average position in which the ads appear. Another good indicator is the status of your ad which shows whether or not it’s eligible to show on the first page of results. If you lower the max CPC too much, Google Ads will note that your ads will be showing below the first page.

Looking at the Ads & Extensions and Landing Pages sections allows optimizing towards those that work best. Try testing out different ad formulations and landing pages in order to find out which get the users to convert. Google Ads also offers a multitude of different variables that have direct impact to whom, when, and where your ads show. While defining the right audience is crucial, adjusting the bids based on time and device on which they show allows detailed testing and control that will also affect how much you pay for the clicks and how relevant those clicks are.

CTR and Rank Should Always Remain Top Priority

Lowering the cost is great when it doesn’t negatively impact ad rank. However, the goal at all times is to get clicks that convert. Keeping the Quality Score of all components – keywords, ads, and landing pages directly allows lower CPCs. If you don’t pay attention to user experience, that will render keeping a high ad rank impossible and ultimately result in lower CTR.

Finally, if you feel like you don’t have enough knowledge to structure your campaigns, research the keywords, create compelling ads and landing pages, AND optimize everything until the campaign’s last breath, consider hiring experts that will do it for you. Ultimately, if done right your PPC campaign will not only bring in conversions but also position your brand by generating awareness. So, get down to planning, researching, and optimizing and don’t consider the time and money you invest into it wasted – the payoff is definitely worth it!

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