By Joseph Kerschbaum
Staying competitive for your most sought-after
keywords requires diligence, persistence, and a
strategic utilization of the tools and reports that are
available to you as a pay-per-click (PPC) manager.
Improve and preserve the performance of your
highly-competitive keywords by following these
Optimize Your Account Structure
To manage your highly-competitive keywords, it is helpful to separate
them into their own ad groups. Any well-structured ad group should
contain no more than approximately 25 terms (on average), allowing
you to group your keywords tightly by theme and user intent.
However, with keywords that need constant monitoring and optimization,
consider very small ad groups; some with perhaps only one keyword
in order to focus intensely on that term.
PPC trends move fast. Segregating your competitive terms will save
time when it comes to reporting and analysis. You can run a series of
reports for these tightly structured ad groups and get the data you need
quickly, rather than running reports for numerous ad groups then
needing to hunt down specific terms. If you want to stay ahead of your
competition, agility is crucial — especially when you are analyzing and
reporting on mission-critical terms.
This tactic can help improve your Quality Score as well. Most paid
search programs — including Google, MSN and Yahoo! — take into
consideration your ad group structure when evaluating your account.
When done correctly, you will see a difference — you might see your
cost-per-click (CPC) decrease, while ad position increases.
Write Targeted, Benefit-Driven Ad Text
Restructuring your account will streamline reporting, save account
management time, and enhance your Quality Score. And, with this
strategy you’ll be able to write more relevant ad texts. This is at the core
of creating a successful paid search campaign: keywords and ad text.
An entire series of articles could be written on successful PPC ad
text, but to remain ahead of the competition keep in mind relevancy
and benefits. First, your ad text has to be relevant to a user’s query otherwise
your ad won’t get a sideways glance. Second, you not only need
to convince users that the ad is relevant, you need to show why they
should disregard everything else on the search engine results page
(SERP) and click on your ad.
It’s not difficult to prominently display your keywords within ad
text if you have only one or two terms per ad group. And you need to
make sure to include awesome benefits, calls-to-action, and any special
deals you have to offer. This will make your ads more relevant and convincing
that you have the best solution for their query.
Don’t forget to regularly review others’ ad text as well — this is competition,
after all. See what they are saying, and how they are positioning
themselves. Then think of new and better ways to connect with
your shared audience.
Utilize Your Match Type Options
Once you have optimized your account structure by moving your
most competitive keywords into their own ad groups and have written
ad text that is highly-targeted and benefit-driven, you can then
properly utilize the various match types for
For your core terms, incorporate
each of the available match types:
broad, phrase, and exact match. PPC
managers can overlook this tactic
easily. These match types may be
derivatives of the same keyword,
but they will generate different
results. If you focus solely on
broad match, you might be casting
too wide of a net, while only
focusing on exact match may be limiting your growth potential.
Remember, each match type is going to perform differently and you
should analyze and manage them accordingly.
Use Negative Keywords for Positive Impact
After you decide to also use phrase and exact match keywords, Google
AdWords’ Search Query Report can sharpen the focus of your highlycompetitive
To narrow the focus of these keywords, strip away all search queries
that are not relevant to your needs. These irrelevant queries can
decrease click-through and conversion rates. The search query report
shows the raw search queries for which these keywords are displayed.
This report is most useful for broad and phrase match keywords.
You might discover that a highly-competitive term displays for
queries that are not relevant to you, your business or the particular
campaign. You can add these irrelevant terms to your negative keyword
list. This prevents your ads from displaying for these searches. This will
enhance your ad group’s focus and maximize your ROI.
Diversify with Long-Tail Terms
Separating your most-highly trafficked, most-competitive keywords
into their own ad groups does not mean you should neglect the longtail
variations of these competitive terms.
As you optimize your account structure and write better ad text,
continue building your long-tail keyword list. These terms may have
lower search volume but they can also have a lower CPC and higher
click-through rate (CTR) — therefore boosting your campaign’s overall
performance. Also, increasing your keyword list outside of your core
terms will help diversify your account, lessening the reliance on your
most competitive terms.
A quick way to create new ad groups for long-tail variations can
be as simple as adding “purchase modifiers” to your core terms, such
as: buy, find, purchase, seller, manufacturer, etc. Here is a quick tip
when building out a long-tail list: Only use phrase and exact match
within these ad groups. This way, you’re ensuring the purchase modifier
is included in the search query.
Implement the Right Bidding Strategy
Your main objective with PPC is to execute a bidding strategy that will
generate the highest ROI. If your sole focus is targeting the first ad position,
prepare to spend a huge portion of your budget on users who are
“just looking.” Remember, you are in this for the long haul. Monitor
your performance closely and bid to the position that generates
the best CTR, conversion rate, and ROI — don’t get
into a bidding war.
Each of these strategies will help you optimize your
account, enhance your performance, and remain as competitive
as possible in this ever changing, always challenging
paid search landscape. All of these tactics are on-going —
you need to continually look for new ways to make your
PPC campaign work better.
This is exactly what your competition is doing. In fact,
they’re probably doing it right now.
About the Author: Joseph Kerschbaum is a member of the PPC Hero team, a blog that
discusses PPC strategy, as well as SEO Boy, a blog that focuses on
SEO strategy — but with a heroic flare. Kerschbaum is a senior
paid search marketing consultant for Hanapin Marketing, a search
engine marketing/development firm based in Bloomington, Ind.