5 Ecommerce PPC Tips to Advance Your Google AdWords Campaign
Learning the in's and out's of Google AdWords can seem like an ongoing endeavor. And to an extent, it is.
In an ecommerce context, PPC advertising can get really cumbersome. It's critical to be both properly educated and highly organized to make the most of your ecommerce PPC expenditure.
In this article, I hope educate and inspire you to become a more proficient AdWords advertiser. Below I share five ecommerce PPC tips that reflect the knowledge and wisdom I have absorbed from my search marketing mentors.
And although these are ecommerce PPC tips, you can leverage these techniques for almost any AdWords campaign.
1. Split-Test Ad Copy, Relentlessly
One of the most common things I notice when optimizing AdWords accounts is that most PPC advertisers will only create one ad for each ad group. This poses significant limitations because ad copy has an immense impact on click-through rates (CTR).
Don't be lazy. Make the effort to split-test multiple ads for each ad group (ideally three to five ads.)
Try writing a slightly different headline for some ads, and perhaps a few minor variations in the supportive copy and URL extension. The key is to keep very organized with your split-tests and make incremental changes that can be gauged by performance.
One thing you must do when split-testing ad copy is adjust the campaign settings to rotate your ads to display evenly. This can be found near the bottom of the "Settings" tab under section titled "Advanced Settings" (see screen shot below.)
Although Google claims that this option is "Not recommended for most advertisers," simply ignore this and carry on. Choosing this option will ensure that your ads receive equal exposure, and thus enabling you to determine the ad copy that gets the highest CTR.
I like to maintain a spreadsheet that keeps track of my PPC split-tests. In the spreadsheet I note specific changes I make, in addition to the time-frame and performance metrics of each ad. It's also important to make alterations to ads only after they have received adequate exposure (or have earned "statistical relevancy.") In other words, don't assume your ad copy sucks if you've received no clicks after 50 impressions.
2. Create Keyword-Specific Ad Groups
This is perhaps the most important tip for ecommerce PPC advertisers:
Create your ad groups around very, very closely related keywords.
The more narrow and specific you can get with each ad group, the more targeted your ads will be. Here is an example:
Take a look at how the top ad from TriathleteSport.com is much more targeted compared to the lower ad from TYR.com (the actual brand of the wetsuit.)
The advertisers at TriathleteSport.com clearly have a dedicated ad group for the TYR Freak of Nature Wetsuit. TYR.com might have one ad group (and thus one ad) serving a number of overlapping keyword searches.
A good ecommerce PPC strategy for building campaigns and ad groups in AdWords is to think of brands (or product categories) as campaigns, and specific products or models as ad groups.
Create specific campaigns for each brand or product category that your online store has to offer. From each branded campaign, you can develop highly specific ad groups for each make or model of the given brand.
As a result, you can create focal ads with product/keyword-specific ad copy. Additionally, you can make strategic use of Ad Extensions per each campaign.
3. Employ Ad Extensions, Like a Boss
If your campaigns and ad groups are all structured as mentioned above, you can then employ Ad Extensions with immense creativity.
Ad Extensions offer many (and free) opportunities to make your ads pop and stand-out from the clutter. Additionally, you can use certain Ad Extensions to support other online marketing strategies.
A few ecommerce PPC tips for using Ad Extensions are:
- using SiteLinks to include product-specific links in ads that target more general keywords for brands or product categories (e.g. have SiteLinks to the top selling models of shoes ["Nike Flex Run iD"] in an ad that's triggered for a more broad keyword search ["Nike Running Shoes"].)
- leveraging Social Extensions to show-off social authority and brand credibility. The ad will display how many Google +1's your ecommerce store has, thus increasing the level of trust shoppers have in your brand.
- taking advantage of Location Extensions if you operate a big-box retail brand or an online store that has a tangible location. This technique is highly effective for local boutiques that want to advertise their products to a geographically-confined market space.
Many Ad Extensions can be used in conjunction with one another. This can significantly increase the real estate and click-through rates of your ads. To learn more about using various Ad Extension, check-out this Google Support page on the topic.
4. Use "Modified Broad Match" Keyword Bidding
When exact match is to narrow and restrictive (with respect to long-tail keyword searches) and broad match is just too general, try modified broad match bidding.
With modified broad match, you place a "+" symbol directly in front of the keywords that must be used in a searcher’s query in order to trigger your ads. This tip is highly effective for ecommerce PPC advertisers who are bidding on product-specific keywords the pose numerous search variations.
For example, if we bid on the keyword phrase +mens +saucony +guide (a popular running shoe,) those three words must be included in a searcher's keyword query for our ad to be displayed. This enables us to capture detailed long-tail searches like Saucony Guide 6 GTX for Men as well as Mens Saucony Progrid Guide Shoes.
Using modified broad match bidding also makes it a bit easier to do negative keyword research for select ad groups (which we cover in the next section.)
5. Know Where to do Negative Keyword Research
Hopefully you understand what negative keywords are and how to implement them in your Google AdWords campaigns. (If you do not, read this article on the subject.)
To get to the good stuff, below are my two favorite resources for doing negative keyword research:
- The "Search Terms" feature under the Dimensions tab in AdWords - Search terms reveals the history of keyword phrases that have triggered your ads. Here you can pinpoint which unwanted variations to include in the negative keyword list. (For more insights on this, check out this blog post all about using Search Terms.)
- Google Suggested Search (or "Auto-complete") - Open up Google search and start typing the keyword phrase you are bidding on. Often times Google will suggest keywords that not what you want triggering your ads. These negatives often include variations like "reviews," "kids," or "discounts."
The Last Word
Although most of these ecommerce PPC tips focus on Google AdWords, you can apply many of these PPC tips to Bing's AdCenter, as well as other advertising platforms. For more insights about AdWords optimization and campaign management, join this community on Google Plus.
About the Author:
Tyler Tafelsky is search marketing specialist who spearheads the SEO and PPC campaign here at Click Centric SEO. Tyler is well-versed in multiple facets of digital marketing and branding, including organic SEO, PPC advertising, social media and content marketing. Keep in touch with Tyler by following him on Twitter.