Everyone wants peak performance from a Google AdWords Pay Per Click (PPC) campaign. To achieve this you must identify poor performing keywords and either optimize their performance or prune them from your campaign entirely.
First, you’ll need to develop ways to measure performance. But how you measure depends on the type of site you have, whether a traffic-driven site or a conversion-driven site. Each has its own Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) or characteristic success measurements.
Measuring Success in Traffic-Driven Sites
An example of a traffic-driven site is one that earns revenue by selling advertising, so you’ll want to find ways to measure and improve the volume of targeted traffic to your site. Look beyond the initial Cost Per Click (CPC) to get a better picture of the true performance of a keyword phrase. In addition, use an analytics tool, such as Google Analytics, to evaluate for each keyword phrase:
- Bounce Rate
- Pageviews per Visit
- Time on Site
Consider, for example, a keyword that generates a visit for a CPC of $1.00 and produces an average of five pages viewed or visited. This would cost you $0.20 per visitor pageview. Compare that to a $0.50 CPC keyword that averages only two pageviews per visit and costs you $0.25 per visitor pageview. If most people bounce out of your site after a single pageview, a low-cost keyword actually costs you more per visitor page view than a better targeted, but more expensive, keyword.
For some strong message sites, a long visit (time on site) is an indication that your message is being read, and hopefully received. Thus it is a more important metric to track than the number of pageviews. Determine the best KPI metrics to evaluate success on your site.
Measuring Success in Conversion-Driven Sites
E-commerce and lead generation sites are driven by conversions, not just by traffic. As a result, the CPC for a keyword phrase is not the most important factor. Rather, Cost Per Acquisition (CPA, also known as cost per conversion) is the best metric. The Big Three paid search marketing sites — Google, Yahoo, and MSN/Bing — all offer conversion tracking as a part of their account management, so it’s well worth the effort to include their conversion tracking scripts on the relevant success pages of your site. You can also set up conversion tracking through your analytics tool for an independent view of performance.
Setting Up Conversion Tracking
Setting up conversion tracking is a pretty straightforward effort :
- Identify the unique “thank you” page(s) on your site that reflect the success event that you want to track. This might be the “Thank you for ordering” page of an e-commerce site or a “your contact request has been processed” page for a lead-gen site.
So You’ve Identified Some Poor Performers. Now What?
Once you have the tracking code in place, generating a report showing relative performance is pretty straight-forward. Deciding how to interpret the data and what to do about it is a little more difficult. Whether you are talking about traffic or conversions, there will be a spread of performance among the various keywords. Decide what is the minimum keyword performance threshold for your business. Then determine a course of action. Usually, this follows two directions: tweak and prune.
Tweaking Keyword Performance
You can often improve a keyword’s performance by altering one or more paid search parameters:
- Bid price. Lowering the bid or changing bidding strategies may boost a keyword’s performance and make it more desirable.
- Keyword negatives. Weeding out inappropriate clicks can improve performance. Look at the “search query reports” or use a click tracking tool like PPC Probe to track the raw user search terms that correspond to each of your ad groups. Create negative keywords to weed out inappropriate search terms bringing visitors to your site.
- Ad copy. If an ad doesn’t match the keywords, then the Click Thru Rate (CTR) will be poor, lowering the keyword’s Quality Score and raising the bid needed to maintain a given position. Try rewriting the ad.
- Landing page selection. If the landing page isn’t perceived to be relevant to the keyword phrase, then your visitor is more likely to abandon the site before converting. Match the keywords to a more appropriate landing page or rewrite the landing page.
- Landing page targeting. You can use the keyword information that your visitor entered to give your visitor a better experience and indicate immediate relevance. Simple programming can allow you to show your visitor the search term entered at the top of the landing page.
Pruning the Losers
But not every keyword can — or should be — saved by tweaking. The poorest performing keywords should certainly be culled. You’ll need to determine the balance point between popularity (traffic volume) and performance. It may be necessary to retain a marginally performing keyword due to the volume of traffic that the phrase brings.
Once you’ve tweaked keyword factors and eliminated the worst performing keywords from your campaign, you’ll find that your campaigns perform better with a higher ROI (Return on Investment) — a worthy goal to compensate you for the work it takes to get there.
Christine Churchill is the President of KeyRelevance.com, a full service Dallas search engine marketing company that specializes in helping businesses succeed online. Christine and her experienced team of online marketers provide a holistic approach to marketing: increasing a site’s visibility online, improving the user experience on the site, and maximizing the site’s conversion potential.