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Navah Hopkins

How to Beat the Odds in PPC with Competitive Metrics: Q&A

Navah Hopkins
How to Beat the Odds in PPC with Competitive Metrics: Q&A

This is a companion post to "5 PPC Pitfalls" following the “How to Beat the Odds in PPC with Competitive Metrics” webinar. Miss it? Catch the recording here, as well as the first chapter of the e-book.

Whether you’re the many-hat-wearing business owner of a growing small business, or the head of marketing at a Fortune 500 company, PPC poses many puzzles to be solved.

The following are hand-selected questions from folks just like you: business savvy folks forced to understand and adapt to the ever-changing trends and functionalities in online marketing. While this post is PPC-specific, there are some underlying themes that speak to general online marketing, which shows how PPC is just one piece of the puzzle.



Question: Do these tools work for small niche markets with lower traffic? I'm in industrial B-to-B, which has way less traffic than a consumer product like cars. Many tools I've tried give results like, "Sorry not enough data."

Answer: PPC success is contingent on understanding the business metrics that speak to bottom line ROI. This means assessing the following: will the CPA (cost per acquisition) exceed the hard costs associated with the product/service; are there mechanisms in place to prove out profit and margins; is there a way to retain the user past the initial interaction so leads are a mix of of loyal brand enthusiasts and new brand engagers? Based on this assessment, the business can make a data-driven decision on whether PPC makes sense.

Niche markets are probably the best-suited to PPC because there’s inherently less competition and so clicks tend to be cheaper. While it may seem discouraging that there isn’t a high volume of impressions, in a specific vertical, this just means that successful ads will have higher CTR and ultimately get away with even cheaper clicks.

With that said, it is vital the landing page itself is solid enough to win the business the ad campaign delivered. Many niche sites go heavy on consultative advice since they know the ultimate sale will result after a lengthy sales cycle. Make sure any page the ad directs the user to has an easy to see/access lead-gen form or path to purchase.



Q: What campaign structure do you prefer for better performance? Specific keyword theme specific campaigns or only one campaign for all keywords?

A: Campaign structure depends on the business model, but there are a few great places to start and test. The only structure that is *not* ok is one that has every keyword in a single campaign, or worse, in a single ad group. The reason for this is ad groups need to represent tightly knit themes that closely represent the ideas in the respective ad. When there are too many keywords, they can waste spend because they are entering in the ad in the auction when it may not be relevant to the query.

A good place to start in building out campaigns is looking to the site being promoted by the PPC account. If it’s ecommerce make a campaign for each section of the site and then ad groups for each product type. If it’s a service site, create campaigns for each major service provided. When a business services multiple time zones, it can make sense to make a campaign for each major time zone so ads can be targeted.

On the keyword level of structure, if a campaign is new and the advertiser needs data, it can make sense to adopt a tiered bidding strategy (use broad on the lowest bid, phrase on the middle bid and exact on the highest bid) as this will allow the advertiser access to the high impressions that come with broad match, while ensuring they’re reserving the lion share of their budget for transactional users whose queries trigger phrase and exact match.



Regardless of which strategy an account opts for, it is important any account includes a robust list of negative keywords. Negative keywords are the safeguards of all accounts, ensuring irrelevant search queries don’t waste valuable impressions and clicks on users who are not the target audience, or are not yet ready to engage the brand. While there are some general settings like “adult keywords” an advertiser can choose to set on negative, it is important the majority of the keywords set to negative come from data-driven strategy.



Q: When I add in long-tail keywords that have converted from my search query details as exact match I get low search volume then get no traffic. Should I add long-tail converted keywords as a broad match/broad match modifier?

A: Long-tail keywords should almost never be added on exact match because it demands the user type in the long-tail query exactly as you have it in your keyword list. If one word is missing, out of place or added on, the query will not pull the ad into the auction. For example: Dog walkers Boston MA will not pull the ad for Dog walkers, Boston MA.

Long-tail keywords perform best when on phrase match or modified broad, but can even find success on broad match (the longer the phrase, the “smarter” Google gets in serving the ad). Conversely, one-to-three phrase keywords do really well on exact match (dog walker, cheap coats, name of brand, etc.).

Hungry for more answers? Download the full e-book here!

Navah Hopkins is part of the Customer Success team at WordStream, with a passion for innovation and all things data. She brings five years of SEO and PPC experience, helping small-to-medium-sized businesses navigate algorithmic changes like Panda and Penguin, as well as make meaningful strategic decisions. When she’s not working on PPC, she blogs about her favorite trends in online marketing, innovation and finance, with the end goal of making complex concepts accessible to all. Her last article for SEMrush was "5 PPC Pitfalls that Kill ROI."

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