For the majority of us, it takes some trial and error to find our true match. The same can be said for Retailers, who often jump from agency to agency before finding the right fit. The primary reason Retailers make a switch is weak or declining performance, which on the back end, is reflected in their quality score (QS). This number can be affected by factors such as click-through-rate (CTR), the relevance of keywords to ad groups, ad text and landing page quality, and historical account performance. A drop in quality score results in lower ad rankings and higher costs, therefore a dip in performance causes many Retailers to seek out a new agency relationship.
Adlucent has inherited many of these poor performing accounts and transformed them into top performers. So what’s our secret? Below you’ll find three key areas that have the greatest impact on an ailing paid search program.
Three key areas of focus for a healthy paid search account
1. Identify the right ratio of exact to broad match terms
The ratio of exact match keywords to broad match keywords is often unbalanced. While this will vary based on the account, a healthy account will have more than 50% of the keywords as exact match keywords. Many of our inherited accounts have a ratio that is heavily skewed toward broad match terms. Broad match keywords are certainly important as exploratory terms, but when you see queries frequently coming through that don’t have an equivalent exact match keyword in the account, it’s typically a best practice to create them. While this is a fairly time consuming task, the increase in click-through-rate (CTR) and lowered costs are extremely impactful.
2. Quantify the impact of proposed account changes
Whether it’s a new or existing account, there will always be numerous tests running while you’re optimizing an account. Always quantify the impact these changes are having on your account and adjust accordingly. It’s easy to become complacent and simply implement changes because they worked on another account, they are a general best practice, or they make your day-to-day life easier. Never just assume that something will work out without testing the results. This applies to anything you change on an account such as ad text variations, keyword build out, bid adjustments, call outs, site changes, and more. Many paid search teams implement blanket best practices across the board, without looking back to see if they were actually helpful or hurtful for that particular client’s account.
3. Ensure your ad text is relevant
Many agencies opt for strategies that highlight general promotions instead of focusing on search queries to maximize bolding. It’s easy to write ad copy by utilizing ad text that can be easily transferred between ad groups, but the results are often subpar. We all know that ad text needs to be highly relevant, but it’s an easy thing to overlook among all the competing tasks we have to choose from in order to improve performance.
Adlucent recently inherited a large retail account which came to us with a quality score (QS) of 7.1. Their ad rankings were suffering and their ad costs were on the rise. Using the best practices listed above, we saw the retailer’s quality score rise to 7.6 in just eight short weeks and cost-per-click (CPC) drop by 6%. In the following eight weeks, the average QS rose to a new high of 8.1, resulting in a decline in CPCs of 15%. Today, a few months after taking over the account, CPCs are, on average, 30% lower and QS is still rising at around 8.4.
Don’t let your paid search teams be complacent
Retailers need to hold their paid search team accountable for the basic tasks that need to be completed on a regular basis--not just the flashier work--to ensure their account stays healthy. Don’t allow complacency. Search queries need to be mined, ad text needs to be tested for relevance, and the impact of any changes made to the account needs to be quantified. It sounds obvious, but there are plenty of ways to get distracted from these basic principles, and the results of doing so can mean the difference between sustained growth and dramatic declines.
Taking the next step
These are just a few ways to improve account performance. If you’re interested in learning more ways to turn around your account (or simply optimize it further), we can match you with a PPC expert who will provide a complimentary assessment. Simply email firstname.lastname@example.org to get started.
What is your essential list of “to do’s” for a healthy paid search account? Share them here!