I’m often asked at what point I decide to pause a keyword in a PPC campaign. The truth is that when asked anything about PPC my response is always “it depends”.
But that would make for an extremely short, and frankly useless blog post, so I thought I’d note down the process I’d usually go through here. Hopefully you’ll find it useful
So, first things first – for those less than familiar with PPC what the devil am I talking about? Well, within a PPC (or Paid Search) campaign you select various keywords for which you’d like your ads to appear. So, if you sell blue widgets, you might decide to select a keyword like ‘buy blue widgets’.
Now any PPC manager worth their salt will continually test, learn and refine when tackling their campaigns. As such they will be experimenting with new keywords and measuring how effective (or otherwise) they are. Keywords which don’t perform get paused so ads no longer appear when a user types in that search query.
So, how do you decide when to pause a keyword?
Lets assume that you’ve been tracking conversions and you’ve a keyword which is either:
Generating no conversions
Converting, but at an unacceptably high cost
Before pausing a keyword* I’d consider the following:
1. Do you have sufficient data?
You won’t always be able to hold out for a ‘statistically significant’ sample size before pausing a keyword, however if a keyword has had only ten clicks, the chances are that you’ve insufficient data to tell whether or not this keyword’s going to work out for you. Patience grasshopper.
2. Which actual queries is the keyword exposing you to?
Assuming the keyword in question is broad or phrase matched - have you checked out which actual queries you’re getting clicks from? It may be that the keyword itself isn’t a problem per se – it’s just that you need to add in some negative keywords to prevent ads showing for irrelevant terms. Within Google Adwords you can take a look at the actual queries which resulted in clicks from a particular keyword by clicking on the tick box next to the keyword in question, the click on ‘see search terms’ and then ‘selected’. You’ll then be able to see which queries users have actually typed in. If there’s something irrelevant there – add it as a negative.
3. Is your keyword in the right adgroup?
Take a little look and see whether or not the keyword in question really belongs in that adgroup. Is it really relevant? Could you write a more relevant ad? In some instances it’s worth moving the keyword (or indeed a group of themed keywords) into a separate adgroup; or even a separate campaign if you need to control the amount of budget you’re spending on it – with improved targeting you may find that results improve.
4. How’s your quality score?
If your quality score for this keyword is poor then you’ll be paying more than you need to per click. If you’re paying more than you need to per click, then you’re also paying more than you need to per conversion. Quality scores can be improved by making your ads and landing pages as relevant as possible to the keyword in question.
5. Have you tried tweaking your bids?
Your bid (combined with your quality score) will determine the position at which you ad appears. Average position can make a difference when it comes to conversions – if conversions are too costly when you’re appearing first experiment with different bids to see if you can get conversions at a lower cost by altering your position.
6. Are you sending the keyword traffic to the right landing page?
Double check that the landing page really is relevant. Could you send traffic from this keyword somewhere better?
It’s also worth checking out bounce rates via your analytics package – if bounces are particularly high then it may be that the landing page is the problem. If you suspect this is the case test out a different landing page.
7. Is that keyword commercially viable?
Let’s assume that we’re running a campaign for an e-commerce site – the keyword in question is ‘cheap ugg boots’. The problem is the prices on this site just aren’t very competitive. You can buy ugg boots cheaper elsewhere. In this instance unless you can get the product priced more competitively - it’s probably best to pause this one.
8. Consider user intent
Step away from those keyword tools. Yes, you. Just because a keyword tool suggested it does not make it relevant. You are a human being. Think like one. Does that keyword really express whatever product or service you’re looking to sell? Try googling it and see what other ads pop up. Now take a look at the natural results too. Now speak to some other human beings about what someone typing in that word or phrase is actually likely to be looking for. Oh and don’t just speak to people who also work in search, we’re not normal …erm, I mean representative.
*Just to be clear here - I don’t implement this process for *every* keyword… I’d go loopy…and there aren’t enough hours in the day. But I think nonetheless it’s useful to consider for higher volume keywords, and indeed those keywords that your gut tells you should work, but just don’t seem to be doing ‘the do’ right now.
So m’dears what did I miss out? If you’ve any tips of your own you’d care to share I’d love to hear them.
Image credit Valerie Everett