You know what I’ve encountered a lot of recently? Bad plant parents. Whether I’m perusing social media or listening to a conversation in the lunchroom, I’ve come to the conclusion that no plant is safe. These poor things are dying left, right, and center.
We hear a variety of excuses, but for the sake of the analogy and entire blog post I’m writing, we are going to assume that the common denominator is care. Without proper maintenance, nothing can achieve true greatness. This holds true for SEM campaigns as well. You can’t set and forget a campaign then expect peak performance. Maintenance is one of the most important search engine marketing techniques available in your arsenal.
So, whether you're a bad plant parent or someone looking to take their SEM campaign to the next level, here are a few maintenance tips and tricks I like to use.
1) Bid strategy
One of the first things I look at when I’m dealing with a new client’s account is the bid strategy. This is a feature in your settings that you don’t want to overlook. Depending on your campaigns, you’ll have the option to optimize your campaign’s focus for the following: target CPA, target ROAS, maximize clicks, maximize conversions, maximize conversion values and target impression share.
Now that’s a lot of options, so let’s summarize. I often see clients set their accounts to maximize clicks in the beginning, and then forget about it forever. Maximize clicks is a good way to start a campaign, but if you’re running a conversion driven campaign (which a lot of you are, I know your secrets) it’s time to take the next step. Otherwise, Google will continue to show your ads to users who are more likely to click than convert.
Solution: If your campaign has received 15 or more conversions in a month, go ahead and switch your bidding strategy to target CPA or maximize conversion bidding. This way, your ads will be optimized for generating leads, rather than clicks. Then, take a bow. Your hypothetical plant is growing.
Note: If you aren’t convinced, set this up as an experiment in Google and use just a small portion of your budget. You may see a small dip in performance during the first two weeks of your experiment – don’t worry! This is a normal response while Google adjusts to your new strategy. If you’ve chosen the right option for your campaign, you’ll start seeing results after this adjustment period.
2) Responsive Search ads
Google is not the selfish kid in the sandbox. They share their new toys/features because it makes everyone’s lives easier, including you and your target audience. Whatever the feature, it exists to help you improve your campaign’s performance. So, give it a shot! Responsive ads are just one of the helpful features available to you. Now before I begin this rant, let’s make sure our bases are covered. Keep in mind that sometime ago Google introduced space for a third headline and second description in your ad copy.
On to responsive ads. Responsive ads let you write multiple headlines (up to 15!) and descriptions for one single ad with one single landing page. Google then tests all possible combinations and determines the best option for your audience. This means less work for you and a higher CTR.
Solution: Use them! Rather than writing out a million different combinations and A/B testing them yourself, let Google do the leg work. Google even has a cool little tool to tell you what they think of your ad’s copy combinations. Go ahead and let Google tell you that your ads are excellent.
This is pretty much equivalent to having someone come to your home and water your plant for free, while telling you that you are excellent. Free compliments that lead to further efficiencies for growth? Yes please.
3) Ad Group Organisation
Let’s get into the juicy stuff. It’s time for you to summon your inner mad scientist to develop that premium fertilizer formula that will pave the way for even more nourishment and growth. What does that look like for your SEM campaign?
Solution: Like Google tells you in your Google Search ad certification training (which you definitely didn’t cheat on), the best way to organize ad groups is by similar keywords and themes. You then want to ensure that those ad groups are taking users to a relevant landing page – THAT FOR THE LOVE OF GOD HAS THE KEYWORD ON IT.
Once you’ve done that, you can take things one step further. Think about the different types of queries that users may be making in the different stages of your sales funnel. See if you can refine your ad groups to speak directly to those users and lead them to a landing page acknowledging what stage they’re in. From there your landing page messaging can also work to guide that user down the funnel.
If you are looking to achieve “Jack and the Bean Stock” heights with your plant, be at ease knowing you are less likely to fail with a sturdy foundation.
4) Branded Ads
A blog without controversy? Not on my watch. In my experience I have heard mixed reviews about branded ads. As we know, if your SEO is in good order, your site should be at the top of branded queries anyway – right? Sure, but this plan may lead to some leakage. And at this point, we’ve made it too far to thwart our beautiful plant child or SEM campaign’s progress in any way.
Solution: Yes, bid on your branded search terms. If your competitors aren’t already, they will be soon. We’re selfish, and we want as much exposure as possible. Since branded keywords belong to you, you will get clicks at a fraction of the cost. You’ll also really get to control the narrative surrounding your brand. You control your ad copy, landing page content, and you get to have your branded content plastered across SERP results. These steps will help ensure none of your potential customers fall through the cracks.
If you’ve taken anything from this blog post, I hope it’s one more search engine marketing technique that you can add to your toolbox. Like a plant, it’s all about maintenance. Keep a close eye on its progress and don’t be afraid to try new things. Sometimes you have to experiment with a few different options before you can see true growth. While this blog may not change the narrative surrounding plant survival rates, I hope it does help you with your SEM campaign.
Enjoy the fruits of your labour
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