Before I tended to the PPC campaigns of eGen, I used to tend to my uncle’s rose garden. It was sweaty work, but those flowers were absolutely gorgeous. The key to rose-keeping, according to my uncle, is to recognize and eliminate where on the rosebush the water could be going other than the flowers. Water is precious, and every part of the plant is eager to absorb it, whether or not it actually produces anything. It’s not entirely unlike running a PPC campaign on a tight budget, in the sense that you have to be mindful of what you put your resources behind. With both rose gardening and PPC campaigns, it’s important to identify and weed out poor performance. With that said, here are some rose gardening tips for you to apply to your PPC campaigns.
Identify What Isn't Performing
Yellow or dry leaves are relatively easy to identify. They might not look like they are absorbing water that could be used to fuel the flowers, but it’s important to cut them off nonetheless. Because your keywords won’t be yellowing or have brown spots, you’ll have to create your own criteria to determine the performance of your campaign.
Your criteria for identifying underperforming keywords, ad groups, or even campaigns should be based on your goals. As a PPC Specialist working to generate leads, I typically focus on a keyword’s long-term cost per acquisition, recent cost per acquisition, and the volume it generates. Ask yourself: based on performance, is this a keyword that I should devote my time, effort, and budget to?
Figure Out Why It Isn't Performing
If you forget to water a rose, and then dead-head it because it’s looking a bit wilted, you have unfairly punished your plant. Having never figured out the reason your rose wilted, you will likely repeat your mistake and end up with a rose-less rosebush. While you cannot save a wilted flower, you can revitalize a keyword once you’ve figured out what caused the drop in volume. Start by checking recent changes you have made, such as bid reductions, adding negative keywords, changing match types, or ad text rewrites.
Here are a couple of questions that may help your search:
- Have you reduced your bids recently? If your keyword has dropped below the first page bid, its conversion rate is likely to drop with it. Consider the loss of volume in the context of the profitability of the keyword before making any changes.
- Is there a more relevant ad group for your keyword? Even if it’s bringing its current ad group some much-needed volume, consider how a more specific ad group or dedicated landing page would impact your conversion rate.
- Is your keyword in an ad group with another high-volume keyword that tends to hog all the traffic? Consider putting the higher volume keyword into its own ad group, and regularly checking the Search Query Report to see if anything interesting turns up.
- Look at the keyword’s performance over time. Has it always been low-volume, and you’ve never noticed because the weekly cost is low enough to fly under the radar? Low weekly costs can still add up. Grab your garden shears and get rid of it!
Decide What To Eliminate, and Get Rid of It!
While this article was written with keywords in mind specifically, you can apply the rose gardening principles to ad groups and campaigns as well. Find your yellow leaves, figure out how they got that way, and get rid of them if they can’t be salvaged! Ask yourself if a campaign is spending more than it’s making, and if there’s a conceivable way to fix it. Not only will you be able to avoid a drop in volume, but you’ll be less likely to make the same mistake in the future.
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