Why keywords are not always the answer - Showtime Digital

Why keywords are not always the answer

03 October 2018 Read 98 times

I’d love to tell you that every PPC account runs smoothly all the time, meeting KPIs and performing at peak level. That’s simply not true. Even the strongest accounts will have moments where they stagnate, results drop or KPIs aren’t met. This can often occur at times when pressures on the marketing team are high, with entire focus on results.

In these moments, it’s common to look to keywords as being the answer. But when we do, there’s so many more factors to consider. Volume of keywords, match types, negatives, cost of keywords, bidding strategy and quality score all play a role in how your ads are served for the keywords in your account. Simply adding more keywords or taking away others won’t necessarily fix the problem.

Not to say keyword strategy can’t be part of the solution but to see keywords as the entire answer is oversimplifying the way Google Ads works and the issues the account is potentially facing.

The first step is to consider why the account is suffering. Is the issue:

  1. Volume – the account simply isn’t drawing enough impressions and clicks to get results?
  2. The quality of results are poor – as in the leads/conversions aren’t as highly valued as they were or should be?
  3. The quantity is not what is should be – the amount of leads/conversions, aren’t as high as they need to be?

By understanding the issue, the many factors which contribute can be checked and redirected.

This article will explain the 3 main issues PPC accounts face, how to diagnose them and what to consider as remedies.

Volume issue

I’ve put this first because many jump to quality or quantity without considering volume. Sometimes an account is suffering purely because it can’t get the traction to perform. This can be common in niche categories where search is low but it can also happen in large industries. Ruling volume out as the trouble maker is basic protocol.

Common symptoms of low volume:

  • Low search impressions
  • Low clicks
  • Low CTR
  • Search impression share lost due to budget or ranking
  • Keyword notifications indicating ‘not shown due to low search volume’
  • Limited by budget notifications
  • High conversion rates relative to industry
  • Low conversions

Potential remedies:

Boosting account volume can be done in various ways, depending on what data you can see as being critical to the issue. Regardless of circumstantial evidence, when applied, these remedies can build more momentum across your account.

  1. Investigate budget increases and potential forecast

There is a chance the account is suffering due to a lack of investment. This can happen in two ways – one, it is actually ‘limited by budget’ which means the active campaigns are exhausting their daily budget before the day is through, or two, the budget won’t allow you to compete on more expensive and higher volume searches. Accounts suffering due to insufficient budget can be frustrating however, Google’s tools provide clear ways to forecast outcomes if more money is invested. If your conversion rate is high, spending the money to get more visibility and clicks could be worth it.

  1. Review keywords and grouping

Aha! Keywords might be the answer! Using different keyword match types is an obvious way to increase search visibility on a stifled account. While [g-shock digital watch] might be a perfect product and customer match, it is limiting your audience to those who know they are in the market for a g-shock brand digital watch. Considering digital watches at a phrase or broad match level might help draw people in before selling them on the brand, product or location specifically. Consider the different stages in the buying process and what people might be searching for at each stage. Getting too focused on ‘last click’ searches can be restrictive, especially in a low volume account. Be warned, this can lead to poor quality clicks. Using this kind of strategy needs close monitoring and attention to detail.

Quality issue

One of the most common challenges marketing teams face is giving sales good quality leads. Bringing in thousands of leads a month is only valuable if the sales team can qualify them and progress them into real business. Typically, the threshold is around 50-60% quality. Sales teams can work with 50-60% of leads being good quality, but when we start seeing that drop to 40-20% and lower, the term ‘junk leads’ gets tossed around. Sales get angry with marketing, and understandably the marketing team put the acquisition practices under the microscope.

Common symptoms of bad quality:

  • Normal to high volumes of conversions across the account

  • A large amount of conversions from broad match terms or display campaigns

  • Low leads to qualification ratios (sales qualified or marketing qualified)

Potential remedies:

In order to combat quality the first step is probably the most important one, and it comes down to visibility and transparency.

  1. Link Ad platform to CRM or sales tool

Without visibility into how conversions are translating into business, you can only optimise towards the conversion outcome. So when conversions have increased, this is an indication, things are working. But in the quality issue they’re not working for the business. By bridging the data gap, the PPC efforts can be geared towards business outcomes instead of focusing on conversions. With this data at hand, the PPC team can remove or reduce campaigns which are resulting in a high volume of enquiries/leads/sales but not translating into good business and amplify those which are. In turn making more effective use of everyone’s time and money.

  1. Assess search query data/placements

In search campaigns, looking into search query data can reveal the kinds of searches people are conducting when they click on your ad and convert. For instance, Toll Group provide logistics but Toll as a keyword could also put Toll Group in the mix with searches for road tolls. Understanding what people were looking for when they clicked and converted will help identify negative keywords which should be implemented and ways to filter traffic. In display campaigns, look into the placements of ads and where they are getting clicks/conversions. It might be that a lot of clicks and conversions are coming from game or quiz sites, from mobile apps, from competition pages. Placements which are not fruitful are to be filtered against. Showing ads in the most likely places your audience will be is paramount to achieving better display outcomes.

  1. Review landing page or web page

We know people are skim readers these days. If they want something bad enough they’ll skim through content to see if it matches their desires and convert. Even if you’re offering business loans, there’s going to be those people who want a personal loan and go ahead with a lead form even though they are in the wrong place. Reviewing the landing page or web page traffic is going to, should provide ideas for where and how you can build in qualifiers. From headline copy “Business loans for companies on the grow” vs “Loans to get you where you want to be”, to imagery, to FAQs, ‘how to qualify’, there are many ways to build expectation into the page experience which will weed those who are bad leads out.

  1. Review forms

Often in trying to capture as many web leads as we can, we keep forms simple, but in some cases maybe too simple. Adding required fields to assess their fit for your business can also indicate how seriously they are taking their enquiry. For instance, a wealth management company might be hesitant to include ‘estimated annual income’, or ‘current superannuation balance’, however the people who complete the fields are more likely to be warmer leads than those who wouldn’t. People can and will lie. Adding qualification questions to a form is not adding a quality seal but is done with the intention of scaring those off who can’t answer the question, reducing time spent on junk leads.

Quantity issue

Assuming you’re getting impressions and clicks, if the conversion or lead volume coming through is low, it’s what I’d call a quantity issue. This is a highly frustrating situation as it often feels like the ROI isn’t there, therefore the channel/tactic isn’t worth pursuing. Understanding why the quantity of leads isn’t there is important before making the call to switch off.

Common symptoms of low quantity:

  • High impressions

  • High clicks

  • Low conversion rates

  • Low ROI

Potential remedies:

  1. Review landing page or web page

If you’re getting clicks but the traffic isn’t converting, reviewing the landing page or page you are pointing people to is essential. The first step is to review which URL’s you are using and make sure the user journey is concise and makes sense. If someone clicked on a home insurance ad, they expect to be taken to the home insurance page, not the main website and not the ‘insurances’ page within your website. It seems simple, but you’d be surprised how often it is overlooked. In the process, consider the page layout. Can people see what they need to see in the first 3-10 seconds? Is ‘what’s in it for me’ clear? Are your claims substantiated by images and social proof?

  1. Review targeting

If the traffic isn’t converting, there’s a chance you’re not reaching the right audience. Take a step back and consider who you want to reach, then review whether these are the people clicking. For example, the person searching is looking for loans. You sell B2B loans, not personal loans, but the people coming to the site are looking for personal loans, therefore they aren’t converting. The same applies for devices. The way we search on different devices comes from its own thought process. For instance, I search ‘dumpling restaurant Melbourne CBD’, it’s likely to be a mobile search, on the go, looking for a lunch spot. Whereas ‘good restaurants for a date’ might be a desktop search, which involves more research and planning. By understanding the devices people are coming across, the conversion likelihood for each device and what preferences exist, should alter the way you target people. Building a better picture of who they are, why they need you and what their next step should be and catering to device preferences will assist in boosting the amount of conversions you receive.

Hopefully this article has been helpful in giving you more ways to assess your Google Ads accounts, especially when performance is not what you would like it to be. Keep in mind, keywords are not the entire answer, but they can be part of the diagnostic process.

If you are still not receiving the kind of traction you would like to see on Google Ads, we can help. For accounts spending over $15,000 per month we offer a free account audit. Sometimes having a fresh set of eyes helps identify opportunities to optimise the account in ways you have not explored. If this is something you would like, please contact us and be sure to mention “free Google Ads audit” in the message box.

Prue Takle

Prue is a creative in a suit. With degrees in both marketing and creative arts she naturally thinks outside the square, coming up with ideas that will engage audiences and promote larger-scale objectives. Prue enjoys creating synergy between branding and communications, especially when it comes to developing marketing strategy.