Great quality scores, high click through rates, and low costs per click will get you nowhere if you’re not hitting your conversion goals. Your Google Ads performance is ultimately measured by your ability to generate conversions. Not just any conversion mind you, we’re talking about high-quality conversions that turn into sales. Yet even with this in mind, it’s easy to spend your time optimizing in all the wrong places.
This article is about to change that. We’re going to show you eleven different tactics that you can use to drastically improve your Google Ads performance overnight.
In this article, you’ll learn:
- Expert tactics that you can use on any PPC channel, not just Google Ads
- How to turn more of those hard-earned conversions into sales
- Landing Page changes that will skyrocket your conversion rates
- Keyword improvements to attract visitors with purchase intent
You won’t get the reader’s digest version either. Whether you’re an absolute AdWords master or a complete newb. This in-depth tactical guide is bound to teach you something new.
Who knows, your newly found Google Ads results might even take your breath away.
Prioritize Your Improvements
The best way to evaluate your Google Ads performance isn’t from the top down. If you really want to improve your PPC performance you need to start at the bottom of your funnel and work your way up.
Your funnel probably looks something like this:
- Traffic from Google Ads
- Landing Page Captures Conversions
- Sales Teams Close Leads
If you really want to improve your results, you’ll need to flip that funnel upside down and spend some time outside your Google Ads account.
First, look at your sales process. What does your sales closing rate look like? Are you throwing away a lot of your hard earned leads because of a shoddy sales process?
Next, take a look at your landing pages. Are you driving traffic to a highly relevant landing page built to convert visitors? Have you been consistently improving your conversion rates with A/B testing?
Finally, dive into your Google Ads account. What keywords are turning into sales? Is your account structured properly? Are you wasting money on junk keywords?
Tweak your sales process first to make sure you’re closing as many leads as possible. Once you know your sales process is firing on all cylinders you can optimize landing pages to improve conversion rates. Then open up your Google Ads account to zero in on the keywords that generate sales.
This is a general way to evaluate your account, but if you really want to get the most from your advertising you need goals.
Set Performance Goals
As a PPC agency, having a goal to work with is an absolute must. It gives our team a target to hit and our clients a way to measure our performance.
But setting goals aren’t just for agencies. Anyone running PPC ads needs to set goals that align with their business. You might want to increase conversions or lower your CPA, but in either case, you need to know what you’re working towards. This will keep you on track and prevent you from getting distracted with things that won’t help you reach your goal.
Having a goal will also help prevent a lot of heartburn. If you know your conversions are up and your CPA is down, then you can rest easy even if some of your latest ads aren’t meeting your quality score standards. Now you can go to work on improving that quality score knowing that the more important metrics are already under control.
Bonus Tip: It takes time to let things play out. Because of this its a good idea to set goals monthly or even quarterly. This will give you time to measure the performance of your changes, and identify new opportunities. Too many changes too quickly might dilute your data and prevent you from ever maximizing your results and reaching your goals.
Optimize For Sales
You know you should be optimizing for conversions, but what if you’re barking up the wrong tree?
Every keyword and placement performs differently. This means keywords with a good CPA don’t always generate sales and contributing to your bottom line in the same way. For eCommerce companies, you can easily view conversion values inside Google Ads and find your best performers.
However, it’s not that simple if you’re using Google Ads for lead generation you’ll have to do some extra work.
So if you’re a lead gen company then how do you make sure you’re bidding on the most valuable keywords and placements?
Start using Google’s ValueTrack parameters to see which keywords and placements have the highest sales rate. Then begin optimizing your account for sales instead of conversions.
Here’s why it’s so important, looking at the table below you’d pick Keyword A as the clear winner. However, a quick glance and the second table and you’d quickly change your mind.
|Keyword||Conv. Rate||Cost/ Conv|
|Keyword||Conv. Rate||Cost/ Conv||Sales Rate||Avg LTV|
Understanding which keywords and placements are turning into sales will also help you set better CPA goals. In fact, you might even consider raising some of those expensive keywords from the dead. After all, you’ll be willing to pay more for a conversion with a high sales rate.
Optimize Your Sales Process
You might think this section is completely off-topic, but if you run Google Ads for any industry other than an eCommerce store this section is for you.
If you’re using Google Ads to generate leads then you probably have a sales process that takes place after the initial conversion. That means unless you have a rock solid sales process you could be paying for conversions that never turn into sales.
You could follow every other piece of advice in this article, have perfect Google Ads performance, and still not see an ROI from your efforts if you can’t close deals.
Whether you’re a one-man show or have an army of salespeople you need to be setting goals and working hard to improve your close rate. Ultimately your ability to close deals has the biggest impact on your ROI.
A good sales process presents a strong unique value proposition and follows a set path. Depending on your industry, products, services, and many other variables your exact sales process will vary. However, regardless of these factors, you can make sure you and your sales team are closing as many deals as possible by following some well-known best practices.
Follow Sales Best Practices
According to a survey of over 2200 U.S. companies, those that contacted leads within an hour were nearly seven times more likely to have meaningful conversations with decisions makers. So make sure you contact inbound leads as soon as possible to increase the likelihood that you’ll close the deal.
Follow up frequently, especially if you are selling a high-cost product or service. Combine your follow up calls with emails and try to create value upfront. If you don’t have the time to customize a dozen response emails then make use of an email automation tool.
You can use a program like MailChimp to create an automated email response sequence. Then you can tag all your new leads as they come in and MailChimp will automatically send them a series of emails.
Always strive to improve your sales process. Take note of the common questions and create well thought out responses. In a similar manner keep track of the most common objections you face and practice different ways of addressing them.
Bonus Tip: Remember not every lead will be a good match for you and your business. Have a process that allows you to quickly qualify leads. This will keep you from wasting valuable time with leads that aren’t a good fit for your business.
Use Single Keyword Ad Groups
What if I told you there was one thing you could do that would increase your click through rates, improve your quality scores, and help you make more money?
Well, that’s exactly what I’m about to do. All you have to do is a little restructuring.
The way your Google Ads campaign is structured has a massive impact on your success. So it makes sense that restructuring your account is one of the fastest ways to improve your Google Ads performance.
Single Keyword Ad Groups (SKAGs) are the perfect way to structure your account. They give you more control over the search terms that trigger your ads. This allows you to make sure the keywords your bidding on match the search terms you’re actually paying for.
As the name implies, single keyword ad groups are ad groups that contain only one keyword with three different match types of that same keyword.
So if you sell personal training services, this is what one of your SKAGs should look like:
- [personal training services]
- “personal training services”
- +personal +training +services
You want to name the ad group after the keyword it represents so you would name this SKAG ‘Personal Training Services’.
Now you’ll want to make sure to use the keyword in your ads headline, display path, and description whenever possible.
That’s pretty much all you need to know. Using SKAGs to structure your account will improve your quality score, lower your cost per click, and increase your click through rate.
Optimize Your Landing Page For Conversions
If you’ve followed along and set your account up using the SKAG technique, then it’s time to stop obsessing over vanity metrics. Using a SKAG structure will do a lot of the heavy lifting for you so you can focus on more important things like improving your landing pages.
You could double or triple your conversion rates all with a few simple changes. First, make sure you’re using dedicated landing pages and not sending paid traffic to your homepage. If you’re not already using dedicated landing pages then get started by finding a page builder you enjoy. There are tons of landing page builders out there, but here are a few of our favorites.
- Lead Pages
Whether you’re creating your first landing page or optimizing a page that you’ve been using for years the next few tactics will help you beef up your conversion rates.
Stick With One Call To Action (CTA)
It’s easy to get carried away here, but the more options a user has the less likely they are to complete any of them. Pick one strong CTA and stick with it throughout your landing page.
Use Multi-Step Forms
This technique comes from what Robert Cialdini coined the consistency principle. Essentially it states that people are likely to take actions consistent with their previous actions. That means you can increase the likelihood that your visitors will convert and get more information from them at the same time.
Add Hidden Form Fields
You can use the previously mentioned Google ValueTrack parameters in combination with hidden form fields. This allows you to track which traffic channels, keywords, and placements are responsible for each form submission. Then you can use the data to see which traffic channels, keywords, and placements are the most valuable.
Match The Language And Intent
Although this may be more common advice it’s often misunderstood. You can’t just plaster your landing page with the keywords your bidding on and hope it will improve conversion rates.
Instead make sure you are using language, personality, and typography that matches the ad that your visitors clicked on. Otherwise, visitors will feel confused or mislead and leave your page.
Always Be Testing
You should always have a new test in your back pocket, but that doesn’t mean you should test for the sake of testing. Make sure you are testing with a specific goal in mind and don’t test more than one thing at a time. If you try to test everything at once you won’t know what actually led to the improvements.
Find Your Most Valuable Keywords
According to Search Engine Journal, the average Google Ads account wastes 76% of its budget on the wrong search terms.
Now, maybe you don’t think you’re throwing away that much dough on bad keywords because you’re getting conversions. But you might want to take a closer look. What keywords are costing you the most money? Are those the keywords responsible for the majority of your sales?
Assuming you’ve implemented Google ValueTrack parameters and started using hidden form fields on your landing pages this should be an easy question to answer.
When you find out only a few of your keywords are responsible for all your sales you double down on those keywords and watch the money roll in. On the other hand, if none of your keywords are producing enough sales conversions to get you by then you’ll have to do some keyword expansion.
Keyword expansion is the process of finding new keywords to add to your account. Many times your best tool is a pen and a notepad. See what keywords you can brainstorm and make sure you aren’t missing anything obvious. Don’t worry if you can’t think of anything there are a lot of tools that can help you dig up new keyword suggestions. Here are a few of our favorite:
Google Keyword Planner
The best part about Google keyword planner is that it’s free and very easy to use. You can use it to generate new keyword ideas and it will give you traffic and cost estimates.
Broad Match Keyword Mining
You’re probably going to end up paying for some garbage clicks using this strategy. So make sure you have some extra budget set aside and don’t try to land the top position. Remember your goal here is to use the search terms report to see what terms users are actually searching for. Then choose the best words to add to your campaign.
Competitor Research Tools
Why use your own money to find out if a keyword performs when you can spy on your competitor’s keywords. Tools like SpyFu allow you to see what keywords and ads your competitors are using. If two or three of your competitors are all bidding on the same word then chances are you should too. This is a great way to keep an eye on the competition. Let them be the guinea pig and ride their wake when they find a winning keyword.
Prevent Wasted Ad Spend With Negative Keywords
Okay, it’s time to put a tourniquet on your Google Ads account before it bleeds your bank account to death.
You already know that one keyword can trigger numerous different search terms. You also know that the closer you can keep your keywords and ads to the search terms that trigger them the better. However, even the best account structure won’t prevent some keywords from slipping under the radar and wasting your ad spend.
You can prevent irrelevant potentially wasteful search terms from ever surfacing by using some good account level negative keywords. Check out some recommended negative keyword ideas to get you started. Then make a habit of checking your search terms report each week to look for new offenders.
But don’t stop there, take it one step further and consider doing some deep cleaning. You might have hundreds or even thousands of search terms that have received clicks but no conversions. These wasteful clicks add up over time and can slowly drain your ad spend and increase your cost per conversion.
The good news is these little suckers are easy to find and destroy.
Start by looking at the past three months of history on your search terms report. Then set filters to show only search terms with at least twenty (20) clicks and zero (0) conversions. Next, select all the remaining search terms and add them to a negative keywords list. Finally, apply the list to all your campaigns.
Kick Your Competitions Trash
Wish you could find out who all your competitors are, learn their every secret, and then beat them on everything?
Well, then you’re in luck because you can.
Let me introduce you to the auction insights report. This handy little tool will show you all the domains that are directly competing with you.
Additionally, you’ll get to see their impression share, avg position, overlap rate, position above rate, top of page rate, and outranking share. These metrics give you a better idea of how you stack up against the competition.
To view your auction insights report log into your Google Ads account and select any campaign, ad group or keywords you want. After you’ve selected your criteria click on auction insights to view your report.
Now you can start moving through the list of competitors one at a time. You can use research tools like SpyFu and SEMrush to see what keywords and ads your competitors are using.
Then bid on the same keywords and turn up the heat by using RLSA campaigns to outbid them when a searcher has already visited your website.
You could even start bidding on your competitors brand terms with RLSA bid adjustments for users that have been to your site or landing pages before.
Combine all of these tactics together and you’ll gain a serious leg up on the competition. It’s okay, go ahead you’ve earned it. Winning this much deserves a celebration.
Test Different Offers
Sometimes your ads are on point, your targeting is perfect, and the traffic comes flooding in. There’s only one problem, one really big problem: your visitors aren’t converting. You’ve tried changing up your landing page. You even used some of the techniques we covered earlier, but no matter what you do your conversion rate is no better than it was before.
Does this sound familiar? If it does then you know just how frustrating this situation can be.
Relatable am I right?
Hold up though, before you smash your computer into tiny pieces you should consider changing your offer.
You might be asking for too much too soon and scaring your visitors away. By testing out different offers you could start converting visitors left and right.
Instead of asking visitors to purchase your product or request a free consultation try asking them to take a smaller action first.
Here are a few offers you should try on different PPC channels.
- Live Demo
- Email Course
- White Paper
- Industry Stats
- Case Study
After they download your eBook or Checklist you can try converting them with a bigger ask on the thank you page.
Additionally, you can use retargeting to target all the people that downloaded your offer. Since they’re more familiar with your brand at this point they’ll be more likely to convert on your core offer.
If you want some additional ideas you can check out HubSpot’s article on tried and true lead magnets.
Exclude Poor Performing Locations
Whether your advertising statewide or internationally some areas will perform better than others. You can lower your cost per conversion by zeroing in on the best performing areas and giving the rest the boot.
For example, let’s say you’re advertising nationally in the U.S. and despite thousands of clicks no one in Wisconsin ever converts. Save some money and exclude Wisconsin from your targeting.
Likewise, if you sell an expensive product or service then some people might not have enough money to be your customer. But that won’t stop them from clicking on your ads and wasting your ad spend.
Luckily you can put a stop to this by excluding especially low income areas from your targeting. You can also add bid modifiers to lower bids for people who fit into low-income brackets. Both of these tactics will help you attract the right audience, reduce wasted ad spend, and increase lead quality.
Create Better Ads
Writing low-quality ads is a sure fire way to save some money on your PPC marketing. If you can write ads bad enough that no one wants to click on them you could end up spending next to nothing.
There’s only one problem. You won’t make any money either.
It’s hard to get people to convert if they won’t even click on your ad in the first place. So writing engaging ad copy is a great way to increase your click through rates and get more traffic to your landing page.
A well-written an can draw more attention and get more clicks in the second or third spot than the top two ads in the search engine results. Imagine having all the benefits of a top ranking ad without paying nearly as much. This can lower your cost per click and might even increase your traffic quality.
Here are a few tips that will help you write ads that people want to click on.
- Include useful information
- Use the scarcity principle
- State your competitive advantage
- Address customer concerns
- Use a strong call to action
Bonus Tip: Make use of all relevant ad extensions so your ad takes up more real estate. The more space your ad takes up in search results the better your click through rates will be.
Look For Bid Adjustment Opportunities
Not making bid adjustments is a huge mistake. On the other hand, making too many bid adjustments all at once can be a nightmare.
To be successful with the adjustments you need to know when to make them and how big they should be.
Before you decide to add any bid adjustments you should have at least a month of account history to review. This will ensure that you have enough data to back your decision. Then you want to start with the most impactful bid adjustment opportunities.
Remember bid adjustments are exponential meaning you could end up bidding way more than you want to if you’re not careful. The best way to avoid this is to only apply one bid adjustment each optimization period. After a week or two measure the impact and make changes as needed. Once you’ve dialed in one area move on to another opportunity.
For example, you can start by adding bid adjustments on the device level. If mobile devices get you cheaper conversions than desktops you can apply a mobile device bid adjustment. After a week or two check back in to see if your adjustment has led to more mobile conversions.
Bonus Tip: Use your target CPA as a rule of thumb for applying bid adjustments. For example, If your target CPA is $50 and your actual CPA is $25 then you could apply up to a 100% bid adjustment.
Follow Up With Massive Value
Okay, let’s assume high quality traffic is flowing in and your landing pages are converting at an all-time high.
However, in spite of your hard work and greatly improved Google Ads performance your bank account is no better off than before. You still have a bunch of leads that haven’t purchased yet because they just aren’t ready to buy. Maybe they weren’t in the right stage of the buying cycle and still had some research to do before they make their decision.
Regardless of their reasoning, this is your chance to follow up with those leads and close the deal. These are hot prospects and you have the chance to influence their decision.
So what can you do to convert these tough cookies? Be consistent and create massive value.
Here are a few tactics that work especially well if you sell a high-end product or service.
- Create a remarketing audience for customers that have converted and have not purchased yet. Then use remarketing ads to show them customer testimonials, benefits, case studies, and anything else that adds value.
- Be diligent in your sales follow up. If you can’t reach them in the morning try calling in the afternoon and combine your calls with texts and emails. Many times your prospects want to talk to you, but get busy with everyday life and forget to follow up.
- Write a clever email drip campaign and use an email automation tool like MailChimp or ActiveCampaign to send a series of follow up emails.
Conclusion On Google Ads Performance
In addition to improving your Google Ads performance, this article is meant to instill a more thorough understanding of the external factors that are crucial to your success.
Do you have enough traffic, but struggle to get conversions? Then focus on optimizing your landing pages.
Are your conversion rates strong, but your close rate is in the single digits? Then improve your sales process and practice closing deals with your team.
The lesson here is your Google Ads performance is only one piece of the puzzle. When it’s performing well it drives high-quality traffic to your website and landing pages. However, it’s up to your landing pages to convert the traffic and up to you to close the deal.
I hope these tips help you improve your Google Ads performance.
If any of these strategies worked for you please let us know! And if you still suck at improving your Google Ads performance, hire us!
Luke is in love with all things digital marketing. He’s obsessed with PPC, landing page design, and conversion rate optimization. Luke claims he “doesn’t even lift,” but he looks more like a professional bodybuilder than a PPC nerd. He says all he needs is a pair of glasses to fix that. We’ll let you be the judge.
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