March 03, 2016 Search Marketing

Google recently announced that they are dropping text ads from the right side of the search results page on desktops.

Search engine results page (SERP) desktop space is already highly competitive for non-brand keywords as advertisers utilize different bid strategies to achieve the optimum position of top of page and top of side rail, but with this announcement and rollout, the competitive nature of PPC has escalated even more since side rail is no longer an option. Now, if ad rank hits position 5, the ad isn’t just pushed to the side, rather below the scroll.

Moving forward, to get above the scroll visibility, ad rank needs to hit between position 1-4. Spending budget on keywords that don’t rank in position 1-4 could be wasted spend.

Let’s look at CTR by position:

Click Thru Rate by Ad Position

As you can see above, as PPC managers we will need to be more aggressive with our bidding than ever before. But how can you manage your bid strategy without drastically increasing CPA? Is it even possible? Yes, with a tight account structure and a robust negative keyword list, we can make sure our bids are at the optimum level to achieve goal CPA and goal conversion volume.

The most efficient way to manage keyword-level bidding is to have an account structure that is optimized to ensure Google accurately matches the search query to the keyword you are bidding on.

TIP: To test out this theory in your account, use the ad preview and diagnosis tool and type in a few exact match keywords that are in your program. Is the exact match version showing every time? If not, read on!

We’ve all heard again and again how the PPC account structure is the backbone to managing ad copy and improving quality score. This is all true. However, a strong account structure is also vital to a bid strategy that allows you to bid at your most efficient max cost-per-click for each keyword. Maximizing your CPC will allow you to maximize your cost-per-conversion without sacrificing volume.

Here is a step-by-step use case on how you can build your account structure to maximize keyword bids. We already categorize our keywords into ad groups, but now take it one step further.

Step 1: Break Out Categorized Ad Groups by Keyword Match Type.

Every keyword should have 3-4 match type variations: exact, phrase, broad and/or broad match modifier (BMM). And, each of these match type variations needs to be broken out into its own ad group.

Here’s an example:

PPC Account Structure
TIP: Use labels to categorize your campaigns, ad groups, and keywords. Your reporting will thank you!

Step 2: Match Type Negatives in Each Ad Group.

Most importantly, add exact match negatives in your phrase, broad, and broad match modifier ad groups. You instead want the engines to match your exact match keyword to the search query.

TIP: When launching this new structure, bid your highest on exact match terms and lowest on broad match terms. Phrase match terms should end up somewhere in the middle. Adjust your bidding up and down to fit your CPA based on which key terms end up being high value to your business.

Step 3: Run Search Query Reports Daily.

This sounds like a lot, but you don’t want to waste any media dollars while you get your program structured to the optimum level. Add in new keywords, update negatives, and continue to run reports to understand which are high value keywords.

TIP: (And this is the most important take away.) Make sure you add exact match keywords based on search query reports daily. Broad match is there to help you expand and refine, but you want to get away from the engines serving up the broad match keyword. Your ad copy and landing pages will be more relevant to the exact match keyword, helping reduce your actual CPC.

Bonus: Additional Ways to Improve Rank

Structure is top priority in maximizing keyword bids, but there are a few other key factors to ensure that you get as highly ranked as possible for the most efficient CPC.

Ensure you use every tool at your disposable to improve your CTR – this includes setting up ad extensions (as many as are relevant to your business). Do this: On. Every. Ad Group. This isn’t limited to just site link extensions, but also structured snippets, callout extensions, call extensions, and location extensions. Google has publicly stated: “If two competing ads have the same bid and quality, the ad with greater expected impact from extensions will generally appear in a higher ad position than the other.” Also, after you set up extensions, don’t set them and forget them – remember to routinely track and report on your ad extensions. In the engine UI, navigate to the extensions tab to report on site links, structured snippets, callout and location extensions, but for call extensions, the best implementation tracking method is to layer on call tracking software.

The last tip I will leave you with: make launch checklists. With the account structure I proposed above you will have a lot more ad groups and the due diligence for refining your keywords will pay off in the long run. But you have to ensure that your settings, audience lists, geo targets, and ad extensions are set up for every ad group.

Want to learn more about how marketers investing in paid search are changing their desktop-centric thinking and adopting new mobile ad, bidding, and attribution strategies to drive calls and sales? Check out our free eBook, The Click-to-Call Playbook for Paid Search.

About the author:

Kelley Schultz

Director of Digital Marketing & Analytics, DialogTech

As the Director of Digital Marketing & Analytics at DialogTech, Kelley Schultz is responsible for all digital acquisition channels and analytics including: SEO, SEM, Display, Email and Social Media. She has been in the digital marketing space for the past 8 years with experience on both the client and agency side working on B2C and B2B clients.

See more posts by Kelley Schultz

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