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Google Ads Tips: 7 Ways to Improve Your Performance

Johnathan Dane
Johnathan Dane
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Have you ever wished for PPC performance shortcuts that could drastically improve your metrics over night?
Like those secret shortcuts that sound borderline mythical because no one has seen them before?
Well, what if we were to show you seven new ways to change your PPC account in a monstrous way?
That’s what this post is all about! Monsters; and PPC tactics you can implement and reap the benefits of, today.
As you know, improving your PPC performance isn’t just about what’s in your PPC account. It’s a traffic, conversion, sales, and lifetime value opportunities.
It’s something we get to test and improve every day for our clients, so they can either outsmart or squeeze more ROI from their PPC dollars.
In this post, you’ll learn:
- Quick and high performing PPC changes you can use with any PPC channel, not just Google Ads.
- Landing page fixes that will quickly grow your conversion rates.
- Changing your offers to make more money off every conversion you get.
But what good are new ideas, if you never put action behind them?
That’s our challenge to you: Capture these monster opportunities and start making more money today.
You can learn more in our PPC master class above, or keep on reading for these 7 monstrous tips.
optimize keywords

1) Dive Deep Into The Bottomless Abyss

You know you should be optimizing for conversions, but what if you’re fishing in the wrong lake?
Every keyword or placement you’re bidding on, performs differently. Not just on the CPA side, but also on the sales side.
Whether you’re using AdWords for lead generation, SaaS, or eCommerce, each conversion has a different currency value.
The only downside is that lead generation and SaaS don’t exactly tell you what those values are inside AdWords unless you start doing something different, like…
Optimize for sales. Not for conversions.
If you haven’t started doing this yet, then we highly recommend using Google’s ValueTrack parameters.
Google’s ValueTrack parameters allow you to see which keywords and placements have the highest sales rate, not conversion rate.
You can then tie this into your CRM lead data or simply use a spreadsheet to calculate which keywords and placements make you the most money.
This will then allow you to set new CPA goals and potentially allow you to bid more aggressively on certain keywords that have a better sales conversion rate than others.
If Keyword A and Keyword B both have a conversion rate of 5%, but Keyword A has a sales conversion rate of 32% compared to Keyword B’s 11%, then bid more aggressively on Keyword A.
But only if you want to make more money :)
But don’t stop there.
Let’s say your sales are recurring (not just a one time sale).
Wouldn’t you like to know which keywords and/or placements give you a longer life time customer value?
By using the Google ValueTrack parameters mentioned earlier, you can use the AdWords tracking template to track anything from keyword to device to geographic location.
And with enough data, you can stop wasting money on conversion channels that your competitors still think are gold mines, but you know aren’t.
But what if you don’t have enough conversion data?
Great question.
There’s an obsession out there with tracking things that aren’t actionable.
So make sure you understand and know your own situation. If you’re paying to track everything that’s under the sun, but the data doesn’t leave you with a list of action items, then don’t use them.
If you’re diving too deep into the “tracking ocean”, then you won’t find the Kraken, you’ll find an empty wallet.
Only track what you can be actionable about.
adwords tricks

2) Unravel Your AdWords Account For Higher Performance

Did you know that people sometimes click a Google result within a split second of the search engine loading?
If you think about it, that means that most people actually don’t even read one AdWords ad in its entirety before they decide to move forward.
So how do you improve your chances of getting your ad clicked and improve your AdWords performance, without having to increase your bids and pay more?
The secret is Single Keyword Ad Groups.
Single Keyword Ad Groups (or SKAGs) are just what they sound like: one keyword per ad group.
The goal with SKAGs are to help make the relevancy between your keywords and ad so strong that your CTR, quality scores, and cost per conversion metrics improve.
Sound to good to be true?
The screen shot below is from a campaign where we’ve utilized SKAGs with the addition of continuous keyword refinement and keyword expansion.
But first, let’s talk about what a SKAG is and how you make them inside your AdWords account, so you too, can get results like the screen shot below.

See the month over month improvements?

All that SKAGs really are, are ad groups with one keyword in them, but in three different match types.
This means that if you’re selling popsicles on a hot summer day, the keywords in your one SKAG would look like this:
[delicious raspberry popsicle]
“delicious raspberry popsicle”
+delicious +raspberry +popsicle
*Notice how there are no regular broad match keywords*
The reason why you want to keep the three different match types in there is because they’ll all perform differently.
Your bids may start out the same across all three, but you’ll want to optimize those once the data comes in. 
You may have hundreds or even thousands of keywords, so migrating them all to SKAGs would seem impossible.
So don’t do that.
Start with your top five search terms and build them into their own SKAGs to compare the stats, before and after.
Then, if your results do improve, you now have a reason to continue granulating things out.
As you keep going, you’ll want to make sure your search terms are matching your keywords.
If they don’t, then extract and create a new SKAG while eliminating the internal competition with ad group level negative keywords.
But don’t take our word for it. See what over 150 people had to say when we wrote about this on the Unbounce blog that turned their understanding of AdWords, upside down.
adwords and landing pages

3) Transform Your Campaigns And Landing Pages

As much as you know how amazing AdWords can be for your business (if done right), the question you have to ask yourself is

“Do I spend just as much time on my landing pages or site,
as I do inside my AdWords account?”

The reason why we ask is because it’s so vital to know that AdWords is just your bait.
The ad that you get people to click on isn’t the deciding conversion factor.
Your landing page is.
If you already have decent traffic volumes from AdWords and you know it’s quality traffic (by looking at your search term or placement reports), then you must stop obsessing over quality scores and impression shares.
You could have a keyword with a 1/10 quality score that makes you money, but spending five hours trying to get it to a 3/10 won’t do you much good.
Why not focus on testing your landing pages more aggressively so that all your keywords will see the positive impact?
If you follow the SKAG approach mentioned in the previous section, then you’ll have an extremely strong AdWords foundation that will allow you to spend less time in the account, and get better results.
That time can then be used for your conversion rate optimization and/or user testing.
If you do improve your conversion rates, then you’ll get a higher volume of conversions and pay less for them too.
If you’re to truly transform your AdWords campaigns, then you have to put the time and effort into freeing up more margins for yourself.
If you don’t, then you’ll be in that group of people that say that “AdWords is too competitive” or “AdWords is too expensive”.
Because eventually, things will only keep getting more expensive.
Either you stay reactive, or you get ahead of the curve.
But if you are in the lead generating space, then don’t just think about this as a two part equation (traffic and conversion).
Think of it as a three step process: Traffic -> Conversion -> Sale
You know the levers you can pull inside AdWords to get a lower cost per conversion and more conversions.
You know that testing your landing pages will help improve your conversion rates.
But how much time have you spent optimizing your sales? What can you do to close deals at higher price points?
Or better yet, what are you putting into place to increase the lifetime customer value of the deal you just closed?
The company who wins the PPC game in the long run, will be the company who can spend more to acquire a customer.
When you have this mindset, your AdWords account and landing pages are just puzzle pieces that are easy to move around to achieve your new goals.
make more money with adwords

4) Drink Your Bleeding Campaigns Dry

How would you like to save about $50,000/mo of AdWords budget and still maintain your conversion volume, with just 15 minutes of work?
We’d be peeing our pants of excitement, and that’s exactly what happened when we read how Jacob Baadsgaard and his team did just that.
With those kind of savings, you can only imagine what it would do to your cost per conversion.
Okay, enough teasing, here’s how it works (it’s kinda crazy, but still immensely powerful):
Any AdWords account has hundreds, if not thousands or millions, of search terms or automatic placements that have NEVER created a conversion. All of these add up, and slowly bleed your account dry.
What if you were to take all of those “un-converted” search terms and add them as negative keywords across your entire AdWords account?
Sounds crazy right? But let’s see how this works.
By looking at a date range of at least 3 months (longer can be better), take your search term report, download it, and open it in Excel.
Then filter to only see all search terms with a conversion rate of 0%, or zero conversions.
Then take those search terms, turn them into exact match negatives, and add them to your AdWords negative keywords list and apply them to all campaigns.
Sounds drastic right? But here’s what happened…
Not only did cost per conversion decrease by 42% in the earlier example, but an entire $50,000/mo was saved that could be used to pursue other marketing initiatives to continue growth.
Now you may be asking: “But why would we exclude search terms with just one click? They haven’t even gotten a chance to prove themselves!”
And you’re absolutely right.
But, that also shows the inherent fear so many PPC account managers have.
They’re afraid to make big changes, that can produce HUGE results.
The great thing about this hack is that you can remove the negative keyword list and be back to normal in no time.
If you’d rather tread more lightly, you can increase the amount of clicks of the search terms before you add them to a negative keyword list.
You can start with excluding all search terms that have 5-10 clicks, but no conversions.
Since there are usually over 100 search terms to one keyword, you can quickly see how so many things lay hidden beneath the surface that are draining your AdWords performance.
It’s like a thousand bites from Dracula who loves to nibble the crap out of your neck AdWords account.
Band-aid your AdWords account up, let it heal, and see how this frees up more potential for the keywords that are in fact producing your conversions and more importantly, making you money.
adwords competition

5) Freeze Your Competitor’s Progress

It’s an extremely cold PPC world out there.
People are bidding on each other’s brand names, trying to steal eyeballs and take advantage of their competitor’s marketing channels.

beat competition with adwords
F’ you SearchMarketers!

It makes us want to slither into our cozy bed, snuggle under our covers, and cry when it happens to us.
But as we wipe our tears for the 72nd time, we wonder if there’s something out there that helps reduce our learning curve, so we can finally get ahead of our competitors.

“Is there something like that?”

There is.
Inside your AdWords account, you can take a look at your Auction Insights report to see which other domains you’re competing with.
You can then take those domains one by one and see what keywords, display placements, and landing page tests they’re running, at any given time.
When it comes to seeing which keywords and ads your competitors are using, you can use tools like SpyFu, SEMrush, or iSpionage.
If you’re curious about their display placements, then you can use a tool like WhatRunsWhere so see where they’re advertising and which image ads are their best.
If you want to keep tabs on their landing page tests, then you can use iSpionage’s landing page spy feature that alerts you every time it catches a landing page update.
You can then use all of these data points to fuel your own inspiration for testing and growth.
Are you weak on the display side?
Then see if your competitors are using that channel before you burn any money yourself.
How often are your competitors testing their landing pages compared to yourself?
iSpionage can tell you, and give you reason for more budget for conversion rate optimization.
But here’s an even better hack that could significantly freeze your competitors and put them out in the cold.
Use RLSA campaigns to aggressively (we mean +300% bid adjustment) bid on competitor keywords after someone has already been on your site or landing page.
If your conversion cycle is long, then this makes even more sense, as potential customers may take a long time to compare you and the competition.
What better way to be front and center on Google than when they're getting closer to making their decision?
outperform competitors with adwords

6) Find The Best Performing Offers

Every AdWords campaign must have something of value to give to your potential customers.
If you don’t, then how do you get them to convert?
But what a lot of people don’t know, is that changing your offer can be the quickest way to improve your AdWords performance.
Are you and your 10 other competitors all offering a free consultation? Then good luck standing out from the crowd.
You see, your offer (also known as your call-to-action, CTA) is nothing more than a worm at the end of a fishing hook. It’s your bait.
It’s something you’re using to attract people to continue down your conversion funnel.
Do you think the same skinny worm works as bait for attracting different types of fish, in different types of oceans?
Of course not!
You must have an arsenal of baits that you can switch out at a quick pace.
Your search traffic might a certain call to action/offer, but your display traffic wants something completely different.
To get a better grasp on this, you have to understand your customer’s conversion cycle and whether they come from ice cold or super hot traffic sources.
Let’s take a look at the difference…
Let’s say that your offer is a free consultation, just like your other competitors.
What if your visitors aren’t ready for that commitment?
Maybe it’s threatening to them. They don’t want to talk to a sales person.
What if you made them micro-convert on a multi step quiz first, or maybe give them a free guide that’s of great value to them, that also helps solve their problem?
It’s one of the reasons why many of our competitors offer a free AdWords Audit, but we offer a free customized proposal instead.
Audits are negative, and who wants to give someone access to their AdWords account before knowing prices and if the agency is actually a good fit to begin with?
Talk about scary!
But the best thing about finding new offers? It can literally end your AdWords and landing page head scratching, since it’s relatively a quick fix to test.
Here are some of the offers we found work extremely well for different PPC traffic sources:

- Coupon
- Checklist/Cheatsheet
- Quiz
- Video/Video Course
- Toolkit (collection of tools)
- Calendar
- Podcast/Interview
- Consultation
- Live Demo
- Tickets
- Email Course
- Physical Product
- Swipe File
- Infographic/Gifographic
- Custom Pricing
- White Paper
- eBook
- T-Shirt
- Industry Stats
- Case Study
- Etc.

Once you find a new offer that works for you, you can make variants of that same offer and split test them.
good value with adwords

7) Swamp Your Prospects With Value

So you got your AdWords traffic to convert, but are you all done?
Is the money in your bank account, or do you have to close them over the phone or maybe up-sell them?
You already know the stats that on average, around 95% of visitors never convert. But no one talks about that 5% who don’t end up paying either.
With AdWords traffic, you’ll always find that people are in different stages of timing. Maybe they’re just curious and were intrigued by your offer, but not ready to buy yet.
Many times, those leads are going to waste.
Unless you change up your approach and consider these “soon-to-crack-eggs” as the most precious of potential.
So what exactly are we talking about?
Some people call it nurturing, we call it “swamping your prospects with value”.
In the past, if someone were to request a proposal from our site, then we’d follow up a few times, and if they didn’t respond, then we’d stop pursuing.
But working with a PPC agency is a BIG deal. It takes time to compare us to others. So we never thought how long it could take for people to decide.
Because of this, we decided to create a nine step email value drip campaign with valuable insight you won’t find on our site.
Here’s what the stats look like…
Through nine separate emails, all of our open rates are well above the 50% mark.
But more importantly, people who have requested a proposal weeks ago, are coming back and wanting to finish the process.

best performing adwords
Here's a look at our MailChimp automation

Not a bad deal, since each potential sale we have could last years of working together and have high lifetime values.
But maybe you’re not an agency like us.
Maybe you sell cow-milking lessons in Wisconsin.
No matter what your industry is, there are big holes in what you can take advantage of, that your competitors aren’t willing to fill.
And that’s mostly because they’re lazy.
If you take the time to swamp your prospects with value, then you set yourself up for success in the long run.
Something that you can’t exactly measure today, but will help you take advantage off all AdWords traffic now and in the future.

So Now What?

This post wasn’t meant to only be about what’s inside your AdWords account, but the holistic ecosystem of what you use to judge your AdWords performance off of.
Do you have enough quality traffic? Then focus on your landing page testing.
Are your conversion rates solid, but can’t close any deals? Then work on your sales skills.
All three steps of the AdWords cycle have enormous impacts on each other and a rising tide will lift all boats.
Stop going through the motions inside your account. Do what really matters. And most importantly, put action behind these ideas and watch the treats pour in.
No more tricks ;)