For those managing Pay Per Click campaigns, it can sometimes be difficult to work out how to reduce the cost per outcome eg click, lead, sale etc. There are some nifty tricks that you can use to help bring down your PPC spend to make this form of internet advertising more cost effective for your business.

For instance, understanding the key differences between exact match, broad match and phrase match will help to cut costs. Wise use of negative keywords will also assist in preventing your ad being shown for irrelevant searches.

101 tips for PPC MarketingTips 38 and 39 in our PPC Book (download it for free now) cover finding the perfect match, and tip 40 is all about using negative keywords to your advantage.

Exact Match will show your ad when the search query matches your search phrase or term exactly.
Broad Match allows your ad to be triggered by other relevant phrases as well as your own keyword choices; this is the default setting for AdWords.
Phrase Match will show your ad when one of your keywords appears somewhere within the search term entered.
Negative Match will ensure that your ad is not shown for any search that includes that keyword.

Whilst you may receive fewer clickthroughs with exact match, the traffic is more likely to be highly targeted.

Negative keywords can be a real winner for saving your PPC budget from unnecessary spend and with a robust negatives list, you could save up to 10-20% of your spend.

If you sell a premium product, then make sure you have included all such terms in your negative keyword list as ‘free’, ‘cheap’, ‘bargain’, ‘samples’, ‘voucher’, ‘surplus’ and so on. After all, people searching for such items are not your target audience. You may also want to add career terms to your negatives – job, recruitment, vacancies, career, opportunities etc, unless you are advertising in that arena. Think about removing the big sites unless your product is directly related so add ‘Amazon’, ‘Facebook’, ‘Craigslist, ‘Ebay’, ‘Twitter’, ‘Wikipedia’ and so on.

If you sell a fully-finished product, filter out those who are looking to do it themselves e.g. ‘recipes’, ‘kits’, ‘patterns’, ‘tutorial’, ‘crafts’ and ‘homemade’. Also, try to filter out ‘training’, ‘courses’, ‘classes’ and ‘college’ unless you run courses because these are people looking to learn rather than buy.

Obviously, for each company the list of negative keywords will be different and some of the above examples may not apply to your business and product set. However, the longer your list of negatives that filter out those who do not make up your target audience, the more chance you have of not wasting precious pennies on the wrong people.

These actions will help to improve your Quality Score (Tips 66 -68 in the Pay Per Click Book), decrease your bounce rates, and help you to discover more accurate statistics about conversions and the effectiveness of your ads.

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About the author:

A practising internet marketing consultant since 1996, Lindsey Annison helps companies improve their website marketing, online PR and information architecture. Lindsey is also a qualified adult education lecturer and author. As co-founder of the Access to Broadband Campaign, she has been instrumental in the provision of high-speed internet access to rural areas in the UK. Lindsey is also a past winner of Silicon.com's Outstanding Contribution to UK Technology