The way people use search engines is evolving, and it’s up to marketers to keep up.
According to a 2017 study, between the years 2015 and 2017, the total share of organic CTRs for page one results of an e-commerce SERP dropped 25% on desktop and 55% on mobile. In addition, paid search advertising is likely now getting the same percentage of clicks as organic results, which was an uncommon occurrence until fairly recently.
Another study found that there has been a 54% year-on-year increase in ad spend on major social media platforms. Based on a representative sample of over a thousand individual brands, there was a 38% growth in ad spend for Facebook, with 125% for YoY spend; while Snapchat also increased 29% quarter-on-quarter.
What could be behind the shift from organic content models to prioritizing paid advertising or sponsored placements? It may be due to more ad servings for several queries, or search engines like Google using more contextual ads. There’s also the Google Shopping results that show up on relevant product queries. For social media, brands are targeting and engaging their audiences better through placements.
With organic and paid results almost getting the same percentage of clicks, your budget for both SEO and SEM should now be on the same level, but it’s also becoming increasingly important to maximize the value of your PPC campaigns.
Tips to Optimize Your Paid Search Advertising Campaigns
1. Review your chosen platform’s new features
In particular, Google Ads and Bing Ads are slated to release new features soon.
For Google, there will be an extension for promotions to show products with a percentage discount and can be added to account to ad group level, a bid adjustment for phone calls with call extension to check the number of ad and call impressions, and mobile-only out-stream video campaigns for ads served outside of Google or YouTube.
Audience Network in Bing Ads will also soon arrive. It is an AI-powered feature that analyzes audience intent signals from Microsoft properties, including Bing searches, MSN, Outlook, Skype, and LinkedIn. This helps in creating highly relevant in-market lists to reach searchers when they are looking to purchase.
2. Test new platforms
If you want to go beyond the usual platforms, testing new channels depending on your target audience may yield favorable results for your SEM strategies. The obvious choice is Google because they’re by far and large the biggest search engine with the most traffic, but don’t neglect the potential of other channels like Bing and Yahoo. Although they may not match up to Google in terms of volume, potentially better cost-per-click (CPC) and conversion rates means focusing on quality rather than quantity.
3. Consider voice search, too
You may not be getting a lot of voice searches yet, so you probably haven’t done the keyword research for it. But, like mobile use, the era of voice search is coming sooner than you think. Therefore, it’s best to be ready to respond to the age of voice search by optimizing your marketing for this channel.
A quick way to do this is to search for terms on Google Ads (or your platform of choice) phrases like “ok google” or “restaurants near me” which may signify that a searcher is utilizing Google Assistant or doing a navigational voice search. Review this activity regularly to search for any valuable keywords that you can add to your account or use in a new campaign.
Closely relevant to voice search is geo-targeting. This means targeting your ads to specific locations, which is especially useful for local businesses, as it serves your ads to users in areas where you expect to find your customers. Check your campaigns’ geographic settings—Google Ads has a geographic reporting feature that can help you analyze traffic patterns based on the users’ location.
5. Make your ad appear when it counts
Consider your target market’s peak times or hours of the day when they are most actively searching for your products or services. Google Ads, under Edit Campaign Settings, has an option called Ad Scheduling, which automatically turns your campaigns on and off at specific times. You can also add more to your budget at chosen peak times and lower it for others.
6. Stand out with an attention-grabbing copy
Your ad copy differentiates you from your competitor. In the past, advertisers utilized Google’s Dynamic Keyword Insertion Tool, which automatically adds the keyword that a searcher used in the ad copy. However, it has since then become overused and is no longer effective since many people already know about it.
Just because ads show up on top of the SERPs doesn’t mean they will receive the most clicks. Copy helps you catch your prospects’ eyes. Aside from using distinctive and quirky terms, including your USPs and CTAs, you can also start by creating very targeted ad groups and testing several versions of your copy to see which will work for those groups. Allocate your budget to ads that are converting well.
7. Include what customers had to say
Through a Seller Rating extension, you can place ads for your products and services that have 30 unique reviews and at least a 4-star rating alongside its reviews and rating. This is a great way to establish trust and increase CTR; though, it is only available for desktop and search networks.
Additionally, the reviews may not always be displayed, possibly due to a low relevance score, lack of space on the SERPs, the assessment not being from a high-authority publication or organization, or a host of other reasons.
8. Be wary of click fraud
There are still companies that resort to fraudulent practices like bots, competitors, and click farms to increase traffic, resulting in an estimated 1 in 5 fraudulent ad clicks. Metrics like abnormally high CTRs and unfamiliar referrals are reliable indicators of these practices.
Eliminating click fraud can be a way to improve your bottom line, and platforms like Google and Bing have built-in features to identify invalid clicks. There are manual processes in place, though it may be challenging to manage. You can also reach out to third-party companies specializing in eliminating click fraud.
9. Continue to test
Much like any SEM strategies, paid search advertising requires constant testing, alongside optimization to maintain its excellent performance. When you set it just once and let it run on autopilot, you fail to continuously improve copy, keywords, bidding strategy, and other components that make it work.
High Converting Ads through Best Practices
As technologies for digital marketing improve, so will the strategies that make your campaigns work. SEM, as a discipline, as well as digital marketing as a whole, are continuously evolving—one practice may be working today, but things may change in a year.
In paid search, it’s essential to keep up with the times. If you’re considering getting a partner that can deliver results, Spiralytics Agency’s paid search advertising services are here to help grow and optimize your PPC campaigns.
Get in touch now to know what Spiralytics Agency can do for you!