When it comes to targeting your ideal audience through advertising, you will want to use a mixture of demographic, keyword, geographic, interest, and device targeting.
If you don’t know the demographics of your audience, then you must first collect data. You want to focus on the demographics that are bringing in most of the traffic that is fulfilling the current marketing objective. Lower the bid significantly for the audience that is bringing only about 20% of the results.
Make bid adjustments in increments of 5% when enough data has been collected. Justify bid adjustments only when there is conversion data available, and there are either 100 clicks or 1-1.5k impressions. This is not a strict rule but it is a good practice to follow. Never exclude a demographic, if possible; instead, try to significantly lower the bid.
Since you’ll be working with a small budget, you will be using mostly long-tail keywords. Group all relevant keywords together in the same categorial ad group to facilitate a higher ad relevance score. Each ad group should have 5-10 keywords because you’re working with mostly small budget accounts. In some rare cases, it might make sense to have 10-15 keywords in an ad group.
When using keyword targeting, it’s vital to optimize the keywords used on an ongoing basis to get the most cost-effective ROI. Look up a search term report to update the negative keyword list. Look for keywords that are bringing in bad traffic; in other words, peripheral, low-intent, and irrelevant keywords. Utilize the search term report and keyword planner to add more high-intent, positive keywords; these keywords are typically best added as exact or phrase match keywords.
Tip: Use negative keywords to help shape the correct traffic to the website.
Keyword Targeting Strategies & Considerations
For keyword targeting, you want to maintain a quality score between 7 and 10, ideally. However, in some rare cases, this is not possible due to some industries being blacklisted under Google’s hidden strict guidelines. A quality score of 1-3 is only okay if it’s not for a high-intent keyword or one that is bringing in most of the good traffic to the business. You can increase your ad rank for the most important keywords by increasing the quality score and max bid. Increase the quality score by trying to increase the expected click-through rate, ad relevance, and landing page experience.
Pro tip: Google secretly keeps a blacklist of certain industries where the highest quality score you can get is between 4 and 6. Sometimes you can get lucky to increase this number – say, for example, from a 4 to a 6 quality score – by talking directly with a Google representative to ensure that you’re running a legit business. An example would be the word “Botox.”
Search Impression Share: Throughout this process, you will want to keep in mind search impression share (IS) at the keyword and at the campaign level (budget search IS). Use data of “search IS” with data of “lost search IS.” For example, low-search IS, high-lost search IS, and low-search IS (at the campaign level) is a clear indication that your bid for the keyword needs to be higher to stay competitive. If this is a high-intent keyword with a high conversion rate, then you need to allocate your budget appropriately to increase the search IS for this keyword. Adjustments should be made on a case-by-case basis, but overall, you will want to pause lower-performing keywords and increase spend on high-performing keywords. Using this tactic, CPC will go up, but in the end, because you know that high-intent keyword has a high conversion rate, the cost will be offset from the potential increase in profits.
Bad Actors: One last thing to consider are bad actors, which are people who purposely click on your ads to drive up the cost. This is typically coming from competitors, which happens more often for highly competitive local businesses. If this does occur, you need to speak with a Google representative to get these bad actors filtered out of your ad spend.
Try to avoid visitors “interested” in the location to prevent any traffic outside the country or unnecessary traffic. If you sell your product in all 50 states, then input all 50 states individually. If you sell products locally, then set a small radius around the physical store (about a 1- to 10-mile radius) and try to include locations individually at a granular level, such as cities, zip codes, or county, etc. Be sure to choose one type, such as zip codes only. Exclude locations in rare scenarios where the general population of a geographic location is negative towards the business or laws do not favor the business.
Make bid adjustments at the granular level in 5% increments. All bid adjustments must be justified with some conversion data, at least 100 clicks, and at least 1-1.5k impressions, which is generally a good practice. Lower the bid for low-performing locations.
Start with the observational option to see the potential for an in-market audience. Use an observational approach for various in-market audiences who could convert with the business. Don’t be afraid to experiment with split testing to see your results with targeting vs. observation.
If you are using targeting options, split test various in-market audience combinations. Make bid adjustments in 5% increments, but ensure there is some conversion data, at least 100 clicks and 1-1.5k impressions before increasing the bid.
Interest Targeting Strategies & Considerations
Hour-Day Strategy: Adjust bids by day first, then by hour. Increase bids where there is a higher probability of conversion to occur, and lower bids otherwise.
Ongoing Optimization: Make bid adjustments in increments of 5%. Justify bid adjustments with conversion data, at least 100 clicks, and at least 1-1.5k impressions. Depending on the business, you may want to exclude bids, if, for example, the business is getting phone calls at 3:00 AM, which is more than likely irrelevant for the business.
Users among various devices behave very differently. Increase bids where there is a higher probability of conversion to occur, and lower bids otherwise. It’s best to significantly lower bids for lower performing devices rather than completely excluding them. Make bid adjustments in increments of 5%. Justify bid adjustments with conversion data, at least 100 clicks, and at least 1-1.5k impressions.
Advanced Bid Adjustment Strategy: If the business receives calls regularly, then it might make sense to make bid adjustments for call extensions. Observe data collected first before making any bid adjustment. Make progressive bid adjustment in increments of 5%. These adjustments need to be justified with some conversion data, at least 100 clicks, and at least 1-1.5k impressions.
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