Posted by

Common Tactics to Improve PPC Performance

PPC campaigns are ever evolving programmes of experimentation and creative strategising. However, there are some basic tactics that should always be deployed first when you are searching for ways to improve your PPC performance.

As any veteran likes to boast, I have probably seen it all and dealt with every PPC scenario out there during the 15 years I have spent managing PPC campaigns (tiny, massive and everything in between). And the bit that all of these veterans like to add in is something like,

“… and nothing surprises me anymore!”


Actually, when it comes to PPC, while I am indeed a veteran from way back before Google even existed, when GoTo created the PPC model, which then became Overture and then faded into nothing, there is one thing that still surprises me every time when it comes to PPC.

“Whatever worked well yesterday will probably not work today and almost certainly not tomorrow.”

To take that one step further, it often seems that anything new works – at least for a short period of time. Then it stops working and one needs to find yet another new idea for the next small period of time.

That is why it seems that PPC is all about ongoing innovation and continuous change. And both of those concepts are the only constants in PPC.

Ongoing innovation and continuous change are the only constants in successful #PPC. Click To Tweet

However, as true as this might be, I appreciate that this would not be useful as a take-home from this article. For this reason, I have put together a list of the most common and most important PPC tactics to help you stay ahead of the game and to keep your campaigns effective and productive.

Keep your House in Order

When we take over campaigns from our clients or from previous agencies, I am always amazed at how messy many of them are, with key phrase and settings and creatives piled up all over the place with no set structure. They remind me of a teenager’s bedroom.

While I am not your mother, there is a very strong ROI case for tidying up: it’s called Quality Score. And it matters. Your Quality Score will be substantially affected simply by tiding up and organising all your key phrases into well thought out and properly structured Campaigns. Each campaign should have its own Ad Groupings and, within these groupings, there should be a set of unique and relevant creatives, bidding ceilings and bidding strategies for each. Once your Quality Score improves, you will be delighted by how much budget you will save.

While I'm not your mother, there is a very strong ROI case for tidying up in #PPC: Quality Score. Click To Tweet

This is probably one of the most time-consuming parts of improving an Adwords Campaign but the improvement in conversions and sales can be dramatic, and the savings can be up to 50% of your budget.

Different Messages for Different Markets

As part of tidying up, it is also crucial to create different sales messages for each and every Ad Group.

For example, for the “Villas in Tuscany with Pools” Ad Group, the sales messaging for all the phrases in that Ad Group could be: “We offer a large range of stunning villas with Pools across Tuscany”.

For the “Large Villas in Tuscany” Ad Group, the sales messaging for its list of phrases could be: “Our Large Villas in Tuscany are perfect for both families and for company entertainment.

While this sounds obvious, very few companies actually do this in their PPC campaigns, and they tend to have either the same generic message for all phrases in all Ad Groups or the wrong message in the wrong Ad Group.

Frank Orman speaks of the importance of having different sales messages for every Ad Group. #PPC Click To Tweet

For the same reason, I recommend against using automated advertising message creation systems or software. They are, in most cases, simply embarrassing!

Better Control of Budgets

Another very important aspect of better campaign management is to be able to control your budget allocations to different parts of your PPC programme.

To achieve this we tend to spend a lot of time mapping out more campaigns, each with their own relevant Ad Groups, instead of one campaign with a huge number of Ad Groups.

The reason for this is that you can only set daily spend limits at a campaign level. If you have all your Ad Groups in one Campaign, the more generic and expensive phrases will eat up your daily budget, which then prevents the profitable long-tail phrases getting enough budget and exposure.

This is also a very time consuming exercise and requires asking and answering some very important marketing questions and setting sales and seasonal priorities at the very heart of the PPC management model. However, while this is rather complex, it can also provide stunning results and improvements in your metrics.

Match Types

This is where most of the money is wasted in most campaigns that we see, and where we are able to provide the biggest savings for our clients.

To keep it really simple, there are different levels of control you can dictate to Google when it comes to deciding exactly which phrases will be included in your campaign (broad match, broad match modifier, phrase match, exact match and negative match). I won’t go into each of them now, but the more you define and refine your own match type preferences for each Ad Group (yes, that too is a very time consuming process) the less control you give Google over your wallet.

And without being disrespectful in any way, Google does not necessarily always have your best interests in mind when it comes to raiding your wallet.

Google does not always have your best interests in mind when it comes to raiding your wallet. Click To Tweet

PPC Campaign Settings

I am not going to create a shopping list of PPC settings but, like Apps in the world of mobile phones, Adwords’ settings offer some pretty cool options and ideas for the savvy PPC expert. I would suggest trying out a few at a time to see how they work and what they can do for you.

You don’t need to spend a lot of money to experiment with different ideas using different extensions. Most of the time we suggest that a small percentage of PPC budget should be allocated by default to R&D, and we often reap some very good results for our clients.

Therefore, a very good investment all around.


This is certainly not the new kid on the block, but it is something that is still very new to many businesses.

The general idea is that after customers engage with your site via PPC, your branded banner advertisement follows those same customers around the internet, showing up on other websites that they view afterwards.

While for many of our clients Remarketing has not been a major force in terms of traffic generation, we have seen that it definitely generates a nice handful of conversions – and generally at very good prices.

Tip of the Iceberg

While these are the basic headlines that will help you squeeze the most out of your PPC budget, there are many, many more tricks of the trade to enhance the ROI. Feel free to give me a call if you want to discuss them in more detail or to find out how we have improved and maximised the PPC campaigns we have run for our clients.


Enter your email and get our latest posts direct to your inbox: