PPC Myth Week Pt 2: Bid Higher to Appear Higher

Because top positions typically receive better click through rates than lower, many people use average position as a KPI (key performance indicator) to measure campaign health, and seek to optimize it — either by trying to improve Quality Score* or raising the maximum CPC (cost per click) for the keyword. For some, raising the bid is easier than trying to figure out how to appease the Google Quality Score god.

*Quality Score is Google’s way of scoring the quality (clever name, hey?) of your ad and landing page relevance and attractiveness to searchers. If you’re interested in learning more about Quality Score, Craig Danuloff of Click Equations is writing a book about it and is dripping out chapters on his blog.

Click through rate (CTR%) is the most important part of Quality Score, according to Google’s own explanation of how it ranks ads (Youtube video). CTR% is followed by ad/landing page relevance and landing page quality. The video goes into detail on how ads with high Quality Scores are rewarded by higher positions and lower average CPCs.

It used to be common practice to crank up your bids when you first launched keywords so they would rank higher and get better click through, and turn them down once you established a good click through history. Today, Google calculates your click through rate at each position it tests your ad in, comparing it against other data it has for advertisers in those positions rather than an average across every position. So there’s no need to bid high – your focus should be improving that click through rate!

Tips for Improving PPC Click Through Rates

1. Find negative keywords. Add as many negative keywords as possible to reduce impressions for irrelevant or near-relevant keyword searches. Some negative keywords will be applied at the Campaign level, others at the Ad Group level. You can also find negative keywords by adding a broad match exposure filter.

2. Group keywords more tightly. Studies have shown click through is highest when the ad headline includes the exact keyword the searcher typed in (limited to 35 characters) — especially for brand / color / model number searches. So rather than having one big Digital Camera Ad Group with all your brands and models, you would have a Digital Camera group with only unbranded keywords, and Ad Groups for each brand, and model-specific Ad Groups for each brand.

Some keywords might be so popular / high converting they may justify their own Ad Group so you can write an even more specific ad, like “Ashton Kutcher Coolpix.”

3. Write better ad copy. Some tips include:

In this economy, you can’t afford sloppy PPC campaign management. Make sure you do everything you can to improve Quality Score before you ramp up bids on keywords. After optimizing for CTR%, look at improving landing page relevance, not just to please Google, but to convert more clicks to sales.

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9 Responses to “PPC Myth Week Pt 2: Bid Higher to Appear Higher”

  1. I used to think that bidding higher will help me reach the top position but it turns out that its about bidding higher.

    Your post definitely enlightened me on how to do good in PPC world.

    Thank you for sharing your knowledge.

  2. Thank you for posting this info on ppc. I didn’t realize the impact of using negative keywords. Will def9initely try to incorporate this into my campaign.

  3. Hey Linda,

    Thanks for the ClickEquations shout out!


  4. Another great post, Linda.

    I would underline the point about A/B split testing your work.

    And don’t forget to check for statistical confidence before you make any decisions.

    I guess we’ve all seen A scoring 7% and B scoring only 5% and we get all excited about our new ad. Then we look at the absolute numbers and it’s 7 people versus 5 people.

  5. krishna says:

    I got to know a new point here today “Capitalize The First Letter Of Each Word” ..are you saying abt Ad Title or Ad Description here…
    This is interesting to experiment on my campaigns now. I didn’t take much care on this. But needs to look into more specific this time.


  6. Great information! I’m looking for ways to maximize traffic, minimize expenses, and get good conversions. I guess we all are – right?

  7. Thanks Linda for another great article… simple tips that can have a big impact on your adwords ROI.

  8. Save money by increasing your quality score. The faster your landing page loads, the more relevant the ad to your content and other factors are taken into account by Google Adwords.

    This can mean paying slightly less because of a very high quality score.

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