AdWords campaign optimization can mean different things, depending on your circumstances and objectives. For example, if you are selling a product online and you are using conversion tracking to register sales, then you may want to optimize based on the number of sales, the cost per sale or the amount of profit per sale. The point being that you reach a point where in order to get more sales, you must be willing to spend more per sale.
If you are not as concerned about conversions, you may want to get the most number of quality visitors you can, at a certain average CPC (Cost-Per-Click). But you cannot arbitrarily select an average CPC, because every product (keyword) is a market unto itself and every user search query is an instantaneous auction. Getting your campaign to an optimized state depends on many factors, depending on how much you are willing to invest in your campaign and your website. The most popular metrics related to optimization in an AdWords campaign, are the number of clicks, average CPC (Cost-Per-Click) and impression share. Unless you are willing to make enhancements to your campaign and/or your website design, these metrics tend to work at cross purposes, meaning that if you improve one, the others get worse.
There are things you can do to bring down your cost if you are willing to make certain investments in your AdWords campaign design and create additional custom landing pages that are highly relevant to the user’s search query, keyword and your ad copy headline. See my post titled A chain of success. If you do this, you will be rewarded with higher quality scores. Higher quality scores mean you pay a lower CPC (Cost-Per-Click) and you get a higher impression share. Here are some other reasons for Why use custom landing pages that are related to conversion optimization.
Let’s look at an example. Suppose you are in the business of selling widgets. You sell widgets of different sizes and colors. If you offered small, medium and large widgets in red, green, blue, black and white, in order to optimize your campaign you would have a different ad group and custom landing page for each combination of size and color. That means you would have fifteen ad groups and fifteen custom landing pages. In addition, you would have an extensive list of keywords in each ad group with different keyword matching options. The number of keywords will depend on the actual search volume for any given keyword. See my post titled The keyword conundrum. Generally speaking, exact match keywords get higher quality scores. However, finding those keywords is an iterative process that requires research, data analysis and testing.
The biggest boost you can get in terms of quality score and ad rank comes when the user’s search query is your actual domain name. For example, if the user’s search query was large blue widgets and you had a keyword [large blue widgets] and the headline of your ad was Large Blue Widgets and the URL of your website was www.LargeBlueWidgets.com and your landing page was all about large blue widgets, then you would most certainly get a very good quality score and the lowest possible CPC. But it’s simply not practical to have that much relevance for every user’s search term. Therefore, it becomes an exercise in compromise and optimization.
There are other things you can do to improve your overall ad rank. Google is placing more and more emphasis on ad extensions. These are features that extend the size and usefulness of your ads. Things such as your physical address, phone number, hyperlinks to specific pages on your website (sitelinks), snippets of text that explain what differentiates you from your competitors (structured snippets) and more. These not only make your ads physically larger and more compelling, but Google rewards you with higher quality scores, ad rank and impression share. Also, Google likes to see at least two ads per ad group. The implication being that you are testing to find the optimal ad copy.
Another important element of ad rank is your ad copy. When a user performs a search, Google selects the best keyword in your account, then it looks for the best ad copy in the ad group where the keyword resides. The ad copy with the highest degree of relevance (quality score) to the user’s search query, is the one that is selected for the ad auction. The take-away is that you can increase your overall ad rank if you have multiple ads in an ad group. You want to have ads that reflect words that are most often used in user search queries. Gone are the days of simple ad copy split-testing to find the single best performing ad. Now it’s like increasing the chances of winning a raffle (the Google search auction) by purchasing multiple raffle tickets.