4 Ways to Scale AdWords Optimization in Big Accounts
Let’s just say what everyone is thinking but doesn’t admit – doing optimizations in big build AdWords accounts is a huge pain. Making sure things are implemented both efficiently and consistently across all campaign categories and checking that every little nook and cranny is covered can lead PPC marketers to slam their heads against their keyboard.
We bow at the feet of Desktop Editor tools because of the hours they save us and the sanity they help us maintain. We discover new curse words we didn’t know lived deep within our souls when we find an in-engine feature has to be done manually, one-by-one instead of there being a quick apply-to-all option.
But this is our job as PPC marketers! It’s what we signed up for. Part of what keeps so many of us coming back for more is our insatiable desire to problem solve and figure out how to do something better. Much in the way we want to help connect searchers with the products and services they want, we too wish for better ways to scale!
And things aren’t getting easier. With the launch of new ad formats like Google’s Expanded Text Ads (ETAs), we have to tackle new methods of expansion across numerous campaigns, all while trying to elevate (or at least not hurt) our account performance.
So what’s the answer to the never-ending list of account optimizations, and how can you accomplish top-quality, high-volume optimizations across your accounts big and small? Below are a few of my favorite ways to scale account optimizations in AdWords.
Setting Up Google ETAs
We finally got what we’ve been asking for – more ad text! But now…we don’t know what to do with it. Many account managers are trying to figure out how to launch new ads across their account at scale, navigating a new ad type they’ve never used or built out before. Below are a few different ways to approach it within your AdWords account:
Focus on top ad groups
Don’t try to do everything all at once! Consider writing and launching new ETAs only for your top converting ad groups. This method will allow you to get learnings more quickly but at a more focused point (also mitigating some risk of impacting performance across your entire account). ETAs are now supported in AdWords Editor, so you can set up an A/B test against your current standard text ads, collect the data, and then tweak ETA copy until you find a winner, pausing your standard text ads at this point. Do note that it’s anticipated that standard text ads will be fully retired come October 2016.
Add a Headline 2 CTA
You’re ready to make the full move to ETAs, but just don’t have time to write all that new ad copy. So why not focus on the biggest benefit of ETAs – that extra headline!
This extended text is in the most valuable spot, the area where searchers click (and presumably actually read when looking across copy). Export your current text ads, add a column for Headline 2, and include a strong CTA (such as Buy Now, Shop Now, Sign Up Today, Call Today, etc.) or a strong offering (such as Free Shipping, Free Returns, Only $XX, XX% Off, Free Whitepaper, etc.). Test to see if this method delivers you a bump in CTR by focusing your critical message points towards your headline rather than in the body of your description text. Remember that AdWords may truncate ETAs that have combined HL1 + HL2 that are more than 33 characters.
Utilize a script
Have some familiarity and comfort with AdWords scripts? Maybe you’re a beginner trying to learn more! Either way, you may find a lot of benefit from using this free AdWords ETA Script from Optymzr, which allows you to use your landing pages’ meta descriptions to create your new longer ad descriptions, while also pulling title tags to split into 2 headlines. The script spits out a handy Google Sheet that you can edit and then upload directly into AdWords Editor.
For more help with Expanded Text Ads, check out:
- 7 Best Practices for Google’s NEW Expanded Text Ads
- How to Create Expanded Text Ads [Guide + FREE Template]
Troubleshooting Broken Landing Pages
It’s a dreadful feeling that we’ve all experienced. It hits us right in the gut the minute we find it. We place our head in our hands, sigh deeply, and ask ourselves how we didn’t catch it sooner. What is this depressing event we’ve all walked into? It’s finding a bunch of ad or keyword URLs pointing to a page that is 404ing.
How do you get in front of it faster? The only answer can’t be checking every single link in your account. You’ll go mad! Never fear – there is yet another free AdWords script that can help you catch broken URLs faster across your entire account.
FreeAdWordsScripts.com has put together a Monitor Broken URLS script which can be run across all your ads and keywords. It then spits out a report which can be emailed to yourself, outlining if any of your URLs result in a 404 Not Found or a 500 Server Error. There’s also an option to implement a similar script that actually runs across your entire MCC! No more worrying what lies waiting, broken within your campaigns or across all your accounts. You can use this as a daily health-check to avoid any sudden drops in conversion rate.
Scaling Bid Optimizations
Why are people still manually bidding every keyword? WHY?? I’m concerned for your mental stability and your overall well-being.
While there may be key head terms that require the close-eye and finesse of manual bid overrides, there are loads of tools (both in-engine as well as with third-party platforms like Adobe, Marin, and Kenshoo) to scale bidding effectively across large keyword sets. Let’s not tie ourselves to sitting in front of our computer screens, boosting bids a few cents up or down. Repurpose that time to implement tests and projects that actually drive results in your account.
For now, let’s look at the algorithmic bidding features available within AdWords, like Google AdWords’ Bidding Settings:
Portfolio Bid Strategies
AdWords Portfolio Bid Strategies allow you to set a bidding goal across a large subset within your account, whether that be campaigns, ad groups, or even keywords. Bids are set automatically based on your target, and can be managed and monitored in a single place within the Shared Library. Below are some of the portfolio strategies available that you can start creating and applying across your account in minutes:
- Maximize Clicks: Sets bids to get the most clicks possible within your given budget
- Target ROAS: Sets bids to maximize value per conversion to hit your average ROAS goal
- Target CPA (Conversion Optimizer): Sets bids to get the most conversions possible within your CPA target
- Enhanced CPC: Similar to Conversion Optimizer, adjusts bids up or down to maximize conversions (but will only do so +/- 30% of your base bids, whereas Conversion Optimizer will change bids within any range to maximize conversion within CPA
- Target Search Page Location: Adjust bids to get ads to the top of the page OR the first page of the SERP
- Target Outranking Share: aka “playing a little dirty,” allows you to set bids specifically to outrank another domain on the SERP
Smart Bidding (coming soon to an AdWords near you!)
Google recently just announced an upcoming rollout of Smart Bidding settings, which are algorithmic bidding options that take into account a wide range of contextual signals when adjusting bids, including device, physical location, search query, time of day, and more. They’ll also be expanding on options to use Target CPA by device, as well as use bid simulators to forecast the number of conversions attainable if CPA was adjusted. Look out for these new options coming to bidding soon!
Sometimes we want duplication in our accounts – like running the same ad copy but to split landing pages. Or maybe double the conversions, that wouldn’t be so bad, now would it? But duplicate keywords can creep up on us, especially when multiple account managers have their hands in the same account. Maybe we all expanded based on the same search query report, or copied the wrong keywords into an ad group. Duplicate keywords can compete against each other on the SERP, so you could be inflating your max bids on a term that lives in multiple areas in your account.
AdWords Editor had a handy “Find Duplicate Keywords” tool, which you can navigate to from the Tools dropdown.
From there, you can fine-tune your search for duplicates, choosing your settings based on word order, match types, and the location of the duplicates:
Scale Your Way To Success
Whether it’s updating ad copy, fixing landing pages, implementing bids, or finding critical fixes in your account – my motto remains: work smarter, not harder. Use these helpful tricks and tips to keep the paid search quality of your accounts at a high level, while still leaving you time to take a breath (and maybe get a drink) every once in a while.
About the author
Maddie Cary is the Director of Paid Search at Point It Digital Marketing in Seattle. Her role involves overseeing and developing an amazing team of PPC account managers, while also running the global SEM program for Point It’s largest client. In 2015, she won the US Search Award for “Young Search Professional” and was acknowledged as a “Rising Star in PPC” by both SearchEngineLand and PPC Hero. You can also find her speaking and learning at great conferences like SMX, HeroConf, and PubCon, or writing monthly posts for the Wordstream blog. Outside of PPC, her biggest loves are her family, friends, and her idol, Queen Beyoncé.
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