7 Tips to Get the Most Bang for Your Buck When Buying Ads

How to optimize your Google AdWords strategy.

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By Jonathan Long


Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

In order to succeed in the highly competitive AdWords pay-per-click (PPC) environment, you must find ways to lower your cost-per-click (CPC). The ability to lower your cost depends on a lot of variables, including the product or service you are promoting, your industry and location.

The legal industry has notoriously high CPCs. Let's take a quick look at some examples I pulled from Google's Keyword Planner tool.

  • Keyword: "divorce attorney Miami" -- Suggested bid: $21.52
  • Keyword: "DUI attorney Los Angeles" -- Suggested bid: $83.96
  • Keyword: "Dallas car accident lawyer" -- Suggested bid: $163.09
  • Keyword: "Boston personal injury law firm" -- Suggested bid: $250.35

Law firms spend an outrageous amount of money running PPC campaigns -- I know because my agency has run several performance-based campaigns, and the cost-per-click for legal related terms are some of the highest. It's also one of the reasons my company is building an online law firm directory, which I have started to document here. We set out to offer firms an additional lead generation option, as PPC will always be a necessity -- especially to attract clients with an immediate need.

Here are seven ways you can lower your AdWords campaign's cost-per-click, whether you are a law firm spending hundreds of dollars per click or a mom and pop shop trying to score clicks for less than a dollar.

1. Use negative keywords in your campaign.

One area that many businesses neglect is the search query report within their AdWords account. This shows you all of the search queries that trigger your ads to be displayed. Not only does this help you determine exactly how your customers are searching for your product or services, but it also helps you identify keywords that you don't want to trigger your ads (and pay for).

For example, if a high-end luxury car dealership noticed that their ads were displaying for the search query. "Lamborghini pictures," they would want to add that to their negative keywords list. The last thing they want to do is pay for clicks from users simply looking for pictures.

"Our Google rep suggested that constantly looking for and adding negative keywords to our campaign forces the system to optimize itself, creating more effective ads," says James F. Sexton, Esq. of The Sexton Law Firm.

Related: 4 Ways to Market Your Business for Free

2. Constantly create new ads to test against your best-performing ads.

With PPC, especially when you are targeting keywords with high search volume, you can see results quickly. This allows for quick data gathering for split-testing purposes. "We are always creating several ad variations and testing them against our best ads for a wide variety of landing pages. You will never know if a slight change can improve your performance, and in an industry as competitive as ours, even the slightest click-through improvement makes a huge difference," explains Jed Shaw of Shaw Defense.

Many businesses will optimize and test until they achieve a perfect quality score, but there is always room for improvement when it comes to click-through rate and conversion rate. You can find better calls to action and words by simply taking the time to always rotate new ad variations into the mix to test against your best performers.

3. Create extremely relevant ads.

"We achieved a much more attractive cost-per-click and overall AdWords performance when we built out a much larger campaign in terms of ads and ad sets, with each targeting a single keyword and an ad-specific landing page," said Marc Johnston of The Johnston Law Firm, LLC.

Johnson is correct, as this strategy, while more time consuming, will help improve your campaign performance, from CPC and click-through rate to cost-per-conversion. By creating specific ads that target one keyword and have a landing page that is optimized specifically for that one keyword, it helps to create a consistent massage. The ad becomes 100 percent relevant to the keyword that was searched, and the landing page is 100 percent relevant as well.

While it might seem like a lot of work, it will help you create the most cost-effective AdWords campaign. I would suggest starting to re-vamp your AdWords account using this strategy slowly, starting with your highest search volume keywords first.

Related: 10 Laws of Social Media Marketing

4. Improve your landing page experience.

One of the factors that Google takes into consideration when determining the quality score of your ad is the landing page experience you are providing visitors once they click through. Just as user experience is relevant to SEO, landing page experience is relevant when it comes to PPC.

"You could have an amazing ad that pulls an above average click-through rate and keyword with high search volume, but if you pair that with a poorly optimized landing page your quality score will plummet and you will actually receive less traffic, while paying more per click that you would if the landing page experience was better," explains Mehran Ebadolahi of TestMax, Inc. It will take testing several landing page variations before you are able to identify one per ad and keyword that results in a perfect experience score.

5. Test all keyword match types.

Many people fail to test all match types of the keywords they are targeting. Often, there will be drastically different CPCs across different match types, and you will never know how effective they are in terms of cost and conversion unless you test them all.

There are several different match types to consider. When you are working outside of exact match keywords, it's important to really build a complete negative keyword list, as mentioned above. This helps to really filter out irrelevant and useless traffic that will result in wasted clicks.

"Sometimes, we will identify keywords that have very high exact match CPCs and switch them to broad match, which will drive the cost-per-click down, lowering our average CPC across our campaign. Traffic will be much broader, hence the name, which is why it's a lower cost. We have scaled several campaigns using this strategy combined with thorough negative keyword research," says Dave Hanley of Tomorrow.

Related: Use These 5 Steps to Create a Marketing Plan

6. Focus on improving your quality score.

Your quality score is an estimate on the overall quality of everything combined -- your ad, keyword(s) and landing page. A higher quality score will result in lower CPCs and higher ad positioning in the search results. It's scored on a 1 to 10 scale.

"Quality should be the focus of your AdWords account. When you match targeted ads and targeted keywords, your click-through rate increases along with your Quality Score. This all works together to improve your ad rank, and you benefit from lower click costs," explains Seamus Byrne of LawTap.

Improving your quality score needs to be a main priority if you want to drive down your CPCs.

7. Manually lower your bids.

Going into your account and lowering your bids is the simplest way to lower your cost-per-click. When you do everything right, improving your quality score and ad rank, you will be able to get the clicks at a lower cost.

When you do improve your quality score and ad rank, there is no guarantee that Google is going to automatically decrease your CPCs. Often times you end up paying the same as you did before, prior to optimizing your campaigns. It's always a good idea to go in and manually decrease your bids, a very small amount at a time. You can usually lower your costs while maintaining the same click volume.

Jonathan Long

Founder, Uber Brands

Jonathan Long is the founder of Uber Brands, a brand-development agency focusing on ecommerce.

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