Optimising Paid Search

Contributed by Tyler Tafelsky

When it comes to making dramatic improvements to your Google Ads Paid Search campaigns, you need to know where to start. There are a few specific features in Google Ads that reveal a wealth of information. When combined with the best practices of keyword bidding and ad grouping, you’ll be well on your way to a more cost-efficient account.


Tighten up Your Keyword Bidding

One of the biggest mistakes we see with blindly-built Google Ads accounts surrounds keyword bidding. The worst-case scenario is seeing nothing but broad match keyword bidding. In short, broad match is… incredibly broad. This often leads to your ads being triggered for unwanted search queries.

However, most advertisers are smart enough to incorporate phrase match, exact match. These more precise keyword match types provide greater control over which queries trigger an ad. In fact, I typically recommend never to use broad match bidding and always apply, at the very least, phrase match (RIP broad match modifier).

In the figure below, we’re seeing the campaign-level keyword bids for a video transfer company. There is no broad match bidding going on. We have the campaign dialled in so that our ads trigger precisely for the queries we want. As a result, our average CTR is hovering around 9.7%, which is outstanding.



If some of this language reads foreign to you, then I encourage you to learn more about Google Ads keyword match types. Once you have a clear understanding of how each match type works, you’ll be able to improve keyword quality scores and reduce the cost per click.


Scour Search Terms & Utilize Negative Keywords

What once used to be hidden in the Google Ads interface is now slightly more apparent. Made more obvious by popular demand is the Search Terms feature. This tab is found under the Keywords view near the top, just the right of Search Keywords and Negative Keywords.



Search Terms is incredibly useful because it provides historical data of the exact search queries that were used to trigger your ads. In turn, you can typically find keyword variations that are not relevant. In the case of the video transfer company, popular unwanted Search Terms would often include VHS to DVD converter machine, video transfer software, or DIY videotape transfer. By scouring Search Terms for unwanted queries, we can use the Negative Keywords feature to add terms like converter machine, software, and DIY.

Negative keywords are used to exclude ads from being displayed for a particular query. Even when using precision-based match types like modified broad and phrase match bidding, your ads can still be triggered for unwanted search queries.

In the case of the video transfer and media conversion company, we’ve done this process enough over the months to the point where we rarely see unwanted queries trigger our ads. However, in checking in with the account’s Photo Scanning campaign, there’s one search term that’s not particularly relevant.



Can you guess what it is? Because the company provides a service, the top search term for “best photo scanners” is too product related. In turn, we will likely add the phrase “photo scanners” as a negative keyword. This prevents all future instances of a query with “photo scanners” to trigger our ads.



Negative keywords are massively helpful in fine-tuning your ads. Not only do they help prevent undesirable impressions, but the effort can help increase click-through rates, keyword quality scores, and overall cost-efficiency. In the figure above, we’ll include “photo scanners” as a negative term, as well as “Walgreens” and “Kodak” under the Bargain Hunter/Retail list.


Apply the Peel n’ Stick Method

The Peel n’ Stick method was coined by Perry Marshall. The concept of “Peel n’ Stick” is the practice of taking poor-to-marginal performing keywords and sticking them into a different, more relevant ad group (or creating a new ad group).

In most cases, an Google Ads campaign will almost always perform optimally when ad groups contain very tight, relevant collections of keywords (typically just 4-5 keywords of varying match types.) As a result, this focal ad grouping process enables advertisers to leverage more targeted ads and landing pages (again, improving CTR, CPC, and keyword quality scores.)

Think about it. When you have a huge list of keywords in just one ad group, you’re trying to capture all that search traffic with one ad and one landing page. This all too common scenario can be very inefficient. By consistently using the Peel n’ Stick method, you’re better segmenting your keywords into more focused, relevant ad groups.

Let me give you an example of dovetailing on the same video transfer account. The figure below is the Keyword view of an ad group’s specific “VHS to DVD” transfer services.



However, note some keywords bids are not necessarily specific to “VHS to DVD” in that they are lacking “to DVD.” Despite exceptional CTRs for these keywords, we still might consider using the Peel n’ Stick method. We might try either including these keywords in another ad group targeting “Video Transfer” queries, or creating a new ad group for these terms.

The Peel n’ Stick method often coincides with the latter two points focused on keyword bidding. As you continuously check in with Search Terms and tighten up your keyword bidding, you’re destined to find opportunities to apply Peel n’ Stick and further optimize Paid Search performance.


Never Stop Exploring

One of the experts in the Paid Search mastermind course I took with Perry Marshall mentioned having a client account that was “virtually on autopilot.” The loosely-used keyword here is “virtually,” as the potential to keep exploring and find new opportunities is limitless. With new Ad Extensions that integrate third party reviews, product data, and Google Maps ads, there are constantly new ways to make significant enhancements.

Paid Search optimization is all about continuous improvement and never ceasing to explore. As your campaigns gather data over time, you can almost always make further modifications. With each of the latter mentioned practices, you’ll quickly discover they are interrelated and often best used in conjunction.