10 Google PPC Best Practices to Follow for Your Website
You want more people to find your website. You’ve done the research into your online marketing options and have decided to include Google PPC (pay per click) in your marketing efforts.
Using Google Ads pay-per-click option is a smart way to get your website in front of more people and drive up traffic without spending more money than you can afford.
If you’re going to devote a portion of your marketing budget to Google PPC, you want to make sure you get the most out of it.
1. Find the Best, Most Relevant Keywords.
When you buy a billboard or create a TV commercial, you’re hoping that people will care about your message as they encounter it when going about their day. But when you use Google PPC, you can make sure your ad shows up right when people search for something your ad provides.
Google Ads uses a bidding model, which means that how much you spend for each click you get depends on how competitive the keyword you choose is. If you stick with broad, popular terms in your campaigns, you risk spending a lot of money for less qualified traffic. When you choose more relevant keywords that directly relate to the web pages you’re promoting, you’ll get better leads that are more likely to convert while spending less.
One of the most important parts of Google PPC is therefore doing keyword research to better understand:
- The keywords people are most commonly using
- How popular specific keywords are
- How competitive each keyword is
There are a number of keyword research tools you can invest in that will provide you with suggested keywords related to your industry and products and supply detailed information on the popularity and competitiveness of each term.
But even if you’d rather not spend money on an outside keyword research tool, Google provides a free one as part of Google Ads. You can find Google’s Keyword Planner under the Tools section of the Google Ads menu. It will show you the average monthly searches for relevant keywords and the typical costs associated with bidding for those keywords.
Try to find the keywords that have a high relevance and a decent number of searches, without having too high of a cost. And over time, pay attention to how well your highest-priced keywords convert so you don’t throw money at terms that aren’t making you money.
2. Define Your Main Target Audience.
This is a good practice for marketing in general, but definitely comes into play with PPC marketing specifically. To make sure you’re using the language your prospects are and writing ads they’ll respond to, you need to understand who you’re talking to.
If you haven’t yet, develop a buyer persona to help you get into the head of the type of customer you most want to reach. Think about that target customer when creating your campaigns – from choosing the right keywords to selecting the best visual design to crafting the perfect CTA, all of it should be for your specific target audience.
And, as we’ll discuss more in a bit, this step is crucial for getting the most out of Google Ads’ targeting options.
3. Use Small, Focused Ad Groups.
When you’re creating a campaign in Google Ads, you’ll be able to divide it into ad groups. In each group, you can include related keywords, ad text, and landing pages. You want to make sure that all the components in each ad group are relevant to each other – all keywords make sense with all the ads, which make sense with all the landing pages.
You’ll have an easier time organizing your PPC strategy if you keep your ad groups specific and small. And keeping your ad groups focused also leads to improved quality scores, which reduces your spending over time.
4. Don’t Forget Negative Keywords.
As important as finding the right keywords is, identifying and excluding the wrong ones can be just as valuable.
A website that sells herbal teas won’t want to show up for people who are searching for the Texas Education Agency (TEA) or for people who are looking for black tea (which isn’t herbal). They can improve results by adding those terms to their negative keywords list so they’re less likely to show up in results for anyone searching for tea-related terms that isn’t actually looking for what they sell.
5. Use CTAs In Your Ads.
You don’t just want people to see your ads, you want them to take action (specifically, the action of clicking on the link). You can increase the chances of them doing so by outright asking them.
While you don’t have a whole lot of space to work with in a Google PPC ad, use some of the space you have to include calls to action like:
- Click here
- Learn more
- Buy now
- Sign up today
- Get started
Those are just a few examples, but hopefully you get the idea. Instead of just describing why people should click (which should also be part of your ad), go ahead and outright tell them to do it.
6. Create Strong Landing Pages.
Getting someone to click is important, but your job doesn’t end there. Every web page on your website should have its own goal. Maybe the goal is to develop goodwill with the visitor by providing them content they can benefit from, or maybe it’s to get them to make a purchase or download a guide.
Whatever it is, you want to make sure that your landing page is designed to accomplish that particular goal. If you’re selling a product, it should be focused on touting the benefits of that specific product and have a clear CTA to buy on the page, for example.
Just as importantly, you want to make sure that every ad links to a web page that’s relevant to the ad. You don’t want your ad selling something that the visitor doesn’t see when they click through. Make sure the web page delivers on any promise you make in the ad itself.
7. Reach the Right People With Targeting Options.
Google Ads provides a few options for limiting who sees your ads. Since you pay based on clicks, this is a valuable tool for:
- Increasing your clicks, and by extension your Quality Score. Since your ads are more likely to show up for people that will be interested in your website, they’re more likely to click through.
- Increasing your conversions. Clicks from people likely to buy are always better than clicks from someone who’s not in your target audience.
Other than the keyword targeting already discussed, Google offers five additional targeting options:
- Geographic targeting – If your business doesn’t sell internationally, then you want to make sure your ads only show up in the geographic areas where you do sell. That’s especially true for any local businesses with a limited geographic range – if you only sell to people in Chicago, you don’t want to pay for clicks in New York.
- Interest targeting – Google has a lot of data on how people browse the web and what they’re interested in. You can tap into this data by targeting your ads to people who like the kinds of things that suggest they’re in your target audience. Someone who does a lot of research on B2B tech is a good target for ads about accounting software, someone really into fashion is likely to respond to an ad about stylish boots, etc.
- Device targeting – People often interact with ads differently on their mobile devices than on a desktop. As such, you can design ads that are more relevant or useful to someone browsing on their phone or on their computer and make sure they show up on the right kind of device.
- Demographic targeting – You can target your ads based on gender and age range. If your products are much more likely to be popular with teens than older adults, limiting your ads to just teenage browsers will reduce the number if irrelevant impressions and clicks.
- Behavior targeting – This takes a few forms. You can target your ads to people on the verge of experiencing big life events, like a graduation or a move. You can target based on intent, such as when someone’s actively researching new products. And you can target ads at people who have already visited your site or otherwise interacted with your brand, such as your email subscribers.
All of these targeting options give you more control over who will see your ads when, so you can better achieve the marketing goal of reaching the right person at the right moment with your ad.
8. Be Strategic With Ad Extensions.
Ad extensions are a way for you to provide some additional useful information to your ad in a way that stands out. There are a number of different possible extensions, but some of the common options to consider are:
- Sitelink extensions – You can include additional links in your ad to other pages on your website beyond the main link.
- Location extensions – Especially useful for local businesses, you can add your address to an ad.
- Call extensions – This adds your phone number to your ad.
- App extensions – If you offer an app, this can add a download button to your ad on mobile devices.
- Callout extensions – You can add a few relevant details that you think are big selling points, such as “Free Shipping” or “Family Owned”
- Price extensions – Just like it sounds, you can include a product price directly in your ad.
- Promotion extensions – These include the details of a deal you’re offering.
You don’t want to overdo it on extensions and risk having them become a distraction from the main goal of the ad – getting people to click. But use them strategically when they add something valuable as a way to increase clicks and conversions.
9. Perform A/B Testing.
No matter how smart you are, you can’t possibly know exactly what your audience will respond to on the first try. And reading up on best practices from other brands will only tell you what worked for them. You need to know what works for you and your audience.
The best tool you have for doing that is to do A/B testing with your ads. Try out ads for the same link that have slightly different wording, or a different CTA, or that use a different extension.
Pay attention to what happens. If using a call extension means you get more calls than you did when directing people to a page that highlights your phone number, that’s valuable information. If you get more clicks from a “Learn more” CTA than a “Click here” one, then that tells you something about what works for your audience.
Create a lot of mini tests in your ad campaigns to gain little bits of data over time that help you create increasingly effective PPC campaigns.
10. Monitor and Update Your Campaigns Regularly.
Your testing only matters if you use it to gain insights that you put to work.
Google provides valuable PPC metrics that you can use to learn what techniques work best for your audience. Take time to review that data and learn from it. Refine your campaigns as you go based on what you’ve learned.
If you use the data to guide your campaigns, you will see better results over time. If you don’t have the time to do this step yourself, it’s likely worth hiring a professional to do so, because it really does make a big difference in the results you’ll see.
PPC can be powerful if you take time to learn the ropes and do it well. Start by learning the general best practices outlined here, but continue by learning from the data you glean from your own campaigns. With every new ad, you can learn and improve to ensure doing Google PPC brings you a strong ROI.
For help implementing these best practices into action for your website, contact HostGator’s expert PPC team.
Kristen Hicks is an Austin-based freelance content writer and lifelong learner with an ongoing curiosity to learn new things. She uses that curiosity, combined with her experience as a freelance business owner, to write about subjects valuable to small business owners on the HostGator blog. You can find her on Twitter at @atxcopywriter.