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How Much Money are You Wasting on Low Quality Google Ads Keywords?

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Neglecting to optimize your keyword list will result in your campaigns running inefficiently and spending the budget on unrelated and wasteful clicks. How do you stop this flow of unnecessary expenditures? The internet is full of articles, videos and tools to help you build a PPC keyword list…but then what? A keyword list is not a once and done exercise. The easiest way to lose money on PPC advertising is a “set it and forget it” approach. Success takes constant refinements and adjustments. You should be continually looking at adding new terms to your list, blocking unrelated or unwanted phrases, and hitting pause on the underperforming expressions on your list. Read on to learn about the process of keyword list maintenance and how your bank or credit union can immediately see its positive impact.

Add new keywords

New Keywords

Why do I need to keep looking for new keywords?
Building that initial keyword list for a campaign takes a lot of time, research, and planning. But no matter how comprehensive the list, almost immediately users will have queries, phrases, or terms you missed. Reviewing the Search Terms Report is a great place to hunt for new keywords. Continuously updating your keyword list with new records keeps it relevant and topical to the customer’s needs.

How often should I look for new keywords?
A weekly review of the Search Terms Report should be enough in most cases. The purpose of a regular review is to keep the time required to a minimum. If the review happens on a monthly schedule instead, the number of search queries could make the task too time consuming and complex.

Review each ad group individually. Focus on finding keywords that are applicable specifically to that ad group. If you see a large volume of queries for another subject, that may be a contender for creating a new ad group. As an example, you are finding a lot of “first time home buyer” related search queries in your “mortgage” ad group. It could be beneficial to create a new ad group with customized and pointed ad copy focused on “first time home buyers.” This distinction allows you to tailor the ad copy to the specific user queries and makes the ad more relevant.

How do I find new keywords?
The first step to finding new keywords is to review the Search Terms Report in Google Ads. Use these instructions to help locate it.

  • In Google Ads from the page menu on the left, click the search campaign, followed by the ad group you want to focus on.
  • Then click “Keywords” followed by “Search Terms”
  • Use the date picker in the top right corner to select the dates you want to concentrate on.
  • Check the boxes next to the search terms that you would like to add as keywords, then click “Add as keyword.”
  • Click “Save”

Sometimes things like geographic location open new possibilities because of local dialect. (Think soda vs pop vs coke, or hoagie vs sub). Do not be afraid to add anything you think might have value to your campaign. Adding new keywords does not cost anything and if the term does not perform well, you can always pause it down the road.

Another method is to take your top performing keywords and start to type them into the Google search bar. As you start typing Google, it will list related suggestions based on users search queries. This can be a fantastic way to find long tail keywords you might have missed during your initial planning phase.

Remove negative keywords

Negative Keywords

What is the purpose of negative keywords?
The purpose of a negative keyword is to block unwanted search results. In Google Ads, it costs money when someone clicks on your ad, even if that user was not looking for your product or service. The cost of these errant clicks can add up quickly when you consider the price for popular keywords can easily be over $40 per click. A robust negative keyword list results in a more targeted and relevant campaign. When your ad is more closely related to a user’s query, they are more likely to click on it. This results in a higher click though rate, higher ad quality score, and ultimately a lower cost per click. Spending less on low quality clicks means you have more to spend on high quality clicks which should result in greater success.

How often should I be looking for negative keywords?
You can start your pursuit for negative keywords within days of launching your ads. As soon as an ad has impressions you can view the search query the user entered to trigger the ad in the Search Terms Report. As your negative keyword list grows over time the ads will become increasingly more relevant. This results in fewer phrases being added to the negative keyword list saving you even more time and money.

How do I identify potential negative keywords?
To find negative keywords, review the Search Terms Report in Google ads. Follow the instructions from above to find the Search Terms Report in the Google Ads interface. Once you identify a negative keyword follow these instructions:

  • Check the boxes next to the search terms that you would like to add as negative keywords, then click “Add as negative keyword.”
  • From here, you can add negative keywords to an ad group or campaign.
    • If you set negative keywords at the campaign level, it applies to all ads in that campaign.
    • If you add negative keywords to the ad group, it will apply only to the ad group.
  • Click “Save”

The phrasePPP Loan is a prime example of a negative keyword that is relevant to most banks and financial institutions. The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) ended on May 31, 2021. But as of August 2022, “PPP Loan” still had a monthly search volume over 820,000! If a user clicks on your ad after one of these queries, you are going to be paying for a click on a product you can no longer offer to your customer. Competitors brand name, locations outside your target market, and terms like “free” are also good options to consider adding to a negative keyword list.

Evaluate your keywords

Underperforming Keywords

How long should my keyword list be?
Only as long as it needs to be. There is no correct number. Variables such as the topic, target market, budget and competitiveness all have an influence. The important thing is to only maintain the keywords that are generating results for your campaign. An excessively long keyword list is time intensive to maintain and will spread your budget too thin. Underperforming keywords can cannibalize the results of your top keywords. Remember the Pareto Principle states that 20% of your activities will account for 80% of your results. Focus your efforts on the 20% of your list that is creating results and let the rest go.

How often should I evaluate keyword performance?
A detailed keyword performance analysis can be completed less frequently compared to weekly keyword review. It is important to wait until your campaigns have accumulated enough data to analyze. The more data you collect the better your decisions can be. In most cases a keyword performance analysis can be completed every 3 or 4 months.

How do I find underperforming keywords?
The first thing to do is define what makes your campaign successful and what makes a keyword considered “underperforming.”  Below are few ways to define your campaign’s goal.

  • Brand Awareness –If a keyword is generating a lot of Impressions, then a lot of people see it and you are generating good brand awareness. Review your keywords and pause any that received limited or no impressions over the set timeline.
  • Traffic – Clicks and Click-Through-Rate (CTR) are useful metrics to measure a successful traffic focused campaign. If during the review process, you find a keyword without clicks it could be a prime candidate to pause.
  • LeadsConversions indicate a successful lead focused campaign. If you find a keyword with impressions and clicks but no conversions this might be keyword to consider pausing.

Note: Always pause keywords. Do not remove them. By pausing the keywords, you can use them again later or as a record of the keywords you have already tried.

If you believe a keyword should be performing better and you are not ready to give up on it consider increasing the budget, reviewing the quality score, and simply give it more time. Each of these items could have an impact on the keyword’s performance.

  • Increase the bid – Even the best keywords will not return superior results if the bid price is not competitive enough to achieve favorable ad position. Considering position one of the Google SERP receives almost 40% of the clicks, while position three only returns 10% of clicks, position matter. Make sure your keywords are getting enough resources to succeed.
  • Review the Quality Score – Google uses three factors to determine the Quality Score; expected clickthrough rate (CTR), ad relevance, and landing page experience. Each of these factors is given a grade (Above average, Average, or Below average) and the result is a score out of ten. Evaluate where your keywords need a boost, make the necessary change, and reevaluate it again after a few months.
  • Give it more time: If the keyword is not costing the campaign a lot of money with expensive clicks there is no harm in letting the keyword run for a while longer. Review the keyword in the future and determine if it is worth keeping around or if it is time to move on.

Building your initial keyword list can be time intensive and laborious, though critical task to the success of every campaign. The good news is that maintaining your keyword list is a much quicker and simpler process. The key to success is to complete these tasks on a regular schedule. Never allowing the work to become overwhelming. With time and diligent effort, your PPC account will become easier to manage. The result is a more efficient use of your time and budget because of more relevant and compelling ads.

Are you interested in running a more efficient and cost effective PPC campaign? Contact BankBound, a digital marketing agency focused on the financial services industry. The expert team at BankBound can support or lead your financial brand’s PPC efforts with years of experience.