6 AdWords PPC Hacks You Need To Know

6 AdWords PPC Hacks You Need To Know

3rd August 2016

Almost everyone is doing AdWords, but not everyone is doing it well. With these hacks you’ll be able to take your campaigns to the next level:


Save money and boost your Quality Score by blocking searchers who have already made an enquiry

Comparison shopping is now an automatic consumer behaviour. We search, we find a site and make an enquiry, and then we search again to make more enquiries until we have scouted the market and found our best option.

For example someone buying a house might search online for conveyancing solicitors by searching, submitting an enquiry, and then searching again and going to a different website and submitting another enquiry.


In the process of doing this, often a PPC ad for the website that the user has just submitted on enquiry on will appear again in the paid search results for their next searches. This has a negative effect on this advertiser for two reasons:

  1. If the searcher doesn’t click the PPC ad again because they realise they have already enquired on that site, the advertiser is having their impressions inflated without any additional clicks. This will create a lower click through rate and creates a risk of a lower Quality Score. A lower Quality Score ultimately means the advertiser is likely to have to pay more per click.
  2. If the user does click the ad because they have forgotten they have already enquired on the site, the advertiser has wasted the cost of a click which will ultimately be detrimental to their conversion rate and cost per conversions (CPA).

Whatever way you look at this, it isn’t an ideal situation for any advertiser to be in!

The solution is to use Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSAs) to exclude people who have just submitted your enquiry form.

If you’re new to RLSAs you can find out more about them here.

To set this solution up the basic steps are:

  1. Update your Privacy Policy to include details of the remarketing cookies you’re using (http://bit.ly/29ixmsH)
  2. Activate your remarketing tag in Google Analytics (if you haven’t already):
  3. SOD2Create your RLSA list of people who viewed the ‘Thank You’ page after they filled in the enquiry form on your website:
  4. Set the list duration on your RLSA list to however long you want to block this audience from seeing your ads, and also consider than an RLSA list needs at least 1,000 members in order to run (unlike traditional display remarketing which only needs 100), so you’ll need to make your list duration long enough to collect 1,000 members (consider how long it takes you to receive 1,000 enquiries)
  5. Apply the list as a negative audience (excluded audience) to the campaign or ad group that you want to stop triggering your ads:

Change your budgets so that you have the highest ad spend on the highest converting days of the week

AdWords campaign budgets are set daily, but not all days convert equally. For example a retailer like ASOS might find that they experience more transactions on a Thursday than on a Monday.

Using AdWords Automated Rules you can schedule changes to your daily budgets so that you have a higher ad spend on the highest revenue and conversion rate days of the week, and a lower budget on lower conversion rate or conversion value days of the week.

Here are the steps to implement this hack:

  1. Analyse your conversion value (revenue) or conversion rate by the day of the week within the Dimensions tab of your AdWords account. Use a date range of at least one year if possible so that you have enough data to spot trends and make an informed decision:
  2. Use this data to plan your budget increases for each day of the week and work out at which points the budget needs to increase and decrease again and by how much. Keep in mind that Google can spend up to 20% more or less than the daily budget you set on any particular day, as long as the total spend for the month (daily spend x 30.4) evens out. As you are increasing and decreasing budgets regularly you may find that Google struggle to normalise the spend over the month and so you should account for slight increases of up to 20% each day
  3. Create the Automated Rules to make the budget changes (the exact steps for doing this depend on what days you have planned spend increases and decreases, but an example of an automated rule changing the budget can be seen below:
    state of digital change budget
  4. Remember to set up the reverse rule to decrease budgets after you have increased them, as they won’t automatically reduce back down

Proactively add negative keywords

You’re probably already reviewing your Search Query Report regularly to discover negative keywords. That’s great, but it’s not enough.

Your search query report has a little line at the bottom of it which is called ‘other’. You’ll notice that this line has a LOT of impressions and clicks compared to all the other search queries. That’s because Google collate some of the search queries into one row. In my experience, this can be up to 9% of the entire accounts clicks.

To start going the extra mile with your negative keyword application you need to be proactive, for example:

  • Add as many of your negative keywords as possible single broad match words. For example if you spot ‘sunglasses case’ in your search query report, and both the words sunglasses and case are irrelevant, then add each word ‘sunglasses’ and ‘case’ on its own as its own as broad match keywords, rather than adding ‘sunglasses case’.
  • Add similar words, similes and metaphors of the negative keywords you discover. For example if you see ‘red shoes’ in your search query report and it’s not relevant to your products, add all the other colours that aren’t relevant at the same time rather than waiting for them to appear in your search query report.
  • Add a list of countries that aren’t relevant to your product or service
  • Schedule your search query report to be emailed to you daily or weekly so you can be prompted to look through it even if you forget

Use extended ad headlines to their full potential

Extended ad headlines are now available in the wild! Have a look in your accounts as they should no longer be in BETA.

To take advantage of them you should create longer ad headline ads as soon as possible so that you can benefit from the competitive advantage of being some of the first advertisers to use them.

Test out these new longer headlines whilst still keeping your existing ads running to make sure that they work well before you completely turn your old ads off. All old ads will be retired on the 26th of October 2016 so make sure you do this before then.

To differentiate your headline try testing an emotive headline as well as a keyword focused headline. For example if you search for holidays you’ll notice that many of the ads focus on prices but the most eye catching ones are those which use some descriptive language, for example ‘snap up a late deal today’:


Don’t fall for Google’s default location targeting settings

Under the settings tab you’ll see a little section which says ‘location options (advanced)’ which you need to expand in order to view.

Sneakily, this is where Google hide one of the most influential location targeting settings (rather than putting it under the ‘Locations’ setting tab where you would think it would be).


Make sure this setting is changed to ‘people in my target location’ rather than the default setting of ‘people in, searching for, or who show interest in my target location (recommended)’. It’s definitely not recommended by anyone except Google! If your campaigns have been running on this default setting I advise you to take a look in the Dimensions tab under ‘user locations’ and take a look at some of the random locations your ads have been triggered. For some reason in almost all the accounts I’ve seen this happen on this report includes Afghanistan.  Maybe there’s just a lot of search demand in Afghanistan for hotels in the New Forest in Hampshire UK. Or maybe something weird is happening with Google’s location targeting.

Combine Dynamic Search Ads (DSAs) with Remarketing Lists for Search Ads to keep DSAs under control

If you’re new to Dynamic Search Ads (DSAs) you can learn more about them here.

If you’re using Dynamic Search Ads (DSAs) you may have noticed that they can sometimes be a little unruly and run away with your budget if they aren’t filtered and targeted well, and even then they are still a liability depending on the content of your site.

Create your DSA campaign as normal, but apply an RLSA list of anyone who has previously visited your site but not converted. You’ll need to apply this list with a Target and Bid setting (rather than Bid Only) so that the DSAs only run if the person searching is on your remarketing list.

You should also try a second version of the DSA campaign which has a target and Bid remarketing list of only people who have already purchased from you. This will allow you to test which audiences convert best on DSAs, returning customers or new customers. You can then allocate your budget accordingly.

Hopefully these tips will help you get even better results from your AdWords campaigns. Give them a try and comment below if you have any other handy tips you’d like to share.

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