In Part I of this blog series, I introduced you to ways you can avoid having AdWords turn into a “money pit”. It start with having a good plan for monitoring your campaign budget, ad group budget, keyword bids and tracking performance. If you have not yet read Part I, go back to the post so you can learn some of the basics. That post also references articles about tracking conversions. Once you have those basics down, you’re ready to learn about advanced bidding,
I view bid strategies as an advanced option only because you want to become familiar with basic bidding in AdWords first. AdWords needs some performance data before it can determine the best strategy for your account. Consider applying a bid strategy only after you have been collecting conversions for at least a month. AdWords needs this history to optimize your account.
Options for bidding are found in the Settings tab of your AdWords campaigns under Bid strategy. Although there are several options for your bid strategy, I recommend starting with Manual CPC bids where you set a hard number that you do not want to go over. If your Manual CPC is $5.00, Google will charge you $5.00 or less for a click so it offers a lot of control to the advertiser.
Once you become more comfortable with bidding in AdWords, then you can experiment with the different bid strategies seen below.
Enhanced CPC is the easiest once you have collected data with a Manual strategy. It does permit you to maintain manual bidding control but has the potential to increase conversions with real time changes as determined by Google whenever your ad is eligible for the AdWords auction.
With CPA bids, you decide what you want to pay for an acquisition. This is one advertisers cannot use when they are new to AdWords because it uses historical data. You need to first have 15 or more conversions over a month before you can use this method. I recommend waiting even longer because there could be seasonal fluctuations to account for. The number of conversions for retailers will be very different over Christmas than early January.
Target ROAS and Target CPA are the two strategies where you are essentially giving full control to the system. Although you can still set maximum bid amounts, Google encourages you not to do so because it can have an effect on the system learning.
Target search page location and Target outranking share are helpful when you hear: “I want to be number one on Google.” With this strategy, you can bid to be in the top bid slot or at least being on the first page. Note though that this is not guaranteed. If there are a lot of competitors, and you have a poor quality score, your ad is not going to rank well in any method. This is best used when you have tweaked your campaign to perform well and want to maintain that status. I have seen some incredible results on accounts using this strategy.
The second option of Target outranking share allows you to set your bid to outrank your primary AdWords competitor. With this strategy, you are setting bids with the goal of outranking another domain. This is a strategy that can work well with competitors of a similar status. For example, if you have a small brick and mortar with a single location, you probably cannot compete with a global company on AdWords. Your ability to truly outrank competitors is impacted by features mentioned earlier: quality score, bid, and ad rank.
To recap, the primary steps to manage your PPC campaigns are:
- Decide your bid picture spend which are your campaigns.
- Set bids by ad group and keywords.
- Adjust bids based on conversions.
- Experiment with bid strategies.
I strongly encourage you to try bid strategies once you are familiar with AdWords. You will very likely have good results once you narrow down which strategy works well for your business. An added benefit is less time managing your account manually when AdWords is doing some of the work for you.