How are Your Best Practices Holding Up In 2019?

Change. Change is good. Change is inevitable. Change is change. I think it’s funny how even though it’s a completely normal facet of life it can sneak up on the best of us. Lately, I’ve been reconsidering some of my best practices. Trying to take a step back and consider “is this still the best?” Today I’ll share how my experience and views have changed since I started PPC last year.

Google’s New ETA Format Is A Game Changer

When the new ETA format was announced, I was pumped. I am a chronic over-explainer and was thrilled to have more character limits and space to stretch my verbal wings. My best practice at the time was to take up as much SERP real estate as possible with jam-packed ads, extensions for days, and trying to provide as much information as possible.

When you use your full character limits there’s potential for headlines to look bulky. In most instances, Google will only use Headline 1 and Headline 2 – Another good reason to keep style and variation in mind!

What I’ve learned since taking a step back from this overwhelming approach is that some audiences find these ads bulky and intimidating. For me, it goes back to “know your audience”. I wasn’t paying close enough attention to my audience’s needs and intentions with their searches. I also was not taking into consideration that the 3 headline 2 description format does not transfer well to mobile – which of course is my audience’s primary device method. So yes, Google’s ETA format is a game changer. Just not in the way I expected.

Impression Share Matters

This is something that I know, but I wasn’t fully appreciating. A pitfall for me since starting my PPC journey has been a focus and obsession on increasing conversions. I was standing too close to my accounts and getting too granular with the best practice of focusing almost solely on keyword and ad optimization to capture more conversions.

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Getting too far into the weeds and my own accounts were keeping me from taking a step back to look at the overall market. I was embarrassed to have the simple epiphany that if you own the market, you’ll own the conversions. Having the best ad doesn’t matter if no one can see it. Remembering to check in on competitor research, keyword research, expansion, and even looking away from your normal platforms in favor of branching into social or areas where your competitors aren’t showing whatsoever can be essential. It’s easy to get complacent when things are going well. Or, if things aren’t going well, it’s easy to feel stuck. The challenge is thinking outside of the box while sticking close to your goals and brand. Tapping into the topics adjacent to your brand is risky, but a great way to boost awareness and widen your funnel.

Risk Reaps Reward

I was really intimidated by bidding. Honestly, I still am, but I’m having more fun with it now. My common practice at the beginning of my tenure was to get meticulous with my bids and remain steadfast with my budgets. In 2019, I’m trusting my budget pacing doc more and being more fluid with my bids and budgets. Again, if my ads aren’t showing then what’s the point? Taking more risks with my bidding while analyzing and optimizing the traffic that comes through is helping me streamline my keywords to fit my audience better and reach more people. One tactic that has been useful to me is slowly bumping Max CPC and Max CPA goals up gradually on high volume ad groups. There’s the risk of paying more than I want to for a conversion, but I’m seeing that in some cases the CPA goes down because traffic gets flooded. With enough traffic, the averages will indefinitely be diluted. Math!

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Segmenting Ad Groups by Match Type

Oh man, I was so on board this train. I vehemently felt that segmenting ad groups by keyword match type was the most logical and orderly way to format my campaigns. I liked being able to have some modicum of control over the traffic coming through for my keywords even if it meant having double the amount of ad groups.

Then Exact Match moved to its latest iteration of…intent match. Don’t get me wrong, I do like it, but it’s changed my perspective on this segment style. Simplifying to mixed match type ad groups and manipulating traffic with bids has helped me optimize my campaigns and make Google quit telling me how utterly redundant my keywords are. Obviously, segmenting ad groups by match type is still a perfectly fine approach to campaign management. For me, it falls into the “it depends” category. There’s a difference between “best” and “common” practices. Ad group segmentation falls into common practices at Hanapin. To all the coworkers who I was secretly judging for not segmenting, I’m sorry.

Final Thoughts

Sometimes you’re your own problem. I knew I needed to quit being so close to my best practices when I found myself being frustrated like an old curmudgeon that things aren’t like they used to be. One of my new best practices is to take time out each quarter and play devil’s advocate. I want to ask myself “is this really the best way?”, “what aren’t you seeing?”, “what if?”, and “where can we go from here?”


How did your PPC practices change over the last year? Reach out and let me know on Twitter

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