• Few tips on optimizing your PPC for outstanding ROI in e-commerce

    Several wise PPC tactics to boost your advertising campaigns performance on Google Ads

    In this article I am going to show you how I have optimized my e-commerce client’s account for outstanding Return On Investments.

    This content also includes a lot of:

    • Best practice and examples from various industries
    • Reasonable tips and recommendations
    • Advanced paid search tactics
    • Lots more

    So, if your business accepts payments on the website and you are looking forward to transforming your PPC campaign into a real flow of relevant traffic, along with a source of revenue, you are going to like this post.

    Let’s get started right away.

    Does E-commerce need to leverage paid search?

    Yes. PPC serves to establish the flow of potential customers to your website fast, and this approach is highly customizable.

    In fact, up to 60% of success in digital marketing contributes to the content and UX of the landing page. However, even the best website is not able to convert all its traffic into customers, especially if the traffic is irrelevant to the offering.

    Isn’t that sad? But it happens all the time.

    That is double sad when the irrelevant traffic is acquired on a paid basis. So, any digital marketing needs to make sure that he or she bids for the right clicks.

    The million-dollar case

    The largest multinational transfer-hailing startup, which offers transfer bookings and chauffeured car rentals contacted me to improve its paid search performance back in 2019. By using the following approaches and hints I have lifted my client’s average ROI to an incredible level by improving the conversion rate up to 25% and generating over three million dollars of revenue.

    Google Analytics Screenshot by AP
    Major PPC performance indicators in Google Analytics. Check the CPC rates

    Yes. And the average CPA was less than $15.

    This is what I advise you to do to get the same result in less than 3 months.

    Make intent-based keywords to be your top priority

    There are a lot of things people are searching online. The average search quire works for awareness purposes mostly, and less than a few requests are really able lead to a purchase today.

    Google search suggestions
    Only few search quires have buying intents

    So, if you are in a helicopter selling business why to pay for all that traffic, which has a helicopter in their mind?

    Stay focused on keywords that lead to a deal. In most cases, those queries are intent-based. In other words, use keywords with actions that are relevant to your business, such as “buy”, “for sale”, “rent”, “hire”, “get”, etc.

    There are two methods I used to identify some keywords that worked fine on my website.

    1. Run a test PPC campaign in a popular but limited location for a few weeks to generate enough e-commerce transactions. Search Terms report on Google Ads will reveille a list of keywords with the highest conversion rate.
    2. Check your competitor’s ad copies, along with their website. Their headlines and headers can tell you a lot.

    Search Engine Result Page
    Furniture ad as a sample

    Hence, bid effectively by paying more for 100% relevant intent-based search terms and less for generic keywords.

    Use GEO if the location makes sense for your business

    A lot of e-commerce websites extremely rely on geography. I am not going to advise you to limit your PPC to a particular location. What important is to include the GEO in your keywords and ad copies. People who are looking for a product in a particular location are more likely to buy right away.


    Geography match adds relevancy to your ad. Nowadays distance is still very important. Consumers are more likely to buy stuff from online store next door just to get the package faster.

    That is why do not hesitate to create several ad groups with GEO included in the keywords and headers of your ads.

    I did it this way: “Keyword with intent” +GEO.

    Search Engine Result Page - Rent a Car in Santa Anna
    Car rental in Santa Anna as a sample of GEO matching

    Leverage modifier broad match instead of broad match

    Forget about broad match if the awareness is not an option. Your online store or service needs customers, not visitors. Broad match keywords always bring a lot of junk. For instance, your flower shop ad can be shown to people who look for trees or seeds.

    What to do if you really need to get as many high-quality clicks as possible?

    Modified broad match (+one_keywor +another_keyword) is a good option. This method requests the words that are preceded by a (+) sign to appear in the user’s keyword phrase exactly or as a close variation. This feature is designed to drive more traffic than “phrase” or [exact match], and attract more qualified traffic than broad match.

    This is my favorite approach to creating keywords: +PRODUCT_OR_SERVICE +INTENT +GEO

    As an example, to get more good-quality traffic for a tire shop in LA, I used +tires +buy +los +angeles as the main keyword.

    Screenshot - Google Ads campaign result for vans rental
    The effectiveness of Modified broad match in action

    Filter the traffic with negative keywords

    Negative keywords save your budget. Even extremely well-targeted paid search camping delivers several irrelevant visitors to the website.

    First of all, before launching the campaign come up with a list of keywords that are completely irrelevant and detrimental to your business. Here are the most popular negative keywords for the e-commerce industry: cheap, free, review, how much is, torrent, craigslist, examples, open source, rating, spyware, share, hack, charity, donation …

    Second, make sure to observe all the search terms of your campaign every week and generate negative keywords based on that.

    If your product or service is location-based, please, use a list of negative places as well. Very often people in your region look for things in other countries.

    A few months ago, when I acquired traffic for my client in the UK, I faced a lot of queries with the irrelevant locations I cannot control with Locations Settings, such as “book a taxi in Bangalore”, “rent a car with driver in Islamabad”, and even “bus for hire in Somali”. Those people were in the UK but interested in other locations, yet basic campaign settings are not able to filter such requests effectively. That is why I formed a list of negative places and used it as keywords exemptions.

    Since some requests cannot be served, do not pay for those clicks.

    Bad ad sample: hiking trips for the irrelevant location
    Another example: ads appear for an irrelevant search query

    Last but not least, exclude all services or functionality, which cannot be delivered by your business and products.

    Apply audience exclusions

    Stop bidding on the wrong audience. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who are less likely to afford your products or services. They can demonstrate their intent with a certain keyword, but never going to complete a transaction because of their low income, age or different priorities in a given period of life.

    At the campaign level in Google Ads you can bid less or exclude traffic based on demographic criteria. In addition to that, do not hesitate to enjoy the advantages of audience exclusion. Check Google’s audience list on Google Ads and find out the most irrelevant one.

    In my case, I stopped showing my ad to those who were in the employment market and this increased my conversion rate by 31.2%.

    Screenshot - Audience exclusion settings
    Bid smart. Exclude the irrelevant audiences

    Hereby, keep in mind some segments, which are less qualify for purchasing your products and feel no doubts to exclude them from your paid search.

    Do not limit your campaign to a particular language

    Some of us there born in California, some of us came from Spain, others might be borne in Germany or China. So we might use browsers, along with OS, with the interface different language but still look for particular products or services in the language of your website. Why exclude us?

    Campaign level Language Settings on Google Ads restrict where your ads can appear based on the user’s language settings and the language of Google’s site. Thereby, if my browser is in Russian and I really need to buy luxury watches online in California, some ads might not be shown because of the language restriction. This is how some businesses are filtering out valuable buyers.

    Screenshot - Language limitation settings
    Do not limit your PPC campaign to a particular language if you use a specific list of keywords in English

    Run Experiments on Google Ads

    Campaign drafts and experiments in Google Ads allow you to easily control and monitor a change without fully launching it across the whole campaign. You can also send traffic to a different version of the landing page with it (beneficial for some specialists when there is no control over the website).

    Start testing various landing pages and ad campaign settings with the ongoing experiments. If the experiment delivers any result, like conversions and purchases, keep it running.

    In my case I use the experiment to send ½ of traffic to an alternative version of the landing page, moreover, I implemented a few filters at the campaign level to exclude teenagers and infants. This experiment performed well in December but demonstrated worse results later in January. That is why I decided to let both campaigns running at the same time.

    Increase CTR by including all keywords in ad headers

    This tip is the essential one, however, only fewer marketers follow it.

    This tip is the essential one, however, only fewer marketers follow it. There are 3 headers in the standard ad on Google and the responsive one comes with 15 headlines. Always make sure to include every major keyword in a particular ad group there. Accompany it with an action verb.

    For instance, when I search for “buy a house in California”, I would like to see the same title in search results. The valuable offer with a suitable call to action motivates me to click on the ad. What about you?

    That is hard to provide all options of keywords, isn’t it?

    For those cases PPC experts use Keyword insertion — an advanced Google Ads feature that dynamically updates your ad text to include one of your keywords that matches a customer’s search terms.

    Here is a brief instruction on how to use Keyword insertion effectively.

    When creating an ad, input {keyword:taxi from airport} in the headline 1 to let it be equal to the search term. In case the search term is longer than 30 characters, the ad will show “taxi from airport” instead.

    Use {Keyword:Taxi from airport} if you want your headline to be in sentence case (Only the first letter of the first keyword will be capitalized).

    {KeyWord:Taxi From Airport} to capitalized the first letter of all keywords.

    The best practice is to use Keyword insertion in the first headline and only ones. Though, there are no restrictions.

    I usually combine keyword insertion with several superiority words. Although, it depends on the case.

    Samples of Keyword insertion:

    • Best {Keyword Insertion}
    • Finest {Keyword Insertion}
    • Outstanding {Keyword Insertion}

    Always include CTA in your ad description

    As I have demonstrated above, it is critical for an ad to have a CTA to be optimized for a better click-through rate. It seems like this is another essential advice that Google gives, but a lot of businesses do not follow it too. The majority of CTAs serve as a hint for an audience on what to do next. For instance, “Book now!” indicates that you need to visit the website to make a booking, “Buy now” — to purchase an item.

    The real question I had was how to make CTA support my purposes better.

    In my present practice instead of using fed up “Book now”, “Get the quote”, and “Sing up for a free demo”, I put inside the description “book today till it is still available”, “buy now to get it tomorrow”, “Schedule a demo. It won’t be free soon”.

    Such an approach has helped me to increase the overall CTR of my campaign, together with the conversion rate.

    Make your ad looks better with the extensions

    Apply all ad extensions which are possible. It will increase the CTR of your ad and also add extra value to your offer.

    Ad extensions also affect the quality rate of your ad, moreover, more space on SERP is dedicated to your ad if it comes with sitelinks, callouts, and structured snippets. Promotional extensions also work well.

    Nevertheless, app and call extensions improve your ad performance on mobile devices.

    Screenshot - Search results for Repair a house in San Diego
    The example of ad extensions in use. There are sitelinks and location here

    Start demonstrating the variety of services or products that you have. Implement all the extensions relevant to your business.

    Do not forget about remarketing

    Some potential customers left your website without performing the desirable action just because it was not the best moment for them. Feel free to remind them about your products otherwise your competitors will.

    The best practice is to form a few separated segments of your audience, who bounced on a different phase of the journey and to engage them with banner ads, which have a unique proposition.

    To hit my marketing goals I prefer to develop 2 general segments:

    1. Visitors who started but not completed the booking proses
    2. Visitors who did not perform any action on the website.

    The best practice that booking.com, leading travel metasearch engine, follows is engaging the first segment with a dynamic remarketing* display ads and offering a limited time discount, which is automatically applied when users click on the ad.

    To motivate the second segment for returning to the website, I usually analyze all the intents of that audience, then I combine it all into a brief call to action with the aim of using it together with some benefits on the banner. To improve the experience of that audience on any website, I highly recommend leading the traffic to an alternative landing page.

    Keep in mind that any remarking activity does not require a big budget, moreover it has a positive impact on other sources of traffic.

    Dynamic remarketing sample by adwordsrobot.com
    Dynamic remarketing sample by adwordsrobot.com

    (*) Dynamic remarketing campaigns are used to show your previous visitors ads with products or services they viewed on your website.

    Bonus tip: engage your competitors’ audience with brand keywords

    Here is the very final tip, that a lot of businesses do not leverage when they can.

    Your competitors might have a better brand awareness rate, so there are a lot of prospects who search for them online and most likely are ready to buy today.

    It makes sense to analyze the pros and cons of your business versus competitors. Publish the results of that competitor analysis on your website. This is how you can bid on other market players’ brand keywords and effectively transform that traffic into new customers.

    Screenshot - Search result for booking.com
    This is how Hotels.com leverages competitor’s brand keyword

    As conclusion, I have to admit that there is no such thing as a complete list of tips to optimize a PPC for e-commerce and the best way ever. So digital marketing specialists have to find out by themselves what approach works best for them in any particular case, taking into account all the factors. However, several tips I have listed can help you to increase the effectiveness of your SEM spends, as well as improve your ROI.

    What tips have you found more beneficial for your business?

    I am a certified digital marketing professional whose mission is helping social-responsible businesses in achieving their goals via digital marketing communications. I am full of fresh ideas and open for any opportunities. Contact me if you want your business to go beyond the limits, together we can accomplish your marketing mission fast and cost-effective.


    Looking for clever manager who can establish an efficient marketing strategy for your business? Want to start seeing new customers, clients, and partnerships that last? Review my background, check how my skills and capabilities could be inlined with your business needs. Request Andrey Palagin's resume now.




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