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5 Easy Tips Anyone Can Use to Refine an SEM Campaign

By Mike Pinckney

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is a type of internet marketing used to position a website within search engines to achieve maximum visibility. This will drive traffic for more leads, help you understand where those leads are coming from, and, if executed correctly and optimized regularly, help save you money. To help you get to the top of the list, we’re giving you these five easy tips anyone can use:


 1) Pay very close attention to the search query.

The search query is a tool that search engines use to gain insight on keyword searches people are actually using. It not only shows what the person typed; but also how that query lead to your ads being served including the impressions, clicks, and conversions. This is a simple and easy thing you can do on a daily basis while enjoying your morning coffee.

The intelligence you’ll receive is incredibly valuable and staying on top of these keywords is a guaranteed way to save money by being preemptive in solving any problems or capitalizing on any opportunities.

For example, you’ll not only be able to find new keyword opportunities to bid on, but you’ll also be able to filter keywords to prevent reaching groups you’re not intending to reach by building a negative keywords list.

Let’s put this into context.

If you’re a heating and air conditioning repair company who’s currently bidding on keywords like “AC Repair “or “HVAC repair”, because “repair” is a trigger word, your ad may show up in an unwanted search that wastes a lot of your money such as: “TV repair”, “fence repair”, “phone repair” – or anything that has the word “repair” in it.

Adding “tv”, “phone”, and “fence” in your negative keyword group will ensure these keywords do not trigger something that has nothing to do with your business without excluding the word “repair” for obvious reasons.

 2) Organize your keyword groups – don’t clump your different match types together.

The more organized the campaign, the more the information you can get to make it more effective.

There are essentially four different match types: broad match, phrase match, exact match, and modified broad match — and I have seen campaigns built where all four are mashed together.

There have been debates on whether it really matters if they are mashed together, but when it comes down to getting information that is actionable, it’s best to keep them separated.

I love to see what works and what doesn’t. Though there are many opinions on this, it is hard to argue facts. The biggest advantage of not clumping these match types together is the ability to do a/b testing.

Clumping them all together makes it hard to figure out what’s working because all the match types are counteracting each other. If you separate them, it’s a lot easier to see what works and what doesn’t and then take action from those observations.

 3) Conversion tracking is essential.

I hesitated to add this because it seems so straightforward, but as a friend once told me, there is nothing common about common sense.

Conversion tracking, located under “tools” in your AdWords campaign manager, allows you to track your online conversions that come from paid advertising. The search engine will provide you with a snippet of code which you have to place on your website. Conversions can be broken down into different types of conversions, depending on your business.

For example, if you’re in the automotive industry, you can track mobile click-to-calls, form conversions from sales and form conversions for service and parts. You can even go deeper and create conversion codes to track different types of offers on landing pages that you’re driving traffic to.

The time and effort to set these up is small compared to the data that you can get from your campaigns. Like a lot of our clients, we like to drive leads with the knowledge of where we got them, and to simply do more of what’s working –which we can provide because we have the tools in place to track it.

 4) Add call-only ads to your search engine marketing campaign.

The call-only ads are found during the initial setup of creating a new ad group and are designed to serve on mobile devices with the sole purpose of driving phone calls to the business. For users to call a business from their smart phone, it requires only a simple click.

The campaign structure of the ad group is essentially the same as a normal ad group; with the biggest difference being that you are not driving visits to your site, you are driving phone calls. You are getting people who type a specific need and want to call about it.

For example: Consider the plumbing industry. As a plumber, you’re generally not looking for a form conversion on your site, you want a phone call. If you look at consumer behavior in that industry (and similar industries), you’ll notice the time on-site is generally very low. This is because people want to fix their problem now. If your sink or the toilet is overflowing, you want to find a solution before it ruins your hardwoods — which is most likely top of mind when you’re reaching out to a plumbing professional.

In situations and industries like that, the call-only ads are a fantastic way to drive leads to your business. For tracking purposes Google has a tracking number associated with your advertised number; you will know exactly how many calls you are getting on that campaign, the area code they come from, and the length of the call.

 5) Daypart your ads (when it makes sense) based on the data that you get from your campaigns.

Search engines will allow you to serve your ads when you want, at any time and day you want. This is an excellent way to make your budget and ads are served at the right time for you.

The default for AdWords campaigns is to serve all day and night, but it might not make sense to serve ads all the time. You might have a limited budget and when you look at the data, you may notice that your primary audience only converts during certain times of the day.

By looking in AdWords, under the “Dimensions” tab, you’re able to click down to the days and times that your ads are serving. You will get a tremendous amount of data that can show opportunities where you should focus time and money.   The start of your discovery comes from poking around a little bit to see and identify search patterns.

Start by looking at time of day your ads are currently serving and from there, determine how efficient those times are for you in each of your ad groups. Continue by doing the same thing with days of the week. The data will show you what makes the most sense and where your conversions are coming from. The simple idea here is find what works and do more of it.

For example, if you’re a flooring company and your analytics show that most of your conversions happen:

  • Tuesday and Wednesday; with Monday, Thursday, and Friday following closely behind
  • Seldom on a Saturday or Sunday
  • Between 9 AM – 7 PM

You would probably set up your campaign to run Monday – Friday 9 AM – 7 PM.

I hope this post on 5 steps to refining your SEM campaign was informational. I enjoyed writing this post because I’m personally very interested in paid search and I know it’s one of the top traffic drivers for our clients.