PPC Best Practices: Your Guide to Strategies that Actually Convert

PPC Best Practices

Table of Contents

Improving your PPC campaigns is an awesome way to drive more traffic to your intended destination and close more customers. But before we continue, there’s something you should know: The disappointing but very real truth about most of the PPC best practices you’ve read elsewhere is that they’re pretty much ineffective.

That’s right. Unfortunately, all those slight tweaks to your ad copy and bidding strategies actually do very little in terms of turning leads into customers. So, what exactly should you do to PPC campaigns to maximize conversion potential? Don’t fret—there are actually quite a few things, and we’re going to teach you about each one of them. Below, check out the strategies you should be focusing on to achieve ultimate results.

PPC Best Practices for Boosting Your Conversion Rate

It’s time to whip your PPC advertising efforts into shape. In order to o optimize your ads from the get-go and start executing more effective PPC campaigns, follow these top seven PPC best practice strategies:

PPC Best Practices Strategy #1: Use Single Keyword Ad Groups

In order to get the most out of your campaigns, Google recommends using between 15 and 20 keywords per ad group. However, this blanket rule isn’t an effective solution for all campaigns. In fact, it’s ineffective most of the time. So what gives? What are you supposed to do when even the tips from Google aren’t working?

It’s actually ideal to use just one keyword per ad group. This is known as a single keyword ad group (SKAG). Try using this strategy, even for large accounts, with 80 percent of keywords that get or you expect to get the most traffic. You should most definitely employ this strategy for keywords that are getting the dreaded “Rarely shown due to low quality score” warning.

PPC Best Practices Strategy - Single Word Ad Groups

In this example, the client was using 50 keywords for just one ad group—way too many. That means that for all of these keywords, some of which were only somewhat relevant to the client’s services, they’d pay for their ad to be displayed. This resulted in poor message match between ads and landing pages as well as a lot of wasted ad spend.

Using SKAGs will help you improve your overall quality score, which will also improve the effectiveness of your PPC campaigns. In order to get the best possible quality score, you need to make sure that your user experience is consistent. For instance, your ad, keyword, and landing page should all match and seamlessly flow together. This is why using just one keyword per ad group is so helpful. It allows you to ensure that your ad and landing page perfectly align with the ad keyword. If you use multiple keywords, especially more than 15, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to thoroughly represent all those keywords in your ad and landing page.

Campaign Structure

PPC Best Practices Strategy #2: Use Negative Keywords

Using negative keywords in PPC campaigns is an often overlooked but highly effective strategy. These are keywords that you add to your campaign that you don’t want to target. Adding negative keywords will let Google know that it should not show your campaigns in searches that include these words. This is a crucial step in order to make sure that you don’t waste money by displaying your ad for irrelevant searches.

For example, say you run your own B2B marketing agency. If you’re advertising high-level digital marketing services, you want to make sure that the traffic you get from PPC campaigns only includes quality leads. Using negative keywords like “free” and “cheap” will help you avoid people who are not looking to pay for marketing services. If you only work with clients in the United States, you could also use location-based negative keywords. For example, to avoid keywords like “B2B marketing services in Russia” you could add “Russia” as a negative keyword.

Take a look at the image below:

PPC Best Practices Strategy - Use Negative Keyword

In this example, the client—who operates a sales recruiting firm—wanted to eliminate irrelevant traffic for services that don’t provide. To do this, we simply added those services as negative keywords. This way, the clients ads won’t be displayed to people searching for recruiters for medicine and other irrelevant industries.

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PPC Best Practices Strategy #3: Landing Page Content and Experience

Another thing you need to do in order to maximize the effectiveness of your PPC campaigns is increase the quality and relevancy of your landing page content and user experience. These two elements have a big influence on whether or not leads will convert between your PPC ads and landing pages. A poorly designed or irrelevant landing page is a sure way to tank conversion rates.

When optimizing the content of your landing page, you should follow the same on-page SEO practices that you do on any other webpage. Be sure to use your keywords in the title meta description. In addition, you should also use those keywords in the main content—especially in headlines and subheadings.

If you’re using a single keyword ad group (good job!), then you should have a corresponding, custom landing page for each one of your ad groups. This ensures that your messaging matches perfectly between keyword, ad, and landing page. Not only will this help you boost conversion rates, but it will improve your quality score as well.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, I’ve got some good news for you: you don’t have to spend countless hours manually creating custom landing pages for every ad group. Instead, use dynamic text replacement. Dynamic text replacement allows you to replace certain areas of text with with specific keywords. For example, you could use dynamic text replacement to change the heading and CTA of a landing page to the specific keyword that a user searched for. That way, when they visit your landing page, it appears to be a completely personalized experience.

You should also take time to ensure that your landing page is designed well, but not just in appearance. Be sure to focus on loading speed and usability as well. Together, all of these elements are crucial to the success of your campaigns. Afterall, you don’t want to spend all your time designing PPC ads only to have your leads bounce right off as soon as they reach your boring or unsightly landing page design—or worse, leave before it even has a chance to load.

PPC Best Practices Strategy - Landing page speed

Google’s PageSpeed tool can help you figure out if your landing page is optimized for best user experience. Additionally, if your landing page is not best optimized, it can also offer you solutions for how to improve user experience.

In order to make sure that your landing page best represents your company and your offer, make sure it fulfills this checklist:

  • The page is visually appealing
  • The page uses the same keyword(s) used in the ad
  • The landing page offer is the same offer presented in the ad
  • The CTA is displayed clearly
  • Form fields are limited only to what is absolutely necessary
  • Your landing page design is responsive and easy to use and browse both on desktop and mobile devices
  • Your company logo and contact information is displayed prominently so that the lead knows they’ve been taken to a trustworthy page
  • Your landing page loads within three seconds
  • Your meta descriptions, titles, and main content use the same targeted keyword(s) used in your ad

PPC Best Practices Strategy - Landing Page Content and Experience

In the example above, we made a landing page using Unbounce and their 5-Elements template. We then customized the template with captivating ad copy and the best practices for SEO and landing page design.

Looking at the screenshot of the client’s new landing page, you’ll notice:

  • A tagline below their logo that emphasizes their special focus on Sales Recruiting.
  • Their phone number is clearly displayed and integrated with Google call tracking. This allows us to see which calls are coming directly from the new landing page.
  • Customer testimonials to help establish trust with new leads.
  • A form that uses only as many fields as necessary.
  • A clear Call-to-Action that leaves no guesswork for leads.
  • Company name and contact information prominently displayed as well as logos of clients in order to establish trust.
  • Keyword-infused headlines and subheadings to break up the content into easily digestible sections for the viewer.

And because this is a dynamic landing page, the headline content changes based upon what the viewer searched for and which ad they clicked on. Ultimately, this client was able to boost their conversion rates by 290 percent.

PPC Best Practices Strategy #4: Target Bottom-of-the-Funnel Keywords

Many marketers experience this issue during PPC campaigns: They’re attracting the attention of their audience and driving traffic with their ads, yes—but those website and landing page visits aren’t resulting in the amount of conversions they would have expected. If you are also experiencing this, your ads may be targeting consumers who aren’t quite in the decision stage of their buyer’s journey through the use of too many top-of-the-funnel (TOFU) keywords in your ad copy.

PPC Best Practices Strategy - bottom-of-the-funnel (BOFU) keywords

But consider this: only a lead who is in the early stages of researching a product or solution (aka not ready to convert) uses such general keywords in their search engine research, simply because they aren’t yet educated enough about what they’re looking for. Similar to a negative keyword strategy, bottom-of-the-funnel (BOFU) keywords can help you reach avoid the wrong leads. These keywords are ones that are more pricing and service-oriented, which will bring in consumers who have a higher potential of converting as a result of your PPC ads.

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PPC Best Practices Strategy #5: Take Advantage of High-Converting Ad Formats

…Well, this is a best practices post, right? It may seem obvious to use the highest converting ad formats in your PPC campaigns to boost their conversion rate, but many marketers don’t actually know what these optimized ads look like—nor that they can do the optimizing themselves even after their ads go live! In this next section, we’ll break down a few important ad formats and options that you should have on your radar and use to maximize your conversion potential:

(a) Use Shopping Ads to Market Your Products

If you’re an ecommerce business, then you need to be running Google Shopping Campaigns. Consumers use Google’s search engine on a daily basis to find all kinds of products that they need (including yours), and running Google Shopping campaigns can help you connect with them. These campaigns pull product information, such as the product image, price, and merchant name, from your company’s Merchant Center data feed and conveniently display them to the viewer. Because it pulls this data each time a user makes a search inquiry, you can be assured that your product ads are always up to date and accurate (so long as you keep your data feed that way), keeping your potential customer from feeling confused or frustrated.

Want to start advertising your product inventory to interested consumers? Check out our previous blog post to learn more about Google Shopping Campaigns.

(b) Add Ad Customizers

AdWords offers Ad Customizers that allow you to dynamically insert specific details from a feed into your campaign ads.

PPC Best Practices Strategy - Ad Customizer
PPC Best Practices Strategy - PPC Ad Customizer

There are a variety of benefits to incorporating ad customizers into your PPC ads, such as the ability to create a sense of urgency in your target audience and drive clicks. But the biggest boost that ad customizers can provide is that they improve the relevance of your ads, thus improving your quality score. You can also adjust such ad elements as color, size, inventory and stock details, pricing, and seasonal sales to capture the eyes of potential customers.

(c) Leverage the Power of Video!

Ever heard the saying that a picture is worth 1,000 words? Well, a video is worth 1.8 million, and YouTube is the best place to promote your video ad to an engaged audience. One of the most popular YouTube ad formats, TrueView ads, play before other videos on the site and allow users the option to skip after five seconds (and you don’t have to pay if a viewer skips your ad!). Since there is less competition on YouTube compared to other search engines, your brand has a massive opportunity to reach and convert a ton of consumers across a variety of different demographics.

PPC Best Practices Strategy #6: Personalize Your Ads

People are no longer shocked to find elements of personalization embedded into various aspects of advertising, and in fact, have even come to expect it. Think about it this way: When it comes to marketing emails, which are you more likely to open and read—the one addressed to “Dear Customer” featuring generic copy on topics that aren’t relevant to you? Or are you more likely to engage with the email addressed to your name that includes links to blog posts relevant to the industry you work in, as well as items you might like based on your previous purchases? That’s right—you’re going to open and read the email that’s tailored to you.

The same goes for PPC advertising. Potential customers who are targeted with your PPC ads don’t care about your need to fill your pipeline or your salespeople’s need to meet their quota—the truth is they only care about what’s in it for themselves. Cater to this by crafting your ad copy in the second person, keeping the importance on the consumer and not on your company.

It’s important to remember that online shoppers are humans, and to treat them as such. The examples below show two versions of the same ad for a fake cyber security business. While version A does provide potential customers with information about the company and the services it offers, it fails to address them as people or speak to the challenges or pain points they might be experiencing.

PPC Best Practices Strategy - Personalize Your Ads

On the other hand, version B not only communicates the valueof the cyber security business (protecting other business’s data from hackers and cyber attacks), but also acknowledges the potential customer. The copy in version B also addresses the fact that what the viewer is likely looking for in such a company is a sense of security, and caters to that with the words “protect” and “safe”.

For more information on crafting effective but clear marketing messages, check out our previous blog post on writing with clarity.

PPC Best Practices Strategy #7 Use Retargeting to Market to Interested Consumers

You’ve probably been hearing more and more about retargeting in the couple of years or so, and for good reason too. Retargeting campaigns use cookies to keep track of the internet users who visit your site so that you can continue to market to them once they leave. Have you ever shopped for an item and then suddenly noticed it following you around on other sites? That’s retargeting. And believe it or not, it really works.

It’s all about repeated exposure—while your previous site visitors browse other websites, your retargeting provider will show them ads for your services and products. Using retargeting, you can entice visitors back to your website and effectively convert these digital window shoppers into customers for your business. In fact, potential customers who are retargeted with display ads are 70 percent more likely to convert. Now, doesn’t that sound nice?

Retargeting is a great way to close sales that you otherwise might’ve missed. A variety of ad platforms offer retargeting services, including Google and social media networks such as Facebook and LinkedIn (we previously wrote about LinkedIn’s retargeting platform Lead Accelerator.) To learn more about retargeting and remarketing, read our post, Retargeting for Rookies: Your Guide to What it is and How to Use it.


So, fellow marketers, the secret is out—now you know that the key to really driving your conversion rate isn’t in minor copy or bidding adjustments. The true PPC CRO best practices require you to use negative keywords and to target keywords that your bottom-of-the-funnel prospects are searching for—including those that are pricing and service-oriented. You want to use high-converting ad formats, such as Google Shopping Campaigns and video ads, to capture the attention of your audience and engage them. Your landing pages should be designed well, easily browsable, and have fast loading times. It’s also important to personalize your ads so that your potential customers feel like you’re speaking directly to them, which also helps humanize your brand. Finally, use retargeting to remarket your products and services to previously interested visitors to your website, enticing them back and convert. 

Do you have any PPC best practices that you’re using thisyear to share? Let us know in the comment section below! And, if you’re looking for assistance creating an effective PPC strategy or executing an optimized campaign, look no further. Contact the expert PPC advertising team at SevenAtoms today for a free consultation and find out how we can help you maximize your marketing efforts.

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Author Bio

Andy Beohar

Andy Beohar

Andy Beohar is VP of SevenAtoms, a Google and HubSpot certified agency in San Francisco. Andy develops and manages ROI-positive inbound and paid marketing campaigns for B2B & Tech companies. Connect with Andy on LinkedIn or Twitter.

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