Are you new to paid-search and looking to open an account?

Looking for some extra tips not available in the Google/Bing Ads courses?

There’s a lot to learn, but hopefully, these 18 tips for beginners will help you on your way.

1) Have clear targets

Define your conversions and calculate how much you’re willing to pay for them (target CPA). If your budget is scalable, focus on maximising volume at the target CPA; or if your budget is limited, always look to maximise volume by lowering the CPA. Targets give you purpose and make account management engaging.

2) Conversion tracking

Get it right from the get-go or you’ll lose valuable data.

Without accurate conversion tracking, it’ll be impossible to run effective campaigns.

3) Keywords

Keywords are the gateway to relevant, profitable traffic. Research your product well and put together a comprehensive list with the view of covering all bases. There are tools such as keywordtool.io which can aid you in this process.

4) Research your competitors

Use tools such as SpyFu, SEMrush, and Ahrefs to get an idea of your competitors paid and organic keywords and add them to your list.

5) Be cheeky

If you have competitors, bid on their company names. Google allows trademarked terms in your keywords, but not in your copy – unless you have permission from the trademark owner.

For some accounts, a large percentage of conversions will come from people typing in competitor terms. You may receive threatening letters requesting you stop bidding on their company name, but you can go ahead and file these in the bin.

6) Go granular

SKAGs (Single Keyword Ad-Groups) are the way forward. This strategy will help ensure every keyword has a highly tailored ad – maximising quality score and minimising CPCs. Use the keyword in the ‘headline 1’ part of the ad.

7) Bidding strategies

For all campaigns, you’ll need to start off on a manual bidding strategy, then once you’ve accrued some conversions, you can switch to a “smart” bidding strategy such at Target CPA or Target ROAS (Return On Ad Spend) within the paid-search platform.

Alternatively, you could let a third-party platform manage your bids such as Marin, Kenshoo or Google’s Search Ads 360. With these third-party platform’s you have greater flexibility in bidding options and can lump multiple accounts’ campaigns into the same strategy working towards the same goal.

8) Be determined

Every keyword (within reason) has value to your campaign. Don’t give up on a keyword if it initially produces high CPAs; find a bid that suits the conversion rate, then optimise your copy/landing

9) Be economical

Consider ‘the law of diminishing returns’ in terms of volume/CPA trade-offs. For example, say a keyword with a £4 bid produces an average of 28 leads per day at £40 CPA – increase that bid to £7 and your average lead volume increases to 34 leads per day at £70 CPA.

Bear in mind that 82% of those leads are available at an average CPA of £40, however, pushing for that 21% increase in lead volume increases the overall CPA by 75%.

This is an extreme example, but I have witnessed a case where average CPAs increased tenfold, without any noticeable effect on conversion volume, due to an overly aggressive change to target CPA settings.

This illustrates the importance of having high visibility in the performance and dynamics of your keyword auctions. Use bidding experiments and the bid simulator to help find the sweet spot for your high-volume keywords. This point applies to manual keyword bids, automated bidding strategies, and other bid adjustments.

10) Test ad copy… scientifically

When testing ad copy, make sure you’re producing useful data. This will mean testing a limited number of elements against each other at the same time. For example: with a SKAG, the Headline1 field will always be occupied by the keyword, so you could write two alternative Headline2s and two Descriptions, combining to make a total of four ad variations.

If the ad-group is set to ‘Rotate Indefinitely’ the performance data will tell how different elements/combinations are performing against each other, which will help you in developing your copy. Turn off poorly performing ads, then introduce new ads testing new elements.

11) The formula

If using manual bids, employ a headroom multiplier to be more competitive. Headroom is the difference between your max bid and the actual CPC. If you find your CPCs are, on average, 20% lower than your max bid, then use 1.2 as your multiplier.

It’s not an exact science, but it’ll improve your competitiveness. The following is the formula for manual bidding:

Desired CPA x Historic CR x Headroom Multiplier

12) Ad-scheduling

Get a report of how your campaigns are performing on different days and hours. Look for high conversion rate periods then use the ad scheduling function to increase your bids during these times to improve position/impression share.

Conversely, look for low conversion rate periods and lower bid adjustments accordingly.

13) Monitor referrals

If you’ve opted in to have your ads shown on the “search partners” network, you could be losing money on low-quality, sometimes fraudulently bad, traffic. You can’t get a full breakdown in the platform itself, so you’ll need another means of seeing the exact referral pages and a way of cross-checking it with your performance data.

Once you’ve determined a site’s no good, you can go ahead and block it in campaign settings.

14) Avoid standard broad-match

Broad match will display your ads for a lot of irrelevant search terms.

Broad Match Modifier, along with Exact match, should provide enough flexibility. Even with these match types, you’ll need to run regular Search Query Reports to filter out any irrelevant terms that make it though.

15) Landing page relevance

Make sure all high-volume keywords have ad hoc landing pages, with the keyword in prominent text positions. This will improve landing page’s relevancy (measured automatically by the platform’s crawler) increasing quality score and lowering CPCs.

16) Mobile optimised

Make sure mobile traffic is turned off in bid adjustments if your site isn’t optimised from mobile devices.

A rare occurrence these days, but still worth checking. If it’s not mobile optimised, get working on that!

17) Get on Bing Ads

The Bing’s search network accounts for 12% of the market share, and in a lot of cases you’ll be able to pick up conversions at a lower CPA (compared to Google) due to less competition. Campaigns created in Google can be mirrored in Bing using the Import Campaigns feature.

18) Stay in the loop

Subscribe to PPC blogs such as PPC Hero and Wordstream for tips, tutorials, and the latest developments in the world of paid search. This will help you make the most of the platforms’ features and prevent you getting caught out by any changes.


The above tips should help you with your paid search efforts. If you have any other tips that have helped you succeed, please do share them below, we’d love to hear!



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