3 Things You Can Do Right Now to Decrease Search Spend

Michelle Barnes / 21st April 2020 / Comment / SEM

Decreasing SEM Spend & Maintaining ROI During COVID-19

These are not normal times. Many businesses have had to cut staff or have even been forced to shut their doors. As we approach another recession, it is important to cut costs anywhere you can. Luckily, there are things you can do right now to decrease your search spend without sacrificing performance.

1. Use Search Query Analysis to Improve Keywords

Search Query Analysis is the process of looking at the search term report to give you a better idea of the types of words people are using to search for your product/s. Conversely, you can also see where you are “throwing away” money.

The search term report will show you the exact words that someone has typed into their search bar that ultimately led them to see your ad. This report will also show you to various other key metrics including clicks, impressions, conversions, avg. CPC, etc.

So how can you use this information to save money? First, you need to start out by looking at which search terms are not converting. To do this, add a filter for “conversions <1” and then organize your leftover data by Cost High-Low.

You will want to look at the last 60-90 days timeframe so that you can get a wholistic view of your data. Scroll to the bottom of the page and calculate how much money you are spending on keywords that aren’t converting versus your total spend.

Using the formula below, you’ll quickly see the percentage of money you are “wasting” on search terms that have converted less than once, AKA search terms that are costing you, but not returning any gains.

Now that you know the percentage of money you are throwing away; you can stop paying for those keywords that aren’t converting by simply pausing them and build a campaign on the highest performing keywords.

Generally, you should perform a search query analysis every 1-2 months to assure you’re keeping your keywords tight.

2. Use Location Targeting

Using too broad of targeting for both your audience and location will ultimately result in serving your ad to a large percentage of people who will never convert. By narrowing down your targeting to the specific locations and people who are more likely to convert will not just drastically lower your costs but will result in a higher conversion rate as well.

Let’s say you’re a business who only services certain cities or states, or maybe you’re a seller of goods who only ships to the US. If this is the case, not every person in the world who is searching for your keyword is going to be part of your target audience. Therefore, if you aren’t setting location targets (or exclusions), you will be spending money on showing ads to people that you don’t serve.

To use targeting locations, click the locations button and from here you can either:

  1. Add Targeted Locations – For example if you only serve in the Pittsburgh area, then you would target Pittsburgh, PA
    1. You can also add bid adjustments to certain locations. For example, you service the entire United States, but have found that your conversion rate is significantly lower in Tennessee than in the rest of the country, then you might consider adding a negative bid adjustment to that state. (Hint: Use the “User Location Report” to view user data by location!)
  2. Add Excluded Locations – For example if you serve to all of Pennsylvania, except for Philadelphia, you will then target Pennsylvania and exclude Philadelphia, PA.

3. Be Wary of Broad Match

When using broad match, your ads are going to be shown to as many “relevant” searches as possible. I cautiously use the word relevant because Google will use their judgement and your ads can possibly show up in completely irrelevant situations.

For example, you have the broad match keyword: dog books. While, your intent is for someone searching broadly for “books about Poodles” will be served your ad, and they will, but also the person searching for “dog parks” may also be served your ad because in Google’s eyes, this is “relevant”.

Ultimately, this is going to lead to more impressions and possibly clicks, leading to much higher costs and much fewer conversions.

Instead, try using these other keyword match types:

  • Broad Match Modified (BMM): This is going to be the most similar to Broad Match, hence the name! BMM will only serve your ads in searches that include the keywords with a plus sign “+” in front of them.
  • Phrase Match: Phrase match keywords, which are designated with “quotation marks”, will only show on searches that match the phrase that you have in quotes. The search term can include words before or after the quotes, however it will not serve if a word is added to the middle of the phrase in quotes.
  • Exact Match: This one is pretty self-explanatory. Exact match keywords are only going to serve ads to searches that match exactly to the keyword, or a very close variation. Close variations include synonyms, plurals, or even slight misspellings. Exact match is designated using brackets “[]” around the keyword.

4. Bonus: Bid on Brand Keywords!

Sure, this last bonus tip isn’t necessarily focused on cutting costs but can certainly help you spend your money on the keywords that will give you the best return!

When deciding on where to cut costs on paid search, many people think, “Let’s just cut brand, we will rank out the competition on organic anyways!”.  That may be so, but regardless, there are going to be competitors that will bid on your brand name and that person is going to “outrank” you by getting a paid spot above all organic listings. This can allow a competitor to easily take away valuable clicks that should have gone to your brand.

Not only is it a dangerous game to play to allow a competitor to outrank you, but also, branded terms are cheap! A branded CPC will generally be a fraction of what you are paying for non-branded keywords.

How Wheelhouse DMG Can Help You

Wheelhouse DMG has a team of digital advertising experts with the main goal of improving ROI for their clients while reducing the amount of money going to waste. Do you need help getting your online marketing presence established or are you a proven brand looking for someone to take over your online advertising efforts? Whatever stage your company is at, Wheelhouse has the tools and expertise to help you strategize and build a roadmap to accomplish your business goals.

By Michelle Barnes