Practical Ecommerce

Pay-per-click Advertising: Seven Pointers for Smaller Campaigns

Managing small-budget pay-per-click campaigns (under $3,000 per month) is typically more difficult than managing campaigns with higher spend levels. Lack of “workable” data in smaller accounts often pushes campaign managers to make decisions based on incomplete or inaccurate information. Below is a checklist of seven items you can do today to improve performance of your smaller PPC campaign.

1. Use Negative Keywords to Block Irrelevant Traffic

Negative keywords allow you to filter out irrelevant traffic. There is no reason to pay for clicks that were generated by search queries such as “(your product) defect”, “(your product) manual”, “broken (your product)”, and so forth. Read “Negative Keywords for Your PPC Campaign” to help understand this.

2. Research Long-tail Keywords

Clicks generated from keywords reflecting purchase intent are more likely to turn into actual buyers. Examples of such keywords include “buy widget” and “get widgets” Some useful tools to research keywords are listed at “Keyword Research Tools”.

3. Separate Search Network from Content Network

Google, Yahoo! and Bing, the primary search engines, offer both search distribution and content distribution. Traffic generated via the content channel is inherently different quality from that of search. More information about developing a solid content strategy is found at “Advertising On The Google Content Network”.

4. Split Keywords into Tightly Organized Ad Groups

Make sure your keywords are organized in the most logical order. For example, keywords describing one product should not be mixed with keywords describing other products. Imagine that you’re retailer selling socks and wine. It would be illogical to place both keywords (“socks” and “wine”) into the same Ad Group. The same rule applies to less obvious examples. “Green widget” and “blue widget cover” should be placed in separate Ad Groups, for example.

5. Include Different Match Types

“Match types” allow you to improve the quality of the traffic by more closely matching users’ search queries with your keyword choices. Additionally, having all three match types (Broad match, Phrase match, Exact match) in Google and MSN might help you get more clicks for the same overall price due to the quality score discount (which occurs due to ads being ordered based on multiple relevancy factors and not solely on the per-click bid price). In Yahoo!, running multiple match types simultaneously is not permitted. Nevertheless, it’s a good idea to see if “standard match” would generate better return on investment than “advanced match.”

6. Re-configure Campaigns/Account Settings

Here is a list of standard settings that will typically optimize a smaller budget campaign.

Google (Campaign Level):

  • Targeting: United States only
  • Language: English
  • Network & Devices: Google Search; Desktop and laptop computers
  • Bidding: Manual bidding – Max CPC
  • Position preference: Off
  • Delivery method: Standard
  • Ad rotation: Optimize

Yahoo! (Account Level):

  • Sponsored Search: On
  • Content Match: Off
  • Match Type: Advanced
  • Blocked Continents: Check off all
  • Campaign Level Targeting: Block 0-18, Select U.S. only

Bing (Campaign Level):

  • Tracking conversions: Checked
  • Target by Location: United States

7. Use Free Pay-per-click Tools

Use free pay-per-click tools to work on your campaigns.
Don’t waste time going through slow account interfaces. Use these account tools to help you navigate through Google and MSN:

Greg Laptevsky

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  1. ClickMeter October 27, 2009 Reply

    Hi Greg,
    Nice article I just tweeted to our followers.
    If can be useful for your readers I’ll like to suggest another pointers:

    **Use Click Tracking Tools to monitor your PPC campaign**

    Often PPC systems like for example ADWords does not give you all instruments you want. With Click Tracking services you can monitor all-in-one-box:
    – suspect click fraud activities
    – country/IP/time/etc… of every clicks
    – strange patterns
    – click that convert (ADWord in my experience does not work fine because is based on cookies)

    Those tools are especially useful if you advertise in content network or with display advertising because with traditiona system (like ADWord) you do not know where the clicks are coming from (IP, country and referrer) so you can hardly filter and block suspect click-fraud and unproductive websites.

    ClickMeter ( does all of the previous bullet points (we are working on conversion tracking, that will be very precise and without cookies).

    That’s an online link tracking service (most of the features are free) that let you track all-in-one-box clicks coming from PPC, social networking activities, email marketing, click-exchange programs etc…

    Moreover, unlike others, ClickMeter allows you to your own domain or a third level one like This is the only way to use Click-Tracking-Tools with systems like Google ADWords.

    You can aggregate data, analyze the country clicks come from and much more.

    This tool is useful for beginners and for professional, it can track up to millions click for every account.

    To activate just go on and create your first tracking link (username and password will be sent to your email)

    Hope it’s useful

  2. LexiConn October 27, 2009 Reply

    Some great ideas in this article for SMBs. The "Long-tail" suggestion is of particular importance. Also try to narrow down a larger keyword to more exact searches to really fine tune your ads (and exclude irrelevant searchers).
    Watch out for the "content network" trap where this is automatically enabled in new campaigns. Content ads can add up quickly in dollars spent, and may not generate the type of traffic you want (i.e. the purchasing kind). Keep tabs on your settings to make sure content buys are not active by default.

    Rob – LexiConn

  3. Tag44 October 28, 2009 Reply

    Thanks for the post Greg, the information written here related to PPC campaign is very useful and simple to understand, even people who are not very much aware about internet marketing should get some knowledge here.

  4. Dale Stokdyk October 29, 2009 Reply

    Greg, great advice. I think you may have inadvertently omitted a major pointer however!

    When possible, small businesses should also track their paid search conversions in order to determine their $cost/conversion (for a lead or sale).

    IF the business owner knows the average value of a lead or sale, they can calculate (1) the profit/loss for each Ad Group and Campaign, and (2) the $cost/conversion figure required to break-even or achieve desired profit levels.

    However, with smaller campaigns, it can take weeks or even months to get a large enough number of conversions to draw reasonable conclusions…after all, we’re talking about a subset (conversions) of the small data set (clicks) that makes managing smaller campaigns so challenging.

    How should the small business person manage their campaigns while waiting for those conversions?!? Well, that’s probably a large enough topic for your next article ;-) but I recommend focusing on:

    * click-through-rates — test different ads to improve CTRs

    * ad positions — better ads should lead to better ad positions

    * keyword quality scores in Google — higher is better; some keywords may need their own Ad Groups to improve your scores

    * landing page engagement — when they reach your site, are prospects engaged? (bounce rates; pages viewed; time one site)

    Dale Stokdyk of

  5. gregl October 29, 2009 Reply

    Thanks all. Agree on all counts :-)