Over 8 years as a PPC consultant, I’ve witnessed the rapid growth of Paid marketing and its dominance of the digital marketing landscape.

Advancement has brought increased competition and pricing to PPC, which makes it more important than ever to adopt and implement industry best practices in to your paid strategy.

If not, you get left behind, and your account becomes a money pit. It’s as simple as that.

Here are 6 AdWords best practices every business should be implementing in 2018…

  1. Small, Tightly Themed Ad Groups

So, you’ve spent a couple of hours putting together a relevant keyword list. Please don’t then just drop all of your keywords in to a single ad group and press the start button.

You’d be surprised how common this is.

Best practice, to influence quality score, is to build your keywords into small, tight themes that will make up your ad group structure.

Aim for 1-5 keywords per ad group. For every qualified keyword in a keyword string, or a change in theme, a new ad group should be created.

Take my business as an example. A couple of active ad groups in my own AdWords account contain the following keywords…

Ad Group: PPC Consultant Devon
[devon ppc consultant]
[ppc consultant in devon]
[ppc consultants in devon]
[devon ppc consultants]

Ad Group: Freelance PPC Consultant Devon
[devon freelance ppc consultant]
[freelance ppc consultant in devon]
[freelance ppc consultants in devon]
[devon freelance ppc consultants]

Tight and granular ad group themes allow you to write the most relevant piece of ad copy for the corresponding keywords and search queries.

  1. Match Type Ad Group Strategy

Following on naturally from above, your ad groups should also be segmented by the keywords’ match type.

For example…

PPC Consultant Devon_BMM
PPC Consultant Devon_EX
Freelance PPC Consultant Devon_BMM
Freelance PPC Consultant Devon_EX

Generally speaking, exact match keywords deliver higher conversion rates and higher quality scores, so you need to make these the foundation and focus of your keyword strategy.

Segmenting ad groups by match type gives you greater control between search queries and keywords, allowing you to channel the traffic to the correct keywords, rather than leaving that matching decision in the hands of Google.

You do this by utilising negative keywords, not in their traditional sense to remove irrelevant traffic, but to bounce search queries away from certain keywords, to ensure their matched against the correct variation.

  1. Ad Extensions

Ad extensions expand and enhance your basic text ads with additional links and details about your business. Not only do they increase your prominence in the SERPs, but they give the user more options and information to make a decision.

Most ad extensions are manually created, but some, like Seller Ratings are auto generated by the search engine. To maximise the performance of your text ads, AdWords selects which extensions to show in response to each individual search on Google. 

While extensions don’t make up the core components of Quality Score, their expected impact, alongside Quality Score and Max CPC Bid, is how Ad Rank is calculated.

Ad extensions also influence CTR, which carries the heaviest weighing in the Quality Score algorithm.

Provided they’re relevant, it’s a good idea to utilise all ad extensions available, including Sitelinks, Callout Extensions, Promotion Extensions, Structured Snippets, Call Extensions, Message Extensions, Location Extensions, Price Extensions, App Extensions, Review Extensions and automated extensions like Seller Ratings.

  1. Checkout Abandonment Remarketing

Did you know around 75% of online consumers abandon their cart before checking out? In some industries, that figure is as high as 84%.

Here you have an audience that’s highly engaged with your brand, and already shown intent to purchase your products or services. An audience like gold dust for us PPC consultants and digital marketers.

It’s super simple to setup too. You just need to create a combination list targeting URLs. Within the audience manager, select the “Visitors of a page who did not visit another page”. The first URL will be the cart or booking/checkout stage 1. The second URL is the payment/booking/checkout confirmation or thank you page.

From there, it’s a just a case putting some creative together. For retail businesses, you have the added layer of relevancy with dynamic remarketing, where you can remarket the specific products browsed back to the user.

  1. RLSA

Display remarketing continues to be one of the most talked about topics across digital marketing, and rightly so, it’s one of the best strategies for conversion rate optimisation.

RLSA (Remarketing Lists for Search Ads), however, often slips under the radar, but is equally as important in converting past website visitors into paying customers.

Just a small percentage of visitors buy, purchase, signup or book on the first website visit. They research first. Think about how you shop online yourself? Did you buy that pair of trainers on the first website you visited, or did you shop around?

RLSA allows you to reengage with these past visitors and prospective customers, at the time they’re continuing to research for a product or service just like yours. Keeping your business at the forefront of their minds and search engine results pages.

Take my client as an example, one of the largest holiday cottage providers in the UK. Their RLSA converts at almost double the rate of their standard search content. Implementation of RLSA in 2017 has contributed to a record breaking PPC year for them.

  1. A/B Ad Copy Testing

Also known as ‘split testing’, A/B testing brings basic scientific methodology to digital marketing and removes the guesswork from decision making.

In the year 2000, Google itself used A/B testing to figure out the perfect number of search results to show on a listing page.

Here’s what I like to test in my optimisations…

  • Headline 1
  • Headline 2
  • Description
  • Path 1
  • Path 2
  • Landing Page
  • USPs
  • CTAs
  • Prices
  • Offers

That said, you’re going to conduct the most accurate and beneficial A/B test with only 1 variable tested at a time. Remember that.

Set your ad rotation option to rotate indefinitely, so each variation is given an equal amount of impressions. Although this option isn’t recommended in most cases, for A/B testing, it’s the perfect setting. This option allows lower-performing ads to run as often as higher-performing ads for an indefinite period of time.

I recommend using the legacy dimensions reports to aggregate the date by ad label. This gives you a clear visual of the data and makes it easy to spot statistical differences to base decisions off.


So, there you go. 6 advanced AdWords best-practices that you can implement in your account today.

I’d love to hear any case studies or success stories from these recommendations. Drop me a tweet or contact me on any of the social platforms below…

Twitter: www.twitter.com/tomholderppc
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/tom-holder-ppc
Facebook: www.facebook.com/TomHolderPPC
Instagram: www.instagram.com/tomholderppc


10 Ways To Increase Your PPC Conversion Rate In 10 Minutes

Optimisation doesn’t always have to be super complex and lengthy. If your time is limited, don’t write off or devalue the impact of small, focussed optimisation. Completing a few of these concepts every couple of weeks is far more beneficial than a stagnant account receiving optimisation every few months.

Like anything in life, learning and progression, consistent small wins can compound into major improvements over time