Paid search advertising (PPC) is by far the most popular digital marketing strategy, and there is one simple reason for that: It can get you immediate results.

I assume you're already utilizing paid search ads in your marketing efforts and are looking for ways to get more for your buck. That's exactly what this article is about.

I've prepared a list of 10 tips that will help you step up your paid search strategy.

Running a digital marketing agency for 20 years, I've got some tricks up my sleeve that many people aren't aware of...From old but relevant practices to new tactics, we've been using in 2024.

I have another post answering common PPC advertising questions...In this one, we'll talk about how to improve your campaign results. Let's go.

1. Play with Single-Keyword Ad Groups (SKAGs)

We've been utilizing SKAGs for years and it's still a very effective technique for optimizing a paid search strategy. These are ad groups that contain a single keyword with possible different match styles.

For example;

Ad group - cheap flights Keywords - [cheap flights] “cheap flights” +cheap +flights

As you can see, the ad group contains the same search term with different match types.

With SKAGs, you can significantly improve your CTR, CPC, and QS to achieve a lower CPA.

Here is How It Works

Having a single keyword in your ad group allows you to write better search ads. When I say better, I mean extremely specific and relevant to the users' search terms.

As you probably know, a higher ad relevancy equals a higher CTR. Increasing the click-through rate will improve the keyword's quality score and lower the cost per click.

The end result of all that is a lower CPA.

You should only use this technique for keywords with the highest performance. In other words, SKAGs must be extracted from your existing ad campaigns. Start with a few and see how it goes. Otherwise, it'll be very hard to maintain and optimize your account.

2. Don't Miss Out on Bing Ads

When it comes to PPC advertising, nothing compares to Google ads. There are no two opinions about it. But, if you're not using Bing Ads, you're missing out on tons of opportunities.

In 2024, Bing is still the world's second most popular search engine. Here are the US market numbers as seen on Backlinko:

  • 7.85% market share across all devices
  • 17.21% of desktop users search on Bing
  • 38.46% market share among console users

Chances are, your competitors may have passed up on Bing ads, too, which means you'll have a monopoly there. Not to mention the lower cost for most keywords. An effective pay-per-click advertising campaign should leverage several different channels whenever available.

3. Use Remarketing Lists for Google Search Ads

Over the years, I've met many people who mistake remarketing for retargeting. The latter is quite a challenge without the use of third-party cookies, so I'll talk about RLSAs.

Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA) have been around for a decade, but they are still a very effective tool for boosting your paid search marketing strategy. What's even better, not many know how to do it.

You can also do YouTube and Display Network remarketing, but I suggest you focus on search ads. That's where you can best match the search intent and close a conversion.

RLSAs offer many benefits. At Ernst Media, we mainly use them to:

  • Focus on high-value audience targeting
  • Create personalized, targeted ads
  • Optimize the use of ad spend

To set up a remarketing ad campaign and build audiences, you just need to link your Google Analytics 4 with your Ad account...If you want to take your Google Ads performance to the next level, check out this post.

paid search best practices

4. Optimize Your Google Ads for Voice Search

Most of my friends use voice search, and you're probably doing it, too. I find it much more convenient when driving, for example. I don't see it as a trend but rather a shift in people's behavior.

That said, I think implementing it in your paid search strategy is a must in 2024. To make it work, you need to consider how your potential customers would perform a voice search.

If you want to take your lady out for dinner, you'll write, let's say, "Italian Restaurant" in Google Maps.

If you're doing a voice search, you'll say something like: "Find me a good Italian restaurant nearby to go out for dinner."

The bottom line is that optimizing Google ads for voice search is very different from writing ad copy for text-based search queries. We no longer aim for visual impact.

I don't consider myself an expert as of now, but can tell you two things that will help you:

  • Figure out what are the most common questions people would ask when searching for your products or services.
  • Optimize your voice search ads using long-tail keywords that sound conversational. The technology relies on NLP.

Finally, make sure that your landing pages provide a great experience for mobile users.

5. Stop Focusing on Being #1

Aahh...the #1 spot in search engine results.

Everyone wants their PPC ads to get into that spot. And they're bidding their butts off, trying to win.

But all they're doing is increasing the bar farther away from their grasp. At some point, their CPA will be much higher. So much, that it wouldn't make sense to use paid search advertising anymore.

Do you really want to get into that dog fight?

Instead of competing for the #1 spot with others, try to get into #2 or #3. This is much more cost-effective while still getting your ad on the main page. This has been our approach with PPC campaigns for years, unless a client demands the first position, no matter the cost.

Let your competitors waste their budget on the first and focus on the second spot. It's less hassle.

6. Adjust to Peak Times of Your Target Audience

Find out the time frames that your target audiences are most active within. Adjust your ad campaigns accordingly and you'll squeeze more leads and customers.

There is no point in spending money on any ad formats during hours or days of the week when your target audience isn't online. Instead, place higher keyword bids during peak times.

This "day-parting" technique is a must for any effective paid search strategy.

7. Double Down on Long-Tail Keywords

This has always been a good tactic for driving paid and organic search traffic...It has become even more effective in recent years. About 1/3 of search queries are questions that contain more than 3-4 words. So, when doing your keyword research, look for very niche or highly specific terms.

Let's say you run an online shop for car care products and want to promote a headlight restoration kit.

When bidding on "Headlight Restoration," people looking for a professional service rather than a DIY solution will still click on your ad.

You can drive targeted traffic with "Best Way to Clean Headlights" or "Clean Foggy Headlights DIY"

This is very useful, especially if your ad budget is limited and you can't afford to spend money on wasted clicks. Not only is the CPC much cheaper, but you'll also find prospects who know exactly what they want. Thus, the quality of the leads will be much higher.

better cpc on your paid ads using long tail keywords

8. Optimize Your Ad Spend with Negative Keywords

We work with all kinds of businesses, and I can guarantee you one thing. Even in a well-defined niche, there are always keywords that you don't want to be listed for.

If you rent cars but don't sell them, you don't want your ads to be listed under keywords that are related to buying vehicles. In that case, words like “buy” or “purchase” are the negative keywords.

You don't want to waste money by showing ads to the wrong set of people, right?

9. Bid on Your Competitors' Brand Names

Type each of your competitors' names on Google and see what paid search ads come up.

Do you see yours? If the answer is NO, you need to get it on there.

That's done by bidding on your competitors' brand or company names. You might think that this is a dirty trick or that it is unethical...truth is, all professional marketers are doing it.

There is a big chance your competitors are using this technique, which means that they're getting a chunk of your search traffic. Get it back.

10. Perform A/B Split Testing Frequently

You can't just set up your ad accounts and campaigns, and be done with it. Even with all the automation in 2024, you have to frequently test and experiment to maximize your paid search ads' performance.

I bet that at least one of your competitor's strategies involves some A-grade split testing.

Hone your ad copy and try new copies, test new emerging keywords, try out the highest-converting keywords with different landing pages, run a new ad in the highest-converting locations, etc.

You can also one-up your ad game during seasons, special holidays, and other trends in the masses.

My Last Thoughts

These are the 10 tips that can increase the effectiveness of your CPC campaign and keep your search engine marketing budget in control.

Also, pay close attention to main metrics like ROI and ROAS, conversion volume, and cost per conversion. Anything that gets measured can be improved. I talk more about that in my PPC campaign guide.

If you haven't done so recently, it is probably time to do a thorough account audit as well. Check out our ultimate guide on how to perform an SEM audit and uncover hidden opportunities.

Anytime you need help with achieving your marketing goals, don't hesitate to reach out. Whether you want to increase brand awareness or generate more sales, we always deliver top advertising campaign results.

My team and I at Ernst Media specialize in SEO, PPC, and Social Media. Get in touch.