Back to Basics

By Chris Kanellakes, Paid Search Supervisor, Advertising Solutions

Over the course of my career in search, I have come across paid search accounts that were under-performing, not because of what one might expect (poor optimization), but actually because of over-optimization. Yes, over-optimization can occur. How does this happen? I would say over time people who are required to do the same task day after day fall into a pattern that causes them to lose focus and not take the time to think outside of the box. Applying this theory to a PPC manager who is responsible for optimizing campaigns on a daily basis, we can see that he or she might fall into a pattern of applying the same optimizations month after month.

How do we fix a PPC account that has been over-optimized? I would begin by going back to the basics of PPC management. What are the basics? Read on.


The first question I would ask in evaluating your account is: What is the current status of the targeting of each campaign? Take the time to reevaluate how you are currently targeting your audience and make sure your method is still relevant. In many cases, campaign targeting can change as dictated by business needs and strategies.


Next, I would evaluate the current placement strategies. Make sure to reevaluate the current keyword list to see if all your keywords are pertinent and are driving relevant traffic. In addition, I would also run a keyword profitability report to make sure that your current list of terms is not using the majority of your budget without producing conversions. Once your initial keyword evaluation is complete and you have modified your keyword list, review the current search engines you are running to make sure they are still reaching your target audience. This would be a good time to also consider expanding your placements on vertical engines, content networks, or utilize site targeting.


The third step in the process is to reevaluate your current messaging. Often, large accounts with many campaigns that have been online for more than a year suffer from stale creative messaging. Running stale messages can result in a decrease in CTR, and this provides an opportunity for your competitors to gain top positioning. Take the time to refresh your creatives and run creative tests in order to guarantee you are keeping your messaging targeted and fresh.

Landing Pages

The fourth and final step in the process is to review the current landing pages. As mentioned above in the discussion of stale messaging, it is important to revisit and evaluate current landing pages as they too can become stale or, in some cases, break. In either situation, it is important to QA all landing pages to make sure they work and are relevant. Do not stop there. Take some time to review the entire site and see if there are other potential landing pages that you could use. Utilize A/B Testing to determine the best possible one.

Every account is different as is the strategy that is applied to it. However, over time they can still fall victim to stagnation or being over-optimized. Whatever the case may be, employing the four tactics mentioned above will help provide a blueprint for revitalizing an account for continued growth and to reverse the effects of over-optimization.


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