According to one source a typical PPC account wastes as much as 25% and even more of its total paid search spend on poor quality traffic or by spending too much on clicks.

In this blog we’re going to look at some of the biggest money wasters and what you can do to rein them in.

Is Broad Match the Best Match?

One of the biggest money wasters is the overuse of broad match keywords. Remember that when you use broad match you are telling Google to show your ad for any search query that is related to or contains a part of your keyword.

Is this really what you want?

Now in some cases broad match may indeed be your best match. However in most cases you are typically better off test driving your campaign using [exact match] and +broad +match +modified keywords. If these more restrictive keywords don’t generate the amount of impressions and clicks you expect to see, then you can try out a small sampling of broad matched keywords as long as you commit to keeping a close eye on their performance. We suggest bidding lower on broad match so you are not paying top dollar for low quality traffic, and keep an eye on your search query report to identify new keywords as well as negative keywords. If these broad match keywords prove out, then by all means, increase bid – but baby steps!

Using Negative Keywords for a Positive Experience

Which brings us to another budget buster – a lack of negative keywords. Some negatives are obvious, such as “free” if you do not offer anything free. If you are selling new cars and not used or pre-owned, then adding “used” and “pre-owned” as negatives is a must do (not to mention car brands you also do not sell). Your search query report is a great place to find negative keywords. I’ve written in a previous blog about how a client had spent literally thousands of dollars on keywords that had nothing to do with his product where the addition of a handful of negative keywords would have prevented this from happening (and going forward did!).

Bid Adjustment is Stacked Against You

Another potential money waster is Google’s bid adjustment options. By now you should know that bid modifiers let you change your keyword bids based on the searcher’s location, day of the week, time of the search, and whether the searcher is using a smartphone or other device. You can use any and all of these modifiers. Modifiers are applied in real time so when a Google user’s search query triggers your ad these alter your base keyword bid. Bid modifiers can be set so that if a searcher uses their smartphone Monday through Friday between the hours of 11am and 2pm to search for “pizza” or “lunch specials”, and you own a pizza parlor or a cafe with lunch specials, your ads can appear at the top of the mobile search results page.

This seems obviously a good thing but keep in mind that because bid adjustments are stacked, you could be spending a whole lot more for that “peak hours” click than you need to…or want to!

For example, let’s say that your keyword is “pizza” and your base bid is $1. You’ve set your device modifier to increase bids by 100% on smartphone searches. Now you may also be targeting a specific area and so let’s say you’ve set your geographic modifier to increase bids by 50% for searchers located in that geo targeted area. Now let’s say you’ve also set your time of day modifier to raise bids by another 100% during the 11am to 2pm lunch period.

Now if someone in your geolocation searches on “pizza” using their smartphone between the hours of 11am and 2pm, you could end up paying as much as $6 for that click! Obviously those searchers would need to buy quite a lot of pizza to make up for that click cost. It may be that your pizza is so good you know that if you just get the customer through the door once, they’ll never go anywhere else. In that case bidding up to such an amount may make sense for your business. Obviously the choice is yours (or your client’s) but as with all things PPC it is important to keep a close eye on your bid modification costs and make sure you are not spending far more than you want to or need to…or can afford to.

And Another Two Things….

Two other areas you should give a look at now and again are your smartphone or mobile device costs and your Networks settings.

As we all know by now campaigns in Google target all devices – those being desktops/laptops, tablets, smartphones and other mobile devices. Before Google “Enhanced” kicked in you were able to separate these but no longer. What you can do is set bid adjustment on mobile. If you see that smartphones/mobile devices are sending you traffic that is not converting and/or is showing poor engagement metrics (low pages per visit, low visit duration and high bounce rate) you can set bid adjustment to -100% which will help in preventing your ads from triggering on these devices and will thus lower costs. So if mobile is obviously not a channel that works for you – this is another area to focus on in order to keep a lid on needless overspend.

Under the Settings tab the Network option allows you to select whether your ads appear on the Google Search Network only or also on Google’s various search partners. After all these years we still do not really know who all are in Google’s search partners network but we do know that some of them include Amazon, Ebay, NY Times and AOL. If this channel is doing well for you, that is generating quality traffic and conversions at an acceptable CPA, then by all means keep it running. However if this channel is doing nothing except costing you money and lowering your overall CTR, then simply uncheck the box and shut it down.

Obviously the best way to keep your campaign costs down is to build the most tightly focused, relevant campaign you possibly can. Just by coincidence =) this is where SpeedPPC shines. You can set your keyword match types to exact and broad match modified with a few clicks, you can create ads that are as relevant to those keywords as they could be using our token insert functions, you can use our dynamic insertion code to make your landing page 100% relevant to keyword and ad copy and you can do it all in record time, which gives you plenty of time for testing and tweaking.