How to reduce CPC in 2019

New Year’s resolutions for you and/or your digital marketing agency!

As 2018 draws to a close, many of us will be reflecting on what has gone well this year and what we would like to change over the next 12 months. This applies as equally to business as it does to our personal life and circumstances.

One key target for digital marketing agencies is to reduce CPC – Cost Per Click. CPC, is the amount you pay each time someone clicks on one of your PPC ads in Google AdWords. It is determined by various factors: your maximum bid, your Quality Score, and the ad rank of other advertisers bidding for the same keyword.

Just a brief word on the subject of your Quality Score. This is the metric that Google uses to determine SERP rankings of advertisers, and how much those advertisers need to pay. The Quality Score aims to ensure that the most relevant ads achieve the highest rankings.

Interestingly, the higher your Quality Score, the lower your CPC is likely to be because the formula used to determine CPC involves the ad rank of the advertiser below you being divided by your Quality Score. So the targets of reducing CPC and increasing your Quality Score – and actions you can take to do so – are very closely aligned.

So let’s take a look at Seven Steps that will help you to both reduce CPC and increase Quality Score. Steps that should help you to hit the ground running in 2019.

Constantly research relevant keywords:

Keyword research is so important yet often gets sidelined by other priorities. You end up using the same old keywords and hoping for the best. But additional keyword research can pay huge dividends, particularly in crowded markets.

A useful tool to help you with keyword research is the Keyword Planner. It generates additional ideas to try related to your main keyword. You can then filter the results to find lower competition keywords: these have lower average CPC but some still generate high search volumes. Also try using branded keywords to increase click-through and conversion rates.

Use long tail keywords:

Long tail keywords still tend to generate higher Quality Scores. This is because of their high relevance to your website or business. The more specific a search query, the higher the user’s purchase intent is likely to be. Therefore a click is then more likely to lead to conversion. The downside of this is that using long tail keywords may show up with lower search volumes, but they will have lower average CPC due to less competition.

So when using long tail keywords you need to find that ideal balance between low competition, reasonable search volumes and a good quality score. This will enable you to run a successful campaign at the same time as lowering overall CPC costs.

Make ads relevant:

Whatever campaign you are running, the relevance of your ads needs to be high priority. AdWords uses relevance to assign Quality Score to your ads. Optimising your ads to ensure they are relevant will enable them to rank well against your competitors, whatever else is happening in terms of other bidding.

You can check the relevancy of your keywords by going to your keywords tab in Google Adwords. You can then hover over each keyword to find out the ad’s relevancy level. If your ads are not highly relevant to your keywords, they will be labeled as “Below Average”. You then have the opportunity either to edit the ads or create new ads with more relevancy to your keywords.

It is also important to produce high quality text for your ads. Ensure that you have eye-catching headlines, relevant descriptions and specific calls to action. Also try using Google ad extensions and sitelinks to provide more places throughout the ad to click and therefore improve CTR (Click-Through Rates).

Set “match type” for your keywords:

Another key step in determining the relevance of ads is to set your required “match type”. Match type enables you to set a matching option for each keyword that helps to control how closely the keyword needs to match a person’s search term in order to trigger your ad.

You can choose one or more matching options for a keyword. If you don’t specify a particular matching option, keywords will default to broad match. This means that Google AdWords will automatically run your ads on relevant variations of your keywords – for example synonyms, singular/plural forms, possible misspellings and other relevant variations.

Broad match can help you to attract more visitors to your website and means that you have to spend less time building keyword lists. However, broad match keywords may contribute to a low Quality Score if your keywords appear relevant for too many search terms. However, you will generally achieve a higher CTR by using either exact match or phrase match because your ads will only show if they include the exact terms that potential customers are searching for.

The best thing is to experiment with different match types, and implement the match type that delivers the most clicks for lowest cost.

Test multiple landing pages:

Another key factor in both Quality Score and CPC is the quality of your landing page. You need to give a lot of attention to your landing page copy. Landing pages can be personalised for different campaigns and different target audiences to reinforce and be relevant to the click-through. Including relevant keywords in landing page copy is also important to ensure consistency of relevance.

As well as copy, User Experience is critically important. Landing page experience is also deemed a key factor by Google when calculating the Quality Score for your keywords. So make sure that not only are the basics covered – such as loading speed – but that you aim for top notch UX in every way. Check out Google’s criteria for Progressive Web Apps to find out more about what Google considers to be a great web experience across different devices.

Ad groups:

One other area to be aware of when seeking to lower CPC is by setting up ad groups. This is the process of creating tightly themed lists of keywords around different products and services that you want to advertise online. These lists are known as ad groups. For each ad group you should also select the best possible landing page available on your website. Landing pages should be kept under constant review and could also include promotional offers relevant to the product or service.

Skilful use of ad groups can help to ensure that potential customers click through to the exact information and offers that they are looking for, resulting in you achieving an excellent Quality Score for your keywords and a lower average CPC.

Lower your bids:

Once you have all of the above factors under control you can experiment further by lowering your CPC maximum bids in small stages. Monitor this carefully to ensure that your rankings are not adversely affected: it is essential to remember that whilst it is good to lower costs, you also need to focus on ad campaign performance. There is no victory in rock bottom costs if there are no clicks or conversions to show for it.

But trial and error is the key. You may well find that you can maintain SERP position and campaign success even when your CPC bids are reduced.

If you follow the above seven steps, you will be well on the way to reducing your CPC – and improving your Quality Score – in 2019. We would love to hear about your results!