How to Compete with Bigger Advertisers on Popular Keywords

One of the most frustrating things I can imagine while managing small PPC accounts is getting priced out of a keyword that has the potential for a lot of traffic and lots of sales. If you’re in that situation, there are ways to compete by getting maximum exposure and going beyond Google’s quality score. The secret: Advanced day-parting.

The original purpose of day-parting was to let advertisers turn their ads off when they don’t want ads within a campaign to be seen. This could be due to call center hours, or perhaps a drop in the conversion rate. Here’s a better idea: Use day-parting across multiple mirrored campaigns to make sure you get exposure at different parts of the day. Let’s walk through it step-by-step:

1) Go into Google’s reporting interface and run an hourly report regardless of date for a sufficient time period at the campaign level, preferably for a single campaign. Be sure to check the boxes labeled “impression share”A sufficient time period is usually at least 30 days, but possibly up to 90, depending on your conversion volumes. Make your report screen look like this:

impressionshare1

2) Export to Excel, and sort by hour of day. You should have 24 entries, ranging from 0-23. You need to look for a couple things:

  • At what hours of the day is your impression share lowest?
  • At what hours of the day is your conversion rate the highest?

Your impression share is what percentage of search queries are you getting for the keywords within the given campaign. Low numbers mean you’re losing out on opportunities. High numbers mean you show up often.

3) For example’s sake, let’s say that our busiest hours are 6:00-7:00am, 12:00-2:00pm, and 5:00-7:00pm on weekdays. For these hours we’d set our ad scheduling to look like this:

adscheduling

The above example is an extreme where you only run the ads during these peak times. However, if you’re using advanced day-parting also allows you to change your max bids during these different periods within a day. So if you know the 12-2 hour is where you’re going to make all your money, you can dictate that those bids automatically be raised any percentage over the Max CPC at the keyword level that you’re comfortable with. During the other hours of the day you can run the ads at a lower percentage than the max CPC, so you don’t get charged as much per click. Keep in mind that your average position will decline.

This seems pretty thorough as-is, so why use mirrored campaigns? For some really competitive keywords, you may not even last through these small peak hours to get the exposure you’re looking for. In those cases you need more than one campaign with different daily budget caps to make sure your traffic is getting spread across the times that you want, and not whenever Google thinks its best.

Expect to spend 2-3 hours of research per campaign in reports before deciding which hours are best suited for your campaign. Due to that time requirement, I’d recommend doing this on only your top 1 or 2 campaigns, and only if you see your daily budget being maxed out constantly, but can’t afford to raise it. Another good sign is when Google suggest that you should at least double your daily budget to get max exposure.

Remember, the goal is not to get more impressions or clicks for the sake of getting traffic, but instead to maximize conversions at peak times of the day. If you execute this tactic and you’re not seeing an overall increase in sales within a month or so, don’t bother with the extra management. Kill the test and go back to what you were doing originally.

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  17. Won’t raising your bids during peak hours mean you are paying more per conversion than in off peak hours? Why not just set your bids at a level where you spend your budget by the end of the day (no sooner or later)? Then youll get maximum conversions at minimum price?

  18. @ Chris Rowett Not necessarily, because you’re paying for clicks and not conversions. Your conversion cost is a calculation of total conversions divided by total cost. If you get a couple more conversions at peak times with the same amount of money, your conversion rate goes up while costs stay flat, which actually drives your conversion cost down.

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  33. For competitive keywords we’ve recently begun creating websites as landing pages. We’ve found by purchasing an url that matches our keyphrase we are targeting, Google is gives our ad a better score and therefore a lower per click cost.

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  34. This is a great way to really study the numbers before making any changes and decisions on how to change your campaign.

    Nick Stamouliss last blog post..How Strong is your Ad Copy?

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  37. Keywords are really powerful. It’s what make websites attractive and interesting. I hope to learn more on this post. Great one!

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