Working in a search marketing firm throws up lots of interesting challenges. One of them is taking over an existing Pay Per Click campaign from another agency as the client is very unhappy with her paid search efforts. Her main grouse is that she is not getting enough business out of her PPC campaigns and her ROI (Return on Investment) is pretty poor.
There are a variety of factors that are contributing to the client’s poor performance in paid search. If you are taking over the client’s existing campaign, there are positives and negatives which you have to be aware of. This post will discuss these at length in no particular order.
1) Figures Speak For Themselves:
The biggest advantage obviously is the amount of data available to analyse the patterns arising from performance of the keywords over a period of time. The longer the campaign has run, the better the trends available (if the business is affected by seasonal trends as in travel).
It is fairly natural to expect that the campaigns are linked to Google Analytics and goals have been setup. Adwords conversion code has been installed. All this data is invaluable in charting out a new path to improve the conversions and ROI of the campaigns.
2) Account History:
This is a crucial yet often overlooked aspect of PPC campaigns in general. If a keyword has performed poorly, say over the past 3 months, it can be a case of poor targeting and poor relevance to the ad group of which it is a part. Most often, DKI – Dynamic Keyword Insertion  is the major culprit.
Its performance can be improved by shifting it to an ad group that improves its targeting and relevance by way of including it in the ad copy and also mentioning it in the landing page copy. If this does not see an improvement in the future performance of that keyword, then the market demand for that phrase also needs to be probed.
Just deleting the keyword and reactivating it hoping that it starts off with a fresh slate is the worst thing that can be done. The Pay Per Click Account History  is a vital factor that has to be borne in mind as this has a major impact on the quality score as well.
Avoid deleting a keyword as far as possible. Give it all the opportunuties to perform well as specified in preceding paragraphs. If it does not work, then pause it for a while (in case it is affected by seasonal factors) and then revive it. If all efforts fail, then bite the bullet and delete it.
3) Avoid making wholesale changes:
If DKI is a reason for poor performance of the various ad groups in different campaigns, the first step would be to rearrange the keywords by moving them into new tightly knit ad groups that target a particular keyword and its variations with apt ad copy and landing page. This can be done using a cool and nifty tool like the Google Adwords Editor .
Do not change the ad copy and the landing page of every ad group in sight as it is going to be hard to measure the results. Make changes incrementally one step at a time and give the new changes some time to sink in. The Adwords quality score depends on a multitude of factors. Measure the results over a period of time. You will find that most of the changes respond positively in the new setup.
There can be instances where certain keywords have such a poor history of performance that they can take more time than normal to ignite. Give them a chance to do so.
4) Testing landing pages with Google Website Optimizer:
Instead of reworking the existing landing pages right from the word go, you can create alternative landing pages and test the effectiveness using the Googel Website Optimizer  tool.
Please remember that each industry is a beast in itself. The rules of engagement are different as each industry has its unique inherent vagaries. As a PPC specialist, you can enhance the CTR , improve the quality score of keywords and campaigns and reduce the click costs. But visitors converting into customers depends a lot on the smoothness of the sales funnel itself.
Giving fewer choices to visitors when it comes to taking action leads to reduction in distractions and enhances the conversion process.
5) Expand the scope of the business:
A thorough keyword research using the Google keyword tool  throws up the market demand and supply. Have a close look at the keywords targeted.
Many a time, there will be huge potential in the form of untapped market niches. This is a great opportunity to expand the client’s market scope and get her additional business for previously hitherto untargeted areas. This means targeting new keywords and creating new ad groups and landing pages all in sync with each other in terms of targeting and relevance.
These are starting off with a flourish with no blemishes in the past clouding them. This can boost the CTR (click through rate) and conversions and increase the ROI. The overall performance of the entire campaign is also improved.
6) Keyword match:
In my experience, I have come across industries where the generic broad match keyword phrases outperform the more specific targeted keywords in phrase and exact form. Negative keywords help cut down wasted clicks by filtering out unrelated intent of searches.
If some of the phrase and exact match keywords do not perform, it is wise to include the broad match terms for those keywords. Also, adding a geographical modifier to the keyword improves the targeting further. For example, a broad term like Auckland online florists is itself very targeted though it is still a broad match.
7) Reach out to a wider audience:
Sometimes, business owners can be fixated with local business needs. Small to medium ticket products can be sold to a wider audience. If it is a service, then the scope definitely is within the local area. But if the same service is quite unique that customers from neighbourbing towns or cities can afford to travel, then it would be worthwhile widening the geo targeting of the client campaigns.
If you have gut feeling that something will work (especially if the business owner feels that way), keep emotions in check and bypass it for the time being. Test it and check it out to make sure it works.
In conclusion, tread with care in the early days of managing an inherited PPC campaign. It pays to be conservative at the start. Gradually, grow your wings and try newer approaches. Test, rinse and repeat. Anything that works can be found only by testing.
Ravi Venkatesan is a senior SEO consultant at Netconcepts, an Auckland PPC  company offering both search engine optimisation and search engine marketing  services to their customers in New Zealand and Australia.