Misconception #1: Impressions are useful as a primary metric for campaign performance
When being asked to report on the success of a PPC campaign, it’s tempting to use the total impressions as a KPI. It’s an often-impressive figure after all, with numbers well in excess of 100,000 per month in some accounts.
But it’s a dangerous move. There’s a time and a place for reporting on impressions (namely in CPM display campaigns) but in a normal search campaign it can give a very skewed notion.
Take for example, an average search campaign, which receives 30,000 impressions per month. That could be sold as generating a huge amount of brand awareness to potential customers. But if no-one is clicking the ads (say just 300 per month) then is the account really performing well? In this scenario, the 1% CTR could be an indication that your ads are poorly targeted, perhaps due to the account not being granular enough, or perhaps using too many generic, broad match keywords.
Using impressions as the primary KPI for campaign performance will mean your CTR will likely be neglected, ultimately contributing towards a lower quality score and a higher cost per click to keep you in the optimum positions.
Instead try reporting on clicks or conversions to truly report on campaign performance. If you’re being asked to report impressions specifically, try reporting impressions per specific phrase rather than the total impressions per campaign or ad group.
Misconception #2: Increasing the maximum cost per click will increase your ad rank
You see a keyword with a high number of impressions and a good click-through rate, so you decide to “pour more gas on the fire”. The expectation is to see more impressions, more clicks and more conversions. But that’s not always the case. Sure, in some circumstances it will work, but it’s not a guaranteed success.
By throwing more money at a keyword you’ll start to climb ad positions. The higher you climb, the higher the revenue ad platforms like Google AdWords will want for that position. Fail to satisfy that need and you could see your quality score and ultimately ad rank suffer.
Additionally, a sudden increase in impressions without an increase in clicks will result in a lower quality score (Poor expected click-through rate) which will affect your ad rank.
Of cause it’s not that simple (or condemned). Allocating more of the budget towards the best performing ad groups and keywords isn’t a bad bidding strategy (far from it) providing you know how to find early warning signs and resolve them effectively.
Misconception #3: Keeping the number of keywords down maintains a targeted approach
Keeping the number of keywords to a minimum may seem like a good way of keeping your ads targeted, but you may also be limiting the useful information that you’re able to gain from the campaign.
Keyword management is often a contributing factor for keeping the keyword count down, but actually by increasing the number of keywords and subsequently the number of automatic (and manual) bid changes you’ll be keeping each keyword in the ideal position and advantage your ad group or campaign.
Incremental gains over a range of ad groups and keywords can dramatically cut costs, leaving room to increase conversions and be more aggressive with ad positions and bids. Ideally there should be hundreds of bid adjustments every day on a reasonably sized account.