Do’s and Don’ts of PPC

September 30, 2009 Steve

Have you been thinking about starting Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising?  Don’t know where to start? Don’t know what to do, or what you shouldn’t do?  Well today’s question was sent in by John who asks exactly that:

“What would be the main Do’s and Don’ts when running PPC campaigns with Adwords?”

Whilst it’s impossible to cover such a broad subject in one fell swoop, we hope today’s post gives you some pointers.


Shane Robinson

 The main points for Adwords campaigns are:

Research your keywords well before hand

Use the Google Keyword Tool to sort your keywords into tight groups of related keywords, then put the most targeted keywords in on phrase and exact match.  You can use broad match too but Google’s algorithm takes liberties far too often, so it needs using carefully and watching very closely!

Use negative keywords

You need to focus just as hard on the negative keywords so as to reduce wasted impressions.  This in turn boosts your click through ratio as you get the same amount of clicks from less impressions.  Work out a realistic cost per click based on the expected conversion ratio and resulting commission/profit from each sale so that you don’t overbid.

Make your adcopy relevant to the keywords

Your adcopy should be as relevant to the keywords as possible, and it should contain the main keyword(s) so that it bolds up when searched for as this boosts the click through ratio.  Try to feature a unique selling point/reason to click your advert; so if you’re the cheapest, feature the price, or if it’s free delivery or same day dispatch then say that.

It’s wise to create a few ad variations.  I’d suggest at least 2 but no more than 4 initially, although for one of them you could use dynamic insertion feature {KeyWord:Default Text Here} so that the keyword searched for is contained in the ad every time.  Your adgroups should be tightly themed, so whilst an adgroup will take 2,000 keywords, you don’t want to fill each one with that many, you should be aiming for small and highly relevant adgroups that go to highly targeted relevant landing pages.

It is this tight relevancy between keywords, adcopy and landing page that helps to attain a good quality score.  In theory, this means that you will pay far less per click than someone with 2,000 keywords in one adgroup and one advert who is sending everyone direct to their site’s index page!

Review, refine, replace … rinse and repeat

Once the adgroup has had some traffic, take a look at the keywords.  If your phrase match keywords are getting traffic, and you have the same keyword on exact too, then you know that users are searching for something including the phrase match keyword, otherwise it would be the exact match getting the traffic.  You should aim to find what extra words are before or after your phrase match.  Run a search query report and see which terms people searched for, saw your advert and then clicked it, and then you can harvest some new negatives and extra keywords to bid on from this report.

Don’t just leave adgroups to run for weeks on end, go in and tweak bids to get the positions you desire; the sweet spot on most campaigns is position 2-4 for a good combination of volume and conversion.  Get the poor performers out of there; either delete them or put them in an improvers adgroup so that the main adgroup is as healthy as possible and filled with keywords that have good click through ratios.

Don’t forget to review and change the adcopy too, tweak the lowest performing advert and let it run again.  Over time you’ll hone your ads to maximise the click through ratio.

I’d also recommend using Adwords Editor it rocks! and saves hours of time.  It’s very easy to use, you can copy and paste, drag and drop etc. and you can even work offline then upload later.

PPC is an ongoing war with many variables in play, so adgroups need regularly reviewing.  Setting them up is only the first step of the process!


Kirsty McCubbin




Potentially a very broad question, however off the top of my head:


– Keep your search terms and phrases very highly targeted initially to get a feel for your conversions.
– Make proper use of all the different match types and learn what they all mean.
– Use exact match only if a lot of your terms have more than one meaning, broad match can be unpredictable at times!
– Research your potential campaign thoroughly before setting it in motion. 
– Try and work out roughly what a merchant’s AOV and conversion rate might be – and tailor your CPC to suit.  You’ll have a much better chance of making a profit!
– Make use of the Adwords daily budget cap in case something goes wrong and you get thousands of dud clicks for some reason (it DOES happen).


– Bid on generics unless you’re pretty damned sure of your programme performance.
– Bid high when you start a new campaign unless you can afford to lose a few quid.
– Engage in any dodgy trickery whatsoever – Google has seen it all before and it’s just not worth basing an income on unsustainable techniques.
– Do anything in gambling or finance if you’re a first time PPC-er and don’t have deep pockets!
– Listen to anyone who says they have some kind of “foolproof scheme” to make you millions on Adwords PPC – they don’t ;)


Mark RussellMake sure that you always check the merchant PPC restrictions, and communicate clearly with the merchant to make sure you are getting the best coverage and conversion from any PPC campaigns.  Check the performance of your PPC campaign regularly to make sure you are getting the best return on your ads, and make use of Broad and Exact match.


Kieron DonoghueDon’t gamble (because that’s what it is) more money than you can afford to lose.

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6 Responses to “Do’s and Don’ts of PPC”

  1. Great set of answers, cheers guys and gals!

    Thanks especially to Shane for the dynamic keyword insertion tip :-)



  2. @Mark – thanks for the welcomed feedback! The PPC posts are proving to be very popular from some of the other feedback received.

    Would be great to hear more views …

  3. Great post.
    From a technical perspective I strongly recommend tracking which keywords actually generate sales. This will help reduce the amount of money spent on poorly performing keywords, and focus more on those that make a profit.

  4. Some great tips there, especially from Shane.
    Cheers guys.

  5. @Dave @Mike. Thanks for the feedback and the extra tip, glad you liked the post. There will be another PPC post coming up very soon.

  6. […] the beginning of this year and it’s safe to say I’m addicted. While I was reading the PPC Dos and Don’ts post on Affiliate Doctors I noticed that Shane had recommended using Adwords Dynamic Insertion tool. […]

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