Many people level criticism at PPC, bitter after seeing good money spirited away with no return. And it’s easy to conclude that Google’s intentions must be to milk it’s advertisers dry. But the truth is that if everyone by now had tried and failed at Adwords, no one but injury lawyers would have been using it for the past 8 odd years, and Google would just be a funny logo on the front of Leyton Orient FC’s kit.

So, there’s gold in them hills, but is the cost of finding it too much?

Surprising as it is, Google do want you to find it. And keep finding it. A long term customer with frugal click spend is better for them than a flash in the pan big-spender. They also want you to pay top dosh for your clicks too – but they want you to be pleased about this because they want you to get paid everytime they get paid. And as an almost shy acknowledgement of this love, two new tiny tickboxes in Adwords descreetly herald the arrival of conversion based account performance.

Tickbox 1: Conversion based Ad delivery. Joining ‘optimise my ads’ and ‘evenly rotate my ads’ is conversion based ad delivery. If you have conversion tracking set up (please stop reading this and do it now if you have not), then this feature is a double saver right from the get go. As it suggests, the ad that gets shown in preference to the others is the ad that has conversion history associated with it. This means less ads that read  ”please click me!” and more ads that read ”ignore me, unless you really are ready to do business”. In other words, your ad becomes the first line of defence against wasteful clicks and instead is be written to actively discourage most people who don’t fit the bill.

Normally, this leaves you with a mean old ad with no CTR love, stuck in with a bunch of competitors and then facing the prospects of expensive CPC’s due to low quality score when the odd click does come along. So to help we have:

Tickbox 2: Conversion Based Bidding (or enhanced bidding). If we know a keyword is good for conversions, we’d like to see it flex the spend a little to get good positions as and when the need arises. Conversion-based bidding does just that, allowing your maximum CPC rules to be exceeded by a definable percentage. This is good news especially if we only have that mean old ad to rely on.

So, its like 2002 all over again – I cant fail right?

In reality, we all know that antisocial ads, and loads of random keywords all set to low bids, is not going to overload your order fulfilment system overnight. The trick is, think about the low hanging fruit first. If you are tying a conversion to the the sale of luxury apartments, it will proberbly take several centuries to optimise your campaign. What we need then is to use the conversion based elements of ad delivery and bidding to mark out a fair sized audience that registers decent interest first.

The first step is to use Google Analytics page view times as goals, and import goals as conversions into your linked Adwords account. Another broad indicator is to go for brochure delivery or Email address as a first stage goal, or views of a key page (‘prices’, for instance)

Once you are consistently attracting traffic with a generalised interest in your content/ product (and have purged any ads and keywords generating bounces) then you can ”move the goal posts” by setting ultimate sale/ full lead conversions. By doing this, you should have maintained volume of conversions.

Do take note though: you’ll need to work like a demon on ad testing and keyword research. Your landing pages too should be varied and keyword based, or ideally plugged into Website Optimiser. In this sense there is no shortcut, but at least you will shorten the wasted spend phase of your campaigns – after that, you and Google Adwords can live happily ever after. The end.