What's the Best PPC Bidding Strategy? – Search Engine Journal

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What's the Best PPC Bidding Strategy? – Search Engine Journal

Want to know which is the “best” bidding strategy for your PPC campaign? Start by learning each strategy’s objective, function, and pros and cons.
One of the most crucial parts of pay-per-click advertising is how you determine what to pay per click.
In this installment of Ask Me Anything About PPC, we’ll tackle this question from Suleman in Lawrenceville.
“Which is the best bidding strategy since Google continues to add new bidding strategies-Smart bidding, Manual CPC, CPA, ROI, Max Conversion? I tested CPA and Manual CPC and faced challenges with CPA. The CPA campaigns starts performing well then as time goes it slows down drastically. Manual CPC always has been my favorite. I understand that the bidding strategy is based on your company goals and return on your investment but Any bidding strategy is your favorites?”
Spoiler: The answer will be it depends.
In order to answer this question, we’ll need to break down each bidding strategy by:
Once we have this information, we can come up with the “best” bidding strategy for us in the moment we need it.
Bidding strategies are broken up into three core families:
While all bidding strategies have some degree of human input (budget/bid caps/goals/etc.), only manual bidding fully embraces humans owning the task.
It’s worth noting that Google makes it hard to choose manual bidding, which can be found here:
Bidding strategiesUpdate: Google announced that Target CPA and Target ROAS will no longer be available as of April 2021. They are consolidating their functions under Max Conversions and Max Conversion Value. Target CPA’s function will live on in being able to set a target in the Max Conversion bidding strategy, as will Target ROAS in Max Conversion value.
As the functions of these strategies remain effectively the same, we are leaving the old descriptions up.
Spend the stated daily budget, while driving as many conversions as possible at the requested CPA.
This bidding strategy won’t chase volume or differentiate between conversions of higher/lower value.
It will strive to bring in conversions at the requested CPA.
This means you may have some conversions at a higher CPA, as well as conversions at a lower CPA.
While there isn’t an official conversion threshold, most campaigns need at least 60 days of accurate conversions coming in around the CPA you will ask for.
Ideally, you’ll also have at least 15 conversions during this period.
Useful in legacy campaigns that are expected to serve a single goal with an agreed-upon value.
Not ideal for exploring new markets/services, or for brand new accounts.
Invest the budget in prospects who have the highest chance of converting at the highest value.
Target ROAS is a hero among bidding strategies because it focuses on conversion value over volume.
A prerequisite of the strategy is setting up conversion values for each conversion (I prefer to do this through analytics).
Instead of setting a CPA goal, advertisers set a ROAS goal (usually at least 300X).
Google requires at least 15 conversions in a 30 day period to run – I’d encourage you to wait till you have at least 30-50.
Target ROAS is where we all want to get to, however, some of the requirements preclude newer businesses/novice marketers.
*Max Conversion Value behaves the same (just no conversion thresholds or goals).
Learn how much my desired keywords cost while driving as many clicks as possible.
This bidding strategy will bring the volume, focusing on clicks over conversions.
Advertisers can set a bid cap (I recommend 10% of the daily budget), or leave it open (don’t do this).
If you use this strategy, uncheck Search Partners and Display in Search campaigns, otherwise, the budget might be misdirected to lower value placements.
Be sure campaigns only ave one strategic focus (not mixing branded and non-branded ideas), otherwise high volume ideas could steal budget from lower volume ideas.
Great strategy for early days/low search volume industries, but not a long-term strategy.
Drive as many conversions as possible (regardless of value or cost per lead).
Ad network will attempt to drive as many conversions as possible within the given budget.
They won’t pay attention to the conversion action or repeat rate.
This bidding strategy can only be used if you 1000% trust your conversions and only include high-value conversions.
While amazing at delivering volume for simple conversion paths, it’s a messy strategy for complex consumer journeys.
Achieve desired impression share in the desired location within the budget.
Target impression share asks advertisers to specify a percentage goal, along with location.
Be sure to choose at least 60% at the top of the page.
Choosing anywhere on the first page can cause “false positives” on impression share + auction price.
Bid caps should not exceed 10% of the daily budget. If impression share has been a problem, test 15% above your average CPC.
Great for branded/competitor campaigns and early days campaigns, however not a winning strategy for proven conversion campaigns.
Advertiser controlled bids, leveraging bid adjustments over bidding goals.
Manual bidding requires unique bids for each keyword. These bids can be conservative (closer to the top of page bid), or aggressive (bidding for the absolute top or higher).
Advertisers have access to the following bid adjustments:
The more aggressive the bid, the less aggressive the bid adjustment.
It’s important to note most bid adjustments are only available as exclusions or will adjust the TCPA/ROAS on auto/smart bidding.
Be sure to check your adjustments as you switch between the bidding strategies.
Great for seasoned marketers and those who want to layer in their own ideas on the perfect prospect.
I tend to toggle between manual bidding, max clicks with bid caps, and target impression share in the first 30-60 days of a campaign.
Once I’m able to unlock enough conversion data I trust, I’ll usually switch to TROAS or Max conversions (I’m highly regimented in conversion actions and only include high-value events).
It all depends on the client’s goals and how much they’ve bought into volume over value leads.
Have a question about PPC? Submit via this form or tweet me @navahf with the #AskPPC hashtag. See you next month!
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