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Code Blue: A First Aid Kit to Revive a Failing PPC Campaign

by William Leake  |  
February 10, 2009

Do you have a paid search campaign that is on its last legs?

Perhaps your spending has spiraled out of control and your conversions haven't budged. Or, like many of us, maybe your performance is fine but your budgets have been slashed, forcing you to produce the same results with less spend.

Before you scrap everything and start from scratch, pull out this trusty first-aid kit for PPC campaigns.

But keep in mind that there is general campaign optimization, and then there is the rescue work. First-aid kits don't contain everything you need to survive in this world, but they will help you stop the bleeding from life's little nicks and cuts.

Step One: Eliminate Irrelevant Traffic

When you're paying per click, you want only relevant traffic. Many campaigns are mired in irrelevant traffic. Step one on the road to recovery: Cut irrelevance out of the picture.

Do this by identifying and blocking negative keywords. Doing so will ensure that your ad doesn't come up in search results under irrelevant terms. Find irrelevant search terms in Google's Search Query report and use them as negative keywords across all search engines. Since every campaign is different, the best way to find negative keywords is to look at a search query report and get rid of anything that doesn't belong.

"Free" is often a good negative keyword to start with. "Cheap" and "Discount" are tricky, but could be relevant if your products are high-end. Also keep in mind that there is something "X-rated" out there for more keywords than you probably want to think about. If you're not in the "adult" industry, add some negative keywords in that regard.

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William Leake is CEO of Apogee Search (

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