Pay per click (PPC) advertising campaigns are one of the most cost-efficient ways to improve the visibility of your website. Even with a limited budget, you can attract new visitors to your website (and hopefully convert them in the process).
But if you want the return on investment (ROI) of your campaign to justify its inclusion in your suite of marketing strategies, you’ll need to think carefully about your CPC – your cost per click. A lower CPC can help you attract more traffic for less money, thereby increasing your total results.
Why Lower CPC Isn’t Always a Good Thing
First, a disclaimer: a lower CPC isn’t always the right move for your business. CPC is often a byproduct of demand and competition; if you want a hotly contested keyword, you’ll end up paying more money to be featured with it. There’s probably a reason why so many businesses are willing to pay more for this keyword – for example, it might be a commonly searched phrase for a specific target audience at a specific phase of the buying cycle. If you drop these keyword targets in favor of cheaper targets, you might end up with a lower CPC – but that could also mean lower conversion rates, or a slightly “off” variant of your target audience.
Keep that in mind in your pursuit of lowering your PPC costs.
How to Lower Your CPC
Now let’s take a look at some of the powerful ways that you can reduce your CPC.
- Reduce your bids. The most straightforward way to reduce your CPC is to lower your bids. Essentially, the idea is to reduce the maximum CPC you’re willing to pay directly – which should set a firm upper limit for your spending. This is especially valuable if you’re taking advantage of Google’s automated bidding (or a similar system), where you sit back and let Google figure out how, when, and where to place your advertisements.
- Target variant keywords. The CPC for a given keyword is going to rise based on how many people are searching for it and how many other bidders are competing for it. Sometimes, this extra cost is justified. Other times, it’s merely a byproduct of a disproportionately competitive term. You can get around some of the competition and volume issues by targeting “variant” keywords – keywords and phrases that essentially mean the same thing. For example, instead of targeting “veterinarian” or “veterinarian near me,” you could target something like “pet physician” or “pet physician near me.” It’s a less popular term, but it attracts the same type of audience and will drive your CPC down.
- Target long-tail phrases. Similarly, you can reduce your CPC by targeting long-tail keyword phrases rather than short, concise head keywords. Head keywords tend to have a higher search volume and more competition, while long-tail keywords are lower in volume but are frequently more specific and more relevant to your audience’s intentions. They also have the added benefit of being cheaper.
- Adjust your match type. Google gives you the power to control your “match type,” or how closely a user’s search needs to match your target keywords in order for your ad to be considered for inclusion. Oftentimes, if you broaden your range here, you can reduce your total CPC.
- Improve your “quality score.” You’ll be in line to get a more attractive CPC if you have a higher “quality score” associated with your account. You’ll get a higher quality score if your ad is considered to be a high-quality, good fit for your target customers. The easiest way to do this is to make your ad more relevant for your target audience, giving them an offer they think is attractive and speaking to them directly. You’ll also need to write eloquent, targeted copy and choose the right landing page (since Google also takes landing page activity into account when calculating quality).
- Tinker with other variables. Your PPC bids should consider more than just keywords and competition. You can also control your campaign in terms of how it targets people based on the device they’re using, their current location, and the time/day they conduct a search. Oftentimes, you can reduce your CPC by adjusting your targets slightly – or increase the relevance of your audience while keeping the CPC roughly the same.
The Importance of Experimentation
Unfortunately, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to PPC advertising. What works for one business may not work for another, and what works one day may not work in the weeks and months that follow. Accordingly, if you’re going to reduce your CPC and get the most out of your PPC budget, you’ll need to commit to ongoing experimentation. It’s important to tinker with your inputs and variables, measure your results, and make changes to gradually hone your strategy to perfection.