Letting Go Of Your Keywords

After you’ve spent painstaking hours researching and refining your keyword list, it can be hard to admit that some of your keywords just aren’t working. Don’t worry – plenty of keywords fail to produce a good ROI, especially in this competitive landscape. Sometimes you just need to let go…

A rookie mistake for a lot of PPC managers is to cut keywords loose before they have even been given a chance to perform. For the newbies, I have an easy formula to determine whether or not a keyword needs to be cut. To use this, you need to know two things: your target ROI, and your total click cost of a keyword over a reasonable amount of time (this could be a month, a week, or a year, or any time frame, really – it all depends on how much traffic you tend to get). If your total cost exceeds your target ROI, cut the keyword. It’s as simple as that. Or, in other words, if you would not return a positive ROI even if your very next click resulted in a conversion, that keyword needs to go.

However, you also need to keep a few other things in mind. First, make sure your conversion tracking is working. If you’re tracking clicks but not conversions, you’re going to get some really screwed up ROI numbers when things aren’t actually that bad. Second, consider changing your match type or adding negative keywords. If one keyword is getting a ton of junk traffic, you might be able to solve your ROI problem through some creative filtering. And third, check your positioning. If you’re showing really high in the search results, your high cost could be a result of chasing an ineffective top position – you might get a better ROI at position four or lower.

Don’t be afraid to make cuts, though – keywords don’t have feelings. And don’t feel like you’ve failed if a keyword you thought would succeed ends up being a dud. Remember, PPC is all about experimentation, and what fun would experimentation be if we all didn’t fail once in a while?

About Shawn Livengood

Shawn Livengood is a search engine marketing professional based in Austin, Texas. He has extensive experience managing pay-per-click ad campaigns for clients in various industries, from small home-based businesses to large international companies. You can connect with Shawn on Google+.
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