33 PPC Tips & Tricks for 2021

Alex Minchin
Alex Minchin

Pay-Per-Click is one of the most commonly used channels in digital marketing. With so many blog posts, guide, courses and other things, it’s getting harder and harder to know which tactics to follow.

We’ve put together a list of 33+ (we regularly add to them) most important things to consider when planning, or managing your PPC campaign.

This post is broken down into the following key topics to help you plan, or improve your PPC campaign;

  1. Account Structure & Settings
  2. Audience & targeting
  3. Ad Copy & Creative
  4. Bidding & Match Types
  5. Optimising PPC Campaigns
  6. Advanced

Account Structure & Settings

1. Campaign goals

When planning your campaign, make sure to have a goal in mind for the campaign. What would you like to achieve with the campaign?

Each campaign should have a singular goal so that all ads within the campaign are working towards the same target, and don’t negatively affect each other.

An example of a goal for the campaign would be

“To increase revenue generated via PPC by 50% by January 2021.”

Use our Growth Calculator to set your own goals.

2. Select the right campaign type 

During the campaign set up you’re required to select a campaign type, which will determine a lot of the options you have going forward.

If you’re looking to target people searching for your particular product or service, then you should be using Google Search campaigns to target specific keywords relevant to your offering. If you’re looking to increase your brand awareness, and target specific websites to advertise through, ensure you’re using Display campaign settings.

3. Budget

Set a budget that’s realistic, and can achieve your growth targets.

When planning a PPC campaign you need to ensure your budget is sufficient enough for you to get enough clicks that you’ll start receiving enquiries. To work this out, you need to know a few things:

– Your ad spend budget

– Your industry average Cost Per Click (CPC)

– Your website conversion rate

– Your Lead to Sale Conversion leads (for lead generating businesses)

For example, if your industry average CPC is £1.50, and your total ad spend budget is £1500, then you could expect 1000 clicks per month.

If your website conversion rate is 1%, then you could expect 10 sales/enquiries per month from your 1000 clicks.

If your website is used to generate leads rather than sales, then you need to calculate the number of sales from the above using your lead to sale conversion rate. If you receive 10 enquiries, you would see 5 sales with a 50% lead to sale conversion rate.

4. Ad Schedules

Ensure ad schedules are in place to target your users at the most appropriate times. If your users are more likely to be online, and shopping for your product at a specific time of day, you should target your ads around this to make best use of your budget. An example of this is online retailers – you wouldn’t generally expect people to be doing their online shopping between 3am – 5am, so it’s unwise to pay for clicks during this time.

5. Ad Rotation

Select the right ad rotations to suit your campaign goals. If you’re aiming to increase conversions, then set the ad rotation accordingly and it will display the ads most likely to convert. On the flip-side, if your main goal is to increase traffic, then you should be rotating ads to optimise for more clicks. Choose from;

  • Optimise (for conversions)
  • Rotate indefinitely (for clicks)

6. Location targeting

Do research do understand where your potential customers can be located, and target the locations they’re likely to be in. If you’re a UK based business there is little point targeting USA locations, unless you have a specific market there. Similarly, if you are promoting a local event, you would want to target users within a certain radius to ensure the highest concentration of potential buyers are targeted.

Budget is often limited and should therefore be used to target the right locations, at the right time of day (see ad schedules).

7. Ensure all keywords are segmented by ad group

All campaigns should be structured using SKAG (Single Keyword Ad Groups) to clearly show the success of each keyword. Each keyword can then be reviewed to guarantee budget is being spent on keywords that convert.

You must have conversion tracking set up to be able to see which keywords convert.

Audience & Targeting

1. Develop audience personas

To accurately target your users, you must have a clear picture of who they are. Developing audience personas is one of the first things to do when planning any marketing campaign.

Develop personas based on users needs, and the type of person that buys your product or service. Location, age, interests and income can all be used to target users as part of your PPC campaign.

Most businesses will have more than one customer persona. This helps to target users specifically and appeal to their needs.

Here’s an example of an audience persona we’ve developed:

2. In Market Targeting

Similar to hobbies & interests, Google allows you to target users based on the topics users have interests in. You should use your user personas to create audiences for your campaign. Here’s a list of the topics you can target users based on:

  • Apparel and Accessories
  • Autos & Vehicles (Parts & Services)
  • Baby & Children’s Products
  • Beauty Products & Services
  • Business Services
  • Computers & Peripherals
  • Consumer Electronics
  • Consumer Software
  • Dating Services
  • Education
  • Employment
  • Financial Services
  • Gifts & Occasions
  • Home & Garden
  • Real Estate
  • Sports & Fitness
  • Telecom
  • Travel

(source: https://support.google.com/displayvideo/answer/6213232?hl=en )

 3. Location Targeting

More often than not businesses using PPC to advertise have limits to their budgets, and therefore need to ensure spend is allocated to the users who are most likely to become customers.

Rather than targeting entire regions, you can be more specific about where you want your ads to be appearing. First off, you can decide whether your ads appear for users searching under the following criteria;

  • People in your target location
  • People searching for content in your target location
  • People in your target location, and  People searching for content in your target location

Be aware of who your users are and where they can be located. If you’re an online store, then the likelihood is most people within your region could purchase from you. Whereas if you’re a local restaurant, your catchment area for potential customers is probably more likely to be within 20-30 minutes drive of your location.

4. Keyword Research

Undertake Keyword Research to understand which search terms are most valuable to your business. By doing this, you can see the keywords that should be prioritised, and those that should also be excluded from the campaign.

Understanding which keywords are going to drive relevant users to your site is one way to reduce wasted spend, and will help to increase conversions. Use search engines, and online tools such as SEMrush to conduct your research.

(Source: https://www.semrush.com/uk/info/hd%20tv)

5. Review target keywords

Review the target keywords within your campaign to ensure they are bringing the required results. Ultimately, you want to be targeting keywords that convert into sales/leads. This should be the focus when reviewing your keyword targeting – to identify which keywords convert well, and which do not.

For those keywords not converting into leads/sales, the budget would be better spent targeting the keyword/s that are bringing in leads.

6. Review keyword intent

Some keywords can be deceiving….

Not all keywords that are relevant to your offering are good keywords to target with your PPC campaign. As mentioned previously in this post, you want to make sure that the keywords you’re targeting convert into leads. If they don’t, then your budget is being spent on keywords that will never deliver value to your business.

An example of a relevant keyword that shouldn’t be included in a campaign could be;

A launderette is reviewing their target keywords and has included ‘washing clothes’. Whilst this keyword is relevant to what they do, are the users completing these searches looking for launderette facilities? Most likely not, and they would likely waste spend if it were included.

7. Implement a negative keyword list

Ensuring that you’re bidding on the right keywords is just the start. Now you need to which keywords you do not want to bid on. This sets the boundaries for how far your keyword targeting can extend.

If you want to bid on running trainers, but do not want to appear for ‘how to wash running trainers’ then you should add ‘how to’, or ‘wash’ to your negative keyword list to exclude these types of searches.

8. Remarketing Audiences

When a user clicks on your PPC ad they’re doing two things;

  1. Costing you money
  2. Expressing an interest in your product/service


With that in mind, if a user doesn’t convert into a lead at the first time of visiting your site, it’s worth trying to re-engage those users (clicks) that you’ve paid for.

Create remarketing lists, and campaigns to retarget users that haven’t converted, and watch the conversions roll in.

Ad Copy & Creative

1. Check the relevance of your ad copy 

Periodically review your ad copy, and creatives to ensure they’re performing at a good rate. If CTRs are low, there could be quick wins to be made in your ad copy.

Put yourself in the shoes of a user of your product/service – what would you want to see in an advert to click through and find out more? Check that your ad copy is clear, and relevant to the users search.


2. Call to Actions (CTAs)

When crafting your PPC ad copy, a strong call to action (CTA) is one of the key elements in ensuring the ads perform well. The CTA tells users what action you want them to take next.

In order for your CTAs to have the desired effect, they must be:

  • One clear, and easy to understand CTA
  • Relevant to the users search
  • Relevant to the content on the page

If you promotional offers on your products/services, including these as part of the CTA can be a good way to motivate users to find out more.

3. Review Landing Page content is inline with Ad Copy & targeting

For a user to convert in to a lead/sale, they must first take the following journey:

Search > Results Page > Click > Landing Page.

Once a user has landed on your page, they can do one of two things. Convert OR Leave. It’s your job to ensure the landing page has enough relevant content to convert the user into an enquiry.

If the landing pages on your website aren’t converting your paid traffic into leads/sales, then it’s likely to be too crowded, and not providing the user with the right information. To solve this you should develop custom landing pages specifically for paid traffic with the goal of converting.


4. Review Display campaign creatives

When running a Display campaign, you have just one opportunity to engage the user – through your ad creatives. To give your display campaign the best chance of success you should be doing the following:

  • Use responsive ad creatives
  • Create simple and easy to understand ads
  • Ensure your search & display campaigns are separate


1. Calculating your spend

To calculate the budget you should allocate to your PPC campaign, you should start by setting a goal for the campaign. If you haven’t set revenue targets for the year, use our Growth Calculator to set your revenue growth targets. Here’s an example of how we calculate PPC goals;

Business revenue target = £1,000,000

Average customer value = £10,000

Website conversion rate = 5%

Lead to sale conversion Rate = 50%


Use the following formula to calculate the number of customers, leads, and clicks needed to hit your revenue target:

£1,000,000 / £10,000 = # of customer needed to hit revenue target = 100

100 x 2 (50% Lead to sale) = # of leads needed = 200

200 x 20 (5% conversion rate) = # of clicks needed = 4,000


Use the following formula to calculate the PPC budget:

Average CPC for your industry x number of clicks needed to hit target

£2.00 CPC x 4000 clicks = £8,000

2. Keyword match types 

Keyword match types allow you to set limits with Google on how strict they should be with your keyword targeting. You have multiple options to choose from:

Broad match: This tells Google to show your ads for searches similar to your keyword. For example the keyword ‘green coats’ will also appear for a user searching ‘yellow coats’.

Modified broad match: Similar to the above, but with tighter targeting. Modified broad match allows you to add the keyword variants to the campaign that you want ads to appear for. An example would be ‘green coats+yellow’

Phrase match: Your keyword must appear in the search term in this exact order, but can come before, after, or as part of a phrase or question.

Exact match: Exactly what it says on the tin….your exact keyword, only.

3. Conversion Tracking & Reporting

Conversion tracking is one of the most important things to get right when setting up our campaigns. You need to set accurate conversion goals in order to track your campaign and report on it’s success. These can include e-commerce sales, form completions, click to calls and newsletter sign ups.

By understanding which ads convert, you have the data needed to optimise your campaign.

4. Optimising spend for conversions

With conversion tracking in place, you can start to review your campaign performance and optimise it’s spend. The aim of your campaign is to reach as many relevant users as possible for the lowest investment.

To optimise the spend look at things like;

  • Times of day that do/don’t convert well
  • Audiences that do/don’t convert well
  • Keywords that do/don’t convert well
  • Locations that do/don’t convert well

With this data, you can start to reallocate budget to better performing ads/keywords.

5. Smart Bidding

Smart bidding uses Google’s AI machine to optimise your campaign bidding by using the previous account data to serve ads to specific users more likely to convert.

Here is how each type of automated bid strategy works:

Enhanced Cost Per Click (eCPC): Automatically adjusts your bids (up/down) depending on if a conversion is likely or unlikely. There is also a semi-automated version of this under ‘Manual CPC’ which you can enable by checking the ‘Enhanced CPC’ checkbox.

Maximize Conversions: Automatically set your bids to get as many conversions as possible within your campaign’s budget, but without caring about the Cost Per Conversion.

Target Cost Per Acquisition (tCPA): Automatically sets your bids to get as many conversions as possible within your CPA goal, but with no target on volume of conversions.

Target ROAS (tROAS): Set your bids to generate as much eCommerce revenue as possible within your target.

Target Search Page Location: Target your ad at the top of search results or onto the 1st page.

Target Outranking Share: Automatically outbid your competitors with the goal to appear above their ads.

Maximise Clicks: Automatically get the most clicks possible out of a certain budget.

Source: https://www.semrush.com/blog/smart-bidding-tips-take-google-ads-next-level/

Optimising PPC Campaigns

1. Sitelink Extensions

Sitelink extensions are one way of displaying more information within your ads. The example below shows the results for the search: ‘online food shopping’. The sitelink extensions below display sales and offers to motivate users to click. This will have a positive impact on the ads click-through-rate (CTR).

2. Call Extensions

Another way to improve the conversion rate of your ads is to include call extensions to your ads. This gives users the opportunity to call your business directly within the SERPs. This provides users looking for a quick solution with your contact details, and will often be the quickest way to get in front of your potential new customers. Track call extensions to attribute conversions.

3. A/B Testing

When building your campaign, you should create ad copy variants in order to test the quality of the copy. Continually testing your ad copy allows advertisers to improve performance over time.

To run the tests, you should create new ad variations to test against your ‘control’ ad. Each test will show a winner, with the winning element continuing within the ‘control’ ad.

4. Click to text/email links

Similarly to adding call extensions, adding click to email extensions is another way to provide users with a quick way to solve their problem. They also can have a positive effect on the ads conversion rate.


1. Testing your Ads

To achieve the best results with your PPC campaign you need to test new ideas, ads, and keywords. Create isolated tests for clear results, and use the findings optimise your account.

You can create different length ads used extended headlines, or change the CTAs on your ads to see which converts more users.

By testing your ads, and targeting, over time you will see continuous improvement across the accounts performance.

 2. Product Listings

If your website includes an e-commerce store, you can input your product list into your PPC campaign so that when a user searches for your product it appears in the Google Shopping listings. This is a good way to increase visibility by appearing higher up in the SERPs. See below how the product listings appear higher than any paid or organic search results.

3. Dynamic Ads

Dynamic ads are a great way to target users based on their search query and serves ads that are relevant to them. Dynamic ads work by reviewing the users search term, and determines which page on your website is most relevant. If there isn’t a relevant keyword/ad within your account, Google dynamically creates an ad suited to the search term, and then sends traffic through to the most relevant page on your site.

Here’s an example of a dynamic ad displaying for a search a specific camera:


Drive your customers to your website with PPC in 2021

I hope that this list has given you some great ideas on how you can increase conversions from your PPC campaigns. More importantly, ensuring relevance throughout the campaign, from click to Landing Page, to enquiry, is essential.

At Zest, we design, build, and integrate with your marketing stack, and then optimise for maximum conversions. First, though, jump over to our Growth Calculator to calculate your goals for digital marketing. Once you know what you need to achieve, we can help you to make it a reality.

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