adwords on budget: why you should remove or avoid low converting keywords

Google Adwords is one of the most popular internet advertising/marketing platform. It could bring in a lot of impressions and traffic depending on the keywords you are marketing for. That also means that the cost of advertising can grow out of control very quickly.

If you are on a limited budget for internet marketing, then you might have to get creative when marketing so as to keep down the monthly cost while still getting a good return on your investment. There are several different techniques that can be used to keep the cost down, and this one should actually be a no-brainer. Spend on your money on keywords that are converting well, and remove keywords that are not performing well…

You might be surprised as to how many customers or marketers do not actually do this, especially if you are not very tech-savvy and do not have an Adwords professional on payroll, which is usually the case for small businesses. There are usually a couple of concerns or questions right away for an average user which usually impedes with this process. 1) How do I identify low converting keywords? 2) What if, I identify them incorrectly? and 3) What If these keywords become profitable later?

In order to answer these questions, we will first need to define what a low-converting keyword is. That will help us with identifying them in the first place.

What is a low converting keyword?

In the simplest terms, any keywords that have a low rate of conversion or have a low return on investment compared to others can be deemed as a low converting keyword. Well, that probably did not explain much as to how to find them…let’s go a little deeper.

First, we will need to come up with (or identify) a conversion criteria for your marketing campaign that best represents the return you are getting from the marketing efforts. This criteria could differ from business to business and also from campaign to campaign even within the same business.

For example, if you have a online marketplace (or something similar) that sells products then the revenue generated by each keyword could be a conversion criteria. If you have a blog, then the number of page views for the keyword could be a conversion criteria. The time spend per page could be an another. Pages per session or Bounce Rate are other examples.

Almost any statistic can be your conversion criteria as long as it represents the outcome of what your are trying to achieve. You can even create your own custom conversions with Google Adwords and Google Analytics. Your conversion criteria is going to more or less depend on the type of your website and your marketing campaign.

How to find low converting keywords?

It should be easy enough to find the low converting keywords once you have a conversion criteria. Sort the set of keywords in decreasing order based on the conversion criteria, and the low converting keywords should be on top…

There are couple of things you should be careful about though. Make sure that you have enough impressions for each of the keywords before identifying them as low converting. A small sample size could actually be misleading statistically.

If a keyword has small sample size, you can either use a longer time frame for comparison or wait longer so that the keyword accrues more impressions and the stats are much more accurate and reliable.

Also, decide on what the value of the conversion criteria should be in order to be considered as low converting. You can use this pre-decided value as the cut off or you can consider a percentile of the lowest values as cut off. I usually consider the lowest 10% of the keywords as the ones that need further tweaking, but you can use other values such as 20 or 25% depending on the total keywords you have.

What to do with a low converting keyword?

Once you have found these keywords, then the question is what you should do with them. You have several different options.

  1. First option is to leave it as it is and monitor it. This is desirable when the impressions are low and you want to wait it out till more data is available. Also, If you have reasons to believe that it is going to turn around in the future leave it alone. That might be the case for seasonal keywords, such as holiday or valentine sales for example.
  2. The second option is to remove it completely. This makes sense when the keyword is not your primary keyword but rather a secondary one. If the keyword is a primary keyword, meaning it is very relevant to the product/service/business etc or it is one of the small set of keywords that accurately describes what you are marketing then try the third option first…
  3. The third option is to tweak other properties of the keyword in order to boost the return on investment or the conversion values. This is probably the most recommended option. There are several different ways to do this, all of which will be unique to your specific campaign. You will need to find out for yourself or get professional help. For example, one idea is to decrease the bid for the keyword. This can potentially increase the return on investment.

If the keyword is not converting well even after enough number of tries and tweaks, it is best to remove it. Remember the ultimate goal here is to reduce the overall budget while maintaining a good return on investment.