7 Optimization Strategies For A Limited Daily Search Budget

No matter what level your paid search program is operating at, whether small business or enterprise, inevitably some campaigns will outgrow the daily budgets that were set to sustain them. Aggressive keyword expansion or increasing CPCs due to competition could be two contributing factors.

Until these budgets can be expanded, your campaigns will be limited. Optimizing a campaign that’s limited by budget is one of the toughest tasks for a search marketer. A limited budget not only eliminates opportunities to expand on keywords and campaigns, but can hinder the execution of other crucial optimization strategies.

To help solve this challenge, we’ll discuss seven strategies that will help you get the most out of your budget-capped campaigns. As you’ll notice, these strategies carry a common theme—removing areas of your campaign’s traffic that perform worse than others.

1.  Adjust Your Ad Scheduling

Not all hours of your business day are created equal. In other words, some hours of the day may convert better than others or bring in more revenue-per-click (RPC). You don’t have much to lose by reducing your bids or even pausing your campaigns during non-converting hours. Enterprise-class search solutions provide recommendations as to when you should increase or decrease your daily and hourly bids.

To manually ad schedule your campaigns, make sure that you’re using the appropriate performance metrics. Search marketers should leverage a date-of-click conversion rate or RPC metric to accurately measure the likelihood of keywords to convert or drive revenue based on when the click is initiated.

Google AdWords Ad Scheduling


2.  Add Negatives To Block Irrelevant Or Unwanted Traffic

Some of the keywords in your account are triggering ads for irrelevant search queries. This results in unwanted impressions and clicks, as well as wasted ad spend.

Adding the appropriate negative keywords is an effective way to shift additional ad spend toward relevant and converting clicks. Dig through your search query reports and add any queries responsible for wasted ad spend as negative keywords in your account.

3.  Shift Your Campaign Budgets Around

Some campaigns, groups and keywords simply perform better than others. Rather than stretching your budget across poorer performing campaigns, prioritize your top performing ones.

As an example, a sports equipment retailer has noticed that two of their campaigns are currently budget capped. Unfortunately their quarterly budget is set and can’t allocate more ad spend toward paid search. Their Running Shoes campaign is capped at $400 daily and performs at a 260% return-on-investment (ROI). Their Running Shorts campaign is capped at $600 daily and performs at a 140% ROI.

A simple yet effective strategy is to reallocate budget from the Running Shorts campaign to the Running Shoes campaign. If the Running Shoes campaign’s ROI remains the same with the increase in spend, this new campaign budget allocation should become a long term solution for driving incremental revenue without increasing overall ad spend.

4.  Confirm A Standard Campaign Delivery Method

Ensuring that your ads are delivered throughout the day allows you to consider ad scheduling recommendations as well as reach a larger geographic audience. The alternative to Standard is to set your ad delivery to Accelerated, which means the publisher will not throttle your ads. This may result in depleted campaign budgets early on in the day. We recommend setting your budget to Standard to ensure your ads run throughout the day.

5.  Utilize Device Targeting

Device targeting is highly effective for refining your audience and increasing the performance of a campaign that’s limited by budget. Performance across devices differs greatly depending on the business. Local businesses will approach their mobile strategy differently than e-tailers, and therefore, will allocate their budgets accordingly based on performance. Analyze the conversion rate of customers across devices.

For instance, if your website is mobile unfriendly, customers might be clicking on ads, but are deciding to bounce due to a bad user experience. Stop displaying ads on non-converting and underperforming devices, or break out campaigns by device to successfully monitor and optimize them for performance. Google AdWords Device Targeting


6.  Leverage Location Targeting

Location targeting is a great way to get more out of a budget-capped campaign. Not only does it allow you to focus your ads in the areas where you’ll find your target audience, but it helps prevent unwanted clicks in areas where your products or services are unavailable or unpopular.

Find the conversion rates of your campaigns by geography and remove the poor performing cities or states from your geo-targeting settings. For example, our sports equipment retailer may find that their campaigns don’t convert well in New Mexico and Maine, choosing to prevent ads from being delivered in those states.

7.  Adjust Your Network Settings

This is a great strategy when all your other options have been exhausted. Network settings determine where your ads appear and allow you to control which networks your campaigns are opted into.

Do your campaigns perform better on Google than they do on AOL?  It’s possible that Google’s search network traffic is less qualified or engaging than the traffic coming from Google.com. Analyzing your traffic sources can reveal a difference in conversion rate between the two networks. You can disable the partner networks in your campaign settings in order to drive your entire daily budget through the better performing network.

Though not all of these strategies will be appropriate for your paid search program, they are all highly effective in freeing up additional campaign budget. Each strategy works to trim the fat off your account — removing inefficiencies and leaving you with more revenue-generating meat to work with. To maximize your revenue outcomes, reallocate additional budget toward these areas of your account.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: SEM | Enterprise SEM | How To | How To: SEM | Intermediate


About The Author: was the Vice-President of Marketing at Marin Software, a leading platform for digital advertising management, and held a variety of executive roles at Coremetrics, one of the early innovators in web analytics.

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  • http://twitter.com/stepczynski Adrian Stepczynski

    Ad scheduling is really important, under utilized and it can obviously make a big difference. This is especially true for businesses who are more prone to convert via the phone. If no one is available to pick up the phone then it’s a good idea to reduce the CPC during that time through the ad scheduler. All the other tips are good too. Great post!

  • http://www.esocialmedia.com Jerry Nordstrom

    I agree with all of the optimization tips mentioned above, however I would step back and look at the limiting factor itself; a restrained budget.

    It is up to the agency or PPC manager to demonstrate a return on ad spend. If you can demonstrate this then there is a case that the budget should be increased.

    The conundrum I find myself in from time to time is in the initial deployment of a PPC campaign. The client is suspicious of PPC (been burned before) thus offers a small ad budget, this does not allow for enough traffic and resulting data to use for optimization purposes. With small data sets the optimization process happens over a longer period of time which can lull a client into thinking PPC is not profitable/working. With a larger budget (and an equally large tolerance for risk from the client) a PPC manager can deploy an all encompassing, well structured campaign that produces a high volume of useful data. A fast moving stream of data means an optimizer can analyze and optimize at a faster rate reaching profitability quicker.

    So how do I set up a campaign to convince a client that PPC will work?
    With small ad spend clients a PPC marketer needs to target end of the funnel terms, demonstrate ROAS and make their case for a larger budget. WE CAN SCALE! Further more you must make your case at the start of a project for a minimal ad spend that has the best chance to reach a minimal return. If you allow your client to set a budget that is too small in the first place neither of you will be successful.

    I’ll also add some of my favorite Optimization tips to the list that can be especially useful for the low budget client.

    Use the OP’s tips to target a smaller audience segment (Geo, Demo, Day Part)
    The client’s audience might be very device specific – Mobile locksmith = target smartphones!
    Use end of funnel phase match and exact match – refrain from broad match.
    Use Re-marketing to continuously target these customers
    Use publisher targeted lists only- Your niche client’s industry may have a handful of key industry related publishers – Target these first and leave the millions of others out.
    Be sure to review the client’s site for usability issues. Often if they don’t want to spend money it’s because their website has not performed in the past. Show them why.

  • http://twitter.com/JayneReddyhoff Jayne Reddyhoff

    All good tips for a small business running their own campaign on a limited budget. But I really, really hope an agency running a $400 a day budget does not need to be told these things!


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