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PPC Advanced Strategies: AdWords Dominate Campaigns

PPC Advanced Strategies: AdWords Dominate Campaigns

AdWords Dominate CampaignAs a digital marketing firm, we work with thousands of complex pay per click (PPC) advertising campaigns. We’re always looking for ways to steadily improve performance and conversion volume for Forthea’s clients. One tactic that has worked well towards this end is building out what we call ‘Dominate’ campaigns.  These campaigns are built around exact match search terms that have the potential for accelerating returns.

By forcing your way to the top of a keyword auction for these exact match keywords, you can find a great way to increase profitable conversion volume. AdWords dominate campaigns, are composed of single exact match keywords based on the search terms that we have identified as ‘winners’.

In this post we’ll walk you through how to identify keywords that can be used for dominate campaigns, and how to improve your conversion rate on your most valuable keywords.

How to Identify the Right Keywords for Dominate Campaigns

  • Select the Keywords tab in AdWords.
  • Choose a date range that contains enough data to make decisions, three months is often a large enough sample unless you have a very small campaign.
  • Click on the ‘Details’ drop down and select ‘All’ under Search Terms.
  • This report shows performance by the search terms actually driving traffic into your account. These are not the keywords that have been bid upon, but rather what was actually typed into the browser to trigger our ad.
  • Create a Filter for your data that will restrict the list to search terms with Conversion >= 1 and Cost/Conv > Max Profitable CPA.

The resulting list of winning search terms should be moved into your dominate campaign. Because we know these exact match keywords have already converted, we’re able to create a tightly focused campaign by building highly specific ads and landing pages that can be applied to each keyword. Bids and budgets should be increased for these search terms to ensure that they receive the maximum amount of exposure possible.  You will only want to include search terms for which there is sufficient data to make a decision. In other words, if a term has a 50% conversion rate with two clicks and one conversion, there isn’t enough data to move it into a dominate campaign.

Once the dominate search terms are identified, optimization can be applied at a very granular level. Create a new dominate campaign with ample budget and follow these guidelines.

Dominate Campaign Guidelines

  • Each term will be set up as an exact match keyword in its own ad group. This way each search term can be optimized for independently and negative keywords will not be necessary.
  • Take ample time to write the very best ads for each exact match keyword. Highly relevant ads and landing pages will have a positive impact on quality score.
  • Begin testing new ad copy and landing pages. Subtle changes can have a powerful impact on click-through and conversion rates.
  • Apply every ad extension possible. Ad formats are now a factor of quality score. Because these keywords will be bid to the top positions, Ad extensions will be shown for almost every impression. Claim the maximum amount of real estate possible on the SERPs page by spending the time to create a full suite of ad extensions.
  • Bid the keywords to the top positions. Be sure to give the campaign sufficient budget to sustain the increased traffic and CPCs. Don’t be scared off by higher click cost because the granularity applied to dominate campaigns should balance the higher CPCs with increases in conversion rate.

At this point, your competition will begin having headaches. Monitor your dominate campaign closely in the first few days because automated rules (or fastidious PPC competitors) will begin a bidding war on these valuable search terms. CPCs can shoot up quickly, but if your ads and landing pages are highly relevant to your exact match keyword, you should receive a boost in quality score – and an advantage on the competition. At this point, ad and landing page optimization for pronounced relevancy and a high conversion rate can have a powerful impact on the success of each ad group.

Be prepared; dominate keywords will often have CPCs double what they had before, but this shouldn’t be a problem if Conversion Rates triples. Below is an example of a dominate campaign that Forthea recently implemented in which CPCs increased 147%, but overall CPA decreased 31 percent.

CTR Avg. CPC Avg. Pos. Cost/Conv. Conv. Rate
Control Campaign 1.54% $3.42 1.9 $331.01 1.04%
Dominate Campaign 7.69 $8.46 1.3 $229.59 3.68%

Davis Baker
Davis is the PPC Team Lead at Forthea and a digital advertising veteran of six years. Outside of the office, you can find Davis running, riding his dirt bike, or searching for the perfect cup of coffee (freshly ground and brewed with a French press. Anything less just won't cut it).


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