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Clients are always looking for more volume and more efficiency, whether by way of driving more traffic to their sites or by gaining more conversions, sales, or leads. While it is nearly impossible to get both at the same time, there are a few ways to boost volume on your paid search campaigns without breaking the bank. In this post, we’ll outline two different strategies – working with what you’ve got and branching out into uncharted territory. We’ll also only address paid search, since display is a different beast altogether.

Working with What You’ve Got

Optimize Current Campaigns and Keywords

The first, less risky, way to find more paid search volume is by looking for it in your current campaigns and keywords. Here are a few great places to look.

Budgets: If you have room in your budget, an easy way to find more volume is to push up on the better performing campaign’s daily spend.

Dig into the Data: Take a look at a 14 and 30 day campaign report to see if any of your campaigns are routinely capping out (Google has a handy ‘Limited by Budget’ status and Bing has something similar). You want to look at more than one time frame for this analysis, because your campaign performance varies depending on search volume and bids. You could be fine for budget this week, but were limited last week and vice versa.

Analyze then Act: Either manually or using some of the search engine tools, analyze the daily spend of the campaigns that are capping out to see how much more room you have to push, without negatively impacting your CPA. So, for example, if your target CPA is $20 and your daily budget is $100, that means your daily average of conversions should be around 5. If any of your campaigns have a higher daily average of conversions, and thus a lower CPA, then you have room to push more budget to those campaigns.

Check and Balance: If you have budget constraints, you can still push more spend to the better converting campaigns by taking a little off the top of the poorer performing campaigns. Even adding $10/day to your better performing keywords will drive more volume; it may not be a ton more volume, but enough to make it worth pushing down the budgets of the poorer performing campaigns.

Bids: Take a look at a 14 and 30 day keyword report to see if any of your keywords are being capped by your budgets, bids and/or bid strategy.

Let Top Converters Fly Solo: If your campaign budget is limiting your top converting keyword set, consider pulling your top converters out into their own campaign(s). This will allow you to push more budget toward those keywords that drive the most conversion volume.

Bump up Your 3rd Placers: If your keywords routinely have an average position of 3 or lower, try boosting bids to see if you can drive more volume by pushing up the average position for the affected keyword set. This may or may not work – sometimes the best position for specific keywords is position 3, whereas position 1 only drives more spend, but not more conversions.

Boost Your CPA Cap: If your keywords are being constrained by the CPA cap on your bid strategy, you may be able to boost your CPA cap to give them more room to find volume. You might also want to break out the keywords in your bid strategies, so that your higher CPA keywords aren’t constraining your lower CPA keywords by being in the same bid strategy.

 Obviously, if you don’t have room in your CPA to push up the keyword targets, then this isn’t the best option for you.

Search Query Report: Run a 30 day and 90 day (or even YTD) SQR report to see if there are queries that are converting and/or have high click volume that aren’t in your current campaign. A longer time frame on your SQR may highlight keywords that in a 30 day report aren’t shining stars, but when looked at in a longer time frame are actually great converters.


Branching Out Into Uncharted Territory

Keyword Expands and Keyword Mining

The best way to really drive more volume is to find new keywords to add to your account that may (or may not) drive more traffic to your site and hopefully more conversions. There are quite a few ways to find new keywords:

Use Google’s Keyword Tool: You can use Google’s free tool to see keywords featured on your or your competitor’s site (simply put in the URL for either and see what comes up). You can also pick a broad term and do a search to see what kind of volume is available for the many existing variations.

 If you do use the keyword tool, make sure to pay attention to irrelevant keywords showing up in the same search results as your relevant keyword, which you may want to negative out of your account.

Mine Your SEO Keywords: A great way to find additional keywords is to mine your organic keyword set. You’ll either need access to Google Webmaster tools or Bing Webmaster tools to find specific organic keywords ripe for addition. Both tools show the latest keywords driving traffic to your site for a specific time period (no more than 90 days). You can also use competitive tools such as Brandwatch or SearchMetrics to do the same, if you have a subscription.

Track Your Competitors: There are some great free and paid tools available, able to show you the top keywords driving traffic to both your site and to your competitors. Some top options include:

SEMRush: This is a free and paid tool that will show you (depending on the level of access you have) the top keywords driving traffic to your site and to your competitors’ site. You can see both organic and paid keywords in this tool. You can even see the ads being matched to the keywords – helpful if you are also interested in changing up your ad copy.

Similar Web: This is a free tool (with a paid version) that can also show you the top organic and paid keywords driving traffic to your site or to your competitors’ sites.

Engage Your Search Engine Reps: If you have a dedicated search engine rep for either Google or Bing, they can help you find additional keywords to add more volume. They can do a keyword expand based on your current keyword set and/or a keyword expand based on your competitive set in the industry.

Pro Tip: No matter how you find new keywords to add into your account, the best way to routinely add new keywords is to create a separate test campaign. This tactic allows you to limit the amount of budget the new keywords spend, while still allowing you to see which ones drive volume. Once a keyword proves its worthiness (as in, it converts at your target CPA), you can move it into one of your regular campaigns so as not to further limit its allocated budget. Typically, you should check in on your new keywords at the 14- and 28-day mark. If they drive a lot of spend but are poor converters, you either should pause them or determine if they assisted other keywords to convert. If they did assist in conversions, you’ll want to determine whether to keep them active, move them to a new campaign, or pause them.

Whether you push for more volume in your current campaigns, branch out into new keyword territory, or do a little (or a lot) of both, any one of these techniques will teach you more than you currently know about what works and what doesn’t work in your account – and, hopefully, you’ll see a boost in conversion or traffic volume to boot.


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1 Comment
  • David Hughes
    David Hughes

    Very helpful, thanks Cass!

    June 9, 2015 at 5:37 pm Reply
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