After the success and positive feedback of our article ppc tips for 2016, Converted have got together some of our in-house pay per click specialists over a cup of tea (Yorkshire Tea if you were wondering). We picked their brains on what the hot topics for paid search this year are, what are our latest best practices and any ppc ideas we have uncovered that might be useful, in order to create our list of the best PPC Tips for 2018.

If you haven’t read last year’s tips then we would encourage you to start with those. There may be some useful advice for you own paid search strategy, with ppc ideas that you have not yet implemented or considered.

So we’ll not waste your time or ours, let’s launch into Converted’s PPC Tips for 2018

Device Level Targeting.

Before we talk about our first top tip of 2017, let’s rewind to 2012. Back then one of our favourite optimisation techniques for an Adwords account was to create campaigns broken out by the devices we wished to target. This allowed us to manage budgets and bids dependant on devices. This worked. It worked really well in fact.

Then Google took the ever so popular decision to remove the ability to create campaigns for the three different device categories – desktop, mobile & tablet, and instead brought in Bid Modifiers.  This decision was welcomed with a sarcastic and half hearted clap by paid search marketers, with the occasional boo and hiss thrown in for good measure. Bid Modifiers allowed you to increase your mobile device bids up or down by a percentage of the desktop bids.

Notice how I haven’t included tablets in that little sentence? That’s because Google decided that we should pay the same on tablet clicks as we do on desktop. No longer could we pull out lower converting campaigns (that means you tablets), instead if we wished to run a campaign with no mobile activity then we would have to include a -100% bid modifier for mobiles.

Device level campaigns were dead in the water, along with some granular optimisation opportunities.

Fast forward to 2016 and Google announced a change to the adwords interface and targeting options. Google quietly informed the digital marketing world that they were including tablet level bid modifiers. Here we greeted it with much more enthusiasm than the previous change we’ve mentioned.


Well now we can go back to the future. We can create device level campaigns again.

By including -100 modifiers on two out of the three devices we can create campaigns targeting only one device. Why’s that important you ask? There are two main reasons:

  • Before this change you could only do bidding on devices with a % bid modifiers and only at ad group level. So if you had three keywords in the same ad group then you would have to bid the same amount on desktop as tablet for those keywords. You could also only bid the same % up or down on mobile devices on all 3 keywords.

This change means we can now go to keyword level bidding at a device level.  No longer do we have to stomach tablets converting at half of desktop. No more do we have to leave keywords sharing the same mobile device bid adjustment.

  • Second thing is that when a client is running on a limited budget we are now able to target only the relevant devices. Tablet or mobile devices not as profitable? No problem. Let’s put your available budget into desktop. Need to target tablet users only. No worries, we can do that.

So our first pay per click tip of 2017 is go back to the past (well ours) and split campaigns out by device.

Average Positions. RIP to the right hand ad column.

Back in early 2016 we saw a huge change in the SERPS layout by Google. We saw the right hand adwords ad column removed so that desktop SERPS more closely resembled the mobile version. As a result we saw an increase in ads above organic results increase from three paid ads to four. We also saw an increase in ads below the organic listings on page one of Google. This change has meant that previous ad position targeting and users click habits have changed.

The knock on effect of this is that adwords bidding strategy needs to be refined as well. Here at Converted we have seen a statistically significant difference in position based CTR and conversion rate performances when looking at before and after the SERPS change. We won’t share all our findings on this subject. As a homicidal Batman villain once said, ‘if you’re good at something don’t do it for free.’ We will however say that we have had to make some significant changes to average position targeting for some large scale adwords campaigns.

Here’s the hint – In some instances we have reduced average cost per click, yet actually improved CTR and conversion KPI’s (nudge, nudge, wink, wink).

Extended Ads – Forget what you know about ad testing.

So… ads changed last year. Goodbye standard text ads with your boring 25 character headlines and your 35 character description line one and two. Say hello to extended ads with their 30 character twin headlines and the whopping 80 character description line.

Why have we highlighted this as a ppc tip for 2017? Well for a start as of the end of January 2017 standard text ads will no longer run. So if you haven’t got an ad testing programme in place for extended ad then here’s a tip. Start here! But this is not why we’ve highlighted this as a pay per click focus for the year. Instead we have added this because this change completely reshapes our ideas about best practice for ad copy.

Let’s look at the best practices pre-2017, as they were passed down from some digital guru way back when in the mists of time to the accepting masses. You’ll probably recognise them:

  • Keyword in the headline.
  • The main features or benefits (rarely could you squeeze both in)
  • Finish with a call to action.
  • Display URL ideally with the keyword or something similar in it.

Now some of these things are still valid. Namely:

  • Include the keyword to help with relevance and quality score.
  • Promote your product or service properly.
  • Testing a call to action Vs no call to action.
  • Using the display URL to add further relevance to the user.

However how we go about constructing an advert has completely changed. While we won’t pretend to know all the answers, we would like to ask you some questions that hopefully will help you make this a focus for your paid search accounts this year.

  • Does the keyword have to be the first headline as it always was? We have after all got two headlines now.
  • What can you do with 5 more characters in your headline? Does it have to be the same headline as your old standard text ads?
  • You have 80 full characters that aren’t split out over two description lines like before. So do you need to write the same descriptions or can you elaborate?
  • Do you need to include a call to action at the end of the description line or could it work better as one of your headlines?

That’s just four questions. We really need to push on, but hopefully you can see why ad testing with the new extended ad format is one of our key tips for Adwords and in fact all paid search for this year.

Remarketing – Think about it.

Most clients now have remarketing and if you’re not one of them then you’re missing out. A user is 70% more likely to convert when they return to your website if they have seen remarketing display advertising between visits.

Believe it or not one study stated that only 8% of all basket abandonment customers return to complete without remarketing, yet up to 26% do when they are retargeted.

So remarketing makes sense. It’s making more of the people you already get to your website.

However why is this one of our pay per click ideas for 2018? Well its mainly because most clients only scratch the surface of its potential. With the ability to create custom audience lists on just about any segment of your website traffic you can now offer granular marketing at a level never seen before in digital marketing.

How about this for just a few ideas for remarketing strategies:

  • Remarketing based on search term. That’s right. Using custom URL strings you can collect search term data to then provide remarketing to your best performing customer terms.
  • Offers based remarketing – So many people offer bland generic remarketing adverts that tell a user what they already know. Try giving them a reason to click! Discount vouchers anyone?
  • For those of you who have a generic remarketing campaign. Try splitting your remarketing between cart abandonment Vs Generic website traffic non-converters. After all the former are clearly more engaged with the website, so leverage that.
  • Target existing customers. Yes that’s right. You heard us. These people have bought from you. Use remarketing to build a loyalty programme and further develop a relationship with your customers.
  • Look at remarketing based on time decay. Let’s say in your time lag report you can see there’s a significant percentage of people convert between days 12 and 30. Target that as a custom remarketing list.
  • TEST! – How many remarketing campaigns use only one display ad creative? You don’t do it with search ads. Why should display be different? Test messaging and images to find the best combination.

Lookalike Audiences

In the ongoing power struggle between Google and Facebook for our marketing budgets one of the great new features to have been developed by both platforms is the ability to create lookalike audiences.

Converted believe that this year will evolve this concept into true mirroring of your ideal audiences.  Think about your customers and the data you have and then how you can use that to create new targeting across both these platforms.

Attribution. So you know what’s really going on.

This is a harder one to give you a practical tip on. However this year attribution and a ‘true view’ of user’s micro-interactions with your brand and digital collateral is going to become more important than ever.

So our tips is – review all your tracking. All of it. Ask yourselves questions such as:

  • Are we only tracking primary conversions
  • Are we analysing key events and actions in any detail?
  • Are we measuring offline performance properly?
  • Are we tracking offline Vs online?

We won’t even go into cross device attribution here. The bane of many of the leading UK digital agencies such as Converted.

Message Extensions – Costs the same as a click!

Google launched in 2016 the ability to have users contact you via messages straight from their mobile device. This option has incredible potential, but for a lot of business is largely underused.

Our tip for this is to think outside the box on this. If you had the ability to message between you and your perfect customers what would you use it for?

Voice Search. Bring out the big broads.

If you haven’t been living in a hut hidden from all technology and/or hibernating, then you would have likely seen the latest must have gadgets. The Amazon Echo & the Google Home. These two gadgets are just further evidence of the technological shift to voice based search habits.

Where users would type all their searches now we are seeing them use Syri, Google, Alexa and more to search for products and services. As this shift has happened so has an increase in longer string searches and unique searches.

As such our final tip in this focus on paid search in 2017 is to think about how you can capture these unique searches. The short answer. Broad match.

No you don’t have as much control. Yes you will have waste. No we don’t think exact match should be sacrificed. What we ARE saying is that the only quick way to capture these voice based searches on Google is to ensure that the key trigger terms are covered using broad match keywords. This helps avoid the annoying ‘low search volume keyword’ classification (thanks again for that one Google).


There you have it. Another year and another set of ideas for improving your pay per click in 2018.

While all these things are relevant the best thing you can do if you aren’t sure is speak to a digital agency like Converted. We can work with you to evaluate your paid search accounts, provide PPC Management services and find the conversion improvement opportunities to provide your business with the growth it deserves in 2017.

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