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6 Ways to Compete on High-Cost, High-Competition Keywords

Published: September 28, 2016

Author: Neeraja Koneru

With keyword CPCs and competition rising in a lot of industries, it can be hard to compete on relevant but expensive non-branded keywords. There’s a lot of potential around these terms given how much traffic they generally receive, but it’s easy to get priced out of the space. Following are 6 tips on how to strategically compete on these terms in a way that’s ROI-positive.

1.      Choose your Key Demographic

Instead of spreading your dollars thin by trying to compete in all relevant markets, focus on specific demographics where you can concentrate your ad spend and compete successfully.

  1. Hone in on top geographic markets, getting as granular as specific cities if that’s where you’re seeing the best performance in your other campaigns. You can pull a geo report via the Google Analytics Dimensions tab to determine what areas to focus on:geotargeting
  2. Choose days and times of day your core base tends to convert. For example: If you’re selling apparel, weekends and evenings might perform better than work hours, whereas a B2B business might want to focus solely on business hours. You can pull time of day and day of week reports via the Dimensions tab to learn when your high-conversion times are:GA time of day report
  3. Finally, make sure you’re not wasting spend on devices that tend not to convert. Check campaign settings to see where your traffic and conversions are coming from, and make adjustments accordingly.

2.      Test Keywords at Lower Positions

The top positions are not always the best-performing positions; bidding for these positions could resulted in wasted ad spend. Lower positions still see a lot of traffic, especially on high-competition terms. Test lowering bids and see how a lower position impacts cost and conversion volume. With Google showing a number of ads on the first page, positions as low as 6 can show on page 1.

3.      Put Value in Your Messaging

If you’re competing against bigger, more known businesses on the same keywords, your ad copy will need to be highly compelling to overcome the brand recognition value added to your competition’s ad. It’ll be important to maximize click-through rate to fully capitalize on the value of bidding on high-traffic, high-competition terms.

  1. Adding a small promotional offering to set yourself apart from your competition goes a long way ($10 off, Free Quote, Free Trial, etc.).
  2. See what your competition is highlighting in their ads to drive your messaging.
  3. If there are aspects of your product/service that outshine that of your competition, highlight that in your copy.

ad copy example

4.      Focus on Longer-Tail Terms

Test bidding on longer-tail terms over more generic keywords. More specific searches indicate a user is further down the purchase funnel than someone searching broader, more generic terms (though you can use RLSA on head terms to achieve a combination of intent and reach). It indicates the users have likely already done research and know exactly what they want, making it more likely they’ll convert. Traffic around these terms will be lower than broader terms, and more specific terms tend to see higher CPCs – but the higher intent around the searches could result in higher conversion rates than with broader keywords.

5.      Use Negative Keywords & Match Types

If you’re in a research phase to learn which high-competition terms you should focus on, start by using the broad modified match type to capture search query data to learn what your top performers are.  During this phase, stay vigilant and use negative keywords – both ones that are irrelevant and ones that might be relevant but aren’t performing well. As you start to see certain search terms perform well, segment them into their own campaigns as exact match keywords where you can focus your spend.

6.      Close the Loop with Remarketing

As you drive a lot of new interest to your website via high-traffic, high-competition terms, make sure you’re closing the loop with remarketing. Don’t let a potential customer forget about your product/service after spending money to introduce your brand to them.

  1. Use search re-marketing lists to bid more aggressively on users searching your keywords who have already visited your website.
  2. Use display and banner ads to passively remarket to your site visitors across websites on the Google Display Network and on Facebook.
  3. Tailor your copy with the knowledge that this user has already visited your website and might just need a final push to convert.

Good luck!

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