This year is com­ing to an end and we are almost through the hol­i­day sea­son. Here are some hol­i­day PPC opti­miza­tion tips you can make in your account right now. Some of these tips will help you reduce waste­ful spend­ing and improve ROAS.


It was not too long ago that Google expand­ed their key­word close vari­ant match­ing. Microsoft Ads has also expand­ed its close vari­ant match­ing. The search engines did this to help you show up in more search­es. This also affects How­ev­er, by that very design, it is a good idea to review your search query report (SQRs) week­ly or bi-month­ly at the min­i­mum. You can also cre­ate a shared neg­a­tive list to that can be applied to all accounts in all engines. Do not for­get to check your Brand search queries too.

Tip: It is a good idea to look for key­words that fre­quent­ly show up in phras­es to iden­ti­fy the term that should be exclud­ed.


If you are only tar­get­ing the Unit­ed States in your cam­paigns, you could be miss­ing out on some quick ways to opti­mize by loca­tions. Some­times we for­get to drill down into the loca­tions and iden­ti­fy areas of oppor­tu­ni­ty to reduce waste­ful spend­ing. In one cam­paign, we can see Geor­gia, Penn­syl­va­nia, New Jer­sey and Vir­ginia have low­er con­ver­sions rates and high­er cost-per-lead (CPL). Bid­ding on all states will allow you to apply neg­a­tive mod­i­fiers to these loca­tions to reduce spend in these areas. You can also apply pos­i­tive mod­i­fiers to the top loca­tions Texas, New York, and Illi­nois.

You can also cre­ate and save a fil­ter that will help you eas­i­ly find loca­tions with no con­ver­sions, high­er CPLs, or low ROAS. In the future, these fil­ters will help you quick­ly find areas with poor per­for­mance to apply neg­a­tive mod­i­fiers.

Tip: Check your user loca­tion report to see if you are show­ing in oth­er coun­tries. If you are using the advanced loca­tion set­tings to tar­get ‘Peo­ple in or reg­u­lar­ly in your tar­get­ed loca­tions’, then you may want to add some loca­tion exclu­sions to reduce waste­ful spend­ing.

Ad Schedule

Depend­ing on the account, there are some­times spe­cif­ic days that do not con­vert as well as oth­er days. In this account, we typ­i­cal­ly find that week­ends do not typ­i­cal­ly have the best con­ver­sion per­for­mance. Since these days show decent con­ver­sion vol­ume and con­ver­sions rates, I was a lit­tle more con­ser­v­a­tive with the neg­a­tive bid mod­i­fiers at ‑15%.

If your cam­paign has enough vol­ume, you could review the hours of the day per­for­mance. For exam­ple, in this account, we see that per­for­mance is not as good on Tues­day and Wednes­day, but per­for­mance improves between Fri­day – Sun­day. Reduc­ing bids on hours of the day that are not per­form­ing well is a great way to reduce waste­ful spend­ing.

Keywords Bids/Keyword Expansion

Dur­ing the hol­i­days, there can be fluc­tu­a­tions in the com­pet­i­tive land­scape that may affect your Search Impres­sion Share (Search IS). Check your top-per­form­ing key­words to ensure you are not los­ing out on Search IS due to rank. Addi­tion­al­ly, are there key­words that have been con­vert­ing well in your search query report that you could poten­tial­ly add to your account? You can also review your top-per­form­ing key­words in your Shop­ping cam­paigns to find key­word expan­sion oppor­tu­ni­ties.

Keywords Bids-Keyword Expansion

Bid Caps

If you are using any auto­mat­ed bid strate­gies in your account, it is a good idea to add bid caps to con­trol spend. You can set-up max bid lim­its for Tar­get CPA, Tar­get ROAS, and Max­i­mize Clicks bid strate­gies. You can­not set bid lim­its for Max­i­mize Con­ver­sions, so keep an eye on these cam­paigns. In one account, they were using the Max­i­mize Clicks bid strat­e­gy pri­or to onboard­ing with Hanapin and they did not have max bid lim­its set. The cost-per-click was as high as $45 per click for extreme­ly long-tail key­word phras­es. The cam­paign aver­age CPC was $2.54, but there was no rea­son for them to have paid this much per click unless they are a lawyer.

Promotion Extensions

Do you have a pro­mo­tion avail­able on your web­site? If so, you can add a pro­mo­tion exten­sion to your account to let your searchers know about this offer. In one account, there was an 80% increase in rev­enue dur­ing the pro­mo­tion com­pared to the pre­vi­ous time frame.

If you add pro­mo­tion exten­sions, don’t for­get to set the dis­played pro­mo­tion dates and the dates when the pro­mo­tion should be eli­gi­ble to run. It may not be a good idea to show your pro­mo­tion until the pro­mo­tion is active. Show­ing a future pro­mo­tion may cause searchers to post­pone order­ing until the date of the sale. The pro­mo­tion sched­ule can be found under advanced options.

Ad Copy

Is your cur­rent ad copy rel­e­vant? Have you made any changes to your web­site that need to be updat­ed in your ad? You may have ad copy with out­dat­ed mes­sag­ing that is no longer the same as your web­site. Did you update the prices on your web­site and this change is not reflect­ed in your ad copy? Do you have more than one ad per ad group in the account? It also can be a good idea to add Respon­sive Search Ads (RSAs) to your top ad groups. It is a good idea to check on the per­for­mance of the RSAs, in some accounts, the CPL end­ed up being low­er and in oth­ers, it was much high­er.

Placement/App Exclusions

If you are run­ning any cam­paigns in Dis­play, it is a good idea to reg­u­lar­ly per­form a place­ment analy­sis. Cre­ate a fil­ter to find under­per­form­ing place­ments and apps to exclude from the cam­paign. If you have place­ments with mobileapp::mobileapp::2 these are apps. You can­not exclude these at place­ment lev­el, but you should be able to exclude the app cat­e­go­ry if these apps have poor per­for­mance.

Demographic Bids

Anoth­er quick way to save some mon­ey is to review your demo­graph­ic per­for­mance. Are there any age groups that are not per­form­ing well in the account? Does one gen­der per­form bet­ter than anoth­er? Are there clear dif­fer­ences in house­hold income lev­el per­for­mance? In one account, we can see that males have a much high­er CPL than females and unknown. Adding neg­a­tive mod­i­fiers to males can help reduce the cam­paign CPL.

Device Bids

You can also check out your device per­for­mance to deter­mine if there are any oppor­tu­ni­ties. In one account, we recent­ly added click-to-call track­ing and our con­ver­sion vol­ume improved by 30%. Now our mobile CPL is sig­nif­i­cant­ly low­er than desk­top for one cam­paign. Our pre­vi­ous +20% bids on desk­top are no longer nec­es­sary and can be removed since it has the high­est CPL at $85 com­pared to mobile at $58.

Audience Targeting

If you have not added audi­ences to your cam­paigns, this some­thing worth test­ing in your account. Recent­ly, we added the Home­own­ers In-Mar­ket audi­ence to one account. This has quick­ly become one of the top audi­ences with the most con­ver­sions and a ROAS of 430%. The All Vis­i­tors and Sim­i­lar to All Vis­i­tors have a high­er ROAS. To improve per­for­mance, we have increased the Home­own­ers to 25% and left the oth­er bid adjust­ments the same.

Ad Extensions

Anoth­er quick win is to make sure you have includ­ed all avail­able ad exten­sions in your account. You should have at least 4 sitelink exten­sions at account-lev­el or per cam­paign. Do you have struc­tured snip­pets and call out exten­sions in your account? If you have a phys­i­cal store loca­tion do you have loca­tion exten­sions in your account? If phone calls are impor­tant you will want to have Call Exten­sions in your account.

Hope­ful­ly all of these tips can help you make some opti­miza­tions that can improve your ROAS or reduce waste­ful spend­ing. If you are look­ing for some oth­er tips you can check out this whitepa­per about the newest ad fea­tures to try in your account.  You can also check out some PPC un-res­o­lu­tions for next year.