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Challenger Series: How to Compete on the SERP

Published: June 6, 2018

Author: Madeline Fitzgerald

During this 3Q Accelerate Week, we’re sharing our top tips and best practices for Challenger companies: the new competitors on the scene going up against competitors who are already established (and may have greater resources).

To start, you’ll find some advice on staying competitive on the SERP. When giant competitors can typically out-bid and out-budget you, how do you avoid losing valuable search real estate?

Problem: Rising CPCs

Expert Tip: “One way to combat overall CPCs from getting too high is to qualify your traffic. This can be done through RLSA. Depending on how large your audience is, you can create a campaign with users who have been to your site before. Since these users are familiar with your product, they are (in theory) more likely to convert, so you can set your bid higher for these “qualified” users. This provides a little more wiggle room and control so your “normal” search campaigns can have less of a premium bid.”
—Digital Marketing Account Manager Kaitlyn Couture

Problem: Running out of budget

Expert Tip: “A good way to combat this is to gather baseline data and then hone in on the exact user that you want to pursue. Not everyone searching for your product/service is a qualified buyer. My biggest recommendation is looking at all the available demographics – Gender, HHI, Age, Geo, etc. – and refining to exclude or bid down on the inefficient areas. Larger companies are likely just spraying their ads everywhere, as they have the dollars to do so. We can put our dollars to work more efficiently by refining who we’re serving ads to in the SERP, rather than trying to hit everyone.”
—Team Lead Trevor Morrissey

Problem: Low CTR, despite high Average Position

Expert Tip: Keep testing your ad copy! I typically go after brief call-outs that show off the client’s competitive edge, such as: #1 in Customer Service, or Fastest Response Time. If you have the advantage of a more affordable price than your competitors, you can play with phrasing like Why Pay More? to draw attention without calling your product/service cheap. In case any of these tactics get flipped on you, it’s important to keep a vigilant watch over what your competitor is advertising, so that you can pivot quickly if needed to get the upper hand.
—Digital Marketing Specialist Angela Bradley

Problem: Can’t get your ad to appear at the top of the page

Expert Tip: “Improve your Quality Scores! When your competitors keep outbidding you, work smarter (not harder) by improving your Quality Scores. Higher 1-10 scores help you reach more people for the same amount of budget, which is why you want to pour as much budget as possible into keywords with Quality Scores 7+. If yours don’t seem to be improving, or you don’t know how to boost them at scale, the Alpha-Beta Structure is actually designed for the “highest quality” experience from query to ad to landing page.
Additionally, sometimes you’re testing new keywords and there’s no one outranking you but your ads are still appearing at the bottom of the page – this means you aren’t meeting Google’s thresholds for quality. Try tailoring your ad copy and landing page more to these queries.”
—Sr. Strategy Development Manager Madeline Fitzgerald

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Chicago, IL 60606(650) 539-4124


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