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When it comes to paid search, no one knows more than Larry Kim. He’s the Founder and CTO of Wordstream and a top contributor to publications like, Search Engine Land, and more.

Below is a Q&A with the SEM pro where he shares his insights, practical tips, and what we can expect from paid search in 2016. Let me tell you, his words will inspire you to make some changes to your AdWords account.

Q. What are some of the big changes search marketers can expect in 2016?

A: Wordstream recently published a blog post featuring PPC predictions from some of the industry’s leaders. Here are a few of the most important takeaways:

  • Ad targeting is improving: With this new functionality, marketers can target potential customers based on just about any metric, demographic quality, or behavior. We are moving beyond basic keyword targeting. Tools like customer match in AdWords and customer audiences in Facebook also make for better retargeting campaigns. This is going to make PPC look and feel a lot more like email marketing.
  • Bing Ads have a bright future: With lower costs, a global release of Windows 10, and integrated search functionality in other Microsoft products, Bing continues to grow its share of search. It’s going to be a “must-have” for search marketers in the coming year.
  • Social media ads are awesome: Facebook will start to challenge Google for market share, and PPC budgets are likely to shift more to platforms like Facebook and Instagram.

Q. What kind of success have you seen from search marketers focusing on mobile?

A: Think with Google is one of the best resources for mobile stats and success stories, like this one from Florida law firm Colombo & Hurd. In one month, these guys grew their click-through rate by 53%, tripled their conversion rate, and cut their costs per click by 13.5% simply by adjusting their bidding and targeting strategy.

There are so many options in AdWords for improving your mobile campaigns — adjusting bids based on time of day or proximity to your business, for example. Try to understand the most likely intent of your different audience segments based on their keywords and location, and make sure you’re making mobile bid adjustments. Then create mobile-preferred ads and ensure your PPC landing pages are mobile optimized. And make sure you use call tracking!

Q. What are the most important metrics to look at when it comes to click to call?

A: Call quality is hard to measure, so many marketers measure call duration as a proxy. However, some businesses take orders over the phone, and in that case, long conversations may not be ideal and aren’t an indication of quality.

Assuming you have decent targeting with relevant keywords and geography, the main priority is to maximize the number of calls. Measure your absolute number of calls; is the number growing? What is your call rate (the number of calls/total ad impressions), and can you improve that?

Another metric to consider is your connected rate — how often calls are answered versus sent to an answering machine. Force your ads to pop up the auto-dialer even when people click the ad headline. Your CTA should be mobile-friendly. For example, “Call Us Now” makes much more sense for your mobile audience than “Download a Trial Version.”

Q. What is one of the most common mistakes you see search marketers make?

A: The biggest mistake is the complete and total lack of effort most marketers put into their PPC accounts. We ran a study of about 400 advertiser accounts and found that over half did nothing at all on a weekly basis, while only around 1% of advertisers worked on their account consistently over a 90-day period. There’s a lot of opportunity for marketers to surpass the competition by simply trying harder.

A second huge mistake is settling for lower than average click-through rates, which drag down your Quality Scores and increase the cost of your clicks. People might think they’re doing okay if they’re making basic optimizations, but if you’re stuck at 2% and think it’s good enough, you’re mistaken. Average CTRs are usually much higher than that.

Q.What are the Google AdWords features marketers should be taking advantage of?

A: I’ve written a post recently about super powerful but underused Adwords features. My five favorites are:

  1. Display ad builder
  2. Layered demographic targeting
  3. Automation (be careful with this one, though — it’s powerful)
  4. AdWords reporting
  5. Any and all new ad extensions

Readers can learn more about each one here.

I’m sure after reading this Q&A you are inspired to jump right into your AdWords account and start making improvements. Have fun!

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