AdWords is now Google Ads. Our new name reflects the full range of advertising options we offer across Search, Display, YouTube, and more. Learn more

4.3K members online now
4.3K members online now
Dive into advanced features like Remarketing, Flexible Bid Strategies, AdWords Editor, and AdWords Scripts
Guide Me

When to give up on a keyword

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 1
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
So I'm testing out a list of keywords and trying to figure out how to know when to stop paying for a keyword if I'm not getting any conversions out of it.
I also want to know what logic people use for choosing a broad set of keywords vs a narrow set.

So lets say I have 100 keywords. 20 are providing conversions, at an average of 200 clicks per conversion, with a minimum of 150 clicks before I get my first conversion on a keyword.

Some of my keywords without conversions have no clicks. Some have less than 200 clicks, a few have more. I want to know when to decide not to add a keyword (quality score is too low {what's "too low?"}, % of non clicked keywords is a certain percentage of all keywords) and when to cut loose a keyword that has reached x number of clicks without getting a conversion (is it when it hits the minimum number of clicks typically for a conversion, when it's double that number, when clicks*cost per click>target CPA (cost per acquisition))?

At what point do you cut off your underperforming keywords, and how did you decide on the metric you picked for "underperforming"? How do you decide when a keyword isn't "good" enough to try, or do you try every keyword you can think of?

Answers with a solid metric and specifically any with a cost model, will get extra brownie points. That said, if you just go based on feel because you like a certain metric, tell me what it is.

2 Expert replyverified_user

Re: When to give up on a keyword

Rising Star
# 2
Rising Star

The answer is, as it always is with AdWords, "it depends."  Different clients, different markets, different answers.


In a market with a high average click cost, I'm aggressive about cutting non-converting keywords. (Obviously I do my research first. Some keywords that don't produce direct conversions are nonetheless incredibly important "assisting" keywords. That is, some keywords are used by searchers at an earlier point in the buying funnel.)


If there's a keyword that's under-performing and I think it should be getting more clicks--I think the keyword should be a high-producing one, I split it into a separate Ad Groups and babysit it individually--different bid, new ad messaging, etc. I spend time trying to get it to produce before I give up on it. I even do test searches on it to see what kinds of results it pulls--not just other ads but organic results. Sometimes keywords have alternate uses that we're not aware of. 


When you should give up on your keywords is your own decision. It's all about ROI--how much money do you have available to spend trying to widen your range of conversion-producing keywords? If you don't have a lot, then you might want to start cutting. If you have some budget to use experimenting, or if your core group of conversion-producing keywords is worryingly small, then you'll want to do the extra work.


I'm not in need of brownie points today so I'm not offering specific metrics. Woman LOL  


No, seriously, any metrics shared from a different account selling a different range of products to a different audience would just lead you astray. What I do in a used car dealership account and what someone else does in a shoe sales account and what a third person does in a website design account are only tangentially relevant to what would be best for you to do.


Have you thought about your keyword match types and whether or not they're too inclusive? Do you monitor search queries and comb out your negative keyword list regularly?  


Pay attention to your entire conversion stream--monitor your Analytics conversion data. Assisted conversions will tell you when a keyword that doesn't seem to produce is nevertheless an important one to your bottom line.  


Aside from that, consider your entire conversion process. Review your landing pages--is there something you can do to improve your overall conversion metric?  Do you need additional pages you can use to service some of these non-converting but potentially important keywords? Can you offer some additional information that people using those specific searches might be interested in?


Review your inquiry/buying process. Is it cumbersome and difficult to navigate? (An unbelievably common problem.)


Just my $0.02

Google AdWords Top Contributor

Re: When to give up on a keyword

Top Contributor
# 3
Top Contributor

Hi Chris, I can't possibly follow that post from Theresa so I'll just underline one point.  Make absolutely sure you're not going to kill a Keyword that plays a part in the bigger picture.  With low volume, high value conversions, especially when the time lag to conversion is long, it can be very difficult to truly determine which Keywords/Groups/Campaigns are effective.


Here's an example.  I have a client with one Campaign that's done virtually nothing for the last month.  It's spent over $400 and had only 1 conversion at $143.  It's an obvious failure, right?  Well it would have been right up the point where it's second conversion was worth almost $9000.  It's now the best performing Campaign in the entire Account in terms of cost/conversion.


Obviously this is an extreme (but totally true) example, but there will be similar situations happening all over the place.


Darn, I've ended up posting anyway after saying I wasn't going to...



AdWords Top Contributor Google+ Profile | Partner Profile | AdWords Audits