As businesses start to reopen, there is still uncertainty about the future. One thing that is certain is that consumers are spending more time online and seeking information on local goods and services via search. Advertisers should take advantage of this uptick with search engine marketing campaigns.

However, search marketing is evolving during COVID-19, primarily based on new buyer behaviors. To nail your campaigns, you should avoid these five things. That way, you can ensure your clients get the best return on investment (ROI) for their ad campaigns.


1. Advertisers Searching for Their Ads

While it’s tempting for an advertiser or a sales professional to look for an ad after it goes live, doing so is problematic. Search engine marketing is an auction-based system, which requires bidding on keywords.

If the advertiser searches for it, it can eat up an impression. Clicking on it would be even worse, as it would register a payment. Save impressions and bids for actual customers.

2. Stacking Campaigns with Irrelevant Keywords

People often make the mistake of attaching too many keywords to their campaigns. More keywords don’t equate to more people seeing the ad. If you use keywords that don’t relate to your service or goods, it won’t net the advertiser more quality conversions.


Bob’s Lawn Care sets up a campaign and includes numerous keywords relating to home improvement. His logic is that any time users search for ways to fix up their house, the lawn care company’s ad will appear.


The negative effect of this strategy is that Bob will quickly eat up all his budget. Searchers may click on the ad and then realize it’s not what they need because they aren’t specifically searching for lawn care services.

This is especially important during COVID-19. If people feel like they were led down the wrong path by an ad during a vulnerable time, they may never trust that company again.

One more thing: Google may downgrade your quality score if you have many irrelevant keywords. Further, they could even suspend the ad account, which would jeopardize the ability to execute any search engine marketing campaigns.

3. Leaving Out Negative Keywords

Negative keywords are the phrases you don’t want your ad to show up for in a search. Including negative keywords is a good way to ensure more qualified buyers. Some examples are words like “free” or “no cost.”

Negative Keywords Example

Bob’s Lawn Care creates a campaign around making grass greener throughout the year. Bob offers a variety of ways to accomplish this, but he doesn’t provide pest control. Let’s now assume that a user is searching for a lawn care company that offers pest control. Bob doesn’t want to use up his budget by having the ad appear to someone searching for lawn care and pest control.

By including the negative keywords pests, insects, bugs and mosquitoes, the campaign can be focused on the most likely customers.

4. Not A/B Testing

Another critical step in search engine marketing is A/B testing. Not everyone who is searching for a product or service will respond to the same ad.

Diversify the message by using A/B testing to discern how different audiences respond to the ad, and then build a campaign based on the results. Maybe one version of the ad isn’t resonating with people as they deal with COVID-19. To avoid spending money on a message that isn’t leading to conversions, you can use A/B testing for the most effective ad delivery.

When A/B testing, you should test one component at a time. Start with something simple like call-to-action (CTA) phrases.


5. Using a Home Page vs. a Landing Page

When users click on the ad, where should they land? One of the biggest mistakes advertisers make is sending customers to their home page. To convert a user, use a relevant, conversion-focused landing page. The landing page should deliver on whatever the ad copy was and should provide a form for submission to capture the lead. A landing page that doesn’t reflect the campaign message can lead to a low conversion rate. Think about it: If you land on a page that doesn’t gain your trust, are you going to purchase from that business? Probably not.


Optimizing Search Engine Marketing Campaigns During COVID-19

The world runs on search. It’s one of the best ways to generate website traffic and leads. COVID-19 altered some buyer behavior. Consumers want to find information online, so optimizing search engine marketing campaigns is imperative during the pandemic and after it’s over. By running an efficient search campaign, advertisers and consumers can connect and deliver value to one another.