How to do International PPC

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Top Tips for Running International PPC Campaigns

In the digital age, the world is your marketplace. But reaching a global audience isn't just about having a presence; it's about making the right impact. International Pay-Per-Click (PPC) campaigns offer an unparalleled opportunity to connect with customers across borders.

How to do International PPC

In this guide, we'll explore the essentials of setting up your PPC account and campaigns for international exposure, ensuring your message resonates with a diverse global audience.


Understanding International PPC

International PPC is the practice of running online advertising campaigns targeted at audiences in different countries or regions.

The challenge here is not just about language barriers; it's also about cultural nuances, local trends, and regional search engine preferences. Understanding these elements is crucial for creating campaigns that engage and convert. If you get it right, the potential rewards are high due to the reach and scale possible.


Setting Up Your International PPC Account

Paid Search Platform Selection

Google Ads might dominate in many countries, but don't overlook regional giants like Baidu in China or Yandex in Russia or Microsoft Ads. Select platforms that are most popular in your target regions. For this article, we will solely focus on Google Ads.


How to structure International PPC Campaigns

When setting up PPC campaigns for international targeting and audiences, the most important thing is how you organise your campaigns by country or region.

We do not recommend targeting every country in a single campaign, this would be ineffective and most likely result in poor performance and a lot of wasted ad spend.

We recommend for you to set up one campaign for each country, or group several countries in one campaign based on a theme such as regions or languages, like North America, Europe, or Asia.

Organising your campaigns this way lets you manage your budget and bidding strategies more effectively for each specific area. For example, you might use a Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) bidding strategy in one country, but a Cost Per Action (CPA) or Target Impression (IMP) strategy in another, depending on what works best there.

This setup also gives you the flexibility to adjust how aggressive your bidding strategies are. Different countries might have different profit margins or sales targets because of varying shipping costs and other expenses. By segmenting your campaigns like this, you can tailor your approach to meet these different targets.

Another advantage is that you can set specific budgets for each campaign, giving you finer control over your spending.

Finally, when you set up your international PPC campaigns at this level, you also decide which country and language you are targeting. So, if you're targeting the USA, you would select English as your language. For targeting Spain, you would choose Spanish. But if you want to target Europe but only English speakers, you can select all countries in Europe and English as your language. This will allow you to reach English speaking users throughout all of Europe.


How to structure International PPC Ad Groups & Keywords

Now that we understand how to structure international PPC campaigns, let's look at organising our ad groups and keywords. There are a couple of methods we can use such as: SKAG (Single Keyword Ad Groups) and STAG (Single Theme Ad Groups). Both have their benefits. For now, let's focus on the SKAG method.

In the SKAG method, each ad group will have only one keyword and at least one responsive search ad.

Make sure your responsive search ad includes the keyword within one headline but is read in a way that sounds natural to the end user. Also, use something called Dynamic Keyword Insertion (DKI). This helps make your ad more relevant to what people are searching for, which can improve your ad's quality score and make your ads perform better.


How to do International PPC Keyword Research

Now that we've set up the structure for our Campaign and Ad Group, it's time to pick the right keywords.

When you're choosing keywords, it's important to make sure they fit well with the specific country or region you're targeting in your campaign. For example, if you're targeting the USA, set your country to the USA in your keyword research tool.

Tools like Google Keyword Planner or SEMRush are great for this, if you select the wrong country, you will be missing out on crucial keywords and data.

Remember to also choose keywords that are in the language of the place you're targeting. Also, when you enter your keywords, use the local language, and consider how words are spelled differently in different countries. For instance, use 'color' in the USA but 'colour' in the UK, or 'fall' in the USA and 'autumn' in the UK.


International PPC Ad Copies

International PPC Ad Copies

Now that we've chosen our keywords from the keyword research, it's time to write our ads. Remember, it's really important to write your ads in the same language as your keywords and the country you're targeting. Also, pay attention to local ways of saying things and how words are spelled, just like we did in the keyword research. i.e. use 'color' in the USA but 'colour' in the UK.

You can enter up to fifteen headlines in responsive search ads and four descriptions. Do not repeat your headlines or make them too similar. You want to give a lot of variety to your headlines and descriptions and focus on areas such as CTA's, USP's, Trust Indicators, Stock, Customer Service, Promotions and Keywords to name a few.

If you want to learn more about how to write effective ad copies, you can read our article on how to increase your click through rate to 10%.

Lastly when you're making your ad headlines and descriptions, especially for responsive search ads, make sure the link you provide directs people to a part of your website that's in the same language as the ad itself. Doing this helps improve your ad's quality score and keyword quality score which can lead to better visibility in Google search results, lower costs per click, more people seeing your ad, more clicks, and a better overall experience for your website visitors.


Google Ad assets (Sitelinks, Callouts, Structured snippets etc.)

It's a good idea to set up parts of your ad assets, like sitelinks, callouts, and structured snippets, for each specific campaign, not just broadly across your whole account. This way, they can match the language and style of your ads and keywords.

But, if your campaign is reaching people who speak multiple languages such as Spanish, English, French, Dutch etc… you should organise all these ad assets (sitelinks, callouts, snippets etc..) at the ad group level instead of the campaign or the account level.

This approach lets you create and use these ad assets in various languages within the same campaign. Just remember to match the language of the ad assets to the right ad group. For example, use Spanish sitelinks and callouts for your ad group that's targeting Spanish speakers.


International PPC for Google Shopping

Setting up a Google Shopping campaign can be a bit more involved than regular search campaigns. This is because you may need to list your products in a specific way for each country.

It's always a good idea to create a separate Google Shopping feed for each country and language. What are the benefits of doing this?


Managing Inventory

Having customisable inventory allows you to exclude products not for sale in a particular country.

Your product inventory might vary from one country to another, as certain countries or regions such as the EU have laws on importing goods, such as pharmaceuticals, alcohol, food and drink and tobacco to name a few.


Customisable product pricing

Having customisable product pricing allows you to increase or decrease pricing to compensate for additional shipping costs and/or taxes.

Your product pricing will most likely be different per country due to import fees, fuel costs, additional taxes to be paid etc. With a dedicated feed per Country you can set the correct product price per region to offset these additional costs.


Customisable Shipping costs

A distinct feed per Country gives you the ability to set shipping costs, and to offer the correct delivery time frame for each Country.

Very similar to the product pricing, your shipping costs will most likely differ per country due to additional fees charged by your courier. With a customisable feed you can set the correct shipping cost per territory and let your users know exactly how long delivery will take from the moment they purchase your product.


Local Currency

We always recommend where possible to list your items for sale in the local currency so users in your target location know they can pay for your product without incurring additional exchange rate charges from their bank. Google does offer a currency conversion service for Google shopping feeds but it's always better to list the price in the local currency if possible.


Language targeting

This allows you to reach users who speak the same language as your product inventory feed.

For example, if you're targeting customers in Spain who speak Spanish, your Google Shopping feed should be in Spanish. This means everything, including product titles and descriptions, should be translated into Spanish. Also, the product links in your feed should take customers to the Spanish version of your website.

However, if you set up your feed in English but target Spain as your country, your products will show up in English within Google Shopping and respond to searches in English. In this case, make sure the links lead to the English section of your site, but customers should still be able to order and get delivery in Spain.


Custom Labels

Custom labels are an often one of the most under utilised features in Google shopping feeds. With custom labels you can segment your product inventory data into top sellers, low sellers, medium sellers, brands, categories, whatever you want. Then when it comes to making campaigns you can create multiple Google shopping campaigns for one feed.

An easy example of this is applying custom label attributes to your top selling items. And then when you build your campaigns you have two Google shopping campaigns attached to the same Google shopping feed. One campaign for top selling products, and another campaign for the rest of your inventory. This allows you to apply unique campaign budgets and bidding strategies based on your product inventory, such as being more aggressive on your top selling products and more conservative on the rest of your inventory.


Campaign Types for International Google Shopping

There are a few campaign types you can use for Google Shopping, such as Standard Google Shopping, Smart and Performance Max. They all have their pros and cons and is part of a much wider discussion.

You will most likely start with a standard Google shopping campaign and once your campaign, Google shopping feed, strategy and data is more sophisticated you will merge to Performance Max or Smart.


How OutSearch can help with International PPC

Navigating the complexities of international PPC requires both expertise and experience. For in-depth knowledge and strategic guidance on setting up successful PPC campaigns on a global scale, consider consulting with seasoned professionals.

Our team, with over ten years of experience in international PPC, has a proven track record of developing effective campaigns for renowned UK brands. We are equipped to address the unique challenges of international PPC and deliver tailored solutions that drive results.


by PPC Consultant Mike Walker

Mike Walker

Mike is a Paid Search expert with over a decade of experience in digital marketing.

Managing PPC budgets of six-figures per month, Mike is used to structuring and managing large campaigns on a global scale.

Continually developing his knowledge, Mike is at the forefront of trends in the PPC industry.


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