Top 10 tips for optimising AdWords

AdWords is a huge product. Not only does it enable you to target people with ads on Google’s search engine when they’re looking for stuff, but also via Google’s Display Network (via text and banner ads, using contentually or managed ad placements), remarketing and YouTube (video ads), just to name a few of the options.

Throw in Mobile Ads, concepts such as “Quality Scores”, geographic targeting principles and it can quickly get quite overwhelming.

And when something gets big and fully featured, it becomes ever-increasingly complex, making it difficult to know where to start (and where to stop).

Today I wanted to share some, hopefully, really simple processes we employ each month to get the best from the campaigns we run for our clients. I’m going to keep this pretty high level, just focusing on simple text ads which run on Google (and Google’s partner search engines).

If you have any other top tips, please share with us and everyone who’s reading this so we can all get better at managing an account, by using the comments at the bottom of this post.

1. Add negative keywords so that you’re not bidding on dangerous keywords which could be impacting your ROI.

For example, add negative keywords like “free” and “cheap” to ensure your ads don’t show up if you’re not offering products or services which are “free” or “cheap”.

2. Separate your Display and Search campaigns so you have more control over spend (and messaging) between the two.

Remember to keep your AdGroups thematically ‘tight’, meaning only use up to about 15 tightly-themed keywords maximum per AdGroup.

3. Use match types to ensure your campaigns stay targeted.

‘Exact match’ and to some extent ‘phrase match’ keywords provide the most control over your ad impressions and spend, whereas broad match keywords can cause you a world of pain if you’re not sure what you’re doing.

4. Use the”keyword details” report to remove poorly performing keywords.

This is one of my favourites and one of the simplest to implement. If you have underperforming keywords which are costing you a lot, but not converting, then remove them altogether. Simple.

5. Show Quality Score in your account for each keyword so that you can see how Google ranks each out of 10.

The higher the score out of 10 the less you’ll pay per click and the higher your ad will rank.

If a score is between 1/10 to about 6/10, you should probably remove the keyword from the AdGroup. Basically, Google calculates Quality Score by the click-through-rate (CTR) of the keyword you’re bidding on (higher is better), whether the ad copy is thematically related to the keyword and the landing page relevance to each keyword.

6. Ensure Landing Pages are optimised for paid search.

In theory, this helps your Quality Scores because your landing page should be highly (thematically) relevant to the keywords in your campaign.

7. Set up conversion tracking. ROI is very hard to figure out if you’re not tracking and recording conversions.

This can be done either by downloading a conversion script from your AdWords account and placing it on your “thank you” page or by importing goals you’ve set up in Google Analytics across into your AdWords Account.

8. Link your Google Analytics account to your AdWords account.

This helps you specifically segment your Google AdWords traffic within your Google Analytics account so you can measure performance in much more detail. For example, if you’ve set up e-commerce tracking in your Analytics account, you can see revenue by keyword, etc.

It can also help you to understand what times of the day people are most likely to convert (using the “Day Parts” report). You can schedule your AdWords ads to turn off at 3am when all the drunk people are clicking on your ad but are too sloshed to figure out how to convert.

9. Ad copy testing is vital, so make sure you are always testing your ad copy.

Run three ad variations for a couple of weeks (evenly rotating – don’t let Google self-optimise this process), and see which ad gets the highest click-through-rate, conversions and traffic, etc. Kill the two non-performing ads and make two new variations of the winning ad and re-test.

10. Ad Extensions are fantastic and are free to implement.

They make your ad bigger and provide more options for people to click within your ad. You can create additional links to content, show a map, Click to Call (Mobile Ads), show products, social extensions, etc.

Like I said, this list is by no means exhaustive, and I’d strongly recommend you visit Google’s AdWords Learning Centre to learn more about how maximise the product in your favour. It’ll help your online sales.

Chris Thomas heads up Reseo, a search engine optimisation company which specialises in creating and maintaining Google AdWords campaigns and Search Engine Optimisation campaigns for a range of corporate clients.



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