If you can believe it, Google AdWords, Google’s pay-per-click (PPC) platform is almost twenty years old. As the first-choice platform for search engine marketing, Google AdWords has over 4 million advertisers bidding on keywords and placing display ads on in-network websites. But even with such popularity, and a suite of free training courses for advertisers, many businesses are still making mistakes when using this product. These mistakes cause businesses to spend more money on unprofitable searches and decrease the overall effectiveness of their ads, risking fewer clicks and conversions.
Anyone with a website and a credit card can start an AdWords campaign, but it takes education, time and effort to see success. Many beginner AdWords users set up the bare bones of a campaign and then never touch it again, only to kill the campaign after not seeing the results they were hoping for. If you’re one of the many businesses struggling to make your AdWords campaign work, check out these five suggestions so you can determine if AdWords is the right tactic to invest in.
1. Keep a close eye on keywords and search terms
First and foremost, your campaign keywords determine when your ads show up in paid search results. It’s easy to include a ton of keywords in your campaign using Google’s Keyword Planner or your personal knowledge of a product, but the way you choose keywords and the way your customers search are not necessarily one and the same.
Very early on in your campaign, you’ll want to start modifying your keyword match types, as well as noting negative keywords. These decisions should be based on the data shown under the Search Terms dropdown in the Keywords section. You’ll see an entire list of what users searched that caused your ad to display and potentially be clicked. While you can add new keywords and set negative keywords from that screen, you may also want to use this knowledge to change your existing keywords to a different match type, such as exact or phrase.
2. Write ad copy that is eye-catching and promotes action
The content of your ads should be similar to an elevator sales pitch. You can’t reinforce your message with a pretty design, so you’ve got to lead with the best reason that someone should click on your ad versus a competitor’s. What makes your offer better or different than the dozen or so other first-page sites that will show for the same keyword?
Your ad copy is broken down into a few different sections: the headline, description, URL and ad extensions. Your campaign should use each of these components to their fullest potential. Your headline is the largest and most visible text, so you want to use it to hook in visitors with the main selling point of your campaign. Concisely entice users enough to get their eyes on the additional description text. That’s where you should elaborate on the offer, promotion, or product benefit highlighted in the headline text. The description is also a great place to include a call-to-action phrase like “Get Started” or “Compare Now.” While the display URL automatically includes the domain of your landing page, Google lets you customize the rest of it. Use that space to call attention to your campaign and its unique selling points. Lastly, take advantage of as many extensions as you can to make up for the limitations of character count within the other sections. These allow you to include a phone number, address, additional site links, reviews, and more all alongside your ad to increase its appeal.
3. Pay attention to quality score and average position
The top 3 ad spots get 41% of the clicks on the first page of Google*. Being in one of the top positions is extremely important if you want to generate clicks to your site, and there are aspects of you campaign you can focus on to support your ranking. The average position metric will tell you how you stack up when it comes to the competition on a keyword by keyword basis. A keyword’s quality score also impacts your ad’s position. This data point, scored from 1-10, is based on how well a keyword aligns with your landing page and ad copy, as well as how you perform with that keyword.
Putting your best foot forward, you want to increase your quality score by increasing relevance and performance, and achieve a lower average position through bid and keyword strategy. If quality scores are low, create new ad copy and update your landing page to better align with those keywords. You can also pause low quality score keywords to bring your average quality score up. Within the AdWords platform, you can also see which of your competitors are appearing above and below you, and how often, so you can continuously adjust your ads to better compete.
4. Align the landing page experience with campaign goals
On the subject of landing pages, sometimes advertisers will focus too much on the AdWords platform and not enough on the experience after a visitor clicks an ad. In fact, a common complaint is that “AdWords is driving lots of clicks but not a lot of conversions.” If traffic is getting to your website from your AdWords campaign, then AdWords has done its part. The experience begins with a need, question, or request, so your landing page needs to fulfill that pursuit. The visitor shouldn’t be expected to start a new search for the information they need.
If for any reason you’re sending AdWords traffic to your home page, stop. Your homepage serves as an introduction of all your website has to offer, while a landing page’s sole purpose is to convert, by delivering on the promise of your ad. Your campaign landing page should have action-oriented content that is relevant to your ads and keywords. This delivers a better user experience on your site, while generating a higher quality score in AdWords. Whether your landing page provides informative content or is trying to sell a product, it should be readily available once a visitor arrives on the page. Don’t make them scroll down or navigate elsewhere to take action.
5. Let conversions guide your keyword and bid strategies
There are many ways to track a conversion. Conversions could be in the form of button clicks, downloads of a white paper, phone calls or form fills. Both AdWords and Google Analytics provide ways to effectively measure these actions, and see the details of what happened behind the scenes of those conversions.
View your reporting from various levels to find which keywords, search queries, ad copy, geographies, devices, and times of day drove more conversions. You can add bid modifiers based on geography, device and time of day, as well as add any search queries to your keyword list if they’re shown to drive more converted clicks. If certain ads are converting better than others, look at the type of language they use and update your ad copy using successful ads as a guide.
Optimize your AdWords campaigns for better results
Still not generating positive returns? Don’t cancel your AdWords program just yet. Running a successful campaign takes time and attention to detail. You might not think that your campaign can be salvaged, but there may be hidden clues for how you can elevate your results. Apply these recommendations to your current AdWords campaigns or turn to the marketing team at ZAG for help performing an audit of your existing campaign or building out a new one.
Search Engine Land, Business Insider, WordStream