Tips for Improving Your AdWords Campaign
One somewhat sneaky tactic by Google is that they make it very easy for businesses to get started with AdWords – just enter your credit card info, pick out some keywords, write an ad and you’re off! However, creating successful campaigns takes more than just a few minutes of your time.
We recently took a look at traffic data across the dozens of our clients that managing AdWords campaigns on their own and compared this to clients who have us manage AdWords campaigns for them. The results are striking.
So, what’s our secret? Well, there actually isn’t a big secret. Success with AdWords really comes down to two main things: good planning and making adjustments based on data.
6 Tips for planning your campaigns
1. Keyword research – There are many tools available for researching keywords. The AdWords Keyword Planner is free and fairly easy to use. Start by brainstorming your own list of keywords you think are relevant to your industry. Make sure you select general keywords like IT Support and keywords specific to the services you offer like Cloud Backup Solutions.
Dump your list into the Keyword Planner and you’ll get expanded list of keywords along with data on how often people search for them and how competitive they are. Carefully review the list and eliminate any keywords that aren’t relevant to your business.
This is a very basic overview of the keyword research process. Before actually embarking on building a campaign, you should read this in-depth guide on keyword research by Backlinko.
2. Organize similar keywords into campaigns and ad groups – Don’t immediately throw your researched keywords in AdWords. You first need to organize them into campaigns and ad groups. For example, IT Consulting, IT Consulting Services and IT Consulting Companies should all be in the same ad group. Segmenting your keywords like this will make it much easier to analyze your data later.
3. Write ad text that is specific to keywords within an ad group – Get ready to write a lot of ads. Each ad group should have at least one ad text that specifically mentions the topic of that ad group. This will improve your ad Quality Score and will allow the searcher to connect your ad with their search phrase more easily.
4. Send traffic to landing pages that cover the same topic as the keywords in an ad group – Likewise, setting your ad destination pages to pages that cover a similar topic as the keywords within each group will help your Quality Score. It creates a more streamlined conversion flow for visitors. So for example, if someone searching for IT Consulting Services, they see an ad about IT consulting and land on a page that discusses IT consulting.
5. Launch your campaigns using Exact Match targeting – Exact Match targeting (as opposed to Broad Match or Phrase Match) means your ads will only appear when someone searches for the exact keyword you’ve targeted in your campaign. This is especially helpful for small businesses who are just starting out with AdWords because it gives you greater control over your ads and it means you won’t be wasting money on irrelevant phrases. Once you gather data and learn more about how your keywords perform, there might be instances where using a broader match setting will be useful.
6. Use location targeting – If you only provide your services within a confined geographic area, make sure you set your campaigns to only display ads to searchers within that area. Otherwise, you’ll end up paying for clicks from people who you can’t provide services for.
With all that said, planning can only get your so far. The truth is that you won’t know how your campaigns will perform until they are launched and the most important thing is to monitor your data after launch and use that information to make adjustments that will improve your overall performance.
5 Tips for optimizing your campaigns after launch
1. Track everything! – Make sure you have Google Analytics (or another analytics tool) installed on your website. If you’re a Pronto client, we’ve already set your site up with Google Analytics. We also recommend using a call tracking solution that will help you determine the source of calls that originate from your website. All of the data you collect should be used to see how your campaigns are performing. Within Google Analytics, you can see information like bounce rate, time on site and conversions to help you determine the strong and weak points of your campaigns.
2. Pause underperforming keywords – Check up on the performance of your keywords on a regular basis. When you first launch a campaign, this should be everyday. Once you have things a bit more under control, it can be 2-3 times per week. Keep an eye out for keywords that are driving traffic but not conversions or keywords that send traffic with a high bounce rate. You’re paying for those clicks so if they’re not turning into leads, pause those keywords right away!
3. Adjust bids for optimal ad positioning – When checking up on your campaigns, also keep an eye on the position your ads are appearing in. If you notice that some keywords have a very low click through rate, it may be because the ads for that keyword are too low on the page. You can try slowly increasing your bid over the course of a couple days until the ad moves to a higher position where it will be clicked on by more users.
4. Ad variation testing – Always be testing! Within each of your ad groups, make sure you are always running at least two different ad versions. Once you’ve collected enough data to decide which version is performing better, get rid of the loser and add a new variation into the mix. This will allow you to make incremental improvements to your performance throughout the lifetime of your campaign.
5. Expand your keyword list – If you see keywords that are driving quality traffic and conversion on a regular basis, consider expanding them from Exact Match to Broad Match. This will allow your ad to appear for many more actual search phrases which should mean getting more traffic.
However, when you expand to Broad Match, make sure you keep an eye on the phrases that are sending traffic. If you see any that are irrelevant to your business, you can add them to your negative keywords list by going to the “Keywords” tab in AdWords, selection “All” from the “Details” dropdown menu and then selecting the irrelevant keywords and clicking “Add as negative keyword”.
Detailed instructions on managing negative keywords can also be found here.
The results of good planning and optimization
How big of a difference can planning and optimization make? Here’s an example where we took over an existing AdWords campaign from a client and started managing it for them. We started by cleaning up some poorly performing parts of the campaign and then set about following our optimization procedures and making changes based on data we collected.
Over the course of a few months, we were able to quadruple the click through rate of their ads.
And over the course of about 6 months, we were able to reduce their average cost per lead from AdWords by over $100. They now spend $1000 less per month on their ad budget than when they first came to us but still receive the same amount of leads from their campaigns.
AdWords is a very complicated platform, but following a good process for building and managing your campaigns can make it much easier to build success. As always, if you have any questions about how to get started with AdWords, don’t hesitate to ask us.
By Tim Kelsey, Director of Marketing at Pronto