AdWords is a great way to promote your website to your potential customers, but it can be a bit bewildering to start with and all too easy to spend a lot of money with very little return.
Although Google provides lots of help with some great downloadable resources and training as well as a new business account team, it's well worth taking all that assistance with a pinch of salt, afterall Google makes most of its money through advertising revenue so has little incentive to save you precious pounds. A little objective advice and common sense can go a long way.
These are our top tips for setting up a cost effective AdWords campaign. They assume you have a bit of experience of AdWords and have access to tools like your Google Analytics account.
Be really clear about why you are advertising
To borrow a phrase from Stephen Covey ‘begin with the end in mind’; this is as true for AdWords as it is for life. If you know why you are advertising – to get people to pick up the phone, to fill in a contact form, to buy online – then everything else falls into place. There is lots of data in AdWords and Google Analytics to help you track whether you are meeting your advertising goals.
The key to a cost effective AdWords campaign is organisation. Use AdGroups effectively to tightly target keyword groups and then write ads that will appeal to that group. Don’t be tempted to be broad brushed - a well organised campaign with targeted AdGroups will have a higher quality score and cost you less.
Research your potential keywords
Before you set up your campaign, make sure to research the possible keywords and phrases you wish to use. Google’s keyword tool will provide some good ideas, along with an approximate CPC so you will know roughly what you can expect for your campaign. For instance, broader keywords are often more expensive than more targeted “long tail” keywords, and by conducting proper research before starting you will have better chances of success in choosing those keywords that fit within your objectives and your budget.
Allow Google To Help Achieve Clicks Within Your Target Budget
For any new campaign that doesn’t have a history it is beneficial to let Google try to maximise the number of clicks for your daily budget. This can be managed in the account settings portion of your campaign. For instance, Google may decide that for your daily budget you will achieve more clicks being at position 3 than at position 1, which is usually more expensive. As a result, your click-through-rate (CTR) is higher which ultimately influences your quality score and cost-per-click (CPC). You may then be able to move into the top position for a lower cost than if you started there originally.
Use geographic targeting if relevant
Google allows you to set your campaigns to run in specific areas. You can be as broad as worldwide, or as targeted as a city (and sometimes even as granular as distances around a certain post code). Think about your business. If you’re a small local business only serving Bristol, it probably doesn’t make sense for your ad to show in Manchester or London. Alternatively, if you sell products online you may wish to target all of the UK.
When creating your campaign, select the option to only show your ads on Google’s network. Disable the option to show on Google’s Partner Sites as these generally do not perform as well. Also, unless you are using re-targeting, it is usually wise to disable the Display network as often times impressions are high and clicks are low, thus damaging the overall CTR of your campaign.
Be budget-wise, focus on CPC
It is important to manage your campaigns by viewing the CPC of various keywords rather than only looking at your daily budget. If certain keywords are costing a lot, but delivering a little, pause them. Conversely, if a keyword is delivering loads of results at a low CPC, try to find other similar keywords to get the most clicks for your budget.
Allow Google to present your finest
Always have at least 2 different ads in every ad group you create. Sometimes you may want more. Ensure that you have selected the option to optimise ads for clicks. By choosing this option, Google will show your best performing ads, so it is good to have a couple of ad variations to test.
Match the ad with your website
It’s really important that when someone kicks on your Ad, it takes them to a part of your website that matches what they are searching for. A user will make a really quick decision on whether your content is useful, and if it’s not will just press the ‘back’ button. This has not only cost you a click that didn’t get you any business, Google will also factor this into how much you pay in future and you will have lost the chance to impress a new customer. If this is difficult, then change you campaign or change your website.
Negative keywords are so important
It’s really easy to get so close to your business that you forget that terms you use every day can have different meanings. People searching for a ‘packing case’ maybe looking for a cheap wooden box, a way to carry fragile filming equipment, boxes for moving house or even a way to move semiconductors across continents. The way to deal with the complexity of the English language is through negative keywords. Add them when you set up a campaign and use the ‘see search terms’ function in your keywords list to add more.
Experiment and monitor
Try different Ad messages and calls to action to see what works. Monitor your experiments and turn off those that aren’t working. This is true more broadly, don’t set up an AdWords campaign and forget about it, rigorously prune keywords and ads with low click through rates and keep experimenting.
Use Google Analytics
It is always useful to have Google Analytics linked to your Adwords account. There is so much useful information that can be taken from Analytics in addition to the stats already available in Adwords. For instance, a keyword may appear to be performing really well in Adwords based on the number of clicks and CTR, however, you might find that when looking at more detail in Analytics the customers who do click don’t stay on the site more than 3 seconds, in which case you will want to ask yourself why – is the keyword too generic? Is the landing page not showing relevant information? Was the ad misleading?
In other words, know what you want to achieve, organise your campaigns around your goals, link it in with your website and set it running. Once it’s running keep on monitoring how the site is working, using experiments and negative keywords to make it ever more on topic, tailored and relevant to your advertising goals.
If you are still dazed and confused about it, then get in touch. We have made dramatic differences to some clients accounts that more than pay our set up fees and if you expect to run AdWords longer term, then getting some professional insight is a good investment. We also have £75 vouchers to spend on new clients to Adwords.
Image by: Michael Gat