3 Ways To Sabotage Your AdWords Campaign

by Adam Kreitman

Google AdWords logoI hear it all the time from business owners…

Yeah, I tried AdWords but it doesn’t work.

Hey, I’ll be the first one to admit that AdWords doesn’t work in all situations.

BUT…when it doesn’t work, it may not be AdWords’ fault.

A lot of campaigns are set up and managed so poorly, they don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of succeeding.

Here are 3 of the biggest ways I see advertisers sabotage their AdWords campaigns:

1. No Keyword Research

Keyword research is at the heart of any search marketing campaign. Quite simply, you need to know the actual keywords prospects are typing in to find your business online. (And not the ones you THINK they’re typing in…the ones they’re ACTUALLY typing in.)

Using a keyword research tool like the free one from Google or the ridiculously low-priced one from Market Samurai, you can unearth the most relevant keywords for your business.

If you’re already running an AdWords campaign you can mine it for new keywords too. Using the Search Query Report, you can see the actual search terms people have typed in before clicking on your ads. You’re sure to find some nuggets you can add to your keyword list in there.

Doing a little keyword research will go a long way in building a successful AdWords campaign.

2. Lumping Keywords Together

Say you’re running a sporting goods store. You have keywords in your campaign ranging from tennis racquets to baseball gloves to soccer balls to athletic supporters.

If your AdWords campaign has all those keywords lumped together into one big group, then someone searching for any of those terms will see the exact same ad. And that’s not what you want.

In AdWords, you can group highly related keywords together into Ad groups. An Ad group is a collection of closely related keywords that share the same ad(s).

By grouping your keywords together, someone searching for tennis racquets can see ads that specifically mention tennis racquets. That makes it much more likely they’ll click on the ad compared to a generic sporting goods ad or one mentioning athletic supporters!

Also, you’ll want the ads in each ad group to point to the most relevant page on your website which is generally not your home page. So those ads that mention tennis racquets should lead people directly to the main tennis racquet page on your site.

People are lazy online. If they don’t immediate see what they’re looking for, they’ll hit that back button faster than a Roger Federer serve.

Grouping related keywords into ad groups, writing highly targeting ads related to those keywords and pointing those ads to the most highly targeted landing page on your website will give you the highest likelihood of success.

3. Using Only Broad Match keywords

There are three main match types you can use in an AdWords campaign…

Exact match, Phrase match and Broad match

For Exact match, a searcher has to type your keyword exactly as it appears in your campaign in order for your ad to be displayed.

For Phrase match, a searcher has to type your keyword in the same order as it appears in your campaign in order for your ad to be displayed.

(Example: If your keyword is “lawn service”, your ad could display for the search query “lawn service in st louis mo” but not for the term “lawn and landscaping service” because the words “lawn” and “service” are not next to each other.)

For Broad match, you kind of leave things up to Google to decide. Broad match allows your ads to be displayed for “similar phrases and relevant variations” of the keywords in your campaign.

Problem is Google’s definition of “similar phrases and relevant variations” may be very different from your own. Here are some examples of Broad match keywords I’ve seen in AdWords campaigns and the actual search queries Google’s shown ads for:

Keyword: Solar panels   Search queries: solar system, solar batteries, solar energy

Keyword: Math tutor     Search queries: math teacher, safe private tutor, math tutorial

Keyword: Ear surgery    Search queries: hearing implants, otoplasty cost, ear implants

Broad match isn’t necessarily the worst thing for your campaign, but you have to be very careful with it.

Many advertisers only have broad match keywords in their campaign and end up spending a good chunk of their budget on keywords that are not relevant to their business.

Especially if you’re just starting out, I’d stick with Exact and Phrase match keywords, get comfortable with them, and then you can start carefully using Broad Match or, better yet, Modified Broad Match (which falls in between Phrase match and Broad match) to expand your campaign.

We’ve focused mostly on mistakes people make when it comes to using keywords in AdWords. But there are a lot of other ways people sabotage their campaigns. We’ll discuss three more biggies in the next blog post.

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