Category Archives for "AdWords"

Why This Company Should Avoid AdWords

AdWords boils down to math. And, sometimes, the math just doesn’t add up.

The following cautionary tale about using Google AdWords is true (though I’ve changed a few details to protect the identity of the company at the heart of the story).

It’s about a company using AdWords that shouldn’t be because, for their business model, in their market, the math ain’t in their favor.

There’s a catch here though. And it’s that there are other companies that CAN make the AdWords math work… in this very same market.

How?

Let’s take a look. Here’s the set up…

Last month I got a referral to a woman who’s been using AdWords to try to sell her product…a type of insect repellent. We’ll call it Bug Off Insect Repellent.

To be quite honest, there’s nothing particularly unique about Bug Off. The company makes no big, bold claims about it being any more effective than the competing products. Their main selling point is that it’s made of non-toxic materials and is completely biodegradable.

No Secret Sauce

While that’s great, there are other insect repellents that make similar claims.

And that’s Problema Numero Uno.

Bug Off has no truly Unique Selling Proposition. The product simply isn’t doing or offering anything that’s not already out in the marketplace.

It’s got no secret sauce. Nothing to make it stand out from the competition. They’re not even offering a strong guarantee.

And that’s a tough position for any business to be in.

That said, the company is generating some sales. Mostly through small retail brick and mortar stores as well as an ecommerce store they’ve partnered with.

The rest of the sales are coming through AdWords (or so they think).

And that’s why they came to me…they wanted help optimizing and managing their campaign. But I turned them down.

Here’s why:

First, they weren’t equipped to sell on their website. They’re driving people to their website and, from the site, linking to their product on Amazon.com where people can buy Bug Off.

No Accurate Tracking

The owner said they were averaging about a sale a day on Amazon. However, when pressed, she really didn’t know how many of those were from AdWords vs. how many were coming from people finding them through the Amazon site itself.

That’s Problema Numero Two. You gotta be tracking this stuff so you know what’s putting the dinero in your bank account. You can’t improve your marketing and sales funnel if you can’t SEE the funnel.

But the biggest problem this company had, Problema Numero 3, is all about the math.

Low Profits + High Click Costs = Bad News

We started talking about profit margins and the owner told me that they make about $8 profit per bottle sold. Digging a little further, she told me that their average cost per click on AdWords was $2.60.

BIG red flag.

To make the math easier, let’s say I came in and immediately got their AdWords cost per click down to $2.00.

At a profit of $8 a bottle, that means that 1 out of every 4 people who click on their ads – 25{a950ddf0e7a23367a7e0f17377d3737fa8b8b1820bab9af7071f88951eb5d84e} – would have to BUY a bottle of insect repellent just for this company to break even!

Now a 25{a950ddf0e7a23367a7e0f17377d3737fa8b8b1820bab9af7071f88951eb5d84e} sales conversion rate for a company WITH a Unique Selling Proposition that sells directly on their own site would be a challenge.

But there’s just no way Bug Off could expect to convert at that level.

The numbers just don’t add up. Even factoring in a few customers becoming repeat customers and/or buying multiple bottles at a time, this company has little chance of running a profitable AdWords campaign.

When You Can Afford To Sell at Break Even (or a Loss) in AdWords

That said, there is a way to get the numbers working in your favor when you can’t make money on the initial sale.

It’s why Amazon.com, Zappos.com and other big companies can afford to bid up prices in AdWords advertising products they’ll lose money on.

And it comes down to their back end.

See, Amazon (if they wanted to) could pay $2.60 a click to promote Bug Off and lose money on every bottle they sell through AdWords.

Why?

Because Amazon is not about making a profit on the first sale. Amazon is all about the LIFETIME value of a customer.

I came across this quote the other day about Amazon’s business model…

“A business model that not only valued long-term cash flow and absolute profit potential, but also deemed near-term profits and profit margin largely irrelevant.”

This is a model/concept that many businesses don’t understand. And it’s the key to making money in AdWords (or, other marketing channels, for that matter) in very competitive and/or low profit margin markets.

It basically comes down to this… the success of your business is NOT determined by whether you make a profit on the first sale to a new prospect. It’s determined by the LIFETIME VALUE of that prospect.

If you have a strong back end and can effectively cross sell and upsell additional products and services to your existing customers, then you can afford to break even or lose money on their initial purchase.

This is why Amazon could, if they wanted to, afford to pay $2.60 a click to market Bug Off through AdWords.

Because when someone clicks on the ads and decides to buy Bug Off, Amazon’s got thousands of other things to sell them. And Amazon’s going to VERY strategically present them with a number of related products to buy.

So maybe they add Bug Off to their Shopping Cart and are presented with an Insect net for $35 that would be perfect for the picnic they’re planning with their family next weekend.

Decide Bug Off’s not for you? Well, here are 50 other types of insect repellent you might prefer.

And speaking of that picnic… while you’re on Amazon how about some sunscreen, a soccer ball for the kids to play with and that awesome cooler that’s got a gazillion 5 star reviews to put the food in?

And, oh, it would be awesome to have a Kindle to bring along to read in the shade and….

Even if the person only purchases Bug Off and nothing else, Amazon’s email marketing juggernaut will kick in and send the customer follow up emails with related products.

Bug Off, however, sells just one product. They’ve got no back end. No cross sells or upsells.

And because the lifetime value of a customer is so low, Adwords ain’t gonna be profitable for them selling a few bottles of insect repellent here and there.

So, my advice to Bug Off was this…

Don’t waste their time and money with AdWords. Unless they’re going to develop a whole line of additional products (or services) they could offer to clients, the numbers just don’t add up.

The better bet is to focus their efforts on getting Bug Off into more brick and mortars and ecommerce sites. This way the company itself can focus on selling Bug Off by the CASE to retailers and then let the retailers sell the bottles onesie, twosie at a time to consumers.

(Which, by the way, is exactly what SC Johnson does. They don’t sell Off! Insect repellent on their website. And they’ve got millions of dollars they could spend trying to do it.

Instead they spend their time promoting Off! to the public and drive people to retailers (online and offline) who handle the actual transaction with the consumers.)

AdWords is all about the numbers. And, many times, the numbers just don’t add up to make a one-time sale profitable. If you have to be profitable on that first sale then, especially for low profit margin goods and services, AdWords may not be for you. Better to try your luck elsewhere.

BUT…if you can get repeat customers…if you are effective at getting people to take advantage of your cross sells and upsells…if the lifetime value of a customer far exceeds the purchase price of that initial sale…

…then the numbers can work in your favor and you can make money on keywords your competitors can’t.

What would your advice to Bug Off have been? Do you see a way they could profitably sell bottles directly to consumers? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

HUGE Changes to AdWords (This One’s My Favorite)

Last month Google announced new “Enhanced” AdWords campaigns. It’s being touted as the biggest change to AdWords in the last 5 years.

Now, I’ve been around AdWords long enough that when Google announces that something is “Enhanced” I’m, well, skeptical to say the least.

And, yes, there are some new “enhancements” that seem mostly geared to putting more money in Google’s coffers. However, we’ll leave those for another time.

Instead we’ll focus on the positive here because there are some changes which are truly big improvements. One, in particular, I’ve been waiting for for a very long time.

It has to do with what’s known as Sitelink extensions.

Sitelink extensions are additional links that can appear under you main AdWords ad (though only when your ad appears in one of the first 3 positions in the AdWords rankings).

Here’s an example of what one looks like in the wild.

dentist sitelinks

The links under the main ad lead to different pages of this dental office’s website.

The phone number leads to the Contact page, the ‘Meet the Dentists’ link leads to a page with background about each dentist…you get the idea.

Sitelinks are all about getting people to the page on your site that’s most relevant to what they’re looking for.

Sitelinks Are Great, But…

Up until now, however, Sitelinks have only been available at the Campaign level. That means if you have Sitelinks in an AdWords campaign, the Sitelinks could potentially show for every keyword and ad you have in the campaign.

There are plenty of situations where this is not a good thing.

Take the example of a decent sized attorney’s office that has attorneys practicing in a number of different specialties.

In a well organized AdWords campaign, you’d have Ad groups set up for each specialty…DUI, Bankruptcy, Divorce, etc.

In a campaign like this, it would be tough to use Sitelinks because the Sitelinks you might use for a Divorce attorney like

  • Custody Issues
  • Child Support
  • Alimony
  • Our Divorce Attorneys

would make no sense to someone searching for a DUI or Bankruptcy attorney.

In fact, if someone searching for a DUI or Bankruptcy attorney saw Sitelinks under the ad mentioning Child Support and Alimony, they’d be totally turned off by the ad!

To get around issues like this, there are accounts that we manage where we create separate campaigns JUST so we can use appropriate Sitelinks extensions.

Well, no more!

The Big Improvement

With Enhanced campaigns, you can now create Sitelinks at an ad group level. WOOHOO!

As you can see from the screenshot below, now when you go to the Sitelinks tab, you’re given the option to ‘Use campaign sitelinks extension’ or ‘Use ad group sitelinks extension’.

new sitelinks

 

Once you create a new Sitelink in a campaign or ad group, it’s stored in your AdWords account and it can be easily added to any Campaign and/or Ad group you create.

And It Gets Even Better…

The reporting for Sitelinks has been improved as well. Previously, the only data you could see is aggregate data that shows how many times people clicked on one of your ads that displayed Sitelinks along with it like this (click to enlarge)…

old reporting

But you had no clue which Sitelinks, if any, were actually getting clicked on.

Now, however, you can see data broken out by Sitelink. To do this, you have to go to the Segment button and choose the “This Extension vs. Other” link…

segment

When you do this, your data now gets segmented by each Sitelink extension like this…

reporting

The data in the “This extension” row shows the data for that specific Sitelink. The “Other” row shows clicks on any other part of the ad when that Sitelink was displayed (which could be the headline of the ad, the other Sitelink extensions or another extension that may have been displayed with the ad).

This is extremely helpful because, for the first time, you can tell which extensions are actually getting clicked on. Using this data, you can now test different extensions to see which ones perform best with your ads and further optimize your ads.

I’m very excited about this new feature and it should be a very useful one for AdWords advertisers who take full advantage of it.

So kudos to Google for making this great enhancement to AdWords. It helps make up for some of the less than helpful “enhancements” that are also part of the Enhanced AdWords campaigns. But more on those another time…

Why It Pays to Be Negative In AdWords

I’ve been doing a lot of AdWords Optimization Reviews for clients recently to give them specific advice and coaching on how to improve their campaigns.

One of the clients asked me a really great question after looking over the report I sent him. The question was this…

Out of all the suggestions I made, what are the low hanging fruit? Which changes in his campaign would give him the biggest bang for his buck?

The answer to this question varies from campaign to campaign, but there’s usually one change that’s fairly easy to make and can have a big impact on performance.

It can give your clickthrough rates (and, hopefully Quality Scores along with it) a big bump. And it can save you big bucks you’re currently wasting on clicks that have little to no chance of leading to a sale.

What is this simple thing?

Adding negative keywords to your campaign.

A negative keyword is a way for you to tell Google what search terms you DON’T want your ads showing up for.

For example, let’s say you’re a dentist but you don’t work with kids. If you add “pediatric”, “children”, “kids”, etc. as negative keywords to your campaign, then your ads will not show up when people type search terms into Google like:

  • “pediatric dentist”
  • “dentist for kids”
  • “best dentist for children in st louis”

By eliminating traffic for irrelevant search terms, you’ll increase your CTRs and cut your costs.

(NOTE: This only applies if you’re using broad and/or phrase match keywords in your campaign. If you’re only using exact match keywords, you don’t have to worry about negative keywords.)

There are some nuances on HOW to use negative keywords that I’d like to share with you.

Strategically Using Match Types

Your negative keywords (as with your “regular keywords”) can have different match types.

We’ll look at negative EXACT match keywords first…

Let’s say you sell fishing poles and supplies. Good keywords for your campaign may include “fishing poles”, “fishing lures”, and “fishing tackle”.

However just the keyword “fishing” is way too broad for your purposes. Someone typing in that term could be looking for fishing tips, fishing charters, fishing videos to watch or a whole host of other possibilities. So you probably don’t want your ads showing up when someone types in plain old “fishing”.

So by adding “fishing” as a negative EXACT match keyword to your campaign, you’ll prevent your ads from appearing for the search term “fishing”. However, they’ll still show up for terms like “fishing rods”, “fishing lures” and “fishing tackle”.

Contrast that with a negative BROAD match keyword. Adding “fishing” as a negative BROAD match keyword to your campaign would prevent your ads from being displayed for any search query containing the word “fishing” in it. And, for our example, we don’t want that to happen.

Negative BROAD match keywords are best used for generic terms people may type in their search queries like “free”, “cheap”, “jobs”, etc. If “free” is a negative BROAD match keyword in your campaign, then your ads will NOT appear for search queries like “free fishing tackle”, “get a fishing pole for free” or “where can I find free fishing rods”.

Since your business is probably not giving these things away for free, you don’t want your ads appearing for terms like this. So, for words that you don’t want ads to be displayed for whenever they show up in a search query (no matter what other words they’re paired with), add them as negative BROAD match.

Campaign vs. Ad Group Negative Keywords

There are two places you can add a negative keyword in an AdWords account. You can add them at a Campaign level or at an Ad Group level.

If you add a keyword at the Campaign level, that negative keyword will apply to the entire campaign and all the ad groups in it. As with negative BROAD match keywords, good candidates for Campaign level negative keywords usually include terms like “free”, “cheap” and “jobs.”

However, making good use of Ad Group level keywords can also be very helpful. Keeping with our fishing example, let’s say we have 3 ad groups…one for fishing rods, one for fishing lures and one for fishing tackle boxes.

In the fishing lures ad group, we’ve got ads that specifically reference fishing lures. We certainly don’t want people searching for tackle boxes, rods, line, clothing or other fishing related items seeing those ads.

So in this case, we’d use Ad Group level negative keywords. We’d add negative keywords like “rods”, “poles”, “tackle boxes”, “clothing”, etc. to the fishing lures ad group to make sure people typing in search queries with those words in them don’t see our fishing lures ads.

Where to Find Good Candidates for Negative Keywords

So where can you find the negative keywords that you should add to your campaign?

Two main places:

  • Google AdWords Keyword Tool – Especially for a new campaign, this is the best place to go. Start by typing in keywords related to your business, product and/or service. As you’re looking at the list of keywords Google provides, pay attention for variations that aren’t relevant to your business. Note them down and add them to AdWords as negative keywords.
  • Search Query Report – This is the best place to find negative keywords after your campaign’s been running for a while. This report shows you the actual search terms people typed into Google before clicking on your ads. Mine this data once or month or so and look for search queries that your ads showed up for that aren’t relevant to your business. Then add those search queries as negative keywords.

Conclusion

Either not using (or misusing) negative keywords is one of the more common mistakes people make in AdWords. And it’s one of the easiest to fix.

So go negative to make a very positive difference in your campaign!

An Improved Google AdWords Express?

Google’s pitching their AdWords Express program to small business owners again. They’d been kinda quiet on that front for a while, but they recently made some enhancements to the program. And now they’re out trying to get business owners to sign up.

According to Local Search expert Mike Blumenthal, the new features include:

  • Business owners can now choose a radius (of up to 40 miles) where they want their ads displayed
  • They can now point their ad to a custom landing page (Google used to limit this to the home page)
  • More ad types including mobile ads and image ads

Those are some changes that seem to be in the right direction. BUT (you knew that was coming!), the fundamental issue with Google AdWords Express has not changed…

In exchange for ease of use, you give up A LOT of control over your AdWords campaign.

With “regular” AdWords, you can:

  • Get very precise in the geographic areas you target (you can do it by radius, city name, metro area and/or zip code)
  • Choose the keywords that you’re bidding on in the campaign
  • Control bid prices so you bid more for your most important keywords to ensure a better position in the rankings
  • Write multiple ads and split test them so you improve performance over time and learn what messages, offers, etc. get the best response
  • Decide whether your ads appear on Desktop/Laptops, Tablets and/or Smartphones

There’s another caution I have about the new options for AdWords Express. They’re offering image ads which only appear on Google’s Display Network (this is when your ads appear on websites that run Google ads like nytimes.com).

Display Network is a very different beast from Search Network. It requires a different bid strategy. It requires different keywords. It requires different ads.

And the traffic from Display is often much less targeted than traffic from Search.

If, as it sounds is the case, Google is now showing AdWords Express ads on the Display Network, that’s a big red flag.

Lastly, Google’s also promoting AdWords Express as a way to grow your business’ followers on Google+. Unless you have a proven system for converting followers into customers, this is a BAD idea.

I’ve used FB ad campaigns in the past to get Likes on a FB page. It’s really hard to justify the costs of clicks for a campaign like that.

So, while I’m glad that Google has added some features that give advertisers a little more control over their AdWords Express campaigns, if you’re gonna use AdWords, just use AdWords. Skip the Express.

Off Target on Geo-Targeting

Over the past few weeks I’ve been doing a number of Google AdWords Optimization Reviews.

Most of them have the common mistakes I usually see in AdWords accounts including:

  • Not separating Search from Display Networks in a campaign
  • Using too many Broad Match keywords as opposed to Exact Match (or at least Broad Match Modifier)
  • Not split testing ads
  • Not having Negative keywords in the campaign

However, in these campaigns, there’s another issue I’ve noticed that even really experienced AdWords advertisers may be missing.

It’s regarding a campaign’s Geo-targeting settings and where you ads are displayed.

Just because you select the U.S. as the region you want your ads to appear, doesn’t mean that people in other parts of the world won’t see your ads.

Why?

Well, it has to do with a setting advertisers should watch out for.

If you go to the Settings page in your campaign and go down to the Locations section, you’ll find “Location options (advanced).”

loc1

 

 

 

 

 

Under “Target” you’ll see you have 3 options.

The campaigns I’ve been reviewing, like most campaigns, have the default (recommended) setting selected which is “People in, searching for, or viewing pages about my targeted location”.

This option means that your ads can be shown to people outside your selected targeting area to people who “included the name of the location in their searches, viewed location-specific content, or specified the location in their search settings.”

So, let’s say you’re a financial planner in Boise with this default setting (and your location targeting is the Boise area) and someone in Seattle types “Boise financial planner” (a keyword in your Campaign) into Google. If you have the default setting in place, the person in Seattle could see your ad.

And, in that situation, using the default setting makes sense.

However, there are other situations where you don’t want this. The companies whose accounts I’ve been reviewing only do business in the U.S. So, if someone in Denmark is doing U.S. related searches or has a U.S. search/browser setting, it’s not a very relevant click/impression for these companies.

Instead, they should use the second Target option which is “People in my targeted location”. This tells Google that you only want people physically located in your targeted location to see your ads.

For most businesses, you can ignore the last option of “People searching for or viewing pages about my targeted location”. That might be relevant, however, for a hotel that wants out of towners to see their ads but not the locals.

These advanced geo-targeting settings may not be a big deal for most advertisers, but it’s worth double checking to make sure your ads are being seen by the people you really want them to be seen by.

How To Legally Stalk Your Prospects Online

Some might call it stalking.

Others may call it the best thing since sliced bread.

Most just call it remarketing.

Remarketing is a powerful solution to one of the most common problems with any website…

…The majority of your site’s visitors will bolt without taking any action and they ain’t coming back.

Remarketing lets you reach those visitors. It basically puts a cookie on their computer so you can then show ads to them when they visit other websites that display Google ads.

People come to your website for a reason. They have at least some interest in what you offer.

But they get distracted, or they’re not ready to buy, or they want to do some more research.

But just because they leave, it doesn’t mean they’re not good prospects for you. In fact, these are warm leads that are great candidates for a follow up marketing campaign.

And remarketing lets you do that.

A few months ago, Google changed the way remarketing works for the better. You can get very strategic about how you target visitors to your site through remarketing.

I wrote an article about these changes for the Crazy Egg blog, which you can read by clicking on the title here, called “How Google Remarketing Just Got Even More Remarkable”.

3 More Ways To Sabotage Your AdWords Campaign (Part 3)

Google AdWords logoThis is the last in our series of mistakes that can sabotage your AdWords campaign.

The one we’re going to talk about today is the biggest blunder of all.

It can be a challenge, especially for local businesses to do, but the more you can do it, the better chance you have for success with AdWords.

What is it?

Ignoring conversions

Impressions, clicks, click through rates, etc. are all well and good. But AdWords success really comes down to conversions.

Would you hand your money over to a stock broker without having any goals or ways to track how your investments are performing?

Of course not!

Why would treat your AdWords account any differently?

Advertising is an investment. (Read that last sentence again, because most people don’t get that point.)

You should know what return you’re getting on your advertising dollars. And the only way to do that is to track the results of your campaigns.

Google makes this easy for you to do.

In AdWords, you can use conversion tracking. This is a code you put on your site to track sales, form completions, or other conversion events. Once the code is on your site, AdWords takes care of the rest and shows you which keywords, ads, etc. are resulting in conversions.

If phone calls are important to you, you can implement call tracking through AdWords which lets you track those who see your ad and then call your business.

The AdWords call tracking is a good start, but it isn’t perfect. It shows a unique phone number next to your ad on Google and tracks people who call that number. But if people click through to your website and call the number they see on your site (ie. NOT the number displayed next to your Adwords ad), AdWords can’t track that.

There are other, more comprehensive call tracking systems you can use if you need to boost your call tracking efforts. They are relatively inexpensive and will display unique tracking numbers on your website so you can tell which calls were due to AdWords vs. social media vs. direct traffic, etc.

You can also set up Goals using Google Analytics to track conversions. A Goal can be someone visiting a specific URL on your site (ie. the “Thank You” page someone lands on after making a purchase or filling out a form), how long they spent on your site, or an event (like a social recommendation or ad click).

Now not all AdWords campaigns are about the ROI. For example, the goal of your campaign may be to do some keyword and/or market research.

But most of the time, it’s about generating sales. And the more data you have about conversions, the more you can measure the true effectiveness of your AdWords campaign.

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve shared 6 ways you can sabotage your AdWords campaign. There are certainly others, but these are some of the Biggies I see on a regular basis.

Now that you know what they are, there’s no excuse to have any of these mistakes in your campaign!

And if you need some help identifying the ways you’re sabotaging your AdWords campaign, check out our AdWords Optimization Review. It gives you personalized feedback about your campaign and highlights any ways you may be sabotaging it…as well as ways to do what you’re already doing well and do it even better!

3 More Ways To Sabotage Your AdWords Campaign (Part 2)

Google AdWords logoOne of the most powerful aspects of search engine marketing is that you’re reaching people who are actively looking for you.

These people have a need, a desire or a problem they need solved. When they type that search query into Google, it represents the single most pressing issue going on in their heads and they want a solution to it…right NOW!

That’s a highly valuable lead.

But in AdWords if you’re not careful, your ads may not just be reaching those actively searching for you which brings us to another way advertisers sabotage their AdWords campaigns…

Combining Search and Display Networks in the Same Campaign

There are two main networks where your ads can be displayed through AdWords. The Search Network and the Display Network.

Through the Search Network your ads can appear on Google.com, which is what most people think of when it comes to AdWords.

The Search Network also includes Search Partner sites. These are search engines like AOL and Ask.com that don’t have their own PPC program so they run Google ads to make money.

Then there’s the Display Network. This is a very different beast from search.

The Display Network is a network of websites ranging from small blogs up to highly popular sites like the New York Times that run Google ads on them (it’s a source of revenue for these sites…if you own a website and choose to put Google ads on it, you get a percentage of the revenue generated whenever a visitor to your site clicks on an ad).

Google estimates these sites reach about 80{a950ddf0e7a23367a7e0f17377d3737fa8b8b1820bab9af7071f88951eb5d84e} of people using the Internet.

On the Display Network, your ads can appear on web pages that are related to your keywords. So if you’re a jeweler in Des Moines, you can potentially have your ads appear on the New York Times website for an article related to jewelry (geo-targeting applies here which means you can configure things so your Display Network ads are only displayed to those in your local area).

The important thing to understand here is that, in contrast to Search, people on the Display Network are not actively looking for you. They are reading/surfing/gathering information and are generally not in buying mode.

This means the ads you write, the bids you set, the keywords you pick are VERY different on the Display Network than for the Search Network.

Because of this, you want to keep Search Network and Display Network campaigns separate.

The default setting in AdWords is to combine the two. A lot of AdWords advertisers, not realizing this, run up high tabs consisting of mainly Display Network clicks that have little chance of converting.

If you’re first starting out with AdWords, I’d highly recommend just sticking with the Search Network. Then, if you want to expand into the Display Network at some point, by all means do it. Just set it up in a separate campaign.

In our next post, we’ll cover the last of our 3 more ways to sabotage your AdWords campaign. And it’s the most important one of all.

In fact, in most cases if you’re ignoring this, you shouldn’t even be running an AdWords campaign.

3 More Ways to Sabotage Your AdWords Campaign (Part 1)

In the last post we looked at 3 ways to sabotage an AdWords campaign that were mainly related to keywords. Today we’re going to start looking at 3 non-keyword related ways you may be sabotaging your campaign. There’s a lot of stuff to cover here so I’m going to break this up into a 3 part series:

1. No Split Testing

If you coach a swim team, you want your best swimmers in the pool during competitions. To find your best swimmers, you have competitions in practice (or maybe more formal trials) where your swimmers compete to prove who’s the best.

And it’s not a one-time thing either. You’ll constantly have internal team competition going on so your best swimmers are in the water at the big meets.

Your AdWords campaign is no different. You want people to see your best ads because that’s going to get you more clicks, leads and sales.

To do this, you’ll have your ads compete in split tests.

Here’s how a split test works…

In each ad group (an ad group is a collection of closely related keywords in an AdWords campaign) you can have two or more ads running at the same time.

To keep things simple, let’s stick with just 2 ads in an ad group for now. In this case Google will show 1 ad half the time and the other ad the other half the time. Using the metrics provided in your AdWords campaign, you’ll be able to see which ad gets the best response.

Once you find the “winner”, you get rid of the losing ad, replace it with another ad and start the competition over.

This is a very powerful strategy that does a few very important things for your campaign…

Over time it can dramatically raise your clickthrough rates (a percentage that measures the number of times someone clicked on your ad compared to the total number of times your ad was displayed). This improves the results of your campaign by getting more people to click on your ads and come to your website.

It also helps raise your Quality Score. Quality Score is basically an algorithm in AdWords that measures the relevance of your ads. The more relevant your ads and the higher your Quality Score, the less you’ll pay for clicks (yet still have your ads potentially rank higher than your competitor’s ads).

It’s rare you’ll be able to write the best ads for your campaign right out of the gate. Consistent split testing will help you find the strongest ads and is one of the most powerful ways to improve the performance of your campaign over time.

Did you know when you set up an AdWords campaign, your ads don’t necessarily just appear on Google.com?

Most businesses don’t…and end up blowing a ton of money on clicks that are very unlikely to result in business. In the next post in this series, you’ll learn how to protect your bank account and focus your budget on the most relevant clicks.

Photo courtesy of Hidden Side

3 Ways To Sabotage Your AdWords Campaign

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.