If setup and managed correctly, your AdWords account can be an excellent source of qualified leads for your business. However a poorly setup or managed account can bleed money and cost a lot more than it brings in.
Here are 19 ways to effectively optimize your AdWords account:
Start by Creating a Customer Avatar
You cannot market your product or service effectively until you have identified and defined who specifically you want to reach with your ad – in short, your target audience. A customer avatar is a conceptual idea of the ideal target customer who has a problem, challenge or frustration that your product or service can solve.
If you sells a wide range of products, you need to create a customer avatar for each of those products categories. This is important to ensure that you are targeting the right people with the right ad, using language that speaks directly to their needs, and that they would resonate with.
Start by identifying the demographic of your ideal target customer:
- Is the person male or female?
- How old are they?
- Where are they located?
- What is their job?
- What is their education level?
- What is their lifestyle: are they stay-at-home mothers, single parents, co-habiting couples, pet owners, a married couples, homeowners, parents, etc.
- How often does he or she golf?
- What is their income?
- What personal circumstances would make your potential customer ideal for your product or service? This is best accomplished by developing a story or scenarios that would explain what makes your target customer a potential buyer.
- What is the style or tone of their language? For example, if you are marketing to medical practitioners, you would use more specialist language in your marketing messages.
- What goals, wants and desires do they have that we can fulfil for them?
- How much do they earn that gives you the confidence that they can afford to buy what you’re selling?
- What do your prospects do? What are their hobbies, interests, habits, etc. How do they spend their weekdays and evenings? Knowing this can help you craft targeted messages that will resonate well with them.
As we start to understand who this person is, when we are writing ads for them or creating videos aimed at them, we get to speak to them specifically, by addressing their goals, needs, problems, challenges or frustrations.
Because you fully understand their story, you are able to communicate to them about how you can help them overcome their challenges and problems in the status updates, videos and ads that you create for them. You communicate how your products or services can help to overcome the specific challenges that they are currently experiencing. When we write ads, we are speaking directly and specifically to a specific individual.
Mirror the navigational structure of your website.
The best way to organize your AdWords account is to mirror the navigational structure of your website. Your AdWords account should mirror your site’s organisational structure so that you have separate campaigns for the different categories of products you sell.
For example, if you look at Tesco.com, you can see the site is structured according to specific categories that represent totally different needs and totally different buyers. The way the site’s products and services are categorized defines how Tesco will structure their AdWords account.
The person looking for a Tesco mortgage today is of a different mindset from the person looking to shop for groceries or those looking for pet insurance. Each of these categories also represent totally different margins to Tesco. That means each category on the site will require totally different campaign strategies because they represent totally different levels of profitability and value to Tesco. This is why they need to be categorized into different campaigns.
Each product and service offered will also be searched for differently by prospective buyers. Putting these users into separate categories will allow you to target each of these users more effectively. This will allow you to bid separately for certain products or services in specific locations and at different times of the day.
Create tightly themed ad groups.
Google’s algorithms are highly focused on the concept of relevancy, which is a fundamental component of quality score. Essentially, relevancy should be the main focus when you’re constructing your ad groups. The more relevant the text in your ad is to the query the customer typed in, the better your ad rank is going to be for that query, the higher your quality score is going to be and the lower your cpc is going to be. With this in mind, the best way to structure your ad groups is by grouping them into thematically related groups of keywords. A theme is a uniquely identifiable characteristic of a product or service, and is typically an adjective.
When placing keywords into ad groups, the important thing to remember is to keep the ad group as tightly themed as possible. Each of your ad groups should have one central, specific theme so that you are able to create ads that are extremely relevant to all of the keywords inside that ad group. Each ad group should consist of products that solve the same or similar problems or cater to the same type of buyer.
For example, if you sell ladies shoes, you can categorize your red leather pumps by their unique attributes, which are red and leather. A potential customer looking for red leather pumps will likely use those keywords in their queries. So in your ad group for red pumps, you would want to have different variations or match types of the following keywords: “red, leather shoes” and “red leather pumps” so that whichever way your prospective customers search for those products, they will see the most relevant ad from you.
By organizing these keywords into thematically related groups, you can write more specific ads that are relevant to all of the keywords in each ad group.
Implement conversion tracking.
Tracking conversions is the only way to determine whether an AdWords account is profitable or not. A conversion is any valuable action a visitor takes on your website. Examples of conversions include a sale of your product, submission of a lead-gen form, a newsletter sign up or a view of a key page such as a pricing page. Each type of conversion will have a different value to your business. For example, a newsletter sign-up may not be as valuable to you as a lead-gen submission. In this case, you will have to track each conversion type differently.
Conversion tracking allows you to identify the specific component that led to a conversion. For example,, a conversion can be attributed to a particular ad, keyword, keyword match type, a variation of a keyword, an ad group, a time of day, a bid modifier or a geographic location, etc. By identifying what led to a conversion, you can trim the wasted spend and replicate the action to generate even more conversions.
Conversion tracking will also allow you to break down the campaign so that you can eliminate the components that are leading to wasted spend on your account and boost your ROI. Without tracking conversions, all the optimizations you make to your site are guesswork. The fact of the matter is, optimizing your campaign for profit or success is only possible with conversion tracking.
Don’t bid on tablets to begin with, especially if you have a limited budget.
According to the experts, AdWords campaigns currently perform the worst on tablets as far as conversions are concerned. Fortunately, Google allows advertisers to control bidding on tablets. After analysing over 4 million click across hundreds of client accounts, award winning digital advertising agency Adventure Media discovered that out of the campaigns run on smartphones, tablets and desktops, tablets offer the worst conversion rate, and have higher CPCs than mobile phones.
This has been attributed to poor user experience on tablets, which is seen as the #1 reason for the poor conversion rate on the device. However, this may not necessarily be the case if your website looks and performs better than most on tablets. In most cases however, you’ll want to have a negative bid adjustment of -100% for tablets to begin with, especially if you have a limited budget.
Focus on long tail keywords, especially if your budget is limited
Long tail keywords are longer and more specific keywords or phrases of three words or more that prospective clients are more likely to use when they’re getting closer to the point-of-purchase. The concept of long tail keywords is the fact that the more information we can take out of the way a user searches, the better we can identify their commercial intent. By and large, long tail keywords almost always have a better click through rate, lower cost per conversion and a better engagement on site than broader, short tail keywords.
Searchers that use long tail keywords know exactly what they’re looking for and tend to be at an advanced stage of the buying funnel. For example, a user that enters a specific search query such as black ralph laurent polo shirt with big pony is more likely to have more commercial or buyer intent than a user that simply searches for polo shirts. In essence, a searcher that uses long tail keywords is providing valuable information that you can use to understand commercial intent.
It is a lot harder to understand the searcher’s commercial intent when they use short tail keywords, which is why optimizing for the long tail keyword gives you higher click through rates and better conversions than the ultra-competitive “polo shirts”. There are hundreds of polo shirt brands. If a user simply types in “polo shirts”, you may not want to bid for this keyword because the user is likely to be at the awareness stage of the buyer funnel, which are more suited for informational pages.
In fact, you may want to add such vague, short tail keywords as exact match negatives. This is because you want to make sure that the traffic you’re paying for has the highest chance of converting, especially if your budget is limited.
Analyse the search query report.
The Search query report is the most important report in AdWords that you can use to optimize your account because it allows you to identify the specific keywords that are leading to conversions and other valuable actions in your account. It shows you search terms that led to at least one click. Not only does it provide highly actionable data on keywords that you are bidding on, the search query report is also a powerful keyword research tool that you can use to learn your customers’ language and spot keyword gems you may have missed during your keyword research.
You’ll see exactly how potential customers are searching for your products and services. This report can also be used to identify keywords that are leading to wasted ad spend. When you find them, you can add those keywords to your list of negative keywords. For example, if you find a specific keyword doesn’t lead to a sales or converts at a cost that is not profitable to you, you can add it as an exact match negative keyword.
Identify the right keywords.
Keyword research is critically important to the success of your AdWords campaign. You need to identify the keywords that your potential customers are typing into Google to search for the products and services that you offer.
Keyword research is the process of researching those keywords with the help of various tools including Keyword Planner, Keyword Suggestions, Google related searches, SEMRush, Spyfu, etc. It is also important to perform competitor research using tools such as SEMRush to research your competitors’ historical data for inspiration on how to write your headlines, description ad and display URL.
Optimize for quality score
Quality score is a metric that is used to determine the order in which ads appear for any given search query. Ads that are considered by Google to be highly relevant to the searchers’ intent are assigned higher quality scores, and appear higher in the search results.
The fact of the matter is that quality score plays a vital role in the performance of your ad and has more impact on your account’s performance than any other factor. If you can increase your quality score, you can pay less for clicks than your competitors, and increase your ad’s visibility by having it shown higher in the search results.
Having a high quality score means that the AdWords system thinks your ad, keywords, and landing page are all relevant and useful to someone who is shown your ad in response to their search query. The main components that determine quality score are clickthrough rate, relevance of an ad group’s keywords to the ad inside an ad group, relevance of the ad group keywords to the search query, relevance of the keywords to each other inside the ad group and landing page relevance to the search query and the keywords inside the ad group.
It is very important to note that if your quality score is less than 7, you will be overbidding for the keyword it is related to in the auction. This is why it is important to make sure that your quality score is as high as possible.
Use advanced location targeting
When adding locations in a particular region, rather than simply adding all the locations at once, add each region individually so that you can have more control over the bids you set in the specific areas you include in your campaign.
When you add each state, city or town individually, when you’re optimizing the account, this will allow you to identify the most expensive states and decide whether to exclude certain areas of the state or create negative bid adjustments to bid less aggressively in those areas. This is why you’ll want to add a lot of individual locations within a specific area instead of simply adding the entire location.
Protect your account with negative keywords.
Without a doubt, protecting your account with negative keywords is the most important way to optimize your AdWords account. Negative keywords are filtering words and phrases that protect your ad from appearing for irrelevant searches so that you don’t send bad traffic to your site. This will in turn increase relevance and quality score and ultimately your ROI by increasing conversion rates and lowering your cost per conversion.
If your conversion rate is poor, the first thing you should do is to analyze your search query report for phrase and broad matched keywords that have no relevance to the products or services you actually offer. Turn those keywords into negative keywords to prevent your ad from showing on irrelevant searches.
Tools you can use to search for negative keywords include:
- Search Terms Report
- Google drop down
- Google related search
Use different keyword match types in your ad groups.
Keyword match types are used to direct the system on how closely to match what the user is typing in and what types of search queries you want your ad to show for. Each keyword you use in your AdWords account will have a specific match type. You can use different match types to reach a very wide audience, and to protect your ad from showing up for irrelevant traffic. There are three main keyword match types you should be using in your account: exact, phrase and modified broad match.
Qualify your ad copy’s headline to discourage irrelevant clicks.
When writing your ads, aim to make it attractive to those people that are most likely to convert on your goals and dissuade clicks from anyone who is not likely to convert. This is one of most effective ways to cut down on wasted spending, and it is a tactic that is highly recommended by Google. If your ad is generating a lot of clicks but those clicks are not translating into conversions, you are losing money. You need to qualify your ad by being clear about who you are and who your target audience is. Your aim should be to be not only to be noticed but to be passed up on by those people that are not likely to convert on your site’s goals.
Probably the most effective way to qualify your ad is by including your price point in the ad itself. For example, if you’re selling a marketing course that has a higher price point than your competitors, adding the cost of the course in your ad would help you avoid clicks from users who might be interested in the course but are unable or unwilling to pay so much for the course.
Use ad extensions in your ads.
Ad extensions are a special that is added to the body of text ads. Ad extensions have assumed more importance since Google incorporated the impact of ad extensions when calculating quality score and ultimately, ad rank. This means if you’re not using ad extensions in your ads, this may affect how much you pay for ads and your position on the search results page.
Ad extensions improve your ad’s visibility on the search results page because they take up more real estate and help you stand out on the page. They also allow you to add more relevant content to your ads and cater to the specific needs of potential customers on the search results page. For example, site link extensions allow you to display text links to specific pages on your site which could be exactly what a particular searcher is looking for.
Use geo-targeting to exclude competitor locations.
Often times in competitive niches, local businesses that have been advertising on specific keywords don’t want new advertisers in their auction. So what they’ll tend to do is click on your ads to exhaust your budget. Unfortunately, these are not seen as fraudulent clicks by Google. In this type of situation, the best thing to do is use geo-targeting at the post code or zip code level to target a one-mile radius around your competitors’ office locations so you’re not intruding on where they are already well-established.
Select the right bidding strategy for your specific goals.
One of the most important decisions that you need to make when setting up your AdWords account is choosing the right bidding strategy. Over the last few years, much has changed with bidding strategies in AdWords. They used to be much simpler with a simple choice between 2 or 3 different strategies. However, we now have a whole spectrum of bidding strategies, and it is important to pick the right strategy for your specific goals.
For example, if your goal is brand awareness, you’ll want to make sure you choose the target search page location strategy which is designed to get your ads on the front page. On the other hand, if you’re tracking multiple conversion actions (such as forms, phones, or sales) and each action is worth a different value to your company, you may want to use the target ROAS bidding strategy which will aim to bid based on how much returns you make with each action. You may need to test different bid strategies to see which one is going to be the most profitable for you. By testing the different bid strategies over time, the data is going to reveal which strategy makes the most sense for your business.
Setup remarketing campaigns.
Remarketing allows you to show your ads to people who have already visited your website before. It is one of the most powerful and effective tools in an advertiser’s tool box. The great thing about remarketing is that it helps brands overcome one of the biggest challenges in the form of brand recognition.
It is really important to stay in front of your visitors time and time again, because it is highly unlikely that prospects who arrive at your site through a Google search ad would buy on their first visit. In fact, there are some estimates that 99% people would not buy on their first visit to your site. However, if a potential customer leaves your site without bookmarking it, they are likely to forget all about your site.
Remarketing allows you keep your brand in the consciousness of your target audience by showing them ads as they continue to browse the internet. With the amount of competition right now, it is important to stay in front of your potential customers as much as possible, and remarketing allows you to get in front of your target audience multiple times, which is why it is so powerful.
You can also show ads to people who are further down the buyer funnel or for whatever reason, abandoned their cart. If you find that they abandoned their cart at the shipping stage, it might indicate that they were put off by the high shipping prices, and you can create rules to show ads to such people who abandon their cart, and offer those users a discount on shipping.
Split test your ads.
Split testing your ad is an essential component when optimizing an AdWords account. If you have great ideas for ad copy, there’s no way to know which ad copy will generate a higher clickthrough rate or conversion rate without running a split test. With a split test, you’re trying to determine which of your ads will perform the best. No two ads will perform the same. You need to test each component of the ad to see identify the most profitable ad. For example, if you want to test the headline of an ad, you can have 2 ads with everything identical except for the headlines to see which headline is more effective. You could also test different description lines, display URL or landing pages.
Set custom schedules and bid adjustment multipliers.
Bid adjustment multipliers are an integral part of Google AdWords that can help you make the most of your data and improve the performance of your AdWords account after you identify certain trends. When used efficiently, they can help you increase the ROI of your AdWords account. You don’t want to buy traffic to your site at all times of the day and all days of the week. This is why it is important to identify the most profitable times for your ads to run so that you’re not wasting money.
You can get all of the insights you need for bid adjustments by utilizing the dimensions tab to identify trends in your account. This tab provides a lot of useful insights into your campaign’s performance. It breaks down your data by segments and lets you see all of your important KPI’s based on different parameters such as day of the week, time of day, geographical location, etc. With these insights, you’ll be able to setup custom ad schedules that help you make the most of your data when you identify certain trends.
For example, say you’re an insurance agent, and you have found that you generate the most profitable leads at 10 a.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. You may also find that you get the highest cost per conversion between 4 p.m. and 9 p.m. on certain days of the week. What you can do here is to set separate custom schedules for the times your campaign is most profitable. You can then set bid adjustment multipliers to increase your bids by a certain percentage at those times.
Conversely, you can also set custom schedules for the days your campaign performs poorly, and decrease your bids at those times that you’ve identified as unprofitable for your business. It is important to note however, that custom schedules can only be set at the campaign level.
Right from the off, make sure you set custom schedules for all the days of the week rather than setting it to “all days”. This gives you a lot more control so that you can analyse the historical data of the account to see how your AdWords campaign performs on every hour and every day of the week.