In the digital world, startups have a limited time to capture their target audience’s attention.
The issue is that many small businesses don’t know how to use ads effectively.
In this blog post, we’ll talk about 10 common AdWords mistakes you might be making with Google Adwords and what you can do to fix them.
Think of Adwords as a simple game.
You’re trying to get on the first page for your keyword, and you have some budget to spend.
The more money you spend, the higher you’ll be ranked on that page.
However, if your competitor is spending less than you are per click, they will rank above you because they are paying less per impression (click).
This means it’s important to track both CPC (Cost Per Click) and CPA (Cost Per Action).
So what should you do?
Funny thing about Google and AdWords.
They have a really detailed and useful online help to cover most aspects of setting up and managing your AdWords account, but there are still some major traps for new players.
Google is committed to maintaining the quality of information they supply, and this includes the quality of AdWords advertising, but sometimes they just don’t get it right.
A couple of examples are the default settings for campaigns and the campaign optimization tool.
I won’t go into why straight away.
The reasons are covered later in this post.
The point is that you need to look beyond what Google suggests you do and Google Help if you are to get the maximum ROI from your AdWords account.
The following list is a bit of a brain dump and is not in any particular order.
But I reckon it will save most neophyte AdWords managers a heap of time and money.
10 points may be a bit long, so I am going to break it down into 2 posts with 5 points in each.
So here goes.
I am going to use a hypothetical online shop – ACME Irrigation – selling home garden irrigation systems for my examples.
1. Put all your keywords in one ad group
A lot of new advertisers simply set up one campaign, then dump a great bunch of keywords into a single ad group with a single ad.
This may have worked once, but it doesn’t now.
Google rewards relevance, and there needs to be a strong continuity between the keyword, the ad text, and the landing page.
For example, there are thousands of keywords and word combinations that relate to garden irrigation.
Here are a few of the most commonly searched ones from Google’s keyword tool: garden irrigation
- garden water irrigation
- landscape garden
- garden irrigation supplies
- garden irrigation pump
- garden irrigation hose
- garden irrigation systems
- garden irrigation system
- home garden irrigation
To most people, these keywords would look pretty closely related, but I’d split them up. There are at least 4 different concepts here, each should have a separate ad group:
- landscaping (a general concept)
- irrigation systems (a more specific part of landscaping)
- irrrigation hose (a specific type of product)
- irrigation pump (another specific type of product)
Each ad group would have different ads incorporating the actual keywords in the first line e.g
Splitting up a list of keywords into different ad groups.
Each ad should be directed at a landing page specifically devoted to each topic – e.g. the pumps catalog.
If you set up your campaign with this degree of focus, you will pay less for clicks and achieve higher conversion rates.
2. Failing to run separate campaigns on the Search and Content networks
The Google search and content networks are very different animals.
Ads on the Google search network are the ones that come up on the right-hand side of the search results.
Content ads are ads that come up on other websites, blogs, directories, and mail services that are part of the Google content network.
Ads on the search network are displayed in response to people searching on specific keywords.
Ads on the content network are displayed in response to likely matches between the content of the website or whatever and the subject of your ad.
Click thru rates tend to be much higher on the search network than the content network, and the cost-per-click is higher.
Additionally, strategies for writing and managing ads for the content network are different, the quality of the traffic may be lower, with poorer conversion rates.
The content network also allows for a range of multimedia ads – such as images and video.
Despite all these differences, the default setting for AdWords campaigns is to have both search engine and content network distribution turned on.
This is not the way to go.
You should set up separate campaigns for the search and content networks.
This way the click-thru data, bid prices, and ads can be managed and optimized separately.
Having set things up like this, I would focus on getting the search-only campaigns working first.
They are likely to be the most productive.
3. Poor keyword research
With keyword tools such as Wordtracker, or Google’s keyword tool you can get:
- A list of keywords and keyword synonyms that are related to your product or service.
- An idea of relative search frequency on these keywords (and hence the ones to concentrate on).
- An idea of advertiser competition.
It is worth taking the time to do this research upfront.
Look for keywords that have high relevance to your product or service and a high search frequency.
Keywords with a low level of advertiser competition represent an opportunity, particularly if you are trying to get first-page ad listings in expensive markets and have only a limited budget.
It’s a good idea to keep all the original keyword research results in a spreadsheet.
You can then refer back to your original research as you gradually expand your campaigns and ad groups.
Sure, in the intermediate-term you will focus most of your time on the keywords which deliver the most conversions.
But you won’t know what they are unless you do your initial research properly, create appropriate ad groups and measure the traffic.
4. Only using Broad Matched Keywords
When you create your keyword list make sure that you include phrase match as well as exact match versions of each keyword in your initial list for testing.
- Broad match: This is the default option
- Phrase match: Put the keyword in quotes e.g. ‘irrigation supplies’
- Exact match: Put the keyword in square brackets: [irrigation supplies]
- Negative match: Put a minus sign in front e.g. -free
Three main points here:
- Broad matched keywords may bring in a lot of irrelevant searches and increase costs.
- Exact match will offer the lowest conversion costs in many instances – but less traffic.
- Negative match keywords are necessary to eliminate extraneous traffic e.g. getting rid of traffic from unwanted synonyms or sources
Start by running all keywords in broad, phrase, and exact match forms and determine the most profitable by testing.
5. Not tracking conversions
Many advertisers tend to focus on CTR (click-thru-rate) rather than actual conversions when a visitor performs an action such as filling out a form or buying a product.
Although CTR is a measure of the ‘attractiveness’ of an ad, it may not be the best measure of its effectiveness.
I continue to be surprised by the number of Adwords accounts that don’t even have conversion tracking installed.
Without this, you won’t know the relative conversion costs of ads.
6. Not split testing ads
One of the brilliant things about Adwords is our ability to get hard data on traffic from different keywords, including click thru rates and customer conversions.
So why wouldn’t we try different ads on the same keywords to see which ones give the best results?
A lot of people don’t do this, so I guess they simply don’t understand the importance of the ad copy in achieving click thrus and conversions.
You could write a book on designing and writing good ads, but the very first and most important step is to have two ads in each ad group and to compare their relative performance.
These differences could be minor differences in spelling, punctuation, or capitalization.
Or they could be major differences in the actual offer being made.
Two sets of ads – but with minor differences that could produce significantly different conversion rates.
To split-test two ads we simply let them run in competition with each other.
Before we can do this we must set the campaign Ad serving setting to Rotate in Advanced Options.
The default setting is Optimise.
What this means is that Google will show the ads with higher click thru rates more often.
This might seem like common sense, but if you are trying to work out which ad is the best, it is quicker to run them both in rotation for a while until we get a winner.
Then we drop the poorer performing ad and create another one in competition with it.
Possibly a clone, but with a minor modification.
Just like natural selection.
How do we know which is the better ad?
We need to get enough clicks on each ad so that we can apply a test to see whether the differences in clicks are statistically significant.
Sounds technical but it’s actually very easy.
All we need is the CTR (click-thru-rate) and the number of clicks on two ads to compare them.
7. Not having an appropriate landing page
It’s one thing getting traffic to our site, but another to get good conversions.
These conversions could be actual sales, or sales lead through to our sales department, or sign-ups to a mailing list.
Whatever they are, we will only get enough of them if our website is doing its job.
One common Google AdWords mistakes is for people to dump all their traffic on their home page.
This is equivalent to saying to the user “Here you are – go search.”
But they thought they were doing at when they put their keywords into the search engine.
Now they are into gratification, and you’d better provide it fast, or they’ll press the back button on the browser and you’ll lose them.
Ads should link to landing pages that closely match the ad content.
If the website has only one or two product or service offerings, then landing pages should be set up for each one.
The landing pages should reflect as closely as possible the implicit offer in the ad.
It is also desirable to test different landing pages.
This can be simple experimentation with the placement of product images or it could be more complex multivariate testing.
Google supports this with its Website Optimiser tool.
The big message here is that traffic is useless if your site won’t convert.
When it comes to improving advertising ROI, start with the website.
Get it right, and then start buying more traffic.
8. Not optimizing bid prices
Number one is the best position for my ad, isn’t it?
Well maybe not.
To answer this question we need to look at ROI – return on investment again.
The real issue is that it can be disproportionately expensive to be number one.
If we were to graph up the costs per click versus position
It would look something like this:
As an ad drops down the page, click costs drop disproportionately.
On top of this we find that although the rate of click – thrus will drop away as we drop down from the number one position, it does not do this in proportion to the bid price.
Further, the conversion rate per click-thru actually is higher as we drop down the rankings.
This is probably because people who click on an ad further down the list have actually read the ad, rather than just click on the first thing they saw.
The upshot of all this is that it does not pay to be number one unless you are in a market where you have lots of margins and the cost of Adwords is largely irrelevant to you.
Often a sweet spot exists around position 4 or 5.
Here you are on the front page – this is highly desirable – but still reasonably close to the top.
You’ll probably be paying about half as much for your clicks, and have traffic that will convert well.
9. Failure to set up separate campaigns for separate geographic areas
If you are selling the same products and/or services into, say, Australia and the US, set up separate campaigns.
There are many reasons for this including:
The US market is a lot bigger, and clicks will be differently priced.
Your competition will be different, and you may use different ad copies.
Spelling may have minor differences.
You may even have different domain names.
Americans are more likely to feel comfortable with a ‘.com’ domain than a ‘.au’.
They operate in different time zones, and you may choose to use day-parting i.e. bidding differently on keywords at different times of the day.
10. Use campaign budget to determine your total spend
What Google suggests you do if you have a limited budget (and who doesn’t) is to control your total spending by setting a daily budget for each of your campaigns.
Sounds reasonable – but not the best strategy.
A better way to control your spending is to actually reduce your keyword bid prices.
This will mean your ad will drop down the page.
You will get fewer clicks.
But these things will also happen:
- Your ads will run all day, not just until the campaign budget is exceeded.
- Your traffic is more likely to convert, as people will have actually read your ad, rather than just ‘donkey clicking’ on the first link on the page.
- Conversion costs will drop.
It is important to understand that there is a non-linear relationship between an ad’s rank on the search engine results page and the click thru cost.
(Explained in 8. above)
The only time when you need a number one ranking for your ad is when:
- There is little competition
- You have a high value product in a market you want to dominate, and the click thru cost is of lower importance.
Be Sociable, Share!