Google AdWords is one of the most popular ways for businesses large and small to advertise and market their products and services online, with Google generating revenues of approximately 100 million dollars per day from the service.
However, did you know that there are certain actions you must take before you launch your campaign? If you fail to set up your campaign as optimally as you should, you may in fact end up benefitting Google more than your own business.
In this post, I would like to give you an overview of five key actions you really should take before you activate your campaign and start incurring costs.
In my opinion, these are crucial factors which, if neglected, may lead you to spend a lot of money without a tangible return, or at the very least, lead you to having an unsatisfactory experience with an advertising medium which can work very well when done right.
Let’s review these key actions in no particular order of priority – they are all important.
1. Set Up Campaign Tracking
Allowing your campaign to go live without some form of tracking in place (Google Analytics goal tracking, AdWords Conversion Tracking, or another system), is not unlike launching a special offer on your product or service – and then forgetting to track the number of customer redemptions. iSpionage strongly suggests that you set up goal tracking within Google Analytics as it has more advanced tracking features, however Google AdWords Conversion Tracking is probably the simplest way of tracking the return on investment (ROI) from AdWords. It is also free to set up. It usually works by tracking a visit on a ‘conversion’ page following an AdWords click.
For example, if you wished to track the number of contact form inquiries which came from AdWords, you would simply add a small snippet of code to the ‘thank you for your inquiry’ page on your website.
By implementing campaign tracking, you can help ensure you are well-placed to know if your AdWords spend is providing a return. Without tracking in place, you are simply spending money on clicks and relying on ‘gut feel’, or more manual methods of assessing whether AdWords is generating inquires and sales. For example, whilst asking customers where they heard about you can be useful, combining this approach with more scientific tracking methods is far more effective.
2. Ensure Ads, Keywords & Landing Pages Are Very Tightly Matched
This point ties in with the fact that your goals for your AdWords campaign and Google’s goals are quite different in some respects. Google is not providing a public service, and needless to say, their goals are primarily profit-driven. What this means for you is that they are incentivized to have you spend as much as possible on your campaign, albeit whilst providing some level of return for you (as otherwise you might stop advertising altogether). However, AdWords is set up in such as a way as to encourage you to bid on as many keywords as possible, and this is highlighted via the ‘suggested keywords’ elements visible within your campaign.
The problem with this is that it encourages you to add keywords to your campaign which may not be all that relevant to what you are advertising. Adding keywords which are less than relevant is likely to drive up your costs and reduce your ROI, since you will be spending more money on clicks which do not directly target those seeking your products and service. A lower level of relevance means a lower quality score – which adds up to poorer campaign performance in the short term and over the life of your campaign.
Instead, you should take particular care to ensure that your ads, keywords and landing pages are very tightly matched. iSpionage can be of help in this regard. By researching what your competition is doing with their keywords, ad copy, and landing pages, you will be in a position to more quickly create ads that will perform well. This may take a little more time, but rest assured it will pay off. An simple taget for to making this happen is to ensure that each keyword in your ad group appears in the title of your ad text. In reality, you should not add a keyword to an ad group if it does not also appear in your headline text (in either singular or plural form). Following this simple rule will help ensure maximum ad relevancy, and will also make your ads stand out – since the keyword in your ad text will appear in bold font on Google.
In terms of landing pages, all ads should link to the most relevant corresponding page on your website. For example, if you sell shoes, your ad referencing ‘red shoes’ should link to the ‘red shoes’ product page on your website – not your home page or a more general product page.
A highly-targeted and relevant set of ads, keywords and landing pages will keep your ad quality high and your costs to a minimum – along with helping you to maximise conversions.
3. Add Negative Keywords to Your Campaigns
Negative keywords are keywords for which you do not want your ad to display. For example, if you were advertising construction services, and you only wanted people seeking your services to see and click on your ads – as opposed to those looking for a job in construction – you would add the keyword ‘jobs’, and related variations, as negative keywords within your campaign.
Adding negative keywords is a critical but frequently-overlooked step in setting up and managing an AdWords campaign. Just as you do not want to roll out campaigns which are not as tightly-targeted as they could be, neither do you want your ads to show for completely irrelevant queries. Adding negative keywords will help to filter out irrelevant searches and eliminate wasteful spending.
Another tip here is to consult your Search terms report within your campaign to search for keywords which should be added as negatives. This is a very useful report which displays all of the keywords which actually lead to a click on your ads within a specified duration, and it will allow you to pinpoint keywords for which your ad should not show. You can then add these keywords as negatives within your campaigns, helping to cut down on irrelevant clicks and saving money in the process.
4. Set Ads to ‘Rotate evenly’
When you proceed through the campaign set-up stage, your ad rotation settings are set automatically to ‘optimize for clicks’. This means that Google will look at your ads and give preference to the ones they determine will trigger the most clicks – showing them more often than other ads which they judge to be less click-worthy. At the outset, you should turn this setting off, and instead select ‘Rotate evenly’, as your ad rotation open.
The reason is simple – allowing each one of your ads to display in a proportionate way will help you to identify which are your top performers in terms of conversion rate, cost-per-conversion, click-through rate (CTR), and other important metrics. If you stick with the default ‘optimise for clicks’ option, then you will not be able to make such an accurate assessment, since the data will be skewed towards the ads which have shown most frequently.
Again, it is worth noting that you have to keep Google’s motives versus your motives in mind here. Google wants you to accrue as many clicks on your ads as possible, so that you will spend as much as possible. With ‘rotate evenly’, you place all of your ads on an equal footing and then judge them on their individual merits in terms of overall performance, as opposed to their propensity for clicks.
5. Implement Ad Extensions
AdWords ad extensions allow you to display additional information about your company, product or service within your existing ads, at no additional cost. Ad extensions generally appear as text or link snippets just below your ad text, and allow you to include additional information about your business or offering within your ad copy – giving you more real estate within sponsored search results.
Ad extensions can include the following formats:
Location extensions (display your local business information)
– Call extensions (display your phone number)
– Sitelinks (display links to additional pages on your web property)
– Social annotations (display how many Google+ followers your business has)
– Seller ratings (display your online business ratings in your ad)
– App extensions (display a link to your mobile or tablet app)
– Offer extensions (display in-store coupons or offers with your ads)
Note that some ad extension options may only be available in certain geographic areas at particular points in time.
You can also view your ad extension statistics within your account via the ‘Ad extensions’ tab, and analyse these statistics in the same way as your ‘regular’ ads.
Ad extensions can really work for your AdWords campaign and for your business. If you search for a product or service on Google, you will always see that some businesses are making use of this very valuable feature, whilst others are clearly not. Ensure you gain an edge over your competitors by using ad extensions to their fullest potential.
I hope that this post has proved valuable in helping you to assess what you need to put in place before launching your AdWords campaign, and that it gives you some food for thought in terms of aligning your campaign activity with your own goals and best interests. Remember that you should always ensure your campaign is providing an ROI with which you are satisfied. This ROI will vary depending on your industry, your goals and your overall marketing strategy – but taking the time to implement these five steps will help to set up any Google AdWords campaign for success.
I would love to hear your thoughts. Are there additional steps you are mindful of implementing when launching a Google AdWords campaign?
Anton McCarthy is an ex-Googler, digital marketing specialist and freelance blogger. You can find him blogging on digital marketing, e-commerce and entrepreneurship at antonmccarthy.com. Consider connecting up with Anton on Twitter.