AdWords Survival Guide

According to many sources, Google’s Adwords brought them over US$50 billion in 2014.

You’d think they would make it a little easier to use their AdWords management system.

I am not saying the tools aren’t good – but it is becoming apparent that to operate it to any great effect needs a lot of training. Where do you go? There are so many “service” providers in this area that a lay person could be forgiven for placing a wrong foot…or two.

The first thing to consider is that Google serves two masters in the search advertising space. On one side, people come to Google to search out information – and to get results that are relevant and information rich. On the other there are the advertisers, who have their own idea about what is “relevant”. There is almost a religious fervour I have observed in some people who studiously ignore the paid adverts in the results, dismissing them as irrelevant….and some of these people want pay me to advertise their goods and services on Google! I think that Google know that these people are probably in the minority though….why else would they take pains to highlight the paid ads on their results page? We are only a couple of years away from Google’s 20th anniversary. Back then the search market was occupied by engines that all promised fast and relevant results. This was great for the majority of searchers, most of whom were a) tech savvy and b) looking for information to assist them with some project or another, not necessarily buy something.

But all that has changed. As connection to the internet has grown and become massively available through the spread of cheap computer technology and mobile devices, people are looking to search engines to give them the best price on almost anything. People go to Google to buy now.

People go to Google to buy now.

So, the earlier statement is still true, people do come to Google to search out information, but it is generally purchasing information they seek. The results still need to be relevant though – either paid or organic.

A key goal in any advertising campaign is to make sure you make noise to the “relevant” people. This is easy to say, but not so easy to achieve. Thank goodness for search engines though – they make life a lot easier. Finding the relevant people means that you need to do a little bit of research first (actually a lot of research), but that’s a subject of one or two other posts. If you know who needs to know about your stuff, how old they are, their gender, their location, their income bracket, their interests…. then search is for you. If you don’t – have another think about your marketing approach.

Armed with your knowledge about your customer profile, you are ready to start advertising.

Tip 1: AdWord Terminology

All these are really Google Analytics terms, not AdWords terms….but you will need to know what you are setting up for. If you have an AdWords account, you need an Analytics account too.

  • CTR – Click Through Rate – The percentage of searchers who click one of your ads. If 100 people click your ad after it has been shown 1000 times, your CTR is 10%. Easy eh?
  • CPC – Cost Per Click – This is the average cost of a click through to your landing page. Even though you have set your bid in AdWords, you will only be charged the market rate at the time the ad was shown – hence the averaging.
  • CPM – Cost Per Thousand – What you pay for each set of a thousand views of your ad. You set CPM bids to tell Google how much you’re willing to pay for that set of impressions.
  • Bounce Rate – The percentage of sessions (a user visiting your website for any period of time creates a “session”) that left your site without any interaction. Interaction doesn’t mean they moved the mouse around – it means they clicked something. That’s why it’s really important to have a clear Call To Action on your page.
  • Pages per Session – Exactly what it says – the average number of pages that users clicked through on your site when they visited. If this is less than 1.5 and your are not getting purchases talk to us.
  • ROAS – Return on Advertising Spend – Not really a Google original term…..if you are selling good and services online (e-Commerce), you can get Google Analytics to record your sales performance. In fact, you can import this data from your accounting system as well – but you’d need to be confident that your sales staff accurately recorded that a sale came from a Google ad.
  • RPC – Revenue Per Click – Again, with e-Commerce enabled, Google Analytics will calculate how much a click is worth to your organisation….a very nice way to work out if your campaign is worth the effort.
  • Impressions – The number times your ad is shown. Anywhere.
  • Search Network – A group of search-related websites where your ads can appear.
  • Display Network – A collection of websites — including specific Google websites like Google Finance, Gmail, Blogger, and YouTube — that show AdWords ads. This network also includes mobile sites and apps.
  • Search Impression Share (IS) – is the number of impressions you’ve received divided by the estimated number of impressions you were eligible to receive. Eligibility is the subject of a whole other post. This is where you begin to gain true insight into your advertising performance and there are a few ways to use it.
    • Display impression share: The impressions that you’ve received on the Display Network divided by the estimated number of impressions that you were eligible to receive.
    • Search Lost IS (budget): The percentage of time that your ads weren’t shown on the Search Network due to insufficient budget. This data is available at the campaign level only.
    • Display Lost IS (budget): The percentage of time that your ads weren’t shown on the Display Network due to insufficient budget. This data is available at the campaign level only.
    • Search Lost IS (rank): The percentage of time that your ads weren’t shown on the Search Network due to poor Ad Rank in the auction. Note: Lost IS (rank) won’t be shown on your Ad groups tab if you ran out of budget at any point during the date range being examined.
    • Display Lost IS (rank): The percentage of time that your ads weren’t shown on the Display Network due to poor Ad Rank. Note: Lost IS (rank) won’t be shown on your Ad groups tab if you ran out of budget at any point during the date range being examined.
    • Search Exact match IS: The impressions that you’ve received divided by the estimated number of impressions that you were eligible to receive on the Search Network for search terms that matched your keywords exactly (or were close variants of your keyword). Not available for Shopping campaigns.
  • Conversion – A conversion happens when someone clicks your ad and then takes an action that you’ve defined as valuable to your business, such as an online purchase or a call to your business from a mobile phone. These are set up as Goals in Google Analytics.
  • Match Type – Triggers your ad to show for a customer’s search in different ways. These can be broad, phrase, and exact. Generally, Google starts you off with broad, but it’s important to understand what each type does and how it will affect your results.

Tip 2: Keywords

You probably aren’t using enough. An average number of keywords should be between 50-1000. If you are stuck for ideas – keep thinking, but use Google’s AdWords Keyword Planning Tool as well as others such as Wordtracker or Wordstream. You will almost certainly find keywords you would not have thought of. Above all – get some feedback from trusted advisors (friends and colleagues), let them second guess you.

Oh – don’t get caught up on the “word” bit of Keyword – a Keyword is actually a Keyphrase. It can consist of multiple words…. do NOT rely on Google to mix and match on your behalf, they don’t. Make sure you include plurals too. You are in control here.

Tip 3: A Landing Page

I have lost count of how many times I have seen people put 150% effort into making their home page look the best it can possibly be…and then pay scant attention to the rest. You need to be consistent. If the page a customer lands on has no relevance to what they originally searched for – your bounce rate is going to be high.

If you are not a programmer and are not using a CMS – make the change today. A well implemented CMS allows you to quickly and easily create new pages for each campaign you run. These landing pages will be completely wrapped in your brand, but will hopefully be relevant to what they searched for.

A landing page also needs to have a clear call to action – placed appropriately at the point the visitor will realise they need your goods or services.

Oh by the way – if you are using a CMS – consider two or more versions of a landing page and use split testing to gauge the effectivity of your advertising.

Tip 4: Split Testing

You are able to write multiple ads – so why not do a little bit of research while you run your campaign? I heard that someone somewhere once write the perfect ad, but it wasn’t recently. You take your best shot if bullets are expensive. If they are cheaper, you can afford to take a few shots. Write a couple of different versions of the ads you are creating and then duplicate them to take searchers to a different landing page (see 3 above). After a suitable period of time, see which is the winning ad – drop the loser and then write another alternative to pour a little more acid on the experiment. This feedback loop is very powerful for raising your CTR and reducing your bounce rate.

Tip 5: Keyword Grouping

This is one area where the KISS principle is put to the test. It is easy to keep your advertising to a single group and then pile bucket loads of keyphrases into it. This needs a re-think. Keep an eye to what Google will make of that…they are looking for relevance – if they see you trying to catch everything without being relevant, your ad will be marked down. Even though you are bidding to be displayed, if you aren’t relevant, you will not always be successful if a competitor shows more relevance. If you end up being the successful bidder, it will cost you more.

The solution is to separate your keywords into groups that are relevant to the subject matter you are trying to promote. Use different subject headings that will allow you to group by relevance.

Tip 6: Think Hard About Your Ads

One of the things Keyword Grouping (Tip 5) is important is so you can use the keywords you define within your Ads. If the ad “word matched” the search, Google will mark up the relevance. The more relevant your ad is, the lower the average click price will be. You have two lines on your ad – make each one count…separately. Keep in mind that ads are usually scanned by most users and they do not pay a great amount of interest to the detail contained. Here is it important that the phrasing of each line is shaped properly – to align with a pre-cognition.

Science also plays a part – research proves that Capitalising Each Word In The Sentence will increase your CTR. Run a split test and see for yourself. Another overlooked area is the Display URL. If your URL is keyword relevant – such as, write it as – it stands out more.

Tip 7: Ad Targeting

You can target both geographies and times with your ads. Think about how that can work for your advertising.

People may search for a plumber but not specify where. Google will make an educated guess based on their data about which plumbing service is relevant to the searcher based on a number of factors that they already know about them…but don’t leave it to chance. If you only service one area (such as Balmain), your ad should target that geography only. There is no point generating a click in Mt Waverley – it will be wasted Ad spend.

Scheduling your ad can be very powerful. If you are a 24/7 emergency plumbing service – your value proposition is way higher after 6pm and before 7am. By scheduling an ad group that highlights this part of your service, you can increase relevance and click through.

Tip 8: Measure!

The whole point of advertising is to get you more business. If you are happy to throw money away, don’t bother looking at how successful your ads are. I am guessing though, that economics plays a  part in your business – so set up Google Analytics to measure how successful your ads are. If you run e-Commerce – there are some very good reporting tools around that can tell you exactly which ad brought in the sale. Back tracking from there can give you great insights into where you Ad spend is being effective.