The question: “Should my company use Google AdWords?”
As the interweb’s dominant pay-per-click platform, AdWords is Google’s pretty baby: It’s self-absorbed, incredibly time-consuming, demands constant attention, and costs money … yet most still say it’s worth it.
And for many companies, AdWords definitely IS worth it because it delivers measurable ROI.
The trick, of course, is in the execution. Much more than budget, persistent research and planning and oversight (did I mention constant attention?) are the truer costs of admission. Neglect any of these for too long and you’ll find results plummeting and frustration rising.
Which leads us to the point of this post:
How can you get the most out of AdWords without getting a PhD in PPC?
Here are …
5 tips to improve Google AdWords marketing
1. Narrow your keywords: Using overly broad keywords or generic terms can severely reduce the effectiveness of your AdWords campaign. Effective keyword advertising relies on presenting ads to a targeted audience that’s likely interested in your products and services.
If your search keywords are too general, Google can (and will) serve your ads to a disparate array of people who have no interest in your ad. Trouble is, if they click on it anyway, you lose money.
Here’s an example: Let’s say your company specializes in restoring classic British sports cars. (My first car was a ’73 Triumph Spitfire. But I digress …) Ok, so you don’t want to choose “cars” as your keyword because it’s too general, too broad. You’d be better served burning your dollars for fuel than paying for all the useless clicks you’ll get.
Instead, use terms that actual humans would use when looking for what you offer.
- British car restoration
- 1970s European car restoration
- Hard to find parts for classic Jensen-Healey
The more specific the better, depending on what page you’re taking them to.
2. Put keywords into themed ad groups: This one is a bit tricky but it’s a key part of PPC marketing because it’s all about organizing your ads to optimize campaign performance; that is, getting more clicks from the right types of prospects.
An ad group contains one or more ads that target a shared set of keywords. Thus, when those keywords are used (i.e., “Googled”), one of your ads can appear on the search engine results page. (Whether it appears, and its position, are dependent on a bunch of factors such as your per-click bid for that keyword, your reputation, and other head-exploding criteria that we’ll not discuss here.)
Here’s an example from Google that illustrates how to structure an ad group for a bakery. Notice how the keywords for related products are put into a single “themed” ad group.
Ad groups are important because Google looks at them to determine:
- Which keywords your ads will show in response to
- What your ad will say when it runs
- Where visitors will be taken when they click on your ad
By keeping like things grouped together via ad groups, your ads and keywords are better aligned and you increase the likelihood of quality click-throughs.
3. Direct users carefully: In some cases, it’s ok to send to your homepage those people who click on your PPC ads. But do this sparingly because, more often than not, it can feel like a bait and switch to the visitor who, for example, clicks on an ad for a particular hiking shoe … only to be brought to a homepage that doesn’t even have a picture of shoes on it!
So be very specific and strategic about where each ad will take visitors who click on it. This can mean some sophisticated finagling on your website (e.g., creating targeted landing pages), but it’s worth the time.
4. Use negative keywords: Let’s say you sell Harley Davidson bikes and accessories. Let’s further say you’ve got “hog” on your list of keywords.
Just as important as keywords you WANT to be found with are keywords you DON’T want to be found with.
Negative keywords is how you accomplish that; you can be very prescriptive about the words you don’t want to trigger your ads.
Avail yourself of this very handy and money-saving option. Negative keywords can also boost your Quality Score.
5. Test, track, review. Everything. Continually.
This can’t be stressed enough.
- Test your ads (AB tests, multivariate tests)
- Stay on top of keyword performance (AdWords has a litany of tools for doing this)
- Change things up when you see diminishing returns
- Purge ineffective keywords
- Track conversion (sounds obvious, but you’d be amazed at how many marketers “set it and forget it” – not a recommended strategy)
- Tie your AdWords to your Google Analytics to analyze keyword performance directly within your Analytics dashboard
Remember, even if you find the idea of PPC marketing anathema, your competition doesn’t. To be sure, AdWords is not the only game in town, but it’s a hefty part of a successful marketing mix for most companies.
PPC is often a game of pennies … and pennies add up.
Unsure what Google AdWords is?
The above tips assume a reasonable knowledge about AdWords and PPC.
But if your eyes glaze over at the mere mention of “AdWords”, you’re not alone. The PPC game is simple in theory but heavily nuanced and complex in practice.
Here’s an excerpt of how Google describes AdWords in an overview video:
“AdWords is Google’s online advertising platform that can help you drive interested people to your website. AdWords allows you to take advantage of the millions of searches conducted on Google each day. You create ads for your business and … then AdWords shows your ads on Google when someone searches for that – or related – words.”
It’s simple … right up to the point that it’s not. Which happens almost immediately in most cases.
To get the 4-1-1 on this effective marketing tool, start by visiting the Advertising on Google AdWords: An Overview page.
And don’t forget about SEO
I’d be remiss not to mention the power of SEO, even if only briefly.
Most marketers perceive organic search as the cornerstone of the “fine art of being found”, with online advertising as a strategic complement. Recent research indicates that almost 80 percent of B2B buyers use search to begin their information discovery process for a business purchase…so It’s critical to expand your visibility, reach, and traffic.
Whether you’re an SEO newbie looking for basic skills or a skilled practitioner looking for the latest thinking, Act-On’s Center of Excellence can help you harness your SEO skills.
Image of “Fat Baby Mirror” by crimfants, used under a Creative Commons 2.0 license.
Image of “1973 Triumph Spitfire MkIV” from Internet Movie Cars Database.
Image of “Hog visits Cape Hatteras” by Jim Brickett, used under a Creative Commons 2.0 license.