Google makes it really easy to start running PPC campaigns on AdWords. Running a well-optimized campaign, however, is another story altogether. Without knowledge of the nuances of AdWords, a novice can end up losing a ton of money very quickly on their SEM campaigns.
Here are five things you can do immediately to your AdWords account to save you a lot of money in just a few minutes.
- Don’t Heed Google’s “recommended settings”. Google wants to run your ads as broadly as possible. They want you to run on Google, Google’s search partners, Google Display Network, and on mobile phones. When you launch a campaign, you are opted-in to all these areas. While there is value to running on all of these different areas of the Google AdWords system, you don’t want to run them all from the same campaign – doing that usually results in getting you lots of over-priced clicks from lower-quality parts of the network (usually content and mobile) and not enough right-priced clicks on AdWords. My advice is to start by targeting Google only, or at most, Google and Search Partners. Google has comprehensive help resources that explain how to properly set your campaign settings.
- Move away from broad match as quickly as possible. Google has four match-types – broad, broad modified, phrase, and exact. Broad match means that Google can (and often will) match your keyword to other words that are semantically similar – or that Google’s algorithm just thinks are related. For example, I have a client that bought the keyword “electronic signature” and got match on “sign language” and “e coli.” Go figure. The easiest way to avoid this sort of bad broad matching is to place all of your keywords on one of the other match types. Again, if you search Google’s help guide you’ll find detailed explanations of the various match types.
- Add lots of negative keywords. Negative keywords are the opposite of a normal keyword. For example, if you added the negative keyword “complaint” if someone typed in “Nikon camera” and you purchased this word on broad match, your ad would show up, but if they typed in “Nikon camera complaint” you would not. The point here is to exclude words or phrases that indicate that a user does not have “purchase intent” for whatever you are selling. You can discover negative keywords by looking at your “search query” report in Google, or by just brainstorming words that are unlikely to result in conversions.
- Set up tracking. You can’t manage what you can’t measure. Google offers very easy and useful conversion tracking – anyone with basic knowledge of HTML should be able to install this on your site. Tracking will help you determine which keywords, ad text, and landing pages work for you, and which you should either bid down or exclude. Don’t bid on keywords because intuition tells you they ‘should’ work or because the boss wants to show up #1 so he can brag to his friends. Bidding should be done scientifically – gather the data from the conversion tracking and adjust bids based on actual performance.
- Check your geographic targeting. Do you sell your product or service across the entire world, or perhaps just the U.S., or perhaps just within a five mile radius of your office? Google will default you to the U.S. and Canada (if you are based in the U.S. at any rate) when your campaign begins. If you are a local business such as a law firm or a dentist, you are unlikely to be able to fulfill requests from clients across the continent. Similarly, if you primarily sell overseas, you don’t want your ads showing up in the U.S. Adjust your geographic settings to attract the right customers. Read the help guide to learn about all the different targeting options you have in AdWords.
I admit that I wrote the headline of this article as an attempt at “link bait” – i.e., to pique peoples’ interest and hopefully get some good links/tweets from the blogosphere – but the truth is that simple optimizations like those I described above can really save you tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars based on the size of your AdWords account! The difference between success and failure on Google is often one of little tweaks here and there, so start tweaking today!
David Rodnitzky is Founder of PPC Associates, a leading SEM agency in San Francisco. To learn more about full service AdWords management from PPC Associates, contact David at firstname.lastname@example.org.