How to Use Google AdWords Without Losing Money

Google has made it easy for anyone to get up and running with advertising and promote their websites instantly at any time. Which is great. But also it is usually at the expense of wasting clicks, and ultimately, your money. As Digital Marketing experts we know that achieving the most from our resources is a primary objective of effective online marketing.

But, how could you be sure that you are not wasting your budget with ineffective AdWords campaign settings?

These tips will help you better manage your AdWords account, improve your performance, save money per click and conversion, and ultimately get more from your AdWords advertising.

Using AdWords Editor

Although this is not a direct tip to optimising your AdWords account, I recommend using Google’s desktop software, AdWords Editor as it can save you a lot of time with your PPC optimisation.

google-adwords-editor

All changes can be made offline before setting everything live at once, which is great for building up accounts. Campaigns, Ad Groups and Keywords can be expanded quickly with copy and paste commands.

AdWords Editor also allows you to bulk edit text (replacing text, prepending or appending text) and adjusting bids using multiplier rules. Some additional built in tools allow you to find duplicate keywords and group keywords by theme, helping to create a tightly optimised AdWords account.

Account Structure

As with SEO, the importance of good structure also applies to AdWords accounts. Using your website as a starting point, try to structure your Campaigns according to your product or service categories, or create Campaigns around what you want to prioritise as the most profitable products. This allows you to allocate budgets to each Campaign based on the expected returns from that group of products or services.

Be aware that the more Campaigns you have, the more time you may spend adjusting the split of your budget between them, unless you utilise the shared budgets tool.

If you target different countries then you should also set up different campaigns for each targeted country and/or language. It is recommended to target a single country per campaign, as user behaviour will differ significantly between each country/language.

Note that setting target locations and languages can only be done at campaign level.

Although the names you assign to your Campaigns and Ad Groups do not affect account performance, when it comes to managing Ad Groups, you need to be smart about naming.
For most accounts it usually is enough to name Ad Groups by target keywords, such as: ‘Full Suspension Mountain Bikes’. You may further wish to ‘group’ product areas by sub-category also: ‘Mountain Bikes – Full Suspension Mountain Bikes’. However, the main goal here is to help you find the relevant Ad Group quickly allowing for faster account optimisation.

Also, when building or expanding your AdWords account, it is important that you are as granular as your time allows. Aim for an Ad Group for each and every specific target keyword phrase. This allows for you to create highly targeted adverts that will perform better than adverts targeting a variety of keywords.

Ad Text

You can strongly influence your click-through rate through ad text optimization. More than that, ad text also contributes towards your Quality Score, thus improving your AdRank and lowering the cost you pay for a click at that position.

A great way to make your advert stand out from the crowd is to highlight your USPs or your pricing within the ad text. I also recommend including a suitable call-to-action to provoke users to click on your advert. This Cheat Sheet from Lunametrics provides lots of words (with character count) which can be used as a call-to-action, in compliance with the AdWords guidelines.

Once you’ve written and tested the advert and it performs well, you need to continue making improvements. Never stop split testing your adverts. Even if it’s just adding or removing full stops and testing words with different capitalisation, these can make a huge difference to the CTRs.

You can check out this Infographic from Avalaunch Media for some great split testing ideas for your advert copy.

Quality Score

Optimising your Quality Score also contributes a great deal to the lowering of costs per click, so you could save a lot of budget.

As you may be aware, Quality Score is made up of a variety of factors; keywords, advert text and landing page quality. Therefore you need to optimize each of these factors:

  • Keyword QS can be improved by starting with a good CTR from the first day of your live account or campaign.
  • Make sure you add easy-win exact match keywords that are likely to perform well first.
  • Add in Modified broad match keywords to further control the relevance and CTR.
  • Bid aggressively to gain those higher positions and build up a good average position.
  • Use Ad Extensions, dynamic keyword insertion and split test regularly to improve Ad level Quality Score.
  • The display URL is a valuable space for adding in keywords and further relevance.
  • Quality Score is recorded at account level and the entire account performance history will be taken into account. Even if you use a brand new AdWords account, the domain you are advertising will have history associated with it. Make sure you have a Brand campaign to boost account performance and target locations as best you can.
  • To optimise for Landing Page QS make sure bounce rates are low and time on page is good.
  • Page speed is also a factor so test your site’s speed regularly.
  • Match the content to user expectations and make sure it is relevant to your advert copy. Content must be unique to have more value.

Automation & Scripts

Speed up your repetitive AdWords checks and tasks with AdWords Automation. The Automate drop down button can be found on most of the AdWords tabs: Campaigns, Ad Groups, Ads, Keywords, Audiences, Display Network.

Automate-button-in-AdWordsYou have the ability to automate any of the following actions based on criteria of past performance and timeframes:

  • Change daily budget, ad group default max CPC, max. CPC bids
  • Pause/Enable campaigns, ad groups, keywords, ads, audiences
  • Raise bids to top of page CPC
  • Raise bids to first page CPC
  • Send email

Simple automation is great for common tasks, but what if you want more customisation when automating tasks? Luckily AdWords Scripts provide a method for writing your own conditions and rules. Scripts can even interact with external data sources such as Google Spreadsheets, enabling you to automate reporting as well as account optimisation tasks.

Have no worries, you don’t have to be an experienced JavaScript developer to use AdWords Scripts. You can find many existing scripts to copy and paste into your account from sites such as FreeAdWordsScripts.com or Google’s own AdWords Scripts Archive. Also look at Google’s AdWords Scripts Solutions Gallery for explanations and code to help you with Reporting, Alerts, Bidding and Account changes.

Scheduling

AdWords scheduling allows you to run your ads only when your visitors are most likely to convert and save your budget.

I recommend basing your AdWords schedule on past performance. You can view this data in the Dimensions tab or in Settings > Ad schedule > Schedule details. Also, I wouldn’t run ads during the time frames when you haven’t seen any conversions in the past (unless you have a low number of conversions in total). Your core audience should be online at certain times of the day.
As well as setting the hours your ads are active or not, you can set a Bid adjustment to push your advert’s performance when they are highly likely to convert. Just enter the bid multiplier for that time period, e.g. 5% of your current bid of £5, meaning that for that time period your max bid has increased to £5.25.

AdWords-schedule-bid-adjustments

Device Bid Adjustment

Since Enhanced AdWords Campaigns were launched, Desktop and Tablet devices have been combined into the same target device, whilst mobiles can be targeted separately. You are able to see the performance of your campaigns on each device, but should only exclude mobile devices if performance isn’t good or you just don’t want to appear on mobiles.

Instead of just targeting mobiles or not, it’s a good idea to utilise bid adjustment for mobile devices to control how much extra or less you want to bid depending on the relative performance of your campaigns on mobile. For example, if your campaigns are performing in the top positions for desktop and tablet searches but outside the top ad position on mobiles then you may want to increase the bid adjustment for mobile devices on that campaign. If your adverts are always showing in the top positions on mobile you could set the bid adjustment a bit lower to control potential costs.

Location Bid Adjustment

As with Schedule and Device Bid Adjustments, you can review the performance of your ads in different sub-locations within your main target location then increase or decrease bids to optimise performance in these areas.

Either by going to the Dimensions tab and User Locations or Settings > Locations > Where your users were (drop down) you can view location data in more detail.

For many international locations, you can usually only go down to country level or Province/State/County, but in the USA and UK you now have data for the following detailed locations: County/State, Municipality, City, Postal/zip code, Airport, TV region, Neighbourhood, University.

Once you’ve analysed which locations perform well, you should add them to your target location list. Within this list you can set the bid multiplier relative to how well they perform to hopefully increase the performance further.

For locations that haven’t delivered conversions despite good traffic or have a low CTR which is bringing down the campaign average, then add these locations as exclusions.

Feedback

Although far from covering all the hidden traps of Google AdWords, these tips should keep you safe from making the biggest, most costly errors of advertising with Google. I hope you found this useful and I’d love to hear your own suggestions and thoughts on this so don’t forget to share.

Note: The opinions expressed in this article are the views of the author, and not necessarily the views of Caphyon, its staff, or its partners.

About Dean Marsden

Dean is a Digital Marketing Executive at Koozai who delivers highly effective PPC and SEO campaigns to clients of all sizes. He also has a keen interest in Video Marketing, Conversion Rate Optimisation and Website Design. When he’s not in front of his computer he can be found exploring the English countryside on his Mountain Bike. You can follow Dean on Google+ and Twitter .

  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/jasonmanion/ Jason Manion

    One big miss – conversion tracking. When you pay per click, you have to make the clicks count and be sure that the results from your traffic justify the cost for that traffic. Without conversion tracking, you can optimize all these other things – but to what? Click volume (max spend to Google)? Ad position, CTR, quality score, etc? Everyone of these metrics should be secondary to conversion tracking and the ROI you can prove as a result.

    • Dean Marsden

      I agree Jason, having conversion tracking is a priority. Without it your just wasting money! I hope this post helps people to improve the quality of their targeting alongside ROI.

  • nursebecky

    yes, that’s a huge miss..wooooooahhhhhh..by implementing conversion tracking, then testing and optimizing campaigns, you’ll discover which has the best conversion rate. that campaign will yield the most ROI….