12 Tips to Ensure Google Advertising Success
This blog entry offers best practices to help with optimizing your Google advertising (AdWords) performance. These tips are designed for:
- Seasoned marketers disappointed with their Google advertising results to date, and
- Small business owners with some Google advertising experience
This is by no means meant to be a comprehensive list. However, each of these tips has the potential to significantly impact your results. Note: This article is about Google text ads, not Product Listing Ads.
Estimated read time = 12 mins
Wonder why your Google advertising campaign isn’t producing the results you expected? Here are twelve helpful tips to improve your likelihood of success:
- Conduct proper keyword research
- Choose your keyword match type wisely
- Setup and add negative keywords as you go
- Use a proper account structure
- Align ad copy with target keywords
- Align website landing pages with target keywords
- Use ad extensions
- Don’t limit your budget
- Connect to Google Analytics
- Adjust your dashboard columns
- Setup conversion tracking
- Assign a value to each conversion
1. CONDUCT PROPER KEYWORD RESEARCH
Performing keyword research is a fundamental task for success. Keywords are what trigger your Google ads. Do you know which keywords people use to find your products or services? We all have assumptions, but you may be surprised to discover other ways your audience searches for what you have to offer. Don’t risk relying on your personal assumptions. Use Google’s free Keyword Planner tool. Keyword Planner can suggest the many phrases people use, along with giving you the ability to sort by average monthly volume and competition levels. Even more powerful, Keyword Planner allows you to get this data within a specific geography! You could target specific countries, regions, states, counties, cities, towns, etc. All you need is a gmail address to access this tool, but there may be future limitations. Google recently announced limiting the tool’s robust data for inactive accounts or those with very little monthly spend levels.
2. CHOOSE YOUR KEYWORD “MATCH TYPE” WISELY
The keywords used to trigger your advertising can be as broad or as narrow as you want them to be. Google offers four match types: broad match, broad match modifier, phrase match, and exact match. We won’t give examples for each since Google covers this quite clearly.
We at Ally Marketing start newer advertisers with a broad match modifier, then narrow as campaigns progress. This is strongly recommended for businesses or organizations whose target audiences are within a small geographic area (e.g. a 50-mile radius or less). We’ve found this to offer our clients the best of both worlds – ads are triggered for the widest possible number of relevant searches without limiting a campaign’s potential.
3. SETUP AND ADD NEGATIVE KEYWORDS AS YOU GO
Negative keywords are equally important. Clients often underestimate the value of these. It’s important to exclude searches that are not relevant for your advertising. For example, let’s say you’re a college or university and you offer a master’s in social work that is taught in the classroom. You wouldn’t want your advertising to appear when someone searches “online masters in social work” because it would be a wasted click (and expense!). An online program is not something you offer. Therefore, you would add the word “online” as a negative keyword to your campaign.
The same would be true for other types of words. Let’s say your MSW program is more expensive than other schools. If that’s the case, you wouldn’t want to appear when someone searches “cheap master’s in social work programs” because, again, you would pay for a click that is not a good fit for what you offer. You would add the word “cheap” as a negative keyword.
Adding negative keywords at the launch of the campaign is only the beginning. Advertisers have to constantly monitor the keywords triggering their advertising. You will be surprised by the phrases that trigger your advertising, even when using more narrowly-focused keyword match types like phrase match or exact match. Bottom line: Using proper negative keywords saves money and improves performance.
4. USE A PROPER ACCOUNT STRUCTURE
A proper Google advertising account structure is foundational for success. A proper account hierarchy starts at the top with the account itself, then the campaign level, ad groups (third level) and, finally, the ads themselves.
We’ve seen clients too often use one campaign with dozens of ad groups. The problem with this is that it limits the budget management and geo-targeting flexibility of the advertiser. It’s best to use each “campaign” for specific products or services, and then each ad group for specific keywords. Within each ad group are the actual ads that target the appropriate keywords.
5. ALIGN AD COPY WITH TARGET KEYWORDS
Each ad should align with the keyword that will trigger it to appear in search results. Let’s say you sell kitchen cabinets. You use a keyword phrase match of “kitchen cabinets”. Your ads for kitchen cabinets should ideally use that specific phrase or words in the headline, body copy, and even the display URL. Here’s an example: Aligning ads with their keywords is one crucial component for ensuring a better quality score, which Google uses to assess the “quality” of your advertising with the searcher’s intent. A higher quality score improves your chances of a higher position and a lower cost per click.
6. ALIGN LANDING PAGES WITH TARGET KEYWORDS
Aligning your landing page – where people go when they click your ad – with your keyword is another crucial performance component. What does this mean? If you’re bidding on the broad match modifier keyword +LCD +televisions, don’t point people to a page selling 3D televisions. It’s a bad user experience for the consumer, and it will cost you. Google scans (“crawls”) your landing page and determines how relevant it is for the keyword you’re bidding on. This, too, factors into your quality score and overall ad rank.
Therefore, your ads should point consumers to a specific webpage for your target keyword (or close variations). The content of your page, and its key HTML elements, should use your keyword accordingly. These elements include the page title, meta description, H1 tag, body copy and the URL preferably.
7. USE AD EXTENSIONS
Ad extensions are a way to literally “extend” the size of your text ad if it is shown in positions 1-4 in search results. You may have noticed ads getting bigger in the course of your own Google searches. Extensions give advertisers more real estate beyond the typical headline, body copy and URL of a normal text ad. There are many forms of extensions, some popular examples include:
- Your business’ phone number
- Your store location
- “Sitelinks,” which offer text and links into deeper pages of your website
- “Callouts,” which can promote certain features (e.g. Free shipping)
- App extensions (e.g. “Download our app”)
Ad extensions are a FREE way to expand your advertising and they increase your chances of a click. They are no longer a “good to do,” they are a must do to ensure your campaign’s success.
8. DON’T LIMIT YOUR BUDGET
You have a budget cap for Google advertising. Say it’s $1,000/month, which means $33.33/day. Great. But consider it a starting point only. We say this for several reasons:
- Daily search volumes on Google can vary and so can the number of clicks you receive; you may go under your budget certain days and hit your daily cap on others.
- It’s best to come “out of the gate” strong with a higher daily budget, and then cutback as the days and weeks progress. A higher daily budget to start can help you more quickly gain share of voice and identify your most profitable keywords
- Why put a cap on profitability if Google advertising is making you money? Let’s say you discover your return on ad spend is $2 generated for every $1 you spend. Why stick to your original budget if that proves to be the case? Keep increasing your daily budget until you see diminishing returns, then set a new daily budget cap.
9. CONNECT TO GOOGLE ANALYTICS
Did you know you can (and should) connect your Google Adwords account to your Google Analytics account? It’s extremely important to know how your website visitors are behaving after they click your ad. We’ve seen Google advertising with stellar click volume and click through rates in the AdWords dashboard, only to see that same visitor traffic underperform on the website. Evidence of this are high bounce rates, low average time on site, low number of pages per session and low conversion rates.
The Google AdWords dashboard reveals tactical performance metrics, while Google Analytics reveals strategic performance metrics. You can often identify low quality web traffic associated with certain keywords. Turn off the under-performing keywords in your Google advertising and shift those budget dollars to support high performing keywords.
10. ADJUST YOUR DASHBOARD COLUMNS
This is an easy step that is often overlooked. Google AdWords offers a default view of metrics in its dashboard. It highlights the basic metrics, such as clicks, click through rate, cost per click, etc. But it neglects to offer really insightful metrics that we strongly recommend you add, including:
- Estimated first page bid ($)
- Estimated top page bid ($)
- Estimated first position bid ($)
- Quality score
- Search impression share (%)
- Estimated additional clicks/week with a +50% bid
- Estimated additional clicks/week with a +300% bid
These additional columns can help your Google advertising go from good to great. They help you understand how much you need to spend (per click) to be on top, know whether your quality score is dragging you down, how you stack up against the competition, and how much more you could generate with increased spending. Take advantage of it.
11. SETUP CONVERSION TRACKING
Why continue to do something if you can’t prove it’s producing the desired result? That’s why conversion tracking is crucial for Google advertising and any form of marketing for that matter. There are many ways to measure the success of Google ads, including
- Tracking actions taken on your website – purchases, lead form completions, etc.
- Tracking calls made to your customer service line or other phone number
- Tracking the number of downloads of your app
Google AdWords can also import goal tracking you’ve setup in Google Analytics once the two accounts are linked.
12. ASSIGN A VALUE TO EACH CONVERSION
And finally, we recommend that every client take the extra setup of assigning a dollar value for each lead generated, especially for campaigns that aren’t promoting immediate sales. Marketers need to prove the value of their efforts in real-time. Google allows you to assign a value during the conversion tracking setup process. But how does one assign a value to each lead? Simple. Let’s assume you’re a plumber and your average client spend is $1,500 per residential job. You also know that for every 5 calls you receive, one of them becomes a paying customer, which is a 20% close rate. Therefore, the value of each lead to your business would be $300. This is an ideal figure to have displayed in your Google advertising dashboard, especially if you only spend $150 for every phone call you generate (a return on ad spend of $2-to-$1).