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Small businesses tend to have a love hate relationship with Google Adwords. It can be a very effective tool in your company’s marketing strategy but it can also eat through your advertising budget very quickly. Too often, small business owners take the DIY approach to setting up and managing their adwords account.

While Google has a highly detailed guide to using Adwords, how many business owners take the time to read through it? When they look at their monthly Adwords performance report, often they’ll see that their ads got alot of clicks but there is little else to show for it other than a huge hole in their advertising wallet. In this case, the easy way out is to blame Google or Adwords itself because after all, don’t they just want you to spend more money advertising with them?

If your ads are getting a lot of clicks but they’re not bringing the right customers to your website the cause is usually a poorly optimized campaign structure. Before you blow through anymore of your valuable advertising dollars, read below to see if you are guilty of any of these common mistakes in setting up and managing your adwords account.

1. Not using ad groups or not having enough of them:Having your keywords grouped into similar themes with corresponding ads is crucial to the performance of your campaign. Too often keywords are put into one big unwieldy keyword list tied to a few general ads. It’s important to have keywords match up with targeted ad copy so that you get relevant clicks because Google matches the ads shown with the keyword being searched.

2. Too many ads that click through to your website’s homepage or all ads clicking through to your homepage: Unless there is a specific reason why you want users to land on your homepage, each ad should click through to a landing page that is relevant to the ad. Users don’t want land on your homepage only to have to click through one or more pages to find what they are searching for. They will quickly leave your website and you’re basically paying them to leave. You need to give visitors a reason to stay on your website, not chase them off.

3. Not using the correct keyword match type: Using broad match keywords can be a good way to initially set up a campaign especially for a new website as it will bring in the most traffic. After the first month however, you should check to see what search terms are triggering your ads to be clicked and make adjustments to your keyword match types. Having too many broad match keywords can result in wasted clicks as your ads are shown to a wider, less targeted audience. You can edit your broad match keywords to either:

  • Phrase match – Shows when user searches for exact keyword or keywords phrase in exact order. Can have other terms in search query.
  • Exact match – Search query must exactly match keyword or keywords phrase. No other terms in search.
  • Modified broad match – allows keyword modifiers to increase relevancy.

Deciding what keyword match type to use in not an exact science. While broad match keywords will be triggered more often they may not result in relevant clicks. Phrase match and exact match will weed out irrelevant clicks but the flip side is you may get very little traffic. It all depends on what keywords you’re targeting and how often people are using those words in their search queries.

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4. Not using negative keywords: Negative keywords exclude keywords that are not a good match for your product meaning your ad won’t be shown. They are a good way to target your ads for the most relevant clicks. A good way to find keywords to add to this list is to view the Search Terms report for your Adwords campaign.

 

5. Not testing and/or changing your ads – You should continually work to improve your ads. If you have one ad that is a solid performer, create another ad to test against it. You can try different headlines or the same headline but different copy or a different offer for example. You should never create your ads and then forget about them. If an add is performing poorly compared to others in the same ad group pause it and think of how you can re-write it for better performance.

 

6. Thinking your ad has to be in the first or second position: Yes, you’ll have better visibility but those top spots can be very costly. Some people are click happy and will click on the top two ads even if it’s not the best ad for them to click on. They just assume that since it’s the top ad, it’s the best one for them to click on. Maybe, maybe not and you’re paying for it. Having your add show on the side of the page can be a better option. The cost will be less and while it’s not the first add users will see, if they are serious about finding the best result, they’ll find your ad.

 

7. Not knowing what your competitors are doing: While you shouldn’t click on their ad, you’ll want to know what keywords they’re targeting and what landing pages they are using for their ads. The auction insights report in your Adwords account will allow you to see how your ad performance compares to your competitors.  For example, you can see how often your competitors’ ads are appearing above yours or whether one of your competitors has a higher impression share than you on an important keyword.

 

Once your ads are running your should continually monitor their performance and make adjustments as needed. Adwords is not a “set it up and forget it” platform. A successful campaign is built upon the right foundation with continual monitoring and testing to take advantage of opportunities for bid adjustments, new keywords, new ad copy, and conversions in order to continually improve account performance and lower your overall costs.

 

Are you a guilty party? Relax.  DLJ Creative is Google Adwords certified and can provide you with a solid performing pay-per-click program that will meet the goals of your company, maximize the value of your ad dollars and provide a positive return on investment.