Bidding & Optimization Strategies for the Modern Search Marketer
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It is clear AdWords has become a must for businesses who want to drive relevant traffic to their websites. The increase in AdWords’ demand has consequently increased the price for clicks, and therefore advertisers need to know how to boost their results and not waste their budget.
Here are some of the most important pillars to keep into consideration while working on an AdWords Account:
Do Not Bid On Your Brand
People searching for your brand are people who are probably coming back to purchase after they have already compared your website to other brands. If other brands are bidding on your name, users are likely to ignore them since they already know what they want.
It still makes sense to bid on your own keywords if you have marketing budget left and would like to secure the best placement for your brand name. But if you are running on a limited budget, avoid it.
Strategize The Use Of Keywords Match Types
Google gives you the option to use broad match, broad match modifier, phrase, and exact match keywords. Use them to step up your game and make sure to test complex account structures. Also, do not forget to use broad, phrase, and exact match negative keywords to eliminate irrelevant keywords variations.
Using a “broad match” keyword implies that Google will let your ads run for relevant variations of your keywords, including synonyms and misspellings. Google might show your advertising messages for many irrelevant terms if you do not use a compelling list of negative keywords.
The use of “broad match modifier” keywords allows you to be targeted but at the same time broad enough to find relevant long tail keywords for your campaigns. It basically allows you to show up for any search query that includes all of the terms of your keyword that triggered the ad, independently from their order in the search query.
A “phrase match” keyword tells your account to trigger your ads only if a searcher looks for a search term that equals to your keyword or that has the keywords in the same order as you used them. This match type is really useful for long tail variations of your most successful keywords.
Finally, “exact match” keywords are the ones you use when you want to show your ads exactly for the terms as you have inserted them in the AdGroups. This definitively is the most targeted option you can use.
I strongly recommend using a combination of keyword match types in order to optimize the account for a greater ROI. For example, use broad match modifier and phrase match keywords to find new long tail keywords and focus on exact match in order to generate profitable conversions with terms that already converted once in the past.
Group Keywords In Tight, Relevant AdGroups
The best way to reduce costs on AdWords is to work on increasing the CTR and the quality score. The best way to do that is to make sure whenever a user looks for a term he finds an advertising message that is extremely relevant to his search.
It is very common to see accounts that do not group keywords in a proper way. This mistake can cost a lot of money and might cause the account to retrieve a lot of irrelevant terms. Also, the CTR and the quality score will suffer.
While grouping keywords think about how keywords can relate among them. Can you group them by service? Can you maybe group them by call to action? Whatever method you use make sure to avoid duplicates and use custom advertising texts for each AdGroup.
Negative Keywords Are Fundamental To Succeed
You cannot have a good account without ensuring you don’t waste your budget on irrelevant keywords. Negative terms help to tell Google when not to show your ad.
You can add negative keywords at the campaign and AdGroup level. Negative keywords at the campaign level basically apply to all AdGroups and should include terms that you do not want to appear for under any circumstance, such as the word FREE if your service is always pay. AdGroup focused negative keywords refer to terms that should not trigger an ad only for keywords inserted in a given AdGroup. There might be several reasons for this, but the most relevant definitively is to avoid competition among similar ad groups.
There are several ways to find negative keywords. The best way is to constantly monitor the search query report and to look at Google Analytics to find out what you are actually showing up for and use this information to tune the account.
Split Test Advertising Messages For Better Results
Ad copy split testing is fundamental if you want to generate great results long-term. I usually suggest testing one element at a time among headlines, description lines, and display URL. This makes it easier to identify winning variations in all parts of your ads.
Your account should always test at least two ads at the time. You can have many ads testing at once as long as you have enough data to support it. Your test results should focus on CTR and conversion rates. Do not make the mistake of only focusing on profits! Be sure to look at the long-term benefits of a good CTR.
Being Number One Is Not Always Profitable: Test Ad Positions
Advertising positions can have a big effect on your overall ROI. Generally, users clicking on an advertising message on top of the page are quick decision makers, while people clicking on ads at the bottom of the page are more likely to be sensitive to price and compare more options before converting.
This might be not true for all industries. Also, at times the first position can be very expensive and therefore it is necessary to find out how you perform at different placements for different keywords.
At the end of the day, it is all about generating a positive ROI and you should not be afraid of testing – this is the best way to improve your account.
Do Not Promise Miracles, But Focus on Realistic Results
Google AdWords is an advertising tool based on data. Data costs money, and therefore the smaller your budget is, the longer it will take to optimize the campaign for great results. The best way to get started is to have a set up that minimizes the budget waste on irrelevant keywords.
You should make a judgement call and decide what topics (AdGroups) to pursue with your budget. I suggest starting on focused keywords and go broader with the successful AdGroups. This will ensure you grow your budget along with results.
Send Users to The Best Landing Pages For The Ad They Clicked On
Many advertisers prefer to send people to the home page of a website rather than taking the time to create a custom landing page. This is a huge mistake. You need to think of AdWords as something that brings the right people to the doorstep. However, if the inside of your store is not appealing or does not make it easy to find a product, people won’t buy.
You need to make sure that each landing page sends users to the page that is most likely to convert. Do you want to create landing pages yourself? There are many tools online that allow you to do that! Take advantage of them!
Know the Lifetime Value (LTV) of Consumers
The Customer Lifetime Value (LTV) should be at the base of every business decision. Do not look at the immediate earnings from a client to determine your ideal cost per acquisition. Analyze how much you are likely to earn from a client in total and determine how much you are willing to pay to get this earning in your business.
Many companies fail at calculating the LTV and this means they estimate their marketing budget incorrectly. It is difficult to calculate the LTV if you are new in the business. However, you can still estimate it by making some conservative projections and tuning them up along the way.
Study what your competition is doing and take advantage of their mistakes. This is a very simple principle and also an extremely effective one.
You do not need expensive tools to analyze your competition. Just create a list of your top keywords and look up in the preview tool to find out what ads your competitors are using. Also, look at your auctions insights to find out websites that are sharing the Google Search Page with you. Look at their websites and find out how you can improve your pages!
Adwords is a fundamental tool for many businesses but costs are rising every day. As a smart advertiser, you should leverage everything that could give you a competitive advantage. This list includes only the most important pillars you should be looking at, but there are plenty of other factors to consider. What other tricks of the trade do you use to maximize your Adwords budget?
Top graphic created by author with official Google logo.