Paid Search 101

5 Simple Steps to Optimize Your AdWords Campaign

Don’t you just love September? School is back in session, football season kicks off, and the crisp scent of new iPhones is in the air.

I got to wondering about the level of competition among online retailers of Apple products and discovered a few insights about how to optimize AdWords campaigns along the way.

An Analysis of Online Retailer MacBooty.com

I placed myself in the shoes of specialty online retailer, TheMacStore.com, who currently does not sell iPhones. For the purpose of this analysis, let’s assume they want to start selling iPhones through their store, and they want to start using Google Adwords to drive traffic to their site.

By analyzing competitors’ search marketing data from iSpionage.com, we uncovered 5 steps and useful takeaways about optimizing PPC campaigns for this niche.

Step One: Research Keywords with High Commercial Intent

To start, we note with a simple broad match Google search that the key phrase “buy iphone” has over 1,000,000 monthly searches.  This keyword phrase also has high “commercial-intent” because of the inclusion of the word “buy” within the phrase.

Using data from iSpionage, I noticed that the top ads for this keyword phrase are ones that on average stays in position 5 and below.

Optimize Adwords 2 5 Simple Steps to Optimize Your AdWords Campaign
In the data above, you can see that these ads have been running for almost a year, and their average position is 5 and below. This information delivered its first “a-ha moment”.

Ranking Higher Isn’t Always Better

Conventional wisdom says that ad position 1-2 will attract lots of clicks from “click happy” semi-interested visitors, thus you may actually want your ad to be on position 3-4 as a cost-saving, middle ground. But the data shows us that you it may make sense to consider an even a lower position for high search volume keywords with high commercial intent like our “buy iphone” key phrase.

One potential competitor to TheMacStore.com that looked interesting to investigate further was Macbooty.com. As you can see in the Top Ads in Google screenshot above from iSpionage.com, their average position is 8.6! To confirm, I go to Google directly and type in “buy iphone” into the search bar.  Sure enough, I find a Macbooty’s AdWords ad on page two of Google SERPS!

Optimize Adwords 3 5 Simple Steps to Optimize Your AdWords Campaign

Cross-referencing this with iSpionage search marketing analytics data, I can see that Macbooty.com has been running this ad for 306 days for this high-volume, high commercial-intent keyword – and they are still running it – which indicates this is ad copy and an ad position that is working for them.

Takeaway:
If a page 2 position makes economic sense for you – that the conversion cost is less than your profit –  then by all means, bid strategically to be on page 2 of Google’s results. In your Google AdWords console, you will see something like:
Optimize Adwords 4 5 Simple Steps to Optimize Your AdWords Campaign

But don’t worry about it. If this strategy works for you, you can happily ignore Google’s prompting to move it to the first page.

Step 2: Carefully Design Your Landing Pages to be Highly Relevant

Next, I was curious about the landing page design used for the ad associated with the “buy iPhone” keyword. This is what I found:
Optimize Adwords 5 5 Simple Steps to Optimize Your AdWords Campaign

Their landing page is not visually spectacular, but it does contain some important elements of a good landing page, like a strong headline and a clear call to action. Very quickly, loud and clear, I see:

  • the word “iPhone” and “deals” in the headline, which are relevant to the keyword user searched for
  • iPhone images, again, very relevant to what users were looking for
  • A clear, you-can’t-miss-it call to action that says “See all iPhone deals” in a big red button!

Takeaway:

In search marketing, it’s all about relevancy and the speed of finding what you’re looking for. Page design matters, but relevancy is way more important in creating an effective landing page.

Step 3: Tighten-Up Your AdGroups to Increase Relevance

At this point I’m starting to become a fan of MacBooty.com’s search marketing team and thinking that there is quite a bit TheMacStore.com can learn from them! I want to learn more from them. I want to see how they run they run their entire PPC strategy. I can also use iSpionage to learn more on their overall strategy. In this case, I simply plug in the URL for the advertiser:
Optimize Adwords 6 5 Simple Steps to Optimize Your AdWords Campaign

The results show that they have thousands of keywords, their average their ad position is around the 7th position, but for their top keywords –  ones that they’ve been running for a long time – they are on average in the 8th and 9th position. Interesting!

When I analyze their keyword and ad copy combinations, I can see that they are quite an advanced PPC advertiser.
Optimize Adwords 7 5 Simple Steps to Optimize Your AdWords Campaign

As shown above, you can see how their keywords always trigger a matching headline in the ad copy. This is either because they are using a Google Adwords feature called Dynamic Keyword Insertion – which basically tell Adwords engine “Hey Google, whenever possible, insert in whatever the user types in the search box into my ads headline”, or they built a very tight adgroup.

Takeaway:
For best results, create laser-focused ad groups where each ad group contains very few keywords, sometimes with just one keyword per adgroup. Or use Dynamic Keyword Insertion to emulate this approach. Either way, their ad grouping method works well to create relevancy!

Try to connect your keyword-ad copy combinations as tightly as possible. Well connected keyword to ad copy combinations will increase your click through rate (CTR), which will increase your Quality Score, which eventually will decrease your cost per click (CPC). If that’s too complex to digest, just remember this: Search marketing is about relevance. The more relevant your keyword-ad copy-landing page combinations are to one another, the better your conversions will be.

Step 4: Develop A Diversity of Landing Pages

Analyzing their campaigns further, you can see that Macbooty has put a lot of effort into aligning their keywords, ad copy, and landing pages for relevancy.

They even have a separate landing page for “iPhone” and “iPhone 3gs” keywords.
Optimize Adwords 8 5 Simple Steps to Optimize Your AdWords Campaign

iPhone 3GS Landing Page
Optimize Adwords 9 5 Simple Steps to Optimize Your AdWords Campaign

For each Apple product they sell, they create a campaign with its own unique keywords, ad copy, and landing page:

iMac Landing Page
Optimize Adwords 10 5 Simple Steps to Optimize Your AdWords Campaign

iPod Landing Page
Optimize Adwords 11 5 Simple Steps to Optimize Your AdWords Campaign

MacBook Pro Landing Page
Optimize Adwords 12 5 Simple Steps to Optimize Your AdWords Campaign

Mac mini Landing Page
Optimize Adwords 13 5 Simple Steps to Optimize Your AdWords Campaign

Takeaway:
Don’t be stingy when it comes to landing pages. Once you have a good template created, it generally does not take that much additional effort to develop additional landing page copy. Put your copy developer and designer to the task of cranking out several new versions of pages for specific keyword phrases. You’ll be further optimizing your campaigns in no time.

Step 5: Let Conversions Guide Your Way

If our first four steps were all about attracting your audience into your site, the last step is about how to make your audience into your customers. Having custom landing pages, a unique header, content and images shot for each specific keyword and ad copy combination, will increase your PPC conversion rates!

Perhaps this goes without saying but, make sure you keep a close eye on your conversion rates and your cost of conversions.  The whole point of your Adwords initiative is to drive conversions to your advertised offers.

Takeaway:
Don’t throw good money away. If you have already tried to make an Adwords campaign work for you – you’ve aligned the relevance of your ads, ad groups, copy, and landing page – and you’ve tried some alternate lower-cost bidding strategies like those outlined above – then pause it and move on to greener pastures.

Analysis Summary

Macbooty.com runs a well optimized PPC campaign and there are many good lessons and ideas that competitive data can provide TheMacStore.com as they begin retailing iPhones online!

  1. They’re using ad position wisely
  2. They have a small, tight keyword grouping for each adgroup
  3. Good flow and relevancy between keyword-ad copy-landing page all together!
  4. To-the-point landing page: Good use of a strong headline, image shot, and call to action

Suggestion for MacBooty
I don’t see them running this good campaign on Yahoo/Bing’s network. Yahoo/Bing represents over 20% of search traffic and they are often less costly than Google Adwords. I would suggest they start looking at expanding their strategy to include new potential customers that are searching for Apple products using Bing.

If I were the PPC manager for TheMacStore.com, I would not just jump into Google Adwords without knowing who my competitors are.

I would research and analyze who they are, what they do, and how they do it first.

If I see a good one like MacBooty.com, then I would try to emulate them.

 5 Simple Steps to Optimize Your AdWords Campaign
Chris is an online marketing and content strategist at the search marketing competitive intelligence provider iSpionage.
 5 Simple Steps to Optimize Your AdWords Campaign

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9 thoughts on “5 Simple Steps to Optimize Your AdWords Campaign

  1. Thx for this article, Chris. We are running a fairly large adwords campaign for our shopping bags and present packaging articles. A very competitive market with a large keyword range. I fully agree with your points 2 – 4. Since we improved the correlation of keyword, landing page and convertion, our adwords campaign become really successful. Side effect: With the same budget, our average ranking went from 3.2 to 1.9 without even aiming for it. Now you encourage me to do some trials and check out, if the ROI for lower rankings will increase for specific keywords when their ranking drops to 6 – 7.

  2. I like the less is more strategy. Use less search phrases or be lazier focused wizard in tern creates the ad more appropriate and should help discussion amount. Thanks for the tips!

  3. I have never had much success when building an Adwords campaign. I have tried multiple times even narrowing my search results to what I thought could only lead to sales through clicks. Less is more seems like a brilliant idea but I have never had much luck. I will try again though using the tips you have mentioned. Thanks!

  4. Thank you for your positive review! Your comments are much appreciated although I have to say much of what you’ve called out is fairly basic standard practice for any AdWords campaign – or at least it should be! I’m interested to check out iSpionage to see if it can help us gain some advantage ourselves.

  5. Some great points made in this article regarding optimisations for adwords campaigns. As you suggest, one of the most important things is simplicity. That and clarity are often overlooked.

  6. As an AdWords newbie this article has been so helpful! The points here will really help me tailor campaigns in the future, even though ours isn’t on the scale or for phrases half as competitive as these. It’s interesting to learn about iSpionage too; I’d not come across this tool before but will definitely be giving it a go when it comes to reviewing November’s PPC!