Bidding & Optimization Strategies for the Modern Search Marketer
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Editor Note: Although Larry Kim is also a contributor to SEJ, this review was written on Andrew’s own volition and we weren’t paid or perked for publishing it.
A couple of days ago, I started the year with a personal review of the new AdWords Grader Plus from Larry Kim and WordStream. I must admit that I’ve never been a big fan of the grader. I have seen the ‘Get A Free Demo’ banners across the web, but I had never tried it out.
A couple of clients have sent their reports to me over the years, but I’ve never felt they were substantial enough to really matter. So when Larry asked me to demo the new AdWords Grader with him, I was rather skeptical about the outcome, but it was hard to say no to a sneak peek.
The New AdWords Grader Plus Gives You Perspective
When you work on your own AdWords account day after day, it can be incredibly hard to know whether your campaign is actually doing well or if it could be doing better. The biggest benefit of the AdWords Grader is that it allows you as an Advertiser to compare metrics with others in your industry and budget range.
You don’t just get performance metrics for different areas; you also get specific recommendations for how you are doing by comparing your metrics with peers in the same industry:
The Wasted Spend column shows you how many negative keywords you have added in the last 90 days.
Added Perspective: You can see an average of how many negative keywords other advertisers in your budget range and industry have added in the last 90 days.
This gives you a great idea of whether you’re truly doing as well as you could in terms of adding enough negative keywords.
You will receive a weighted Quality Score based on your different keywords impressions. This is a great technique to truly calculate the impact of your Quality Scores.
It doesn’t matter about all your 10/10 Scores if these keywords receive 0 impressions. Knowing your weighted Quality Score is essential for knowing how your Quality Scores impact your bottom line.
As a bonus, the AdWords Grader includes specific dollar amounts you can save by improving your Quality Score.
Especially with small businesses, I see a lot of challenges with impression shares. Too small budgets, too high bidding, no ad scheduling, or just low Quality Scores all contribute to a lot of wasted budget.
The impression share column quickly shows you how many of the possible impressions you are actually receiving.
This is a bit different from the other metrics. Larry explained that they have seen correlation between the level activity an AdWords account has and its performance.
I agree to a certain extent. Although it depends a lot on what industry you’re in. For example, if you are a welding company working on big industrial projects, there comes a point where you can’t find more negative keywords, write more ads or perform many changes in your account. However, for many advertisers this is a great metric to use.
The great part again is that you can see how your results hold up against your competitors.
CTR and Quality Score
These two metrics are both put into a curve where you can easily see how you’re trending compared to your competitors. Next to CTR, the question I hear most often is about what constitutes a good Quality Score.
WordStream shows a nice visual of how your Quality Score is distributed across your keywords:
A nice addition to the performance metrics is the section about Mobile Advertising. Many advertisers are spending a lot of money on mobile ads with Google without doing much to optimize this specific section of their AdWords.
This is especially the case after Enhanced Campaigns, where mobile was integrated into our desktop campaigns.
In the AdWords Grader, you will be able to know exactly how much money you have spent on AdWords in the last 12 months. What is more important though, is that you will be told whether you’re doing anything specific about optimizing this spend:
In this case, the advertiser is able to see the exact areas where they are lacking:
- No specific ads for mobile
- No mobile Ad Sitelinks
- No mobile call extension
If you compare these with the money spent on mobile, I think every advertiser will jump at the chance to create a couple of mobile ads.
PPC Best Practices
The last section is a round-up of the basic best practices for AdWords campaigns. In general, the list is good for anyone who manages AdWords campaigns. I particular like the inclusion of the best practice “Use of Modified Broad Match”, which I also believe to be a mandatory part of any AdWords campaign structure these days, as I mentioned in a blog post on our own website.
The Performance Tracker Allows You To Follow Your Progress
A key addition to the new grader is the ability to track your progress over time. The Performance Tracker logs your AdWords Grade and presents the results in an easily digestible format.
In the known AdWords style you are able to compare a grade from a certain date to your current grade. You can therefore easily see the impact your optimizations have on key metrics such as:
- Conversion Rate
- Click-through Rate
- Weighted Quality Score
- Account Activity
- Impression Share
How Can Larry and WordStream Improve The AdWords Grader?
Overall, I’m very positive about the new AdWords Grader. It adds another layer of knowledge to AdWords managers and will especially be helpful to in-house advertisers or business owners.
However, I would like to see the two following additions:
How Many Advertisers Are You Comparing Me With?
If you’re in a small niche and your budget is abnormally high or low, you will potentially be compared with just a few other advertisers. The recommendations from the AdWords Grader will in such a case be skewed towards how a single other advertiser is doing.
I would therefore like to know how many other advertisers my account performance is being compared to, so I can have a solid benchmark for my account performance.
How Tightly Themed Are My Ad Groups?
A key aspect of improving your CTR, Quality Score and Conversion Rate is to build tightly themed ad groups. By building tightly themed ad groups you ensure that you write specific ads to each keyword “type” and can maximize the metrics mentioned above.
Adding this aspect to the grader would give it another dimension in terms of actionable ad groups you need to split up, and thereby give AdWords managers a quick way to optimize their campaigns.
Do You Recommend Using the AdWords Grader?
One of the key uses of the AdWords Grader is in-house advertising. Getting the kind of external data on your AdWords performance that the AdWords Grader gives you can often cost you several thousands of dollars.
For that specific use, I would highly recommend the AdWords Grader. I think it is a nice addition to an AdWords manager’s toolkit. Personally, I would have loved to use this tool when I started out with AdWords.
You can use the AdWords Grader for free at http://www.wordstream.com/google-adwords
I would love to hear your experience with the AdWords Grader, so if you are thinking about trying it or already tried it, please leave a comment below with your thoughts.
Image 1: Screenshot taken 01/08/14 from http://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2014/01/07/ppc-audit
Image 2: Screenshot taken 01/08/14 from http://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2014/01/07/ppc-audit
Image 3: Screenshot taken 01/08/14 from http://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2014/01/07/ppc-audit