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How to Spend Less & Earn More Money with Google AdWords

Auditing your AdWords strategy may seem overwhelming, but there are really three basic things to keep in mind for success. Learn more here.

How to Spend Less & Earn More Money with Google AdWords

If you are operating and managing your own Google AdWords it can be difficult to know exactly where to begin. For many small businesses that do marketing in-house, you can typically start by having a consultation with the Google AdWords team once you get your account set up. Unfortunately, the problem is there is often a lot that you can be doing for your AdWords (which involves spending less and earning more) that Google may not tell you because this gets into more advanced practices.

This article isn’t intended to knock the professionals on the Google team by any means, I myself have found them to be very helpful in the past; however, I do want to give you some independent fixes that could help you earn better results without increasing your bids all the time. Strategy is key with Google AdWords, and when you get over the learning curve of managing yourself, there is a lot you can improve for your individual business.


Tips to Auditing Your AdWords for Success

AdWords almost always works when you know how to effectively monitor your campaigns , keeping in mind that you also need to have solid business development and branding in place before you can be successful. The goal with AdWords is profit, so increasing your conversions and sales on your website. To be successful, your strategy needs to be tailored to your individual business, but there are some tweaks anyone can make to have a successful go at it!

Here are some tips on auditing your AdWords, so that you can spend less and get more conversions with your advertisements.

Data Analysis is Key for Determining Spending

This sounds like a pretty basic point, but I want to start general here and then get more specific in subsequent sections. Let me be clear; data-driven decisions are the best choices when you are determining how to spend on AdWords.

If you can look at your analytics and determine what is acting as a successful keyword and driving traffic to your site, then that is a smart budget adjustment. The problem is that general budget increases to get your ad on page-one of a search won’t necessarily do anything if people were not hoping to find your company/industry in the first place. Look at data for what is performing well, and don’t put as much money (or attention) into what is not.


A Quick Word About Profit and Advertisement Costs:

If you know you are making a profit while spending money on your ads; then you DO want to increase the amount you are funneling into it—this is just best practice in advertising (the whole spend money to make money theory). If you are getting a good ROI on your AdWords campaigns, keep it yet. One of my favorite quotes about advertising came from Henry Ford:

A man who stops advertising to save money is like a man who stops a clock to save time.

The issue arises when you are funneling a bunch of money into AdWords and are not seeing results. Also, remember that it may not just be AdWords you need to look at. If you feel like you audit, look at analytics, and keep a close eye on your campaigns and you still aren’t seeing the results you should be, it may have to do with your website, brand image, reviews or other relevant business issues. AdWords works when all of those things are in place.

Bottom line: Look at your data and analytics regularly and often. You may have a learning curve at first, but in the end, you will be able to make the kind of corrections that save money and see a far better ROI once you get the hang of it!

Incorrect Audience Targeting

One of the errors that can lead to excessive spending without seeing the kind of conversions you want is targeting your brand’s audience incorrectly.

You could be:

  • Targeting the wrong location
  • Bidding at the wrong time of day or days of the week
  • Targeting the wrong kind of devices
  • Advertising on the wrong networks

Look into demographics about your audience (for example, where you sell your products) and data on what days/times or device perform best to make these kinds of adjustments.

Errors in Keyword Targeting

There are a lot of mistakes made (and solutions for them) with keyword targeting. In fact, poor keyword targeting is one of the most significant problems for high-paying and underperforming AdWords accounts. The biggest mistakes often fall in one of two categories: (1) targeting over-inclusive keywords or (2) targeting non-converting keywords. I’m going to break-down some solutions for each category:


Error #1: Targeting Over-Inclusive Keywords

Unfortunately, Google AdWords is not one of the places where casting your net wide is a good thing. You do want to have enough keywords and keyword combinations to make sure you rank in relevant searches, but using “overly-broad” keywords is not likely to get you anywhere. In fact, it is likely just to get you a lot of junk.

For example, I was helping a small business with their AdWords recently. As a Chicago-based photography and video, they had “Chicago” and “Video” as keyword options. They wound up getting a lot of traffic for people just looking for videos of Chicago—not traffic looking for a videographer in Chicago. In a PPC campaign this is no good. I had to go into their AdWords and do two different things to troubleshoot this junk traffic (and PPC over-spending):

  1. Add negative keywords to their campaign. If you do some research it is pretty easy to find negative keywords you should be using in your specific industry. Google AdWords support can also give you a list of recommendations. This will help you to decide what keywords you don’t want to target and therefore reduce PPC losses on words that are not driving traffic.
  2. Analyze their search terms report closely (shown below). If you analyze your search terms report you can learn a lot of valuable information to make adjustments. For example, you can find out what search queries ultimately lead people to your page (through them clicking on the ad). It will also allow you to figure out which are performing poorly and will need to be added to your negative keyword list.


Doing both of these things can really help you to eliminate over-inclusive keywords and make sure the clicks you are getting are the most accurate possible, which will in-turn save you money and boost conversions.

Error #2: Non-Converting Keywords

The second largest problem is using keywords that are non-converting. What this means is that you need to look at what keywords are performing well and which are not and make a decision about which to add to your negative keyword list. By looking at performance data (i.e., conversions), you can figure out which keywords are more relevant and valuable to your advertisement.

Here are some steps you can take to figure out what keywords are not working well and build your own analysis:

Step 1: Export a keyword report.

Step 2: Add the data into a spreadsheet & create a pivot table to determine which keywords are not performing well and what might be able to cut costs.


Step 3: Cut costs by “pausing” non-converting keywords.

The Takeaway

There are many things you can do to audit your AdWords, and the steps I’ve mentioned in this post are just a starting point. As I mentioned, data analysis is key here—you want to make sure you are checking your AdWords performance regularly and doing what you can to make adjustments so that you stay within your budget! Learn more about how to perform an Adwords audit here.

Do you know of any additional AdWords audit tricks? Share in the comments section below!


Image Credits

Featured Image: gustavofrazao/
Screenshot by Amanda DiSilvestro. Taken September 2016.

CategoryPaid Search

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Amanda DiSilvestro

Online Content Editor/Writer at HigherVisibility

Amanda DiSilvestro writes digital content that helps businesses grow their website traffice and establish thought leadership. She writes for HigherVisibility, ... [Read full bio]

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