At the risk of abusing the relationship adage, ‘it’s not you, it’s me,’ I’ll say that 99.9 percent of the time businesses struggle with Google Adwords because they either get lost in the woods trying to master Adwords’ extensive roster of advanced features, or they “set and forget” and expect the conversions to come rolling in.
You don’t need to be an Adwords “guru/ninja/insert trite marketing slang here” to develop an effective Adwords campaign. What you do need is a strategy to build your optimization from “the fundamentals up.” To get started, take a look at some common offenders in accounts that struggle to gain positive momentum.
1 – Your Quality Score reflects a poor ad experience — not just a number to chase
Google pretty much spells it out by saying, “Quality Score is more of a helpful diagnostic tool than a key performance indicator.”
Quality Score (QS) should help you determine how you can improve the components of what Google looks at in determining both QS and ad rank. Obviously, every Pay-Per-Click advertiser wants to see better Cost Per Click (CPC) and improved ad positions, but obsessing over the number instead of the reasons why it’s low (i.e. your ad and landing-page copy aren’t relevant to the search query) isn’t the approach that will get you there.
By looking closer at how Google factors ad relevance to query, expected Click Through Rate (CTR) and landing-page experience into Quality Score, you can use this as an “optimization compass” to benchmark changes and deliver a good ad experience for the user (which, incidentally, is exactly what will also help you improve QS).
2 – You’re not focusing enough on the landing-page experience
Understand that Google wants to reward advertisers for rewarding users with a superior ad experience — and the landing page is a significant part of that.
Based on Google’s best practices for improving your landing page experience and my experience building more than a few landing pages myself, here’s where I’d focus:
- Reduce page speed/page weight of your mobile landing page. Focus on lean, usable, easy to navigate landing pages on desktop and mobile devices that make it painfully simple to identify the value of your products/services and make a purchasing decision. Less is more.
- Make sure the landing page is relevant to your ad copy and to the keywords you’re bidding on — be specific. I prefer to keep a central “repository” of talking points in an optimization spreadsheet that I repurpose for both ad text and landing page copy. That way, I’m working from the same point of relevancy and can more easily draw a line between search intent -> ad copy -> landing page.
- Place your phone number in an obvious area above the fold (preferably in the header) to ensure you take advantage of Google automate call extensions and provide an easier point of conversion (especially on mobile).
- Use clear calls to action and customer testimonials as “trust anchors” to support the conversion.
- Don’t use the same generic landing page for all ad groups. Create and test different variations to optimize headlines, benefits and other elements to be more relevant to the search intent behind each group of keywords.
3 – You’re ignoring duplicate and negative keywords
Unfortunately, there are no bonus points or extra lives given for bidding on the same term twice. In fact, quite the opposite, as Google will not show more than one ad at a time from an advertiser. If you have two ads fighting over the same keywords, you’re only hurting yourself.
Fortunately, you have tools > find duplicate keywords in Adwords to help you deal with those pesky doppelgangers.
Adding negative keywords to your Adwords campaign helps you trim the fat by excluding certain terms or phrases and preventing your ads from showing on irrelevant searches*. Naturally, this will help you bid on more relevant keywords that matter both to your business and your customers, but it will also potentially prevent paying for clicks that don’t deliver on campaign goals.
Examples I see often are search queries that include terms like “login,” or “customer service number,” which are likely existing customers looking for account management information and not prospects looking for our products/services.
*When adding negative keywords to your Adwords campaign, be mindful of your match types and close variants, as simply adding a negative won’t guarantee that you’ll eliminate the possibility your ad will show on a search.
What’s the First Step?
By no means is this a comprehensive checklist of everything you should be doing to optimize your Adwords campaigns performance, but it’s a good place to set your feet and start rebuilding a solid PPC foundation.
Focus on the fundamentals and make incremental adjustments, and you’ll see improvement over time.