10 Adwords tips for immediate performance improvements

In my line of work, I have been reviewing dozens and dozens of Google Adwords accounts from other agencies, as well as from business owners and entrepreneurs. I strongly encourage everyone to advertise on Google, because it does work (Reef wouldn’t exist if it didn’t!). But when I review accounts built by individuals who are not experts in this field, I am always surprised to find the same mistakes being made over and over again, which ultimately costs money to businesses who often need it the most. If you have tried Adwords and it hasn’t yielded any results, then you probably have not used it properly.

So here is a list of 10 common mistakes to avoid based on my observations, which I hope will help some of you out there.

  1. Broad match type
    If you have advertised on Google, then you are familiar with the 4 different match types.
    Using broad match is dangerous, seriously. Familiarise yourself with the key differences between Exact, Phrase, Modified Broad and Broad, and start using the first three.
  2. Search query review and negative keywords
    Search queries (or search terms) are different to keywords as they are an exact reflection of what people have typed in on Google before clicking on your ads. Reviewing the search queries on a regular basis is crucial, as it allows you to understand how relevant their searches are, and therefore how qualified the clicks (and potential buyers/prospects are).
    If you identify relevant keywords, add them as new positive keywords. If you identify irrelevant keywords, add them as negative keywords! Note that match types also apply to negative keywords, so familiarise yourself with those.
  3. Geo-targeting
    I once reviewed an account that had spent in the last year over $150,000 (half their budget) outside of NSW, where they don’t offer their services. Identifying that issue and fixing it only took a couple minutes and may have saved this client hundreds of thousands of dollars (if not millions) over the years.
    Ensure you target the right geographic locations!
  4. Conversion-tracking
    The single-most important aspect of setting up an account is conversion tracking. With digital advertising and especially Adwords, you have an amazing opportunity to track results to the tiniest detail.
    This will not only provide you with visibility on your campaigns’ return on advertising spend (ROAS), but will also give you great insights on what works and doesn’t work in your account and therefore what to optimise.
    Start tracking everything from online enquiries, to purchases, to calls (yes, that’s right) today.
  5. Landing page relevancy
    Someone looking for men’s leather shoes should not land on your homepage, but on the Men’s Leather Shoes product category page. Landing someone on the most appropriate page will improve the user experience (and therefore improve your onsite conversion rate), but it will also increase the relevancy – as seen by Google – between the landing page and the keywords generating the clicks. This relevancy factor is hugely important as it will influence your Quality Scores and ultimately how much you pay per click.
  6. Search partners
    Search partners are hundreds of other websites and search engines whose search algorithm (or at the very least the search ads) are powered by Google. This includes websites like ask.com and yahoo.com.au.
    Whilst some of these websites may deliver results, the large majority of them don’t. It is therefore important to review performance by network (using segments) and make a decision on whether or not to disable search partners in the campaign settings.
  7. Display network
    If you’ve created a campaign with keywords and ads aimed at advertising on Google, then please disable the display network. You see, Search and Display networks are very different, and as such should be treated very differently.
    Separating your search and display activity in different campaigns is highly recommended (it will help with performance analysis and optimisation). But even so, I would not recommend going on display unless you are familiar with the intricacies of it. Your ads may end up in places you don’t want them to appear on.
  8. No ad extensions
    Ad extensions allow you to enhance your ads so that more information can be displayed.
    This provides certain details to the user which will help him make a more educated decision and/or simplify the experience. You may be surprised at how your click-through rate and conversion rate may increase.
    Learn about the different extensions and how to use them here.
  9. Too many keywords per adgroup
    Again, the key to a successful Adwords account is relevancy. If you are a small clothing shop, do not have keywords like ‘shoes’, ‘belts’, ‘ladies wool scarves’ in the same adgroup.
    The only purpose of adgroups are to classify keywords so that a very specific/highly targeted set of ads show for them.
    Ensure your structure reflects your products and services and that different ads are used across each adgroup. Go one step further and use a different destination URL (landing page) for each product adgroup to maximise relevancy.
    This will go a long way in improving your Quality Scores, Click-through Rate and Conversion Rate.
  10. Too generic keywords
    You are a Mercedes dealership, don’t bid on ‘cars’ or ‘auto’, but on keywords like ‘luxury car dealership’.
    Your business or store has a physical location, specify that location.
    You specialise in a subset or niche category, make sure your keywords reflect that.
    The broader you are, the less likely your ad will show for search terms that are highly relevant to you, again impacting your key performance metrics.

Note the above tips are also valid for Bing Ads!

If you have other beginners’ tips on what to look out for in an Adwords account, feel free to discuss in the comment section below.

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