Optimizing Performance

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Advertising on Google: The High Performance Cookbook

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Over 120 practical recipes to set up, optimize, and manage profitable AdWords campaigns with this book and ebook

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by Kristina Cutura | July 2013 | Cookbooks Enterprise Articles

This article by Kristina Cutura, author of Advertising on Google: The High Performance Cookbook, will provide tips on improving relevance, Quality Scores, and ROI. The most successful advertisers continuously refine and optimize their campaigns to keep them profitable. Your initial keywords and ads will need to be regularly updated, paused, and refined to stay on top of the latest trends in your market. Also, you'll need to adjust bids and other settings to keep on target with your goals such as a specific ad position or CPA.

(For more resources related to this topic, see here.)

Improving relevance and Quality Score

AdWords rewards advertisers who choose relevant keywords and write compelling ads with good Quality Scores. The better your Quality Scores, the less you'll need to pay for each click, resulting in more profits for you. This ecosystem evolved to benefit users, Google, and advertisers. If the ads on Google were irrelevant and of poor quality, users would get frustrated and not click on them, and Google would lose revenue. From an advertiser's perspective, when users click on irrelevant ads, they tend to leave your website, costing you money and not contributing to your bottom line. AdWords was designed to encourage high-quality ads, and as an advertiser you'll reap many benefits from optimizing them to improve relevance.

Getting ready

First, check your Quality Scores to identify low quality keywords to focus on.

  1. Go to the Campaigns tab.
  2. Click on the Keywords tab.
  3. Go to Columns and choose Customize columns.
  4. From the Attributes section, choose Qual. score.

  5. Click on Apply and you will see an extra column with your Quality Scores.
  6. In your Keywords tab, sort the Qual. score column to review low Quality Score keywords. Generally, Quality Score 1 to 3 is considered low, 4 to 6 is average with room for improvement, 7 to 9 is good, and 10 is considered great.
  7. Another way you can identify low-quality keywords is with filters. Create a keyword filter to see all keywords that are below a certain Quality Score. Download this report to have an easy to refer to summary of all keywords you'll need to focus on.

How to do it...

To improve your Quality Scores, follow these 10 tips:

  1. Start with low Quality Score keywords that get the most impressions. This is where you'll have the biggest impact.
  2. Re-organize your keywords into more tightly themed ad groups. If a keyword has a low Quality Score, try moving it to its own ad group with more specific ad text and its own negative keywords.
  3. Your broad match keywords may be getting expanded to irrelevant variations. Try changing them to a more specific match type.
  4. Add negative keywords to eliminate irrelevant impressions and increase your CTR. For example, add free as a negative keyword to eliminate someone looking for free products and services online. Run a search terms report to see what queries are triggering clicks and get new negative keyword ideas.
  5. Some of your low quality keywords may not be relevant to your website. If a keyword has a very low Quality Score and rarely shows, it could be negatively impacting the rest of your account. Consider deleting it.
  6. Write new ads for your low Quality Score keywords, placing each keyword in your ad text, ideally in your headline.
  7. Test multiple ad versions to see which one resonates better with your customers. Experiment with different calls-to-action, promotions, and ways to describe the unique benefits of your products and services.
  8. Pause the lower performing ads in each ad group, if you are testing multiple variations to ensure that ads getting a better CTR show more often.
  9. Try implementing dynamic keyword insertion to have AdWords automatically insert your keywords into the ad titles or description lines.
  10. Choose more specific landing pages. Your landing page should be relevant to your keywords and contain your keywords on the page. If it does not, consider creating new landing pages for your most important keywords.

How it works...

Quality Score is a measure of relevance and is calculated by taking into account the following factors:

  • Your keyword's CTR: Your CTR is like an online voting system; people in the search auction vote on how relevant your ads are with their clicks.
  • Your display URL's CTR: Your display URL's past CTR affects your Quality Scores.
  • How relevant your keywords are: Some keywords you choose will be more relevant to your business than others. If you sell snowboards, but would like to run on a keyword like "snow," a generic term that's not as relevant to your business, you will receive a much lower Quality Score. Pick specific keywords that clearly describe your products and stay away from general keywords that could apply to many different businesses.
  • The relevance of your ads to your keywords: Your ads need to include your keywords in the ad text. If you have too many keywords for them all to be reflected in your ad copy, create additional, smaller ad groups. When a searched keywords is included in an ad text, that term is highlighted by Google in your ad, helping it stand out even more on the Google search results page.
  • Landing page quality: The keywords you choose should be included in your ad text and further mirrored on your landing page. In addition to your landing page being relevant to your keywords, it also needs to be transparent and easy to navigate.
  • Historical account performance: Advertisers who continue to choose poor quality keywords will receive low Quality Scores when adding new keywords. This system helps Google discourage advertisers who continue to choose irrelevant keywords and encourage advertisers who create relevant, quality keywords and ads.
  • Performance in the regions you are targeting: The regions you target via your campaign settings page will affect your Quality Scores.
  • Performance on the devices you are targeting: You may get different Quality Scores on mobile and tablet devices, if your keywords perform differently depending on device.

Quality Score is dynamic and is calculated every time a search triggers your ad. In order to achieve better Quality Scores, you'll need to focus on tying together all of the various elements that comprise Quality Score. Increasing relevance helps you achieve a better ad rank and pay less for each click. The Quality Score algorithm is designed to reward relevancy and encourage advertisers to create high-quality accounts, which will in turn help you achieve better ROI with AdWords.

There's more…

The more general your keywords are, the more difficult it will be to obtain a high Quality Score for them, even after following all of the recommended AdWords best practices. In such cases, you'll need to weigh if the lower Quality Score is worth the traffic and conversions you get from these keywords. Keep in mind that if you continue to choose low-quality keywords, this will hurt your overall account performance.

Improving ad rank

Your ad position is going to heavily impact visibility and traffic, with the top-ranked ads receiving the most clicks. Obviously, the more competitive your keywords are, the more costly it will be to have your ads show in the #1 spot. However, there are specific shortand long-term strategies that will help you obtain the best possible ad rank.

Getting ready

First, isolate the keywords that are not ranked optimally:

  • Identify keywords that are not showing on the first page of Google's search results
  • If you have a specific ad position in mind, use filters in your Keywords tab to see which keywords are not meeting this criteria

Quickly diagnose your keywords to figure out if they are showing or are restricted by Quality Scores and bids. On your Keywords tab, click on Keyword details and select Diagnose keywords.

How to do it...

To improve your ad rank, you can:

  1. Increase your bid
  2. Improve your Quality Score

Increasing your bids is the easy fix short-term solution. However, continuing to increase how much you spend on each click when your ad rank slips is not going to be profitable in the long run.

The long-term strategy to improving ad position is to raise your Quality Scores. To improve Quality Score, start with the following:

  1. Refine your campaign structure, breaking out related keywords into their own ad groups, which will help you write more relevant ads.
  2. Refine ads with more compelling ad copy, using keywords in ad text.
  3. Pause lower CTR ads if you are running multiple ad variations.
  4. Add negative keywords to weed out impressions that are not relevant and are weighing down your CTR.

How it works...

Your ad rank determines your ad position, or where your ads show in relation to other advertisers. The ad rank formula consists of your Quality Score and your bid:

Ad Rank = Quality Score x Max CPC

Ad rank is calculated each time your ad enters the ad auction. This means that for each new query your ads could appear in a different position.

There's more…

The higher your Quality Score, the less you'll need to bid to maintain your ad rank. This strategy helps AdWords ensure high quality ads on Google.com and encourages advertisers to optimize their accounts.

Changing keyword match types

Keyword match types control who sees your ads and how the keywords you have chosen are expanded to match other relevant queries. Using too many of your keywords in the most restrictive match types can limit your traffic, while using too many broad keywords can generate some or a lot of irrelevant clicks.

Getting ready

Determine which keywords you might want to change match types for. Here are a couple of common edits advertisers make:

  • Broad match keywords with low Quality Scores and no conversions. Change to phrase or exact match to restrict variations.
  • Exact match keywords with no impressions. Change to more general match type to broaden reach.

How to do it...

To change a single keyword's match type:

  1. Go to the Campaigns tab.
  2. Click on the Keywords tab or click on a specific campaign and ad group first.
  3. In your keyword table, click on the keyword you'd like to edit. Before you can proceed, you might need to agree to the system warning by clicking on Yes, I understand. The system warns you that if you edit a keyword, it will be deleted and treated as a new keyword in AdWords. You can check the Don't show this message again checkbox so you don't have to see this warning each time you edit a keyword.

  4. Next, you'll be able to choose a different match type from the drop-down menu. In this screenshot, we are choosing to change a broad keyword to a more specific match type.
  5. Click on Save.

To change match types for multiple keywords:

  1. From your Keywords tab, check all of the keywords you'd like to edit.
  2. From the Edit drop-down menu, choose Change match type.
  3. Choose what you'd like to change your match type from and to.
  4. Since changing a match type deletes the old keyword and creates a new one, you have the option to create duplicate versions of the keywords you have selected and add them in the new match types. To use that option, check Duplicate keywords and change match type in duplicates.
  5. You can preview your changes before they go live by clicking on Preview changes.
  6. Click on Make changes.

How it works...

Changing a keyword's match type deletes the old keyword and creates a brand new keyword in your account. It also resets a keyword's history to 0, but performance data will still be available for all deleted keywords.

Scheduling ads to run during key days and times

Many advertisers choose to run AdWords campaigns only during hours when they have customer support available. If you have a limited budget, you might want to focus your ad budgets on days and times your customers are most likely to be looking for you.

Getting ready

Determine if ad scheduling is necessary and appropriate for your business. Advertisers that may benefit from this include businesses that operate primarily during specific hours. For example, a website with customer support available to take calls during business hours only, or a pizza delivery service that only delivers evenings.

Review performance by day and hour of day, keeping in mind that you will see fewer clicks and impressions during less busy times, so you have focus on conversion rates and CPA instead. Some advertisers get great conversion rates during off peak hours, late at night and in the early mornings, when fewer advertisers are competing in the ad auction.

Keep in mind how your customers interact with you. If you rely on calls and only have customer support during specific hours, make sure your ads are focused on when you have the proper support available.

How to do it...

To enable ad scheduling:

  1. Go to the Campaigns tab.
  2. Click on the specific campaign you'd like to edit.
  3. Go to the Settings tab.
  4. Select Ad schedule.

  5. Click on Edit ad schedule.
  6. Click on + Create custom schedule.
  7. From the drop-down menu, choose to create a schedule for all days, Monday through Friday, or specific days of the week, and then set your hours.
  8. Click on +Add to add additional parameters.

  9. Click on Save.

How it works...

Ad scheduling helps you control when your ads appear to potential customers. Ad scheduling is set at the campaign level, which means that it applies to all keywords and ads within a single campaign. By default, AdWords campaigns are set to run all days of the week and all hours of the day.

There's more…

When you set up ad scheduling, keep in mind your account's time zone. You can find out your time zone by going to My Account | Preferences. AdWords will also reference your time zone as you create a custom schedule for each campaign. You cannot change your time zone.

Expanding your keyword list

Expanding your keywords will be one of your main strategies to increase clicks as well as conversions. Just as markets evolve and search patterns change, your keywords also need to be updated in order not to become stagnant. Here we will discuss several tools you can use to build up and refresh your keyword list.

Getting ready

Review your website and compare your list of products and services to your AdWords account. Are your current keywords covering all of the categories you specialize in? Are there other ways to describe some of your key offerings? Who are your main competitors and are they doing PPC?

How to do it...

To expand your keyword list, try one of the following strategies.

Automated keyword suggestions

To see automated keyword ideas relevant to your website, follow these steps:

  1. Click on the Campaigns tab.
  2. Go into a specific campaign and ad group.
  3. Clock on + Add keywords above your ad group's current keyword summary.
  4. AdWords will suggest new sample keywords based on a scan of your website grouped into related categories.
  5. Click to expand each category and review the suggested keywords. If you like a keyword, click on Add to move it to the Add keywords box. Do not simply add all of the automated suggestions, as not all of them will be specific enough. You as a business owner know your audience best and should pick and choose only the keywords that are the most relevant. Make sure that you are not adding keywords that may be already present in your other campaigns or ad groups.

  6. Click on Save after adding all of the relevant keywords.

Search terms report

Review your search terms report regularly and add any relevant keywords that resulted in clicks and conversions. Click on Add as keyword recipe after viewing your search terms to add them to your account.

Competitor keywords

Use websites such as spyfu.com to see what keywords your competitors' ads are appearing on and to download their keyword lists. Enter a competitor's URL into the search box to uncover profitable keywords you missed.

You can download a competitor's full keyword list, sort, and filter it, or export it to an AdWords-friendly format. The tool can even organize a domain's keywords into targeted ad groups so you have less manual work to do.

Google's keyword tool

In addition to entering your own domain into Google's keyword tool, try typing in a competitor's website and see what keywords are being recommended.

How it works...

Adding new relevant keywords to your AdWords account will help drive more impressions and clicks. With new and unique keywords, you can capitalize on previously untapped opportunities to drive new leads and sales.

Advertising on Google: The High Performance Cookbook Over 120 practical recipes to set up, optimize, and manage profitable AdWords campaigns with this book and ebook
Published: June 2013
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Analyzing ad copy performance and picking top performers

A big advantage of AdWords over traditional media is that you can easily set up and run multiple ad versions in just minutes. Even better, you'll get fast responses via real-time votes or clicks from your actual customers on what speaks to them so you can fine tune your message to reach even more qualified visitors.

Getting ready

In order to compare ads against one another, you'll need to set up multiple ads within an ad group. Create no more than 2 to 3 ads per ad group while you are testing. Let your ads accumulate some impressions and clicks before you make decisions about the effectiveness of each ad.

How long you'll need to wait before analyzing your tests will vary greatly based on how many impressions and clicks you receive, which will partly depend on your budgets. The general rule of thumb is to have at least 1000 impressions per ad copy before analyzing performance.

Set your campaign's ad rotation to rotate evenly to get an even split in impressions to each ad.

How to do it...

To analyze multiple ads within an ad group:

  1. Go to the Campaigns tab.
  2. Click on the campaign you're looking to analyze and choose an ad group.
  3. Click on the Ads tab.
  4. If the ads you are analyzing are low in impressions and clicks, allow for more time, until you have ~1000 impressions per ad version.
  5. Review multiple metrics, rather than basing your decision on just one metric, such as only CTR or just conversion rates. The following table shows an example of two ads being tested within an ad group:

    Ad

    Clicks

    Impress-

    ions

    CTR

    Avg

    CPC

    Cost

    Avg

    pos

    Conversions

    Cost/

    Cov

    Cov.

    rate

    1

    6,804

    38,889

    17.50%

    $0.39

    $2,638

    1

    567

    $4.65

    8.33%

    2

    5,588

    34,095

    16.39%

    $0.54

    $3,030

    1

    466

    $6.50

    8.34%

  6. In the preceding example, Ad 1 is the winner. It has a higher CTR, lower average CPC, and even though it's converting at about the same rate as Ad 1 it costs less to convert a visitor through Ad 1.
  7. In some instances, you'll see clear winners, such as ads that are clearly getting a better CTR and are converting at better rates. However, the ad with the best CTR will not always have a better conversion rate, and you'll need to review other metrics to determine your next steps.
  8. If an ad is getting a high CTR but no conversions, it might not pre-qualify visitors enough and it might in fact be too appealing. Pausing it might lower your CTR, but if another ad is converting better and your goal is to have more conversions, pausing the high CTR ad without conversions might be a cost effective decision.
  9. Once you determine a winner and a loser, pause the lower performing ad.
  10. Some tests will have a major positive impact and others will fall flat. Continue to add new ad text variations to keep your message fresh and learn about what your customers will find compelling.

How it works...

Pausing low-performing ads helps you get more impressions and clicks on ads that work better. Even if you turn on Optimize for clicks or Optimize for conversions ad rotation settings, your low performers will continue to show occasionally. Figuring out which ads are meeting your goals and pausing the ones that don't ensures that the ads that work are shown to more users.

Adjusting budgets to maximize traffic and conversions

Most advertisers, except for large companies with unlimited funds, have specific budgets for AdWords that will need to be managed and redistributed among the different campaigns. This section discusses the key considerations and data to review as you decide where to focus your funds.

Getting ready

Keep in mind your overall ad budgets. Also, review your current performance and outline your goals. Are your conversion rates and cost per conversion acceptable and you'd like to get more such traffic? Or, are your current CPAs a bit outside your comfort zone and you need to improve on that?

How to do it...

  1. First, determine which campaigns are limited by budgets.
  2. In your main Campaigns tabs, some campaigns may show a Limited by budget message, indicating that they could earn more impressions and clicks if you raised your daily budget. Sort your campaigns by the Status column to see which campaigns are limited by budget.
  3. You can also review competitive metrics Search Lost IS (budget) and Display Lost IS (budget) to find out which campaigns are losing impression share due to low budgets. Customize your column views to see those metrics and sort the data to highlight campaigns where ads are not capturing all possible impressions. The higher the percent, the more impression share you are losing due to insufficient funds.
  4. Next, analyze conversion rates and cost/conversion for each campaign that's limited by budget.
  5. If a campaign is within your target CPA and is losing impression share, move some funds over from a less profitable campaign.
  6. If a campaign is outside your target CPA and it's limited by budget, it might not make sense to raise its budget, since this would further increase your overall CPA.

Here is an example of how you might want to redistribute a budget of $100/day based on performance with a CPA goal of $10:

 

Current budget

Limited by budget

CPA

Recommended budget action

Campaign #1

$30

Yes

$10

Increase budget

Campaign #2

$30

No

$9

Leave budget as is

Campaign #3

$30

Yes

$15

Decrease budget, move funds

to Campaign #1

How it works...

With AdWords, you have the flexibility to adjust budgets across your different campaigns at any time and as often as you would like. Performance varies and shifts all the time, which is why budgets should be monitored and adjusted regularly to maximize returns.

There's more…

You can change your budgets in bulk if you have a large number of campaigns that will need to be adjusted. After selecting your campaigns, click on the Edit button and choose Change budget.

Then, choose to set your budgets to a specific amount, or increase or decrease budgets across selected campaigns by a specific percent. You can set an upper or lower budget limit to make sure your budget changes are not going above or below what you are comfortable with.

Tips to increase traffic

If you're getting great results from AdWords, chances are you would like more traffic. Be cautious as you expand and implement the proposed strategies, focusing on a select few at a time to keep your ROI steady.

Getting ready

Review your current campaigns and figure out which ones are meeting your ROI goals. You'll want to start your optimization efforts there.

Catalog your current strategies and campaigns:

  • Are your campaigns targeting all of the relevant locations?
  • Are you advertising all of your current products and services?
  • Have you tried running ads on Google's Display network?

How to do it...

To increase traffic, try the following strategies:

  1. Increase your budgets on campaigns that are restricted by budgets and not showing ads as often as possible. Check lost impression share and move more funds to campaigns that have high Lost IS (budget) percentages. Lost IS (budget) metrics show you how often your campaign's ad did not show due to a limited budget.

  2. Raise bids on ad groups that are losing impressions share (Lost IS (rank) metrics) due to low ad rank. Focus on ad groups that are generating conversions within your CPA goal.

  3. Change your campaign's ad delivery from Standard to Accelerated, so ads are displayed as soon as possible.

  4. Expand your keywords with additional relevant terms. Create new ad groups for the new keywords to stay organized and keep your campaigns themed and your Quality Scores high.
  5. Add new campaigns and ad groups for products and services you are not currently advertising. For example, if you sell car parts and are only advertising your Honda car parts through AdWords, add campaigns for additional brands you feature, such as Toyota or Mercedes.
  6. Test the various targeting options available through Google's Display network. If you are already running display campaigns, consider adding some of the less frequently used campaign types. For example, you can target display ads through interest categories to reach users visiting pages about specific topics.

  7. Consider expanding your locations to additional relevant geographic locations where your customers are located as well as targeting additional appropriate languages.

How it works...

Raising your bids and budgets helps you achieve a better ad rank and increases your ad delivery with your ads showing more throughout the day.

Adding new campaigns and keywords helps to increase your impressions and clicks through new terms that you were not previously bidding on.

Loosening some of your campaign settings, such as location and language targets, can help you reach additional customers not captured through your previous settings.

Running search term reports to optimize keywords

If you are using keywords in match types other than exact, your ads are showing on a number of other variations that you should be aware of. You can find out what these variations are through the search terms report and use it to add new relevant keywords or exclude the irrelevant queries.

How to do it...

To run a search terms report:

  1. Go to the Campaigns tab.
  2. Go down into a specific search campaign or ad group. You can also run a search terms report for keywords across all campaigns, but it might be overwhelming and difficult to focus. It is recommended that you start with specific campaigns instead.
  3. Go to the Keywords tab.
  4. This recently changed in AdWords. This sentence should read "Click on the Details button and select All under SEARCH TERMS.

  5. Next, you'll see a list of search terms that triggered your ads as well as CTRs and other performance data.
  6. Column Added/Excluded tells you if a keyword is already a part of your keyword list (Added), if you previously excluded it (Excluded), or if it triggered your ads but you have yet to add or exclude it (None).

Once you know what search terms are triggering your ads, you have three options:

  1. If a keyword has solid performance, such as a high CTR or has generated conversions, add it to your account. You can do so easily from within the AdWords interface by selecting the high performing keyword and clicking on the Add as keyword button above the report.
  2. If a keyword is irrelevant to your business, has low CTR, or has not generated any conversions despite high costs, exclude it from your keyword list. Be careful not to use negatives that could prevent your relevant keywords from showing. Select the low performing keyword and click on the Add as negative keyword button. You will need to select whether the exclusion should apply to just the individual ad group or to an entire campaign.
  3. You can choose to download your search terms into an Excel file or other convenient format as well as schedule it as an ongoing report that can be e-mailed to you.

How it works...

The search terms report shows you the exact queries that triggered your ads and led to the clicks. It is available for searches performed on Google.com and Google's Search Partners.

Search terms reports are not real time; they have a one-day delay before you see the data. You will only see impression data if a search term generated at least one click in the last 30 days.

There's more…

If you'd like to eliminate clutter in your search terms report and only focus on keywords that you have not added or excluded already, you can create a filter after viewing your keyword details. Saving this filter will allow you to access it again the next time you log in.

 

Advertising on Google: The High Performance Cookbook Over 120 practical recipes to set up, optimize, and manage profitable AdWords campaigns with this book and ebook
Published: June 2013
eBook Price: $32.99
Book Price: $54.99
See more
Select your format and quantity:

Optimizing bids for ROI

ROI focused bid optimization is the key to keeping your conversion rates high and CPA as low as possible. Many advertisers get distracted by ad position and keep increasing their bids to stay above their competitors. That's not always the optimal strategy, when it comes to ROI. This recipe focuses on identifying which keywords to adjust bids for and how to adjust them based on conversions.

Getting ready

In order to optimize for ROI, you will need to implement conversion tracking and your keywords will need to have accumulated some data that you can work with.

Also, keep in mind your overall CPA goal. That goal will help you identify ad groups and keywords outside and within a profitable range.

How to do it...

You can optimize bids at the ad group level as well as at the keyword level. The rule of thumb is as follows:

  • Increase bids on ad groups and keywords that are converting within your target CPA, so you can get a better ad rank and more clicks.
  • Decrease bids on ad groups and keywords that are converting outside of your target CPA. This can help you lower your CPA on terms that are currently not cost effective.

For the purposes of this exercise, we'll focus on keyword bid strategy, but the same general guidelines apply to ad groups as well. The following table outlines the recommended bid adjustments for various performance scenarios with a CPA goal of $10.

Keyword

CPA

Recommended bid action

New car

$15.34

Decrease bid

Honda dealership

$12.67

Decrease bid

Honda civic

$9.35

Leave the bid as is

Honda civic best price

$5.36

Increase bid

Here are four ways you can interact with your AdWords data and use the various AdWords tools to prioritize bid optimization efforts:

  • Sort keywords by Cost/conv. (1-per-click) to see the most costly and highest CPA terms first. Decrease bids on the worst offenders. You can start with a 20 percent decrease, but if the CPA is way outside of your target, you might want to decrease bids even more.
  • Create a filter that isolates all cost effective keywords. Increase bids if the CPA is well within your target.

  • Create a filter to isolate all costly keywords with no conversions to see where you are spending money without any results. Decrease bids on these terms or pause them.

  • Monitor and adjust bids on a regular basis to ensure CPAs stay within your targets. You can even set up automated rules to increase and decrease bids regularly (such as each week or every day) based on performance.

How it works...

Increasing and decreasing your bids based on prior conversion data will help you bid more on keywords that are working for you, and less on keywords that do not convert.

There's more…

To automate the process of adjusting bids, you can test CPA bidding in AdWords to let the system adjust bids for you based on a specific CPA goal. Make sure to watch results closely after you implement conversion optimizer, as it does not work for all advertisers. If CPA bidding does not produce the desired results, you can also try enhanced bidding.

Optimizing keywords to improve ROI

You've set up your campaigns and added lots of keywords, and people have started clicking on your ads. Now the ongoing work of fine tuning begins. A key aspect of optimization is making sure that the keywords that work for you get the most possible exposure while the keywords that do not are properly identified.

Getting ready

First, understand your low and high performers. Customize your keyword columns to include conversion metrics.

Use filters and sorting to identify keywords that fall within and outside your CPA goals. Download keyword data into an Excel file, or another easier to work with format.

How to do it...

First, focus on your top performers:

  1. Create separate campaigns for your best keywords to set a unique budget for top performers. This will help you ensure that your other, less profitable, keywords are not taking impressions away from your highest ROI terms.
  2. Increase bids on keywords that are profitable but are not appearing in the top position. This will help you get a better ad rank and more clicks from keywords that you know do well.

Next, make changes to keywords that are underperforming:

  1. Lower bids for keywords that are converting at high costs or on keywords that have accumulated lots of clicks without any conversions.
  2. Add negative keywords to improve CTR and quality of your low performing keywords.
  3. Restructure by moving poor performers into their own ad groups with custom ads.

  4. Try using different, more specific landing pages that better match your keywords.
  5. Change the keyword match type to a more specific keyword matching option. This can help you reduce impressions and improve CTR.
  6. If a keyword continues to under-perform, pause it. Click on the green status button to the left of the keyword you wish to pause and change the status from Enabled to Paused.

How it works...

Optimizing keywords based on your historical conversion data helps you improve performance and maximize ROI, since you can assume similar patterns from future searches. Optimizing keywords for ROI involves maximizing ad visibility and ad rank on keywords that work and refining keywords that have not performed well in the past.

Excluding IP addresses from seeing your ads

Are you worried that competitors are clicking on your ads? The good news is that AdWords offers a comprehensive click-fraud system that will in most cases filter out those clicks from your bill. However, you can also exclude competitors and other suspicious IPs from seeing your ads to further protect yourself.

Getting ready

AdWords does not provide IP address data for impressions and clicks you receive. However, you can get this information from your web logs.

How to do it...

To exclude specific IP addresses:

  1. Go to the Campaigns tab.
  2. Go to the Settings tab of a specific campaign you'd like to add IP exclusions to.
  3. Scroll down to the Advanced Settings until you see + IP exclusions and click to expand this section.
  4. Click on the Edit link.

  5. Enter one IP address you'd like excluded per line.

  6. Click on Save.

How it works...

IP address exclusion in AdWords blocks your ads from showing on related computers and networks. You can exclude up to 500 addresses.

Be careful about excluding certain generic IPs that internet service providers (such as AOL) assign to a large number of their users.

Optimizing your landing pages

Your landing pages are a key part of the sales process and need to convince the visitors who clicked on your ads not only to stay, but to continue browsing your website and buy what you are selling. A typical visitor stays on a website only a few seconds before deciding to bounce, and it is the job of your landing page to keep potential customers from leaving. Even if you have chosen the best keywords and ads, your online campaigns will not be a success without an effective landing page.

Getting ready

Analyze your bounce rates and time on site through Google Analytics. Figure out if specific campaigns and ad groups have higher bounce rates than others and zero in on the landing pages you are using.

How to do it…

First, make sure that you are taking visitors to the most appropriate pages on your website. Perhaps you are taking your visitors to a page that's too general or too specific, and there is a section that is a better match for your keywords.

Next, consider some of the landing page optimization best practices to help improve engagement and conversions:

  • Customize your landing page's headline to your keywords. This will help reassure the users that they have arrived at the right place and will help boost your AdWords Quality Scores.
  • Keep important information above the fold, including your heading and any other important elements.
  • Make your conversion activity prominent and easy to spot. If you are capturing leads, your lead form should not be below the fold where many visitors might not even look. If you sell products, the product "Buy" button should be big and enticing.
  • Keep your forms short and only require users to fill out the most essential information. Each additional form field you add reduces the chances that the form will actually be completed.
  • Include customer testimonials on your landing page to build trust and showcase what others love about your business.
  • Include affiliations, guarantees, awards, privacy, security statements, and other reassurances that help build trust and reassure your customers of your credibility.
  • Focus on a single call-to-action. Your landing page should have a single purpose. Do not distract visitors with too many options, such as a newsletter sign-up, whitepaper download, and a demo request all at once.
  • Experiment with "Submit" button text, trying more enticing and non-intimidating language. For example, avoid the commitment-heavy "Subscribe Now" and try the less committal "Unlimited Access" instead.
  • Show your products and services being used in context.
  • Reduce unnecessary language and navigation, keeping the steps to complete a conversion short. Write succinct and to the point copy using easy-to-read bullets.

Keep testing and reiterating until you find what works best for you. There is no one size fits all approach when it comes to landing pages.

How it works...

Landing pages are a part of Google's Quality Score formula, affecting your overall ad performance. Your landing pages need to reflect your keywords but also be transparent and easy to navigate.

There's more…

To test different versions of your website and the impact of changing various landing page elements, set up Google Analytics Content Experiments. Content Experiments help you figure out which landing page elements work better for your predefined goals, such as signups or purchases. You can read more and find out how to get started at http://support.google.com/analytics/answer/1745147?topic=1745207.

Summary

This article helped you with tips on improving relevance, Quality Scores, and ROI.

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About the Author :


Kristina Cutura

Kristina Cutura is a pioneer of Google AdWords and currently the owner and founder of a search marketing consulting firm. Starting as a Google employee in 2002, she was one of the founding members of the company's AdWords optimization team, where she developed and tested optimization strategies that are still widely used in the industry. Kristina also created and delivered all optimization-related trainings for internal Google employees, external clients, and agencies that manage AdWords accounts. During her tenure, she trained hundreds of Google employees and dozens of AdWords resellers, and developed online training resources. In addition to running training programs, she managed and optimized Google's highest revenue clients.

After leaving Google in 2009, Kristina started her own consulting company, KristinaCutura.com, where she is using the skills she acquired at Google to advise a variety of clients on search engine marketing efforts. Kristina has worked with national and global businesses in a variety of industries and sectors, ranging from multi-million dollar corporations to small, family-owned businesses. In her free time, Kristina enjoys taking walks with her dog Lola and exploring the culinary offerings of San Francisco, where she lives. Kristina holds a BA from UCLA, and shares Google AdWords tips and strategies on her blog, http://kristinacutura.com/blog/.

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