Google Adwords Best Practices

Are you getting the most from Google Adwords? Are your ads helping you to achieve your revenue goals? Do you have enough leads? Are your ads running on the right content networks and building your brand? Are you winning against the competition? Do you consistently have quality scores over 7 for your target keywords? If you answered no to any of these questions, the following Adwords best practices can make a positive impact on your campaigns.

  1. Determine your Adwords strategy. Is your goal to build your brand? Is your goal direct response (leads)? Or is it both? Your SEM goals will directly impact how you leverage Adwords. Determine a ballpark estimate for what a visitor is worth. Establish a Return on Ad Spend, or ROAS goal. If you are focused on brand you will want to emphasize impressions and content networks and CPM. If you’re focused on direct response you will focus on clicks, click-through rates (CTR), conversion rates, and cost per acquisition (CPA).
  2. Determine the top 100 Adwords keywords that you need to pay for. Use tools like the Google keyword tool, Keywordspy, Spyfu or to look up your competition’s keywords. Use Google’s Traffic Estimator to see search volume and cost per click for each keyword. Use Google Analytics to review organic keywords that generate traffic for your site. Build a candidate list of keywords in an Excel spreadsheet. Sort and prioritize the list. Group the keywords into themes. Use the themes to build out your groups in Adwords.
  3. Establish daily and monthly Adwords budget and goals for your campaigns in Adwords. Determining a budget should be easy once you have figured out the keywords you need to bid on and the cost per click. If you are doing both branding and direct response, create separate campaigns and goals for each inside Adwords. For direct response, focus on cost-per-click efficiency. For branding, focus on CPM on the content networks. Be very leery of using automated tools that optimize bidding and conversion for you. There are few silver bullets.
  4. If you’re focusing on direct response (leads), create custom landing pages for each ad group you create in Adwords. The landing page should contain keywords and description meta tags, that match the ad copy in Adwords. The more relevant, the higher the quality scores. Put the most important information above the fold on the landing page. The landing page must project creditability and trust and should meet expectations. If there is disconnect in trust, you could have a high bounce rate on your landing pages. Put Google conversion tracking codes on for submission thank-you pages so you can see conversion data in Adwords. Don’t run A/B tests on landing pages until you have baseline data. Be careful about trying to collect too much information on landing page forms. Try to limit the form to fewer than 5 fields.
  5. Use a strong call to action in your Adwords ad copy. It should match what you want them to do on the landing page. Use strong action verbs like: download, shop, buy, watch, compare, free trial and test drive.
  6. Link your Google Adwords and Google analytics accounts. Examine Google analytics data to determine which pages on your site Adwords visitors view. Create 3 goals in Adwords and create a conversion funnel in Google Analytics.
  7. Closely monitor your quality scores in Adwords. Shoot for scores of 7 or above. They have direct impact on your ad budget and where your ad shows up relative to the competition on the page.
  8. Use negative keywords. Especially when you use broad match on your keywords, aggressively use negative keywords to filter out inappropriate matches and minimize wasteful spending.
  9. If you are using the content networks, be sure to frequently review the sites your ads are being displayed on. Be aggressive on filtering out poorly performing URLs. Leveraging site and category exclusion allows you to exclude irrelevant sites.
  10. Leverage Google’s location targeting, language targeting, and demographic targeting (content networks). If you only do business in NYC, why pay for ads outside you area? If you deal with primarily a Spanish-speaking audience, leverage this targeting capability.
  11. Do a deep dive into the reporting capabilities of Adwords. At a minimum, create custom keyword reports that allow you to see if you are achieving your goals.