Google AdWords is simple to set up and easy to use. You can get a campaign up and running in a few minutes, and bring new visitors to your site minutes later, subject to Google's approval of your ads.
You have a lot of control over how much you want to spend and when and where your adverts are displayed. Google AdWords is a revolution in advertising, providing a quick, simple and easy method to advertise to millions of people online.
However, there is one thing that Google AdWords does better than anything else, and that's to shovel money out of the pockets of advertisers and into the Google coffers.
Yes, AdWords is simple, but deceptively so. In reality, there are 10 straightforward actions that every Google advertiser should be taking, but which very few actually are.
If you are not taking these actions, one thing can be guaranteed - your AdWords campaigns are underperforming, costing you too much money and not getting you as many clicks as they could.
If you do take these actions, you can increase the response rates of your AdWords campaigns and reduce your bid costs, resulting in more clicks for less money.
So here are the 10 Most Important Google AdWords Actions.
1. Carry out extensive keyword research. Don't just go for the keywords that you think are most obvious. There is no need to guess when Google provides free tools to find out exactly what people are searching for. An ideal keyword is one on which there are many searches but little competition. Use as many relevant keywords as you can find, it is better to bid on many low cost keywords than on a few high cost keywords.
2. Include negative keywords. These are keywords that some users type into a search that have no relevance to your search terms.
For example, if you were selling Apple products, then you would want people who searched on "Apple". By inserting negative keywords on words like "pie", "crumble" and "turnover", you would avoid displaying your ads to people who were looking for recipes.
If you do this you will preserve the relevance of your ads. Google rewards relevance, and this is measured by the click-through-rate (CTR).
This is the number of times the ad is clicked divided by the number of times it is displayed. Google combines this figure with scores for the relevance of your ad to give a Quality Score. The higher your Quality Score, the less you have to pay compared to other advertisers.
3. Set up different Ad Groups for different groups of keywords. This is vitally important. The closer the match between your keywords, your ad text and the landing page (see below), the higher your Quality Score and the lower your bid costs.
4. Point each Ad Group, or even each separate keyword, to a specific page on your site. For example, if you are selling a particular brand of trainers, make sure that the keyword for those trainers goes straight to the page on your site where the customer can add the trainers to their shopping cart. This will increase the likelihood of making a sale.
5. Use "landing pages" wherever possible. A landing page is a mini-website, usually just one or two pages, to which a visitor can be taken instead of the main site.
One of the benefits of doing this is that the landing page can be tightly themed to the particular Ad Group, thereby improving the Quality Score.
Another benefit is that you can use the landing page to capture a visitor's email address for future marketing purposes, as long as you follow the proper anti-SPAM opt-in procedures. A landing page used in this way is called a "squeeze page".
6. Run two versions of each ad in each Ad Group. Rotate them evenly, and observe the CTR for each advert. Cull the advert that does less well, then write a new one to try and beat your "control" (the remaining advert).
This is called "split testing". It is at the heart of any successful direct marketing activity, and if done consistently will ensure incremental improvements to your CTR and Quality Score.
Google rewards high Quality Scores by giving your ads higher rankings, enabling you to rank higher than other advertisers who bid and paid more money for their ads than you did for yours.
7. Ruthlessly cull underperforming keywords and Ad Groups. Don't be sentimental! Even if it's your favourite keyword phrase, if it doesn't get the clicks it is costing you money! By taking out keywords that don't work, you can keep improving your CTR and lowering your bid costs.
8. Experiment with changing your Max CPC bid. Increasing it will give you a better chance of ranking higher, and may improve your CTR, but it won't necessarily bring you more clicks. You can sometimes get more people to your site by lowering your Max CPC bid.
AdWords allows you to experiment with these values in the Traffic Estimator in the "Tools" section. This gives you an indication of how many clicks you would get and at what cost for the new values.
9. Use conversion tracking. AdWords can place a cookie on the users computer and then match that up with final results, so that you can not only see which keyword phrases get the most clicks, but which result in the most sales or conversions.
In fact, the most relevant statistic that you can use from a Google AdWords campaign is Profit per Impression - in other words the total amount of profit made divided by the number of impressions. This statistic combines CTR and conversion tracking into one number.
10. Spend time every day learning more about how to use AdWords. The Google AdWords Help Centre has some excellent training that you can do in 5 minute chunks at your own pace in the AdWords Learning Centre, and online webinars, all totally free.
The best book on the subject is "The Ultimate Guide to Google AdWords" by Perry Marshall and Bryan Todd.
If you would like some further advice on optimising your Google AdWords campaign, email Belmont Internet Marketing at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we'll be pleased to conduct some FREE keyword research and provide you with a summary of how your campaign could be improved.