Four Sizzling Hot Google AdWords Optimization Tips
Apply these four tips to dramatically improve the efficiency and ROI of your AdWords campaigns.
Tip #1: Beware of Broad-Matched Sponsored Keywords
Are you using broad-matched sponsored keywords in your AdWords account? If so, you need to be careful because Google often triggers ads to display from irrelevant search keyword phrases. Showing your ad with irrelevant search queries costs you money in two ways.
First, your ad will likely not get many clicks, which lowers your Click-Through-Rate (CTR) for that keyword and pulls down the average for the whole AdGroup. A low CTR results in a poor Quality Score, which means that Google will require a higher bid from you to keep from disabling that keyword altogether. In addition, Google will charge you more per click for the same ad position than someone else who is sponsoring the same keyword but has a better Quality Score.
The second problem is that the clicks that you do get from non-relevant keywords generally have a much lower tendency to convert into leads or sales.
How do you avoid this problem?
First, you should always start out your new campaigns with phrase-matched and exact-matched keywords. They are safer because you have more control over when your ads will appear. But sometimes you will find that you just can’t get enough paid click traffic this way and you still have money left in your budget. In that case, add some broad-matched keywords back in, but be sure to monitor the actual search term used via your web analytics tool and use Tip #2 below to filter out irrelevant keyword phrases.
Second, from time to time, you should prune underperforming keywords from your campaigns. These are keywords that have low CTR or poor conversion rates. Just set up a reasonable date range in AdWords and go down your keyword lists. To speed up the process, you can sort columns by CTR and Conversions from low to high.
Tip #2: Take Advantage of Negative Keywords
Broad matching on AdWords opens up the system to show your ads more frequently, because people type lots of relevant search phrases that you or I would never think of, so we could never cover all the bases with exact matches. But broad matching can also be risky, because your ads can show up on non-relevant searches. As we explained in Tip #1, this can hurt your CTR as well as cost you for poor-quality clicks. Negative keywords, when used in combination with broad-matching, is very powerful because as you add negative keywords to your campaign, you keep your ads from showing when they shouldn’t.
One of the best ways to identify negative keywords is through a good web analytics tool. To do this, for any given click you need to know not only the keyword that you sponsored but also the actual keyword that the searcher typed.
Google Analytics has limitations in this area. In its standard, out-of-the-box implementation, Google Analytics will only tell you the keyword someone matched on, not the keyword they searched. Google AdWords is no better. There are filters you can add to Google Analytics that provide the missing info, or perhaps you have another web analytics tool that can fill in the blanks. Either way, it’s worth the effort so you can build out your negative keywords lists.
Tip #3: Stop Your Top Competitors from Clicking on Your Ads
Ever worry about competitors clicking your AdWords ads and driving up your click charges? Then tell Google to stop showing your ads on their computers. What they don’t see, they can’t click!
Here’s how. Under the Campaign Management tab, click on Tools and then click on IP Exclusion. This is where you can list up to 20 IP addresses (that’s the current limit) where you don’t want your ads to appear.
How do you know which IP addresses to block? Just type your most popular keywords into AdWords and see who the top advertisers are. All things being equal, these are the folks who have the greatest vested interest in seeing your ads go dark. Jot down the URLs of these advertisers. Now, go to Google and do a search on “domain to ip.” You’ll find a number of sites that will translate those URLs into their respective IP addresses for you at no charge. Copy and paste those IP addresses into the IP Exclusion window and you’re done.
Just to be sure, if you don’t see one of your top competitors advertising on AdWords, you might want to block them anyway. Who knows, maybe they read this article and blocked YOU from seeing their ads!
Tip #4: Block Your Ads from Showing on Undesirable Content Network Sites
There’s been a debate raging for years on whether you should allow Google to show your ads in the Content Network as well as in the search results. You probably already know that Google enables your ads in the Content Network by default. And you may also know that the quality of clicks from the Content Network is generally lower than the quality of clicks on Search. We wrote about the problem in the December 2007 issue of Visibility Magazine in an article called: “Google’s Content Network – The Good, Bad & the Ugly.”
Now, you could just turn off the Content Network entirely by un-checking the box under Campaign Settings. But that could seriously reduce the number of clicks you get, which could result in lower numbers of leads or sales.
Fortunately, since our December 2007 article, Google has added a feature that allows you to address some of the problems with the Content Network. Under the Campaign Management tab click on Tools and then click Site and Category Exclusion. Select each campaign from the drop-down box and click on the Topics tab. Here you will see certain website topics that may or may not be inappropriate for your ads to show. You will also see data on impressions, clicks and cost to see if this is a problem for your campaign.
Under the Page Types tab, you can see the results from Error Pages, Parked Domains, and a variety of user-generated content sites and social networks. Simply check the appropriate boxes to exclude questionable or under-performing website categories from your Content Network repertoire. While this won’t solve all of the issues with the Content Network, it’s a great start and it’s easy to do.
None of the four tips in this article is going to help you get you more traffic to your website, unless you’ve been avoiding the Content Network and Tip #4 encourages you to try it again. Each of these tips can help you reduce wasted spending from your click budget. If that allows you to get better quality clicks while staying within your budget, then you’ll be improving your organization’s bottom line.