Why Google Adwords isn't for the uninitiated

April 16, 2010

There seems to be a lot of “how to” Google Adwords posts around at the moment and I thought it would be a good time to rework a post I wrote a couple of years ago about why Google Adwords isn’t that great for beginners...   The more people I meet to discuss their online marketing, the more often I hear "Google Adwords doesn't work. I tried it, and it lost me money."   It's smart tactics on Google’s part - suck people in with "free money" (a £30 - £100 voucher just to get you started), send lots of traffic and false hope, and keep taking your money, because one day soon, those visits might, just might, convert to a sale.   Google Adwords seems so easy, so user friendly, that anyone could set up a campaign. The truth is, Google Adwords is damned hard work, but when it does work, it’s very good.   Here are the main mistakes I come across when reviewing people’s campaigns:
  • Not enough keywords, a good campaign can have a couple of thousand keywords (most campaigns I see tend to have up to 50.)
  • Creating only one or two adgroups – chances are, your business has a broader appeal than you realise and you must split relevant keywords and adverts to target the appropriate customers.
  • Using only the default “Broad matching” option – this will burn your budget because attracts low quality traffic. Using exact and phrase matching can significantly improve the quality of traffic (quality is far more important that quantity - after all, you're paying for it!)
  • Not testing ad copy - so many campaigns have just one advert. Test, Test, Test - I trial 3-4 ads at a time on each ad group, and keep tweaking the best performing ones and keep testing and improving. Don’t just test the wording, test capitalisation, test different variations of the display url.
  • Not considering landing pages. How many of your ads are landing on the home page? Is this really the most relevant page for that keyword? You can set landing pages at Ad and keyword level.
  • Not making use of ad scheduling - you can pick the days and times your ads should show - again this needs frequent testing and amending.
  • Not making use of ad positioning - it really doesn't often pay to be at no. 1 - it's expensive, and depending on your business, often isn't the best converting position (I call it the money burning spot!) Test which positions work best for your business - again, you may reduce traffic (therefore costs) but keep or improve your conversion rate.
  • Not deciding on a CPA (Cost Per Acquisition) - some people pay for sales at any cost. Don't do this, set yourself a maximum amount you're willing to pay to get a sale, and keep tweaking your campaigns to stay within that target - it'll take a while. Also remember, if you're selling multiple products or services, these are likely to have different values, so the CPA will be different for each (don't have an across the board CPA if this model applies to you.)
  • Not managing the campaign – you must keep working at the campaign for as long as it’s up and running. Many campaigns that I review, have been set up and just left to spend budget, only to be switched off when they aren’t making any money.
  • And a little pro tip for you: keep a spreadsheet of changes you make, what the results are (did CTR improve? Did you get more sales? Did capitalisation on ads improve your campaign?) This spreadsheet will help you make future decisions about your campaign and help you understand what works and what doesn’t (the Google audit trail is not detailed enough to support these decisions.)
My main advice to you is get an expert in. It will save you a lot of money and stress in the long run! Why not give the toinfinity PPC Review a try – we’ll review your current campaign, and give you a summary of how and where your campaign can be improved.  

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