Top 3 Killer Tactics to Manage Google AdWords

With AdWords there are only three things going on.  The user types a search query, your ad appears, and a click takes the user to your landing page.

With good AdWords account management, it's common to double the results you get from AdWords while keeping monthly spending constant.  Simply optimize these three things.

Focus on:
  1. Search Queries
  2. Ads
  3. Landing Pages

Search Queries: Optimize for Queries that Have a High Conversion Rate

One of the smartest AdWords management techniques is to look at the search phrases people use that trigger your AdWords ads.  See how often people who use these various queries trip your conversion goals.

"Some search queries
convert more often than others."

Each search query is used by a different group of people.  Some search convert more often than others.

 Would You Buy this Plate?

If you sell Elvis plates, place ads in the Sunday newspaper magazine called Parade.  Some of the people who see your ads will buy.  The exact same ads might not be effective if placed in a magazine like The Economist.

Just as different magazines reach different groups of people, each search query is associated with a different group of people.  For each query, how often do they download your ultimate guide or look at your price list?  How often do they buy something?

Expand your AdWords account.  Bid on new keywords in Exact Match and see what the conversion rates are.

Rules for Optimizing Search Queries

For search queries, optimize against your conversion metrics.
Boost your bid for queries that convert.  Your ads will appear higher on Google's search results page and you'll get more clicks and visitors.
Pause a keyword if the Click Through Rate is extremely low.
If you experiment with ads and people just won't click, pause that keyword.  The people who type these queries are simply not interested.
Suppose you sell steaks online.  Here are two search queries:
  • filet minion buy online
  • what is filet minion
Your analytics tell you that the first query converts the best.  These people end up buying from you.  This is a Web Analytics Actionable Insight.  So, increase your bid on the keyword "filet minion buy online", so you your ad moves up higher on the search results page.

Ads: Optimize for Click Through Rate First, Then Cost Per Conversion

"The single most important thing to know
about AdWords management is that the user's query
should appear, as precisely as possible,
in the headline of your ad."

For AdWords Ads, start by optimizing click through rate.  Google makes billions - mostly from AdWords. Yet they do not make a dime until someone clicks on an ad, so they reward you when your ads have a high click through rate.  Google makes more money from ads with a high click through rate.
You can have ads that appear higher on the search results page and pay less per click if you have a high click through rate.
In fact, the single most important thing to know about AdWords is that the user's search query should appear, as precisely as possible, in the headline of your ad - because this will increase your click through rate and lower your cost per click.  Since you have already optimized the keywords you are bidding on so your ads only appear for groups of people with high conversion rates, you want to attract as many of these visitors as possible, at the lowest cost per click possible.

To accomplish this you must have "tightly themed" Ad Groups.  You simply cannot have an AdGroup that contains several unrelated keywords.  Instead, you might have an ad group that contains a few keywords that all begin with, "Qaulity Paper Towels."  Then you can have a couple of ads there to A/B test, and both of them can have the headline, "Quality Paper Towels."

Now when someone searches Google for "Quality Paper Towels," your ad appears and it says, "Quality Paper Towels."  The person searching Google sees your ad and thinks, "There - that's exactly what I'm looking for."  Then of course, they arrive at your landing page and see your headline, "Quality Paper Towels."

Why this is extremely important:
  • When your AdWords Ad headline mirrors back the user's search query searchers think, "Ah ha!  I've found exactly what I'm looking for!"
  • They are more likely to click on your ad, increasing click through rate and quality score, and decreasing your cost per click.
  • Psychologically, when people feel they've found what they are looking for, they are more likely to buy from you.  Check your own web analytics data and you'll see the evidence for yourself.
It's surprising how many people don't even read the text of your AdWords Ads.  They just glance at the headline and click.

Ads are for clicking.  If your AdWords ad appears on Google's search results page, just count on people clicking.  It's mostly useless to screen people by accurately describing your business in your ad.  It's important to be accurate, but it's useless to believe that clearly describing your product or service in your ad will prevent people who have no interest in your business from clicking.  Instead, screen by having your ad appear only for search queries that you know convert well.  When you get clicks from obviously irrelevant search phrases, stop your ads from appearing by using negative keywords.

For AdWords ads, always have two ads per Ad Group and optimize toward the one with the best click through rates.  Google is not being evil when they do this for you by default, and you are probably not being clever by setting your ads to "Rotate" so you can optimize against conversion rate metrics.  You already like the people who type high converting search phrases.  You want as many of those visitors as possible.  So let Google show the ad with the best click through rates.  You'll get more of those high converting visitors, and you're high CTR will increase your Quality Score, resulting in a lower cost per click.

Once you've achieved great click through rates, start optimizing ads for cost per conversion.

Landing Pages: Optimize for Landing Page Conversions

Try two different landing pages.  Profitable management of an AdWords account includes managing your landing pages.  Use an A/B test and optimize for the outcome you hope for from that page.  If you want people to fill in a form and download a white paper, optimize for that, not for your ultimate sale.

It's the search query that has the greatest effect on buying.  Your AdWords ad text and your landing page can influence your ultimate conversion, but no matter what you do, people who search for "filet minion buy online" are going to convert into customers more often that people who search for "what is filet minion."

So optimize your AdWords landing pages against landing page conversion rates.  If your landing page offers something for sale, optimize for that.  If your landing page offers a free white paper download, optimize for that.

The best way to optimize landing pages is via A/B Testing.  Try using Google's Website Optimizer.  It's an easy way to set up A/B Tests for your AdWords landing pages.

Double Your AdWords Effectiveness
It's completely normal to double conversions from an AdWords account (while monthly spending stays the same) by doing just these three things with web analytics:
  1. For search queries, follow conversion metrics and optimize for queries that convert into customers.
  2. For ads, follow click through rate and optimize for a high click through rate, then cost per conversion.
  3. For landing pages, follow conversion rates for the action you wish people to take on the page and optimize for that.

Your Thoughts?
Did I miss some details that you are curious about?  Do you have any additional ideas that you would like to add or have discussed?  Let me know with a comment below!

Resources for You
Keyword Research
Find keywords you can rank for:  Can I Rank

For Fun
Reward your top digital analytics person with a gift that's not available in stores.  This coffee or tea mug is expensive, but profits go to the Audobon Society - they focus on birds and the environment, and they get what climate change is all about.

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