AdWords is a great way to drive traffic to your site to increase sales or drive lead generation. It is simple to setup and get started but can easily burn through your marketing budget if not managed actively.
In this article, we have identified 22 areas of focus that will help you improve your click-through-rates (CTR), conversion rates or both. This will ultimately lead to improved ROI.
Let’s get started:
#1 Keyword Research
Any high-performing AdWords campaign starts with solid keyword research. Start by brainstorming your own list of keywords you think are relevant to your industry. Make sure you select general keywords about what you do — like ‘HR Advice’ — as well as keywords that describe how you do it — like ‘Online HR Software’
Google’s AdWords Keyword Planner is free to use and the best place to start your keyword research. Put your list into the Keyword Planner and you’ll get an expanded list of keywords along with the data of how often people search for them and how many competitors are also
targeting those keywords. Review the list and eliminate irrelevant keywords.
#2 Effectively Group & Organize Your Keywords
Probably one of the most common errors made is to throw all the keywords in one campaign and then to hope for clicks and conversions.
Organize keywords into campaigns and ad groups. For example, HR Advice, HR Advice Services and HR Advice Companies could all be in the same ad group, whereas Online HR Software would be in another.
Separating keywords into tight ad groups allows you to measure performance, create specific ad copy for the ad groups and drive the traffic to a specific landing page.
#3 Use Single Keyword Ad Groups
Building upon the premise of tightly knit ad groups, you can go a step further and only use one keyword per ad group, but combine the various match types.
By switching to one keyword per ad group you can deliver specific and accurate ads for the keyword – this will improve your CTR, quality score and conversion rate, this will lead to reduced CPC and improved CPA.
If you have hundred of keywords, then the best place to start would be to move your top ten performing keywords in to single keyword ad groups, create relevant ads for them and, if you can, direct them to specific landing pages.
#4 Write Compelling Advert Copy
Blindingly obvious, but often rushed. The start of a prospects journey with your brand is when they see your ad for the first time. If it isn’t engaging, informative and without strong calls to action your ad will perform poorly and the knock-on effects will be a poor CTR, poor quality score and little conversions.
Take a look at your competitors’ ads and use them as inspirations – try to write copy that is better and stands out from theirs. Include your businesses unique selling points.
Make sure all of the words in your headlines begin with a capital letter – this will help the ad stand out and improve CTR.
Leverage any awards or accreditations that you have within your ad copy & sitelink extensions. Use exclamation marks, @ symbols and other characters can draw attention to your adverts and encourage clicks.
Include a ‘Call to Action’ within the description, such as ‘click to find out more’, ‘call us today’ or ‘visit our site’. This will encourage prospects to click the ad.
#5 Create Ad Text Specific To Keywords Within An Ad Group
Alongside writing compelling ad copy, the ad text should be specific to the keywords within the ad group. So, if you are bidding on ‘HR Support’, your headline should include that term.
The searcher will feel the ad is focused on addressing their needs and will lead to a higher CTR and will also improve your quality score.
If you can, include your target keyword in within the ad description and again in the display URL.
#6 Ad Variation Testing – Check Each Ad Group Has 2 Ads So You Can Split Test
Review each of your ad groups and double check that each one has a minimum of 2 ads. If they have one, write a new ad (using the tips above). This is best practice. These variations will ultimately reveal the best approach for your ad copy.
This approach also enables you to test your ads against each other another. You can then build upon this by duplicating and improving the best of the two, and then removing the worst performing ad.
If you continuously do this your ad click through rates and conversions will also continuously improve. You should never stop split testing, and should try to better your best ad.
#7 Use The Advert Display URL Effectively
Rather than simply display the actual website address you intend to deliver the prospect to, you can create an address that may not actually exist on your site. This makes the prospective landing page look highly relevant to the search query you want your advert to appear for.
You have 30 characters to use in the display URL in expanded text ads and this breaks down into two parts of 15 characters. Use the display URL to your advantage and include your ad group keyword phrases in parts 1 and 2 of the display URL.
#8 Align Ad Copy With Landing Pages
The copy on your landing page should mirror the copy in your ads.
Sending those that click your ads to landing pages that reflect what you promoted in your ad copy will help you your quality score.
It may be tempting to link ads to pages you already have, rather than make new pages, but creating new landing pages are worth the effort – a higher quality score are reduced advertising costs, increased exposure for your ads and lead to better ad positioning.
Metric and quality scores aside, you are also creating a clear path to the sale. Looking beyond keywords, user optimisation is the actual focus – quality score actually measures the user experience on the landing page. Improved user experience will also mean that your bounce rate will decrease and conversions will increase.
Simply put – potential customers won’t convert if their experience after clicking your ad isn’t relevant to them.
#9 Test Your Landing Page Design
You could be ticking all the boxes as far as AdWords optimisation is concerned and driving huge amounts of traffic to your site, but still see no conversions if the landing page the searcher sees is not engaging.
You need to ensure you landing page pushes the message you are communicating in your ad, but you also need to go a step further. Split-test your landing pages; try new designs, different CTAs, vary the headlines and offer lead magnets.
Each change will see either negative or positive impact on your conversion rate, keep the best performing elements until and in parallel you can bid harder on keywords as you will be confident that you will ROI.
#10 Don’t Always Aim To Be In First Position
Improving your rank with the paid ads area, does have a positive correlation with CTRs and will deliver more traffic – but 1st place isn’t necessarily the optimum position.
1st position usually requires a much higher bid compared to what it takes to be second or third, even if you have a high-quality score. The downstream effect can be an increased CPA – why pay more for the same?
The highest-ranking ad is usually the first thing a user will see and may click without even reading – this leads to a high bounce rate. Focus on achieving an average position of 2 or 3, as it is much more effective. Your ads will still be seen in high volumes and get clicked on by more relevant users.
Your bids will be much lower, your quality score won’t be negatively affected and your CPA will stay low.
#11 Regularly Adjust Your Bids
If you are bidding too low on your keywords then your CTR will be poor, make sure you are bidding high enough to appear on page one and that you are achieving a high enough CTR.
Pay close attention to the positions your ads are appear in. When keywords have a low CTR, it’s because the ads appear too low on the page. Slowly increasing your bid over a few days until the ad moves to a higher position, this should lead to a higher CTR.
Remember – it isn’t just about bidding to appear in the top positions, as mentioned, as this could just eat through your budget and lead to increased CPA.
#12 Integrate Negative Keywords Regularly
Adding new negative keywords on a regular basis helps with optimising your campaigns as it means you are cutting out the irrelevant traffic that you don’t want clicks for. You can add a list of negative keywords when you start a campaign – but you still never really know what is going to be searched for, so you continuously be adding more every month.
Negative keywords don’t just apply to search network ads, they also apply to ads on display networks.
Adding negative keywords to your campaigns will:
- Increased CTR
- Reduce CPC
- Boost ROI
- Improve your Quality Score
It will reduce the number of visitors to your site, but that’s fine as you want relevant, quality traffic – which should be your main focus when running a paid search campaign.
#13 Expand Your Keyword List
Just as will be regularly adding negative keywords across your campaigns, you should also be expanding your keywords lists. This can be done either by adding the in the suggested keywords by google or by expanding the existing keywords from Exact Match to Broad Match.
This will allow your ad to appear for more search phrases, which should mean getting more traffic.
When expanding to Broad Match, you need keep an eye on which phrases are sending traffic and converting – those that don’t, add them to your negative keyword list.
#14 Make Full Use Of All Types Of Ad Extension
There are a number of ad extensions that can help make your ad stand out from the crowd. Using the full range of extensions increases the size of your ads and makes them appear more relevant, which improves the click through rate.
They give people more reasons to choose your business and click on your ad. AdWords selects which extensions to show for each search, so it’s best to use all the extensions relevant to your business.
- Sitelink Extensions – These are additional links to help searchers navigate deeper into your website.
- Location Extensions – These are perfect for brick and mortar businesses. Location extensions show the business address and are available in Google and Bing.
- Call Extensions – available on both Google and Bing. On mobile devices, call extensions supplement ads with the ability to click-to-call, giving mobile searchers an easy way to call the business.
- App Extensions – this extension works great for businesses looking to promote app downloads.
- Message extensions – Encourage people to send you text messages from your ad.
- Price extensions – You can showcase your services or product categories with their prices, so that people can browse your products right from your ad. Great if you are competitively priced!
#15 Start With Exact Match Targeting, Then Test Different Match Types
Exact Match targeting means your ads will appear only when someone searches for the exact keyword you’ve targeted in your campaign. This gives you greater control when launching a new AdWords account and prevents you from wasting money on irrelevant phrases.
Once you begin to collect data showing how each of your keywords perform, there will be instances where using alternative match types will be useful.
With broad match keywords types you will reach more people than with either phrase and exact match keyword types. However, this will impact your CTR as the quality of the ads will become diluted as they will not be as closely-tied with the exact intent of the user.
The best approach is to test different match types for your keywords. Strike a balance for these match types in your ad campaigns.
#16 Use Location Targeting & Exclude Poorly Converting Locations
If you are providing services within a specific geographic area, ensure your campaigns are set to display to searchers within that area. Otherwise, you’ll end up paying for clicks from people who you can’t provide services for.
Equally if you are a start-up that isn’t location dependant, it may still benefit you to launch your campaign targeting a specific area or areas – this allows you test keywords and landing pages at a smaller scale and reduce wastage.
Once your campaign is in full swing, it is worth reviewing the conversion rate of the locations you are covering.
This can be applicable to all, regardless if their service/product is geographically dependant, as you’ll most likely have some areas that aren’t converting as well as other areas.
If you exclude these poorly converting areas from your campaign your ROI is likely to improve.
#17 Use Remarketing
Remarketing is a great way to improve your conversion rates. Simply put, you’re targeting those who have already visited your site with an ad to convince them to sign-up, purchase or purchase again.
This segmented and highly targeted audience is more likely to convert, meaning you can significantly lower your cost per click.
AdWords offers an array of different options for remarketing:
- Standard remarketing – allows you to show ads to your past visitors as they browse your website via the Display Network.
- Dynamic remarketing – lets you show ads to past visitors that have any products or services they viewed on your site.
- Remarketing for mobile apps – AdWords will let you show ads to users when they use mobile apps or are on mobile websites if someone used your mobile app or mobile website.
- Remarketing lists for search ads – known as RLSA, it enables you to target site visitors using the Search Network. Target and customize search ads for your website visitors while they search on Google.
- Video Remarketing – serve ads to those who have interacted with your YouTube channel, or other videos – you can then serve them ads via YouTube, Display Network videos and websites.
- Email list remarketing – known as customer match, use a list of emails of your customers/prospects and upload them to AdWords. Then serve them ads if they are signed in to Google, Gmail or YouTube.
Remarketing is an effective way to improve conversion rates and helps you persuade indecisive visitors to go back to your site. This is part of the goal completion and only achieved with a good conversion tracker tool.
Many PPC advertisers rarely consider using remarketing, however it will save you money and improve ROI.
#18 Use RLSA & Segment Your Audiences
As mentioned, RLSA stands for ‘remarketing lists for search ads’. This feature can be used to target past visitors of your site when they search for relevant terms to your business.
Typically, PPC advertisers will use RLSA in the original search campaigns and ad groups and will set higher bid adjustments for users who are a part of the RLSA list.
This is an excellent tried and tested strategy that is definitely worth using, but it can be improved further; split your search campaigns into cold audiences (your original campaigns) and an RLSA audience (those that have visited your site).
Splitting into two separate audiences will allow you to control the bids for your RLSA independently and also allow you to write your ads specifically for the RLSA audience, as they are already familiar with you.
#19 Use Negative Remarketing Lists
Just as you would add negative keywords to your campaigns to weed out poor quality traffic, you can implement filters that will weed out those site visitors that are unlikely to purchase from you.
For example, searchers that visit the job pages on your site, or existing customers or those that have recently purchased.
This way your ads will only reach those that have a high intent to purchase and also leaves you to create a remarketing campaign to focus on those you want to re-purchase.
#20 Pause Underperforming Keywords
Make sure you regularly check the performance of keywords for each of your campaigns. At the outset, check them everyday and once you have a handle on performance you can review a couple of times a week.
Pause the keywords that aren’t converting or driving traffic. Remember that you are paying for those clicks, so if they are not monetising you need to stop the bleeding asap!
However, don’t write them off. It is worth unpausing them and testing again with new ad copy or a new landing page or both, as their lack of performance may down to the type of searcher being attracted or the lack of (or poor) communication of the offering once they hit the website.
#21 Pause Low-Quality Score Keywords
Keywords with a low Quality Score are indicative of either poor ad copy, poor landing page experience or poor CTR – with the downstream effect being a higher CPC.
In addition, to a higher CPC it can affect the performance of your overall AdWords account and drag down other, higher, Quality Score keywords.
The best approach to take is to pause these keywords, and work on improving the quality score. This means making the ad copy more relevant and improving the landing page experience.
#22 Track Everything!
It should go without saying, but make sure you have Google Analytics installed on your website, and it is linked to your AdWords account.
Google analytics will help you measure bounce rates, time spent on site and conversions – you can make informed decisions about your AdWords activity.
Once installed, ensure your tracking is set up correctly by testing and run a quick test (or at least review your analytics account) after any website change – as developer once said to me ‘sometimes things just go pop’.
Incorrect tracking information could mean you are either not counting your conversions, or over counting them. Either way you have bad data and this could lead to wrong actions on your AdWords account.
Remember – if your figures seem skewed, then they probably are!
Google AdWords is an effective way to drive small or large amounts of traffic to your site, it is faster to implement and realise ROI from than it is with SEO.
There are a vast number of metrics that you can track to measure performance of your ads, but we suggest just to focus on:
- Click-through-rate (CTR)
- Conversion Rate
Between these three KPIs, you are measuring keyword performance, ad copy and landing page experience.
Using the 22 tips described above, you can influence all three of these KPIs.
Good luck with your campaigns!
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