The Google AdWords pay-per-click (PPC) platform has become an essential marketing element for most businesses, big and small. Done properly, AdWords can quickly deliver a mind boggling amount of high quality leads and/or online sales. Unfortunately, most businesses now know this, and AdWords has become quite competitive — and this drives up click costs. For this reason, it is more important than ever to ensure that your AdWords PPC campaigns are optimized to their fullest potential.
There are a number of costly AdWords mistakes that are very common amongst beginners and AdWords veterans. For this article, we focus on the 5 mistakes we most frequently come across at Shimmer when taking on new clients with existing AdWords campaigns:
1. Not Utilizing Negative Keywords
Negative keywords are, by far, one of the most valuable tools for improving AdWords conversion rates and increasing return-on-investment.
Google gets 100 billion searches PER MONTH — and 15% of the keywords in those searches are new words that Google has not yet registered. Just take a moment to wrap your head around those numbers… scary, right? So it stands to reason that there can be tons of keywords that may be similar, or even related to your industry keywords, but not exactly the right keywords for your particular business. This is where negative keywords come into play. Negative keywords allow you to exclude certain words and phrases from triggering your ads, even though they may be technically relevant to the keywords you are bidding on.
EXAMPLE: Shimmer provides “AdWords Management Services”. For Shimmer’s online marketing campaign, we may bid on the keyword: “AdWords Management Services” — but we are not interested in paying for clicks related to training (in this particular ad group). In this case, “training” can be related to the words “management” and “services”, and if we are using phrase match, we could certainly receive ad clicks for Adwords Training related searches. Here, we simply create a negative keyword, “+training” and apply it to our ad group. This tells Google that we do not want our ad to display for any search phrase containing the word training. That’s it — Easy Peasy! We just eliminated a lot of potential clicks that would have cost us good money, and been a drag on our ROI for this particular ad group.
By utilizing a good list of negative keywords, you can exclude keywords that aren’t a good match for your products and/or services, and doing so can lower costs, improve conversions and increase return-on-investment.
2. Improper Ad Scheduling
This one is a no-brainer for some, completely off the radar for others. Unless you’re selling products online 24/7, your ad campaigns are probably underperforming if they are running at all hours and on weekends. Remember, a lead is always the hottest at initial contact. So, if you are a plumber that works 8am – 6pm, those ad clicks at 10:30pm are probably money you just tossed down the drain (eek, that was ugly ;). Furthermore, if your campaigns are limited by budget, and Google is spreading your budget across 24 hours, you are missing out on a lot of leads during your prime working hours.
Concentrate your ad spend budget on the days and hours most likely to convert.
3. Engaging In Bidding Wars
Don’t do it! Guys and gals, we see this a lot — some “king of the hill” mentality that compels you to bid obnoxious amounts of money to ensure your ad gets the top slot, then your competitor does the same, and so on, and so on. First, that’s not how AdWords works — there are quality scores to consider. Second, the top slot does not guarantee that your ad gets the click.
Perform ad position tests to determine best bids and slots for maximum ROI.
4. Not Utilizing Broad Match Modifier
Broad match is the default match type that new keywords are assigned in Google Adwords campaigns and ad groups. Ads may be displayed for searches that include misspellings, synonyms, related searches and other relevant variations.
Broad match modifiers allow you to exclude synonyms of your search term. Unfortunately, and too often, keywords are left set to ‘broad only’ match type, resulting in low relevance and poor conversion rates.
Use the plus sign (+) in front of a broad match term to make it modified, exclude synonyms and increase relevance. Example: +keyword
5. Ad Stagnation And Lack Of Split Testing
At Shimmer, we’ve learned that ads can definitely get stale. That is, your ad may currently be producing wonderful results with great CTRs and excellent conversion rates. But at some point in the near future the ad will simply lose its luster or fall out of favor with modern Googlers.
Before an ad gets too stale and starts dragging down your ROI, start writing new ads, and start split testing to find the best performers.
Also, for ‘search only’ campaigns, we strongly recommend having a minimum of 3 ads (per ad group) in rotation at any give time — at least 2 regular text ads and 1 mobile specific ad.