Getting started with Google Ads is easy, and blowing through an advertising budget is even easier — but are you getting the results you want?
Many small business owners plunge into Google’s PPC advertising platform without any real knowledge about how to audit their campaigns. All too often, they see their clicks and impressions piling up — and their ad budget hitting its cap — but without any sales, phone calls, form submissions, or other measurable conversions to show for it.
Even if you rushed into Google Ads, though, you shouldn’t be quick to throw in the towel. Google Ads is a powerful advertising platform that can help any business connect with new customers. You just need to make sure you’re crafting the right message for an appropriate audience. We’ll help you get there. Read on for five tips to start seeing results right away…
1. Stop Using Broad-Match Keywords
More isn’t always better, and broad-match keywords are proof of that. Broad-match keywords put your ads in front of far more eyeballs than phrase and exact-match keywords. However, those eyeballs are much less likely to be interested in what you’re selling.
Here’s the issue with broad-match keywords. Imagine you own an automotive painting business, so you launch an AdWords campaign that uses the broad-match keyword “car paint.” Broad-match keywords cause ads to be shown for any query containing any keyword Google thinks is relevant for that phrase. So, a man who searches for “paint for a model car” might see your ad and click on it.
That’s a waste of money.
Instead, use phrase and exact-match keywords. With phrase-match keywords, the search query must contain your keyword term in the order you listed it. And with exact-match keywords, the search query must match your keyword term exactly (well, not exactly anymore, but nearly exactly). You’ll get fewer clicks and impressions, but your visitors will be far more relevant to your business. That means better clickthrough rates, lower costs and more conversions.
2. Start Using Negative Keywords
Negative keywords pick up where phrase and exact-match keywords leave off.
Imagine once more that you’re advertising an automotive painting business. In your keyword list, you’ve changed the term “car paint” from a broad-match keyword to a phrase-match keyword. However, you’re still getting lots of unwanted clicks from people searching for “model car paint,” and none of them lead to conversions.
Negative keyword lists — which you can make at the campaign or ad group level — block your ads from being showing for queries containing any listed term. Add the word “model” to your negative keyword list, and kiss all traffic related to “model cars” goodbye.
3. Build Separate Campaigns for Search and Display Traffic
When building new campaigns, you get to choose whether your ads run on Google’s Search or Display networks. You can also choose the “Google Display Select” option, which runs your ads on both.
Inexperienced marketers often run their ads on both networks. The Display Network is huge, and clicks are cheaper than on the Search Network. Why not take advantage of what both networks offer?
Actually, you should use both networks — but always separately. Otherwise, you’re showing the same ads to consumers in completely different mindsets, which means either your Search or your Display ads will almost certainly flounder. With the Search Network, you’re targeting prospects that are literally searching for your product or service. With the Display Network, your prospects are surfing around online and you’re going to interrupt them with your ads. Typically, you’re going to need different ads for each network to see the best results.
If you run your campaigns on both networks, then you’re essentially forfeiting the ability to optimize your ads for a huge chunk of potential customers. Build campaigns targeting the two different networks — one for Search, the other for Display — and you’ll be in full control.
4. Split Test Your Ads
The Google Ads campaign creation process requires marketers to make one ad to start with. However, most new marketers don’t move beyond this, so all of their campaigns only have one ad apiece. Unfortunately, you can’t really learn much from running just one ad. Sure, you’ll get impressions and clicks, but how do you know whether your ads are underperforming?
Head-to-head competition is the easiest way to determine whether an ad is worth using. Rather than settle for one ad, immediately create a second ad with different copy. After a few days, weeks, or months of clicks and impressions, you’ll be able to determine which ad copy is more appealing to potential customers. Pause the weaker ad, create a new test ad and start the competition anew.
What if the split test doesn’t reveal a clear winner? If that’s the case, then keep one of the ads, pause the other, and draft another test ad. Unless you wrote the perfect ad on your first attempt (which never happens), you’ll eventually find ad copy that delivers your message more effectively.
5. Start New Campaigns for Winning Ads and Keywords
Is one of your ad and keyword combinations incredibly successful on either the Search or Display network? If so, then make a new campaign with only that ad and keyword.
This will boost your results in two ways. First, you can give your winning ad/keyword combo its own budget, and it won’t be diluted by underperforming keywords. Second, your top keyword won’t dominate your original campaign’s budget, which means it will be easier to find that next winning keyword.
And when you do find more winning keywords, you can move them to the new campaign and increase the size of its budget.
Google Ads can be a tremendous asset to any small business. Like all kinds of digital marketing, finding success on AdWords requires discipline and patience. Don’t be discouraged if your efforts don’t seem to pay off right away. Do the right things, and eventually, you’ll learn which approaches work best.