Paying more for the same service is never a good business practice.
Yet this happens all the time with Google AdWords. People who are new to AdWords set up campaigns and let them run, often with profitable results, but they don’t realize they’re massively overpaying for their clicks. Or, on the other end of the spectrum, they give up on campaigns that should be profitable when early results don’t look good.
Either way, Google wins. The search giant makes more than $100 million from AdWords per day. And a good chunk of that cash is from advertisers who run inefficient campaigns.
Of course, you’d rather be increasing your profits rather than padding Google’s pockets, and that’s where we can help. Here we’ve compiled a list of tips that can help most advertisers optimize their campaigns and make better use of their budgets. Google probably wishes we’d keep these tips under wraps, but we won’t lose any sleep over this – Google would do just fine without folks like you overpaying.
#1: Don’t launch campaigns over the weekend
You can’t properly optimize if you lack sufficient data. It’s not only that you want to have lots of clicks to analyze, but you also need to have the right kinds of clicks in your campaigns.
For many businesses, most of your traffic will occur Monday through Friday, so you should launch new campaigns to get clicks on those days. That means you’d ideally want to start a campaign earlier in the week so you have time throughout the week to collect data. People behave differently when searching the Web on weekends, and you don’t want these differences clouding your initial data.
#2: Spread the impressions around
In addition to collecting enough data, you also need to make sure your data is properly distributed among your ads. The temptation is to use the AdWords default option to “optimize for clicks,” but doing this might cause more traffic to go to certain ads over others. In the first stages of optimizing, it’s more important to spread out clicks so you give all ad variations a fair shot. Set ads in new campaigns to “rotate indefinitely.”
#3: Block bad Display Network placements
The Display Network is a great source of cheap, high-volume traffic. But if you’re not careful, you’ll end up paying for a ton of clicks that don’t convert into leads and sales.
If your Display Network CTR is suffering, try running a Placement report in Google AdWords. This report will show which Display Network websites are showing your ads, as well as metrics such as impressions and conversions from each of those sites. Identify which websites don’t send converting traffic and block them in your campaigns. Oftentimes, you’ll find these websites have little to do with the goods and services you’re marketing.
#4: Always split test new ads
A good online advertising strategy is always evolving. Riding the performance of a single high-performing ad is only a recipe for temporary success. Split testing at least two ads per ad group is essential for maintaining success and staying ahead of the curve.
Early on in your campaign, don’t waste time split testing ads that are just slight variations of each other. Instead, write ads that employ different sales tactics. Try one ad that touts a benefit of what you’re selling, then another that mentions your limited-time sale. You can also write ads that appeal to emotions using simple, powerful words such as “imagine” and “discover.”
Don’t instantly give up on ads that you’re split testing. Go through your standard steps of optimization. That said, don’t hesitate to shut down a struggling ad and replace it with something completely new.
#5: Check for landing page congruence
Do your ads make sense with your landing pages? If your ad makes a promise that isn’t reflected by your landing page, then your conversion rate will certainly suffer. That’s bad for ROI. Landing page congruence issues can become problematic if you’ve split testing numerous ads and drifted from your original concepts.
Landing page congruence is also important for design reasons, especially with campaigns for your mobile ads. Your landing page content could be perfect on desktops, but that doesn’t matter if your targeting mobile devices and your mobile landing page isn’t properly configured or designed.
#6: Create separate campaigns for your top keywords
Finding keywords that win big won’t take long. These keywords are great for ROI, but bad for optimization as they’ll dominate your clicks and your budget.
The solution? Run your proven keywords in their own separate campaigns. As you find more winners, move them over. You can pump up the budget for your winning keywords while spending less money on the rest (including new keywords you’re testing).
#7: Check your Impression Share
Getting your ads seen can be difficult if you’re marketing within a highly competitive niche. If you feel like your impressions are lower than they should be, then you can check your Impressions Share to learn how completely you’re reaching your potential audience. Add this data to your AdWords account interface by clicking the Columns tab, then the “Customize columns” and “Competitive metrics” options.
To remedy a low impression share, either increase your bid or improve the quality of your campaign. Remember that low CTRs and landing page problems – usually either congruence or page load issues – can sink your campaigns’ quality scores, resulting in more expensive costs and less-favorable ad placements.
Don’t be too hasty when optimizing your campaigns. Take the time to dig into under-performing campaigns and find out exactly what’s not working. In most cases, if you can isolate the problem, then you can also create a solution. However, don’t be afraid to turn off under-performing ads and keywords. Run with what works while never stop looking for your next big winners.
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