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15 tips for AdWords beginners

Hopefully this will help people starting out

11:42 am on Jun 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

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All of this has been mentioned before here, but I couldn't find a beginners post like this so I thought I'd quickly put one together. I'm sure there's inaccuracies in here, so feel free to pull me up on them (because it will make it more useful for anybody just starting out with AdWords and keep me from talking bull) and add your own beginners tips.

1.Don't use broad matching

At least not to start off with. What's broad matching? From the horse's mouth:

“If you include general keyword or keyword phrases-such as tennis shoes-in your keyword list, your ads will appear when users search for tennis and shoes, in any order, and possibly along with other terms.”

With expanded matching it becomes even harder to know when your keywords will show, because Google will pick them algorithmically.

Broad match is usually used by experienced advertisers looking to save time (usually with a long list of negative keywords) or by lazy advertisers, who may not have the time or the inclination to target their campaigns. Broad matching can also be the right way to go for parts of certain kinds of campaign, but wading straight into it can be dangerous.

2.Use dynamic titles

Dynamic titles are easy, they don't cost anything and they usually have a good effect on CTR and conversion rates. The phrase that the searcher uses in their search will come up as the the title of your AdWord. This saves you having to create an individual ad for each keyword and means that your ad will be more targeted. In the title field of your ad simply put {keyword:your backup title here}. The backup title is in case the search phrase is too long for the title field or if AdWords can't display the search for some other reason.

3.Use global negatives

If you're selling something, you don't want people finding your ad if they're searching for free stuff. This sounds obvious, but do some searches and you'll see it happening. Use the word 'free' in your campaign global negatives. You can also use this for other words you don't want to turn up for. Using negative keywords is especially important if you're using broad matching.

4.Turn off content targeting and search network

Do you know where to look at these ads? No. Leave them alone until you feel confident that you know where they'll be showing and that you can make them work – get comfortable with Google first. Conversion rates and CTR's change dramatically for each search property, not to mention content targeted ads. Get acquainted with Google before you move on to the others.

5.Test different creatives and positions

How much of a difference will being in the first position, as opposed to the second, third or sixth position make, for your net profit? The answer is that it depends on your creative, industry and who else is bidding on your keywords. The bottom line is that you should know. Test your creative in each position and work out where it will be most effective, from an ROI point of view. Remember also that the AdWords ranking algo works on a CPCxCTR basis (it's actually more complicated than that, but that gives an idea as to why out of two ads with similar CPC's, one will be higher because of a higher CTR)

You can also test your creatives. Write 5 or 6 different ads and set them to run evenly (Google will run the one which preforms best by default, but you can set them to run evenly in your campaign settings). The creative which gives you the highest ROI is the one you should go with. You should probably run this kind of test for more than just a day.

6.Optimise your landing page

The landing page is the page which the person who clicked on your ad will see when they come through to your site. Don't use your homepage as your landing page unless it deals only with selling the product you're advertising. For instance, if you're selling posters, have a landing page for 'flower' posters and a landing page for 'car'. You can even go one better and have a landing page for each poster – so you'll have a page for 'sunflower posters' and 'bmw 5 series posters'.

7. Optimise your creatives

Optimising creatives is another topic entirely – but there are some easy wins (depending on, again, the strategy being appropriate for your campaign): one, for example, is using a keyword specific url. If you're selling Nike AirWalk shoes you might want to set the URL on your creative to display as: www.example.com/nike/nike-airwalk. Keep in mind that this has no relation to the real click through URL – but it looks better than your domain name – and certainly better than a long line of numbers. Keep this relevant however, because otherwise you could cheese people off if they don't find what they're looking for.

Another easy win is to not include superlatives, like 'world's best' and 'most loved product' or ALL CAPITAL LETTERS. Google will just disapprove them. If you do mention a price or something else (like: the UK's best selling mobile phone) then you must back that up on the landing page for the ad.

One of the most important things to remember that the ad copy is one of the most crucial things for making people click through. This sounds obvious, but there are a lot of very bad creatives out there.

8. Track conversion and ROI (Return On Investment)

Track everything. Google will track impressions, clicks and click through rate. Just because an ad has a high CTR doesn't mean that it is making you money! You can use Google's own conversion tracking codes, or you can use your own software. If you don't know how each keyword is preforming – then you won't be able to optimise your campaigns, by turning off the keywords that aren't working and investing more in the keywords which are.

9. Work out your CPA (Cost Per Acquisition)

How much is each sale costing you? Are your Google AdWords listings preforming as well as your Overture listings? Your SiteMatch listings? Your offline marketing? You should know how much you're paying for each order/sale/download/enquiry/whatever on each channel – only then will you be able to set CPA targets to work towards and know which channel is best for you.

10. Don't enter into bidding wars

It is easy to get into bidding wars with your competitors. You want to be number one and so does your competitor. The best thing to do is to take a step back, ten deep breaths and consider how important it really is to be in the number one spot. If you can justify it, fine but otherwise: let your competitor be number one, slot into the number two slot and wait. If you have a better product, your clickthrough rate will get you to the top – and you'll still be paying the same as you were in the second position.

More and more people are using automated bidding software. This software will update at a set interval to keep the ad in the desired position. Doing battle with this kind of software is even more frustrating and less rewarding than trying to outbid a competitor.

11. Set a weekly budget and stick to it

When you're first starting out this is really important. AdWords is addictive, and like anything else addictive, it can quickly get out of hand. A keyword may convert like nobody's business one day and die the next. Make sure you know a keyword is working (more importantly, know why it is working) before you invest more.

12. Geotarget

Geotarget your ads to the relevant audience. It can be done when you set up a new campaign and in your campaign settings. If you want to show on .com that's fine, but remember that you can geotarget to individual countries and even cities (you can target regions in the US, UK, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain and the Netherlands). The more targeted users feels that your ad is, the more likely they are to click on it.
13. Organise your campaigns into adgroups

This will make it easier for you to know what is doing well and what isn't – especially a year later. If you're selling shoes have a campaign not just for running shoes, but for Nike, and then an adgroup for each Nike model.

14.Keep a close eye on your competitors

Is your competitor doing something better than you? What keywords do you share with your competitors? Can you discern their strategy? Do they use automated bidding software? Do their landing pages have some magic which you should be emulating? This is the sort of stuff you can find out and the kind of stuff that you need to know.

15. Enjoy it. :)

7:54 pm on July 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I also need help with the dynamic titles.


It's not working for me.

Example, if someone is searching for red widgets

The title of my adword right now is "widgets"

It doesn't show "Red widgets" as the title, only widgets.

Do I have to add {keyword keyword:title}?

I don't understand.

9:00 pm on July 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

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NoCarrier...I hear you. I must be the kind of guy who needs a video tutorial.

I still don't get it.


9:22 pm on July 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

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If you go to my favorite search engine (guess which one that might be!) and enter this search:

site: www.webmasterworld.com keyword insertion

And then go to the bottom of the search results page and click the link that says:

"repeat the search with the omitted results included"

Then you will see a lot of past threads on this subject from WebmasterWorld. You'll most likely find what you are looking for if you spend some time surfing through those threads.


10:44 pm on July 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Ok I get it. LOL!

I thought that the "search phrase" from the user would become the "Title".

But in fact, it's using my keywords list.

Sorry about that :)

1:07 pm on July 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Hi GuitarZan

For that spreadsheet I take it you list the KeyWord, the CTR, the cost, and how many direct sales this specific KeyWord has made?

There are lots of metrics you might want to use but as you say unless you have it automated it can be a real spreadsheet headache. Luckily I am a programmer :O) Unluckily my marketing isn't as good as my programming right now :O(

Ad,Keyword,Click Cost,CTR,Num Clicks,Conversions,Basket Value,Total Cost for ad, total sales value per ad, average visitor value..

how often would you update this thing?

If you are anything like me, many times a day manically ;O)

Wouldn't it be nice if there was a program

There really needs to be a public api like the google search api, in which case it would be easy to automate end to end. At the moment you can only automated the tracking part which is pretty simple to do. You still need to input click costs etc but can get ad/keyword performance in realtime just using a simple redirect script that writes the search part of the referrer and ad number out. Match that with sales data and ad spend and you get your ROI.

There are products out there that do bid management etc but they must have had some major cash deals with G or are doing some dodgy screenscraping in which case will get booted one day.

2:23 pm on July 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Seem's I've been too busy the last few weeks. Great post!

One addition:

14.Keep a close eye on your competitors

If you are doing business in foreign countries, make sure you use proxies in that country when trying to see your competitors ad's.

I'm based in a European country. Even if I'm smart enough to go to google.com and search for the English version of our widgets, only 1 ad appears along with mine.
Now I'm using a proxy server which is based in the USA. I reload the page, and all of a sudden I have a whole bunch of ads comes up I've never seen before.
Guess what happens when I switch to a proxy in Canada: only a few of the ads remain - so not all advertisers have thought of doing business in Canada as well...

The reason behind all this is of course the geotargeting in the campaigns. If I'm using the browser, Google KNOWS where I'm located due to my IP address. So if my competitor in the USA has said "United States only", I'll never see his ads appear when surfing from Europe. Unfortunately, the Canadian guy doesn't see them either...

By use of a local proxy, you can act like an imposter and appear to Google as if you were located in the USA (or Canada, for the sake of the example). So make sure you gather some "intelligence" from different countries.

You can find lists of open proxy servers on the net for example at proxy4free.com, and there's even applications which allow you to easily switch proxies instead of doing it manually.

Hope that helps!

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