Those of you whose search advertising budget is modest might feel you’re at a disadvantage, competing with big-spending competitors who have specialist agencies running their campaigns. But you might be surprised. Some of the worst-run campaigns I’ve seen have been from large companies, who are either doing things badly in-house or using an advertising agency which doesn’t know (or care) what it’s doing.
Actually, running an effective Google AdWords campaign is surprisingly straightforward, with all the best practices well documented. We sell our own services to clients along the lines of “allowing you to get on with the rest of your job”, rather than us offering any black magic. Of course, being efficient does require keeping up with the latest hints and tips, but they’re not hard to find, if you have the time. Indeed, Google itself offers a lot of help, often with a personal account manager.
So if you’re spending enough money (e.g £1000 a month) on Google AdWords, we’d strongly recommend getting someone like us to do all the hard work. But if your budget doesn’t stretch that far, and you’re having to take a DIY approach, here are my top tips at the moment:
1. Don’t get hung up on exact match searches to begin with. It’s the advert which matters, not the ‘keywords’. Think about it: the keyword selection is just a way of finding your prospects, by second-guessing where they might be looking on Google. That’s all. There’s no reason why you couldn’t catch them with your advert while they were searching for the weather forecast, although I wouldn’t recommend trying that. Remember, you don’t pay if they don’t click. You’ll want to home in on progressively tighter keywords in time, to improve your clickthrough rate and lower your cost per click. But don’t be afraid of using fairly broad ideas around your area of activity.
3. Use the ‘search query’ report heavily. This shows you what people who clicked on your adverts actually typed in – you’ll probably find searches which indicate the searcher was almost certainly not a prospect. You can then stop your advert appearing on those specific keywords, perhaps by negative matching.
4. Try to write individual targeted adverts for your most important search terms. Include the search term in the advert copy and on the landing page. I’ve seen (and indeed have created) campaigns with a separate advert for each keyword. This might be excessive, but certainly make sure you do this for the core keywords.
5. Spend time on the advert wording. For popular search terms, write two adverts in the ad group and let Google run them alternately until it finds out which one works best, at which point it will start showing that one more (the default setting). If nothing else, just test the ad with/without capitalised words or with/without the addition of a symbol such as a trademark. All the usual rules apply: benefits not features, calls to action, etc.
6. Learn about, and evaluate, other types of advertising through Google. This includes the ‘Display Network’, Google Shopping and ‘Remarketing’ adverts. These can provide excellent value and some unique opportunities, especially where search advertising may not be the right solution (e.g. if you’re targeting a vertical market sector or have a technology nobody knows about).