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Top 12 Google AdWords Tips

Top 12 Google AdWords Tips

The Google AdWords platform has changed considerably over the years, meaning that even the most experienced search engine marketing professionals can sometimes struggle to navigate to the right areas within an account. In this article, we highlight some key AdWords tip

#1 Account structure

The structure of an AdWords account is relatively simple, but can appear to be confusing for those who are not familiar with it. So here’s the standard account structure explained:

  • Campaigns: An account is typically sub-divided into one or more campaigns
  • Ad groups: Within each campaign, there will usually be multiple ad groups. An ad group will contain keywords that are closely related.
  • Keywords: Contained within ad groups, keywords are the search terms that Google users type in (and alongside which your ads are shown)
  • Ads: Ads are also contained within ad groups. An ad display can be triggered by any of the keywords within that particular group.

#2 Search and display advertising

When a user searches on Google and is shown an ad, then that is a search ad.

There are also numerous websites available that display Google ads alongside their own content. This is what is known as display advertising. When creating an AdWords campaign, an advertiser can choose search or display advertising (or both).

#3 What is Conversion Tracking?

AdWords Conversion Tracking allows you to track how many visitors from AdWords actually become genuine leads (or make purchases) once they arrive on your site. In fact, it’s a far more powerful tool than this: it also allows you to see which keywords triggered those visits and which ads individuals clicked on. In short, Conversion Tracking is an invaluable tool, allowing you to monitor campaign performance and tweak accordingly. It’s the best means of ensuring that your budget is targeted at the right areas within your account.

Setting up Conversion Tracking involves placing some additional code on your website and is relatively simple to implement. Oh…we should also mention that it’s free of charge to use it.

#4 How much does it cost to use AdWords?

When running Google AdWords advertising, you (the advertiser) decide on the budget that you wish to make available. Of course, if you set a very low budget and bid at low levels too, then you are unlikely to receive many visits to your website.

There is no set-up cost charged by Google and neither is there a minimum daily, weekly or monthly spend in order to keep your AdWords account active.

#5 Are all features available in all countries?

The short answer to this is “no”. There are variations from one country to the next, particularly when it comes to Google Call Forwarding and Google Shopping.

#6 Setting up Google Shopping

Google Shopping listings are easy to spot within Google’s results pages: they consist of photographs of individual products, together with pricing information. This price comparison platform used to be free for advertisers to use, but you now have to bid for positioning (in much the same way as for standard search ads). So how do you get up and running? In effect, there is a multi-step process here:

Firstly, you need a means of exporting all of your product data in a suitable format. There are number of ways of achieving this and many platforms (such as Magento and WordPress) have plugins available to make the process as straightforward as possible.

Once you have got an export available, you then need to have a Google Merchant Center account (free to set-up), with that account being linked to the product extract location. As your products are loaded into Merchant Center, you’ll be notified if there are any issues with data quality. In some cases, such issues will need to be rectified before products are recorded as being active (live).

Finally, you need to link your Merchant Center account to your Google AdWords account. Having done so, you can then create a Google Shopping campaign within AdWords, which will use the data from the Merchant Center account to create listings.

#7 Targeted keyword selections

We’ve examined hundreds of client AdWords accounts since the platform launched in the UK and our experience suggests that the biggest cause of wasted spend within an account is poor targeting. There are a variety of reasons why this comes about, from those advertisers who choose keywords that are too loosely related to their business, to to those who don’t understand match types (more about this later).

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It’s all too easy to fall into the trap of bidding on keywords that simply aren’t ever likely to result in leads or sales. To take an example, if you are a solicitor offering legal advice solely to businesses, then you are unlikely to want to advertise on the keyword solicitors. Why not? Mainly because advertising on such a broad term will mean that you are paying for visits to your site from those looking for family solicitors, seeking jobs as solicitors and for a variety of other requirements. None of those individuals are likely to become paying clients. Although it is true that you will attract a small percentage of potential, valuable clients, the reality is that much of your budget will be wasted.

When starting out with an AdWords account, it makes much more sense to keep your targeting tight and then to expand out at a later stage, if needed. Chasing a high volume of clicks from the outset is unlikely to yield great results.

#8 Keyword match types

This is one area of AdWords advertising that appears to cause more confusion than almost any other. It seems logical that, if you are seeking to make clear that you are offering a low carb diet plan, then would enter exactly that within AdWords. By default, however, this takes you into the land of broad match. Allow us to explain more!

With broad match, what happens is that Google’s algorithm automatically examines the search term that you’ve entered and identifies a range of related keywords. Your ads are then shown against those related keywords, as well as the one that you actually selected. This means that your ad might appear, in the example here, to those searching for information on the Mediterranean diet. Is that what you intended? Maybe, but maybe not.

Broad match is designed to increase visibility within your advertising campaign and it can be a useful tool for doing so. It may be especially handy for building brand awareness and for enabling you to access keywords that you might otherwise not have identified. But there’s a clear risk that it may dilute your targeting, meaning that your ads will be shown to those who aren’t really interested in your products or services. This means wasted spending, which is generally bad news.

So what are the alternatives to broad match? There are 3 main alternatives (and we’ve shown the syntax for each below):

[exact match]

With an exact match keyword, your ads are only shown for that particular keywords and very close variants. The inclusion of very close variants is itself a recent change in the way in which AdWords works.

“phrase match”

With a phrase match keyword selection, ads show on searches that are a phrase and that may also be close variations of that phrase. So selecting a phrase match of “women’s hats” might well meant that your ad would show in response to a query for: buy women’s hats.

+broad +match +modifier

Are you ready for the explanation on this one?! We’ll take Google’s own definition:

“Ads may show on searches that contain the modified term (or close variations, but not synonyms), in any order”

So, if the broad match is for +women’s +hats then the ad could show in response to a query for: hats for women. It’s not surprising that many new advertisers and junior consultants find match types to be so confusing!

#9 Location targeting

The ability to target ads at individuals who are present in (or interested in) particular geographic locations is a key feature AdWords, offering a powerful means for service providers to target their local area. Location targeting is created at the campaign level, rather than at the account level. This ensures that there is considerable flexibility, allowing multiple campaigns targeting a variety of geographic locations.

Within the UK, there are 3 main levels at which targeting of this type can be used:

  • At the national level. So this would allow ads that target the entire United Kingdom (or other countries, for those looking to target on an international basis)
  • Area targeting. Typically, this might involve (in the case of the UK) a focus on particular towns or cities. It’s also possible to target counties
  • Radius targeting. Often overlooked, possibly because some advertisers find it more difficult to get to grips with, it’s possible to select a particular location (possibly the location of your office or warehouse) and then target a particular radius from that location. So this might be used to target all those within 20 miles of your office or store.

#10 Achieving great Quality Scores

The whole area of Quality Scores is quite detailed and has attracted considerable attention in a variety of online articles. In essence, Quality Scores are assigned, on the basis of the relevance of your ads, landing pages and keyword selections. Those advertisers achieving higher Quality Scores will typically experience lower prices and may also see improved ad positioning. It’s that impact of the Quality Score system that helps to explain why this is an area of AdWords that has garnered so much attention.

If you wish to improve Quality Scores within your account, then it’s useful to understand the elements that make up the calculation:

  • A Quality Score is given against each keyword within your account, on a scale of 1 (low) to 10 (high)
  • You can check your Quality Score by drilling down to the keyword level within your account and then clicking on the white speech bubble that is shown next to the keyword status
  • You can also add a column to the AdWords interface, enabling the Quality Score to be shown automatically against each keyword. The field here is known as Qual. Score and can be found within the Attributes section, when seeking to add custom columns to your reports.
  • The three key elements are: ad relevance, landing page relevance and expected click-through rate. Influencing each of these elements is the key to improving your Quality Score.

#11 Maximising click-through rates (CTRs)

With PPC advertising, there’s a need to get searchers to click on your ads (for the most part), in order to stand a chance of converting those viewers into potential customers. This doesn’t mean that you should create ads that mislead, however, as such action will ultimately lead to wasted spend and potential damage to your brand. How can you try to maximise CTRs in a manner that will also help to boost engagement?

Ideally, your ads will reflect the keywords that trigger them. There are number of methods for achieving this, but the best approach is to ensure that you have a well structure AdWords account, with tightly focused ad groups. With that structure in place, you’ll be able to create ad copy that better reflects the keywords within the account. If you’re using broad match or phrase match keyword selections, then you may wish to consider dynamic keyword insertion, which can ensure that your ads contain the keywords entered by the searcher.

You can also boost CTRs via ad extensions, which will naturally make your ads more prominent on the page. Pay particular attention to sitelinks and callout extensions.

Finally, a strong call to action can deliver results.

#12 Don’t forget your landing pages

Once you’ve successfully converted searchers into site visitors, you need to ensure that they take the next step. In order to achieve that, you need to have a clear objective in mind: are you expecting to generate a sale? Is your aim to get a newsletter sign-up, or to capture contact details? Your landing page should have a strong focus on leading the visitor to complete the action that you have in mind.

With Quality Scores in mind, it should also offer an accurate reflection of the target keywords and should be cohesive, in terms of the relationship between the landing page and ad copy. A seemingly great AdWords campaign will fail, if your landing pages don’t do their job.

We hope that the 12 tips above offer a real insight into making the most of Google AdWords. If you’d like to learn more from Certified Google AdWords experts, then get in touch.


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Keith Barrett
With more than 15 years of digital marketing experience, Keith Barrett is a fully Certified Google AdWords Partner. Offering insights into the world of PPC marketing in the UK, Keith is a Senior Consultant here at Search South. If you'd like to hear more of Keith's thoughts, then you can subscribe to our newsletter.