I am happy to pass on the Google AdWords know-how that I have built up over the last 5 years so that especially small businesses also have the chance to use AdWords as a valuable, profitable way to win new customers without wasting unnecessary budgets.
What is Google AdWords?
Google AdWords are the paid ads on Google’s search results page. It is often shortened as SEA (Search Engine Advertising) or SEM (Search Engine Marketing). The second largest search engine in the UK- BING from Microsoft – also has a similar program (BING Ads). Both programs involve placing ads based on keywords above or below the organic search results and advertisers pay per click on the ads.
AdWords Tip No. 1: The basis for your AdWords success is the account structure
The structure of an AdWords campaign is comparable to the foundation of a house. If this is well thought out and optimally constructed, then the house can also stand stable. The same applies to the account structure. If a good foundation has been created, adjustments and further developments can be made without any problems, without the account becoming confusing. The main pillars of the account structure are:
Clarity: The account should be structured in such a way that it is immediately clear which keywords were grouped where. This is the only way to ensure ongoing optimization.
Separation of search and display: The user behaviour, the attainment of the right people and also the indicators for the control differ fundamentally in search and display campaigns. Therefore, these must always be clearly separated.
Flexibility: A good structure makes it possible to quickly and easily add new ad groups that are also built directly in the right campaign.
Granularity: A good AdWords account is built up with small ad groups so that the ad texts fit optimally to the search queries.
If these rules are observed, budgets can be optimally managed, unnecessary costs avoided and continuous further development ensured. This is the only way to easily identify which campaigns, ad groups and ads are performing well and where there are weak points.
In principle, an AdWords account is divided into the following levels:
- Ad groups
So that you can use a good structure as a basis, it is important to structure the structure according to the logic of content. The graphic shows the example structure of an AdWords account for a Business Coach. A separate campaign is created for all services, including small ad groups with matching keywords:
Other options for setting up the account structure are:
- Differentiation according to regional aspects
- Separate campaigns by brands in the online shop
- Target group-specific campaigns
- Budget-Related Structures
Which structure is optimal depends primarily on what should be advertised and to what extent. Important in the structure is the sorting of the keywords into the ad groups. Here you have to make sure that within a group there are only homogeneous keywords where the search intentions of the users who entered them are likely to be the same. This is the only way to write the optimal ad copy for the search query.
AdWords Tip No. 2: Don’t blindly trust Google on campaign settings
At the campaign level, a number of important settings are made that can also determine whether a campaign is running particularly well or not. The settings include the following:
- In which networks advertising is delivered
- Regional control of the displays
- Budgeting and bidding strategy
- Timing of campaigns
Google also provides recommendations for several of the setting options. It is important for your campaigns that you do not blindly trust these recommendations. All recommendations must always be examined critically. These points also include the following three options:
By default, Google has saved the option “Maximize conversions” when creating a new campaign. That sounds tempting at first glance. However, there will be no data of your keywords available at the beginning. But Google has to collect data and will start to optimize the bidding to get as much as possible traffic to your website. Because of that, it is better to start with a combination of Manuel bidding and Enhanced CPC, so that you learn quickly what works well and still have a certain control over your biddings.
2. Ad Rotation
Create at least 4 ads per ad group and use the “Prefer best performing ads” option. Set up also “soft conversions” like Newsletter Sign Ups or PDF Downloads. The more data points are available for the AI and Machine Learning, the faster your ad rotation will be optimized.
3. location options
When you create the campaign, you also determine in which region it will be played. This could be “United Kingdom”, for example. With the location options, you can also define whether the ads then actually only run in Germany, or also for users who are interested in content from the UK. These could be British People living abroad, for example. If you want to make sure that the ads are only visible in the United Kingdom, you have to select the option “Users in my target region” instead of Google’s recommendation.
AdWords Tip No. 3: Use the right Keywords
In order to reach the right users at the right time, the selection of suitable keywords is crucial. Often the Google Keyword Planner or another keyword tool is used in the first step.
However, before you make use of them, you should first think about the direction in which the journey should take. A recommendation for the process of keyword search and structuring is the following:
In the first step, start to think about it, also with several people together. Consider which questions users want to reach and what they might be looking for in the context of Google. It is recommended to build the whole thing in the form of a mindmap. Only when you have created a collection of topics and ideas, it is advisable to use tools. The following tools are suitable for this purpose:
1. Google Keyword Planner
You can access the Keyword Planner by clicking on the wrench symbol in the upper right corner of the account. Here you can get information from Google about the search volume, the competition and the approximate click prices. Google provides suggestions for possible ad groups. In any case, take a very critical look at all the proposals.
2. Google Trends
Google Trends provides you with information on how search queries develop over time. You can also put this in the comparison with other terms and derive possible seasonality from it.
3. Google Suggest + Hypersuggest
When you start typing a search term at Google, Google will provide you with immediate suggestions. These terms usually have a very high search volume, since users can easily take a shortcut here.To make it easy to add these suggestions to your keyword lists, I recommend Hypersuggest. Here you get a list of the keywords and can export them to an Excel spreadsheet.
The keywordtool.io page is recommended as an alternative or supplement to the Google Keyword Planner. Here you can tap several other sources in addition to Google’s suggestions.
The only downside is that the really exciting information is only available in the paid version. Depending on the size of the site, the usage costs between 48 and 88$ per month. I recommend that you export the matching keyword suggestions as an Excel file and then sort them into ad groups. This way you can prepare your AdWords account completely offline and upload it via the AdWords Editor.
When selecting keywords, you should also consider what kind of search query it is. Basically, there are three different types of searches. It is important to note that search queries with navigation or information intentions are significantly less suitable for persuading the user to convert. In particular, however, information search queries can be used to build brand awareness and trust in your offer. After all, the information search queries represent an important area in the context of the Customer Journey. Consider the keywords accordingly: Plan them in your keyword strategy, but vary the objectives of the traffic.
AdWords Tip No. 4: Use the Right Keyword Options
In order to control the delivery of your AdWords ads more precisely and to avoid wastage, Google offers various keyword options, also known as match types. A distinction is made between four different variants:
Broad Match: Google will deliver your ads for all queries that match the keyword to a certain extent.
Modified Broad Match: Here a + sign is added before the keyword. As a result, the ads are only played out if this word actually appears in the search query.
Phrase match: In this variant, several keywords are enclosed by quotation marks, which means that the terms within the parentheses must appear in exactly this order in the search query.
Exact Match: By using square brackets, it is specified that the search query must correspond exactly to the booked keyword in order for the ad to be delivered.
The additional characters do not mean that the user searches with these terms, but only serve to restrict how far Google scatters the delivery. The negative or excluding keywords have a special function, therefore they are treated separately in tip no. 5.
If you book your keywords in Broad Match, you can expect Google to deliver your ads very widely. It is also very likely that this includes search queries that do not match what you actually offer. On the other hand, if you book with the Exact Match you will have a much shorter range, but no scattering losses. The advantage of the most suitable keywords is that you are able to cover all relevant search queries and are also present for terms that you did not even have on the screen. The wider the keyword option, the greater the range potential. Therefore, we recommend that you book both wider variants and exactly matching ones for your campaign. If you want to avoid loss of coverage and delivery of inappropriate terms, it is advisable to use only the Modified Broad Match.
AdWords Tip No. 5: Lock out the wrong users with negative keywords
In addition to the four spellings mentioned above, there are also the excluding or negative keywords. These allow you to prevent your ads from being played if certain terms are included in the search query. Exclusive keywords can be added to the keyword level account under the appropriate tab:
If there are terms that are to be excluded from the entire account and not only in a particular ad group or campaign, you can create lists of these terms. You can do this in the Account menu under Shared Library. Then you have the option of using these lists in all campaigns with just a few clicks:
Excluding keywords are very helpful in many areas:
- Exclude users who are not willing to buy, e. g. those who search with combinations such as “free of charge” or similar.
- Avoid poorly performing combinations
- Improve click rate and quality factor by eliminating inappropriate searches
- Avoidance of delivery when searching for competitor brands
In order to identify possible terms for which you want to prevent future impression, it is mandatory to regularly check the search query report at the keyword level. Here you can see what the users were looking for when they clicked on your ad. Use this data to exclude bad keywords and to book well running ones.
AdWords Tip No. 6: Write unique Ad Copy
The ad copy on Google AdWords is the first thing the user sees from you and represents the link between his or her search and what you can offer. Too often, the ad texts are only aimed at placing the keyword prominently and otherwise communicating product features. This does not take advantage of the opportunity to grab the user directly and emotionally. The search query is usually preceded by a problem or need. It is precisely this need that must be taken up and a satisfaction promised. As in the example of the search query for life insurance companies. The provider Sunlife picks up the search query directly with the note “Protect your loved ones” and thus serves the emotional component very well.
Tips for writing great Ad Copy:
- Use numbers and special characters in the text
- Serve emotions
- Swap product features for the benefits of your product
- Ask questions
- Use seasonal hangers
- Integrate action requests
In any case, test regularly and continuously different ad texts with different approaches to identify the best combination for your most important keywords. In addition to the Ad Copy, Ad Extensions are also crucial for a good click-through rate of your AdWords campaigns. Google has significantly increased the number of possible extensions in recent years, which suggests that this is very important. Use all useful extensions for your advertisements. This enables you to significantly increase your presence on the search results page, provide more information and thus improve your click-through rate. Google will reward this with better quality factors. An overview of the functionality with recommendations for almost all extensions can be found here: AdWords Ad Extensions
AdWords Tip No. 7: Take care of the Quality Factor
The quality factor is one of the decisive levers for the profitability of AdWords accounts and therefore cannot be neglected. Good quality factors ensure that you have a decisive competitive advantage because you achieve rankings above the search results at significantly lower costs.
A low quality factor, on the other hand, almost completely ruins your chances of a successful campaign. Because if you have to pay 50%, 100% or even 200% more per click than your competitor, the air in markets with low margins will quickly become very thin. The quality factor has its meaning, no question about it. It ensures that more relevant ads are rewarded. It is therefore astonishing that Google is able to draw transparency from the nose and provides only a bit by bit for more insight and thus optimization possibilities.
What you need to know about the quality factor
In the past, AdWords was much simpler: On the one hand, there was much less competition and on the other hand, Google’s guidelines were much less restrictive. A good CTR and a reasonable CPC were enough and the advertisements were already at the top. However, this did not necessarily mean that advertisers were at the top of the list, who also offered what the user was looking for. Here there is a risk for Google that users will stop clicking on ads or even using Google.
The quality factor is used to assess relevance so that ads that fit better are given preference. Good quality factors are in the range of 8-10, medium quality factors are in the range of 4-7 and bad quality factors are in the range of 1-3, whereby a 7 can be completely ok and a 4 is much too low. Here you have to consider the respective situation.
A very interesting video from Google about the quality factor can be found here:
From quality factor to ad rank
The order of ads on the Google search results page is recalculated in a split second for each search query. For this purpose, an auction takes place in the background, which ad has the highest ad rank and is therefore in first place. The Ad Rank is a value resulting from the following calculation: Ad rank = max. CPC x quality factor
So if you offer both a high quality factor and a high price per click, you have a good chance of being at the top. If you want to influence the quality factor, you need to know the three most important factors:
- The probable click-through rate: The click-through rate remains the most important factor in assessing relevance. And of course, Google is also aiming at optimizing its own sales.
- The advertising relevance: Here Google checks how relevant the ad text is to the search query. Problems often arise when an ad group contains very different keywords.
- User experience with the target site: AdWords Account Managers can learn a lot from good SEOs. Make sure that your pages are well structured, that the user and crawler of Google find the relevant content quickly and that the page loads quickly.
Optimization for mobile devices is also an important factor. These three factors are only superordinate values. In the background, a large number of smaller elements that are not explicitly displayed play a role in the valuation.
AdWords Tip No. 8: Make everything measurable with Google Analytics and Conversion Tracking
You shouldn’t start an AdWords campaign without sophisticated tracking. This is the only way to check and optimise the success of your measures and thus profitability. The easiest way to track is to use AdWords conversion tracking. In the first step inquiries, sales or e. g. newsletter registrations can be measured. To do this, a tracking code that is generated in the account must simply be integrated on the page after the action that the users are to take. But calls can also be measured.
To see more numbers than just the number of conversions, we recommend linking AdWords with Google Analytics. This not only enables conversion tracking via analytics in AdWords but also the use of remarketing lists and the addition of additional indicators such as the length of stay or the bounce rate. These figures provide valuable information about the user behaviour on your target page and can thus provide impulses for the optimization of the conversion rate as well as the quality factor. You can find instructions for linking AdWords and Analytics here.
If you use Google Analytics on your website, the topic of data protection is relevant. Important information on the use of analytics in compliance with data protection regulations can be found here. If you’re using AdWords Conversion Tracking and Google Analytics in parallel, you’ll probably notice that different conversion values are displayed over and over again. This is due to different measurement methods.
Google Analytics E-Commerce tracking is helpful for online shops that promote direct sales of different products, as keyword sales can also be entered into the AdWords account. This helps to set the value of clicks and conversion in relation to costs.
If the goal of your campaign is to generate inquiries, it is also advisable in most cases to record incoming calls. Google offers solutions for this purpose, e. g. to capture the so-called click-to-call conversion of smartphone users. It is also advisable to use special tracking numbers on the landing page to assign calls to the AdWords campaign. Via providers it is possible to dynamically adjust the displayed phone number on the page and, if calls are received, import them into Google Analytics. This means that calls can be recorded precisely and even assigned a value.
Post Conversion Tracking
Not only the recording of conversion but also the evaluation of the value is decisive for the success of AdWords campaigns. To do this, you should set up a fixed process to which you assign the value of the conversion in the company as precisely as possible. Questions that need to be clarified in this context:
- How much revenue has come from requests for Keyword X?
- How long is the shelf life of customers via AdWords?
- Do customers only buy once or several times?
- What is the maximum amount that can be spent per new customer via AdWords?
This data has to be continuously generated and target values have to be adjusted regularly. It is also possible to import this information into AdWords or Analytics.
Not every user buys after the first click. Therefore, the issue of attribution should not be neglected. Here it is taken into account that in some cases several visits to the website were preceded by several visits and that there were correspondingly other contact points. So it is often the case that users search for something, click on your ad but do not directly request or buy. However, they will search for your brand name the next day, click on your AdWords ad and trigger a conversion. This is then attributed to the brand keyword in the AdWords account. Without the preparatory click, this request might never have been made. In the menu, you will find exactly this information under “Measurement” and “Search attribution”:
You can display which campaigns have provided preparatory clicks or impressions, whether there are typical keyword and click paths to conversion and much more. Use this information to make valid decisions about the value of a keyword.
AdWords Rule No. 9: Optimize your landing page
As described in Rule 7, continuous testing and optimization is a critical factor in the success of AdWords campaigns. The target page, or rather the landing page, play a decisive role in determining whether the investments in clicks on Google AdWords are profitable or not. Because even the best-optimized campaign with excellent advertising copy is useless if the landing page is too weak. Too often users are sent to pages that are generally ok but do not match what the user was looking for. In the first step, it is important that there is a common thread of the intention of the user, which led to the search and what is communicated on the landing page. This includes the following steps:
- What drives the user to open Google?
- Which keyword does he/she search for
- Does the ad copy suit both the search query and its intention?
- The headline on the landing page picks up the intention and adapts it to the ad copy
- Are the visual language and the other texts suitable?
- Does the call to action promise a solution to his/her problem?
If what is communicated especially in the texts does not match the search intention, the probability of conversion decreases dramatically.
Requirements for a good AdWords Landing Page
In order for your AdWords landing page to be successful, you must achieve the following goals:
- Be relevant: The user must immediately recognize that he/she is correct on the site.
- Building trust:”Don’t make me think” is not only a good book about conversion rate optimization but also a principle of landing page design. The user must find features that subconsciously strengthen his or her trust and avoid irritating elements.
- Emotionalize: People decide not rationally, but emotionally. There’s a reason someone’s looking for something on Google. Take it up and package your offer with emotions. Then the user will love it.
- User guidance: Take the user’s hand and guide him/her step by step from the headline to the advantageous argumentation to the order.
Conclusion: Work with clear, search-intended prompts for action so that you reach your goal and the user makes a conversion.
Landing Page Copy
When it comes to landing page optimization, the focus is often quickly put on the topic of design and attempts to create the most beautiful pages possible. However, practice shows that this is not always effective. The design must be functionally good, simple and understandable and at the same time give the user a good feeling. The copy, on the other hand, ensures that the user understands, likes and concludes the offer. Three recommendations for better headlines and texts on your landing page:
- Use emotions: Put yourself in the user’s shoes and try to take up these emotions and use them for your texts.
- Reduction: No text without a clear intention. Each text section must have a clear goal and lead the user to a decision. Eliminate texts that have no effect.
- Swap features for benefits: The individual features of the products are often advertised in advertisements. For the user, however, it is not so much the name of the feature that is relevant, but what advantage it has.
The size and weight of a lightweight smartphone, for example, are not decisive. So easy that you won’t notice it in your pocket “, on the other hand, is a concrete benefit. Landing page examples in which the focus is on customer benefit and parallel to this, the way to conversion was smoothed out by a functional design and good user guidance.
Responsive design and technical requirements
If your landing page should look good and work well on all devices (yes, it should!), then there is no way around responsive web design. This allows you to adjust the page’s content to fit the display size and shape, ensuring a great user experience. If you want to make sure your site meets Google’s mobile-optimized website requirements, Google offers several tools to help you test it:
Here you can copy your URL and test the presentation on different screen sizes and easily identify weak points in the user interface or presentation.
2. Mobile friendly Test
This offer tests whether your site is generally optimized for smartphones and gives you specific tips on what to change if there are vulnerabilities.
3. Test My Site
This tool focuses on the speed of your website. Google provides not only the loading time on the smartphone but also an estimate of how many percents of the user would jump off due to the time. You will also receive specific tips on how to make the site faster: https://testmysite.withgoogle.com/intl/en-gb
Elements for testing
If you want to optimize your landing page, you should start with a plan as recommended under tip no. 7. You can then test the following elements on the page:
- Opening text
- Product presentation
- Checkout process
- Security certificates
So that you can perform landing page tests relatively easily and evaluate them well, it often makes sense to use professional tools. Below you will find a selection of tools suitable for this purpose:
- Google Analytics
- Google Optimizer
- Visual Website Optimizer
- Crazy Egg
- Eye Quantum
AdWords Tip No. 10: Testing instead of instinct – for better results
No matter how well your AdWords account and landing page are set up, things are still looking up. A constant development of your campaigns is not only an option to become better but also a duty to stay good. Because of the steadily increasing competition and the new features that Google is constantly implementing, there will be always things to test for you.
Testing vs. instinct
Again and again, it happens that good ideas arise, what could be changed to increase the AdWords results:
- New ad copy
- New keywords or topics
- Adjustment of click prices
- Changes to the landing page
Other targeting options
Even if your instinct says that the idea is very good and that it has to run better, in any case, you should not change everything directly but should test it first. It is crucial for success that you regularly and continuously test new advertising texts or landing pages. You should plan, execute and document these tests in a structured manner. It is also recommended that you make testing a monthly routine and plan these tests in advance. You can create a clear plan based on Excel or Google Spreadsheet, where the following information is entered:
Idea collection: Here all persons involved in the project can enter new ideas for tests.
Test planning: Here you can make a monthly overview of the planned tests with a hypothesis, description and details.
You can use the following columns for this purpose:
- Month in which the test is performed
- Product or campaign where you want to test it
- Type of test (landing page, display, etc.)
- Hypothesis: What is your idea behind the test?
- Description: What exactly will you test
In addition to the columns in test planning, you can also insert three additional columns:
- Result: What has the test achieved?
- Follow-up tests: Can the result be used to make derivations that lead to a new test?
- Remarks: Is a relevant insight or framework still worth mentioning?
AdWords campaigns evolve quickly, which means you won’t remember all the details of your tests in a few months. Therefore, it is important to document them properly. This ensures that no knowledge is lost and that you retain an overview.
The Eternal Cycle of Optimization
The footballer’s wisdom “After the match is before the match” also applies to your test planning. After the test has been carried out, it is important to draw conclusions from this, to establish new hypotheses, to prioritise and test them according to possible expenditure and benefits.
Google AdWords is becoming increasingly complex but still offers huge potential to reach the right people at the right time with the right message. Use the AdWords tips to set up and optimize your campaigns in a highly targeted way and take them to a new level step by step.