Whether you are already using ppc services including AdWords and want to optimise your campaigns or you want to create your first campaigns, the following checklist will help you.
Before using AdWords you first need to set up your advertising goals. Why are you using AdWords and what do you expect from it? Do you want to boost your sales? Do you wish to increase qualified leads? Did you just release a new product and you want people to be aware of.
Once you have decided that, you need to think of the best way to analyse the performance of AdWords. There is no point in running an AdWords campaign if you cannot tell if it is performing or not. You can track contact forms submissions, purchases, phone calls from call extensions, newsletter registrations, brochures downloads and many more
Your AdWords campaigns settings are very important and you need to pay attention to the following things:
Do you want to create a search campaign (most popular and recommended to begin with) or a display one (the display network allows you to choose specific websites where your ads will appear)?
It is better to create separate campaigns for each network and not use the default “Search with Display Select”
Which devices do you want your ads to show on? Mobile searches are overtaking desktops so it is not recommended to opt out of mobile, but instead bidding higher could be a good idea. Of course it also depends on the type of products or services you are offering. If your website is not mobile friendly yet, maybe it is better to opt out of this device setting until it is as the last thing you want is users to have a bad experience when surfing your website.
Do you want to target Ireland only? Maybe Northern Ireland as well? Or do you want to export your products/services abroad?
Most people will only use English, but if you are exporting your products and there is a market in non-English speaking countries, it could be interesting to try and test campaigns in different languages. Bear in mind that Google does not translate your ads and website, so if you wish to target German speakers in Germany, you’ll need to arrange for German translations of keywords, ads and website to effectively target this market
It is always better to start with a lower budget and increase it if you see it is not sufficient. To have an idea of the budget you should start with, you can have a look at the Tools section of the AdWords interface. The keyword planner tool will give you an insight on the amount of clicks, leads, average position you would get for a set of keywords with a specific daily budget and max CPC. As with all Google suggestions, the data presented in these tools are estimates only.
Anyone who is not an expert in AdWords should use manual CPC only in order to keep tighter control on their spent budget. Turn off the default enhanced CPC option for greater control over bids.
If you are just starting with AdWords and creating new ads, it is recommended to rotate your ads evenly for 90 days, so that all your ads are shown for a while before optimising.
AdWords structure is very important. You need to create a separate campaign for each goal or business unit. It is also advised to create separate campaigns for different networks if going beyond standard search campaigns. If you target different countries and languages, you will also need to create separate campaigns as you can only define which language you want to target at campaign level. If you sell different types of products, you should create a different campaign for each one. Let’s say you have a doors and windows replacement business. We would advise you to create a campaign for doors and another one for windows.
Another crucial point is to organise each campaign in tightly themed ad groups, ideally following the structure of your website. You could for example create the following ad groups for the windows replacement campaign stated above: PVC windows, aluminium windows, wooden windows (leading ideally to a different landing page for each of them on your website). This will allow you to use very specific and highly relevant keywords for each ad group, increasing your click through rate and quality score. If you have a doubt about your ad group structure, apply the following rule: any ad group that contains more than 25 keywords can generally be split into different themes and more ad groups.
You can use the AdWords keyword planner to find keywords and ad group ideas.
Different match types are used in AdWords: broad, broad match modified, phrase and exact.
Broad is the less restrictive type: your ad is shown whenever any variation of your keyword is searched. So the keyword “formal shoes” could show when someone searches for “formal footwear”, even if you don’t bid directly on this keyword. As broad match can lead you to come up for a lot of related but irrelevant searches, a better and more restrictive version is broad match modified: ads will only show if searches contain the modified terms (containing a “+” in front of each keyword). Please note that word order doesn’t matter in broad, so the keyword aluminium windows is similar to windows aluminium and they would be considered as duplicates in AdWords. You want to avoid duplicates as they might compete with each other.
Phrase match type allows additional words before or after the keyword, but not in the middle. Use “quotation marks” at the start and end of the keyword string you wish to make into phrase match.
Exact is the most restrictive keyword type: your ads will only show if the exact term or a close variation is typed in, it doesn’t allow any word before, after or in the middle. Use [square brackets ] at the start and end of the keyword string you wish to make into exact match.
The best is to use each single match type and use a separate ad group for each type, but if you are limited by time we would recommend to use broad match modified and phrase match as a start, so the searches are not too generic but not too limited either. Later, you can break off core keywords into single keyword exact match groups if they are converting well for you.
It is also crucial to add negative keywords, at campaign or ad group level. Negatives are a good way of preventing your ads to show for irrelevant searches so you don’t pay for useless traffic. Example: if you own a windows replacement business, you want to add negatives such as computers, software, download so people looking for things related to the operating system don’t see your ads.
Negative keywords work on the same match type principles as positive keywords, and can be added at either ad group or campaign level if you need to scale negatives across many ad groups. Never have a negative keyword that clashes with a positive one of the same match type or you will cancel it out. Negative keywords are free, so add as many as you need!
You should pay close attention to the messaging you use in your ads as this is actually what will make people click on them and land on your website. You should highlight what makes your products or services unique so you stand out from your competitors.
The number of characters you can use in your ads are limited as follows, and this includes spaces and punctuation:
Headline 1: 30 characters
Headline 2: 30 characters
Description line: 80 characters
Do not forget to use your keywords where possible in your ads as it will increase your quality score and relevancy.
We would suggest putting your keyword in Headline 1 where possible. It’s also important to use correct grammar, spelling and punctuation in your ad copy and to include a relevant call to action, such as “Call Us Today” or “Shop Online Now”.
You should write at least 2 different ads per ad group so you can start testing and evaluate which messaging works better.
It is pointless to write catchy ads if potential customers are then sent to poor landing pages. You should choose the best landing page to redirect people to after they click on your ads. This landing page should mention all the benefits mentioned in your ads. Ideally it would be good to use a different landing page in each ad group so that each page is highly relevant and you get a higher quality score. Thus, if you have a window replacement company, send the ad traffic from windows replacement keywords to these pages and not the home page or elsewhere.
Ad extensions are a great way of adding more messaging to your ads and helping you stand out from your competitors. You should use sitelinks leading to different pages of your website and callout extensions where you can add additional USPs. We also recommend you to use call extensions so that people can call you directly by clicking a button on your ad, and maybe location extensions if you have a physical store, as this will help people find it easily. The latter two extensions don’t apply to each business, depending on if you wish to receive calls from ads or have a physical location that serves customers.
Once your campaigns have been running for a while (at least a few weeks), you can start having a deeper look into things in order to get the most out of your campaigns without wasting money.
Here are a few actions you can take on a regular basis in order to keep your AdWords account healthy:
A good practice to start with when you want to analyse your campaigns performance is to download the search terms report for a determined time period: this report contains all the search terms that people typed in Google that have triggered your ads. This report can be found in the Keywords section of the AdWords interface: “Search terms”. This will give you a quick insight at your keywords relevancy. If you see a lot of searches that are totally not related to your products or services, you can start adding these as new negatives. The search query report might also give you ideas of new keywords to add: you should consider adding all search terms that are missing in your account that brought leads. There is no need to add every search term that triggered your ad as a keyword, as this will lead to the account becoming unwieldy.
After a while you should analyse keywords performance. Are they keywords that cost a lot of money without bringing any leads? Pausing those poor performing keywords might be a good idea. However, make sure that even if they are not bringing a lot of direct conversions, they are not bringing a lot of indirect conversions. Some keywords may indeed not bring direct conversions but they may play a crucial role in assisting conversions and if you do pause them, you will see the number of conversions decrease dramatically. Sometimes several previous searches are necessary to lead to the final conversion and the last click before conversions shouldn’t get all the credit, as previous clicks or impressions triggered by other keywords may assist your last converted click.
Pausing keywords that appear twice in your account (or that are similar as they just have a different word order) is a recommended practice. Your AdWords account shouldn’t contain the same keyword twice, even in different campaigns, as those campaigns might end up competing with each other and you certainly want to avoid that. The only case where you could have the same keyword in an account more than once is if different countries are targeted.
You should have a look at your quality score in order to know if your ads and keywords are relevant or if your landing page can be improved. A good quality score can decrease your bid costs and improve your ad rank in the search results, so if your quality score is less than 5 you should consider putting things into place to improve it.
Once your campaigns have been running for a while, you should have a look at your bids. Are you bids too low to appear on first page? Do some keywords bring leads but at a very high cost? Do some of them on the other hand bring leads at a very low cost? In order to be able to optimise bids accordingly, you should define what your target Cost Per Acquisition, or CPA is: the ideal maximum cost you are willing to pay for a lead so that your investment is still profitable (you should take into consideration the following data: delivery cost, production cost, administration cost). Are they keywords that have a CPA lower than your target CPA? Increase bids on them. Do some keywords have a higher CPA than your target CPA? Decrease bids on them.
It may be a good idea to analyse performance by device and adjust bids accordingly. It is indeed possible in AdWords to set different bids for each device: desktop, mobile and tablet, and you should take advantage of this opportunity as each device may bring totally different performance.
You can also analyse performance and adjust bids by locations, days of the week or hours of the days if you don’t want to spend too much money.
You can analyse your ads performance and see what messaging works best. You should eventually consider pausing underperforming ads or apply a more appropriate ad rotation setting.
After a while you can also start testing different landing pages and see what works best as a slight change in a landing page may bring totally different results in AdWords.
It is a good idea to check your budget allocation after a while.
Are you campaigns limited by budget with a lot of impressions lost due to that? Would you consider increasing your budget?
If increasing your budget is not an option, maybe you should then try and reduce your bids and see how your ads perform with lower bids? Or do you already have a lot of impressions lost due to low rank too?
AdWords Editor is a tool that helps you manage your AdWords campaigns. You can download it for free and if you are considering managing your campaigns yourself, we highly recommend that you use it as it only takes a few minutes to download and it will make things so much easier for you as it will allow you to apply changes in bulk, as well managing the account away from the live interface so that you can check and push changes only when happy to do so. This minimises the likelihood of mistakes.