Everyone wants to maximize Google AdWords account and stop wasting budget, and in many ways, managing a Google AdWords Paid Search account is much like painting a picture. If you asked six artists to paint a family in front of a house, you would get six completely different paintings. Some artists may draw a family in front of a mansion, others may draw them on the steps of a cabin. Some might paint a family of three while others paint a family of five. Some paintings could be black and white, some could have color. Another artist may even add a family dog to the picture.
You get the point. The bottom line is that nothing is set in stone when it comes to the direction of building, creating, and structuring a paid search account in Google AdWords. However, there are routine practices every paid search optimizer in Google AdWords can do to maximize their account and stop wasting budget.
First, does your paid search campaign naming convention make sense?
Think of your Google AdWords paid search campaign naming convention as the foundation and floor plan of a home. Campaigns should be easy to follow and make sense. You should be able to identify how keywords are split up and where they belong in your campaign. Here’s an example of a good campaign naming convention for a school that offers medical classes:
Good Campaign Naming Convention:
- Google – Search – Branded
- Google – Search – Medical Assistant
- Google – Search – Medical Claims
- Google – Search – Lab Tech
- Google – Search – Pharmacy Tech
- Google – Display – Branded
- Google – YouTube – Medical Assistant
This paid search campaign naming convention makes sense for a school that offers classes in these programs or has specific budgets or goals for each program. Right away you can tell that any search ads or keywords related to Medical Assistant will be found under the “Google – Search – Medical Assistant” campaign. You can also tell that they are running display but only for branded and not each individual program that they offer. If this school wanted to do a big push towards an individual program it would be easy to manage that with this setup. If they wanted to stop promoting a certain class such as “Lab Tech” we could simply pause the campaign. Proper campaign naming convention will save you a lot of time, help you identify performance both good and bad, and make optimizing much more efficient.
Bad Campaign Naming Convention:
The paid search campaign naming convention above is a mess that will most likely lead to multiple headaches throughout the day, every day. Let’s dive deeper into why this is not as efficient as the first campaign naming convention. These campaigns are too broad and aren’t broken down in a way that makes them easily identifiable. What is “Medical”, what type of Medical campaign is it and how would you optimize it between medical assistant or medical claims? If you needed to stop running medical claims or shift budget between the two types of medical programs, you couldn’t do that effectively if they are all lumped together under one campaign. What exactly is “Campaign1”? How can anyone tell what that is and what type of terms are in there? A paid search naming convention like this doesn’t give you the room to differentiate your campaigns or optimize effectively. It also doesn’t give you room to grow and branch out if you need to. So, make sure you plan out your paid search campaigns to be more specific as it will only lead to better performance and more effective optimizations in your Google AdWords account.
Second, are your paid search ad groups helping or hurting you?
Ad groups allow you to put your paid search keywords and ads into different groups much like folders allow you to do the same with files. If you put all your files into one single folder things get messy quickly and it’s hard to find what you’re looking for. While campaigns help you separate your big differences, ad groups help you separate your smaller differences. Here’s a good example of using ad groups effectively:
Ad Group Structure
- Medical Assisting Certification
- Medical Assisting Classes
- Medical Assisting Degree
- Medical Assistant Certification
- Medical Assistant Classes
- Medical Assistant Degree
- Become a Medical Assistant
With the above ad group structure, you can easily decipher what keywords belong in each group. They are narrowed down to terms that match assisting, and terms that match assistant. It’s further broken down into other terms such as classes, degrees, and certification. Having your ad groups structured this way will allow you to instantly identify which keywords perform the best when grouped with similar keywords. It will also help you establish which groups of keywords cost too much, convert the most, and have the best cost per conversion.
Third, are your keywords organized and working in conjunction with your ad groups?
Keywords are the bread and butter of your Google AdWords paid search campaign. Without the proper distribution of keywords, your account is not going to reach its full potential. Above, we discussed how to properly spread out your ad groups. Coming up with the many varieties of keywords, phrases, and terms is a time-consuming task alone but to maximize your performance they must be organized into the appropriate ad groups.
Are you using the best variety of keyword combinations in your current setup? Did you know there are multiple ways to target the same keyword or phrase and some ways can cost much less? Google AdWords has many unique types of keywords and they all serve a specific purpose to suit your needs. Broad terms are what most people are familiar with and an example of a broad term is: medical assisting degree. The problem with broad terms is it will sometimes trigger a search that’s too broadly related to your keyword. If you are running ads for medical assistant classes with a broad term, you could show ads to a user who searches for any type of medical term including medical insurance. This could result in a lot of wasted spend for searches that you may not want to pay for.
Google allows you to use other types of keywords aside from broad that gives you the power to focus in and target only searches that you want to appear for. Exact match keywords give you the option to only show for that exact keyword or term. An example of an exact match keyword would look like this: [medical assistant]. By putting brackets around the keyword, you force Google to only show your ad for that exact term. Exact match keywords are helpful if you want to make sure you are appearing for that keyword and that keyword only within your ad group. Other types of keywords include phrase match and broad match modifiers that help greatly to hone in on specific search terms while weeding out others.
It’s in your best interest to have a variety of ad groups all with their own unique keywords and type of keywords but how many keywords is overkill? I find it best to have between 10-20 keywords per ad group and in some cases a low as 5 keywords. If you have too many keywords in an ad group, a select few will eat up most of your budget while not giving the other keywords an opportunity to perform. If you have too many keywords together, you may need to look at breaking some of them out into new ad groups. If you don’t have enough keywords in your ad groups, then you might not get enough traction, or your keywords may be too broad resulting in a higher cost per conversion.
Fourth, do you take advantage of ad extensions in your AdWords paid search campaigns?
Ad extensions are free to use and give a big boost to your ads. Ad extensions extend your ad with additional information that increases your ad real estate, the amount of information on your ad, valuable contact information, and most importantly they increase your click-through rate. There are three types of ad extensions that every account should be taking advantage of. Those ad extensions are site links, callouts, and snippets. Call extensions are important if you want leads to call you directly from a search in Google.
Fifth, are your settings setup correctly and most effectively?
When it comes to optimizing your Google AdWords paid search campaigns, most people think of keywords, campaigns, ads, and everything else besides settings. If we look at what we can do within settings, it may be the first place you start looking. In settings, we can choose our networks, devices, geo locations, bid strategies, and even ad delivery. Sometimes the simplest setting can lead to the best optimization.
Your campaign type determines what type of campaign you are running but most importantly it determines what type of features are available in that campaign. I find that it’s best to choose “Search Only” and “All Features” when selecting a type for your paid search campaign. This opens all the available options on the Google AdWords platform and gives you more options to optimize your campaigns. Did you know that you can choose to show your ads within Google Search only or include their available search partners? Sometimes it’s best to show only within Google but I always include search partners when I launch a campaign. This gives me more data and I can always turn off search partners if I find they don’t perform.
Are your locations set correctly? It wouldn’t make sense to target the whole United States if you offer a program or service that is only available in Phoenix, AZ or Denver, CO. It’s important to make sure your geo-location targeting is set up to target the specific area that you want your ads to show in. You can also exclude geo areas within a campaign if you do not want users from that area. Making sure your geo locations are targeted correctly can lead to saving a lot of your budget.
Sixth, how does your landing page compare to your paid search ads?
Having a proper landing page is often misunderstood by many and therefore overlooked in the optimization process. Google ranks your ads and keywords based on quality, and ad quality has much to do with your landing page. If your ad headlines match your keywords, that’s great! But, if your keywords and ad headlines don’t match the headlines and ad copy on your landing page, you suffer lower quality scores and end up paying more for a higher-ranking ad position in search. In the end, Google wants to make sure that the ad it’s delivering is relevant to the landing page that a user is being sent to and it does that by matching your keywords to your ad, and your ad to your landing page.
In testing, I’ve found that the ad headline copy and headline copy on the landing page needs to match the keyword that you are targeting in your ad group. If you can take away one massive point, take away this one as it will save you a lot of money in your paid search campaigns. How much money can it save you? In a new account, I was able to reduce costs by over 40% by simply changing ad copy to match the landing page. This can save you a lot of ad spend and you’ll come out a hero to your client if you do that.
Make sure your landing page has a good amount of content, a solid call to action, and loads up fast. If you’re sending users to a page that takes eight seconds to load, you are wasting your time and money. Fix your landing pages and make sure they load within a second or two. If your form has thirty-seven fields and asks for everything under the sun, you should consider shortening it. A short form with a name, phone number, email is all you need. You’ll have more success having users fill out a short form with minimal information and then calling them to get any additional information that you need. Your closing rates will probably go up as well.
There are so many ways to optimize an account as every Google AdWords account has its own goals and objectives. Finding ways to maximize your time on an account leads to efficient optimization and better results. If you found this article helpful, comment with your thoughts and feedback. Share your success stories, tips and tricks you use in your optimization for Google AdWords success!
For more tips on Google AdWords and Pay Per Click (PPC) campaigns, you may enjoy Why Your PPC Structures Matter & 5 Ways to Improve Performance.
Colling Media is a Phoenix, AZ-based full-service advertising agency specializing in Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising.