Google AdWords is an excellent way to market your business to an audience with high intent to buy. But it is also difficult to achieve great results without having experience and following best practices. Google themselves, say it’s recommended that your account be reviewed and refined regularly.
But without years of experience it can be difficult to know what reviewed and refined means. Especially for small business owners this becomes even more difficult because you’re managing multiple aspects of your business. And don’t have time to master them all.
In order to help business owners speed up the learning curve and to give you a head start, I going to give you some advice based on my experience.
What Is Google Adwords & How Does It Work?
Firstly, before we get to the actionable advice, many small business owners don’t even understand what Google AdWords is. Google AdWords is Google’s advertising service that allows businesses to enter an auction on pre-determined keywords in order to generate clicks from Google’s search results.
AdWords works when someone searches in Google and an auction begins. Anyone competing on that particular search query now competes. The advertisers who gets the top spot isn’t necessarily the highest bidder. Ad rank is based on quality score times bid. Your quality score is determined by your expected click through rate (CTR), ad relevance and landing page experience.
Quality score is highly important and can drastically reduce the amount you spend on clicks. Ultimately, increasing your return on investment.
Now I will go through some of the biggest mistakes I have seen small businesses make as a consultant. And better yet the solutions to fix them.
Mistake #1 – Not Utilising Negative Keywords
Negative keywords are fundamental to AdWords success, and overlooked by small businesses way too often. Negative keywords work the same way as normal keywords but instead stop your ads from appearing for those terms.
You can develop a good list of negative keywords off the top of your head. But you can’t stop there.
Monitor your search term report at the very least weekly to discover irrelevant search queries triggering your ads. You can set negative keywords on the account, campaign or ad group level. This is helpful if you have products with different audiences, where your keywords may be very different.
The search term report shows you all the keywords that triggered your ads to display. To get to the search term report first go the keywords tab:
Then navigate to the search terms tab:
Mistake #2 – Not Targeting Long Tail Keywords
Long tail keywords are a small business owner’s best friend. Long tail keywords are more often than not less expensive per click and the person searching has more intent. Meaning you’re more likely to get a sale rather than on more generic term.
Let’s take a cafe for example:
Generic keyword: coffee shop
Long tail: best coffee shop in Sydney NSW
The best way to find long tail keywords is to mine your search term report mentioned in mistake #1. Look for 3-5 word phrases that are getting a reasonable amount of clicks and add them as exact match keywords. On the other hand, you can use the keyword planner to find longer terms with good monthly search volume.
Mistake #3 – Not Killing Bad Keywords
There are two parts to this mistake. The first small business owners don’t understand keyword match types. And use the default match type which is broad match. This match type is extremely costly and I would recommend not to use it.
Here is a support article from Google on match types if you don’t understand them.
The second and more common mistake is not reviewing the performance on match types. There are four match types:
- Modified Broad Match
You should review their performance regularly. Generally, speaking exact match is always most cost effective. But you will miss out on a lot of searches if you’re not using at least phrase or modified broad match.
The latter match types can become very expensive and let irrelevant terms trigger your ads. It’s important to monitor these closely, looking for negative keywords to add. If a keyword hasn’t had a conversion in 10-20 clicks you should consider pause or negative the keyword.
Mistake #4 – Don’t Revisit Keyword Level Bids
Often you’ll take a look in the change history of a small business’s AdWords account to find there are no changes. The AdWords auction is dynamic and changes to your bids are important to keep up with competition to maintain the performance.
Regularly reviewing your bids to ensure that you’re maintaining your position, CTR and cost per click is crucial.
If a keyword has a high cost per acquisition then consider reducing the bid. On the other hand, if keyword isn’t getting clicks and the position is below 2 or 3 consider increasing the bid.
Mistake #5 – Not Pausing under Performing Keywords
As a small business you want to make every click count. It’s unbelievable to find keywords that have had 50 clicks and never resulted in a sale still alive and kicking in an account.
Identifying keywords that don’t work and pausing them is as important as finding the ones that do work. It’s all part of optimising the account.
Look for keywords over at least a 2 month date range if they have an unprofitable cost per acquisition pause them.
Mistake #6 – Not Optimising Campaign Settings (Device, Location, Time of Day)
This mistake is most common and making changes usually has a big impact on a small businesses account to be more profitable.
These reports are super powerful and give unbelievable insight into different variables that affect performance. If you haven’t set up these settings follow the location targeting guide and/or the ad schedule guide from Google.
Once these are set up, take action on this rich information and set bid adjustments accordingly.
Let’s say you find that on mobile phones your cost per click is 40% lower than desktop. You might want to set a +15% bid adjustment to get a higher position. On the other hand, you might find that on Thursday your cost per acquisition is super-high and you might want to reduce your bid by -30%.
To get to these reports, first go to the settings tab of the campaign you want to optimise:
Then pick from one of the three reports to optimise:
Next Steps for Small Business Owners
To summarise, I’d recommend following these steps:
- Add negative keywords on a weekly basis
- Review your search terms for long tail keywords once a month
- Monitor keyword match types weekly
- Review keyword level bids daily or weekly depending on how much time you have
- Pause underperforming keywords when necessary
- Review your campaign settings and optimise your device, location and time of day bid adjustments quarterly
Google AdWords is a great opportunity for small business to grow. You might feel like you spend a lot of time in your account for little success. But I assure you that if you invest your time into these optimisation tips you will start seeing better results.
For some further reading, check out these related articles from Marketing.com.au:
- Google AdWords: How to Set Up a Campaign in 10 Simple Steps
- Google AdWords: The Benefits Ad Extensions
- Google AdWords: How to Write a Compelling AdWords Advert
- Google AdWords: How to Ensure Your Advert Has a High Quality Score
- How Running a PPC Campaign Can Impress the Socks off Your Boss
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