Running a paid campaign with Google AdWords is an excellent way to throw away money if you’re not monitoring its performance. It is very easy to start a campaign then forget about it until a huge bill is due at the end of the month. Auditing your AdWords account will help ensure you are spending money in the right place.
- Campaign LevelTo do an audit, first look at the campaigns set up in AdWords. This is the top level of your account and is where you’ll set your budget and location. Make sure your campaigns are targeted appropriately to the geographic area. Is your product or service related to cold weather? If so, then you may not want to target to the South. Yes, there are some cold days down there, but comparatively, your budget will go much farther if you target northern geographic locations where snow is a common occurrence in winter months. You also need to think seasonally – your cold weather ad isn’t as relevant in July as it is in January.
- AdGroup LevelNext look at your AdGroups. Are they tightly themed? For a retail customer, you may have a group for men’s clothes, another for women’s clothes and another for children’s clothes. If you try to do all of this in one AdGroup, you’ll end up with some frustrated customers and clicks that aren’t resulting in sales.
In each AdGroup, you’ll ideally have a couple ads running. If you have too many running at the same time, it will be harder to determine what made an ad “good” or “bad.” With too many factors, you won’t know if it was your URL, your header, or ad copy. Aim to have two ads running in each group with minor differences so you can better determine why one resulted in a higher click through rate than the other. Pause the one that isn’t performing well. Make a copy of the ad that is performing well and make one minor change, such as the heading or display URL. Monitor both of these over time and continue to make adjustments that pay off.
With the ads in each group, consider the web address that’s displayed. Does it take the searcher directly to the product or service that is mentioned in the ad? If it doesn’t immediately take them there, is there an obvious reason why it doesn’t? It’s okay if people have to click more than once as long as each click has a purpose. When they arrive on the landing page, ask yourself if there is a clear call-to-action. In other words, is it obvious what the next step is for people arriving on the page? If you’re not sure, than your visitors are definitely not sure!
An informal test you can perform is to send your landing page to some friends who aren’t very knowledgeable about your business. Ask them if they know what to do when they arrive on the page. Is it clear what you’re selling or asking someone to do? If not, you’re wasting money on your campaign because although people are clicking on your ad, a sale or lead is the ultimate goal. In the big picture, clicks aren’t enough of a return on investment.
In each ad group, you also have keywords that determine when your ad is displayed. Are they relevant? For example, “clothing” is a very broad keyword and could very well bring people to your website. However, it’s not necessarily a good click. Remember the example earlier? You would want to know if visitors were looking for “men’s clothing” or “women’s clothing.” You can get even more detailed than that – there’s brand name clothing, thrift shop clothing and more. Make sure the words in your account match what you are really selling and are not just a generic concept about your business.
- Negative Keywords
The other money saver is using negative keywords. These are words that you don’t want to trigger your ad to display. You can get to these by looking at actual search terms people used on Google. Continuing with the same example, a men’s clothing store would probably want a negative search term of “women’s clothing.” If you don’t sell anything for women, you don’t want to have that term trigger your ad in search results because you’re paying for clicks from people who are not going to become customers.
Auditing an account is something everyone should do a thorough job of at least once, if not on an ongoing basis. Make it a weekly action item for yourself or someone on your team. Pay attention to what’s happening in your account over time. You may find you need to adjust bids or use more focused keywords as more competitors enter the market. Chances are you’ll find a way to save some money through the use of negative keywords. And of course, your product and service line may change over time and you’ll want to modify your AdWords campaign to reflect these new offerings. If you take the time to monitor your campaigns, AdGroups, ads, and keywords, AdWords can pay off for you rather than being a black hole where you just dump money every month.