Remember that AdWords is a tool that is generally used to increase sales and profit and sometimes it’s used for branding. Know how to optimize AdWords to help you reach your ultimate goals.
Make sure your account structure is comprehensive and makes sense (follow website structure) and covers all the possible ways a searcher may look for you. Don’t worry about adding “too much” the hard work pays off while “too little” work will leave you only bidding on the most competitive keywords… like everyone else
Write compelling Ads that follow high quality score guidelines. The perfect balance between pleasing the searcher and Google at the same time is where the magic happens.
Do not use dynamic keyword insertion this seems like the easy way but it’s the wrong way. Go the extra 10 miles and create tight ad groups with specific and relevant ads – keep the control in your account not at the whim of Google and a searcher’s query
Send traffic to the most relevant page with an action item if the searcher is a confused to where he clicked to or what he needs to do next, because lack of flow, she will leave
Cultivate negative keyword list start with a strong keyword list using research and common sense (ex. “how to”, “salary”, “resume”) and then stay on top of the search query report to continually add more. “pay for a bad search once shame on Google, pay for it twice shame on you” (something like that)
Optimize to the most specific goal possible through tracking (lead/sale/subscription/time on site) If you don’t know exactly which keyword is contributing to your ultimate goal (or is most likely to, like time on site) then what are you optimizing for? Clicks? Not useful, remember point #1 – AdWords is there to help you reach a specific goal – track and optimize to it in some way. If you have sales or lead value tracking, optimize to that.
Use match types – as others said here, invest more on specific keyword with strict match types and then open up to more broad terms
Optimize Budget by balancing how much you should pay for each keyword so that at the end of the day you maximize your goal. This can get complex and I can elaborate if wanted
Use Ad Extensions to capture additional real-estate on the Google
Look at the account at different time windows to gain perspective on how effective keywords are (7/14/30/60…). That keywords that got a very inexpensive conversion this month, may have spent 3x that in the previous months with no conversions… so you may not want to invest more in it (increase the bid) quite yet.
Avoid broad match as much as possible. Better to use exact and phrase match. Modified broad match (adding a + sign in front of keywords that MUST appear in the search query) is an option too, but use it sparingly
Dayparting – optimize based on day of the week and time of day, but do NOT choose to go absolutely dark during certain hours. Rather reduce the % bid during your less desirable times
Study your analytics reporting. PPC is both a feeder of other channels (such as retargeting) and benefactor of other higher funnel approaches. Thus, assisted and multi-channel conversions are important to understand, as possible
Separate geo campaigns – for example do not target the USA and Canada with the same campaigns.
Split search and content into separate campaigns
If your budget is large then select Accelerated Delivery Method so that AdWords does not hold back on displaying your ads
Have ad copy rotate evenly at first so that enough data is collected for all ads in the ad group to make a good decision off of
Focus ad groups around specific themes and keywords and have the ad copy units include those keywords
Create well optimized landing pages that have a clear path for the user. This is often handled by someone other than the PPC person, so be sure to be a stakeholder in its development
Use AdWords Editor – it is much easier to cluster edits/changes there than in the web API
Be sure to review everything for performance and make frequent changes to rotate out what is not performing and insert in new replacements.
In summary, Google AdWords is a living breathing tool that continuously gets new data to allow us to make it better. There is no “set it and forget it”. Know your account and understand how it reacts to changes (in the account or market) and contributes to its purpose of existing. At the end of the day, there is no substitute for the hard work…
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