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7 Steps to Boosting Your AdWords ROI

Christine Teng on 12January2011

Are you among the countless Google advertisers vying for clicks and customers but haven’t quite been able to figure out how to get your Google campaign to work for you? Or worse, just don’t have the time to figure out how Google even “works”? Are you finding your click-thru rates are horribly low, that your click costs have become unmanageable or that your return on investment (ROI) is simply disappointing?

While AdWords is a fantastic way to get prospective clients and customers to your website, it also has a fairly sharp and often arduous learning curve, one that you unfortunately can’t ignore. Simply put, Google rewards well-managed campaigns in the form of low click costs and low minimum bids, and conversely punishes poorly managed campaigns with higher click costs and higher minimum bids. This can mean that your competitors are paying less per click while getting more customers than you are! That can be pretty discouraging when it's your own money, time and even online reputation on the line.

Following is a list of 7 steps to undertake to give your Google campaign a boost. Note this is not intended to be a comprehensive cure-all for every Google problem, but if you apply the following best practices, you should begin to see some real progress on your account - and a better return on your investment!

1) Split-test your Ads.

Split-testing is the simplest thing you can do, and it can make the biggest difference – especially as it relates to your cost. Testing will allow you to figure out whether Ad “A” is better than Ad “B”. Why is this important? Because better can mean a higher click rate (more clicks), a better sales rate (more sales), a better Quality Score from Google, and reduced minimum bid prices – which can all mean money in your pocket!

Make sure you split-test every Ad Group in every campaign by testing more than one Ad. Depending on the extent of your campaign, this could take some time but it could very well be well worth it! After a while, you’ll be able to determine which of the two is your “winning” Ad. You’ll then want to continue to repeat this process so that you are constantly attempting to beat the winning Ad.

2) Use all the potential keywords in your market.

If you don’t have at least 500 to 1,000 keywords, you're very likely leaving highly targeted traffic and potential customers on the table! Don't be content to just use the 10 to 20 major keywords and phrases everyone in your industry is using. There are many keyword tools you can use to “expand” your keyword list. There are even keyword tools that will help you spy on your competitors’ keyword lists!

3) Test Match types and Use Negative keywords.

Many businesses lose targeted clicks by only using what is called "broad match". If you're not also testing phrase match and exact match versions of your keywords, you're likely losing out on traffic that is much more targeted and relevant traffic from broad match keywords.

Having Negative keywords can be an important tool in keeping your costs down. Negative keywords are words and phrases used to prevent your ad from showing on unrelated or untargeted searches and are an excellent way to keep your costs down. Say, for example, you're selling Real Estate in Costa Rica and one of your keyword phrases is "Costa Rica". You'll save yourself tons on your AdWords bill by using negative keywords like, -surfing, -travel, and -tourism. This will prevent your ad from showing if someone searches for "Costa Rica Surfing" or "Costa Rica Travel", and that's good because those searchers probably aren't interested in what you have to offer, which is just Costa Rica Real Estate. Some folks have campaigns that have more Negative keywords than keywords themselves!

4) Organize your Campaign and Ad Groups properly.

Most advertisers will have only a couple of Ad Groups, stuffed with hundreds (or thousands) of keywords. Having an organizational structure like this will hamper your campaign’s performance and results. Now more than ever relevance is of critical importance on AdWords. Breaking out keywords into themed Ad Groups allows you to write more focused and relevant ads, which in turn allows you to garner a higher click through rate and lower bid prices!

5) Test the Content Network for additional exposure.

It's often true that the traffic from the Content network in some markets just doesn't convert into leads or sales as well as traffic from the Search network, but that's not always so. As with all elements of your Google campaign, the only way to find out if the Content network can work for you is to simply test. Adjust your bids up or down until you reach your desired cost to make a sale or get a lead.

6) Track Performance!

Not all keywords are created equal! Some keywords convert into leads or sales at 3 to 9 times as often as others. Setting up "conversion tracking" inside your account will tell you exactly which keyword is responsible for a sale. If you don't have either conversion tracking, Google Analytics or some third-party tool in place, you'll never know. Pareto's principle, or the 80/20 rule, applies to AdWords as well. A small portion of your keywords are bringing in most of your leads or sales. Wouldn't you like to know which keywords to nurture and grow, and which ones to delete?

7) Adjust your bids by keyword.

Not all keywords are created equal! Every keyword will convert into a sale or lead at a different rate. Adjust your keyword bids up or down until you hit an acceptable cost that works for your business. You'll find that some keywords won't work, even if you get the click for only 1 cent! Delete them and move on. Continue to monitor and adjust the keywords that are left.

We hope this article has turned you on to some great ways to get the most out of your Google campaign. Remember, Google rewards well and actively managed campaigns - which can mean a better return for your money! Contact us to find out why and how our PPC Management program is unique.

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