New websites often don’t rank well in Google’s organic search for several months and therefore to get website traffic, new website owners sometimes engage a pay-per-click campaign using well-known Google AdWords. Here are some tips and tricks I’ve learned from helping my own clients with their Google AdWords pay-per-click campaigns. I also recommend visiting the impressive Google AdWords online Learning Center – It’s got an incredible amount of information that teaches you how to totally control your AdWords campaign.
- Starter Edition vs Standard Edition: I recommend clients start with the Google AdWords Standard Edition, versus the very simplified Starter Edition. You get much more control over your campaign and upgrading is free.
- Remember your Goal: Customers, not just Clicks: Clicks cost you money, and if they aren’t converted into customers, there is no return on what you paid Google AdWords for that click. You are not just trying to accumulate clicks, you are trying to develop a campaign that attracts customers who are looking for exactly what you are selling.
- Track Your Traffic: Set up an independent website traffic tracking tool that has the capability of identifying and segregating pay-per-click traffic. I can’t emphasize this enough. It will be impossible to calculate your return on investment (ROI) of your Google AdWords campaign if you don’t do this. I recommend Web-Stat to all my website clients, and it’s easy and simple to install. Don’t start a Google AdWords campaign without it! (Google AdWords also has a very impressive traffic tracking system called Google Analytics – it’s pretty complicated. But whatever you select, you simply must track your traffic if you’re paying for it!
- Budget, CPC Bid, Impressions, Position. Learn about this using Google AdWords Help Center. Understand how these parameters do, and don’t interact with each other: Your CPC (cost per click) bid will change your position in the Sponsored Links list, but it will not affect the number of impressions (the times your ad is shown). Your budget will affect the number of impressions, but will not affect your position. You need both impressions and position to get clicks.
- Learn about CTR. CTR stands for Click Through Rate, the ratio of number of clicks to number of impressions multiplied by 100 to get a percentage – and it’s generally small, like 1% to 3%. This means you may need 100 or more impressions to get a single click. The higher your CTR, the better, but again, you’ll need to convert these clicks to customers, so CTR isn’t the ultimate measure of Google AdWords campaign success.
- Start With Very Few Keywords: Google AdWords is very sophisticated and has many built-in analysis tools. Start of with just one or two targeted keyword phrases, until you learn how the Google AdWords system works.
- Match Ad Title and Content to Keywords or Services Offered. Go ahead and put your keywords into Google and see what comes up in the Sponsored Links. Notice how much there is to look at. How will your small ad capture the attention of the person who entered the keywords, and how will it ONLY capture their click if YOU are trying to sell what THEY are looking for?
- Keyword Matching Strategy: Learn the difference between “broad match”, “exact match”, “phrase match”, and “negative match”. (Go here to watch a Google tutorial on keyword matching or here to read definitions of matching) Use these to filter exactly when you do, and don’t want your ad shown. (if you sell shoes, but not red shoes, you don’t want pay for “red shoe” clicks). Note partner sites use “broad matching”.
- Estimate Search Traffic: Use this feature to determine how much to bid, to get good rankings. Target #1-#3, versus #4-#6, if you can afford it.
- Where or When Are Your Customers? If your goal is to attract customers who are in a certain region, consider the differences between an ad that targets a city or a region. You can also specify the time of day your ads show.
- Search Network vs Content Network. Google’s search network includes search engines like AOL, Ask.com and Earthlink. Google’s content network includes NYTimes.com, About, HGTV, etc. You can select whether you want your ad to appear only as a result of searches (on the search network) or on websites with content that’s relevant to your ad (content network) or both. They also offer “site-targeted ads” where you specify which websites you want your ad to appear on. If you’re starting out, I recommend sticking to the search network.
- Pay Attention To Your Quality Score: I read a great article recently on Google AdWords Quality Score and why it’s important to pay attention to it and to work on improving it. AdWords isn’t simply a bidding war. You’ll get higher ad placement for less cost if your quality score is higher. Why? Because Google AdWords wants to serve ads that are relevent, just like Google the search engine does. How do you check your quality score? First, read this page from Google on Quality Score. Then go into your Ad Group, click on the Keyword tab, and hover your mouse over the magnifying glass icon. This will tell you your Quality Score for those keywords (in that particular campaign). To see all the Quality Scores for the Ad Group, click on “Customize Columns” and then select “Quality Score”…and presto, you can see the Quality Score for all your keywords at one time. The Quality Score categories are “poor” , “ok” and “great”.
- Landing Pages: Google AdWords checks your landing pages, the pages that you send the click traffic to, to see how relevant it is to your ad. The more relevent the landing page, the higher your quality score and lower your bid. From a customer standpoint, it’s also better to have people land on the page that shows them what they were searching form versus your home page. If you have many products and pages, send them right to the page or category they searched for. The fewer clicks they have to make, the more likely they are to purchase.
I’ve had not-so-good experiences with other pay-per-click companies, but I think Google AdWords is excellent because they truly want you to succeed and give you many, many tools and tutorials to help you. You don’t commit to any long term contracts, and completely control your ads – you can start and stop them whenever you want to. If you’re interested in Google AdWords and would like some help getting started, please visit my page on Google AdWords Campaign Management and Consulting.Jill
Aldebaran Web Design, Seattle
Jill Olkoski has a BS in Engineering, a BS in Computer Science and an MA in Clinical Psychology. She delights in using her advanced technical and psychological skills to help small business owners develop cost-effective and successful websites.