Best practices are a set of guidelines that represent the most efficient or prudent courses of action and they serve as a general framework for the most efficient way to complete a task.
In Google AdWords management, following best practices could be the difference between generating positive return on investment versus negative, between doing a great job versus a good job, or between growing the business or burning advertising dollars.
Top 10 AdWords Management Best Practices
Open your account every day, look at the metrics and make a change – it doesn’t have to be a big change, it can be as simple as adding a couple of negative keywords, adding a couple of long-tail keywords, or pausing an under-performing keyword. The important thing is to make a habit of being proactive when it comes to managing the account to minimize any surprises down the road.
The optimal AdWords account structure is roughly 5 tightly related keywords per ad group and only closely related ad groups within campaigns, all of which are created to support the overall marketing objectives of the account. Each ad group should contain at least 3 different ad variations so that you’re constantly testing the effectiveness of your ad content.
If adding keyword phrases that you want to advertise for is step 1 in creating an effective advertising campaign, step 1b is adding the negative keyword phrases that you DON’T want to advertise for. For example, if you’re advertising on the keyword phrase +blue +shoes, some negative phrases you may want to use are “toy” (to prevent matching for “toy blue shoes”), “boots” (to prevent matching for “blue boots” or just “boots”), or “brown” (to prevent matching for “brown shoes”).
When looking at your Google Analytics data with demographics and interest reports enabled, you will have access to your users’ Affinity Categories and In-Market segments. These categories and segments can then be used in your AdWords display campaigns to restrict your ads to only those users who are in categories and segments that show above average conversion rates, whether that be e-commerce conversion rates or lead generation conversion rates.
On desktop computers there are either 3 or 4 ad positions at the top of the search results page, and on mobile devices there are usually 2 ad positions at the top of the page. In general, the higher the ad position the higher the click-thru-rate and cost-per-click. Given a constant after-click conversion rate, the more expensive the click and the lower the return on investment. As a result, it’s not always more profitable to be in the first position and you will have to test which position is most profitable given your product/service, industry, and keyword set.
Measurement and subsequent modification to the advertising strategy is key to constantly improving your return on investment. If you’re not comfortable looking at raw Google Analytics reports, take the time to view a few YouTube tutorial videos until you can easily navigate to and use the reports that will show you which keywords / ad groups / campaigns are generating acceptable return on investment and which are not.
There are three categories of keyword phrases, from least specific to most specific – head, shoulder, and long-tail. In general, the more specific and more verbose the keyword phrase is, the higher the potential conversion rate of the phrase. For example, someone who searches for “heavy duty truck” is higher in the conversion funnel and will convert at a lower rate than someone who searches for “Silverado 2500.”
Google AdWords provides mechanisms for automating account maintenance so that you can create programs to add negative display network placements, modify keyword bid amounts, or pause / enable keywords among other tasks. Creating programs is a more advanced technique and can be risky if you don’t have someone who has programming experience, so make sure that you’re comfortable with the risk and test on smaller campaigns before you turn your automation on for your entire account.
You can’t improve what you don’t measure. Be sure that you have a plan to measure your entire conversion funnel in place along with having the associated Google Analytics goals, funnels, events, and / or virtual pageviews BEFORE you begin advertising. While you could wait until after advertising begins to get these measurement tools in place, doing so means that you’ll be advertising without knowing if your new ad campaigns are contributing to increased revenue / leads or not.
The only constant in life is change. Seasonality, changes in industry competition, product evolution, bad weather, natural disasters, as well as a host of other non-trivial events will all affect the effectiveness of your advertising campaigns over time. The only way to keep ahead of the competition is to be flexible enough to change budgets, keywords, strategies or any other aspect of your advertising campaign as the need arises.