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Google AdWords

7 Ways to Find and Fix Problems With Your Google AdWords Campaigns

6 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

In their book Ultimate Guide to Google AdWords, online advertising and Google AdWords experts Perry Marshall, Mike Rhodes and Bryan Todd offer information that will help you get more clicks from Google for less money, convert more visitors to buyers, and make your online business more effective than ever. In this edited excerpt, the authors reveal how to determine if your Google AdWords campaigns are really working and what you can do to improve your results.

If you’ve been running AdWords campaigns for any length of time, it’s a good idea to perform a full audit. Here are the main steps to follow to quickly identify and address problems and issues that have crept in unnoticed:

1. Structure your account just right. Start by getting a bird’s-eye view of your Google AdWords account. Remember the 80/20 rule? Look for the 20 percent of problems that are causing 80 percent of your slowdown or cash loss, and that will give you 80 percent of your potential improvement once you fix them.

Here are some clues to where some of your biggest problems might be hiding:

Not enough ad groups. The key to page-per-click success is matching the right ads with the right people. If a campaign only contains one ad group, then every one of your potential prospects is seeing the same generic pair of ads from you regardless of what keyword they searched on. That’s going to earn you some terrible clickthrough rates (CTR). Each of your themes needs an ad group of its own, with custom ads written to match the key­word.

Number of keywords per ad group. Dig a little deeper and see how many key­words you have in each group. Ideally you want to see no more than 20 keywords per group. If you’ve exceeded this amount, create new ad groups and split your keywords into more tightly focused sets.

Number of ads per ad group. If most or all of your ad groups only contain one ad, you’re making a big mistake. You’re missing valuable opportunities to test and find new, better-performing ads. Just two or three ads per group is plenty for the vast majority of campaigns.

2. Find the right devices to show on. Google no longer gives you the option to create ad groups that specifically target mobile users. However, you can see numbers that will help you decide whether or not to show your ads to mobile audiences.

If your impressions, clicks and conversions are substantially lower for mobile users, odds are the mobile version of your site isn’t functioning properly. Updating your site for mobile users could give you a huge boost in conversions. But before you invest time in that, look over your results, and do the math.

3. Know your best networks. As with mobile targeting, you don’t have a massive amount of control over which of Google’s networks you show on. You can keep your Search Network and Google Display Network campaigns separate, but targeting Google’s search partners is limited to “on” or “off.” Check your search partner network numbers. If they’re good, consider increasing your bids across the board. If they’re poor, it may be wise to opt out of the search partners network completely.

4. Show in positions on the page that convert. Hint: Unless you’re already a master of ad copy, nothing will boost your CTR faster than improving your ad position, especially when you make the jump from the right side of the results page to the premium positions top and center. This is why the “average position” metric in your campaign reports can be incredibly helpful. The “Top vs. Other” report will give you this data.

Check to see how often your ads are at the top of the page versus other positions, such as on the right. There’s no perfect place for everyone; you’ll need to test to see which positions give you the best ROI. But the premium listings at the top will give you a much higher CTR—up to 15 times that of the other places on the page.

If you’re in position one or two, odds are you’re getting the maximum potential traffic. If you’re ranking lower, somewhere “below the fold” where searchers have to scroll in order to see you, then you’ve got room for improvement.

How do you push your ad up one or two places? Answer: Bid more. If it means the difference between you being in the top three or not, it’s almost always a profitable move.

Regardless, don’t expect to bat 1,000. Placing in the top three 100 percent of the time for any keyword is nearly impossible. Aim for a minimum of 50 percent, and consider anything around 80 percent to be a job well done.

5. Use keyword match types for efficiency. With your keywords, there are two common pitfalls to look out for:

1. Too many broad matches, or

2. Too many exact matches.

Rely too heavily on broad match keywords and you’ll end up with huge numbers of irrelevant impressions. Fill your ad groups with exact match keywords only, and you’ll miss out on huge volumes of traffic.

Take a careful look through your Search Query Report. It will tell you which matching options are being associated with your ads most often and how successful each one is.

6. Test to find winning ad copy. Find an ad group that has at least two ads and ask: How different are the ads from each other? Same headline? Same offer? Same body copy? Same hook? Just a word different here, maybe a comma there? If you’ve only been running the ads in a particular ad group for a few months or less, you want to be testing major differences, not minor tweaks. You want to see different headlines, different offers, even different display URLs where possible.

7. Landing pages that convert. Compare each ad to the landing page it directs to. Are the two consistent? Is the landing page obviously about the keyword? If in the ad you promised information or an opportunity to take action or get a free gift, is that clearly and obviously available on the landing page? Is there a clear call-to-action? If not, your conversions will suffer.

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