Date Posted: 7/9/16

Any business can run a search marketing campaign on Google, but not every business is successful at generating return on their ad spend. The reasons for this vary, but often it comes down to essential steps being overlooked in the planning and setup stages. These steps can mean the difference between hours of time and headaches for a marketing manager, and a high performing campaign that drives action, revenue, and that all-important return on investment. So, what are these essential steps?

1. Be led by the language your prospects use

I cannot stress enough the importance of accurate and in-depth keyword research. The first step to AdWords success is having your ads show for the right people, whenever they perform a relevant search. This isn’t possible unless you have a sound idea of exactly what your audience are likely to type into that Google search box. You can use Google Keyword Planner to find search volumes for different terms regarding your business and product/service. You may be surprised to find that your audience doesn’t actually use the same words as you. You may call yourself an ‘engineering firm’, but the people that need to find you may use ‘engineering specialist’ or ‘company’. Overcome this by putting yourself in your audiences’ mindset and researching all versions of a word i.e. comparing ‘low-cost’ against ‘cheap’, ‘discount’, ‘reduced’ etc.

2. Know the cost of bidding on your keywords

The more advertisers bidding on a keyword, the more expensive it is. Google Keyword Planner not only gives you search volumes for keywords, it also gives you an insight into projected cost-per-click and average number of clicks, based on the position you plan to aim for on a search engine results page. Gather this information first and foremost, and use it to estimate the expected cost of your campaign and a rough idea of clicks, conversions and revenue. While we’d all love to sit at position one all day every day, for many businesses it’s just not financially viable. If the cost of sitting in first position on a results page outweighs the expected ROI, it doesn’t make business sense to pay for this spot. Holding back from bidding for top spot can be difficult to grasp, especially if you’re sitting at second or third position, with direct competitors above you, but it can be the key factor in achieving profit – and that’s what it’s all about, after all!

3. Get your website in order

If you’re planning on launching an AdWords campaign, I assume it’s because you want to drive people to your website to achieve a set conversion goal, whether that be subscriptions, enquiries, ecommerce sales, or something else. If your website fails to convert the visitors you already generate, there’s absolutely no point funding an SEM campaign that won’t achieve your desired results. If updating your website is out of the question, consider using a software like Unbounce, or Lander, to create an effective landing page instead.

4. Create more Ad Groups with less keywords

The tighter the link between your keywords, your ads, and the landing page you’re directing users to, the better your quality score, ranking and overall click-through rate will be. In order to ensure this is the case, opt for a greater number of Ad Groups, with less keywords in each – a maximum of 30, in fact. By segmenting your keyword list into multiple Ad Groups, each containing only words revolving around one particular term, you’ll be able to craft ads that are much more likely to answer a searcher’s query and incentivise them to click by doing so. You’ll also increase your chances of Google evaluating your ads as most relevant to show.

5. Never set and forget

This is extremely true at the start of an SEM campaign when you should be opting to manage all bidding and ad rotation manually. Many advertisers skip to letting Google optimise ad rotation and bidding strategy, by clicks or conversions, from day one. However, with no historical data as an advertiser for Google to work from, doing this can sometimes skew optimisations in favour of an ad that doesn’t actually perform as well as another could. For the first 2 months at least, allow your ads to rotate evenly and stick to either manual cost-per-click bidding, or entering your target cost-per-acquisition. Once you’ve built up a good amount of data, start to amend settings to optimise based on your KPIs, but never, ever set and forget. Check your account at least weekly, and always monitor the search terms, device performance, day of the week and hour of the day reports, as well as auction insights to keep an eye on the competition.

If I’m honest, there are a whole bunch of additional pointers I could outline as vital to achieving Google AdWords success, but these five are the most important in those all-important beginning stages, and probably the most difficult to correct if overlooked. So, take these tips and run with them, but in the meantime, subscribe to the Gatecrasher Blog for more insights into digital campaign success.

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Aimee Binstead

Written By: Aimee Binstead

Travel Writer. Obsessed with analysing numbers. Lover of all things digital.
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