So there is a lot of great advice online on how to build and run a great AdWords campaign. But what are the top practical strategies for optimization that will give you the best bang for your buck? The following five techniques will give you the highest ROI with the least amount of time.
1. Check Your Spend
The first and second tips together comprise the Big Picture Review. Understanding your big picture is vital to understanding the performance of your account. This means knowing the healthy vital signs on your account and what it looks like when your account is sick, so that you can diagnose.
The three most important factors in conducting a big picture review include
- Your most important performance metric
- The performance of that metric compared to its performance in the previous time period
First, let’s talk about spend. Spend is how much of your daily budget you are actually spending each day. Are you maxing out every day, or do you have room for growth? Knowing whether or not your campaign is hitting its financial goals every day will help you make other campaign decisions.
There are two ways to look at how much your campaign is spending. The first is to look at the “Status” column on your Campaigns page. If it says “Eligible”, then that means your campaign is not spending its full budget and has potential room to grow. If, on the other hand, it says “Limited By Budget”, that means you are spending the full budget.
The second way you can check your budget is to look at the graph of the last X days on your Campaigns page. Then, compare Clicks and Cost, so that you can hover over each day and see which days spent more than other days.
In the case that your campaign is spending the full budget, you can increase the budget to get more traffic, or you can rest content that, at least for now, each dollar of your budget is being spent on potential new customers.
2. Check Your Performance
Next, you want to see how your campaign is performing. It’s time to look at your most important performance metric compared to its performance last time period. Is your account bringing in the traffic, or is it languishing?
Before you can determine this, you need to know what metric your account measures when it is succeeding. What does success mean? Everyone’s account big picture will look different. Knowing your own big picture means that you can see when you are doing well, and when you aren’t.
For instance, does your account measure conversions? If so, then your number of conversions or your conversion rate might be the best metric to measure success on your account. However, if your account doesn’t measure conversions, then looking at clicks or click-through-rate (CTR) might be some different best measures of how well your account is performing.
Say your account looks at conversion data to measure effectiveness. If you don’t see the Conversions, Cost/Conversion or Conversion Rate columns on your Campaigns page, you’ll need to set your columns to include them (go to the Columns button underneath the Keywords tab across the top of the page).
Now that your columns are set, check the date range on the upper right corner of the page. How much data do you want to view? If you regularly optimize your account, say once a week, then a look at the last 7 days of data might be the best plan. But, if you want to get a feel for a whole month of performance, then set it to “Last Month” or “Last 30 Days”.
While you are setting your date range, make sure to set it to “Compare”, at the bottom of the drop down menu. This will allow you to compare the current period of performance with the last period.
Say you are comparing “Last 30 Days” with the previous 30 days before that. This is how you can tell if June was more or less profitable than May. Once you have your date range set, you can view the differences in this period’s and last period’s data by clicking the “+” symbol at the top of your columns of interest.
Suppose you got 25 conversions this month, but you got 48 last month. That might be a sign that there is a problem on your account to fix. On the other hand, it might be your off season so this is nothing to worry about. On the other hand, if instead you got 23 last month, then your account may be clicking along smoothly.
Another example. If last week your CTR was 8.3%, but this week your CTR is 1.2%, there might be a problem on your account to explain the drop in traffic that you need to fix.
What if you hadn’t conducted this part of Big Picture Review? That traffic-choking problem could have stayed on your account for week after week and month after month, plummeting your ROI. This is why checking your Big Picture Review is absolutely vital.
In the end, the point of conducting the Big Picture Review is to check for any glaring issues in your campaign, see how much you are growing, and determine any problem issues to fix.
3. Add Negative Keywords
The next most important strategy for optimizing your campaign is adding new negative keywords, i.e. keywords that you never want to show up on. This strategy is extremely powerful. Why? With time, you can cull so many negatives from the search terms that you only show up on quality keywords. And quality keywords means you won’t be dumping AdWords budget down the drain on awful search results that have nothing to do with your business. Optimally, every dollar you spend and every click you get will directly benefit your business.
The good news is, you have a secret weapon: AdWords shows you exactly what people searched in Google to prompt your ad! These searches, called “search terms”, give you the chance to purge any unwanted search terms by adding them as negative keywords.
What this means is that you can look at the search terms report, view all the searches, determine which ones you definitely do not want to show up on, and then add the problem search terms to your negative keyword list.
For more detailed instructions on how to do this, check out this article.
4. Deal with Problem Keywords
Conquering problem keywords is a huge strategy towards optimizing every dollar of your campaign. These are keywords that may be draining your budget, with very little ROI to show for it. As you deal with problem keywords and get them out of your hair, you will be able to redirect that budget towards stronger keywords and continually improve your ROI.
5. Test New Ads
Testing new ads helps you stay ahead of the curve. When you test new versions of the good ads you already have, you continually find new ways to market yourself and potentially increase traffic. This isn’t to say that you ditch the good ads you already have when you test new ones. You simply want to duplicate the good ad to make a new one, and change just one thing, to test a new idea. For a more thorough explanation of how and why to test ads, click here.
You don’t have to completely rewrite ads. All you have to do is change one thing! For instance, suppose you have one winning ad:
Local XYZ Moving Company – BBB Certified Quality Service
24-Hour Professional Service. Free Quote + No Hidden Costs. Call Today!
To test a new ad, copy and paste the ad, edit it and change one thing – say, the 2nd headline.
Local XYZ Moving Company – Our Clients Always Come First
24-Hour Professional Service. Free Quote + No Hidden Costs. Call Today!
Simple, fast and easy, isn’t it? Then after a few weeks you can come back and compare the ads to see which is doing better. If the new one has a better ROI than the old, you know that headline is more effective. Then you can apply it to more of your ads to give the entire account a boost.
In the end
These tips comprise the nitty-gritty essentials that not only keep an AdWords campaign running smoothly, but continually improve its quality and ROI. After all, you don’t just want a good campaign. You want a fantastic one! And the only way to get there is through old fashioned hard work and consistency. If you implement these strategies on a regular basis, you will get results.