I sometimes get calls from prospective clients who tried to run an Adwords campaign on their own and failed miserably. It sounded so easy – they’re intelligent folks, they followed the instructions, but they ended up with little or nothing to show for it. What went wrong?
One of my idols is animal training legend Bob Bailey. Bob’s not a celebrity – he’s an innovator in humane training methods who trained various species for the US military (and later on for advertising/entertainment) back in the mid 1900’s. If you’re impressed by a dog who sits on command, think of how one might teach a pigeon to conduct military intelligence!
Simple, not easy…
One of Bob’s favorite sayings is that animal training:is “simple but not easy.” The same can be said for Adwords. Setting up a campaign is ridiculously simple. Running a profitable campaign? Not so much. A few mistakes here and there can quickly drain your ad budget.
Here are top 5 mistakes I’ve seen that turn Adwords campaigns into money pits:
1) Running one campaign on both the search and display networks
Did you even KNOW there were multiple networks? If not, don’t feel bad – many people don’t realize this. The search network are the ads that appear on Google search (and optionally on Google’s search partners, like AOL.) The display network is, for the most part, web sites running Adsense ads – contextual ads based upon the content of the page.
The problem with running one campaign on both networks is the huge difference in the user’s intent. People searching on Google are not only looking for something, but we know what they want from the keywords they use. On the other hand, if someone is surfing the web, we don’t have much of a clue why they are on a particular page.
Completely different user motives and mindsets, which call for different approaches to ad copy and keyword selection and budget. But by default, your new campaign will be configured run on both.
If your goal is direct response, you will almost always get better results through the search network. For branding, try the display network. But use separate campaigns for each!
2) Putting all the keywords in one adgroup
Matchy-matchy is a lame fashion statement, but it’s precisely what you should be shooting for in Adwords. Within any given adgroup, the keywords should be closely related and a good fit for both the ad and the landing page.
For example if you’re selling fruit and you have these keywords:
Create an “Oranges” ad group for the “orange” keywords (with an ad about oranges that goes to an “oranges” landing page) and an “Apples” ad group / ad / landing page for the “apples” keywords.
Got it? Never mix apples and oranges!
3) Keyword catastrophes
Adwords has several different keyword match types, which govern when your keywords will and will not trigger your ad. By default, keywords you enter are broad match.
Think of broad match as “the kitchen sink.” Broad match keywords will match queries containing any or all of the words in any order, with and without other words before/after/in-between, and include similar words and word variations.
For example a broad match keyword like plumbing supplies could match queries like:
wholesale plumbing outlet
how to start a plumbing business
plumbing diy videos
pictures of plumbers butt crack
And trust me, even if your ad text has NOTHING to do with some of these things, people will click on it. The crazy ones will click on it twice.
If you have broad match keywords, you need to have negative keywords to eliminate terms which don’t pertain to your business. Or you may want to use a different match type altogether – phrase match, exact match or even modified broad match. Rather than reinvent the wheel describing them, I’ll refer you to the overview of match types in the Adwords help center.
4) Geo-targeting mishaps
If your business serves only a limited region, you need to use location targeting so your ad is shown to people located in or searching for info within that region. (Most people get this right, but if you don’t it can get ugly fast!)
5) Not keeping an eye on your stats
Last but not least, log in and check your stats regularly. Check for messages about problems with your account. Look for keywords or ads which are performing poorly and see what you can do to improve them. Run keyword reports to see if there are negative match keywords you missed. Look at the opportunities tab to see if any of the automated suggestions might be helpful.
If you enjoy delving into these kind of details and you’re up for the task, Google’s own documentation is both comprehensive and easy to follow. However if you don’t have the time to put into it, the dollars you’ll lose on wasted budget would be better put towards hiring a specialist.