Sunday, June 16, 2013

Lessons Learned from Ten Years with Google Adwords

10 Years Managing Google Adwords

Happy Anniversary Adwords! I've been using Google Adwords for 10 years. Adwords has supported me ever since with a never-ending stream of high quality leads and highly visible branding.

I opened my first Google Adwords account on April 4, 2003. I still manage that account and have added others. My knowledge, experience, and skills managing Adwords have grown, as Adwords itself has evolved over the years.
10 Great Years with
Google Adwords.

In those 10 years, this original account has generated over 3.8 million visits (clicks) for niche B-to-B technical and industrial service websites I manage and/or promote. This history includes Adwords campaigns in English, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, German, Arabic, Chinese, French, and other languages targeting over 30 nations.

Thanks to continuing education and hands-on use of Adwords, my click-through-rates and conversion rates are strong and continue to rise incrementally in a continuous improvement process. While nothing, and I mean nothing, can replace organic search ranking optimization for quality lead generation, the intelligent use of Adwords has been an indispensable weapon for my success with search engine marketing.

What I learned during 10 Years with Adwords:
  • Get Adwords Educated:
    Nothing helps manage Adwords better than learning from experts and keeping up with the latest Adwords features and the latest strategies and tactics. Adwords education saves time, improves efficiency and effectiveness, allowing you to spend less money, reduce wasted efforts and increase quality lead generation and ROI. Keep up with the latest Adwords developments.
    Brian Geddes
    is a highly rated Adwords expert you should follow, and there are others. Search Engine Strategies (SES) and Search Marketing Expo (SMX) are perhaps the best big conference meetings to learn more about paid search marketing updates, tactics, and advice. The depth of knowledge shared can be amazing. PPC Hero is another paid search blog and newsletter service full of tips and tactics, and they sponsor a devoted all-pay-per-click search conference in the USA.
    Google offers extremely valuable Adwords 101, 201, 301 classes. Take these classes! Take the 301 class again after a few years, as Awords is constantly evolving.
  • Control your spend in the face of rising pay-per-click costs:
    Take intelligent steps to manage spending limits with Google. When I started out in 2003, the CPC rate was very low, especially for long-tail search terms. My competitors were oblivious or ignorant of the lead generation and branding power of Adwords for many years, often leaving me a monopoly on key search terms. But between direct and indirect competitors 'waking up'  to coveted search terms and Google tweaking Adwords to force higher CPC rates, the general long term trend for CPC is going up, not down. 
  • Budget:
    Google loves you. But Google loves your money even more. Adwords is extremely profitable, and it is the core source of Google's revenues. If you are too generous in your Adwords search settings and parameters, Google will find innovative ways to spend your budget down to the last penny. To reduce waste or bankruptcy, make sure budget settings are locked down, and monitor your spend. While click fraud is rarer these days, you should monitor for sudden trend changes and anomalies. I tend to avoid runnning Adwords in some countries specifically because I experience high click volumes of low quality.
  • Campaign Structure:
    Organize and Structure your Adwords campaigns and groups logically and effectively.
  • Ad Ranking:
    Being "Number One" in Adwords is not always an advantage. It can be expensive and wasteful, inviting many lower quality clicks. Targeting Rankings alone is not the best approach. What is your real goal: Conversions or Click Throughs? Do you already enjoy high organic search rankings? Then you can look at running ads ranked number 2, 3 or 4. Lower ranked ads will result in lower click throughs, but they will produce a higher quality click rate, attracting more motivated leads and enhancing conversion rates at a lower cost. The top right hand side of Google SERP results is a good position for an Ad.
    There is no simple answer to ad  placement. If the campaign has great filtering for where, when, and to whom, ads are shown, it becomes more cost-effective to target a number one ranking with less risk of wasted spend.
  • Keyword Research:
    This may seem like common sense, but it is surprising how much opportunity is missed, or waste produced, from insufficient keyword research. Long-tail search takes work
    , experimentation and patience, but the results are well worth the effort. Keyword candidates can be found using the Google Keyword Tool, external resources like Wordtracker, your customers, your target markets, your employees, and other sources.
  • Adwords Experimenting and Investigating:
    Running multiple ad versions to improve adword group performance is essential and will help improve your ad copy and performance.
    Want to conduct low cost market research? Using Adwords is a very cost-effective way to measure keywords related to potential market interest or popularity.
    Exploit your growing wealth of historical data in Adwords, it can be a true "Big Data" resource for trends and keyword data mining.
  • Filter, Filter, Filter:
    With Adwords, less is more. Avoid the easy route of using just broad search terms... you'll get a lot of impressions and clicks, but most will be worthless. Take the time to add long-tail keyword terms, use the vocabulary of our target markets. Use negative search terms (really important). Use Geographic, Language, Device, and Time Zone options as needed. 
  • Embrace Your Negative Side When Managing Paid Search Campaigns.
  • Track, Track, Track:
    I can't imagine using Adwords without having the Conversion tracking enabled and working. CTR is a good indicator for ad popularity. Conversion Rates are a great indicator for quality. Separate your Display Ad Campaigns for better clarity. I keep my Display Ad Campaigns in a totally different account.
  • Know Your Goals:
    What are important to you: Conversions? Visits? Impressions? CTR? Conversion Rate? CPC? Mastering an optimal blend of these factors is idea for lead generation and branding, while keeping to a reasonable budget. Managing Adwords successfully is essentially the equivalent of juggling. Everything is dynamic, fluid, and in motion. An important feature in Adwords is the ability to set your campaign settings to optimize for conversions or clicks. I find greater value from optimizing for conversions, but your goals may differ.