3. Other Google AdWords Strategies
Google AdWords Ad Positioning
Although the profit margin on the product or service offered is a large factor, tests have proved that the first ad position on the first page is, generally, not the most profitable. Yes, it gets the most clicks, but it’s often a spontaneous action by the surfer before studying the ad. Sometimes the surfer is merely browsing the subject and is not ready to buy (commonly known as “tyre-kickers”).
Tests show that the further down the page an ad is, or, occasionally, even on the second page, the greater is its conversion rate. The surfer has taken the time to read the ad carefully because he is ready to buy. Furthermore, the clicks are fewer; so, your overall pay-per-click bill is less than for a higher-positioned ad. The downside is that the click-through rate (CTR) of the lower-positioned ads is lower, which affects your Quality Score adversely and raises your cost per click.
A happy medium is to aim for positions 4 to 6 on Google’s first page. (You can use the “Show Estimated Ad Position” and “Estimated Avg CPC” columns in the on-line Google AdWords Keyword Tool to determine the cost-per-click to bid for each of of your exact match keyword phrases, and then you can set those bids accordingly. These figures can, however, be notoriously inaccurate. Always check your keyword phrases’ positions afterwards in the ‘Avg Pos’ column on the Ad Group’s ‘Keywords’ index tab or by testing with a search on the main keyword phrases.)
“Google Search” ads, “Content Network” ads, “Search Network”/”Search Partners” ads, “Placement” ads
You can specify different maximum bid amounts for these various types of advertising. Because the quality of their traffic tends to be lower, bids for the Content Network (“entire network” option) and Search Network (Search Partners) (see Tactics > Search Network) should be kept lower and be more tightly controlled than those for Google Search traffic and the Content Network (“Placement ads” option). In the early stages of a new Google AdWords campaign, it is advisable to go with only Google Search traffic and switch other options off, to help you to control costs. Once you’ve discovered the keywords that produce the highest return on investment (ROI), you can enable other options for those keywords to see what results they produce.
If you find that a Google Search traffic campaign is too competitive, don’t just abandon Google AdWords altogether; try a Content Network Placement ad (see Tactics > Placement Ads), bidding either CPC or CPM (q.v.).
Testing and Tracking
Despite what you may think of your copywriting prowess, you will not write the perfect ad at the first attempt. You may need ten attempts before you find the best formula. Although you may hazard a reasonable guess at the advertisement text that would attract visitors, the ONLY way to KNOW what ad text achieves the highest click-through rate (CTR) is split-test two ads simultaneously.
Although changing just a single word can make a difference, do not split-test two ads that resemble each other that closely; Split-test two radically different ads. (Switch off Google’s option to show the better-performing ad more often than the other, as that would distort the test results.) After between 20 and 50 clicks it should become apparent which of the two ads is out-performing the other. Then replace the inferior ad with another and split-test again. Repeat this process again and again, each time reducing the textual differences between the two ads until you arrive at the one that performs best of all.
To track the click-through rate (CTR) of your ads, go to your Google AdWords campaign web page, click on the Campaign name; click on the Ad Group name; click the ‘Ad Variations’ index tab; check the ‘CTR’ column.
Always keep all the Ad Variations that you create, to check that you don’t repeat any inadvertently.
Split-test your landing pages in a similar way, to discover which style, layout, text, call to action, etc. achieves the highest conversion rate. To track the conversion rates of your web pages for various keywords, go to your Google AdWords campaign web page and click on the ‘Conversion Tracking’ item on the ‘Campaign Management’ index tab.
Always save all the landing pages that you create, to check that you don’t repeat any inadvertently.
After a new campaign has been running for about a month, check the click-through rate (CTR) of all the keyword phrases in each Ad Group on its ‘Keywords’ index tab. Click the ‘CTR’ column header to sort the keyword phrases, mark the checkbox of all keyword phrases with a CTR of less than 0.5% and either ‘Pause’ or ‘Delete’ them. (If you have many keywords, it’d probably be quicker to do this in your specialist AdWords software tool and upload the keyword list to your Google AdWords campaign again.)
0.5% is considered the benchmark of a poorly performing keyword. Such keywords cause your ad to be displayed but, for some reason, the people using the keyword in their search terms don’t connect it mentally with your ad, and don’t click on it. If several keywords have a low click-through rate (CTR), the overall click-through rate (CTR) of your whole Ad Group is reduced and its Quality Score will be affected adversely. Eventually, this Ad Group’s lower Quality Score will also affect the Quality Score of your entire Google AdWords campaign.
This check should be performed weekly thereafter.
If you really want to use those poorly performing keywords, remove them from the Ad Group and create a new Ad Group for them, or even a new campaign, so that they don’t affect your overall Quality Score.
The Bottom Line
Great importance is attached to the click-through rate (CTR), but, to put it in perspective, it is only a means to an end. A high click-through rate (CTR) does not make you a millionaire in itself; It’s revenue that counts. Your revenue is determined by the successful interaction between keywords, Ad Variation and landing page, all three working in harmony together.
Maximum CPC Bid
Don’t be afraid to bid higher than necessary for keywords in a new Google AdWords campaign during the first few days. This will establish your campaign with Google and, as your click-through rate (CTR) rises, your maximum CPC bid amount to achieve the same ad position will fall dramatically. Then you lower your bids and check again the next day. Repeat this process until your bids are minimized. You do this for all the keyword phrases in the Ad Group. If there are too many keywords to deal with manually, invest in specialist software to calculate the bids for you.
CPC or CPM?
Google ‘Content Network’ advertising (see Tactics > Content Network) gives you the option to specify your keywords’ maximum bids as cost-per-click (CPC) or cost-per-thousand-impressions (CPM) (“M” is the Roman numeral for 1,000, “mille” in Latin). CPM can be useful if the Quality Score is low or the cost per click (CPC) is high. If you opt to pay for impressions rather than for clicks, Google couldn’t care less about Quality Score or click-through rate (CTR) or even relevance; You simply pay each time your ad appears. Of course, it’s still in your interest to ensure that you follow the advice about relevance already given.
It’s your responsibility to track the performance of your CPM ads, because Google doesn’t do it for you. Obviously, you won’t want to keep paying for ads that don’t convert. Moreover, you’ll still have to bid high enough to get your ad to be displayed in
the desired position within an ad unit on an AdSense publisher’s web page, or even at all, and that cost could be quite high on a good-quality, popular web site that you choose for a ‘Placement’ ad (see Tactics > Placement Ads).
Unless you have a six-figure annual budget and would be happy with a mere 10% return on investment (ROI), don’t bother bidding for popular 1-word keywords, such as “mortgage”. The competition for most single-word keywords is fierce, unless the niche is very esoteric. Moreover, searches on single words are made most frequently by people who are simply not ready to spend their money; they are merely investigating the market, gathering information; in other words, they are “tyre-kickers”. 1-word keywords would probably bankrupt you very quickly.
2-word keywords are a better bet, but they can still command a high cost per click in competitive markets, surfers who search on them may still not be ready to buy, although they’re getting there.
Keyword phrases of three words and up are known as “long-tail” keywords. (Note that the word “keyword” in pay-per-click advertising can mean a phrase of more than one actual word, e.g., “New York”. A “keyword phrase” consists of more than one “keyword”.)
3-word keyword phrases have the highest conversion rate, according to tests. People who type three words as a search term have usually done their investigations, know exactly what they want, and are now ready to buy.
4-word keyword phrases fare slightly less well, perhaps because the searcher may indeed be ready to buy, but is comparing prices for a very specific item, or is doing some academic research.
Don’t understimate the power of negative keywords! If you sell tulips, you don’t want your ad to appear when someone searches on the term “grow tulips”. Although they may not click on your ad, it’d be an unnecessary impression, and its click-through rate (CTR) would suffer. Specify “grow” as a negative keyword. (Of course, if your Ad Group contains only exact match keyword phrases, there’s no point in specifying negative keywords.)
Relevance is covered above, and is by far the most important attribute of a landing page. Here is some advice about other ways to encourage Google to enhance your Ad Group’s Quality Score.
How to Attract Visitors
What makes a person click on your ad instead of someone else’s? The answer is the same as to the question why a person clicks the ‘Buy’ button on your sales page: good copywriting. That’s a separate subject, but, suffice it to say here that your ad must be not only relevant, but also compelling. Imagine that you are the searcher, looking to buy a product or service like yours. Look at other ads offering something similar. What attracts you to one and not another? Ask your friends and colleagues what they think.
You have only a 25-character headline and two description lines of 35 characters each. Don’t squander them on waffling about your company. The consumer couldn’t care less about you or your company. The consumer has a problem to be solved, a need to be satisfied, a desire to be fulfilled. So, mention the problem, the need, the desire. And, most important, tell the consumer that the solution, what he needs, what he wants is only a click away. Tell him to “Get Help Now” or to “Find It Here”. That’s the ‘call to action’.