AdWords is a fickle beast. It’s a love-hate relationship with temptations lurking in every corner.
But there are a few major things you must do (we call them The 10 Commandments) and some others that you shouldn’t absolutely do (The 7 Deadly sins).
Following the ten commandments could lead you to a wonderful, righteous life for years to come. Like using SKAGs to structure your ad groups for specificity, leading to better conversions.
But heading down the wrong road of the seven deadly sins could land you in hot water, like neglecting your conversion tracking setup.
Here’s a set of rules to abide by for AdWords to achieve plentiful growth and to live a prosperous life.
The Ten Commandments of AdWords
The ten commandments of AdWords are a set of rules to guide your business journey. Follow them, and you can expect great results.
Let’s dive in.
1. You shall use SKAGs
The preliminary setup work of your AdWords account can make or break your experience.
Setting it up incorrectly can lead to a fast depletion of your budget with almost nothing to show for it.
And it’s not entirely your fault. Google directs you to set up your account in a way that isn’t optimized for success.
This first commandment is possibly the most important of all:
Single keyword ad groups. SKAGs are the most efficient way to set up new campaigns on your account.
Clicteq implemented SKAGs and saw their quality score jump from 5.56 to 7.95 with a cost per lead reduction of 37.5%. They also saw a jump of over 28% with their click-through rate.
So, how do they work? SKAGs are just what they sound like: ad groups that revolve around a single keyword.
Standard ad groups that Google recommends tend to look like this:
The problem quickly becomes apparent when trying to craft ads for this ad group:
Simply put, your ads are going to be far too generic to drive clicks and conversions.
Someone searching for “women’s red dresses” doesn’t want to click on a generic ad. They want a red dress and they want it now.
And that’s why that Clicteq study was so powerful. It allowed them to get specific with each and every ad, giving users a more targeted experience.
To set up SKAGs in your account, the following structure is critical:
Add your selected target keyword in all three match types: exact, phrase and broad match modifiers.
2. You shall use ad extensions
Typical space on a given AdWords ad is almost nothing:
You get a few measly words and are restricted to small headlines and description text.
It’s hard to communicate all of the value that your business can offer in such a small space.
And that’s why ad extensions exist:
Ad extensions can transform the look and feel of your ad along with the total amount of information that can be displayed in your ads.
For example, instead of just a basic ad, you can add seller ratings, reviews, sitelink extensions, pricing and more.
Using extensions is critical for giving more information, with the side benefit of huge CTR increases.
You get the point: ad extensions not only give you more room to work with, they also improve your CTR dramatically.
Add them to your next ad under the extensions tab of your campaign manager.
3. You shall use negative keywords
Negative keywords are the AdWords way of filtering out the junk. The junk that is costing you hundreds of extra dollars each month with no conversions.
PPC expert Carrie Albright was able to save a client $1 million using negative keywords.
So, what exactly is a negative keyword? Let me give you an example.
Let’s say you’re advertising for law firm consultations, but your consultations aren’t free. But as you may know, free consultations are widely popular in almost every industry.
So you’re going to get tons of clicks based on searches with “Free” in them relating to your keywords.
But knowing that your business doesn’t offer free consultations, what is the outcome? A ton of wasted money on clicks that are expecting free consultations.
AKA, you ain’t getting a single conversion. Plus, you’re paying for all those clicks too.
It’s a recipe for disaster.
Make sure to add keywords to your negative keyword list by using the search terms report on AdWords:
Click on your search terms report and scroll through any keyword searches that you don’t want to pay for. For example, if a keyword is too broad or unrelated, select it, and add it as a negative keyword.
Repeat this process monthly to keep your ad spend in check.
4. You shall use automated rules
Allan F. Mogensen coined the phrase, “work smarter not harder.”
And that couldn’t be truer for AdWords. The platform is simply too gigantic and complex. It can take hours to run through campaigns updating bids, budgets, and costs.
Heck, it’s a full-time job to run a single account to the best of its ability.
And when it’s not your full-time job, you don’t have time for that. Even if it’s your full-time job, wouldn’t you want to cut down multiple hours daily or weekly with a few simple changes?
You can find automated rules in the bulk actions toolset:
These rules allow you to set conditions and actions based on campaign performance.
For example, you can tell AdWords to reduce your budget and bids if your cost per clicks gets too high for your budget. Or you can tell AdWords to increase your bids if your ad position drops below the top two spots.
No more time spent checking on dozens of campaigns, ads, and keywords to make sure they’re in check. Simply set up a few new rules and let AdWords handle the rest.
5. You shall use UTM tracking
Data is the name of the game when proving your online marketing efforts. If you don’t know where traffic is coming from, or what campaigns drove what sale, you can’t effectively show the efficacy of a platform.
UTM tracking is one of the best ways to get detailed tracking info on where your traffic is coming from and where conversions came from.
When set up properly, they show up in your Analytics account like this:
Essentially, these tags track everything from your campaign name to keyword level data. So instead of Analytics saying your conversions are from “AdWords,” it will show you the exact campaign that drove it.
To set these up, head to AdWords and click on each campaign. Select the campaigns to edit them:
Select “Change tracking templates.”
Now paste in the following template into the box:
Repeat this process for each live campaign you run and you’ll be collecting valuable data for years to come.
6. You shall use call tracking
Calls are one of the most popular ways that consumers reach your business via an ad on Google AdWords. They are so popular that Google createdcall-only ads just to focus on calls.
But the AdWords call reporting data looks like this:
Yeah, it sucks. There is literally nothing of value in this report. It doesn’t tell you keywords, campaigns, or if they actually converted.
That’s not real conversion tracking. Google’s baseline is that a 60+ second call is marked as a conversion. But that’s bogus, and we all know it.
Everything from customer location to their entire web browsing session and how they got there. You can even record calls for quality assurance and mark new calls as leads or sales.
7. You shall have dedicated landing pages
One of the most important of the ten commandments is having a dedicated landing page for each single keyword ad group.
This works to keep message match aligned from start to finish, keeping the specificity that SKAGs promote.
Each SKAG should have its own dedicated landing page.
For example, your SKAG with the keyword “Best Vacation Spots” should have a different landing page than “Best Tropical Vacation Spots.”
The content is simply too different to use the same landing page and expect great results.
8. You shall use remarketing
Getting traffic to your site or landing page is the first step. But according to the latest data,98% of visitors won’t convert on their first time.
Remarketing works to bring back the 98% that didn’t convert by targeting them with more ads.
AdWords has powerful remarketing tools that can help you bring back users who didn’t convert.
In the audiences manager, you can create a new remarketing audience based on website visits and track each visitor to your site, allowing you to remarket them when they don’t convert.
Remarketing is cost effective and easily scalable. It should always be part of your AdWords gameplan.
9. You shall use geotargeting
A common theme in AdWords that we’ve seen throughout the ten commandments is specificity.
It’s the key to success. When someone searches for a specific term, they want that. They don’t want something else, or they would have searched for it.
And the same rationale applies to location. Especially when your business is local.
Geotargeting allows you to target keywords being searched in specific locations.
For example, normally targeting “plumber” without geotargeting would cost you a fortune. It’s too generic. But adding a location targeting factor like the city limits of LA would narrow down your search volume and competition dramatically.
Make sure that local-based campaigns are always targeted with location features. Enable location targeting on a given campaign by hitting the “Locations” tab and adding your local areas of business.
10. You shall use the search terms report for new campaigns
On AdWords, you’re bidding for specific keywords to drive traffic and sales. For example, bidding on “SEO Agency.”
But in reality, that’s not what you’re paying for. You’re paying to show up for search terms that are closely related to those keywords.
You can find these in your search terms report:
Those listed search terms are what you’re actually paying for. It’s not uncommon to notice tons of search terms (keyword searches) that you aren’t bidding on with existing campaigns.
Rather than looking at this as a failure, turn those search terms into their own campaigns!
Sort your search terms list by top-converting search terms:
Create new SKAGs using the best search terms you find on the report. This again allows you to get more specific to the exact search that users are conducting.
Always use the search term report to uncover new campaign ideas.
The Seven Deadly Sins of AdWords
It has been set in stone. You have the keys to creating a heavenly experience on AdWords.
But if you’re going to proceed down a righteous path, you need to avoid the seven deadly sins….
1. Not having conversion tracking set up before running a campaign
One of the biggest mistakes that most beginners make on AdWords is either:
- Not setting up conversion tracking first, or
- Not setting it up properly
Without conversion tracking, you’ve got no idea how much you’re spending and how many customers you are acquiring.
You have no way to prove that your efforts are actually paying off. It’s imperative to set up conversion tracking before setting any new campaign live.
Set up new conversion tracking for your campaigns by heading to the conversion dashboard, and creating a new conversion for each element you want to track.
P.S., don’t forget the sixth commandment 😉
2. Ignoring your customer lifetime value
Customer lifetime value is one of the most important metrics in existence. It tells you how much value your customer brings to your business over their entire relationship with you.
Essentially, it’s an average marker of how much money a given customer will spend with you over their entire customer lifecycle from acquisition to leaving.
Ignoring LTV is a disaster waiting to happen. It’s a sin that can haunt you for the rest of your days.
LTV dictates how much you can afford to spend on AdWords. For example, let’s say that you sell high-end products, and you have strong brand loyalty, meaning your average LTV is high.
This means you can afford to spend higher amounts on acquiring customers in AdWords because you know they will turn into big spenders for your business.
On the flip side, if your LTV is low, you can’t spend much on acquisition. So you need to locate cheap keywords or bid low amounts.
Here is a simple calculation for LTV that you can use to determine how much you should spend on acquiring customers before diving into ads and bidding.
(Average Value of a Sale) X (Number of Repeat Transactions) X (Average Retention Time in Months or Years for a Typical Customer)
3. Not testing multiple ads in each ad group
Testing is the name of the game on AdWords. When you’re brand new to the platform, you have no idea what works and what doesn’t.
Sure, adding extensions and SKAGs will set you on the right course, but if you can’t write a decent ad, you won’t drive sales.
Copywriting is key in the AdWords search network. Can you compel people to click with just a sentence or two?
To perfect your craft, make sure that each SKAG has 3+ ads running at a given time. After a few weeks, inspect the clicks and CTR to see which are performing best.
Ones with higher CTR show that your ad copy is driving clicks. Set those as your main ads and you’ve got a winner on your hands.
It’s a sin to only write a single ad and expect a loaves and fishes kind of miracle.
4. Skipping bidding on branded terms
A huge deadly sin on AdWords that can destroy your brand image is forgetting to bid on branded terms.
For example, look at this search for Buffer, a popular content scheduling tool:
Imagine that I’m hearing about Buffer for the first time. So I Google them, only to see two other tools before them on the SERP.
So, I click on them thinking it’s Buffer. Sooner or later, I’m converting with a different product.
Not only do branded terms help you dominate search engine results with your brand name, they also cost next to nothing.
Plus, the majority of people don’t click on paid results, meaning it only serves to reinforce your brand with an unnoticeable extra expense.
5. Forgetting to do competitor research
Competitor research should be one of the first steps of any successful campaign.
What are your competitors doing? What keywords do they target? What offers are featured in their ads? What’s their landing page structure? Can you beat their offer? Are there any keywords they don’t target? Can you outbid them?
You get the point. Using a tool like SpyFu, you can see everything from their ad spend/budget to ads that they are running:
Not only does this give you insight into the questions listed above, but it can serve as a jumping off point to kickstart your campaign with inspiration for offers or compelling ad text.
6. Not linking AdWords to Analytics
You can never have too much data. AdWords has great metrics, but it should never be treated as the end all be all. The Almighty.
It’s not your savior, and it won’t ensure your prosperity for eternity. Thankfully, AdWords has a redemption plan for us all:
Under the admin section of your Analytics account, be sure to link your AdWords account to allow the two platforms to transfer data:
Hallelujah, your data is now in complete harmony with one another.
7. Spending too much too fast (Greed)
Greed. One of the most prevalent of the seven deadly sins in today’s world.
Everybody wants to strike it rich. We want more. Now. ASAP. Yesterday.
Most people jump into AdWords after reading case studies about striking it rich, expecting to sift through the sand and find gold.
But what usually ends up happening is advertisers will blow their entire budget before their account has even started to show progress.
As the last of the seven deadly sins, I’ll leave you with this:
Take your time. Slowly increase your budget as performance increases to meet demand. Don’t jump full scale into it with a $1,000 daily budget and expect results.
Slow it down, make the necessary tweaks, and always follow the ten commandments of AdWords.
The ten commandments of AdWords should serve as guidelines that will ensure a prosperous business for years to come.
Be careful not to fall down the rabbit hole into the arms of the seven deadly sins.
They can crush your business faster than you can imagine.