Self-Auditing Your Google AdWords: Why It’s Important and How To Do It
For most business owners, there’s nothing more unpalatable than the thought of wading back into the “sea of minutiae” that is your Google AdWords account.
You log in, check your settings, try to make sense of Google’s latest account recommendations, and possibly even make some changes that you hope will improve your ROI — all while knowing that some of those changes will likely create even more work for you in the forms of conversion tracking, metric analysis, and new ad creation.
Just another day in paradise, right? Every business owner’s dream!
But, these days Google AdWords and digital advertising are non-optional business growth tools for almost every company. If you’re not using them, your competitors probably are. And if they’re using them well, then they’re taking new business and even existing business away from you.
So whether you consider Google AdWords to be an exciting, revolutionary growth driver, or a necessary evil you wish never happened, the fact is that Google has helped countless advertisers turn small businesses into big ones and “great ideas” into legitimate companies.
With that in mind, following are some expert recommendations to help you get more out of your Google AdWords account and turn that “sea of minutiae” into a powerful profit center for your business.
We’re starting with conversion tracking because the data you gather about your conversions is going to dictate next steps in almost every facet of your ad campaigns. Knowing which ads and keywords are working the hardest for you vs. which ones are sleeping on the job is crucial — not only for fixing what’s broken, but for all your future account optimizations as well.
- Google makes it possible to monitor performance by ad by ad (Status, CTR [clickthrough rate], or CPC [cost-per-click]), or by keyword (Status, CTR, or Quality Score).
- You’ll also want to learn how to use segments so you can track conversions, run A/B (comparison) testing, check ad performance by device (computer, tablet, or mobile), view click types, etc.
- If you know what you’re doing, you can pretty easily track how many phone calls your AdWords campaigns are generating for you. Here’s why you need to do this.
It’s not just about making sure people are seeing your ads, but about making sure the right people are seeing the right ads.
- Ad rotation settings allow you to dictate which ads are shown most often by letting you choose between click or conversion optimization (depending on what your goals are for a particular ad), as well as between options to have an ad rotated evenly or indefinitely.
- You’ll definitely want to opt-in to Google Search Partners, which works with third-party search engines to show your ads in places other than Google.com. But make sure you’re checking your conversion data! Even though Google Search Partners is often a great complement to campaigns, occasionally its performance doesn’t justify the spend. This is another reason why accurate conversion tracking is so important.
- Depending on the product or services you are advertising, you may want to target specific audiences outside your immediate geographic area. Geographic targeting allows you to not only target entire countries, zip codes, or radii, but it also enables you to do both demographic and interest-based targeting as well.
Keywords and Bid Strategy
Of course you’re familiar with keywords and know a thing or two about the bidding process, but is that enough?
- Choosing keywords that best suit your product or service is one thing, but you also want to stay abreast of search trends and how often a keyword’s search value changes over time. Google’s Keyword Planner will help you with that, as well as with setting budgets, new keyword discovery, and making sound bid estimates.
- You’ll also want to monitor search term performance on both computers and mobile devices.
- Brushing up on keyword match types won’t just give you more control over who sees your ad, it can also help you increase CTR and generate more conversions.
- Each of your ad campaigns should have a primary goal, whether it’s increasing brand awareness, building traffic, or selling your products/services. Your choice to use manual vCPM (cost-per-thousand-viewable-impressions) bidding, maximize clicks, manual CPC bidding, or target CPA (cost-per-acquisition) bidding as your bid strategy should be predicated on that goal.
Although you’ve probably had some experience writing your own ads, there’s always room for improvement. Google offers effective refresher and first-time tips and guidelines for writing impactful ads.
- As of Jan. 1st, 2017, Google is only accepting ads written in expanded text format. This new ad format is better than the previous standard because expanded text ads (ETAs) are 50% larger than standard ads. ETAs allow you to use two headline fields instead of one, a single 80-character description field instead of two smaller ones, and two optional “Path” fields with your URL display.
- An ad group contains one or more ads that share a common set of keywords. Any or all of these shared keywords can trigger any/all of the ads in that ad group. So, make sure that all the ads you place in a single ad group are relevant to all of the keywords in your ad group.
If you want to give potential customers more reasons to choose your business, make it easier for them to contact you, route them to site pages they’ll be most interested in, let them know how great your actual customers think you are, etc., then you need to take advantage of ad extensions.
Ad extensions are free, highly valuable, good for tracking, and too numerous to list here in their entirety. So we’ll just cover some of the most important ones.
- Sitelink extensions enable you to add 2-6 links to your ads that will route potential customers to interest-specific pages on your website (e.g. store hours, product descriptions, list of services, etc.).
- The importance of making it easy for people to be able to contact, or even locate, your business cannot be understated, which is why you need to use all three of these: Location, Call, and Message extensions. (Call extensions are great for tracking phone conversions, too.)
- If you want to let your audience know what’s unique about your business and its offerings at any given time (e.g. Financing Available, Pet-Friendly Rentals, 24/7 Service), or just highlight specific features of your products or services (e.g. Brands: Nike, adidas, New Balance, Mizuno, ASICS), then you’ll want to use Callout extensions and Structured Snippet extensions, respectively.
- There’s nothing wrong with blowing your own horn. But if you use a Review extension to do it, make sure the review, award, or commendation you’re linking to comes from a reputable, published source (not Yelp!), isn’t over a year old, and hasn’t been altered.
- Like review extensions, Seller Rating extensions need to also come from a reputable source. Google has a limited list of about 30+ independent review sites from which they’ll source reviews, including Shopper Approved, Bizrate, KiYoh, StellaService, etc.
Hopefully this “self-audit” has provided you with both thinking and starting points. Not to overwhelm you, but this list was far from comprehensive. The truth is, there’s an immense amount of knowledge and skill involved in being able to consistently run successful Google AdWords campaigns. The more you learn and do, the better off you’ll be.
In the meantime, it’s always good to have someone trustworthy to turn to for help. StubGroup is an expert pay-per-click advertising agency that specializes in Google Adwords, and we are ranked in the top 3% of all Google Partners worldwide based on the performance we deliver our clients.
Armed with a profound understanding of AdWords and its entire toolset (plus a host of PPC knowledge applicable to any platform), we can help improve your online advertising strategy in ways we haven’t even mentioned here. Feel free to give us a shout!