8 Considerations for Planning a Google AdWords Campaign

Ready to make a splash in Google AdWords? If you’re marketing your small business, then you may have first-hand knowledge about the ease of using Google’s ad platform. But don’t be fooled — it takes more than hastily written ad copy and keywords to be successful in AdWords.

TM0810_searchglobe copyReady to make a splash in Google AdWords? If you’re marketing your small business, then you may have first-hand knowledge about the ease of using Google’s ad platform. Anyone with a Google account and a credit card can get ads up and running within minutes. Online marketing can be an intimidating concept, but AdWords distills the creation of ad campaigns into a simple, step-by-step process.

But don’t be fooled — it takes more than hastily written ad copy and keywords to be successful in AdWords. Much like cooking isn’t as simple as throwing food into the oven, creating profitable campaigns in AdWords requires knowing your target audience, analyzing competitors and defining goals for your advertising efforts. Do these things, and your campaigns are far more likely to hit their desired targets. Neglect this pre-launch research, though, and your ads may never flourish.

Here we’ll review eight important steps when planning your Google AdWords campaigns. Whether you’re new to AdWords or have some experience, these easy steps can strengthen your advertisements right out of the gate.

1. Define Who You’re Targeting

Think of your AdWords campaigns as radio stations. If you wanted to attract the most listeners, you wouldn’t play the same music on all of your stations. Some stations would play the current pop hits, while others may play rap, classical or country. Each unique station would resonate better with specific groups of people.

So when creating your campaigns, think carefully about who you’re trying to reach with each one. If you’re marketing a shoe store, do you want your newest campaign to target male or female shoppers? Are you marketing formal shoes or sneakers? Are you trying to appeal locally or attract nationwide online orders? Or perhaps you’re selling to a niche market, like people with unusually large feet? Any information you can gather on your target audience will help you build your campaigns.

2. Find Relevant, High-demand Keywords

Building quality keyword lists is essential for all your campaigns. However, good keywords need to be more than relevant — they also need to be in high demand. In search marketing, demand is measured by how many people are searching for various keywords. Keywords that garner little attention from Web users aren’t going to help your advertising campaigns.

Fortunately, Google makes it easy to find relevant, high-demand keywords. Simply enter your keyword ideas into the AdWords Keyword Suggestion Tool, and Google returns lists of similar keyword terms along with their estimated monthly search volumes and various other metrics. Estimated costs per click are shown, but these figures are often incorrect. Definitely pay attention to the level of competition for each keyword term; keywords with higher levels of competition are being bid on by more AdWords users, which pushes up the required bids for premium ad placements. You’ll maximize your reach and make your budget go further by finding relevant, high-volume keywords with less competition from other advertisers.

3. Make a Focused Sales Pitch

Knowing how to blast your ad to the masses is important, but reach doesn’t matter if your ad isn’t interesting. What exactly are you selling, and why should your campaign’s target audience care? What makes your business or your product special? Are you offering a deal or discount that your customers shouldn’t be without?

Your sales pitch must be short and sweet. Pay-per-click ads don’t leave much room for making your point, which is why it’s so crucial to zero in on one or two selling points for each of your campaigns. Choosing the sales pitches for your various campaigns goes hand-in-hand with knowing your target audiences.

6 Tips for Optimizing Google AdWords Keywords

SEO KeywordsOptimizing keywords is an ongoing task for anyone who uses Google AdWords. While there’s certainly a right way to research your initial keyword list, the simple truth is that no one knows for sure which keywords are going to perform the best until you test.

And that’s why we must optimize. Don’t panic if you realize that several of your keywords are underperforming — in online marketing, that’s par for the course. What matters more is that you constantly work on your keyword list to weed out the weak links. In the long run, this is how you’ll put your ads in front of the most appropriate, likely customers.

Here we’ll review the six most important tips when optimizing Google AdWords keywords lists.

1. Don’t Rush to Judgment
It’s tempting to hit the panic button when your ads go live and you don’t get the results you want. However, getting enough data to gauge the effectiveness of your keywords takes time. Even the best keywords have stretches when they’ll underperform. Nobody wants to spend money on ineffective advertising, but you won’t do yourself any favors by killing off keywords too soon.

Instead, relax and give your campaigns time to collect data. You’re better off setting a modest advertising budget if you’re worried about wasting money. But you can’t optimize your keywords without a good amount of data, and you won’t get that by making premature changes to your campaigns.

2. Find the Most Relevant Keywords
Everyone loves relevant keywords. Perfectly relevant keywords help online shoppers find the goods and services they want most, and that’s what makes Google’s search engine so valuable for Web users. And when Google rewards relevance with cheaper costs per click, then that’s great for online marketers like you — not to mention you’re more likely to connect with more customers.

Review your keyword list and add potential long-tail keywords, which are keyword phrases (often three to five words) that shoppers are likely to search for verbatim. Focus on buyer-intent keyword terms that include words such as “buy,” “find” or “deals,” these tend to be used by potential customers who are looking to make purchases. Focusing on relevance can help you convert your Web traffic into sales.

3. Make Sure Your Keywords are Relevant to Your Landing Pages
Sometimes, a perfectly viable keyword can be hamstrung by your website. When people who search for that keyword in Google click your ad, are you showing them the most relevant page of your site?

If your answer is “no,” then you have two options: You can revise your landing page content to be more relevant to your keyword, or you can move your keyword to a more appropriate ad group. The best way forward depends entirely on your keyword list. Be careful about making changes to your landing pages that might diminish the relevance of other strong performing keywords.

Google AdWords Audit Checklist: How to Optimize Your Campaign

Google AdWords is a vital advertising tool for many businesses. However, like anything else, it must be audited and maintained regularly to ensure that it remains fully optimized. Here is a checklist to follow.

Google AdWords logoGoogle AdWords is a vital advertising tool for many businesses. It allows you to focus your advertising budget on customers who are ready to buy, giving you a steady stream of eager new prospects. It also allows you to start with whatever budget you’re comfortable with, making it a tremendous resource for small businesses.

However, many business owners are not maximizing their campaign performance, so they are leaving money on the table month after month. Like anything else, your Google AdWords campaign must be audited and maintained regularly to ensure that it remains fully optimized. Here is a checklist to follow.

Keywords commonly trip up both new and experienced AdWords users because there are so many factors to consider. To optimize your keywords, I recommend using three distinct tactics, each of which addresses a common problem.

  • Pruning: The goal of pruning is to remove unprofitable keywords from your list, including those that are irrelevant and those that, for whatever reason, simply do not perform well for you. To start pruning, run a Google AdWords Search Terms report from the Keywords tab of your account. Any keyword that does not show solid performance should be removed or paused. Also consider adding negative keywords, which tell AdWords not to display your ad if a particular word appears in the search string.
  • Fishing: The goal of fishing is to find new keywords that will be profitable for your campaign. Again, run a Google AdWords Search Terms report and look for keyword phrases that are performing well, but are not yet in your Ad Groups.
  • Replanting: Replanting is a process to optimize your top performing keywords while limiting your budget for new or unproven keywords. Move your top keywords into their own campaign, and focus on tweaking your ad copy and landing pages to tightly match those keywords. Likewise, move unproven keywords to their own campaign and reduce their budget until you get more data on them. Replanting allows you to improve your quality score, increase your click-through rate, and maintain better control over your advertising dollars.

Your ad copy is an excellent place to optimize your AdWords campaign, since it is virtually impossible to write perfect copy on the first, or even the tenth, try. Here are a few ways to optimize your ads.

  • Split testing: Never allow just one ad to run in an ad group. Always run at least two ads so that you can compare their performance.
  • Offer: No matter how good the rest of your ad copy is, a weak offer can sink your AdWords campaign. Remember that a great offer minimizes customer risk and overcomes the tendency for procrastination. Review your competitors’ offers, think through what would appeal to your ideal customer, and split test different offers in your ads.
  • Extensions: Ad extensions factor into your quality score, and also play a role in improving your click-through rate, so make sure you are taking advantage of all of them. The Review extension, with a third party endorsement, is particularly useful in building credibility.
  • Other factors: Other areas of your ad copy that should be audited include your headline, display URL, and description. Make sure that each section is clear and succinct, focusing on how you can solve a problem or fulfill a need for your prospect. Ensure that your entire ad is internally consistent, easy to follow, and has a strong call to action.

Landing Pages
Your landing page is your opportunity to close the sale, turning visitors into leads and customers. It must be laser-focused to match the ad, reassuring the prospect that she is in the right place and explaining what to do next. Optimizing your landing page is not easy, but it’s critical to your campaign performance.

  • Dedicated landing pages: One of the most common mistakes that business owners make is using their homepage as a landing page for ads. A secondary mistake is using the same landing page for lots of unrelated keywords. Make sure your landing page is 100 percent congruent with the keywords and ads in each Ad Group.
  • Congruence: As mentioned above, your landing page must be fully congruent with your ad. This means that the landing page copy should match the keywords, and the landing page offer should repeat the offer made in the ads.
  • Call to Action: It sounds crazy, but I have reviewed countless landing pages that do not explicitly explain what the visitor needs to do to start the buying process.  As a consumer, it’s frustrating when it’s not clear what to do so most prospective customers will leave rather than try to figure it out.  So make sure your landing page has a clear call-to-action, ideally above the fold so the visitor does not have to scroll to find it.

Tracking is the only method you have for determining how well your AdWords campaign is performing. Make sure that each of the following forms of AdWords tracking is set up properly in your account:

  • Webform conversion tracking to measure how many visitors complete your webforms
  • Shopping cart conversion tracking to measure how many visitors complete online orders
  • Website call tracking to measure how many visitors call after clicking on your ads
  • Call extension tracking to measure how many people call using the number displayed in your ads
  • Offline sales import conversion tracking to measure how many sales are generated offline via phone calls or in-person

Optimizing and maintaining your Google AdWords campaign is an ongoing, never ending process. A regular audit procedure will determine which portions of your campaign are working well, and which need some attention. Although it may seem lot a lot of work, following an audit checklist like this can be completed quickly if you break up the tasks over the course of a week or two.

Want more Google AdWords tips and advice? I put together an AdWords checklist to help you get your campaigns set up for success. Click here to get my complete Google AdWords checklist.

How to Identify the Most Profitable Google AdWords Keywords

You probably already know that identifying profitable keywords is one of the most important steps in creating a successful Google AdWords campaign. When you actually start trying to think of keywords, though, you might feel overwhelmed.

The 5 Steps to Profit with Google AdWordsYou probably already know that identifying profitable keywords is one of the most important steps in creating a successful Google AdWords campaign. When you actually start trying to think of keywords, though, you might feel overwhelmed.

For example, you might sell Android phones. How many different two- or three-word phrases can you think of to describe your phones? Should you focus on different brands, specific models, or features? Does the word “Android” need to appear in every keyword phrase?

To answer these questions about your specific product or service, you need to understand what shoppers are searching for. Here are five ways to identify the most profitable Google AdWords keywords.

1. Think Like a Buyer
Online shoppers can be loosely divided into three groups, or three separate points in the shopping cycle.

Browsers are looking for general information. They are just setting out on their buying journey, or might even be doing research for a non-purchasing reason such as a school paper. It is nearly impossible to figure out their motivations for a particular search. You can identify browsers by their very general one- or two-word searches, such as “Android phones.”

Shoppers are interested in making a purchase at some point, but not yet. They are researching different products, comparing features and prices, and reading reviews. They tend to make their searches a little more specific, such as “Samsung Galaxy phones,” often with a word such as “features” or “reviews” appended.

Buyers are ready to make an imminent purchase. They have committed to a particular product or service, but they want to get the best deal. Their searches tend to be highly specific, such as “Samsung Galaxy S6 price” or “buy Samsung Galaxy S6.” When they find the item they want at the right price, they will complete the transaction.

To give your campaign the best chance for success, it is best to focus on the buyers. They are the easiest to convert into sales, giving you the most bang for your advertising bucks.

If you are unsure exactly what keyword phrases your buyers might choose, step back and pretend you are in the market for your specific product or service. How would you find it online? What words and phrases would you use when you are ready to buy?

2. Perform Customer Surveys
One of the best ways to figure out how to reach new buyers is to talk to those who have already bought. Send out an email survey or call your most recent purchasers. Find out how those customers reached your website. Ask them to try to recall the specific keywords they used, as well as the general keywords they tend to use in similar searches. You will likely pick up a few new ideas, even if your customers do not have perfect memories of how they found you.

3. Poll Your Staff
Assuming you have a well-trained staff, your employees can be a valuable source of keyword information. They are intimately familiar with your product or service, but have the benefit of being one step removed. If the item is “your baby,” it can be tough to step outside of your own deep knowledge and view it as an outsider might. Ask your staff how they would search for the product or service in question. Family and friends can also provide suggestions, especially if they have a reasonably good understanding of what you sell.

4. Scope Out Your Competitors
Make a list of your biggest competitors and spend some time poking around their websites. Every seller has his or her own unique approach, and you might discover some phrases or expressions that you had not yet thought about. Be careful not to steal anything trademarked or copyrighted, but general ideas and search terms are fair game.

5. Use Keyword Tools
Google’s free Keyword Planner is a tremendous resource. Simply input keyword phrases that you are considering, and Google will suggest a long list of similar keyword phrases, along with their average monthly search volumes and associated AdWords costs.

To dig even deeper, why not take a look at what is working and not working for your competitors? SpyFu is a particularly useful tool that lets you view AdWords keywords, ad variations, and landing pages that a chosen competitor has used in the past. This gives you a good idea of what works and what does not, and helps you decide which keyword phrases are worth your investment.

When trying to find the most profitable AdWords keywords, there is no one-size-fits-all solution.  Following these five tips helps you narrow your focus and decide where to begin, and then your own testing and tracking will show you what changes you need to make.

Want more AdWords tips?  I created a simple checklist that walks you through specific actions you can take to get cheaper clicks and convert more clicks into leads and customers. Click here to get my Google AdWords Checklist

9 SEO Basics That Everyone Should Know

SEO, or search engine optimization, is the process of obtaining high rankings in Google Search. Yet Google algorithms change at such an alarming rate that it can seem impossible to keep up. Fortunately, rather than chasing the latest updates, simply staying the course can help you gain and maintain high rankings. Before you go looking for the most recent tips and techniques, make sure your basics are as good as you can possibly make them. Here is what you must know about basic SEO.

1. SEO Is an Ongoing Process:
Too often, business owners make the assumption that SEO is a one time commitment. The reality is that it is something you must continually monitor and tweak over time. Like regularly scheduled car maintenance or health checkups, keeping a close eye on your SEO can minimize the time and effort that is required to fix most problems. Addressing issues as soon as they occur is always better than putting them off.

2. Content Is King:
Long gone are the days of poorly written web pages stuffed with unnatural keywords. Today, SEO demands that you provide high-quality, authoritative content on each page. At a minimum shoot for 500 words, but 700 to 1,000 or more words are preferred. Organize your content for web readability, using lots of sub-heads, bullets, images, and other features to break up walls of text.

3. Keywords Matter:
Exactly which keywords you choose to optimize for makes a big difference in your success. Use Google’s Keyword Planner tool to identify relevant keywords your ideal prospects are searching to find your products or services. Then edit your web pages and/or create new web pages that are 100 percent focused on your target keywords.

4. It’s NAP Time:
NAP refers to your business Name, Address, and Phone number. Google reviews your NAP listed on your website, as well as your NAP listed on other websites across the internet. For example, business directories publish your NAP and this information needs to match the information listed on your website. If there are any discrepancies, then your search rankings will suffer.

5. Above the Fold Is Where It Counts:
“Above the fold” is from an old newspaper term that referred to the spot where the newspaper was folded. Today this phrase refers to the part of a web page that a reader can see without scrolling. Use this space to capture the attention of your prospect right away and encourage her to keep reading. Use engaging, useful, highly relevant content to minimize your bounce rate, or the percentage of people who click immediately back off of your page.

6. Mobile Optimization Is Crucial:
In today’s always-connected world, savvy shoppers move effortlessly between multiple devices, and they expect websites to travel with them. To take this into account, Google released an update to their algorithm in April 2015 in order to include mobile-friendly factors. In other words, if your website is not easy to use on a mobile device, then your search rankings will suffer.

7. Get Fast Results from Local SEO:
Local SEO is the process of optimizing your Google My Business profile for searches within your local area. For example, when you search for a nearby dentist, then you’ll see a map in the Google results along with dental offices near your neighborhood. Those “map” results are the Google My Business results. Ranking your profile on the first page is typically easier and faster than traditional SEO to rank your website. The key is to complete and verify your profile, ensure your NAP is consistent across the internet, submit your business to online directories, and encourage your customers to post reviews on your Google My Business profile.

8. Social Media Cannot Be Ignored:
Social media has become an increasingly important part of a solid SEO strategy. As stated above, content is king and social media is the content superhighway. Engaging, high quality content can be shared virally across social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, which in turn drives more visitors, more links, and more conversations that can help improve your search rankings.

9. Tracking Is Essential:
Without tracking in place, how could you possibly know which parts of your SEO campaign are working and which need some help? Google Analytics is a powerful and free tool that lets you analyze your search rankings and user behavior on your website. Use the data to determine which web page rankings are driving traffic and conversions, and which web pages are on the 2nd page of Google and just need a little push.