To those people who are perhaps unaware, Google AdWords is a huge platform, which enables advertisers to target users of Google products, including but not limited to the Google Search network, Google Display Network, YouTube, Gmail and Google Maps. It’s a massive money-spinning machine for Google, and back in 2014, was responsible for them creating $45 billion in revenue which has likely increased since then.
In this article, we’re going to take a look at Google Search Ads – those text adverts which you see within Google search results at the top and bottom (formerly along the side of the page too, until a recent change by Google). Specifically, we’re going to be looking at 5 essential checks you should make on your Google AdWords account – so this will apply to either you, the person responsible for managing your Google ads or perhaps the agency who are managing it on your behalf. If it’s the latter, then the article may not be so mind-blowingly useful, as this is geared at all noob AdWords users or the more small-scale users.
After reading this you should be armed with some actionable checks to carry out on your AdWords account, and will hopefully feel a little more confident when it comes to managing your account.
Essential AdWords Check #1:
Search Insights Report
Do you know that Google collects search-term data for all the times your PPC ads were displayed (either impressions triggered or clicks delivered), and displays them in an ultra-useful report? This is an essential report to be checking on a semi-regular basis (monthly or so), as it contains the exact keywords that triggered your ads. You should review this list to check for irrelevant keywords which might be either accruing large numbers of irrelevant impressions (harming your CTR and decreasing your ad relevancy), or worst-case-scenario actually generating visits to your website – who subsequently leave the page (bounce), having wasted a chunk of your advertising budget.
From this report, you should be able to see how well your keyword matching options are working, and which keywords are generating the majority of activity. This report is going to be very lengthy if you’re making use of broad match keywords (be very careful when using them!) as well as having a large budget to spend.
To view the Search Insights Report, from the AdWords dashboard click on the Keywords tab and then on the row below the main menu choose the Search Terms tab.
Essential AdWords Check #2:
Checking Language & Location Campaign Settings
It may seem like a very basic thing to check, but you’d be surprised at the number of AdWords accounts I’ve seen with poor location or language targeting settings.
Although your targeting will depend exactly on your own business goals and objectives, so it’s hard to say exactly here which settings will work best, you need to check that you’re targeting or excluding the right locations. Cross reference this with your language settings as sometimes people choose to target the UK but also choose English. If you’re running PPC ads for something like a hotel, and it’s based on the hotel’s brand name, then it doesn’t make sense to exclude someone that doesn’t have English language set in their internet browser, whilst they’re in the UK. To me that’s still a relevant searcher, they just might not speak English as a native language or may be visiting the UK with work. The fact they’ve showed a clear search intent (searching for a hotel by its name) means that they’re a qualified searcher, in my opinion.
Another simple point, which can be overlooked at times, is targeting multiple locations or languages from one PPC campaign. If I was targeting different regions, I’d like to have a separate campaign for each region to give me more control over various items, such as spend per location, and then the ability to show different pricing/currency in the text ads they see – it wouldn’t make sense to show GBP pricing to someone located in Ireland, for example.
You can open up the Campaign settings to find the language and location options by selecting the campaign from the left-side menu, and then selecting the Settings tab.
Essential AdWords Check #3:
Reviewing your Device Bid Options
The rise in mobile searchers are huge, and evidently this is something which is only going to continue to grow. But depending on your own particular business needs, it may not always make sense to target mobile searchers.
Often, Google will recommend that you should be using bid-modifiers for mobile users to ensure your ad gets shown in what is a very competitive marketplace, but that doesn’t always make sense. Check with your own Google Analytics figures to ensure that mobile users are still converting at a decent rate – you may find that you actually want to decrease the bids on ads shown to mobile users, which may save you some money. You may also want to do the opposite to what they recommend and increase the bid for desktop & tablet users – particularly if your product is one which is likely booked or purchased on a desktop or tablet device.
Although you can’t adjust the bid directly for Desktop users, you can still simply increase your keyword bids then implement a negative bid adjustment for mobile users. And yes, sure, you want to ensure your ad is visible at every stage of the user’s journey, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to pay over the odds for it. Again, the best advice here will depend on the objectives of your PPC campaigns. You should be able to determine your best strategy by reviewing your users’ behaviour from your own analytics software.
You can review your bid adjustments for mobile and desktop users by selecting the campaign from the left-side menu, and then selecting the Settings tab, followed by the Devices tab, and then review the ‘Bid adj’ column.
Essential AdWords Check #4:
Use of Sitelink Extensions
Within Google AdWords, each Search campaign has the option of enabling and creating Sitelink Extensions. These started out as sitelinks in a similar way to which organic sitelinks work – linking to a set page of your website, with a brief description shown below each page link. Sitelink extensions are great when they’re displayed because they give you much more space in the search engine results page which gives you an extended area to talk about your site, usually resulting in more ad clicks.
For some campaigns you will see as many as 6 sitelink extensions displayed at any one time, which gives that particular brand a huge advantage over any others on the page. Since the introduction of sitelinks, Google has been busy adding more, and you can now also display your phone number (Phone extensions), brief snippets of your key USP’s (Callout Extensions), Review extensions where you can display a relevant, third-party review of your website/brand, App extensions where you can link to your mobile app (if one exists) and finally, Structured Snippet extensions which are based on key data from your product or services.
When it comes to Sitelink Extensions on AdWords, the more the merrier is the best way to sum things up. Your campaign will likely perform better if you do make use of them all, mainly because you’re given more search engine page equity, which just results in more eyes on your ads and more clicks. Secondly, Google seems to show favour to those accounts which have all these additional features setup, and so you may also receive a higher quality score and a better ad rank on your account. But regardless of this, overall, an improved CTR and lower CPC are going to be the ultimate rewards.
You can review the performance of your current Sitelink Extensions and add more by clicking on the Ad Extensions tab from the AdWords dashboard and then clicking the View drop-down to change the Sitelink type, and then the red +Extension button if you wanted to add more. You need to make sure that once you write or add an extension, you remember to actually assign it to a campaign.
Essential AdWords Check #5:
Mobile Ads & Split Testing
Our 5th and final essential AdWords check involves the use of 2 very trendy buzzwords in the world of digital marketing – mobile search marketing and split testing. Mobile PPC simply because it’s on such a rise in terms of the sheer number of users switching to mobile devices to browse the web and carry out various tasks, including online shopping. And split testing because digital marketing is all about testing and tracking, constantly trying to improve on key metrics like bounce rates, page interactions, scroll rates, and of course conversion rates.
From an AdWords perspective, mobile ads really need to be created on all ad groups which are going to be targeting mobile devices (and unless you’ve defined some kind of negative bid modifiers to prevent users on mobile seeing your ads, you’ll likely need to create mobile ads). Within the Ads level of the campaign, you should check that you’ve got mobile preferred ads setup, and if you haven’t you can simply try duplicating any standard ads and ticking the Mobile preferred ad option. You’ll want to try out different wording, and perhaps even a different landing page for mobile ads.
Split testing should be carried out on an adgroup level, and this is simply the case of reviewing specific ads vs another with the aim of improving its click through rate (CTR). To carry out your own split tests you should check your campaign settings as it seems to be a default option to allow Google to rotate ads to show the best performing one (or the one providing most conversions, depending on how you setup your account). But you should change the option to rotate indefinitely, and set yourself a reminder to check the performance after a defined length of time, or after so many thousand impressions for example. The ads that you’re testing need to be created at the same time so that they have a fair share of impressions, and then you should be able to clearly see which ad gets more clicks.
Sometimes split testing isn’t as straightforward as it may seem. You might find that one particular ad gets a lot more clicks than another, but the number of clicks shouldn’t be your only concern at this level. You need to ensure that these clicks are still from relevant users – perhaps there’s something in the wording of the ad which compels a user to visit your site, only for them to bounce straight away, or that they visit the site but don’t convert in the way you’d like them to. On the other hand, there could be an ad that gets lesser clicks vs another, but has a much better conversion rate – obviously in this case you know which ad to keep, and you should try and understand why they’re not converting from the other advert. Split testing PPC ads is a constant process, and you should continuously be looking to optimise and improve
On the other hand, there could be an ad that gets fewer clicks vs another, but has a much better conversion rate – obviously, in this case, you know which ad to keep, and you should try and understand why they’re not converting from the other advert. Split testing PPC ads is a constant process, and you should continuously be looking to optimise and improve the performance of your adverts.
So, there you go – 5 essential checks to carry out on your Google AdWords PPC campaigns right away. This is by no means a definitive list, and there are many more technical checks that can be carried out in a bid to improve your overall performance. Let me know what you think of the changes I’ve recommended, and if you think there are any other essential PPC checks to be made.
This post is a contribution from Matt Tutt. Want to contribute to PeoplePerHour blog? Get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org!
Matt Tutt is a specialist PPC consultant from the UK and is also a CERT 5 qualified seller on PeoplePerHour. Matt is a certified Google Partner and Bing Accredited Professional, and he loves helping small businesses with their PPC advertising. If you’d like to make the leap and to try out a small scale PPC campaign, or would like help managing your current ads, then get in touch with him.