Google Adwords

<cshow logged=1 ingroup='sysop'>For more comprehensive instructions on how to set up and run Google AdWords, refer to the Google Engage Bootcamp wiki.</cshow>

Summary of Google Adwords Process

1. Select and Purchase Keywords - by conducting research, a company chooses, and subsequently, buys keywords they would like to appear on the results page of a particular Google search. For example, align.me may choose the keywords “B2B Marketing Wiki”

2. Click Through to Webpage – once the potential client has used Google to search for your keyword (for example: B2B marketing), sponsored links will appear in the search results, clearly differentiated from organic results. The advertisement will encourage the potential client to click through and learn more from the particular webpage.

3. Landing Page – this advertisement link will take the potential client through to the company’s specifically chosen landing page. It is important that this landing page is tailored to the specific needs of this potential client to ensure high performance, which will allow the company to achieve its stipulated objective.

Google Adwords can be administered to manage the entire process of Search Engine Marketing (SEM), as outlined above. Strategic investment is crucial in terms of defining objectives, daily campaign budget, selection of keywords and quality of sponsored link. If managed effectively, Google Adwords can endorse perpetual possibilities.

Effectiveness of Adwords for B2B

For a B2B Google Adwords campaign, effectiveness is generally measured through lead submission, as opposed to purchase conversion for B2C. This highlights a weakness of the use of Adwords in B2B campaigns, as these leads are not all equal, drastically varying from high to low quality. To understand the true value of each lead, data must be accessed beyond Adwords or Google Analytics, and possibly towards CRM.

ROI is a relatively simple metric, but highly important in determining the effectiveness of any campaign. You can attract as much traffic as you like to a site but no money is made if this traffic does not convert. Statistics suggest that 40% of SEO campaigns results in an ROI of 500%, while only 23% of SEM campaigns achieve this same result. This can be attributed to the fact that SEO decreases in cost over time, whereas SEM campaigns may even increase in cost as keyword competitiveness increase.

Furthermore, B2B lead generation from SEO has increased from 2011 to 2012, from 57% to 59%, while lead generation from SEM has decreased over this same period from 25% to 20%. Most B2B companies are conducting research for products and services that are generally characterised by a high price point and complex sales process. Knowledgeable buyers are in charge of research of these high involvement purchases, and they are highly aware that the top three search results, as well as those to the right of screen, are ads. When searching for services or products, these people put more trust in organic results rather than paid results.

While the direct impact of SEM campaigns for B2B companies seems to be negatively trending, it would be ignorant to abandon it altogether. There is no clear-cut answer to the question of ‘SEM or organic SEO,’ and each business should determine what balance best suits their unique situation. This may pertain to investing a little less in SEM and a little more in organic SEO, or alternatively implementing an Adwords campaign to generate traffic in the interim before an organic SEO begins to see results. By using the two options in conjunction with one another, you may be able to enhance your overall effectiveness. A SEM campaign may be very insightful in understanding which keywords are the most valuable, and subsequently you can tweak your organic SEO campaign to reflect these results. A weakness of organic SEO is its inefficiency in returning quick results. Amalgamation of these SEO alternatives can help to nullify this organic weakness, as SEM has the ability to provide almost immediate results. Finding an optimum level of ROI will ultimately determine the balance between SEM and organic SEO.

Best Practice for an Adwords Campaign

For an effective Adwords campaign it is important to consider the entire process, rather than just optimising one specific stage. The follow points indicate the best practice when conducting an Adwords campaign:

Keywords – both positive and negative

Effective keywords are cost effective and increase quality traffic to your website. The keywords you select for an Adwords campaign must match the content on the landing page that ensues. Google recognises and values this definite association between keywords and landing page, and subsequently assigns such websites with a higher Quality Score. This incentive offered by Google has the purpose of awarding quality search results, and essentially means you are charged less, allowing your company to become more cost efficient.

The identification of keywords for an Adwords campaign is vital in determining overall success. Whether you use web analytic software, such as Google Analytics, to identify current keywords visitors use to find your website, or the Google Adwords Keyword tool to recognise potential keywords to target, they must all have an overriding focus on your unique product or service offering. The keyword must target the prospect by geographic location or a particular device, for example, in order to be most effective in lead generation.

An aspect of Adword campaigns that is often underutilised is the identification of negative keywords. Are there keywords that you don’t want your website to show up for? For example, if you are selling fresh green apples, you will not want show up for “red frozen apples” and should choose to exclude these ‘negative’ keywords.

Negative keywords are one way of ensuring more relevant clicks, but you can also use the modified broad match type instead of Google's default broad match. To do this, add a plus sign to any keyword that must appear in the search query. For example, "+fresh+green+apple."

By identifying these words, you are additionally able to develop more efficient and quality search results, which lead to positive leads.

The Ad Copy – making your prospects click through

It is all very well to spend time finding the best, most effective keywords, but if your ad copy doesn’t influence the prospect to click it your keyword research is useless. The format of an ad copy consists on three parts in the following order – headline, body and URL, with character limits of 25, 35, and 35, respectively. In regards to the body or description, each line may contain up to 35 characters with a maximum of two lines. The ad will be disapproved if the character limit is exceeded or the body leads into the URL, for example:

Coloured Tennis Balls
Free nationwide delivery
Pick your colour at: ✗
URL.com
Buy Pencils Now
Get the latest styles
Free shipping! ✓
URL.com

As well as creating an ad copy that triggers clicks and conversions, it is important to utilise the most relevant and popular keywords, which will encourage a Quality Score friendly ad. Adwords ad generators, such as Wordstream, can be employed to create ads in this way. Some tips for generating your own effective ad copy are:

  • Use the keyword in the headline
  • Try dynamic keyword insertion - this inserts a particular keyword in your ad copy which is triggered by the prospect’s search query
  • Ask a question – so that the searcher will click to find the answer
  • Highlight what makes your product/service unique
  • Include prices, promotions and exclusives
  • Tell your customer what they can do

Test the Ad Copy – and test again

It is appropriate to assume that every company wants to maximise the effectiveness of its Adwords campaign. In order to do so, it is very important to test your ad copy from multiple dimensions to find the best combination that is the most influential to the prospect. Google Adwords allows you to create multiple ad alternatives in a matter of seconds. Testing these alternatives should be completed to determine which location, keyword, or other variable will be the most effective. For example:

  • Testing the same keywords in a number of different locations
  • Testing different keywords in the one particular location

It is not only the content of your ad copy that is important, but also the visibility period. Testing different times of the day to expose your ad copy is important in maximising clicks and conversion rates.

Landing Page – the other side of the Quality Score coin

Your Google Adwords campaign should be treated as a cycle. The optimised keywords must be linked to the actual ad copy, the ad copy must instill a prospect to click through to the landing page, and the landing page must closely associate itself with the initial keyword. It is highly important to optimize your webpage to ensure the prospect’s expected and actual experiences align. Google recognises this alignment by imparting a higher Quality Score on the website. Focusing on three things can improve your landing page experience:

  • Relevant and original content
  • Transparency
  • Ease of navigation

Read our wiki entry for more specific information on landing page optimisation.

Measure, measure, measure!

It is hard to justify significant spending on an Adwords campaign without demonstrating how it is actually performing. There are three main areas to measure when using Google Adwords:

  • Impressions
  • Clicks
  • Conversions

The Google Adwords program easily tracks both impressions and click through rate, and the complementary program Google Analytics can assist in tracking the conversion rate of your Adwords campaign. Make sure your landing page has conversation tracking so you know what is working and what isn't. You can then focus your marketing on keywords that deliver ROI. Raise bids on keywords that are converting a profit and lower bids on keywords that get a lot of clicks but limited conversions. In regard to conversion rate analysis, you must first set a goal through your Google Analytics account. For more specific information on how to set up a goal, see the section below [link to next section]. Qualifying inbound leads through analysis, allows you to easily connect campaign spending to actual results, educating you on the effectiveness of the campaign.

See also Google Tag Manager for a single tracking code.

Testing Adwords Campaigns

Finding the Best Keywords – Google Analytics

The keywords report in Google Analytics gives a sound understanding of all the paid and non-paid keywords people use to find your site. A further understanding of which of these high traffic keywords also bring high value is vital to inform you on how to spend your budget. By using the ‘compare to site average’ visualisation in conjuction with ‘segment by goal conversion’ you are able to easily see which of the high traffic keywords are performing above the site average. By understanding each keyword’s true value, you are able to modify the budget accordingly using Google Adwords. For more information, watch this video

Linking Adwords to Google Analytics

Linking these two programs is very easily done and allows a user to access Google Analytics through their Adwords account. This creates access to an abundance of data regarding the location of webpage visitors, popular content and the goal conversion rate. Statistics on impressions, clicks and ROI of your campaign can are presented in the Adwords Report. By linking Adwords and Google Analytics, you can use statistical data to determine the effectiveness of a particular campaign.

Google Analytics Content Experiments

In August 2012, Google Analytics launched its Content Experiments page, aimed at helping you meet measurement goals, testing and optimizing all in one place. This program can help you decide which page designs, layouts and content are most effective. Several versions of a page can be developed and you are able to show different versions to different visitors. Through Google Analytics, the ability of each page version is measured using a number of metrics, ultimately helping you determine which version is the more effective option. This video explains exactly how you can test ad variations using Google Analytics Content Experiments.

SEM vs Organic SEO

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)/Adwords Organic SEO
Pros Cons Pros Cons
Valuable tool for getting a better CTR with your existing rankings Costly – every time someone clicks. The cost-per-click depends on the chosen keyword, but generally, to get really good results, it costs a lot of money Free. Search engines will rank your website if it is well optimised. It takes a much longer time to see an increase in traffic than with SEM
Even a moderate AdWords campaign can give you valuable insights and save you a lot of time and money to optimize for words that don't work for you. Coming up with effective keywords to bid on is hard. Once your SEO firm has worked to get you ranked highly through organic SEO, you will receive ten times the number of visitors received by websites who have paid for a high ranking. Because you are not simply buying advertising, there is no guarantee on how many clicks or impressions you will receive.
Maintain almost complete control over your marketing campaign - ability to set maximum daily budgets, work to deliver a set number of clicks or impressions and even where and when your ads will show. Managing spending on keywords, measuring returns, adjusting spending, and ‘playing the SEM game’ is a full time, laborious job. Once you have ranked highly for a keyword, it becomes hard to get displaced. Monitoring competitors and continually applying SEO processes will ensure this. It can take a long time to effectively optimise a website.
Can typically get a campaign live within 48 hours of contacting our agency. Easy and fast to implement because it is a fairly uncomplicated procedure . Only 1 in 10 people who search for websites using search engines will click on a paid link. This is mainly because SEM slots are usually highlighted differently and people avoid such sites because they assume them to be marketed sites. Because the search engine is ranking you higher than your competitors, people will assume that websites that naturally rank highly are authorities in a given field, or are the best for the given search term. A simple change in Google’s algorithm can wipe out your organic traffic, and thus your leads and your money, even if you’d managed to do well on a previous algorithm. It can take months to retool your site in a way that lines up with the new algorithm.
Can manage your budget and measure your ROI very easily using SEM. Can manage your budget and measure your ROI very easily using SEM It is relatively easy to displace the ‘leader’ using SEM. This is because the leader is the person or company who pays the most for the ad spot. Once you have ranked highly in organic SEO for one keyword, it becomes easier to rank highly for related keywords In highly competitive markets, there may be little chance of reaching the first page unless huge investments are made.
Provides almost immediate results – within a few hours. No long-term benefits – when you stop purchasing SEM, the traffic also stops. Return on investment of organic SEO will continue to grow
9 out of 10 people who use search engines will click on an organic link.
86% of people trust organic listings as opposed to SEM listings

Enhanced Campaigns

In early 2013, Google AdWords introduced the Enhanced Campaigns feature, enabling AdWords users to streamline campaigns across multiple devices (desktop, mobile, tablet etc). Previously, advertisers needed to set up separate campaigns if they wanted to effectively target desktop and mobile users (given the very different search and browsing behaviours of these two groups). Because these campaigns needed to be set up and managed separately, it was often very time-consuming for advertisers to do so.

With Enhanced Campaigns, advertisers can now merge similar campaigns across multiple devices, and manage them centrally from the single combined campaign. Advertisers have the option of setting 'Mobile Preference' ads, and setting higher or lower bids at the ad level for visitors who have come in via a mobile device. So, if you've created an ad targeting a mobile user, you can set it to be a 'Mobile Preference' ad and set a higher bid (e.g. +100%) for people searching your keyword on mobile devices (as opposed to someone searching on a desktop or tablet, for whom your normal bid would apply). Alternatively, if you have an ad that you want to be targeted to desktop or tablet users only, you could set your bid to -100% for people searching on a mobile.

With Enhanced campaigns, desktop and tablet traffic are treated the same, with Google finding little difference in their search behaviour. However, there's plenty you can do to optimise the experience for visitors once they've clicked on the ad, including pointing them to device-specific landing pages (where both content and design are optimised for the device the visitor is using). See more about optimising websites for mobile users here.

In addition to enabling you to set higher or lower bids for mobile ads, you can also adjust bids based on the location of the person searching (based on their IP address), and the time of the day/day of the week they are searching on. By controlling when and to who your ads show up, sales are more likely to become leads. A/B test mobile text ads against each other to learn what is or isn't working. For more on A/B testing click here.

Enhanced Campaigns allow you to display more targeted and contextual ads to visitors, based on their device, location, or time. You can migrate all existing campaigns to Enhanced Campaigns now. All campaigns will be automatically upgraded to Enhanced Campaigns in mid-2013.

Link Google Analytics and Adwords

Google Analytics is a tool that tracks and analyses website traffic information. Linking Google Analytics to Adwords allows those using SEM to find out how much of your traffic website and sales is driven by Adwords.

Google Analytics can be used to identify keywords that are producing low rates in terms of Pages Per Visit and Average Visit Duration. Accessing these metrics through Google Analytics on the Adwords account enforces the application of testing effective and ineffective keywords.

More information can be found here