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8 AdWords Secrets That Google Will Never Tell You

“You’re not getting enough conversions for your money.”

Let me help you fix that, fast.

Don’t worry – this isn’t going to teach you to suck eggs, it assumes you know about quality score, keyword match types and account structure.

There are literally hundreds of blogs that already tell you how to do those mundane tasks – not this one.

Break the deadlock and answer:

  • Am I burning money?
  • Am I confident I’m getting value from PPC?
  • Am I able to evaluate the campaign’s performance?
  • Am I sure AdWords is working for my business?
  • Am I out of date because Google is constantly updating the platform?

The below tips and tricks are red-hot ways to improve your PPC performance, no waffle.

So let’s get started:

1. Think Twice Before Deleting Non-Converting Keywords

Hold fire – don’t be so quick to blame a keyword for lack of performance.

“Wait, what? But the keywords are burning money!”

It’s true, a keyword is only as good as the search intent powering it.

However, that intent is quickly diluted by poor relevance between what the searcher wants, what the advert promises and what the destination page delivers.

Rule of Thumb; If the cost per click for a particular keyword is consistently high, it’s usually an indication that people are bidding high because it is profitable to do so.

These elements can destroy your conversion-rate, costing you money:

  • A Campaign with mainly large Ad Groups
  • Too many Broad Keywords
  • A lack of negative Keywords
  • Poor continuity between the search term, ad copy and landing page

Is the keyword to blame for any of those? Nope!

These issues need resolving before you pause or delete a keyword, but that’s not the complete picture as you will see below:

Your Assisted Conversions could be hiding a winner

Enabling your Click Assisted Conversion column in the AdWords interface can unearth some real winners.

The Assisted Conversion feature helps you evaluate the profitability of each keyword, even if they didn’t get credited with the direct (last-click) conversion.

Modify columns

Take the example below:

All three keywords are above the target Cost per Conversion of £20, and two are above the average Cost per Click – so you’d be forgiven for ditching them.

£20+ CPC

Don’t forget to analyse your keyword assisted conversions.

2. Most Ads Are Average – Don’t Be Average

When it comes to ad copy there seems to be one question that dominates, what is a ‘good’ CTR?

Everyone says 2% is the average CTR and therefore ‘good’, and so everyone aims for 2%. As a result the search results are littered with poor (average at best) ads.

A good CTR is not 2%, because 2% is a bit miserable. 🙁

You should be aiming for 5%, 10% and even higher.

Did You Know; the top advertisers in your industry will be enjoying a Click-through Rate of 3-5x the average!

But that’s easier said than done, so how do you make this happen?

“There’s only a few things I can think of saying in my adverts – it’s really hard to not sound like everyone else in my market.”

Key Tips:

Avoid sounding like everyone else in your market

Going against the grain is how you find your edge, your customers and satisfy your end goals:

  1. Don’t focus on Quality Score – controversial yes, counter-intuitive perhaps – but Quality Score is biased by Click-through. Good ads that stand out get clicked, therefore good ads drive QS up and cost.
  2. Don’t use DKI (Dynamic KeyWord Insertion), discussed later in this guide. DKI is a quick and dirty fix, it can help bump ad clicks but it’s not a long-term strategy.
  3. Don’t focus on the obvious – you’ve probably read about putting a keyword, offer and call to action in your advert, but that’s such a simplistic approach to writing.

Traditional advert writing looks a lot like this:

 

  1. Highlight what makes you unique – showcase the products, services, or offers that make you competitive.
  2. Include prices, promotions, and exclusives – if you have a limited-time discount or stock an exclusive product, say so.
  3. Empower customers to take action – calls to action like buy now, call today, order, browse, sign-up, or get a quote make clear what the next steps are.
  4. Include at least one of your keywords – keywords in your ad text show your ad’s relevance to what people want.
  5. Have a look at the page that you’re linking to from your ad (the landing page), and make sure that the promotions or products in your ad are included there.

The above is a reasonable starting point and with tight keyword groups should yield acceptable results.

But to really elevate your ads above the norm (and the predictable) you need to inject emotional triggers.

There’s a huge opportunity for writing emotional ads

It’s not easy to squeeze so much into one little ad, so we have to make every word count.

Writing emotional adverts represents an opportunity not only to stand out but resonate with your prospective customer’s loves/hates and desires/needs.

  1. Mind-penetrating language – everyone in your industry naturally describes what they do using neat little clichés and well-defined categories. Write your ads so they provoke powerful emotions and imagery in your customer’s mind.
  2. Focus and address your customer’s fear – answer their negative force or belief that makes them distrust your industry.
  3. Side with positive emotions – identify you customer’s ‘hero’, what they like, expect and love. Where do you and your product fit in to this?
  4. Squash fear and risk – start “selling the results, not the process.” Not only can you guarantee the end result, even in markets where it’s never done – you can also re-define the result you guarantee such that no competitor can match your offer.

Brainstorm the emotional points below and come up with an exhaustive list of terms, phrases and wording that highlights, answers and supports each point.

Customer Chart

From there you determine how your brand is connected or related with each element and write ads to suit these points.

Here’s an example to demonstrate the point and help you write ads that differentiate you from the heard:

differentiate ads

3. Trust Numbers Not Guts When Writing Your Ads

The number one rule for ads – don’t fall in love with your ad copy, but do fall in love with testing!

Ad split-testing, the right way

Often it can feel like you’ve written the perfect advert and you feel reluctant letting it go.

However, you need to put your preference to one side and let your customer decide which advert is right.

Rule 1 – the default setting for your AdWords ad rotation is wrong.

Google’s default setting has one priority, to spend your money by attracting the most clicks. Your priority is likely to be more conversions and ROI.

Therefore, if you can stick to a regular testing schedule – the optimal setting is to “Rotate indefinitely”, even if AdWords does warn you otherwise! If you’re a little lazy, then at least use “Rotate evenly” to start.

AdWords Warning

Rule 2 – don’t focus your test ads on the wrong people. Hone your adverts in Ad Groups with one, or a few tightly focused [exact match] keywords.

Rule 3 – apply the ‘traditional’ versus emotional writing strategy from earlier in the guide. Pit the two opposing writing styles against each other.

Rule 4 – remember the position of your ad has a considerable impact on your CTR. The top three positions will give you the most dramatic and fastest results.

Rule 5 – use ad extensions to attract eyeballs to your advert; sitelinks and callout extensions work very well for increasing the size and impact of your ads.

As always, make sure you tailor and align all your extensions to your advert and landing page context.

Rule 6 – don’t waste your time and energy testing minor grammatical changes. A lot of experts advocate this; try uppercase, lowercase, punctuation … ignore them.

Your biggest impact will come from writing two very different ads and testing them against one another.

Rule 7 – don’t lose sight of your end goal. Clicks are one thing, but without conversions, you’re heading down the wrong path.

Fortunately, the other tips in this guide help you align all the important dots.

Don’t have time to test?

Honestly – that’s not a good enough excuse – testing will dramatically improve your CTR and ultimately lower your costs.

Testing is a fundamental requirement of any well-managed AdWords campaign.

4. Sky Rocket Your CTR with Keyword Sculpting

There’s that acronym again – but, CTR is important:

  • It increases traffic to your website
  • It improves your Quality Score
  • It lowers your average cost per click
  • A higher CTR often correlates to higher conversion rate

It can corner your market, too.

To improve CTR on your exact terms many experts would suggest you merely bid more.

The problem? That method can force you to pay more and also removes a level of control from your bidding.

Let’s do it the proper way:

Keyword sculpting is the process on ensuring your exact, phrase and broad match keywords never compete with each other. It also ensures you have tight and complete control of what advert gets displayed for which keyword, and when.

Keyword sculpting is a powerful, almost ludicrous level of granular control.Click To Tweet

To make this (almost ludicrous) level of granularity happen, follow these steps:

  1.  Tightly grouped for success – you create Ad Groups with 1 or a few keywords that are very tightly matched. Think plurals more than synonyms here.

    “A synonym is a word or phrase that means exactly or nearly the same as another word or phrase in the same language.”

    It might seem logical to group these words, but in doing so you loosen the keyword match to the customer’s search intent. This will negatively impact your Click-through Rate and your message match.

  2. The power of negatives – add all of your exact match keywords to every other Ad Group’s negative keyword list.

Repeat this process for all your Ad Groups in the campaign.

For example:

Keyword Table

This tactic will prevent your looser match terms taking impressions away from the exact match keyword group(s).

Naturally this will reduce the impressions your phrase and broad match groups receive.

5. Isolate Your Top Performers to Amplify Conversions

When you bundle 10 – 20 (or more) keywords in a single Ad Group you choke performance.

The best marketing is the marketing that has one message, to one audience with one reasonClick To Tweet

It seems like the obvious thing to do and many account managers do this because all those keywords fit a common theme.

Higher relevancy = higher CTR = higher QS = lower CPC = lower cost per conversion = win!

Unfortunately, Google actually recommends you do things this way within your AdWords dashboard:

Select Keywords

You should ignore Google because what Google fails to mention is having too many keywords per Ad Group will make search message match hard to achieve. Instead focus on extracting the most you can from your top keywords.

So what are your top performers? The one that makes you the most money, of course!

Here’s the simple yet explosive strategy:

  1. Move your best-performing keywords to their own Ad Groups
  2. Create 100% targeted ads (because you can), a minimum of 2 per Ad Group
  3. Send people to a landing page that is 100% specific to the keyword and advert (more on this later in the guide)
  4. Don’t forget your keyword sculpting (where appropriate)
  5. Test close variants in their own single keyword Ad Groups
  6. Bid with confidence!

Highly relevant to user’s search
=
higher Click-through Rate
=
higher Quality Score
=
lower Cost per Click
=
Lower Cost per Conversion

And this is what it looks like in the real world:

Lower CPC

Multiple keywords in your Ad Groups ultimately hurt your performance and relevancy, bringing down your Click-through Rates and Quality Scores … and adding more keywords just makes it worse!

6. Google Search Remarketing (not display)

You’ve probably heard and seen remarketing (also known as retargeting) adverts.

Customers who search for the same or similar thing multiple times are higher value prospects.Click To Tweet

In fact, you’re probably being chased around the web by them as we speak!

Take a look for yourself: http://whoisretargeting.me/

These ads might seem like an annoying tactic, but they can be effective.

There is, however, an even more effective method of remarketing to your audience, and that’s by retargeting them in the Google search.

With standard search campaigns with the exception of ad rotation, your bids, ads and keywords are the same for every search and every searcher.

That’s okay.

But you’re aiming for better than ‘okay’.

Customers who search for the same or similar thing multiple times are higher value prospects.

RLSA

Remarketing lists for search let you use your existing remarketing lists to effectively reach past website visitors – you can bid higher for them, show them broader keywords and even present different ads.

This tactic means you can get more conversions for what is typically at a much lower cost and steal these prospects away from your paid search competitors!

In fact, our Google agency representative told us that only 1 in 10 UK advertisers employ this tactic; by employing this tactic you can be one of the few companies attracting cheaper conversions.

You can see the power of Search Remarketing below:

Search Remarketing

Notice the cost per conversion – nearly half the normal search campaign cost, with an impressive conversion rate of 21.74%.

Our clients love us for rolling out this tactic!

7. Landing Pages Are Critical, They Make or Break Your Success

Nearly all advertising campaigns will perform better with a dedicated landing page.

It's much easier to double your business by doubling your conversion rate than by doubling your traffic.Click To Tweet

A landing page that carries the message of the ad and reflects the search intent of the customer is a powerful tool in your campaign – don’t just send people to your homepage!

Landing pages are about delivering continuity and reducing decision fatigue by removing options that don’t work to your end goal.

The attention ratio of your page, as it’s often termed, should be as close to 1:1 as possible.

In other words the only option to take on the page is that of your end goal; call us, enquire via a form, download something, start your trial, purchase the product and so on.

Dedicated landing pages equate to better results from your advertising campaigns.Click To Tweet

The building blocks of a winning landing page:

  1. A descriptive title that avoids industry jargon. A title that describes what you do and continues the message from your advert is crucial. Include a sub-heading to support and expand on the value offered to your prospect.
  2. Start at the end – the purpose of the page. What’s the purpose of your landing page – describe the action you want the customer to take.
  3. Overcome objections – identify with your customer. To be effective and persuasive, a landing page must anticipate customer objections and overcome them one by one. “How will my prospects benefit from what I’m offering them?” A great source of insight comes from past enquiries and existing customers. What questions and objections can you list from your previous interactions?
  4. Distil your unique value proposition. Your unique value proposition confirms to visitors they’ve arrived in the right place and that what you offer is what they’re looking for. List the benefits of your service offering to the individual and over your competitors. “What, precisely, am I offering my prospects?”
  5. Instil trust (and put your testimonials to work). Include your strongest and most relevant testimonial quotes.

Remember to keep testing and adapting your landing pages to maximise conversion rates.

Start with testing the headline and the call to action as these are the two most powerful elements of your landing page.

8. Digging for gold in your Google Analytics

I bloody love AdWords and Analytics together! 😉

You’re paying for clicks, people are visiting your website and yet your conversions aren’t where they need to be – an all too common story.

Knowing which of your website pages are underperforming is just as importantClick To Tweet

Where do you go from here?

Using Google Analytics to understand visitor quality happiness and engagement can reveal important data that helps build the whole picture.

Priority #1 Find Bad Landing Pages, Quickly

Previously you saw how landing pages can really ramp up your conversions, but knowing which pages are underperforming is just as important.

Here’s how to find the bad pages with minimal fuss:

  1. Dive into your Analytics: “Acquisition > AdWords > Destination URLs”
  2. Sort by “Clicks” as this will identify the most traffic heavy pages.
  3. Look for obvious disparities within your top spending pages
    1. High bounce rates
    2. Low average visit time
    3. Low or no conversions

For example, notice the opportunity below:

Digging for gold in your Analytics

Compared to the other top 5 pages, the 2nd landing page here is really underperforming.

It exhibits a high Bounce Rate, lower than average pages per session and most importantly a dire conversion rate. Medic!

The fix for the above page was a call to action tweak that was more in keeping with the search intent. A relatively simple fix that would have gone unnoticed if we hadn’t have audited the Analytics.

Priority #2 Fix Your Underperformers

Your task is to find the poor performers like the above by interrogating the search terms and adverts driving people to the page.

  1. Identify any message mismatch and fix it.
  2. Ensure the keyword, ad and landing page are a perfect fit
  3. Consider any trust issues with your landing page and improve them.
  4. Remember your attention-ratio. Don’t overpower your visitor with too many choices!

Often a poor landing page performance can be fixed by simply ensuring continuity of your message.

You’ve Read The Blog, Now Take Action

Objectively speaking here; you and I are in the business of making money from pay per click. Whereas Google are in the business of making money for themselves.

That’s not to say Google are bad people because they aren’t, but there’s a clear distinction between us and them.

Google doesn’t want you to over optimise your account because it hurts their bottom line.

If Google can see an opportunity for you to spend more money, they will call you to advise you how.

Don’t let your account be one of those that feeds the machine. Don’t let your competitors off the hook – put these secrets to work!

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Ed Leake

Author: Ed Leake

PPC nerd, founder and Managing Director of Midas Media, Ed started in 'tech' when he was 12 years old, building websites and selling computers from his parent's garage. Outside of work Ed enjoys yet more work, motorsport, attempting to cycle with clip-on shoes and refuelling on fresh doughnuts.

  • tomas__86

    great stuf Ed, I sometimes make the mistake of having missing correlation between my promise in the ad and the landing page and that hurts conversions a lot

    • Thanks Tomas, easy to do with bigger accounts. Takes an eagle eye to catch everything.

      With the coming release of 6 new quality score columns in AdWords, it will help us identify landing page issues a little easier. Or at least issues the system believes are there!

  • Hi Ed!
    Many thanks for your article.
    I wonder about assisted conversions – in fact particular bad performing keyword brings these ones, but no direct sales. Can I track it’s (assited) conversion rate and (assisted) conversion costs and compare performance with keywords with direct conversions? I mean does it make a sense and bring some reliable data?

    • Hey Lukasz, good question.

      AdWords does give you this data in the column options.

      Here’s the full run down of attribution reports – https://support.google.com/adwords/answer/1722023

      I would say that assisted data is more meaningful for ecommerce where you’re driving transaction values back in to AdWords (from Analytics).

      In Analytics, using a keyword “Secondary Dimension”, you can confirm assists in the Multi-channel Funnels Reports. Although that’s pushing the limits of accuracy, it should help close the loop. 🙂

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  • Zaheer Malik

    Lovely Ed. I am originally an SEO guy at zaheermalik {dot} com but as you know PPC goes hands in hands with SEO as it boils down to content and sales in the end. Have been out of touch with PPC, too much busy with SEO lately and just started seeing the trends again. Bumped into your article and no doubt one of the best i have come across these days, very informative on a high level.

    Thanks,
    Zaheer

    • Hi Zaheer, yeah I agree some of our best accounts have both great organic and paid traffic. They do compliment each other very well indeed.

      • Zaheer Malik

        Ed, i sent you an email yesterday, i am not sure if it reached.

  • Devi Matrimony

    Dear Ed Leake,
    I have read so many articles, ebooks & viewed several youtube videos about adwords.
    But no where I have come across the crisp and clear message you have conveyed.
    I never fill comments.
    But this is really outstanding info.
    “The power of negatives” is a master piece info I have been searching for.

    Hats off to Ed Leake.

    • Wow what an awesome comment Devi, very much appreciate your comment and glad you found some actionable advice here! 🙂

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