How to Use Google AdWords and Not Waste Your Money

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Google AdWords is probably the most impressive online advertising platform on planet Earth. As such, AdWords is also a system with a high level of complexity, leading some who are unfamiliar with it to throw money away trying to figure it out. Read on to learn how to use Google AdWords so you’re not wasting your money.

There are several key pieces to using AdWords successfully, and we’ll cover each, including:

  • identifying keywords;
  • setting your budget goals & understanding quality scores;
  • Search & Display campaigns;
  • choosing & writing ads;
  • associating keywords with ads;
  • targeting your ads; and
  • tracking return on investment (ROI).

Keyword Identification for AdWords Campaigns

The keyword identification process is among the most important to the success of your AdWords campaigns. The goal is for your ads to only display to searchers using a specific set of positive and negative keywords. Positive keywords are simply those search terms for which you want your ads to display. Negative keywords are those words for which you do not want your ads to display.

Google provides a keyword tool, free to AdWords users, called the Keyword Planner. Using the Keyword Planner you can:

  • search for new keyword ideas;
  • search for ad group ideas;
  • get search volume for keywords by geographic region; and
  • get traffic estimates for keywords.

Setting Your Budget Goals & Understanding Quality Scores

Google AdWords is a pay-per-click (PPC) online bidding system for displaying relevant ads to potential customers. Your ads will only display if your set max cost-per-click (CPC) is high enough relative to your competition and the quality score of that ad is also competitive. You will only pay for an ad if it’s clicked on, and herein lies a lot of the value in the Google AdWords platform.

AdWords allows you to set up maximum daily spend per campaign, so you are able to closely control your investment. Because you’re only paying if someone clicks on your ad, it’s your goal to only have that ad display if the person clicking is really interested in what you are advertising. This is where quality scores and targeting come into play.

The AdWords platform determines your ad’s quality score, and is largely based on the relevance of your ad to the searcher’s keywords. Boosting the quality score of your ad is a matter of matching targeted keywords to the title of your ad (called a Headline in AdWords), and using them in highly relevant content.

Here are the basic steps to ensuring high quality scores in AdWords ads:

  • identify a keyword that is relevant to your landing page content;
  • use that keyword in the title of your ad and in the body text (where appropriate); and
  • write landing page content that is of sufficient length (500-1000 words), and do not overuse your keywords (avoid over-optimizing your content!).

Search and Display Campaigns in AdWords

The two types of campaigns in Google AdWords are Search and Display. Search campaigns are those where your ad appears in the search engine results page (SERP). Search ads are located above as well as to the right of organic search results. The ads directly in the center of the page (just above the organic search results) are the most valuable position.

how to use google adwords keyword tool

Display campaigns, on the other hand, are quite different and appear on websites in Google’s Display Advertising Network. Ads in these campaigns are typically visual (images or video), and are intended for display to people who are most likely interested in seeing them.

For example you may enter, “I want to buy a car,” in a Google search. Instead of clicking one of the Search Campaign ads, you instead click on a HowStuffWorks article about how to buy a car. In this article you may see ads related to your initial search term, “I want to buy a car,” within the website itself. These are Display ads.

Choosing and Writing AdWords Ads

AdWords are all about relevance to the person searching. Choosing and writing your ads should maintain a high degree of relevance with people’s search terms, i.e., their keywords. You should choose ads that are directly relevant to the products and services you are providing.

Keep in mind that you should also be writing multiple ads for each specific ad group you choose. Writing multiple ads per category ensures Google is able to select the most relevant ad you have written to match with a user’s search query.

Writing relevant ads means that you use the keywords you’ve identified in the text of your ads. AdWords has set guidelines for the length of your Headline (the ad title), Description line 1, and Description line 2. Each of these locations presents keyword opportunities.

AdWords Targeting

AdWords targeting is a big topic to cover. Given the importance of ad relevance, targeting is very important. You have many options for targeting your ads, which broadly fall under demographic, interest, and geographic categories.

With demographic targeting you are able to target your ads based on criteria like gender and age range. You are also able to target people with specific interests. Finally, AdWords has very refined geographic location targeting, from global down to the city level.

Tracking Return on Investment (ROI) of AdWords Campaigns

All of the above information can help you spend your AdWords budgets wisely so you’re not wasting your investment. The higher your quality score, the lower your bids have to be in order to display in those more valuable positions. The better targeted your ads (think the more relevant), the less likely it is your ads will be clicked on by people who don’t convert into customers (remember, you’re paying for every click your ad gets).

Tracking ROI with AdWords is all about understanding conversion rates. Basically, a conversion is when a person clicks on your ad and then goes on to complete a desired action such a filling out a contact form or actually making a purchase. Conversion rates are the numbers of times an ad is clicked compared to the number of conversions that result from those clicks. For example 100 clicks and 10 conversions means a conversion rate of 0.1 or 10 percent.

Next, you must understand how valuable each conversion is to fully grasp how much to spend on your campaigns. Using AdWords can be very profitable if done correctly, and by following the advice in this guide you won’t be wasting your money.

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