Sometimes figuring out how to improve your Adwords performance can become a real pain. You find yourself browsing through all your campaigns, ad groups and keywords making little manual macro changes than in most cases end up quite ineffective. I’m going to give you a quick rundown of a several quick and easy things you can do to optimize your Adwords campaigns.
1. No need to aim for position #1
Marketers are always optimizing their campaign in order to reach the 1st position. While it’s very likely that being in position #1 will bring much more traffic, its not always likely to be worth the cost. There are many cases in which being #1 is way more expensive than #2 or #3 regardless of how great your quality score is. Your CPA will spike and might reach a point where you’re even losing. In addition, many users tend to click the first ad without even taking the time to read what it says, only to bounce away from your landing page right after discovering it’s not what they were looking for at all.
Instead, I would suggest aiming at position 2 and maybe even position 3. While you might not get as much volume as position #1, you will probably get traffic from more relevant users, pay less per click and so will your CPA costs.
2. Use SKAGs – Single Keyword Ad Groups
Many marketers try to avoid this time consuming process, but it is a very effective method. SKAGs will contain only one keyword, and you can combine all match types if you like. For example:
[plumber in Lancashire]
“plumber in Lancashire”
+plumber +in +Lancashire
The main advantage with SKAGs is that it allows you to build super targeted ads that are extremely relevant to the user’s search. This will result in a high CTR, QS and conversion rate and of course will reduce your CPA.
If you have a huge account with a ton of keywords, this could become a pretty long process. It’s easier if you started off with your top keywords and moved them into SKAGs with new more targeted written ads. Let these run for a while and then compare their performance to the previous ad groups. If you see an improvement, go ahead and apply the same to another batch of keywords.
3. Avoid bidding on competitors
I’ve heard of many Adwords managers that are targeting other brand names in their keywords in order to “steal” from their clientele. While this might seem like a clever idea, the true winner from such a move is no other than Google 🙂
While each brand should undoubtedly bid on their name as a keyword (even when you’re ranked #1 in the serps!), they should probably refrain from bidding on their competition’s brand name. This will almost always prove to be expensive and ineffective. In most cases you can’t use your competitors name in your ad copy which will also make your ad less relevant, lower your quality score and increase your cost per click.
You can still bid on your competitors brand names if any of the following applies:
If you combine your competitor brand name with words such as “alternative” or “competitor”, you’ll actually give the user exactly what they were looking for!
If your competitors neglected to bid on their own brand name (happens more often than you think), you should consider bidding on them just for the sake of getting cheap traffic.
My least preferred reason – if your competitor does bid on your brand name, you can do the same just to raise their brand name keyword cpc as well, this might get them to reconsider if they should keep bidding on your brand.
4. Overkill and misuse of keywords insertions
Keyword insertion refers to automatically replacing part of your ad copy with whatever the user searched for. For instance, if the user searched for “berkeley digital marketing agency” and I’m using keyword insertion in my description, it would contain “berkeley digital marketing agency”
This is a powerful and common method for increase click through rate, and it works wonders. The thing is, it doesn’t necessarily improve conversion rates or CPA costs, it might actually end up doing the opposite.
While it does make the ad appear to be precisely what the user was searching for, and they are very likely to click your ad as well, there are many instances that it may be for the wrong reasons. Unless what you’re offering actually match the search query you’re probably never going to convert this user, and therefor your CPA will end up rising.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you should integrate your keywords in your ads, quite the contrary – that’s what you should aim for. This will improve all factors ranging from relevance, CTR and overall quality score. The problem is only when you do this automatically and you try to force an ad copy based on a search query. For instance, if the user search for “sales tax in SF” and the ad displays “File your taxes online”, the ad is not really what the user intended on finding but it does however appear and could get clicked on with a low chance of ever converting.
5. Phrase match might not work for you
Many of you have already heard me praise how much I prefer broad modifier match over phrase match anytime. The reason is that once you use bmm you really don’t need to use phrase match. They’re very similar, with the only difference being that broad modifier will be triggered by way more search terms. Broad match modifier basically includes the words that much be in the search query, similar to phrase match, only this time the order of the words doesn’t matter.
Since they cover pretty much the same search queries, giving up on using phrase match will save you plenty of time and money. I prefer building campaigns with exact and broad modifier matches only.
6. Use remarketing lists to exclude users
Normally remarketing is used to acquire users. Since a past visitor is more likely to click your ad and eventually convert than a user that’s never visited your site before. I always suggest remarketing to almost any advertiser, but many marketers don’t use remarketing it to exclude users, and hopefully now they’ll reconsider.
By applying negative remarketing, you’re excluding previous site visitors, but only those that were probably not interested in your product, service, etc. For instance, you can exclude anyone that has visited your site’s careers page since they are probably more interested in a job than buying anything. It’s also always a good practice to exclude existing customers as well unless you have a special promotion you want to offer them.
7. Build seperate RLSA campaigns
RLSA aka “remarketing lists for search ads” is remarketing lists that can be used to target past visitors when they are back searching for relevant search queries. Typically, campaign managers will use RLSA in the original search campaigns and ad groups and set a higher bid adjustment for users who are a part of the RLSA list. It’s definitely a great strategy, but there’s a way to improve it much more.
Split your campaigns two “cold” campaigns and RLSA campaigns. This gives you a better idea on how to adjust bids for your returning visitors. Although this does require more maintenance the full control and the ability to set higher bids (which you should do since returning visitors are worth higher bids in most cases) and in addition you’ll be able to write different ads that are directed at past visitors that may already be familiar with you.
You might not agree with everything I suggested here, but regardless it’s always a good practice to try new things and see how they affect your performance. I personally have tried all of these things before and they worked quite well for me. If you apply any of them, I suggest you start with only one or two at first before you do any further optimizations, just so that you can compare the results before and after each change you make.
One of the common things I have experienced Internet agencies use in order to close new business with companies is the use of scaremongering tactics. I wanted to cover 5 that I have come across in the previous 10 years.
Dont do link building you will get a Google penalty
– Of course a website can receive penalties for over manipulation of back link building. When this was introduced sites with thousands of links on obvious dodgy links in neighbours hoods were flagged up with penalties. A large number of companies were having to submit disavow reports to remove thousands of poor quality links. Many occasions where they had hired a company to do seo they went along unaware and were struck with problems. This was 3/4 years ago now and on these occasions the problem was excessive keyword anchor text building so keyword links to the homepage. Links on Dodgy obvious link farms and nothing has changed there and many respects quite obviously wrong. But if you couldn’t place links to your site then how on earth could the internet and google work. If you remove back links Google couldn’t function it is still a massive part of Google code. Also what if a rival came along tomorrow and purchased links pointed them to your site to get you blacklisted what if you paid for links to a rival website yourself ?. Its for that reason Google has to allow removal of these links and resubmission. Rival companies could employ these style of tactics to take people away from a high ranking. What if you are doing genuine PR wouldn’t it be normal to place a link back to your site. Isn’t that natural to allow the user to visit a site ? Excessive over manipulated link building don’t do it of course !. But to go as far to say you cant do any link building is scaremongering at its finest. It hampers on many occasions companies ability to grow naturally online being fed these scaremongering statements. It also falls into many SEO agencies business model not doing link building as it take a lot of time and effort to achieve good genuine PR posting.
Dont place your phone number on more than one website Google can trace it
– Why shouldn’t you be well within your rights to place your phone number on as many sites as you like that you own. Again classic scaremongering
Duplicate content will result in a penalty
– In a previous post on our blog (click here) it was confirmed that this was a myth. Why can you not create pages with services in different towns ? We have tested this in many different sectors and see sites with over 40,000 area pages continue to work and generate leads.
Once you get a Google penalty thats it your site is dead you need a new domain
– Even if your site did receive a penalty you can fix it via the google webmaster tools login. It will show the reason for the penalty and you can go in there and get it fixed.
You already have a penalty I can tell looking at Alexa traffic data
– I have even heard scaremongering reach a level where SEO companies have lied to me telling me sites I own have penalties to scaremonger me then when I check Google webmaster tools no issues. So who do you trust Google themselves or the small SEO company looking for new clients.
Vince Cable, Rupert Murdoch and Margaret Hodge among figures to speak out as questions grow over government links with senior company executives
David Cameron has been accused by critics of getting too close to Google amid growing anger over the government’s £130m tax deal for being too lenient towards the tech giant.
Former cabinet minister Vince Cable, media mogul Rupert Murdoch and Margaret Hodge, the former chair of the Commons public accounts committee, all voiced concerns on Wednesday that Cameron and George Osborne had allowed the tech giant to hold too much sway.
Cable, the Lib Dem former business secretary, said Google had a “great deal of influence” in No 10 under the coalition and that Google’s billionaire executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, in particular enjoyed good links with Downing Street.
He said that “very close relationship probably made it very difficult for HMRC to be aggressive in its tax settlement with the company”.
Cable also said the UK’s decision to announce a tax deal unilaterally “undermines the effort to deal with this internationally”, including the reported attempts by France and Italy to extract higher levels of back taxes from Google.
Murdoch was another to accuse the “posh boys in Downing Street” of being too easily awed by Google. The multibillionaire executive chairman of News Corp, who ultimately controls the Times and the Sun, sent a series of tweets on Wednesday suggesting Downing Street was too close to Google and accusing the company of “paying token amounts for PR purposes”.
“Google has cleverly planted dozens of their people in White House, Downing St, other governments. Most brilliant new lobbying effort yet,” he wrote.
He made the pronouncements despite facing accusations during the phone-hacking scandal that he and his executives were too close to senior politicians in the UK and had too much lobbying power. Murdoch, a long-time critic of Google, has also seen his company tax affairs come under scrutiny in Australia.
Hodge said Google had purposely targeted all political parties in the company’s efforts to win influence in Westminster. “They are very, very clever at building their political links. If I am absolutely honest, they had as strong links with Labour. But their executives realise that these things really do matter, even when negotiating tax deals,” she told the Guardian.
MPs on Wednesday raised concerns about extensive links between No 10 and Google executives, including Cameron’s appointment of Schmidt to his exclusive business advisory board until July last year.
HMRC is still refusing to say how the £130m was calculated, whether it includes any fines or interest, and what effective rate of tax Google has ended up paying, citing taxpayer confidentiality.
But Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said experts thought it amounted to an effective rate of around 3%, in contrast to rates of corporation tax of above 20% over the last decade.
Corbyn said most people did not have the luxury of personal meetings to discuss their tax affairs. “Millions of people are this week filling in their tax returns to get them in by 31 January,” he said. “They have to send the form back. They do not get the option of 25 meetings with 17 ministers to decide what their rate of tax is.
“Many people going to their HMRC offices or returning the [form] online this week will say this: ‘Why is there one rule for big multinational companies and another for ordinary small businesses and self-employed workers?’”
This exchange at prime minister’s questions forced Cameron into defending the deal, saying it was better than Labour’s failure to collect any back taxes from Google at all.
The prime minister said he was “genuinely angry” about HMRC’s failures under Labour and insisted it was wrong to say that Google was only paying a 3% rate of tax.
However, there were few in the Tory party willing to stand up vocally for the deal, with no one willing to repeat Osborne’s claim on Friday that it was a “victory”. Anna Soubry, a business minister, inflamed criticism of the government by telling the BBC’s World at One: “It doesn’t sound like an awful lot of money, of course it doesn’t. It would be silly to say otherwise. But if it is within the rules …”
Caroline Flint, a member of the Commons public accounts committee, called for Cameron to look at asking companies to publish their tax returns – which was rebuffed by the government.
She also said Cameron and other ministers should disclose whether tax was discussed in their meetings with Google.
“It’s fair for us to ask, if ministers and advisers have been having meetings with Google, for them to explain what those meetings are about,” she said.
Eva Joly, a French MEP and vice-chair of the European Parliament’s Special Committee on Tax Rulings, said she wanted Osborne to answer questions about the “very bad deal”.
A Google spokesman said: “After a six-year audit by the tax authority we are paying the amount of tax that HMRC agrees we should pay. Governments make tax law, the tax authorities enforce the law and Google complies with the law.”
Peter Barron, Google’s head of communications and public affairs, publicly defended the deal for the first time, saying criticism had not taken into account how international tax law works.
He wrote a letter to the FT, saying: “After a six-year audit we are paying the full amount of tax that HM Revenue & Customs agrees we should pay, including £130m in additional back tax. Governments make tax law, the tax authorities independently enforce the law, and Google complies with the law.”
Former Twitter product head Kevin Weil, who departed Twitter this week, has already scored a job running product for Instagram, according to reports. This would mean that Weil has landed in enemy territory, because Facebook owns Instagram.
Weil was one of a handful of executives who left Twitter on Sunday; others include engineering head Alex Roetter and also Katie Jacobs Stanton, who oversaw media. Jason Toff, general manager at Vine, announced that he was headed to Google’s virtual reality team.
Twitter has been a revolving door for several years now, particularly on its product team. Weil had been at the company since 2009, but just oversaw the product team for about a year.
Founder Jack Dorsey, who returned to the CEO position last year, is viewed as a product guy. He is involved with spearheading Twitter’s latest efforts to add new users.
Head Of Product Says Twitter Will ‘Absolutely’ Stay An Independent CompanyJack Dorsey Confirms Departures Of Several Twitter ExecsJack Dorsey Has A Lot Of Work To Do
Stalled user growth has been a reason why Twitter’s stock has been hitting record lows. At $17 per share, Twitter’s market cap is under $12 billion, about a quarter of the $69 price tag the stock had just two years ago.
Facebook, on the other hand, has seen its shares almost double in the same timeframe. Its success has been, in part, due to strong growth on mobile, particularly Instagram.
Weil may or may not have been ousted (Dorsey insists his execs quit all at once), but if he’s headed to ultra popular Instagram, it looks like he will have the last laugh.
Facebook has more than doubled its profits in the final quarter of 2015 with a 51.7 per cent jump in revenue compared to last year.
Facebook’s revenue jumped 51.7 per cent partly due to an improved mobile app.
Facebook also said it now has 1.59 billion monthly active users as of December 31st, which is up 14 per cent from the end of 2014, and of those, 1.44 billion used the service on mobile devices, an increase of 21 per cent.
The better-than-expected results are thought to be because of new advertising formats and an improved mobile app which led to a sharp rise in ad sales.
The company’s total revenue rose to $5.84bn (£4.10bn) from $3.85bn (£2.7bn) a year earlier, with ad revenue increasing 56.8 per cent during the Christmas holiday shopping period, when spending on advertising normally peaks.
Facebook also now has 1.59 billion monthly active users as of December 31st 2015.
The company, which has the world’s most popular smartphone app, has also benefited from a surge in video views that has attracted advertisers.
Facebook said mobile ads accounted for 80 per cent of total ad revenue in the quarter, compared with about 78 per cent in the third quarter and 69 percent a year earlier. Apart from focusing on mobile, Facebook has been investing in other areas such as virtual reality, artificial intelligence and drones to connect the remotest parts of the world to the Internet.
The company has also begun monetising some of its other units, such as photo-sharing app Instagram, which surpassed 400 million users last year and began selling ads in September.
One of the world’s most popular image-sharing websites, Instagram, has launched a brand new app named Layout, aiming to help users create compelling photo collages and inventive new twists on the conventional Instagram picture. The new app, which went live this month, is aiming to cater to the estimated 20% of active Instagram users who tinker with their images to include multiple shots within one post.
The app is totally free and is aiming to provide a more seamless link between photo collage apps and Instagram itself. It’s easy and quick – users can choose photos from the Camera Roll, or use the app’s ‘Photo Booth’ feature, which takes multiple pictures in a row and positions them in fun and unique collage layouts.
Users can use up to nine images in one collage, and there are sixteen different image layouts to choose from. There’s the ‘Mirror’ feature, which flips the same photo horizontally, and ‘Flip’ turns images upside down. As with many regular photo-editing apps, users can drag to reposition the images within the frame, and pinch to zoom in or shrink the picture.
Once the right images are in place and positioned the way the user wants, the app is designed to make it super-easy for users to export the image straight into Instagram, where they can add captions, emojis and those all-important filters.
Layout has proven to be a hit with regular users, but also with brands. In the first few weeks since it launched, Victoria’s Secret, Sephora and Shutterfly have all used Layout to add a layer of interest to their Instagram images.
Ruth Porat, once the ‘Most Powerful Woman on Wall Street’ has been appointed by Google to take on the role of their Chief Financial Officer starting May 26th. Ms Porat, who is currently the Chief Financial Officer at Morgan Stanley, will replace Patrick Pichette, who unexpectedly announced he was leaving the search engine giant earlier this month.
Ms Porat has faced several attempts to lure her from her position on Wall Street over the last few years. In 2013, President Obama himself tried to lure her to Washington, where she was promised the role of Deputy Treasury Secretary – but Ms Porat elected to remain at Morgan Stanley rather than face the long and arduous vetting process associated with such high-level government roles. She had previously racked up 28 years of service at the investment bank, and mainly spent her time helping Amazon, eBay and Netscape through the so-called ‘dotcom boom’.
It’s estimated that the deal to bring Ms Porat to Google is an incredibly lucrative one. Sources report she will receive a $5m cash signing-on bonus, as well as $25m worth of shares in Google – not to be sniffed at. Her base salary will total around $650,000 per year.
Born in the UK but with much of her life spent in California, Ms Porat is said to be thrilled to be returning to what she considers her ‘roots’. Much of her childhood was spent in Silicon Valley, and Ms Poray is thrilled to be able to have a further influence on how tech companies shape everyday lives.