Biggest AdWord Mistakes

Practical eCommerce asked Senior Contributor and website conversion expert Mat Greenfield, founder of Conversion Results, for his take on the biggest AdWord mistakes a website could make. If your AdWords’ campaign is having troubles, it may be due to one of the following:

Having too many keywords in a single Ad Group.

Since an Ad Group is Google’s lowest level of segmentation, it should ideally be used to express a single idea or theme. Generally, I find that the more specific, the better. Typically, I find that any Ad Group with more than 50 keywords is probably too broad. The exception would be Ad Groups with a large number of misspellings.

More specific Ad Groups do mean more management — but it will also mean a much better ROI.

Using “Broad Match” without negative keywords.

The default setting for keywords in Google is Broad Match. That means that any search phrase that contains your keyword can trigger your ads, whether they are relevant or not. I recall working on a campaign for a printing company, and finding that its ads describing silk-screen t-shirt printing were showing up for the very popular search phrase — wet t-shirt. Setting “wet” as a negative phrase was a simple fix.

Not understanding the difference between “Search Match” and “Content Match” (and setting single campaigns for both).

Google does a nice job of allowing a site to determine where its ads will show. But many AdWords advertisers use these settings indiscriminately. I would suggest that campaigns be set to either “Search Match” or “Content Match” (but not both). The simple reason is the ads that will appeal to individuals actively searching on a phrase will be quite different from the types of ads that will appeal for browsers who see “Content Match” ads.

Bidding for Position No.1.

I often see new AdWords advertisers over paying for clicks because they are pursuing the No. 1 position. I think they assume that being in position No. 1 is always best‚, but I think when you consider the additional cost for position No.1, often times positions 2-5 are a much better value.

Not testing different ads.

I’m a huge fan of split testing — both on websites and for ads within Google AdWords. New advertisers should create two or three ads for each Ad Group, and after about a month, take a look which ad has the best cost-per-conversion. Ad split testing should be a continual process. One tip I like to use is to pause my old ads rather than delete them, that way I can see what ads I’ve already tested.

Not tracking conversions.

This might be the cardinal sin of Google AdWords. Conversion tracking might take a little bit of effort to set up, but it is a critical step in identifying which keywords create conversions, and which ones just create clicks.

Mat Greenfield

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