How to spend less and get more from Google AdWords

Google logo

I am a huge fan of Google AdWords, and it absolutely the best advertising platform out there for businesses of all sizes and budgets.

However, because it is self-serve with a bewildering array of options to choose from when creating a campaign, a lot of advertisers find they spend a lot of money very quickly, and see less return than expected.

In my experience, I would say that nine times out of ten this is because the account manager isn’t setting up their account or campaigns correctly.

In this post I will share some tips on how to spend less and earn more with your Google AdWords account. [mc4wp_form id=”15877″]

Allocate more of your budget during busy periods

Most industries have particular times of the day and days of the week when most people visit and/ or buy.

For example, my own industry sees a large proportion of traffic and search interest from 8am to 7pm on weekdays.

I know this from internal sales and traffic data and Google AdWords reports. It is logical for us to then allocate most of our budget to advertising during these periods.

To do this, follow these steps:

[tagline]Go to your campaign > Settings > Ad schedule > Click on +Ad schedule > Click on + Create custom schedule[/tagline]

From here you can pick the days and time of day you want your adverts to run.

Re-marketing lists for search ads

In standard search campaigns, your bids, ads and keywords are the same for every search and every user.

You can use Google’s remarketing technology to advertise to previous site visitors when they use Google search, giving you the opportunity to widen your reach and tailor your messages.

For example:

Optimize your CPC: You can create a re-marketing list for users who have been to your home page and another for people who have searched for a specific product on your website.

The keywords and ads stay the same, but you can raise your bids a bit for previous homepage visitors, but increase bids a lot for people who had searched on your site because they are clearly more engaged.

Broaden keywords: You can use re-marketing to target previous buyers from your website when they search for broader search terms than you would normally bid on. Brand recognition will draw their attention.

For example, if you sell gifts you could target people who bought from you last Christmas and who are searching for they very broad term “Gifts” in the build up to this Christmas.

Customise your adverts’ text: If you sell multiple products/ services consider setting up re-marketing lists to segment site visitors who expressed an interest in each product. Use these re-marketing lists to show tailored search ads that reflect their previous interests.

To get started you first need to add the remarketing tag to your website. You can get the code from: Shared library > Audiences. Now we can start using the list on a new or existing ad group.

  1. Create a new “Search Network only” campaign, or select an existing campaign and Ad group.
  2. Click the “Audiences” tab, next to “Keywords”.
  3. Click “Remarketing.”
  4. Add the remarketing list you want to use to your Ad group.

Local business? Only target your local customers

Advertising on Google is not exclusive to national companies, and I’ve covered how to create a local AdWords campaign before.

If you run a local business with a defined geographic customer base you don’t have to appear in the search results for everyone, you can tell Google just to show adverts to people within specified parts on the country.

This cuts down wasted clicks and money.

[tagline]This is done at the campaign level of your account: Settings > Locations > Click on “+LOCATIONS”[/tagline]

Connect your Google Analytics account

Google let you connect both your AdWords and Analytics account, giving the ability to view Analytics data within your AdWords interface. Metrics you can add to your reporting columns include, bounce rate (and more). Very useful!

For example, I use the bounce rate data to identify keywords that draw clicks but have a high bounce rate.

Using this data I then pause the keyword because it is clearly not working, or if I think it is a relevant keyword that should work I amend the landing page and test if that has an impact.

[tagline]To connect your two accounts follow the steps in this guide from Google. [/tagline]

Bid down hard on mobile ads

You may find that people coming to your website via mobile have a higher bounce rate and convert less  than desktop visitors (that’s very common and you can find that out quickly in Google Analytics). This can result in a lot of wasted money.

Google have made it more difficult to opt out of advertising on mobile phones recently; you used to be able to simply tick a box.

By default your mobile bids are the same as desktop, and you can’t choose to remove mobile devices altogether, but you can bid down so much as to make it very unlikely you will.

[tagline]To do this, go to your Ad Group > Settings > Devices. Next to “Mobile devices with full browsers”, in the “Bid adj” column, click on the percentage and change it to -100%.[/tagline]

Use negative keywords

An often overlooked targeting feature is the ability to specify when you do not want your advert to be shown.

When I’ve been asked to review AdWords accounts that the owner feels is spending too much or not getting an acceptable ROI, a major reason has always been down to not using negative keywords.

To be fair Google doesn’t make it instinctively obvious you can do this, hiding it away at the bottom of the keywords page.

To add negative keywords to your search ad groups, scroll down to the bottom of the page and you’ll see a “Negative keywords” link. Click on this and you’ll open yourself to a new world!

There are three ways you can set up negative keywords:

  1. Add negative keywords that apply just to that Ad group
  2. Add negative keywords that apply to the entire campaign
  3. Create a keyword list you can use across any campaign

To find out whether your adverts are being shown against keywords you don’t want to be, in your Ad group click on the “Dimensions” tab. Click on “view” and from the drop down list choose “Search terms”.

You can now see which keywords triggered one of your adverts in the specified time frame. Pick out those that aren’t appropriate and add them to your negative keyword list.

Frequency capping for banners

If you are running any banner/ display campaigns I would strongly recommend you set up frequency capping. T

his lets you specify how many times a user will be shown your banner in a day. If they haven’t clicked after a dozen views they probably won’t, and if you are bidding using CPM, you are wasting your money.

[tagline]Settings tab > Advanced settings > Ad delivery, ad rotation, frequency capping[/tagline]

Be strict with your keyword matching

Keyword matching helps you control how closely the keyword needs to match a person’s search term in order to trigger your ad. The chart below is taken from Google’s support pages.

Match type

Special symbol

Example keyword

Ads may show on searches that

Example searches

Broad match none women’s hats include misspellings, synonyms, related searches and other relevant variations buy ladies hats
Broad match modifier +keyword +women’s +hats contain the modified term (or close variations, but not synonyms), in any order hats for women
Phrase match “keyword” “women’s hats” are a phrase, and close variations of that phrase buy women’s hats
Exact match [keyword] [women’s hats] are an exact term and close variations of that exact term women’s hats
Negative match -keyword -women are searches without the term baseball hats

Google wants you to choose broad match as this opens your advert up to a much wider audience. If your budget is really tight, focus on exact match keywords only and at a push, phrase match. I would only use broad match on large campaigns with big budgets.

Also, make sure Google doesn’t automatically show your adverts for keywords it deems to be ‘close variants’:

[tagline]Settings tab > Advanced settings > Keyword matching options > “Do not include close variants”[/tagline]

If you are new to AdWords and want to learn more, you’ll find some really useful links in my teach yourself Google AdWords post.[mc4wp_form id=”15877″]

2 thoughts on “How to spend less and get more from Google AdWords

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *