Money-Wasting AdWords Mistakes
By Jon Rognerud, SEO author and
In my daily interaction with search engine marketing
clients, I come across bad habits that businesses
and individuals continually repeat.
I see a very high percentage of website owners with
little to no understanding of how to build a search
engine-friendly site. That's typically my first
encounter. The cash drain isn't as apparent then as
during my second encounter: pay per click,
specifically Google AdWords.
This column assumes that you're fairly new to Google
AdWords. If you want to educate yourself further,
the 10 to 20 hours you can spend at the Google
AdWords Learning Center is well worth it. You also
can take the certification exam if you meet their
requirements. You need to manage at least one
AdWords account and keep at least $1,000 "spend" for
90 days to be allowed to take the exam.
Once you've familiarized yourself with AdWords and
are ready to set up a campaign, be sure to avoid
these top 11 money-wasting mistakes.
1. Not turning off the content network.
When first setting up a campaign, turn off the
content network. This option is "on" by default, and
you're lucky if it works for you in the first run.
It's a form of contextual advertising and tries to
position your ads on sites like About.com, The New
York Times, Food Network and others. You typically
will see high impressions in your system, but often
low CTR--click-through-rates, as determined by
impressions to clicks--and low-quality clicks. These
aren't serious buyers; they're wasting your dollars
2. Using too many keywords.
When creating new campaigns and ad groups, many
people begin by entering every keyword under the
sun. Don't. Targeting is key; think about your niche
and the categories within it. You can use tools like
the Wordtracker Free Suggestion Tool to determine
which keywords to begin with. Then, when you have a
list together, refer to tip No. 6 below.
3. Ignoring the competition.
Analyze your competitors. One way is to use the
Google Keyword Tool. Select "site-related keywords"
and enter the competitor's website to pull keyword
groups from their pages. Also, check their sites for
an overall impression and for content. Do some more
digging at SpyFu.com to find more on rankings and
competitive PPC spending. Look at the search results
pages after entering their top keywords in Google,
review their ads, think about text and prepare for
tip No. 4.
4. Not including keywords in the ad text.
Use keywords in the title of the ad, but also in the
ad copy. So many ad copywriters forget to include
the keyword phrase in the actual body of the ad
text. Write clearly and provide relevant content for
both users and the Google AdBot. Create a matching,
relevant landing page to satisfy users and obtain a
higher Google Quality Score.
5. Sending visitors to your homepage.
Most PPC accounts I come across send traffic and
visitors to their homepage. But there's simply too
much information there, and visitors may leave your
site. Read my blog entry on money-making landing
page tips and test the pages for content. Realize
that narrow-casting is better than broad-casting in
almost every case.
6. Using too many broad keywords.
Creating ad campaigns and ad groups with tightly
matched keywords is necessary, but most folks don't
do it. You should place only a few keywords into
each ad group and add more groups to accommodate new
"themed" keywords. Google maxes out at 100 ad groups
per account; I believe they'll raise this at some
7. Using broad match.
When you set up Google AdWords for the first time
and input a keyword, the default type is broad
match. While broad match can work for you, I always
recommend using phrase and exact match types to
start and track the performance from there. AdWords
also has a negative match type, which is overlooked
most of the time. Examples of match types are:
Broad: leather jacket (any order, any word, not as
targeted, more clicks)
Phrase: "leather jacket" (this order, words before
and after, more targeted, OK clicks)
Exact: [leather jacket] (this order, no other words,
highly targeted, least clicks)
Negative: - pink (this would not show ads for "pink
8. Using the default "optimize" option.
The default setup for AdWords is to let Google
"optimize" your ads for you. It's better to select
the "rotate" option, so you can test your ad
performance in a much cleaner manner.
9. Not tracking ads and keywords.
If keywords and ads aren't performing, you're
wasting money. You can use the free Google Analytics
tool to help you track activity. Keywords should
also be tested and tracked with misspellings,
plurals and stemming(-ing) options.
10. Not properly testing ads.
A/B testing has been around in the advertising world
for decades, and the concept is the same online.
Write at least two ads within an ad group, and
AdWords will rotate them automatically for you. This
will reveal the winning ads based on performance. As
you continue, pause the loser and write a new and
better one; try to outperform the winner again.
Don't change it immediately, though; let it run for
a while to get some trending data.
11. Not applying the "conversion code."
Be sure to apply the "conversion code," which is a
page or thank you page. This information will show
up in a column on your AdWords dashboard when you
log in, and is a quick way to check for lead counts
and important for tracking return on spending.
These tips have helped me a lot, and although I
spent a fair share of my own money to discover them,
you can apply these tactics immediately and start
saving money. You'll also receive more quality
clicks and better tracking for yourself and clients.
---Source: The Media Minute Jan. 5,
2009 newsletter (www.TheMediaMinute.com). Jon
Rognerud is a recognized authority on the subject of
search engine optimization. Visit his Web site at
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