I was helping a client with Adwords recently because they had run up a huge bill in just a couple of days with virtually no new business to show for it.
As I said to them: the most important thing to remember with Adwords is that Google is the fox looking after the hen-house.
Google is in this to make money (US$29 Billion from Adwords in 2009) and they’re single-minded about extracting as much of it as they can from you.
So, for people new to Adwords, here are three things to look out for:
Setting up new campaigns
When you set up a new campaign there’s a section that enables you to select which networks your ads should be placed on. The default is all networks, with the comment ‘Recommended for new users’.
Whatever you do, do not accept the default.
The reason is because that includes the display network (which used to be called the content network) and, if you’re new to Adwords, you don’t want to be using the display network on your first campaigns.
It will eat through your budget at the speed of light, generating un-targetted traffic, which doesn’t buy and costs you lots of clicks.
So de-select the display network and learn as much as you can about relevance, focus, keyword research, targeting and all the rest of it on the search network, where you have more control over your costs and targetting.
When you’ve got all that in place then take a look at the display network. But be sure to start small by setting a much lower cost per click, and then opening up the taps slowly.
Google’s in this for the money, not for your benefit!
Setting the display network ‘on’ by default is understandable when you consider it’s their business.
What I object to is that comment: ‘Recommended for new users’. That’s just setting newbies up for a horrible financial shock.
When your new campaign is running
Once your campaign is running you’ll get ‘helpful’ suggestions from Google of keywords that they think would be good for your campaign.
Treat these suggestions extremely carefully.
The keywords probably do look pretty good on the surface but you can bet your bottom dollar that they’ll be among the most expensive keywords around.
So review them carefully, making sure they’re totally relevant to your campaign (which will help to reduce their cost), and check their estimated cost before accepting them.
Auto Optimise Options or Manual Control
Wherever Google suggests an option which they claim will automatically optimize your campaign, you should review what they’re offering with extreme care and, in most cases, opt for the manual option.
For example, if you’re using two ads in an ad-group they’ll encourage you to let Google display the better performing one more.
That sounds good, but it prevents you from being able to compare the performance of your ads on a like-for-like basis because they’re not getting the same exposure.
And that means you won’t be able to improve their effectiveness and, therefore, your campaign ROI, over time.
You should always place 2 ads in an ad group and continuously compare their performance.
As the results start to reflect in your account you can review and modify the poorer performing ad.
After you’ve modified the poorer performing ad, leave both running and review them again once a statistically valid number of clicks have gone through.
And then, once again, review and modify whichever ad is the poorer performer.
That way, over time, you can continuously improve the performance of your ads and, thereby, the ROI of your campaign.
So select the ‘Rotate more evenly’ option in the Advanced Settings, Ad Delivery, Ad Rotation section to ensure that your ads are being displaid evenly.
This will ensure you’re getting a valid basis on which to compare and improve their performance.
Over-riding principle for people new to Adwords
Start small and focused, get comfortable and then gradually open the taps.
That means setting a low daily budget initially and using the targeting options to their full (language, time of day and geographic regions).
And avoid the display network until you’re really comfortable with using Adwords.
You may not get an instant avalanche of traffic, but you also won’t lose your shirt.