Some would say if you’re just now looking to best practices for 2015, then you’re behind the trend and behind your competition. But it’s better late than never. Who knows? Maybe your competitors are just as busy as you and haven’t found time to get up to speed with online marketing. I run into it all the time. Here is your chance to make a New Year’s Resolution and get even better with Google AdWords. So what are the best practices for Google AdWords in 2015? Let’s dig into it.
What Should I Spend?
How successful do you want to be? Have you heard the phrase – you get more of what you focus on? The amount of money you are willing to invest in your AdWords campaign is a key factor of what you can expect to receive. I am going out on a limb here and will say that any campaign that is under $100 per day is a waste of effort. I’ve seen people start campaigns on $20 – even $50 per day and not get sufficient clicks to provide actionable data or conversions. With small budgets, one can quickly see their ROI decrease. And of course, if you aren’t getting the results you think that you should be getting, who do ya blame? It’s not the cheapskate who wanted to get big returns from a small budget. Having a small budget can be like having a beautiful Ferrari F4 and giving it only a quarter tank of gas. You won’t go very far.
How Do I Build a Campaign?
Each campaign should have it’s own budget. When do you create a new campaign? A good rule of thumb is to separate AdWords campaigns by geography. If you have different cities or even states where you are promoting different local branches or retail outlets, etc. it makes sense to differentiate ads campaigns between each store. You will also want to have a separate search only campaign and a display only campaign and if you want to perform re-marketing, then you guessed it; you will want a separate campaign for that as well. The reason for the separate campaigns is because each of these types of marketing behave differently.
How do I Build an Adgroup?
If you haven’t figured this out yet, Google rewards relevant content. A best practice is to create Adgroups with tightly themed subjects just like you would organize your brick and mortar store. So for example: a campaign would be Shoes and the adgroups would be men’s shoes, women shoes, children shoes, etc. Assess the spend of each individual ad group within each campaign. Within each Adgroup have at least 3 ads; one using dynamic keyword insertion, another using a question and all of them using at least one keyword from your keyword list and with a strong call to action, other than call now or click here. These calls to action are too obvious and Google doesn’t like it and thus penalized advertisers who use these.
In September of 2014, AdWords launched the most impactful update for e-commerce advertisers since the release of Dynamic Remarketing. This update was the release of ad customizers, which allow advertisers to add dynamic content to their text ads. This dynamic content can be anything from inventory or price to a countdown until a specific event. This works very well if you have thousands of products that constantly change. Give Google a datafeed of all your product information and set bids based upon information contained within that feed. With dynamic search ads, Google grabs the information it needs from your site and you target audiences based upon that information. Much like with Google Shopping, make sure you begin with an ad group targeting “All web pages” and set your bids low here. A low bid is important because it stops DSAs from stealing traffic from existing search campaigns (something you really want to avoid). The last thing you want to do is compete against your your own ads. Naturally it also makes sense to take every opportunity to use ad extensions such as call, call out, location, social, review and site extensions. These give your ads more creativity and differentiate your ads from the sea of sameness seen on the SERPs.
Get Shopping Campaigns
If you have products to sell, you NEED to take full advantage of Shopping Campaigns, formerly known as Product Listing Ads (PLA). These ads can outperform text search ads because they show the image of the exact product a shopper is looking for at the time they are ready to buy. Simply create a data feed with every piece of product information to display with the product listing including a good quality image so shoppers see exactly what they will be buying. This is still an under utilized Google product and can make a positive impact for your overall campaigns in 2015.
I’ve written about keywords in another article so I won’t go into as much detail here. As you develop your keywords and keep them tightly related to the adgroups you will quickly determine which terms are generating clicks and converting visitors to customers. As your campaign accumulates data, you will zero in on the keywords driving the strongest ROAS, or, Return on Ad Spend. Using the keyword reports, you will be able to identify and expand upon these top performing keywords with like-terms. At the same time, you will pause or delete keywords that are under performing. You will also determine which keywords are driving traffic which are irrelevant and need to be added to the negative keyword list.
Since Google got rid of exact match types in 2014, you no longer need to build exhaustive lists of plurals and misspellings. AdWords now performs that with broad match automatically. Google points out that “close keyword variations receive an average of 7 percent more exact and phrase match clicks with comparable click-through and conversion rates.”
What About Bid Management?
Closely linked to your spend are your ad and keyword bids. Naturally you want to have your ad show within the first 3 ad placements available, on average. Ads showing up in the #4 spot or lower is a strong signal that the ads need to be changed or the bid needs to be increased. You can tell by looking at the 1st page suggested bid column. If your ads or keywords are under performing due to constrained budget, Google will show that in the status column. I like to be in the 1 – 2 spot and bid accordingly. You can manage bids with the ads as well as keywords.
You can also add bid modifiers for location and device. You can increase the bids by a certain amount and Google will use that bid for the auction. This is helpful to win placements for searches on mobile devices or for users close to your store and bring them in to buy. You can also decrease bids in the same fashion. Let’s say you want to decrease bids as people are further from your store so the ads only show for relevant audiences within a certain radius from your location, you would place a location bid modifier on the ad.
ABT – Always Be Testing. Marketing is about continuous testing. Give a campaign at least 3 months before calling it a failure. Create a campaign with at least 3 adgroups and 3 ads per adgroup and 7-8 keywords per adgroup. This allows you to manage the campaign and test the separate components such as the headline and description lines as well as the keywords. Start small with changing one item at a time and tweaking as needed.
These are the best practices (As I see it) for getting even better results with AdWords for 2015. If you disagree I’d love to read your comments below.