We recently audited a client’s Adwords account. While the account is professionally managed, we had a number of recommendations for ways the account could be improved to increase the effectiveness of their Adwords spending. The four areas include some general tips that will be helpful for anyone using Adwords.
To effectively manage Google Adwords, you must have some method of conversion tracking. Over the past 30 days, in this particular client’s account, the average cost per conversion in Adwords is approximately $1,250, with an average cost per click of $1.32 (which translates to 940 clicks per conversion). Despite only having a few conversions, during that same timeframe there have been many leads (contact forms, phone calls, etc.) originating from the web site. Over the past 30 days, 33% of the traffic landing on the site is from Adwords, and if 33% of all incoming leads were to be attributed to Adwords, then the number of conversions and the cost-per-conversion would drastically decrease. However, with such an approach you would not have the data to know which keyphrases (in addition to other metrics) brought you the most/best leads.
In the absence of integrating all site conversions via your CRM (phone calls, quote form, email, etc.), our recommendation is to track “customer engagement” as a conversion. Unfortunately, Google Adwords and Analytics are not able, by default, to track “customer engagement” as conversions. For example, Google Analytics can only track “time on page” if a visitor views a second page on the site. For visitors who view one page and then leave (bounce), the time on page for that visitor is 0 (null).
While Google Analytics does specifically have a feature (“Smart Goals”) designed for sites not utilizing proper conversion tracking, and while Smart Goals is better than nothing, with Smart Goals you are not able to define what constitutes a conversion. Google uses machine learning to analyze a portion of your site-visitors along with site-visitors to thousands of other websites to see which visitors are most engaged/likely to “convert.”
We recommend using Google Tag Manager to trigger a conversion for any Adwords visitor who meets your specific criteria as an engaged visitor. This could be a visitor who spends 60 seconds on a page or clicks to view a second page or a visitor who scrolls a certain percentage of the way down a page.
This type of conversion tracking will give you actionable tracking metrics, enabling you to focus on keyphrases that bring you engaged visitors while decreasing your spend on keyphrases that bring you less-engaged visitors.
Expanded Text Ads
As we analyzed our client’s account, we saw that although there were 670 ads in the account, only 40 were expanded text ads. Traditional text ads have been sunsetted by Google and cannot be created or edited after January 31, 2017. Expanded text ads are a new, longer ad format and the sooner new ads are created and tested to replace traditional text ads, the better.
We recommend that expanded text ads be setup to replace traditional text ads as soon as possible.
How to view a list of active old-style text ads in your Google Adwords account:
- Left sidebar: “All campaigns”
- Top tab: “Ads”
- All enabled ads
- Filter -> Create filter
- “Ad type” matches any “text ad” (uncheck all others)
- Click blue “Apply” button
(This particular account spent almost $2k in 30 days, as visitors clicked on old-style text ads which could have had additional content and greater impact at no additional cost.)
Landing Page Optimization
Some landing pages are showing high bounce rates for paid traffic. As an example, /folder/specific-landing-page.html has been the landing page for 60 paid visitors over the past 30 days. 56 of those visitors left the site without viewing other pages (90% bounce rate). If the average cost per click is $1.32, and if those numbers continue over the next 12 months, that landing page represents almost $1,000 that will be spent over the next year for visitors who will see the page and leave without any further engagement.
We recommend that landing pages with high bounce rates be reviewed and optimized to add relevant content which will be helpful for the visitor. A side benefit to optimizing landing pages is that if those landing pages are visible on the site for organic visitors, this project will also benefit your organic rankings and SEO.
How to check your bounce rate for Google Adwords incoming traffic:
- Google Analytics
- Acquisition Adwords -> Campaigns (your Adwords and Analytics accounts must be linked)
- Click on “Bounce Rate” column to sort by highest bounce rates
In the example here, the campaigns with the highest bounce rate have fairly low clicks. While the clicks do add up over the course of 12 months, keep an eye out for high-traffic landing pages that are on your “top 10 bounce rate” report and make sure to focus on optimizing those pages as well.
Keep in mind that a campaign and even ad group can have multiple landing pages.
If you want to view bounce rate for PPC traffic on a page-by-page basis:
- Google Analytics
- Behavior -> Site Content -> Landing Pages
- Secondary dimension: Acquisition -> Medium
- Adwords traffic will be in the “cpc” medium
In the past 90 days there have not been any negative keywords added to the account. I reviewed the list of search terms which are displaying ads and a few of the phrases we recommend reviewing are:
Keyphrase (average cost per click) (cost over last 90 days)
Long tail keyphrase 1 ($3.51) ($45.69)
Long tail keyphrase 2 ($3.67) ($44.05)
Long tail keyphrase 3 ($1.93) ($23.14)
We recommend the search terms resulting in clicks be reviewed at least monthly, and perhaps even weekly, to ensure you are not paying for traffic on non-relevant keywords. Non-relevant keyphrases should be entered as negative keywords (typically at the campaign level). Be careful when entering long tail keyphrases as negative keywords: by default Google enters the negative keywords as a very precise match.
For example, a plumber who reviews their ads and notices they have paid for clicks for the phrase “best plumber costume for a costume party” would want to add the phrase as a negative keyword. While reviewing your search terms, the default Google method to add negative keywords is to put the phrase in brackets which is an exact match, and will only block ads if someone searches for that exact phrase. Yet the ad could still appear if someone searches for “best plumber costume.” In this particular example we would recommend two broad match negative keyphrases be added to the campaign: 1) party and 2) costume. Doing so will prevent ANY search with the word “party,” and ANY search with the word “costume,” from displaying your plumbing ads.
How to view the actual search terms that customers are clicking on:
- Left sidebar: “All campaigns”
- Top tab: “Keywords”
- Option: “Search terms”
Conversion tracking: you must have a method for measuring results in your Adwords account. If you are not able to use ecommerce (sales) tracking, find an alternative metric (time on page, scroll depth) that can be used.
Expanded text ads: if you are still running old-style text ads—stop! Create new expanded text ads to replace old-style text ads.
Landing page optimization: review the bounce rate for your ads and optimize landing pages that have high bounce rates.
Negative keywords: regularly review the list of search terms your ads are being displayed with (and clicked on). Add negative keywords to prevent your ads from displaying on irrelevant searches.