Spring clean your AdWords account

Spring has (sort of) sprung, and to celebrate not having constant hat hair or falling over on ice for another six months, why not invest some time into giving your AdWords account a good old clean up?

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Despite the recent weather, we’re finally transitioning from the miserable, bleak winter, into slightly warmer, one-fewer-jumper-wearing spring. Hooray!

Traditionally, spring is a time to have a good old clean out and de-clutter, and while it might not be the most fun way to spend a weekend, the end result is well worth it. With this in mind, here are a few hints and tips to help give your AdWords account a sprucing up.

Cut the crap

Adding new keywords is a great way to grow an account and reach new people. But sometimes, keywords that you think are super relevant to your business are just not performing as well as you’d anticipated. It’s tempting to cling on to them, hoping that one day, they might convert, but if they are not getting any impressions, or are getting clicks but are not converting, it’s time to take a deep dive into historical performance to see if impression share and budget would be better spent elsewhere.

If keywords have had very few impressions over time, consider adding a phrase or broad modified match variation if the keyword is exact match. If it’s not an exact match keyword and it’s been more than three months and there are 0 impressions, you may as well pause it, as it’s not adding any value to the account.

For keywords that get a decent number of clicks but 0 conversions, there might be an underlying issue that’s preventing people from converting. Does the keyword match with the offering on your landing page? If not, why are you even bidding on the keyword? If you’re not meeting a users expectation, they’ll bail. And if it is relevant, then it’s time to take a closer look at the landing page itself. If other keywords that drive traffic to this page convert, then it is likely to be an issue with the keyword, rather than the page itself.

But if very few keywords are converting via a particular landing page despite it driving a high number of clicks, it’s time to find out how it can be improved. Is the call to action strong enough? Is the page missing crucial information, like delivery and contact details? Does your form suck? Do you need to build a more targeted landing page from scratch?

Not sure what’s turning people off? If you get enough traffic, consider Conversion Rate Optimisation, as by testing elements of your landing page vs the control, you’ll have data, rather than assumptions, to guide you.

You ‘ad me at hello

Writing ad copy that is eye-catching and compelling enough for a user to want to click is no mean feat.

There used to be two settings to choose from when it came to automated optimisation of ads: ‘Optimise for clicks’, and ‘Optimise for conversions’. However, Google has done away with these, and now, the ‘Optimise’ ad setting chooses which ad is shown more frequently based on which it thinks is likely to get the most clicks, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s choosing the best one of the bunch.

If you are finding that ad click through rate (CTR) isn’t looking too hot, and you have multiple variations you want to test, try switching the setting to ‘Rotate’ as this will serve ads more evenly, or use the Ad Variations tool in Drafts & Experiments in the new version of AdWords – Google recommends switching to the ‘Optimise’ setting if you are going for the latter method of testing.

Once you’ve collected a satisfactory amount of data, you can then see which ad users prefer, create new variations of the best-performing ones, and bin off the ads that aren’t as appealing to users. Rinse and repeat until all of your ads have great CTR, and then go to work on seeing how you can optimise for conversions, too.

While you’re reviewing ad copy, take a good look at your ad extensions too. Could they be better focused if you add sitelink and callout extensions at ad group level rather than campaign or account level? Are there secondary USPs that you can’t cram into the main ad copy that might help to convince a user to visit your site? I’d recommend using the ad preview tool when checking how sitelinks and callout extensions appear to ensure that messaging isn’t being repeated.

Setting yourself up for failure

If you haven’t been paying attention to account settings like location, time of day, and device bidding, you’re setting yourself up for failure.

Using the Dimensions tool, you’ll be able to see when you receive the most clicks and conversions by day of week and time of day.

If your hours of business are Monday to Friday, 9-5, do you want to be spending during the weekend and after office hours? Reserve your budget for times of day and the days of the week when conversions are most likely to occur.

Location bidding is another important consideration, especially if you provide services within a certain area. If you are dominating the market locally, and now want to expand but aren’t certain what distance people will travel, you can apply radius targeting around your location with an increased bid to attract new customers. If it doesn’t work out, you can simply remove the bid increase or reduce the target area to test again.

Finally, device bidding is a must. Take a look at your Google Analytics data to see what device visitors are using to reach your site. If 60% of visitors are reaching your site via a mobile device and you haven’t applied a mobile bid increase, you could be missing out, especially if your average ad position on a mobile is less than 3.

While a Spring clean presents a good opportunity to put time aside to review and fix issues, analysing and cleaning up your AdWords account on a regular basis is best practice – and should not be neglected in favour of a big every-once-and-a-while blitz. When performing your Spring clean, be mindful not to fiddle about with too many things at once, or it might be impossible to work out what impact a specific change has had.

For more advice and tips on managing PPC accounts, as well as the latest news from the world of paid search, check out our other posts right here.

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