Using Adwords is Like Dating Google

Google Adwords is a one-sided relationship

Being in a relationship can be tough. If you use Google Adwords it might feel like you’re dating Adwords, and not in a good way.

Imagine dating a person who remembers all your faults, who places a lot of weight on the first impression and then equally as much weight to every subsequent experience. That can create an uphill battle before you.

Sounds bad right? Too bad there’s more. Communication is generally poor and infrequent. If you have a problem, you can’t really talk to this person directly. To find out where you stand in the relationship you have to turn to, what would be, no better than their MySpace friends who may or may not be in contact with the party in question or even be “in the know.”

One little thing can cause this fragile relationship to fly off the handle, considering the near-ridiculous standards to which you are being held. Oh, and you can’t make plans without running them by your significant other … and it’s safe to say you’ll get shut down a lot if your suggestions are “questionable.”

There will come a lot of days where you feel like you’ve had enough and you can do better. You don’t deserve this type of relationship right? If you decide to pull the plug then beware! Your nights, weekends, and even the days become very empty because there are only 2 other dating possibilities…and they’re both worse. In short, you can’t do any better even if you think you deserve it.

This is the relationship that every Adwords user has with Google. It’s a fickle one-sided relationship where the user is always in the dark about their account. The only ways to get answers about the status of your campaigns are with Google Adwords representatives who can be difficult to contact. If you are able to reach one, getting more than just a canned response from them is a near-impossible feat.

Unless you are a major retailer, or have a world-renowned brand name, your only other options for paid search marketing are the offerings from Yahoo and Bing. While both can be utilized profitably by some businesses, there are a lot of pitfalls for even experienced users. Additionally, there are generally fewer opportunities for relevant traffic.

So, we’re left with Google. It can be a very profitable arm of your marketing campaigns if executed correctly. There are volumes written about how to do it right and thousands of instances how to do it wrong. Flying solo might be the easiest way to get yourself into a bad situation since managing a PPC campaign can be a time-consuming practice. Hiring a professional PPC Company is an efficient way to manage your time and maintain a successful Adwords campaign.

Click-Through Rate (CTR) is arguably the most important element of your Adwords account in relation to costs and Quality Score (as outlined here, here, and here). If you can achieve a high CTR, your Quality Score improves, your Costs per Click (CPC) decrease and your overall Return on Investment improves.  Sounds awesome right? The trick there is improving your Quality Score, which all ties back to having a high CTR. It’s quite the conundrum.

There is a lot that can be done to improve CTR. One of the most important aspects is to make sure that your keywords and ads are nearly mirror images of one another. This means that if you’re bidding on keywords like “Bay Area landscaping” your ad headline should say something like “Bay Area Landscaping.”

What about a phrase like “Bay Area lawn mowing?” Is that close enough to be in the same ad group as the landscaping keywords? Don’t even think about it. They’re related but not nearly close enough to group together. It should go in its own ad group.

Make your goal for each ad group to have less than 20 keywords to start. If an ad group appears to be growing to more keywords than 20, look for ways to separate the keywords into individual ad groups. If you write ads to be representative of the keywords in each ad group (NOT a generic ad for the entire account/campaign) I would be shocked if you didn’t have a good Click-Through Rate.

If you’re going to do PPC then do it right. This begins with research about your costs per click for whatever you’re advertising. While the resources are limited and can be somewhat inaccurate for determining costs per click (See Google Keyword Tool) it can give you estimates.

When you’re ready to set your campaigns live, don’t be afraid to overbid. If you set your bids high it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have to pay that much per click. However, it sets the stage for your account because by those bids you make your first impression with Google … and Google doesn’t forget any of your errors or screw-ups. They are forever etched in your account’s history, which you cannot see or change.

It’s important to start out your campaigns with a high CTR. That is the first thing recorded in the history of your account. Relevant keywords and ads show Google that you’ve done your research and you are truly trying to provide a valuable product/service to those searching for it.

Conversely, if you start off without keyword research and underbid you’ll ultimately see a low CTR in your account.  As a result, you battle uphill to get your account to where it could have been had it started on the right foot.

After your account has been live, be mindful of adding very broad keywords to your campaign because they typically see a low CTR and can drag the account down. For example, if you sell baseball training videos, adding the keyword “baseball” to an ad group will cost you … literally and figuratively.

Someone searching for “baseball” could be looking for a hundred different things: rules, player bios, stats, team schedules, etc. More importantly, they are probably not in a position to buy anything. If they come to your site, they will almost certainly browse and leave. You pay for it though, not just the click cost, but also from your account’s declining Quality Score. It’s not worth it.

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  1. James Green says

    I have to disagree with your characterization of Google. While they can be all the things you say it is usually if you aren’t a good advertiser (determined by relevance and spend levels). Those advertisers who are highly relevant have a companion who remembers everything they do well and rewards them for it. Furthermore, if you are committed to Google (spend enough money) you have a team of account reps ready, willing, and able to help you grow your accounts in ways that builds YOUR business. I think the key is if you want Google to be good to you – be good to Google (same thing in the SEO space). At any rate interesting article, thanks for the write up.

    • Mark Faggiano says

      I agree that using Adwords – and really working with Google as a whole – can be as fickle as a relationship. Sometimes things work really well, and other times inexplicable things happen. This is my experience even working with a team of reps. And that’s why I agree with what you said about hiring a pro. You really have two options – hire a pro (better option) or be patient through what can be a long and expensive learning curve.

  2. Micah Lauret says

    Neil, you make a great point. Google really is like a high maintenance relationship. But to the point James Green made, if you’re able to show your commitment, you’ll find your relationship with Google growing faster and faster. But just like a good relationship, it takes time & working through issues to get to that point. Also, you’ll never completely get rid of the issues, you’ll just get better at handling them in an efficient matter. As long as you continue to show your commitment and work through issues with patience, you can avoid the mid-life crises divorce.

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