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5 SUPERDUMB Mistakes with AdWords Keywords

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Whether Google intends it not, a lot of newbies think you can just type in some phrases and AdWords will figure it all out for you.

I love Google and they do a great job of getting people to try AdWords. But part of that is making them think it's going to be simpler than it really is. 

Look, AdWords can be explained with just three cartoons- it must be really easy!

No, and it's getting harder:

  • AdWords has grown more powerful and complicated,
  • Competition has increased, and
  • So have click costs. 
It's critical you ensure your pay-per-click campaigns are efficient enough to deliver the ROI your business needs.

Finding the best keywords to get the best results for your business requires:

  • AdWords expertise,
  • Keyword research, and
  • Careful account structuring.

5 Costly Rookie Keyword Mistakes in AdWords

Mistake #1: Making up your own keywords. 

thinker21.jpgWe respect that you're the expert on your business.  You know jargon that only you and your customers understand.  We need that input.  It helps us find the right keywords.

But jargon is one way you can out-expert yourself into suboptimal PPC performance.  Sometimes it's jargon you know but your customers don't use.  Usually there's a more popular way to say it or search for it.

The secret to getting your ads viewed is choosing keywords that people actually search for

Chances are, some or all of the keywords that first come to mind actually get little or no search traffic.  The way to choose keywords is to start with the terms that are relevant to your business, feed those into the AdWords keyword tool, get back a bunch of keyword results, then feed those into the traffic estimator to see which ones are already getting ad clicks. 

This is also a good way to budget a new PPC campaign, although I've found that the Traffic Estimator can be 20x higher than what you can actually expect in the way of clicks. 

Take-away: Use the tools Google has made available so you can get serious advertising reach and clicks from truly qualified prospects.

Mistake #2: Entering keywords in broad match format only. 

There are actually 4 types of keywords:

  1. broad, e.g. adwords keyword research
  2. exact, e.g. [adwords keyword research]
  3. phrase, e.g. "adwords keyword research"
  4. negative.  e.g. -"doggie toys"
You need to use them all to get the best cost per click and most relevant prospects.  (Use Mike's AdWords Wrapper to save time.)

This gets a bit technical, but if you don't do this, you're going to get irrelevant search traffic and waste money on poorly qualified or unqualified prospects.  AdWords explains broad, exact, and phrase match keywords here

It's easiest to start with just broad match but not optimal.  If you want to launch with the best ROI possible, I'd recommend starting with phrase and exact match only, and add broad match later to increase exposure and click volume.

Expanded broad match happens automatically with broad match- that means Google may show your ad for related phrases- but what they consider related may not be equally relevant in your eyes and may not deliver ROI.  See the example in the next mistake for more...

Take-away: Use all the keyword match types.

Mistake #3: Not using negative keywords. 

Yeah that was a double negative, but a necessary one.

I reviewed several myrtle beach golf-focused accounts and found via the nifty Search Query Report that the client was paying for clicks by people who had searched for myrtle beach condos.  The client had only a few broad match myrtle beach golf keywords, and had chosen nothing explicitly about condos. 

This is what Google calls relevant under the heading of expanded broad match.  If you only use broad match keywords and don't use negative keywords, that's what can happen.

To avoid these irrelevant clicks, you have to either use phrase and exact match keywords, or go broad and retrospectively use the Search Query report to generate negative keywords, then include those in the appropriate ad groups.

Take-away: Beware broad match.  And use negative keywords.

Mistake #4: Putting all your keywords in the same Ad Group. 

This just means you don't understand how campaigns should be structured or why.  The purpose of an ad group is to show relevant ads for a group of keywords.  Although important criteria like budget, geotargeting, and dayparting happen at the campaign level, the adgroup is the fundamental unit in PPC: ads and keywords built around a common theme

Segment your entire keyword list into (ad)groups according to subtopic, audience, or an ad offer/appeal. 

  • This maximizes your CTR, your quality score, and thus lowers your cost per click for good ad positions. 
  • Not doing this leads to poor quality scores, keywords that don't perform to their potential, and overall to lost business and inefficient ad spends. 
If you want to get super-optimized, you can go down to single word level...

For example, we have a client that sells a solution related to electronic medical records.  We got the best CTR by creating 4 word-oriented ad groups: electronic medical records, electronic health records, EMR, and EHR.  Thus, when the user searches for EMR, they get an ad that has EMR in it in bold type. 
Any keyword the searcher used that's also in your ad gets bolded in your ad.  That draws more attention to your ad and can increase CTR.

Take-away: Learn how to use AdGroups!

Mistake #5: Not pruning and shuffling keywords. 

You should have some idea what CTR is acceptable to you.  To me, it should be 1% at a minimum. 

When I see a keyword that has 100 impressions and no clicks, I know there's something wrong.  Maybe it's completely wrong for the account's business goals, I.e. irrelevant or searched by unqualified prospects.  Or it might not be matched to the correct ad. 

Sometimes you realize that a group of keywords is underperforming, and they're related, so you can pull them out and create a new ad group for them with a more relevant ad than they had before.  This may get them to an acceptable CTR level. 

This is important not just for those keywords, but for your entire account, because to some unknown degree, every keyword's quality score (for both minimum bid and ad position) is determined by your entire account's CTR

So these underperforming keywords can negatively affect the performance of all your good keywords!

Take-away: Kill what doesn't work.  Create new AdGroups as needed.

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