Google (GOOG) AdWords can be very confusing. Last month a fellow team member asked me to help manage the Adwords campaigns . This commenced my journey of getting knee-deep into AdWords. It was at first a mucky struggle, but I waded through it. Here are five mistakes I made while learning to use AdWords; I hope you can learn from them and save yourself from doing down the road! That your time will best spent making key decisions instead of staring at excel sheets (which will frustrate you like they did me).
1) Not Reading the Plethora of “How to Use AdWords” Guides Available.
Sounds like a basic first step, but far too often we (or maybe it’s just me) refuse to read documentation when available. While I had some previous experience with AdWords, the first time around with AdWords I did not take the time to get to know well the platform. Time spent learning about the platform is time invested. I promise you. There are literally hundreds of free, yes, free, resources at your reach with a basic search “how to use adwords.” I personally liked WordStream’s AdWords for Dummies resource page. You can pay for WordStream’s consulting services, but many of their learning materials are available without paying a cent. Don’t put yourself through the pain of reinventing the wheel. AdWords is a very complex platform so take advantage of the time someone else has already spent exploring it.
2) Not Figuring Out Match Types Earlier.
Using broad match types for every. single. keyword. will not get you many hundreds of conversions, contrary to your intuition. That’s naïve and unrealistic. I thought that too (though this may have been because I did not read the “How to Use AdWords” guides mentioned above), but eventually I realized it was not helping me reach the clients I was looking for. Here are two handy charts, courtesy of the AdWord’s site, that made my life easier.
Go ahead, save them to your computer for future reference. But even these charts can be confusing, so I will walk through how I used them, beginning with the first chart.
- Broad match types are great if you’re lazy (because they are the default) and you want to attract a broad audience. While you want to advertise to as many people, this often attracts those who are looking for irrelevant topics. For example, if I used “owl logos” as a keyword, then people looking for “owl pictures” or “bird logos” might see our ad. These costs add quickly and your budget will be blown.
- Modified broad match types is a bit more restrictive. Using modified broad match types restricts search queries to the keywords that you set. No synonyms and no misspellings. This is a good alternative to broad match types because people looking for “owl logos” or close variation of it like “owly logos” are more likely to see my ad, but not people searching for “owl designs” because “logos” is a required term.
- Phrase match types work just like you’d expect them to. The exact phrase that you enter, with anything before or after it, must exist in the search query for your ad to appear. If the phrase is “orange owls” then people searching for “finding orange owls” or “do orange owls exist?” will see your ad, but not people searching “orange you glad you’re not an owl?” This match type is great if you have a specific chain of words you always want to target, like “orange owls” in our case.
- Exact match types are the most specific and restrictive, but they can be used for good. They work just like they sound, the query must be the exact phrase or keyword that you enter. For example if you want your ads to come up whenever someone searches for “free feeder mice for orange owls,” then you will come up, but never for “free feeder mice” or “mice for owls” (unless you have those accounted for with other keywords).
By now you should have a better idea that you should mix and match these to best optimize your returns when using AdWords. Sounds easy right?
3) Not Using Negative Match Types.
Along the above lines, negative match types are your friend. If you noticed, I did not talk about the second chart. To make things simple, just think of negative match types as the opposite of the above match types. They help you exclude, rather than include, searches when targeting audiences. Unlike broad match types, these help keep your costs low by ensuring you attract the right customer.
Here is the chart again on negative match types.
And my walkthrough of how they work.
- Broad match negative types have the strongest influence, because whenever a keyword is added under that condition, your ads will never show up if that keyword is included. For example, if I were to use “owl” as a broad negative match, then my ads would not come up for people searching “companies that use owls” or “orange owl pictures,” even though that’s my target audience. However, if we did not want people to use “photography” because we are not a gallery for orange owls, then we that would be good use. Broad match negative types should be used primarily with one word, rarely more.
- Phrase match negative types are the ones you want to use whenever you have more than one word you want to avoid. That could be “owl photography” in our case, thereby excluding any search that has the phrase “owl photography” and anything before or after it from showing our ads.
- Exact match negative types are the ones to use if you have a longer search query. These are good if we wanted to avoid showing up for searches like “owl photography gallery” or “galleries of orange owls.” Exact match negative types are successful when weeding out long-tail keywords you want to avoid.
4) Not Knowing About “Long-Tail Keywords.”
In case you read the last sentence and did not know what long-tail keywords are, you are missing out targeting the exact clients you are looking for.
Long-tail keywords are very specific keyword phrases designed to target potential customers who know exactly what they are looking for. Long-tail keywords help you give the customer what they need without having to search very far. For example, if I were targeting customers searching for where to find orange owls either to buy or in nature, then I’d use the following long-tail keywords:
“where do i buy an orange owl”
“guided tour to find orange owls in nature”
“where to see orange owls in nature”
Because the people searching for these queries know that they want the following: purchasing / seeing + orange owls.
Long-tail keywords are very likely to get conversions because customers searching these terms are much closer to the point of purchase. They have high “intent” as industry gurus like to say.
5) Not Using a Period.
This part speaks more to the actual ad creation process. In the case that you decide to create your own ads (which we encourage you to do so, because it gives you more agency and a better sense of what works), you’ll notice that you have a format that follows:
Each section has a character limit, which makes your work a bit more difficult. However, something little known about the first description is that by adding a period at the end of the description, you automatically extend the headline, thereby creating an ad that looks like this:
The benefit of doing this is that it optimizes your ad to be placed as one of the longer ads at the top of the page, rather than on the right hand side. More centered ads make it more likely that your ad will be clicked.
There you have it. Mistakes I made when learning to use AdWords. After this you should be far better prepared to tackle AdWords and increase your traffic. As I mentioned at the beginning, take the time to learn the platform, but take advantage of the support available to you out there.
Now it’s your turn to tell us about your mistakes with AdWords. Share your tips, stories, and questions below, we are curious to learn more (You can vent frustrations, too!).