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3 Ways You Might Be Wasting Money on AdWords

  |  May 14, 2012   |  Comments

How to keep your costs down, your ROI up, and your time spent on the process efficiently managed.

Are your keywords tightly organized around your ad groups, your ads typo-free, and your conversions being tracked on a dedicated-for-AdWords landing page? If so, you're already ahead of many a Google AdWords advertiser. But that doesn't mean your campaigns are in the clear.

I come across many companies that have the right AdWords intentions but struggle to keep their costs down, their return on investment (ROI) up, and their time spent on the process efficiently managed. So, here are my three incredibly-too-common, absolutely-must-solve AdWords issues that could be costing you time or money (but, fortunately, are pretty easy to solve):

Issue No. 1

The problem: Your broad matched keywords are yielding low conversion rates and your phrase/exact match keywords aren't getting many impressions.

Why it happens: Broad matched keywords often link to far too many irrelevant search queries, and tightly matched keywords leave out many search queries that would have been relevant for your target audience.

The solution: Modified broad match. This seems to remain the best-kept secret in AdWords, due in part to Google not publicizing it nearly as much as the other keyword matching options: broad, phrase, and exact. Although Google has been improving the exposure of modified broad match, it's still news to many an advertiser. The problem with regular broad match is that it's often too broad. Here's a real-life example I pulled from the archives: you're a company that makes websites secure from hackers. You might use "website security" as a keyword. But if that keyword is broad matched, here's a sampling of the search queries you'd end up with: "security web cam," "social security administration home page," and "privacy policy for websites." All of these (and many, many more) were actual (and extremely off-target) results. Modified broad match would have prevented these irrelevant clicks (many costing almost $10 apiece) by ensuring that both "website" and "security" were included in every search query that the ad was to be shown. Learn how to make the "+" button your new best friend by taking a visit to AdWords' help page on the topic.

Issue No. 2

The problem: The Display Network is yielding a lot of low-cost clicks, but not a lot of conversions.

Why it happens: Allowing a Display Network campaign to run wild and free based on Google's guesses of where your ads should show (called Automatic Placements) can lead to impressions (and clicks) on many irrelevant third-party websites.

The solution: Managed Placements. While it can sometimes be OK to begin a campaign on the Automatic Placements setting, you will eventually want to vet these websites for relevance, and move the good ones to the Managed Placement tab (while banishing the bad ones forever with the trusty "Exclude placements" button). And don't just look at the website domain for relevance; you can see the specific web pages by clicking the "See URL list" tab. If you want to be more proactive with your Display Network placements, play around with AdWords' Placement Tool, which gives you more accurate ideas than you'll find via Automatic Placements.

Issue No. 3

The problem: Creating or editing multiple campaigns, ads, keywords, etc. can be tedious and clunky in the AdWords dashboard.

Why it happens: The AdWords dashboard is great for monitoring results and creating the most basic of campaigns, but it isn't efficiently structured to make bulk changes.

The solution: AdWords Editor. This is a free tool from Google that will let you work on your campaign offline (in a simple but very comprehensive interface) and then upload your additions and edits when you're ready. It can take some getting used to (it's not as shiny as the online interface), but you'll quickly be rewarded with saved time and fewer headaches.

What did I miss? Any other simple solutions to common (but potentially disastrous) AdWords errors?



Jeff Lerner

Jeff Lerner, vice president, digital media, joined full service digital marketing firm Prime Visibility in 2011 after spending seven years at Google working across all digital media platforms. At Google, Jeff managed the digital advertising spend of the top TV networks and sports leagues, including NBC, ABC, ESPN, the NFL, and Major League Baseball and was responsible for the launch of the advertising sales team in the newly-created Google Brazil office. During his tenure at Google, Jeff has been the 
recipient of numerous awards, including the Sales Excellence Award, Industry Expertise Award, and the Google Impact Award. Jeff holds a BA in sports marketing from George Washington University.

Prime Visibility is owned by blinkx (BLNX), the world's largest and most advanced video search engine, with headquarters in San Francisco and the U.K.

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