Tips to Avoid AdWords Hassles

I’ve written about Google AdWords on several occasions, but my columns have generally been based on theory, examining the concept of the program and why it works for advertisers. After a recent experience launching and managing a particularly challenging campaign, however, I decided it was high time I offered up some solid advice and techniques for running AdWords campaigns without the hassle.

As straightforward as a Google AdWords campaign may seem on paper, any media buyer who has experienced the program firsthand will tell you that you must adhere to standards to ensure a timely launch and steady ad delivery throughout the course of your campaign. Google does a good job of informing its advertisers of these guidelines. But for those buyers who can hardly find the time to set up a campaign, let alone review pages of rules and regulations, here are some of the more frequently violated guidelines to keep in mind while compiling your keyword list and composing your ads.

Eliminate “Mispositioned” Ads

When compiling your client’s keyword list, the objective is to ensure all terms are highly relevant to the advertiser’s site and business. It’s also essential to remove all possibility your ads will appear in association with unrelated keywords or term groupings. By placing square brackets around chosen search terms, advertisers can ensure their ads will appear only when the terms are keyed in exactly as specified by the advertiser.

For example, you place an ad for a construction company using the keyword “builder.” Putting brackets around the term will prevent the ad from appearing when a searcher types “Bob the Builder” into Google’s search box to find a gift for a toddler. The ad would appear only when the searcher enters “builder” by itself, not in conjunction with other words.

Adding negative keywords to your list is another way to ensure exact matches. To further prevent your ad from appearing when “Bob the Builder” is searched, add the word “Bob,” preceded by a minus sign, to your keyword list. Whenever the word “Bob” is typed in association with the word “builder,” the system will know not to show your irrelevant ad.

Ensuring your client’s ads appear only in association with relevant searches is important because Google puts high stock in ad CTRs. The site requires advertisers paying for a top position receive a CTR of 0.5 to 1.0 percent (depending on whether the ads appear on Google alone or on its partner sites as well) for each 1,000 impressions delivered. If keywords underperform, they are disabled until the search terms or associated ads can be sufficiently revised.

No “Click Here”

Ask a group of ad copywriters what one element must be included in all online banners and text links, and the majority are likely to name a call to action. “Click here” or some variation of the phrase is as familiar to online ads as a URL. Try placing it in your Google AdWords ad, though, and you’re bound to encounter some problems.

According to the site’s editorial guidelines:

Your ad text and title cannot contain universal call-to-action phrases such as “click here,” “link here,” “visit this link,” “this site is,” or other similar phrases that could apply to any ad, regardless of content.

It seems Google is concerned about ensuring its ads appear as analogous with authentic search results as possible. This credo is a good guideline for advertisers and campaign planners to follow when composing any paid search ad.

No Superlatives

This is another rule that is certain to throw online ad copywriters for a loop. Touting your client’s products as being “the best” or “Number 1” in its class may be tempting. However, unless the advertiser has third-party verification of such a claim posted on his site, Google will suspend the ad until it has been edited accordingly.

Limit Use of Promotional Language

This rule is often a point of contention among advertisers who insist on promoting their offers with terms such as “new,” “free,” or “limited time only.” If these terms do indeed apply to the client’s product, you must link the AdWords ad to the specific product landing page, not to a more general home page.

General Advice

When setting up your campaign, Google’s campaign management system will sometimes prompt you to change your ad text immediately if it doesn’t comply with the guidelines. This isn’t the case with all infringements, however. If you are guilty of breaching the company’s editorial policy, Google will email you with a description of your slipup and provide suggestions on how to rectify it. The better approach is to follow the rules from the start, thus preventing a pause in your client’s campaign and ensuring ongoing success.

Join us at the Jupiter ClickZ Advertising Forum in New York City on July 30 and 31.

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