Last updated 18 September
Setting up a Google AdWords account is easy but I am not going to tell you that creating a Google marketing strategy is. It takes time and hard work.
Any good PPC company will tell you this.
I hope this guide will teach you how to put the correct building blocks into place to help you create that perfect, profitable campaign. This will also drastically reduce the time spent working on your campaigns.
This guide will also teach you how to manage your campaigns in a timely manner and what aspects to focus on when optimising them for success. One note of caution, be prepared for your campaigns to cost you more at the start as this is all part of the teething process. By following the information in this guide you will have your clicks costing you less and more sales via your website.
I'm sure you have fired up AdWords and wondered where to start. Worry not as in this guide I will give you a clear path on how to make your campaigns profitable.
Stop! Before you even fire up AdWords you must avoid the mistake that most people make when managing a PPC account and that is not identifying what their maximum cost per click, and cost per acquisition is.
If you do not establish this as early on as possible you will be sure to lose money.
Figure 1. Identifying cost per click
Figure 2. Identifying cost per CPA
If you are a new business you may not know these numbers but try and find it out as quickly as possible, even if it is an estimate. If you do know these numbers, then the worst that will hopefully happen is your PPC campaign will break even.
If your campaign is new, Google will not allow you to select a CPA (cost per acquisition) seen in figure 2 above. So you will need to select maximum cost per click instead (see figure 1). So let’s begin by working out your maximum cost per acquisition.
Let’s say that you sell Nike trainers at £120 per pair and your profit on each pair of shoes is £40. Basically this is your target number for each conversion. You need each conversion to be less than £40 for you to make a profit.
Like I said, if you have a new campaign you will not be able to set your CPA in Google to £40 until you have around 15 conversions.
Once you have these conversions you need to go to campaign settings> bidding and budget> bidding options> Focus on clicks, manual maximum CPC bidding then select focus on conversions seen in the example in figure 2.
You can add this number into your account at the start and the way to work this out is simple. Multiply your CPA (£40) by your current conversion rate of your website. Now if you are a new business and you don’t have any idea what your conversion rate will be, I would suggest setting this at 1% for an estimate to get started.
You can easily adjust this once you have a more accurate figure. So, CPA x conversion rate (40 x 1). This would be 40p per click.
Now I know you are thinking there is no way I will only be able to get a click for 40p and you would be correct, but like I said in the beginning your PPC account will not be profitable. It will take some PPC optimisation and conversion optimisation to make it profitable. I will help you with all of these things in this guide.
Another big mistake people make is first they create a big list of keyphrases then build their campaign around the keyphrases. You are sure to run into a great deal of problems when you do it this way as you will be trying to send Google to landing pages that don’t fit the keyphrases.
A far more sensible way would be to build your campaigns and Ad Groups on themes or categories of your website.
Figure 3. How to structure your campaign
Take a look at the campaign structure in figure 3 above. This is a website that sells cars. The campaign structure mirrors the website structure.
This way you will find it a lot easier to identify which landing pages are best. These pages will also be more relevant.
So when you are doing your keyphrase research, do so for each AdGroup within each campaign.
For example when performing keyphrase research on BMW cars, find keyphrases based on each type of car.
These will be far more relevant and have a higher chance of converting because you are sending people to the most relevant page. More on keyphrases and ads a little later.
Creating your campaign structure within excel will really help you to get a better understanding of how your campaigns will look. Hubspot created a great free AdGroups template you can use. Download it from their website.
Getting your keyphrases right is a very important part of the success of your PPC campaign. Far too often people try to use keyphrases that are too broad or are not targeted or relevant to what products or services they sell.
I would first of all like to talk about keyphrase match types and the positive and negative side of using each kind.
This match type is less risky as you will only show up for the exact keyphrase that is used. The down side of this is you will receive less traffic and may be missing out on so many other keyphrases that could cause conversions.
Phrase match is a little bit more flexible than exact match and only keyphrases typed in the exact sequence will trigger your ad. For example if your keyphrase was “inbound marketing companies” you could potentially show up for “inbound marketing companies costs” but not “marketing companies”.
The problem also with this match type is you could still be missing out on valuable keyphrases and show for keyphrases that aren’t as targeted.
Broad match keyphrases are the match type that is by far the scariest to use, as you can show up for a lot of different keyphrases. This match type is the one that usually generates the most traffic.
This can also sometimes mean disaster and can kill off your budget very quickly because you could show up for really irrelevant keyphrases. The example I always use is the keyphrase transformers.
Let’s say you sell electronic transformers and you use the broad match type, you would show up for transformers robots in disguise. If unchecked this could spell disaster for your PPC budget.
Later on in this guide I will show you how to best use this match type.
Modified broad match is very similar to broad match but does have some added benefit. This match type is similar also to phrase match as the keywords have to appear in the same order.
For example, a modified broad match keyphrase of +inbound +marketing +agency would not be eligible to show up for inbound marketing because it is not in the sequence.
However, if you were using just broad match you could potentially show up for that keyphrase.
Negative keyphrases are the most forgotten keyphrases and can be really effective to weed out the irrelevant words.
If you are using exact match keyphrases then you really don’t need to worry about negative keywords.
The only downside from using negative keyphrases is you may mistakenly add a negative keyphrase that totally stops your ads from showing.
Well this is up for much debate and it depends on who you ask. The truth is experiment with all match types but we would recommend using modified broad match to start with but you need to monitor it closely.
More on this in the day to day running section.
Now that you know how to work out the CPA and cost per conversion for your campaigns you can begin to select the best keyphrases. So you need to head on over to the Google keyword tool to find the best ones.
Make sure you are signed in as you will see a wider range of keywords. You also may want to select the only show ideas closely related to my search terms to show the most relevant keyphrases.
You will also want to make sure you have the correct match type selected as this can really affect the popularity of the keyphrase.
It’s a good idea to have a list ready before you visit the keyword tool. You need to brain storm and find the keyword that you think your target market will be using when looking for your products or services.
For an ecommerce website this is slightly easier as you can just take all your product and category names and try adding them to the tool.
If your customers are mainly business to business then you may want to sit down with your sales team and come up of a list of the services you offer.
Try to avoid jargon and industry terms as most people won’t understand what they are and won’t use them to search. But this is not always the case so make sure you research as many keyphrases as possible.
You can also add your website into the tool and Google will give recommendation based on your website content like in the image below. You could even add a competitor’s web address to see what that brings up.
Make sure you pay attention to the estimated average cost per click for each keyword as this is important. Take the estimates with a very large pinch of salt as you may find the cost of the keyword a lot different when you are actually using it.
Now head on over to the traffic estimator by clicking on view in traffic estimator.
Here you will be presented with two boxes, one for your maximum CPC and one for your daily budget. Once you enter these two numbers you will be presented with estimates on clicks, ad positions and daily costs.
As these are just estimates I would again take them with a large pinch of salt. Select the ones that fall into your budget and you’re done.
Now that we know how much we can spend and have found the best keyphrases, we are ready to build our campaigns. Here I will walk you through the campaigns settings screen so we can set up the campaign for optimal results. Go to campaign>settings
In network settings make sure include in search partners is not checked. This can sometimes lead to a lower CTR (click through rate) because this is the group of websites that use the Google search function.
Head on over to http://www.sky.com to see an example of one of these sites. There is no way to see which networks are working and which are not so this feature has its limitations. Take note of this and you can test switching this on once your campaign is performing at a good level.
This setting will have a huge bearing on where you will show up geographically. What these setting should be really depends on your business. Does your business only serve a particular city or area?
Then set as such. Even if you do want to market to large locations I would start with a small location until you get your campaign up and running. You can then spread to different areas.
In fact, it can be a great idea to have campaigns based on cities or countries as costs, and user behaviour will be different.
Don’t forget to check the correct languages are selected in languages
Bidding options: Setting this to “manually set bids for clicks” is the best way to go at the start.
You can think about trying the Focus on conversions settings once you have enough conversions. 15 in the last two weeks is the standard amount. This can in some cases really increase conversions, but like everything test it.
Budget: Here is where you set how much you are willing to pay per day. You should have a monthly budget in mind so just divide it by 30 and type it in here.
Your budgets in AdWords are measured on a daily basis; this will ensure you do not overspend.
In this setting you can set how quickly you want your ads to show. If you want your ads to show quicker then set this to accelerated.
If you would like to spread your budget evenly over the day then leave this on standard.If you have a good sized budget you may want to leave it on standard, as this will give you an idea what times of day people click and convert.
You can then optimise your ads to show at these times. If you have a small budget perhaps accelerated may be a better option.
This section lets you set up different kind of extensions, for example, call, location and social extensions.
For now though just leave this on the default setting. We will explore these setting in a more advanced guide.
However do not be afraid to experiment with ad extensions as they can really be effective.
Schedule: Start date, end date, ad scheduling: This is where you can change when your campaign starts and ends.
This is very handy if your campaign is time sensitive or seasonal.
This is also where you can set up ad scheduling which is an advanced feature whereby you can set it to only show your ads at certain times of day.
I would recommend you leave this setting alone for now.
Ad delivery Ad rotation, frequency capping: This is a little known but important setting.
As I will be teaching you how to correctly optimise your ads later on in this guide it is very important you have ad rotation set to rotate indefinitely as this will give us the best results.
For the rest of the campaign settings just leave them as they are as these are more advanced settings that most of us never need to change.
Since we have now researched our keyphrases, organised our themes and got our campaign settings in order it is now time to create our AdGroups.
Incidentally if you would like to get super organised I would advise you create all your AdGroups in excel to start with as this will save you loads of time later on. Hubspot created a great free AdGroups template you can use and you can download it from their website.
Creating winning ads don’t happen overnight they take a longtime to evolve, but there are things you can do to help speed up this process.
The more impressions you get the quicker your ads will evolve.
If you haven’t already I would recommend you read our blogpost 8 Quick and Simple Tips to Increase your PPC results by over 100% as this will show you what tricks and secrets you can use to get better click through rates straight away.
Now you have it all set up and running it’s now time to begin tracking everything. First of all you will need to identify your goal pages on your website.
These pages can be anything:contact us thank you page, a newsletter sign up, a free consultation thank you page or an order confirmation page.
Anything you think is an important touch point on your website.This next part you will need to get your web guys to add code to your website.
The code you need to add can be found in under tools and analysis> conversions
From in here you need to click on the +conversions button and give you conversion a name and make sure is webpage selected, then click save and continue.
Here you can select a conversion category and changes some advanced settings, but for the most part just leave well alone on this page. Click save and continue
Next you will be asked who is going to add the code on your website. If you are going to add this yourself you will get the option to download it.
If your web guys are going todo it you get the option to email it directly to them.Now once the code is installed, when people visit these pages it will show up as conversions within AdWords.
AdWords will send data to Google analytics without any intervention from you but to get it to give you more information on what’s going on in your PPC account you need to make a little change.
First of all make sure the account you use for AdWords also has access to your Google analytics account. Then click on tools and analysis>Google analytics. Select the profile you want to link then click on Admin on the top right of the page.
You then again need to select your website profile then on profile settings
Scroll down until you see AdWords Cost Source Settings make sure the tick box is selected. Then click apply.
So many people forget that getting clicks to your website is half the battle the rest is getting them to convert and no PPC account can do that on its own.
What PPC is great at is drawing attention to your offer or message and enticing people to visit your website.
It is then the job of the website to convert these interested visitors into customers.So optimising your landing pages is key to converting customers.I could write a whole book on this subject.
Without adopting a testing approach your PPC campaign won’t go very far. I have also recently discovered Hotjar which actually records your website visitors.
Now that we have everything set up we now need to have a plan on how we optimise our campaigns on a day to day basis.
Everyone has different ways of doing this but I will show you how I approach the day to day maintenance of campaigns.
If you are using broad match, phrase match or modified broad match you should first of all take a look at your search query report to see if you can find any good keyphrases that are converting or keyphrases that need to be added to your negative list.
Go to all online campaigns then select the keywords tab.Here you will have a list of all keywords, select the data range from the top right of your screen to be the last time you checked this.
If this is the first time you are doing this select all time.Now select the keywords details tab and select all.
What you see here is a list of all the keywords that have triggered your ads. This is called a search query report.What you are looking for in here are keywords that may not be in your campaign but have caused conversions.
If you find said keyphrases you then should ad then to your campaign as exact match keywords.
This makes the keyword more relevant and you should see your cost per click drop.
You should also be looking for keywords that are irrelevant so you can add then to your negative keyword list; this is going to save you money.
You should do this every time you manage your account to discover new keywords and remove ones that are just costing you money.
The best way to run an AdGroup is to have a differentAdGroup for every keyphrase but that is just not practical most of the time. So you should use what is called the peel and stick method instead.
Take a look at the keywords in your AdGroups and look at the ones that have lots of impressions but maybe not so many clicks or conversions. Take a look at your ads; are they as relevant for these keyphrase as possible?
In most cases the answer is no as this is why people aren’t clicking.
So what you do is take these keywords and stick them into an AdGroup of their own and create super relevant ads.You will be amazed at what doing this can achieve.
You also need to pause the keyword in the original AdGroup so not to cause conflicts.
You should also be looking to test new keyphrases and new match types to get the most out of your campaigns.
Creating better ads will drive more clicks and conversions to your website so optimising these is very important.
Like I said earlier only make small changes for better accurate testing and try to only optimise with two ads at a time.
Read 8 Quick and Simple Tips to Increase your PPC results by over 100% for more help on this.
So in conclusion you can see there is a lot to running a successful PPC campaign but I am confident if you follow these rules you will be running a profitable PPC campaign in no time.
Another great tip to help you run your campaigns better is use Google AdWords Editor.
This downloadable piece of software will make managing your account all that much easier.
If you have the budget I would also recommend using Wordstream, this software is amazing and will really help improve yourAdWords campaign, not only this it will save you bucket loads of time too.
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