How you start out with Google AdWords can set the scene for plain sailing or digging yourself out of a hole later on down the line. If you’re dipping your toe into the waters of Google AdWords, here are a few tips to – hopefully – help you avoid some of the common pitfalls and escape picking up those dreaded poor Quality Scores.

Discover your campaigns’ core search terms
One of the most important first tasks is the generation of the core list of keywords used in a campaign. There are the obvious ones to use, but there are a whole host of keywords you won’t have thought of either. There are a number of keyword discovery tools out there, but they’re going to cost you money. To keep your costs down, Google’s own Keyword Tool should do everything you need to begin with. This is doing an increasingly good job of discovering useful search terms for you to add to your campaigns.
Access the Keywords Tool under the “Opportunities” tab within your Adwords account, enter keywords that you’d like to use (or enter your web address for Google to crawl and suggest), and the Keyword Tool starts suggesting keywords for you to add. For each keyword, it will show you how competitive each term is, global and local search volumes, plus integration with Google Insights, so you can see how the popularity of that search term has changed (or not) over time. NB – when you’re at the point of adding keywords, remember that Google will automatically add these terms as broad match.
The other good way to come up with your core terms is to see what the competition is up to. Using Google’s Ad Preview Tool (a tool for advertisers to check their ads are showing), start searching on different terms to see which competitors pop up, and at what ad positions. Another tool you can use for this is, which will show you the terms your competitors are using (although it won’t tell you which terms are working really well for them, though!).
Finally, scour the news, and talk to your friends and family to find out the terms that people would use to find your services. At the end of this exercise, you should have arrived at a pretty exhaustive list of terms you’d like to advertise on. The next stage is to put them into some order.
Group your keywords tightly
Now you’ve got your keyword list, the next task is to group them intelligently into AdGroups. Good click through rates (CTRs) will come when the keyword, the adtext and your landing page are tightly themed. CTRs are a vital ingredient in your eventual Quality Score, so it’s important to get this stage right, and proceed with slowly and carefully. The worst thing you can do is to lump a host of questionable or very broad keywords into an adgroup. You’ll come out of the gate with poor quality scores and spend the next stage digging yourself out of a hole rather than smoothly expanding your campaigns.
So, look at your keywords and organise them into groups that make sense to your potential visitor. And use broad carefully. If you think your budget is going to run away from you, or if the terms are just too broad, try phrase match to start with. As well as protecting your budget, using phrase match should help protect your initial Quality Scores.
Create targeted ads
When it comes to writing your ads, we’ll go into tips on this in subsequent  posts, but to start with make sure you follow some simple rules:

  • Forget about trying to cram your whole sales pitch into your ad. You only have space for a clearly worded offer plus a) a clear, concise benefit statement and b) a call to action.
  • Your ad text should reflect the search term you’re bidding on, particularly in the Ad Title. For example, if you’re bidding on “singles in Yorkshire”, that phrase should be reflected in your Ad Title and possibly your destination url (and on your landing page too, but we’ll get onto that another time.)
  • Write three variations of your ad (more than three is overkill at this stage), enabling you quickly to weed out the ads that don’t work. Google will automatically present the ad that performs the best (if you allow it to), but it’s worth monitoring, and adding new ads to test as you weed out the poorer ones.
  • Test the display url. This gives you an opportunity to target your ads even more tightly (eg “ However, while it can give your ad more relevance, users are a bit less predictable. Sometimes targeted display urls work, sometimes they don’t, so it’s best to test and stick with what works.

Set up a Brand Campaign
If you’re literally just starting out, your site may not have been indexed by Google yet, or not rank that highly. This can be a problem, as people coming back to your site won’t be able to find it! Therefore, it’s best to set up a campaign solely with all the variations of your brand name. This will cost you money in the short term, but it will ensure you’re not losing those valuable browsers to your competitors!
Monitor from launch
Once you’ve gone live, it’ll take a while for Google to find a level for your new campaign(s). So don’t be too worried if the CPC is high to begin with. If you’ve followed the steps above, and take things slowly, your quality scores will build over time, thereby bringing your CPCs down. Also, check your campaigns regularly to see how your broad and phrase matches are going.
Finally, use the Search Query Reports to weed out terms that are driving you loads of traffic but no sales. If you have any questions about your own AdWords campaigns, email, or leave a comment.
Missed my last Blog Post? Read it here – Go for growth – but gently does it…