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Archive for January, 2010

Dating Rules for Your Google AdWords Account

Posted by Bob Dumouchel in adwords

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

Google Adwords with her seemingly targeted traffic, easygoing daily budgets, and conservative broad matching makes you think you have found the perfect solution to your marketing needs.

Then as you get to know each other and start to build what you think is a trust-based relationship, she slowly goes completely crazy. Like bad movie psycho girlfriend crazy. Make a wrong move and she’ll set your wallet on fire with bad content network traffic, ridiculously liberal extended broad matching, and possibly throw all your clothes out the window onto the lawn because she caught you messing around with Yahoo Search Marketing or Bing. If you catch her talking about how she wants to optimize or automate your relationship grab your wallet and run for your life!

Okay so the opening is a bit dramatic, but this is a boring topic and starting with a little humor and wit makes it easier to learn. There is no proof that Google actually has a gender but it certainly has a personality and most of its bad behavior is linked to how you trained it. There is no doubt that Adwords gets more complicated as your relationship with it grows and so today let’s talk about how it learns and grows with you.

The normal course of evolution of an Adwords Account starts something like this. Someone throws a bunch of keywords into an ad group, writes a quick generic ad, adds a few dollars to the budget, and pulls the trigger. This is followed quickly by a couple of searches to confirm your genius and mastery of the Adwords System because just like magic your ads appeared as you knew they would. So you walk away thinking to yourself “That was easy” but that was only the first pitch of the game. This is a huge mistake because from the second the account starts Adwords is learning about you and if you disrespect Adwords it will get offended and it can get real rude with your wallet.

If you want to play Adwords professionally you have to understand Google, and Google wants to create the best possible SERP (Search Engine Results Page). This is incredibly important to Google and unlike a regular business the quality of the SERP is more important to Google than your money. Adwords is 50% of the most important web page on the planet so it is no surprise that if you do not help them help you, they will hurt you. Adwords is only slightly less complicated than space travel, programming all the features of your phone, or nuclear cold fusion and there are thousands of rules, guidelines, policies, and advisory comments. Since even partial coverage of this topic would fill a book I just picked a few common ones to make the point.

Rule 1: First Impressions Count

You never get a chance to make a second first impression and Google never forgets its history. If you start your relationship by just throwing keywords around without any thought then you are disrespecting the system and you teach it to treat you that way.The right way is start your relationship with Adwords is slowly and carefully building your traffic one layer at a time. Go after only the best quality words and buy only the ones that really apply to your business. You can get more liberal and go after broader traffic as the relationship develops but initially try being on your best behavior and help Google create a better SERP with an ad group that is absolutely on-target.

Rule #2: Impressions are NOT FREE!

The term PPC (Pay per click) makes some people think that impressions are free and they could not be more wrong. Just because you pay by the click does not mean that impressions are free and this can be hard for some folks to understand. As they say the truth is in the math and here is how the math works. Your CTR (Click through rate) is clicks divided by the impressions so you can change the CTR by changing the clicks or the impressions. Since CTR is a major factor in your quality score extra impressions drive down the CTR and with it your quality score. Seeing as your bid consists of your money times your quality score impressions do cost you real money. The general rule is that you want all the impressions you need but no more than that.

Rule #3: Words are special

One of the most complex issues with Adwords has to do with the multiple definitions of a word and more times than not it is the context of the word. Somehow English readers can tell the difference between how to read a document and how they read the document. Same word but different context and this happens much more than you think.

My all time favorite word for this is pearl because depending on context the word can be so many things. There pearls of wisdom, pearl jam, pearl harbor, pearl jewelry, pearl paint, pearl flip, aunt pearl, and many more. So this word can be a concept, rock band, tropical island harbor, jewelry, color, cell phone, or a person.The use of an apostrophes and plurals makes this even more fun!

A great tool for understanding how this impacts your keywords is Google Insights for Search


What I like to do with this tool is look at how the use of the word breaks down for the use I have in mind. I did this recently for a client and we came to realize that while we wanted a specific word only 2% of the traffic actually applied to their business. This helped to explain why we were having such a problem with the CTR and quality score. If you start with 98% of the searches not related to your use of the word, you’re going to have a problem!

Rule #4: Adwords is simple, except for the details

Adwords lives where people, language, and technology collide and it is not always pretty. Conceptually Adwords is easy but when you get down to the details there are thousands of tradeoffs that you have to make. Fundamentally they boil down to a balance between quality and quantity. Generally speaking as quality goes up quantity goes down and the trick is to find the right balance because there is no right or wrong answer. I frequently have this discussion with clients about the balance between the multiple choices they have in keyword selection, ad copy, and landing pages.