Jeremy Smith Dec 3, 2013 12:12:05 PM 31 min read

Common AdWords Mistakes Digital Marketers Make 101

Marketers often have trouble keeping up with all of the changes that Google makes in AdWords during the year. Digital marketers almost always have to rely on experience and/or certain blogs that publish changes and how those changes will affect their campaigns. Even when keeping up with changes, we can make simple mistakes that could cost us thousands of dollars in lost click-throughs and conversions.

This video explains 5 specific areas of concern for every marketer, and how to fix them.

Video Transcription for 'AdWords Mistakes'

Jon: All right. Hello everybody, my name is John Parks and you are chiming in for the very first edition of the Digital Marketing Watercooler. This is a conversation, an ongoing hang-out on air that Jeremy Smith and I are conducting just to bring people up to speed on what's going on within the digital marketing spectrum.

So, again my name is Jon Parks, I'm with a company called Dijital Farm, but I'm also an instructor or ASPE-ROI, a leading training company that puts on classes such as the Google Online Marketing boot camp, social media boot camp, mastering AdWords and many, many others. But at this point I want to go ahead and bring into the conversation Jeremy Smith. Jeremy is with his own company called JeremySaid. I'm going to let him introduce himself. So, Jeremy come on in to the conversation. I'm glad to have you in on the hang out today.

Jeremy: Okay. Thanks Jon, for having me. I'm also an instructor with ASPE. I have my own digital business as JeremySaid. The classes where I teach, just like Jon said, are around Google and social. We also teach conversion classes and mobile classes. And, so, that's about it.

Jon: Well, as I said, this is the very first edition that we're ever conducting of our hang out on air. And our plan is to try to bring you a number of different topics, some from the social media space, some from the online marketing space. Just in general, maybe search engine optimization, page search, email marketing and beyond. Jeremy and I both have many years of experience. I've been in this space for about 15 years. Jeremy, I think you've been in there about that same time maybe a little bit longer. Is that right?

Jeremy: Yeah, that's right.

Jon: Yeah, so, we're going to try to bring a lot of those experiences here to the table, but our main goal in this hang out on air is to bring you up to speed and to keep you knowledgeable about the changes that are taking place in this space, because they happen pretty quickly. And it takes a lot of effort to stay up on what's going on. One of the things that we wanted to bring into the discussion today, and this is something I noticed last week, I was in Minneapolis teaching our Google online marketing boot camp and had a great class in there. A number of students from a variety of backgrounds; some from agencies, some from in-house digital council that are just working with their specific company and are trying to improve their search engine optimization or maybe their paid search campaigns or maybe improve their use of Google Analytics. And our day where we focus on paid search, where we particularly talk about Google AdWords, I noticed that there were some trends that were really beginning to emerge, some things that I had heard in other courses before.

So, Jeremy and I were talking about this beforehand. What we wanted to do is focus on what are some of the common core mistakes that new users make when they're getting started with AdWords. This is not to say that they're bad or they're doing things just horribly wrong, but these are just some common mistakes that maybe wind up biting you in the ankle or are kind of keeping you from finding the real success that you're looking for in your campaigns.

So Jeremy, I know that you probably have a few of these to bring into the conversation, as well. I've got some but I want to go ahead and just kick us off and get us started and one of those is, and this is probably a pretty simple one but it kind of keeps it at a really high level, and that's that a lot of new users aren't really familiar with the concept of the different match types that AdWords uses. Broad match, phrase match, modified phrase match, exact match, maybe negative keywords. And what I see a lot of times, and I've seen this in even some of my consulting work, is that many new users will just start off their campaigns and they'll leave everything set by default at broad match, which sounds like a really good idea, except it's keeping it way too wide open and it could wind up costing you money.

Jeremy, is that something that you've seen in your work as well?

Jeremy: Yeah, I see that all the time, actually. With Google AdWords defaulting to broad match when you set up the campaign, I think a lot of people don't understand that you can go in and at the keyword level change the match types to accommodate whatever your campaign may be or whatever the goals are. Because there are different goals that you want to achieve based on the match types that you want to correlate with that. So, I see it all the time.

As a matter of fact, I think last year I was in a class where they had a broad type and they were spending a large amount of money, I think in the thousands of dollars a day. And we just made a slight change to phrase match and they went from zeroes across the board to hundreds and even in the thousands of clicks and click-through rates. So just that simple change overnight made a big, big difference in their digital campaigns, for an example.

Jon:Yeah, I think that's a great example, Jeremy, and I've seen that in some of my work as well. And, really, of course, to be fair, there is a time and a place for broad match, right? We typically talk about that with some of our clients where it's good if you're just doing some of that initial discovery in a campaign. Maybe you're just getting started, you don't know how big the space is, you don't know what the right terms are to focus on. But budget is a real driver in there as well. Talk a little bit about some of the experience that you've seen.

Jeremy: Yeah, so, that's a great point. One of the things that you do, especially if you're new in an industry or new to a job per se and you've gotten handed the AdWords account, is really to throw out that big fishing net from a broad perspective. When you do that, you really want to focus in on negative terms as well as the broad terms. Now, when you have a lot bigger budget, it's a great way to spend broad term or the broad match side with engagement levels with branding specifically is a good way to go with the broad match side.

But when I really dig into a campaign, even with budget levels that are a lot bigger than normal, we still really want to focus on when were doing broad matches, we're scanning on a daily basis if not more than that, the negative keywords or the actual keywords that are causing the ad to come up. And when we see things that are not relevant whatsoever, we immediately add those to our negative campaigned area, without going too much into detail with that. So that eliminates them from coming up in the future when someone types in a specific phrase.

Jon: Yeah, I think that's a great mention there. And I know I've worked with a client where just the simple addition of some negative keywords really drastically cut that client's campaign spend and what that actually allowed them to do was turn that back around and plow those dollars back into results that were working for them in the campaign. So there's a lot of strategy that's involved in there.

Now I do just want to take a side note and say that in the class that both Jeremy and I teach here, this is one thing that we spend an entire day on, Google AdWords. And no matter if I'm teaching the class or if Jeremy is teaching the class, you're going to hear both of us talk a lot about keywords and keyword match types, and when is the appropriate time in which to use them. Because there are some times where it's very cut and dry, and then there are going to be other times where it's a little more complicated, and you've really got to get in. And I think the biggest thing there, and again I'm curious of your thoughts on this, Jeremy, but to me it's you really have to get in and understand what are the core objectives in the campaign, because they're not all the same from advertiser to advertiser.

You'll have some advertisers that are simply just looking for branding, recognition, and maybe that's where broad match is going to take precedence so that you can really get as far and wide a net as you possibly can. But then there are other times, especially if you've got a really tightly restricted budget on the campaign you need to control how those dollars are spent, and therefore you really want to get as far away from broad match as possible. Maybe get down the spectrum, maybe even closer to exact match just so you can really get in and control that area.

Jeremy: Yeah, I completely agree. I think it really has a lot to do with the objectives and understanding what needs to happen. In class, we spend that whole day like you said, on AdWords itself, but we do spend a couple hours specifically geared toward keywords, how they affect the campaigns, and then those match types inside of them. So it gets a big chunk of the day, and it's really important to master this area of AdWords in order to be most effective.

Jon: Exactly. Now I want to take us in a different direction. This is getting a little bit further into the campaign structure. Another common mistake that I normally see, especially with those who that have maybe tried to bootstrap their own AdWords campaigns and really get it going on their own, is that they'll create one campaign with one ad group and take a lot of keywords. And it could be hundreds of keywords, thousands of keywords, and dump them all into the same ad group and then further compounded, they may make the mistake of creating a single ad. They'll create one version of their ad, that's it, and try to run that. And then they wind up getting pretty poor results. Of course, that goes against a lot of the best practices.

What I would recommend, and Jeremy I'm sure that you feel the same way, is that you really need to create a campaign structure that's reflective of, I think, two things. One is ,what is your driver? What is it that you're trying to measure? Is it geographic distinction? Are you trying to find out does maybe your campaign in North Carolina work a little bit better than your campaign in South Carolina? Does one particular target audience work a little bit better than another audience? So those are some of your drivers at the campaign level.

But when you get down to that ad group level, and that's where a lot of the nuts and bolts really come together; that's where you need to have those tightly packed keyword-dense areas. So, it needs to focus on very specific topics. I think in the class I was teaching last week, I used the example of maybe a fence building company. They might want to have an ad group around privacy fences, and around chain fences, and around wood fences, and so on. They need to get very, very specific in their ad groups, so then they can turn around and create some very specific ads to go along with that that increases their relevance. That's ultimately going to be something that we talk a lot about in our work as well, which is called quality score. So, Jeremy, I'm curious for your thoughts on that as well.

Jeremy: I know a lot of times, I get this asked a lot in class. Actually, this question comes up: How many keywords should I put in an ad and how many ads should I write? And like you said, I think there's best practices out there that a lot of people will say do this or do that. One of the things that I like to do is really keep ad groups and keywords as tight as possible, and it's just my style. I'm not saying that it's the right or wrong way, but I found the most success in keeping those keywords as close together as possible because of relevancy and context.

One thing that I talk about in class is, if you think about going to and typing in a word, typically you see a box of words together and that usually represents about 25 or 30 words that it can come up with as far as synonyms or keywords that are similar in phrase and likeness. If you get away from that, you start getting away from the relevancy of the word, and the context of the word starts to change. And when that happens in an ad campaign, in an ad group, your quality score starts to suffer, and you're looking at dragging the entire ad length or the ad campaign itself down because you have everything spread out against a thousand keywords, and a third of them are performing badly.

Well, that affects the entire campaign itself. So that's one of the reasons why I really try and like to keep it tightly [inaudible 00:11:31] in order to have the most relevancy and focus on what the goal is of the campaign.

Jon: Yeah, that's exactly right. And I know again, going back to some of my consulting work, I've come in on some of those instances and I've seen just that single ad group and up to a thousand or more keywords dumped into it and I look at it. At first it just makes me want to cringe because I think, wow, this is a mess, right? But as we get into it, you can see, wow, we can really separate a lot of these things out and we can create multiple ad groups out of it, and that's where we start to see some turnaround and success pretty quickly. And you can do that even if you've got a pretty small budget. And, of course, small is going to be relative here. What's small to one company is pretty large to another and vice versa. So I think as you get into that you can find out just by making some of those very specific changes, we're able to more effectively use those ad dollars so that we can get some better results, and that's ultimately what this is all about.

I always like to tell the story whenever I'm working with a client or if I'm teaching the class about the idea that 50 percent of my advertising works really well. This is a story that goes back probably more than a hundred years or so. The idea that 50 percent of my advertising works really well but I just don't know which 50 percent it is. And a hundred years ago you didn't have that option of really being able to find out, hey, which of these pieces work well for me? You couldn't afford to stop anything. You had to keep going with everything, which meant that you had a lot of waste.

Today with AdWords, you don't have that problem anymore. You can look very specifically and see these keywords are delivering this kind of traffic, and if you've connected that over in analytics, then you can see what kind of conversions you're getting, as well, and that's what really brings you a lot of success.

Jeremy, I know one thing that you focus a lot on in your consulting efforts is around the idea of conversion and conversion optimization. I just mentioned that word. Tell us a little bit about what conversion is, for those that may not be aware, and then what are some of those key things that maybe we need to be paying attention to.

Jeremy: I think conversion, overall, for a lot of people, is different depending if it B to B or B to C. But really, what conversion means is accomplishing the goal that's been set forth for the website or for that specific page itself. So some examples are, an actual phone call itself, a download of a white paper, a form submission, or whatever the call to action is specifically on that page, is what we're identifying as the conversion. There's conversions at the page level and there's also the conversion funnel.

So where the user starts, and in this case maybe they start at AdWords, they click the ad, they come to a landing page, they go to another page that's more information, and then after that they make a phone call and submit a form. That's kind of an example of the conversion funnel, as well as a conversion itself. So they're very prevalent in any kind of campaign that we're doing and, just like I said, it's how we track and how we monitor to make sure the campaigns are performing at the level we want them to.

Jon: Exactly. And going back to that Google boot camp class that both of us teach, we talk a lot in our Google Analytics day about creating some goals and some conversions inside of Analytics and then ultimately tying that back to the conversion code that we can get out of AdWords, and then put those two pieces together so that we can see how those seamlessly integrate, and that's ultimately what gives us that great measure of success.

There are a lot different topics that we cold probably go into here. I'm sure, Jeremy, you've seen a ton of common mistakes, as well. I know our time is starting to run just a little bit short here, but any passing thoughts here, any other things that are sort of top-of-mind that you think we need to keep in mind?

Jeremy: Yeah, I think one of the biggest things that I see, especially for new advertisers, inside the campaign itself where their destination URL and their display URL and people landing all traffic to a landing page other than what they should be landing to. For example, if you put the index page in there for a specific search or some intent to buy, and then you're throwing the person to an index page or the home page of a site, I should say, well, then, you're making the user figure everything out again.

You really want to identify what that specific landing page the user needs to go to. If it's not already created, create it, and create direct content and imagery for it, but understand that sending this user to a specific relevant landing page helps with click-through rates, helps with quality scores. If you send them to an index page, if it's not a brand campaign or something of that nature, ultimately you're going to see a lot more conversion rates. And then you're going to pay higher in cost per click and lower click-through rates in AdWords.

It's extremely important that you identify direct lines. That's probably one of the biggest things that I see when I'm just on a 30-thousand-foot level. And when we start to look at campaigns inside class, that's one of the questions that are asked.

Jon: Great. Very good. Well, again, we could keep talking about this all day, we could keep talking about this all day, but our time is starting to run out. So if you want to know more, you can certainly reach out to either one of us. You can get me, You can also find me on Twitter @JonParks, or on Google+ at +JonParks. Jeremy, what are the ways everybody can find you?

Jeremy: Everyone can find me at, @JeremySaid on Twitter as well, or JeremySmithSaid on Google+ as well.

Jon: Fantastic. Very good. Well , thanks, everybody, for joining us for the very first edition of the Digital Water Cooler. We look forward to bringing you back to talk about some other great topics, but we also look forward to hearing from you. In the meantime, have a great day, and best of luck to you with all of those AdWords campaigns and finding the results that you're looking for.


Jeremy Smith

Digital marketer with a penchant for dance; helping clients see the light through the jungle of tweets since before Twitter was cool.