There are many Pay Per Click (PPC) platforms, but Google Adwords is the most popular and for the purpose of this article we will focus on Google Adwords campaign set-up and how not to do it, with solutions to improve campaigns.

1. Don’t have any objectives and don’t plan your campaign

You will need to set up a campaign by thoroughly planning it first. Produce a questionnaire to answer questions such as ‘What are my business goals for my PPC campaign?’ and answer questions as precisely as possible. For example with the question above you may answer:  ‘I want to increase sales by x%’, or ‘I want to increase my leads per month by x’. By initially defining goals, you will be able to benchmark success once the campaign is running.  Other questions that may be advantageous to ask are ‘Who are my competitors?’, ‘Who is my target audience?’ and ‘What are my Unique Selling Propositions (USPs)?’ or ‘How can I differentiate my company from my competitors?’. If you need to, perform further research on your industry.

2. Use default settings and throw your money away

Don’t set up your Adwords campaign yourself if you are not sure of what you are doing; you may save money in the long run by having a qualified Google Ads Consultant set it up for you.

By using the default settings for Adwords, you may be opted in to the Display Network (ads on 3rd party sites), as well as the Search Network (ads on Google search results pages). Usually, initially, we want to target the Search Network only. You may also waste a lot of money on irrelevant clicks by not using negative keywords (keywords such as ’free’ that will prevent your ad showing for searches that contain those terms). See more on negative keywords below. Don’t set up one campaign and throw 100’s of keywords into one adgroup (groups of closely related keywords and their associated ads). We have often seen this for clients that come to us saying that their accounts are not performing well. Remember, keep very focused.

Adwords Network Settings

3. Don’t think about your account structure

Before setting up a campaign, ensure that you define your account structure. An Adwords account is made up of campaigns, which contain adgroups, which contain keyword phrases and associated ads. Often the account structure will mirror the way your website is set up. For example, if you offer holidays, you may have a section on Spain and a section on France and within the Spain section you may have pages for Madrid and Barcelona and so on. Your account may then have one campaign for Spain and one for France. For the Spain campaign you would have adgroups for Madrid and Barcelona.

4. Don’t do any competitor research

Ensure you research your competitors so that you can differentiate your company with the USPs you identified in your campaign planning. Also, competitor research can help with keyword research.

5. Go for any old keywords

Don’t set up your campaigns for generic or inappropriate keywords phrases, get specific. Use keyword tools such as Wordtracker, Keyword Discovery and the Google Adwords Keyword Tool to carry out keyword research and develop a list of keywords for each adgroup defined in the account structure.

Google Adwords Keyword Tool

6. Forget about negative keywords

Forget negative keywords at your peril. Build a negative keyword list by brainstorming and using keyword research tools. Negative keywords prevent your ads from showing for irrelevant searches and this helps to boost click through rate (CTR) and conversion rate and saves you money on irrelevant clicks. For our holiday example, negatives might be ‘jobs’ and ‘skiing’ as we don’t offer skiing holidays and we are not looking to recruit.

7. Create one ad and reuse it for everything

Don’t use the same ad in every adgroup or even worse, don’t use only one ad for the whole account. Create at least 2 unique ads for each adgroup tailored to the keywords in your adgroups so that you can compare the performance of each ad in the adgroup and test out different messaging. Mention the main keyword phrase in the ad title or headline and ideally once in the ad copy also. Include your USPs and benefits in ads, as well as a call to action such as ‘Call Today’. Don’t land all your ads on your Home page, rather land visitors on the page that is most relevant to the ad.

8. Use Adwords settings to show your ads to the whole world

Adjust settings for each campaign, for example geo-targeting settings will show your ad in the defined area, such as England only or the whole of the UK.

Other important settings include opting out of the Display Network (ads on 3rd party sites). The Display network can be useful, but it is better to separate out Search Network ads and Display Network ads because you have more control.

Adwords Locations Settings

9. Waste money and miss opportunities by not tracking your visitor data

Google Analytics

Track visitor usage by using Google Analytics, a free web analytics solution.  You can view statistics on how your Adwords campaign is performing, as well as other data such as non-paid visits, content viewed and the ratio of new to returning visitors.

Adwords conversion tracking

When driving traffic from your Adwords campaign it is vital that you measure whether visitors performed the action that you wanted them to on your site, for example filling out a contact form or making a purchase. Adwords conversion tracking does just this by inserting a small piece of code on the contact form ‘thank you’ page for example.  If someone clicks on your ad and then fills out your contact form, they will trigger a conversion in Adwords and this is tied to the keyword phrase they used to search with.

10. Leave your account to run itself and don’t monitor it

Don’t set up your Adwords account and then leave it to run without monitoring; closely monitor your Adwords account. Bids will need to be adjusted and you may need to pause keywords and add more keywords and negative keywords. Daily budget may also need to be adjusted.

11. Ignore ongoing optimisation

Don’t just monitor your account, take action and optimise it! Based on the feedback from monitoring and analysis of the account, improve the account to increase your performance and see increased click through rates and conversion rates and lower your cost per click.

We have seen 11 approaches to PPC campaign set-up that lead to poor results and 11 solutions that improve set up. Adwords and other PPC platforms can be profitable if set up in the right way.

Please let us know in the comments how your Adwords campaign is set up.