September 17, 2014

13 Deadly Sins of AdWords – #4 Negligence

As I discussed repentance for the sin of Carelessness I realized that it was a sister sin to Negligence. In the context of keyword types, Negligence presents itself when you just decide that one match type is the best and set your whole account that way. You see, Negligence is not testing and this sin can affect all aspects of your AdWords account.

Why Test?

The question almost seems rhetorical. Testing by nature is intended to help us discern between what’s good, what’s better and what’s best. In order to increase the results you get from AdWords you must constantly test. Here are a few tests to get you started:

  • Match Types – Put the same keyword in your ad group with different match types. Let them run for awhile until you’ve got at least 100 clicks (this is just a rough benchmark) on all the different match types. Then keep the best one and bag the others.
  • Ad Titles – This is the most important 25 characters you’ll ever have. Test different titles to see which performs best because getting this right will make or break your performance.
  • Landing Pages – You don’t need to be a big website with custom landing pages for every ad group to do this. Simply test your home page versus the sign-up form or a topic-specific subpage versus a contact form.

One last point of emphasis as you embark on your penance; don’t stop testing and don’t assume that once a test is complete that it is now the gospel truth. Google changes their algorithm regularly. Search engine users are constantly learning and changing their behavior. PPC success is a moving target, so you need to be vigilant if you want it.

13 Deadly Sins of AdWords – #3 Carelessness

During account creation for AdWords you are shown a very simple box where you are instructed to type in your keywords one to a line. Google isn’t stupid, so they don’t tell you about match types here. They just want you to throw a few keywords in the box and by default these keywords will be set to broad match. The 3rd Deadly Sin is Carelessness through only using broad match keywords.

Why Is Broad Match Bad?

Broad match in and of itself is not bad. Using it exclusively is a deadly sin. The reason is two-fold. First, broad match is naturally designed to cast a very broad net. Anyone who includes the term, or its variations as determined by Google, may trigger your ad. This can be great in some circumstances, but also can show your ad for something absolutely unrelated. For example, you bid on shoes (since you sell athletic and dress shoes) but Google thinks that slippers are related to shoes and shows you ad (which is absolutely irrelevant).

Secondly, and more importantly given the economy today, is Google’s motivation. You see, Google makes billions of dollars from AdWords and people are starting to cut back on their ad spend. To keep their revenues meeting Wall Street expectations Google is loosening up the algorithm on broad match to show more ads and make more money. And no, they don’t care if your ads get worthless clicks as long as they get paid. I manage numerous AdWords accounts and I’m seeing it firsthand. If you don’t believe me check out the PPCProz blog and Perry Marshall’s take.

What Are Match Types?

Match type is how Google determines if your ad should be shown for a particular search query. The following is taken from AdWords help:

  1. Broad Match: keyword
    Allows your ad to show on similar phrases and relevant variations
  2. Phrase Match: “keyword”
    Allows your ad to show for searches that match the exact phrase
  3. Exact Match: [keyword]
    Allows your ad to show for searches that match the exact phrase exclusively
  4. Negative Match: -keyword
    Ensures your ad doesn’t show for any search that includes that term

And in case you were wondering, broad match is the default.

Obtaining Forgiveness

This one is easy. All you have to do is edit your keywords to add quotations or brackets and change the match type. I’ve seen greatly improved results as I’ve implemented this and if you see the same, drop a comment.

13 Deadly Sins of AdWords – #2 Insecurity

AdWords Starter Edition or Standard Edition

Literally, insecurity is the first deadly sin with which Google will tempt you. For example, let’s say you just started a website for your little boutique and you want to get some traffic. You decide to use AdWords since Google receives about 70% of all search traffic. You type “AdWords” into your Google search bar and click the first result which takes you straight to the AdWords home page. You see a login and right above it a very inviting button that says “Start Now”. Perfect you think as you click the button.

Starter Edition or Standard Edition?

You are presented with a decision. Do you choose the Starter Edition or Standard Edition? You don’t know so you read what Google has to say. Starter is “recommended for those who are new to Internet advertising” while Standard is “recommended for experienced Internet advertisers.” Easy enough you think. I’m new to this so I’ll go with the Starter Edition.AdWords Starter Edition


Obtaining Forgiveness

Though this sin is fatal, forgiveness can be obtained. I understand that you were only following the recommendation of Google, but your insecurity led you astray. Standard Edition is the correct choice because it gives you full (as full as Google gives) control over your accounts. As we continue discussing the 13 Deadly Sins of AdWords you will see that many of the techniques we will use are not available in the Starter Edition and that this sin would have had recurring consequences that would have fatally wounded your AdWords efforts.

Tell your friends. Spread the word. Don’t use the Starter Edition! And if you or your friends are guilty of insecurity, just keep reading because I’ll explain how to handle the Standard Edition and succeed with Google AdWords.

13 Deadly Sins of AdWords – #1 Blindness

“And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.” – Matthew 15

The first deadly sin of AdWords is blindness. Not blindness in the sense of not being able to see your computer screen, but blindness to what your AdWords dollars are doing. This blindness arises from the absence of conversion tracking and will kill your AdWords campaign without you even knowing what happened.

Why So Deadly?

For most this is obvious, but some of you may be asking why this is such a big deal. You may be thinking “My sales went up when I started using AdWords, so it’s working fine.” Perhaps you view PPC as brand advertising that is increasing your visibility or brand equity. Nice try, but if your boss asks you to justify your PPC budget with actual results, can you? In a recession, you would be wise to anticipate this question.

Conversion Tracking

Conversion tracking is how you see clearly what your ad dollars are doing for you. This sin is most fatal to beginners because Google can’t turn it on by default (and really they don’t care if you do turn it on as long as you keep spending) yet the implementation of conversion tracking is painfully simple. Here is a step-by-step guide to implementing conversion tracking so you can avoid this deadly sin:

  1. Log into AdWords
  2. Click Conversion Tracking near the top of the screen
  3. Click Create a New Action
  4. Name your Action something that makes sense, like Purchase or Newsletter Signup
  5. Select an action type from the drop-down box
  6. Add a value if you have one
  7. Select your conversion page security level, either http: or https: (the conversion page is the page a user sees right after completing the desired action, also called a thank you page, and should be a page they only see once)
  8. Click the Save Action & Get Code button
  9. Paste this code snippet into the conversion/thank you page just before the closing body tag

That’s it! You can run a test conversion yourself by clicking one of your PPC ads and then completing a conversion or wait for a conversion to happen naturally.

Benefits of Conversion Tracking

Now that you have installed conversion tracking on your website you can optimize based on an end result. Accentuate keywords and ad copy with high conversion rates while nixing keywords and ad copy with low conversion rates. Simply having this metric will vastly improve your AdWords performance.

“Whereas I was blind, now I see.” – John 9

13 Deadly Sins of AdWords – Introduction

In the world of Pay-Per-Click (PPC) there is Google AdWords and there is everyone else. Despite the efforts of Yahoo (the interface makes management maddening), MSN (trying hard, but just not enough search volume), and others (,, etc.), AdWords is the sheriff in town. Therefore, while these sins may be forgivable on another engine, they are deadly in Google AdWords.

13 Deadly Sins

The 7 deadly sins (avarice, gluttony, sloth, lust, wrath, envy, and pride) associated with early Christian doctrine were vices that would doom the soul to eternal damnation. The 13 deadly sins I will discuss are errors that will doom your PPC efforts. The sins can be divided into two major categories; fatal and injurious. Fatal sins are self-explanatory. They can single-handedly kill the effectiveness of your PPC efforts and send your money into a bottomless pit (Google’s bank account) never to return. Injurious sins will only hinder your progress, but these can be easily remedied and forgiven.

However, this post will not simply list all 13 sins so that you can take a cursory glance, have a couple of neurons fire and then take no action whatsoever. When I first read Stephen Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” I read one chapter/week. This allowed me to take a week to implement each habit and avoid being overwhelmed. In this vein I will be writing about the 13 deadly sins one at a time so that you can take a few days to actually analyze your AdWords account and repent.