Paid search can be a great way to get targeted individuals to click on a link to your website. It can also serve to increase brand awareness by showing up in searches and creating impressions of your brand name, even if the individual viewing it doesn’t click on the link. While it can be a bit expensive, it can also be highly effective. So if you have the budget, it’s definitely something to consider.

We have been running an Ad Words campaign for a little while now, and we have seen some great results. I have been able to analyze those results and make changes that ultimately made our campaigns pretty successful in achieving the goals that we set. Recently, I had an interesting conversation with a Google Ad Words representative, and I want to pass along some of the wisdom that I have learned along the way, as well as to share some of the suggestions that he passed along to me. Here are a few tips to help you optimize your Google Ad Words campaigns.

1. Try image ads

By creating an image ad, you can more effectively tell your brand story with an image or graphic that represents who you are or what you offer. Image ads effectively let you stand out from the rest by showcasing an image of your choice. After all, the Internet is a visual place.

To do this, you need to be on the “Ads” tab and then click on the red box that says “+ Ad.” This will open up a drop-down menu. From there, simply select “Image Ad” and you will be able to upload an image. Google can even scan your site for you and choose an image that they feel is right for the ad. Be careful using the search feature: The image that Google selects won’t always be relevant.

Google Ad Words Image Ads
Example of a Google Ad Words image ad

2. Eliminate negative keywords

You’ve worked really hard to come up with keywords that are optimized to meet specific goals. Why waste your money when people click on your ad for purposes that aren’t of interest to you? For example, you want to reach decision makers who are searching the keywords “content marketing agency,” but you don’t want all of your ad budget going to job seekers. In order to avoid this, make sure that you are on the “Keywords” tab and scroll down. You will see a link labeled “Negative Keywords.” Click on that to open up the area where you enter negative keywords. These are keywords for which you don’t want your ad to appear. So if someone searches “content marketing agency,” your ad may pop up. But, if they search “content marketing agency jobs,” and you have entered the word “jobs” as a negative keyword, your ad won’t pop up, and you won’t be charged for a click that you don’t value.

Negative Keywords Google Ad Words
Negative keywords

3. Set up mobile versions of your ad

Optimize your ads for mobile viewing. When you create a regular version of your ad, try creating a mobile version as well. This allows the ad to be displayed in a format that is optimized for mobile viewers. When you create the ad, simply click in the checkbox that reads “mobile” at the bottom of the ad and it will create a version that is optimized for those conducting a search from their mobile device.

Google Ad Words Mobile Ads
Setting up a mobile ad

4. Import your Google Analytics

Since these are paid ads, which means you are dishing out money to get them in front of your target audience, you’ll want to set up tracking to see how your Google Ad Words campaigns are performing. You can do this one of two ways.

1. You can create a conversion directly in Ad Words. The problem with this option is that you will need to update the code on your website. If you are like me, the thought of having to add new code to your site makes you a bit nauseous. So, instead of explaining this option in detail, I will go ahead and skip to option two.

2. This one is much easier. Just click on the “Tools” drop-down at the top of the page, and then click on “Conversions.” Once you are there, simply click on the “Import Google Analytics” button. Like magic, all of your goals from your Google Analytics will be pulled in. You’ll need to give it about an hour or more before it starts pulling in data, but it will save you tons of time and there is no coding involved.

Import Google Analytics
Importing Google Analytics to Ad Words conversions

5. Add a phone number to your ads

Google Ad Words has made it easy to track phone calls that originate from your ads. You can add a forwarding number to your ads that is easily tracked. Just click on the “Ad Extension” tab, and you can insert the phone number there. Google will set up a 1-800 number that appears in the ad. When anyone dials that number, it will actually go through to your company phone number that you typed in. Having the 1-800 number, however, allows Google to effectively track how many times that number has been called. Since it only exists for the purpose of your ad, there is no mistaking that any phone call to that number came as a result of the ad.

Google Ad Words Ad Extension
Adding a phone number via Ad Extensions

6. Use a + to highlight necessary keywords

By inserting a plus symbol in front of keywords that you want to make sure are included in a search, you ensure that you get more accurate results and your ads end up in front of people that are actively searching for your content. If you use the keyword “non-profit organic gardening,” and you want to ensure that all searches contain the word “non-profit,” you would want to add it and put a + in front of that word. If you have 50 keywords already set up and you don’t want to run through each of them, you can select the checkbox at the top left corner and then click on the edit tab. You will see an option to select “change keyword text.” Click on that, and you will be able to highlight the selected word anywhere that it appears throughout any of your selected keywords.

Ad Words Keyword Text Change
Step One: Check the box to select all, then click on edit and select to change keyword text
Replace text with Ad Words
Step Two: Enter the keyword you want to change, and then replace it with the same keyword with + in front of it

7. Analyze & adjust

Test, test and test again. Don’t limit yourself and just give up because your first run wasn’t working. You’ll want to run your campaigns for at least three months to start to see results. It’s likely that you will need to adjust your approach several times throughout the life of your campaigns.

Some keywords will perform better than others. Your target regions may be too expensive or ineffective. The text you use for your ads may not be enticing enough to draw a click. These are just a couple of the issues you may face. In order to combat these issues, you’ll need to make some adjustments and track your results for improvements.

For example, in order to fix the regional issue, try changing the regions. Get more specific, get less specific, whatever works. If you are targeting Georgia and not receiving the number of clicks you were hoping for, you could try limiting the ads to Atlanta and Macon. You are still targeting Georgia, but you are avoiding some of the areas where your audience may not be located.

Try these types of things with keywords and other aspects of your campaign as well. You can change the days that you target, the times, browser type and much more. Before you know it, you will have a highly effective campaign that enables you to reach your target market.

What other tips do you have for optimizing your Google Ad Words campaigns? We would love to hear your suggestions. What has worked for you and what do you recommend marketers avoid?

Anthony GaenzleDirector of Marketing

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