Successful Google Advertising – Six Planning Tips

Yesterday I spent a fair amount of time helping a customer as he set up a Google Adwords account for the first time. Although this isn’t my regular job, it was a great refresher in the basics. Google makes it pretty easy to start advertising (and spending a lot of money), before you have understood what you want to accomplish. So… here goes the top 10 tips for planning your Google Adwords campaign; what you need to think through before going to adwords.google.com.

1. What is your measure of success?

Before starting any kind of campaign, it’s important to understand what your goal is – and keep that goal in mind as you set up your marketing effort. So, if you want people to visit your site, register for an account, buy your products or walk into your store, decide that first.

  • If your customers will buy, register or download something from your site, set plan to set up Google conversion tracking on your site. I’ll explain how in a follow up article.

In addition to what action you want people to take, consider who you want to reach. “Who” might be based on demographics, region, interest…

  • Google has some tools for geographic targeting. If you run a regional or local business, you’ll want to leverage these features.
2. What types of words do your targets use now to describe what you do?

Search marketing is PULL not PUSH. This means that you are going to lure people to your site by giving them something that they are interested in already. So your first challenge is understanding what words people already use to describe what it is that you offer. For instance, you might call your blue pencils “Azure Writing Device with Edit Function,” but if no one else calls them that, you won’t get any searches, traffic or sales by using that as a keyword in search.

  • Google offers Insights for Search, which helps you understand how many times specific phrases are searched. There’s a lot of other information there, too, so bookmark the site so you can refer to it again easily.
3. What makes your product unique?

Understanding two or three unique features of your product over the competition will make it much easier to write good ads that people will click! Speaking of ad copy, Google ads are very short. You have a 25 character headline, two lines of 35 characters each and a website address (visible URL) to convince people to click.

4.  Where will you send people when they click?

Google calls this the Destination URL. Most everyone else calls it a landing page. It is rarely a good idea to send people to your home page. Why? Think of it from a user’s standpoint – they are looking for something specific. Going to your home page doesn’t necessarily answer their question directly. Imagine if you were searching for a specific type of digital camera, you clicked on an ad for Amazon, and you ended up on the Amazon home page. You don’t want to have to search through the entire site to find what you were looking for – and neither do your visitors want to search through your site.

  • Put a clear action on the landing page: buy, register (with a form), watch a video. When possible, give them just one choice for what they can do from your page. DO link your logo on that page to your homepage.
5. How much are you willing to spend?

Clicks from Google can be quite expensive, and it’s easy to spend a lot of money fast. The first thing you need to decide is how much money you are willing to spend daily and what is your expectation for what you’ll get for that money. You can set up a campaign so that the maximum cost per click is very low, but if you set it too low, you won’t get any traffic at all because your ads won’t be on the first page. Depending on the product or service, plan to spend between $0.75 and $3.00 per click. To get enough data to begin changing your campaigns, you will need about 100 clicks or more (this depends on a lot of things, but that’s a good rule of thumb).

6. Where do you want to show your ads?

Google offers two different categories of ad segmentation: geographic and type of site.  With geographic targeting, you can select to whom your ad is displayed, based on countries, states, regions, cities or even zip codes.

The second type of targeting is by search or by content. If you select search, your ad will be shown on a number of “search partners” – including Google’s primary search engine. If you select content, your ad will be shown on any number of websites where the owner is making some additional money showing Google ads. Google spiders these advertiser sites for the keywords you select to bid on, and shows your ads to what should be an appropriate audience. BIG POINT: If you choose to use both search and content, set up separate campaigns for each. Do. Not. Mix. Them.

The next post in this series will discuss how to choose keywords and write ad copy.

AdWords Tests Continue

First, Google moves AdWords results so that they are right next to the natural results.

Second, Google tests using sitelinks in ads.

Third, Google tests adding images in-line with AdWords results.

Google Adwords Image Testing - 1

Today, they are modifying the way that they are showing additional information by using their “more” methodology.

I again searched for “office supplies” to see if the images were still appearing below to the Shoplet.com ad (see the post from yesterday).  They were not. Instead,  was showing a result with a little + next to it (same as their “Show options…” icon).

google-adwords-images-unfolded

When you click on the +, the images associated with that ad take up a big percentage of the right-rail, pushing other ads way down the page.

Also visible on this test is something I mentioned yesterday. The “Google Checkout” icon that appears with the ad includes an orange note with $10 off – that is the first I have noticed a change to the check out icon.

One additional test that they are running is similar to the images test.  Google is showing  in-line maps for companies that have local stores.

Interestingly, I was able to get the capture of the map folded, but when I clicked on the “Show more” icon, the option to see the map went away. In fact, the search results page didn’t resolve properly, and I had to rerun the search. Unfortunately, the map option was completely gone when I ran the search again several times.

Click thumbnail to see image.

The one issue that really struck me with showing the map in-line, was that the example was a top placement for the ad. When the image was unfolded, it pushed down the organic results by half the screen! The in-line images shared by Search Engine Land pushed results down somewhat, but the map really took over the page.

Interesting things afoot – and with all of this testing coming relatively closely on the heels of Bing’s launch, methinks that Google is being reactive to what they perceive as a very strong competitor.

Google Adds Images to Adword Ads in Right Rail

In my last post, I talked about Google changing ad positions so that they are  no longer right justified in search results, but are now next to the natural search results. Interestingly, I think this may be to accommodate some interesting changes that they are making to the types of results they are showing.

According to a Search Engine Land post this morning, Google seems to be testing sitelinks in Adwords (see the image and discussion on their site).

Google ALSO seems to be testing images in the right rail. In an attempt to recreate the ad that was shown in the article above, I did some associated searches. When I searched for “office supplies” the below results showed up in the right rail.

google-image-adwords

What is unclear is whether there is any user control over which products are shown or if these are based on Google shopping feeds.

What was most interesting to me is that not only did they show two product images, but the “Google Checkout” image was not in-line with the ad, but stuck WAY out to the right – a guaranteed eye-stopper for that ad compared to other ads.

Since Google tends to test different things at different times regionally, I don’t know if I am just late on seeing this particular format, or if this is something that Google has just launched. In any event, I certainly am glad that I am not one of the competitors trying to get sales from “office supplies” – and, to some level, not Shoplet.com – I wonder what this additional exposure will do to their conversion rates (although they do have the magic 50% off messaging).

Another, more subtle change is that they also have a little addition to their Google checkout logo with “$10 off!” in orange.

So, have you seen anything along these lines in AdWords testing near you?