Google AdWords is not an easy service to get used to. I’ve only used it sparingly in the last few years and only a handful of campaigns have become successes. However, despite the rising cost of ads, the risk of budget issues, and the millions of competitors out there, none of my campaigns has ever lost money – but it took time to get to that point, and for a small business or start-up just starting to focus their energies on paid advertising, I warn you: be careful. AdWords can get away from you in a hurry.
To help you navigate the PPC world, here are several important tips for creating your first AdWords campaign.
- Exceptionally Detailed Keyword Research – Keyword research is tricky with PPC advertising. It requires a lot more keywords than standard SEO research. A single PPC advertising campaign may have as many as 1,000 or 2,000 keywords divided into ad groups and marked with different bids and ad copy.I recommend software assistance to speed the process along. Keyword Spy is probably the most powerful tool for PPC research, though there are freebies like Traffic Travis that are equally as effective in generating basic data. In the next couple weeks, I will post a more advanced post on how to use both of these tools for your research.
- Equally Detailed Competitor Research – Keyword Spy is going to help out big here. It provides detailed breakdowns of how your competitors use keywords in your niche. However, you should also start typing in main keywords into Google and seeing what appears. Don’t just look for high traffic terms – look for terms that actually work.
- Clearly Defined Goals and Budgets – Before spending a dime, set goals for your campaign. How many clicks do you want to acquire, how many sales are you aiming for, and how much money do you want to make for every dollar you spend. It seems like basic stuff, but having it clearly written out can make the process much less scary when it comes time to pay the bill.
- A Dedicated Campaign Manager – Don’t just check AdWords occasionally. Either choose someone in your organization to take on this role or hire a professional to manage your campaign. Google has strict guidelines for certifying AdWords managers and requires a rather lengthy exam. Find someone with certification and a long work history and you’ll be on the right track.
- Frequent Analysis and Testing – You should check your campaign at least once every 2-3 days to check your budget, make sure you’re not pouring money into deadend keywords, and adjust your ad copy. A huge part of AdWords success is split testing – creating multiple forms of the same ad and running them against each other to see which ones perform better.
If you buckle down and take the time needed to actually learn every little in and out of Google AdWords, it’s amazing what you can do. If you toss a few hundred dollars into some keywords that sounded good and hope for the best….well, you’ll probably have a few hundred dollars less in your advertising budget.
Another thing I should point out – AdWords isn’t the only ad service around. Microsoft, and for at least a little while longer Yahoo!, both have their own paid search ads that can drive tons of traffic to your site at a fraction of the per-click cost. If you follow the same steps for those services as you do for AdWords, the opportunities are equally as ample.
If you’re looking for more advanced AdWords advice, I’ll be posting a series of additional articles in the weeks to come – while I’m not a certified AdWords campaign manager myself, I work frequently with Google’s ad platform and can recommend experts to fit your needs should you be ready to jump into the PPC game.