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Google Adwords Keyword Optimisation – Chop or Change Them!

Friday, May 10th, 2013 by Georgina Wall

So you’ve set up an Adwords campaign and entered every single word you can think of which may be remotely relevant to your website and to attracting new visitors. All you need to do now is activate the campaigns and let the money roll in, right? Wrong!

The key to any successful Pay Per Click campaign is on-going management, particularly of the keyphrases. You may find, often with no rhyme or reason, that keywords you would expect to convert easily drive little or no value to your site and vice versa – the most unlikely to convert produce mind-blowing results, leaving you doubting everything you thought you knew about your product.

Fear not. In actual fact some gentle tweaking and culling of your keywords could be all that is needed to get you back on track and restore commercial faith in yourself once again! Follow these tips (regularly) to make sure you are getting the most from your advertising campaigns.

Assess the situation

Once you start to see traffic coming through from your search terms, make sure you keep an eye on the actual queries that are triggering the Ads to appear. A lot of the time, keywords will be entered into a campaign as the default broad match setting. This means that they are left wide open for irrelevant traffic, so be careful (more on match types later).
If you use Google Analytics you can utilise the “Matched Search Queries” report within the Advertising > Adwords section. Alternatively, within Adwords itself you can select a keyword you want to examine (or all of them) and select the “Keyword Details” dropdown which will show you similar data. Be aware that you may need a larger sample to view statistics using the Adwords method.

Image courtesy of Google

Look at the queries and the volume of both traffic and conversions they have driven to the site. Try sorting in Adwords by the “Cost Per Conversion” column. This will show you how much you are spending for each keyword to achieve your desired action – a lead for example. If they are spending too much of your budget without returning the value, take action!

Fix #1 Change the matching

As most keywords go into the campaign on the default ‘Broad match’ setting where no additional parameters surround the keyphrase, it is understandable that the match types are initially overlooked. This is a very important part of account management though, as if a generic term such as “money” is entered onto Broad match, the amount of irrelevant queries is likely to go through the roof.
If your terms are spending too much with little return, you may want to change the match type to a more restricted setting like Phrase or Exact, or think about using the newer Broad match modifiers which enable you to determine a compulsory part of a Broad phrase by using a “+” before the required word. On the flipside, if your terms are generating minimal traffic, you may want to think about opening up the matching options to a broader setting.
Here is a rundown of the options available, listed from most restricted upwards:
Exact – the search query needs to exactly match the keyword with no additional terms. Enclose your keywords with square brackets [xxx].
Phrase – the search query needs to contain your actual phrase, in the correct order, but can include additional terms either side of the speech mark parameters – you will be using “xxx”. For example “black book” could show for a query such as little black book or black book with lined pages.
Broad Match Modifiers – this option enables the broad matching to work normally with the exception that if the modifier (+) is added before a word, this particular word must appear within the query. For example ‘+Italy flights December’ could render for queries such as ‘Italy December hotel’ or ‘flights to Italy’.
Broad – The default setting requiring no control parameters allows queries to render for searches containing any parts of a keyphrase with additional variations and minimal restrictions.
Sometimes it can take a little time to find the right setting for your desired keyword and this is all part of the ongoing campaign management process, so don’t be afraid to play around with different options to find which works the best.

Fix #2 Negative keywords

The “Matched Search Terms” report and “Search Terms” Adwords data will show you all of the searches triggering your listings to appear. You will be able to identify from this any irrelevant terms or words which users may be confusing with your product. In addition, any common phrases in the search query that is not delivering quality visits.
For example, a user looking for a “Free” service or product will be unlikely to prove beneficial to a high end company offering high value products. In this case, the use of negative keywords is ideal. By adding the poorer-performing segment of the phrase as a negative, you can eliminate future searches containing this particular term which will help to clean up search data within the account.
Negatives can be added at various levels of the Adwords account, and even to multiple campaigns using the “Shared Library”.
Tip – You can also add a negative as a match type by using the “-“sign before the term you don’t want to show your ads against.

Fix #3 Use longer tail terms

If your keywords are too generic you may be attracting audiences who are not specifically looking for your product but for more of an overall service, or general research. Try adding in some longer tail variations to target genuine parties who know exactly what they are looking for and will be more likely to convert:

Fix #4 Still too high? Make the sacrifice

If you’ve tried all of the options and your keyword still isn’t converting, get rid! There is no point wasting budget on underperforming categories, as this will just detract from the overall account performance and decrease the value you see from your advertising campaign. So don’t be afraid to cut the stragglers loose!

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About the author

Georgina Wall

Georgina Wall

Georgina has been working in Online Marketing for over 6 years and specialises in PPC. Prior to joining Vertical Leap as a Campaign Delivery Manager in January 2013 she worked for a software company that produces various white label digital products in addition to running an in-house PPC network and affiliate portfolio. In her free time Georgina enjoys keeping fit and a good glass of wine! Follow me on Google Plus