HOW TO CREATE EFFECTIVE SEM (AdWords) CAMPAIGNS
7 steps to creating effective AdWords campaigns
To ensure that money spent on AdWords delivers expected results, we recommend following 7 steps.
Step 1 - create a list of potential keywords
When creating a keyword list, consider:
- what words best describe a given product/service
- what is the product/service's target group
- what words can that target group use to describe your product/service
- what words can that target group use when searching for similar products/services online
- what words are used by clients willing/ready to buy your product/service
- whether the product/service is directed at foreign markets (if so, then consider what words are used to describe your product/service in other languages)
Having considered all of the above, you are ready to develop a keyword list, whose effectiveness you can measure using an AdWords application.
When creating your keywords list, think about the type of visitors you are trying to reach and what keywords will help you attract them.
Consider whether chosen keywords will help you attract a large audience that is searching for similar products? Consider whether the bulk of that audience won't be primarily searching for information, rather than being interested in purchasing? If so, it may be worthwhile to draft a different list of keywords that attracts less traffic, but targets traffic that is ready to buy.
With AdWords you can create multiple campaigns helping you achieve one, or more of the above goals. For example, you can create a campaign based on general keyphrases that target a large audience. Simultaneously, you can run another campaign around long-tail keyterms targeted at a section of your visitors who are the end of the sales cycle.
The choice is entirely up to you and your preferences, budget and strategy. Your keywords list can be just a few words long, or can include thousands of phrases - it all depends on your objective.
Step 2 - verify your keywords
Once you prepared a list of keywords, you can begin verifying them in two ways.
The first, less precise method, is to use an AdWords application that measures the competitiveness of a phrase and the frequency of its use in search. The application's name is "Keyword Tool" and it is useful, if you want to quickly determine whether to use a given keywords in your campaign.
However, the data supplied for the "keyword tool" is based on estimates, and therefore neither precise nor fail-proof. Overall, it is just a little bit more scientific than an educated guess.
The second, and a whole lot more precise method of verifying keywords' effectiveness is to test them for a week-month in a real-life AdWords campaign, while measuring effects. Running a test helps to verify whether a keyword actually attracts traffic and improves on-site conversion and sales.
Step 3 - create multiple ad versions
Before you include a keyword list in your AdWords campaign, you should first develop multiple ad copies to measure their yield. Not every ad attracts traffic just as good as another. Even tiny layout changes can have significant impact. So, it's best to prepare a few copies, few layouts, few designs measuring, which produce most clicks.
You can perform numerous website tests, enhance and change ads throughout the course of your campaign. You can always introduce modifications and test whether they improved conversion.
Step 4 - assign a proper budget for your campaign
AdWords requires creation of a daily budget for each campaign. Remember that once your budget is exhausted, your ads will stop running in search results.
When preparing your budget consider the frequency with which your ads will appear in search (eg. eliminate hours or days when you don't want your ads to appear). You should also determine whether you want ads to run consecutively (one after another) or, whether they should be evenly spread out throughout the day.
Having set up a budget, you can now evaluate your maximum bid ceiling for each keyword in your campaign, or for whole groups of keywords. Recognizing that each keyword is unique in popularity, frequency of use and competitiveness, their costs vary greatly and oftentimes require an individually assigned bidding ceiling.
Setting up a bidding ceiling is important because based on that information, Google will determine the maximum price for a keyword you are willing to pay in comparison to your competition. Should your bidding ceiling be higher than your competition's, your ad will reach a higher, or even top position in sponsored search results. All ad positions are determined by a comparison of bidding ceilings of many companies.
Note: remember that top positions in sponsored search don't produce the same payback that top positions in organic (main) search results do.
In sponsored search, web users don't necessarily assign higher 'value' to ads holding top positions. Web users don't tend to differentiate ads appearing in sponsored search. Also, they don't consider top placement ads as being more relevant than ads holding 2-5 positions. Web users tend to click with relatively similar frequency on ads in positions 1-5.
So, considering that top positions in sponsored search don't guarantee a significantly larger amount of clicks, it may be worthwhile to rethink your bidding strategy. You might find that having an ad show up on the 4th spot at a significantly lower cost per click, you can generate a similar amount of clicks as an ad showing at nr. 1.
Step 5 - optimizing your campaigns
Almost everything that is related to online advertising and positioning, requires optimization. AdWords are no different. In an effort to obtain the best possible results you will need to optimize your AdWords campaign having the following in mind:
- content search/network (a group of sites related to the search engine)
- goals (objectives for each keyword)
- target audience or group
- countries, languages and ads emission times
If you carefully approach each of these above points in AdWords, you'll be able to emit your ads to a much more targeted and profiled group of prospects. An accurately targeted group of prospects will click on your ads not because they're interested in information, but because they're ready to buy.
Optimization will help you reduce the amount of low-quality clicks on your ads from visitors searching for information rather than an offer. As such, optimization will improve the ROI of your ad spend while reducing costs.
Important: we noticed that emitting ads over the 'content network' in Google AdWords provides little value. Ads displayed across a content network generate random clicks that deplete your budget, but rarely drive sales. You might find that eliminating the 'content network' will reduce the amount of misguided clicks on your ads.
The purpose of emitting ads on a content network is to have them appear on Google's sister and partner sites, sprinkled throughout documents and articles read by users.
While this idea sounds great in theory, in reality it rarely tends to deliver worthwhile results. People click on such ads randomly, often mistake them for links to sub pages and mostly click out of them after noticing their error. Unfortunately, in so doing they generate costs per click to ad owners, while skewing ad performance statistics.
SEO Magma also noticed that ads emitted on the content network do not attract quality leads. For this reason we believe that in most cases, it is better to turn off 'content search' in your campaigns. In return, your budget will be directed solely to search results and your ads will show up to web users looking specifically for your type of product/service.
Step 6 - draft a landing page
The last step prior to launching an AdWords campaign is to create a proper landing page for some of your keywords, or keyword groups. A common mistake of some AdWords managers is to create a great campaign, but redirect all AdWords traffic to a home page.
This way companies draft great and attractive ads that generate clicks, but loose those visitors by sending them to a home page that does not reflect the information presented in the ad copy.
That is why landing pages are so important - they answer the offer presented in the ad. The content, layout and structure of every landing page is unique, tied to a product/service, and depended on what we would like the visitor to do, once he lands on the page.
Most often, landing pages consist of:
- repeated/restated offer that was presented in the ad
- relevant product/service information and call to action phrases
- visible links to a contact form, or a contact form located directly on the landing page
Try no to place too many links on a landing page. The less options you give a visitor, the more the chance that he will click where you want him to click, and do what you want him to do.
Step 7 - measure effects
To measure SEM/AdWords effects you must first decide what the main objective of your campaign is. If, due to the specific nature of your industry, product or service your main objective is to increase page visits, then you know what metric to focus on.
Decide then, what you truly aim to achieve. Is it to:
- increase page visits?
- increase on site conversion?
- increase the amount of filled out contact forms?
- increase online sales?
Once you determine your objectives, go back to your campaign and analyze, which keyword, which ad, which landing page worked best to help reach those goals.
Check which ad converts best. Which keywords attract most traffic. Which phrases are expensive and ineffective. Which terms are less competitive, but produce exceptional results.
Measure the CTR of each keyphrase and whether there aren't less expensive substitutes that generate similar CTR. Don't worry if you find that CTR of your campaigns hovers between 0.9% - 3%, that's an average result. Only a few exceptional campaigns have conversions around 7% or above. You might sometimes find campaigns with 14% CTR or higher, but those are rarities (upon close examination, it's revealed that such campaigns consist of only a selection of high performing keywords).
Reaching 14% CTR is of course possible. However, it isn't easy, isn't common, and does not occur with the bulk of campaigns that have limited budgets and very general keywords.
We recommend that you regularly measure the effectiveness of your campaigns and all variables that can have an impact on your goals. That way you will know what requires changing, what passes the exam and what should be copied across other campaigns.
Unsure where to start?
Contact us for a consultation. Have SEO Magma answer any question you might have about SEM and about building successful AdWords campaigns.
If the ideas presented above are unfamiliar to you, then we invite you to read the Purpose of website positioning: how to use SEO and SEM where we explain SEO, SEM and the differences between them in greater detail.