5 Ways You Can Improve Your Google Adwords Campaign

A large number of businesses, both big and small, are allured to advertising on Google Adwords with a Free $75 voucher sent out by Google to every business that gets a Google Maps listing. The majority of these businesses use a set and forget strategy and have been paying for and wasting money on Adwords ever since. Does this sound like your business? If so, here are 5 quick ways you can start saving money and generating better results from your campaigns. Remember to always base optimisation decisions off large amounts of data so either pick ‘All Time’ as the date range when following these steps or ensure you are not relying on just a few days worth of data to optimise your campaigns.

1) Set up Conversion Tracking

Conversion tracking is essential to the success of your campaigns and not using it will be costing you a lot of money. It is relatively simple to set up: simply click the Tools menu when logged into Adwords, then Conversions, and follow the instructions. Your developer will need to add a small piece of code on to the thank you page a website visitor is  shown when sending an enquiry or purchasing an item on your website, but then you are done. Until you have conversion tracking you can’t even follow the next 4 ways to improve your campaign so get it set up now! If you get a lot of phone calls then you should consider implementing phone tracking which will feed the data straight into Google Adwords as a conversion.

2) Add Negative Keywords

Negative keywords allow you to stop your ads appearing when an undesirable keyword or phrase is searched for. Adding negative keywords should be an ongoing process and will ensure every dollar spent on Adwords has a better chance of generating a sale or conversion. Google can be quite deceptive – the Keywords tab it shows you with the words you have said you want your ads to appear on are not the actual keywords your ads are appearing on. Sound confusing? It is – on purpose! It is however relatively simple to see what keywords your ads are appearing on: simply click Keyword Details and then All on the keywords tab to ensure you have specified a date range of at least a month.

You know your business so will spot these easily or you could determine which keywords are not right for your campaign by conversion metrics. Simply go through the list and tick the checkbox next to the inappropriate keywords and click Add as Negative. If you see a common trend, ie. one keyword appearing a lot then you can add this keyword with quotation marks (ie. “free”) into your campaigns to stop your ad ever appearing whenever the word “free” is in the search term.

Adding Negative Keyword To Improve Your Campaign

Adding Negative Keyword To Improve Your Campaign

3) Lower bidding on your poor performing keywords

This might seem obvious to most people but keyword bidding is an overlooked feature of Google Adwords which can improve your campaigns significantly. Once in Google Adwords, navigate to the Keywords tab and sort the keywords by cost per conversion. This will show the poor performing keywords first – the ones that have the highest cost for each conversion they generate. Select all keywords that have a cost per conversion above what you want to pay (ie. if you are happy paying $80 for a lead then select all keywords that have a cost per conversion above $80) and lower the bidding on these keywords. This will make your ad appear lower on these keywords and will bring your cost per click down, making it more likely that you will get conversions at close to your target cost per conversion.

Doing this may impact the volume of leads or sales you are generating however, so be truthful about how much you are happy to pay per conversion or you may end up generating less profit (ie. if you valued a lead at $80 but were still making profit at a cost per conversion of $90 you may end up making less money). It is also important to look at keywords that are generating no conversions at all. Click the Filter button and select all keywords that have had zero conversions, then sort the resulting keywords by cost. The first keywords are the ones costing you money and generating no conversions – either lower the bidding on these keywords or pause them altogether if you have enough data to be sure they are not working.


If the target cost per sale for the campaign is $15 bidding should be reduced on the highlighted keyword.

If the target cost per sale for the campaign is $15 bidding should be reduced on the highlighted keyword.

4) Optimise the time of day your ads appear

By default all campaigns will show your ads 24 hours a day, 7 days a week but is that really right for your business? If you are an eCommerce store then it most likely is but if you are trying to generate leads, enquiries or phone calls then you should optimise the time of day your ads appear. Stopping your ads being shown at times they do not convert will focus more of your budget into times that they do so will mean you get far better results from your ad spend. It is important not to guess when to have your ads running as using a ‘gut feeling’ can sometimes be wrong. When making a decision first go to the Dimensions tab in Google Adwords then display the data by ‘hour of the day’. This will give you a breakdown of which hours are working well and which hours are not (ie. have a high cost per conversion). Use this data in conjunction with your knowledge of when good leads are coming into the business (as sometimes leads generated from an ad click at 3am are not the best) to make a decision on when to run your campaigns and simply make this change in the schedule settings of each campaign. This process can be repeated with what day of the week to show your ads on which is another option in the Dimensions tab.

Results can differ based on hours of the day, which can be optimised with time based bid adjustments.

Results can differ based on hours of the day, which can be optimised with time based bid adjustments.

5) Start Split Testing Ads

Split testing your ads allows you to test two or more variations of your advertising to see which ad works best. This decision is based on the number of conversions generated and the cost of each conversion. Whilst with offline marketing a lot of guess work and best practice techniques were followed when creating advertising there is simply no need to guess with online marketing. For each ad group in your Google Adwords campaigns ensure that you have multiple variations of your ads to work out which will generate you the best ROI. These ads may have a different title, they may be identical ads with a different destination URL to test which page on your website converts best, or they may be testing something simple like a question mark vs an exclamation mark. Whatever the difference, it is important that you keep testing as this will be how you keep ahead of your competitors and improve your quality score to get a higher ad rank.

Google prefers you to keep spending regardless of results and because of this every campaign comes with a default setting of Optimise By Clicks. This means that if you have two ads in an ad group instead of split testing them Google will show the ad which gets the most people clicking it. The ad that gets the most clicks is not always the one which generates you the most conversions so to make sure Google actually split tests your ads, go into each campaigns settings and choose the ‘Rotate Indefinitely’ option.

When split testing adverts ensure 'Rotate Indefinitely' setting is on for the campaign, this is not recommendedby Google as it makes them less money and you more.

When split testing adverts ensure ‘Rotate Indefinitely’ setting is on for the campaign, this is not recommendedby Google as it makes them less money and you more.

There are hundreds of other ways to optimise and improve your Google Adwords campaigns so once you have completed these 5 techniques the optimisation process is not over. Keep looking for new ways to improve your campaigns based purely on the conversion metrics – doing so will ensure you stay ahead of your competitors and improve your marketing ROI. If you have run out of ways to improve the campaign itself take a look at some landing pages I like here and create one for your own business to try and improve your conversion rates, and thus your Google Adwords results.

Duncan Jones

About The Author - Duncan Jones

I am a growth marketing specialist from New Zealand and im passionate about growing businesses through creative and performance focused digital marketing. I insist on tracking everything, follow proven growth processes and I still love the thrill of getting a first conversion then optimising & scaling the campaigns for clients across a huge range of industries. You can find me on LinkedIn here, find out how to hire me here or you can contact me here.

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