An Overview of Google AdWords

Whenever you perform a search on Google, you often see ads at the top and/or the right side of the search results. That advertising is done through the Google AdWords service, and anyone can create an account. When setting up the account, you must decide which keywords (search terms) you want to bid on, your maximum bid for CPC (cost per click, which is how much you pay Google each time your ad is clicked), and the geographical locations where you want your ad to appear.

Google uses a number of different factors to determine if your ad is shown and in which position to show it. You can influence this in some ways, but it is not as simple as the highest bidder receiving the highest position. If you have the highest bid for a given keyword, but no one is clicking on your ad, then Google is not making any money by putting your ad in the top position. Instead, Google may give more weight to other factors, such as the historical clickthrough performance of your ads, the historical clickthrough performance of your campaigns, and the relevance of your landing page (the page on your website that the visitor reaches after clicking your ad).

Choosing the Right Keywords

You must determine which keywords you want to “trigger” your ads. This should be a fairly long list of keywords (depending on your budget), and the keywords should be specific. For example, if you are marketing a restaurant, you don’t want to choose general keywords like “restaurant” or “cafe.” Bidding on these keywords will give you a lot of impressions (instances where your ad appears) but likely give you poor results. You should use a more specific keyword like “Italian restaurant,” provided you have a very targeted geographical area, such as a city or county. With a restaurant, you don’t want to be paying for clicks from searches performed on the other side of the country.

Your list of negative keywords is just as important as your normal list of keywords. If a “negative keyword” is in the search term, then your ad will not show. This is extremely important for filtering out unqualified traffic. For example, if you sell insurance, but do not offer health insurance, you should use “health insurance” and related terms in your negative keyword list. Other negative keywords, depending on your business, may include terms such as “free,” “classes,” and “books.”

Even if you are not paying for much unqualified traffic, it is important to use very specific keywords and a lot of negative keywords. Your clickthrough rate affects your ad position and how much you have to pay per click. You do not want unqualified ad impressions bringing down your clickthrough rate. Contrary to popular belief, if you improve the clickthrough rate of your account in this way, you should get substantially more clicks, at a lower cost per click, despite the fact that your ad will be shown less often.

Writing Effective Ad Copy

Google ads consist of four lines: a 25-character headline, which serves as the link to your website; two 35-character lines for the description; and a 35-character destination URL. You can run different ads for different keywords or keyword groups. Although it takes more time to write multiple ads, the more targeted your ad, the more likely you will get a click.

You can also run multiple ads for the same keyword or keyword group, and compare the results later. If one ad gets a better clickthrough rate, you may want to disable the others. You may be surprised at the results, so it’s best to test continuously. You can run these tests manually, or let Google automatically rotate your ads and show the better-performing ones more often.

Designing Relevant Landing Pages

The landing page is the page on your website that a visitor “lands on” after they click one of your ads. You should make sure this page is informative and relevant to the search term, as Google takes the text on your landing page into account when calculating your ad’s position and your cost per click. Ideally, you should have the keyword appear at least once on the landing page.

The landing page (and your entire website) should be professional and well-designed. Typically, you want to include a prominent call to action on the landing page. If you’re paying for traffic to your website, you’re just wasting your money if your visitors are leaving right away.

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