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Don’t blindly follow the AdWords herd

By Rob Drummond

This is part two in a two-part article.

We were talking in part one of this article about how no one individual can be a true expert in the entire AdWords system. I left you with the thought that you need to go into any AdWords engagement with your eyes open and a solid foundation in place.

Going in with your eyes open means becoming more aware of your true requirements.

Most business owners pursue AdWords strategies in a herd mentality. Often it’s as simple as seeing your competitor’s remarketing ads after you visited their website. Other times you’ll do a Google search on a primary keyword and find you are being outranked by a competitor.

Usually this leads to a frantic call with whoever is managing your AdWords, to discover exactly what they are doing about it.

You should look at your competitor’s websites from time to time. And you should take note if they are appearing above you on particular search terms. But in my experience most companies do not earn an outright profit on AdWords, so blindly following the herd can lead you to a dead end.

The answer is to make changes to your own campaigns from a solid foundation.

A solid foundation means that you:

  • Keep an eye on your competitors, without blindly following them
  • Have tightly focused, well organised campaigns
  • Test a range of ads and apply winning ad text elsewhere in your marketing
  • Regularly work on your landing pages to improve conversions
  • Use detailed conversion tracking to measure your return on ad spend (ROAS)

This foundation typically covers the Google search network, where you place ads on the search results page, and a display network remarketing campaign where you run image ads to people who previously visited your website.

I’ve seen AdWords accounts that run display network campaigns and not search campaigns, but it’s unusual. In general your core AdWords campaigns are likely to be search network campaigns and display network remarketing.

Creating your AdWords campaigns is somewhat like aiming at an archery target.

archery target
Image credit:

The gold ring in the middle represents your most important search keywords that are proven to generate profitable customers.

For many businesses, mobile traffic is an increasingly important part of the gold ring. In some cases you might even start with mobile traffic ahead of desktop traffic. If I was setting up a campaign for a plumber or locksmith I would probably start with mobile traffic ahead of desktop.

The red ring surrounding the gold is normally your remarketing strategy. You can think of this as following up with your gold-level traffic who may not have converted first time around.

Most of the other AdWords targeting options sit outside the gold and red rings. Youtube traffic for example is probably in the black ring. It might work for you as a way to expand your reach, but only from a position where your gold and red campaigns are already profitable.

Rob Drummond

Rob Drummond

Rob Drummond is a copywriter and marketing automation expert based in the UK. This article first appeared on Web Design From Scratch.

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