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18 Advanced AdWords Tips

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Andy Black

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(Originally posted in 2011!!)​

  1. Fail Fast – One out of every ten business ideas succeeds. The trick to having more success then is to try more ideas. Which means you need to fail the ones that aren’t working quickly so that you can find something that works.
  2. Always Be Testing – Believe no-one, even your own previous theories. What worked for someone else may or may not work for you. It could be that you implemented it differently from how they did, or that the market is different, or that the vertical is different. It could even be that Google’s algorithm has changed so what worked previously may not work for you again.
  3. Build The Perfect Search Campaign – This consists of exact match keywords. Exact match keywords are what people typed into the line in the search engine (unless it is a search partner, which may use a different search query than the user typed in). Phrase and broad keywords are sets of search terms that people type into the line. The stats for phrase and broad keywords are therefore averages of lots of different search terms. To get maximum visibility, use exact match. To get more exact match keywords to add to your account, perform keyword research, or use the search query report and look at what search terms people used when your phrase and broad keywords were triggered.
  4. Improve Your Impression Share – If everything else stays the same and you double your impression share, then you have doubled your traffic and hopefully your revenues and profit too. The best bit is that your impression share typically increases if you increase your CTR (without increasing your bid prices), and/or if you create a more targeted campaign. This means it is a virtuous circle whereby you get higher clicks per 100 impressions (the definition of a higher CTR), which Google rewards with a lower CPC (and higher Profit Margin), and then Google rewards us with a higher impression share and therefore even more traffic.
  5. Consider Using Modified Broad instead of Phrase and Broad – Modified Broad is more targeted than broad since it does not pull in synonyms, but is less restrictive than phrase since you do not have to guess the order of the words in the keyword. To make life simpler, consider using only exact match and modified broad. Exact match keywords are your goal, with modified broad as your net to catch more exact match keywords. A good way of using modified broad and exact match is to split them into two separate campaigns. Then put negatives of the exact match keywords into the modified broad campaign. This will force the exact match traffic into the exact match campaign. If you had a phrase campaign too then this methodology gets confusing and messy.
  6. Divide and Conquer – Using exact match keywords allows you to divide your broad and phrase match sets of keywords into individual segments. Each exact match keyword (search term) has a different cost. Having them all grouped under a phrase or broad match hides the individual data so you cannot see or optimise each search term. In the same way, consider dividing an exact match keyword by IP address (e.g. [payday loans] showing throughout the US, could be divided into 50 different state campaigns each showing [payday loans] but with a state targeted ad creative. This will show you the price and traffic volumes of [payday loans] in different locations).
  7. Consider Splitting Google Search and Search Partners Traffic – Yes there will be an overlap, but you might find most of your Google Search traffic heads towards your Google Search campaign and you have effectively divided your Google Search and Search Partners traffic. Another benefit to this technique is that you can use the Search Query Report for the Google Search campaign and be 100% sure that each of the search terms identified are actual queries that users typed into the Google search engine.
  8. Consider Splitting Computers and Laptops and Mobile Devices Traffic -These could have different traffic behaviours, both in terms of price and volumes, but also in terms of conversion rates. Greater visibility and greater control may assist if you split the campaigns. They can be optimised separately.
  9. Definitely Split Search and Display Traffic – This is such as basic optimisation step we should not even need to talk about it! Search and Display are like chalk and cheese… they look the same, but are completely different.
  10. Give It Time! – Don’t keep tinkering with things. You need enough data to make a decision. Also, the Google algorithm takes a while to reach a decision on what quality score to give you, what CPC to charge you, and how you measure up against your competition. Try not to tinker too often, and beware “creeping elegance”, which is the 80/20 rule used in reverse (you did the 80% of the work on Monday, and now are going to creep the performance up slowly from Tuesday to Friday… you would be better starting another four similar projects and getting them 80% done in one day apiece).
  11. Treat Campaigns Like Fine Wine – They should mature with age! Not only do they “bed in” to find their eventual level, but you should be growing and nurturing your campaign over time. This means that you are spending a significant proportion of your time growing your account and not just in bid adjustments. Accounts can grow outwards by getting more coverage for keywords and verticals that you do not currently have, and they can grow downwards by you drilling into a niche and extracting more traffic, more revenues, and more profits.
  12. Drill Down – Sometimes when you are busy expanding your campaigns outwards by adding in new keywords and verticals (increasing your coverage), you may pass over an oil well. It could be worth trying to drill down by going long tail or using other tricks to extract more traffic, revenues, and profit. Basically, if it looks promising you should consider pausing your expansion outwards and drill deeper.
  13. Consider One Keyword Per Campaign – You can have 100 campaigns in each account. If a keyword is more than 1% of your impressions, clicks, or cost, why not put it into a campaign all on its own? That way you can monitor the impression share of that keyword. (Update: you can have 500 campaigns per account if you ask Google to expand it. You can also get Impression Share at the keyword level. Never-the-less, I still advise putting top keywords into their own campaigns so that you can focus on them.)
  14. Consider One Keyword Per Adgroup – This is as great for optimising for Adwords. It might make it harder to report on, and to optimise if your account grows in size because you have more Adgroups. It is a tradeoff that you will have to decide on, but consider that an adgroup optimised for Adwords should have a lower CPC and a higher Profit Margin and should require less management than a less well optimised adgroup.
  15. Split Test Ad Copy – If there is enough traffic to justify spending the time on the test, then you should consider creating a new ad to beat the CTR of your current ad. Make sure you Rotate Ads Evenly if you want this to be a valid test. Do not delete old ads, but keep them there so you can see how you gradually increased your CTR using different Ad Copy. If you are worried about losing traffic by creating an new ad, then maybe send a fraction of your traffic to the new ad. You can do this by creating, say, nine copies of your current ad, and one new ad. That way 10% of your traffic should go through the new ad.
  16. Rotate Ads Evenly – If you want to split-test your Ads, then make sure you do not have the campaign setting to be such that Google shows the Ad it believes is more “optimised”. Don’t believe their algorithm, plus don’t give up control of your split testing. You want to always know what copy works better, and have an idea why. If you let Google choose, then you will not know by how much better your new ad works. Note: don’t just change your campaign settings if things have been running a while… optimised ads may indeed be the better performing ones, and you don’t want to suddenly have the other poorly performing ads showing.
  17. Know That Google Keeps Information From Us – They tell us that there is a quality score at the adgroup, campaign, account, and domain level, but they do not tell us what it is. We can calculate them using weighted averages, but it is interesting that they do not do this for us. Google also do not display the historical quality score of a keyword. You can look at all the other metrics for a keyword over a historical period, but the quality score that you see is the quality score that Google currently has in the system for that keyword. This is not an accident, but a decision Google made and had to program into their interface and reports. This should makes you wonder what advantages you can gain over your competitors if you recorded your keyword quality score over time. Another metric that they have at one level of detail but not at another is the impression share. It would be nice to know what share of voice we have for a particular keyword in a campaign, but Google only shows us the Impression Share at campaign level. For very important keywords, Consider One Keyword Per Campaign, otherwise consider using the campaign impression share as an indicator of the impression share for each keyword in the campaign. It is a rough guide, but can help you estimate the number of searches that were made that your keyword could have triggered ads for. (Update: we can now see Impression Share at the Campaign, ad group, and keyword level.)
  18. View Every Threat as an Opportunity – If Google changes its algorithm and we experience a “Google Slap”, (or even if Google introduces new functionality), there is a window of opportunity where we can benefit by exploiting the fact that our competitors have not reacted yet. We should be agile and react quickly to exploit these opportunities when they occur.
 
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ctcrompton

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Dude. Been reading through your blog... Great advice. I love the experimental mentality that you have with Adwords. It's not just buying traffic to increase sales, it's buying traffic to see how efficient you're operating, and then as you optimize, sales almost seem to be a by-product of efficiently managed campaigns.

Great stuff.
 
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Andy Black

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Thanks man.

I was blogging for a bit on www.digitalinsight.ie before realising no-one was reading and my best content was going into a vacuum ( andy(content) > /dev/null for the techies out there).

Then I started posting in a forum that has since shutdown. I put a lot of that content on www.andyblack.net

I have also started putting private stuff elsewhere.

I am not sure where I will end up, but there's good content spread across the two above domains. Same philosophy from the start.. that you're buying real-time market intelligence that can help you build your funnels and hone your product so that it's what your market actually wants, and not what you think/hope it wants...
 
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ctcrompton

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I'm enthralled with the idea of setting up a new campaign with two ad groups, and one keyword in each - exact match.

My only issue now to get a product to sell so I can experiment with Adwords in these ways.

The ebook writing (my current fastlane project) is going well but I don't know how well that can work with Adwords traffic.
 
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Andy Black

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Andy Black

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Ha. Thanks for the reminder, and wanting to subscribe. I've put a Contact Me form up as the home page for www.digitalinsight.ie as I don't want that to be a blog, but to (maybe) be my business website that is less about me. It's just my way of only dealing with referals. Saying that, I had a lead come through via it last week who didn't know me.

My blog is at www.andyblack.net, which I have recently moved hosting and wordpress theme. The subscribe widget seems to have gone missing, so thanks for the reminder to put it back.

Saying all that, I don't bother updating the blog. It's purpose is to have content I can point people to rather than keep explaining the same thing over and over again.

If you want to follow my stuff then just follow me in this forum. I am not a member of any other forums now as I like this one best, since the emphasis is on providing value before getting your ice cream.

I post a lot in here (maybe too much?), so you'll have to sort the wheat from the chaff, but I try to keep the signal to noise ratio high.

One day I will go find all my useful posts and hammer them into something more coherent, but that's not going to happen anytime soon as it would be a distraction for me.

So just follow me, and the mods, and anyone who's content, or values, resonates or helps you.

Then click on your profile name and your news feed to see what they are posting and liking. It's what I do too.

Good luck!
 

samclark1664

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Thank you,
All noise is good noise as far as I'm concerned, I will take the little golden nuggets as I have been doing.
Keep up the good work. I'm now on the first page for both my chosen keywords from your advice. Next stop is Google Adwords :)
Cheers[emoji106]
 
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Andy Black

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It's all part of my master plan to promote an MLM later on...

Dont worry I'm already reporting all your spam. You will be banned soon.

:)
 

DaRK9

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Hey @Andy Black I was wondering what your thoughts are on bidding on a competitor's brand locally. I know it can decrease your quality score and cause bid price backlash, but what if the competitor is running zero paid ads? Thoughts?
 
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Andy Black

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Honestly, I barely pay any heed to Quality Score.

Sure bid on competitor's brand names. You don't have to be as aggressive as putting their brand name in your ad. If you did that you couldn't claim innocence if they complained to you.

Some brands have a lot of branded searches but don't bother defending their organic listing. We'll quite happily take their traffic and convert them into leads or quotes.

Just be aware that your competitors may be pissed if you do this (if they even notice), so make sure you're happy to burn those bridges before you start.

Soooo... also defend your own organic listings and branded searches. Do this right, and have a non exact-match-domain name, and your competitors don't get a look in with their ads.
 

evlttwin

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Soooo... also defend your own organic listings and branded searches. Do this right, and have a non exact-match-domain name, and your competitors don't get a look in with their ads.

Soooooooooooo, exactly the opposite of what you did with your brother in law? :)
 
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Andy Black

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Soooooooooooo, exactly the opposite of what you did with your brother in law? :)
Oooo. Good spot sir.

Yes. It works for local lead gen because the competition isn't the best. Also, we're not trying to get people to remember our brand name for the next time their washing machine breaks down. Hence www.dublinwashingmachinerepairs.com.

For something highly competitive with much higher search volumes, such as "car insurance", then it makes less sense to advertise on TV for brand name www.cheapcarinsurance.ie, then it is for a brand name such as www.123.ie (the biggest searched for brandname in Ireland for car insurance).
 

evlttwin

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Oooo. Good spot sir.

Yes. It works for local lead gen because the competition isn't the best. Also, we're not trying to get people to remember our brand name for the next time their washing machine breaks down. Hence www.dublinwashingmachinerepairs.com.

For something highly competitive with much higher search volumes, such as "car insurance", then it makes less sense to advertise on TV for brand name www.cheapcarinsurance.ie, then it is for a brand name such as www.123.ie (the biggest searched for brandname in Ireland for car insurance).

I gotcha. I thought Google recently also made exact match domains mean less when ranking them....or is that just a rumor?
 
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Andy Black

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I gotcha. I thought Google recently also made exact match domains mean less when ranking them....or is that just a rumor?

I believe so. I don't keep up with changes to their ranking algorithm, only changes to their paid search.
 

Dustinaitis

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(Originally posted in 2011!!)​


  1. Build The Perfect Search Campaign – This consists of exact match keywords. Exact match keywords are what people typed into the line in the search engine (unless it is a search partner, which may use a different search query than the user typed in). Phrase and broad keywords are sets of search terms that people type into the line. The stats for phrase and broad keywords are therefore averages of lots of different search terms. To get maximum visibility, use exact match. To get more exact match keywords to add to your account, perform keyword research, or use the search query report and look at what search terms people used when your phrase and broad keywords were triggered.

Hey Andy,

so basically my campaign runs with good results with modified broad match (e.g. +service +location) and people type in this search term. So should I know switch to exact match (service location) and create a new campaign and delete the old modified broad match campaign? Or just edit it to exact match in the campaign directly?

Thanks a lot!
 
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Andy Black

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Hey Andy,

so basically my campaign runs with good results with modified broad match (e.g. +service +location) and people type in this search term. So should I know switch to exact match (service location) and create a new campaign and delete the old modified broad match campaign? Or just edit it to exact match in the campaign directly?

Thanks a lot!
Don’t delete it if it’s running well!

I’d have a look at search terms and would consider having an exact match campaign, but only if the volumes justified it.
 

Jeff Noel

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Half of these tips can be applied to any other marketing platform... Thanks a lot Andy !

The tip #1 is golden for any business too.
 

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