Digital Advertising

Tips for Effective Ad Optimization in Google AdWords

Photo of Jasmine LeBlanc Jasmine LeBlanc - January 19, 2018

How do you know if your ad campaigns on Google AdWords are effective? How often should you monitor and tweak your ads? We’ll discuss the answers to these questions and more to ensure you are making the most of your advertising efforts in Google AdWords.

Google AdWords’ complex system requires you to keep up with your ads frequently, especially if you are a Google Ad Grants recipient.

Did you know that as of 2018, grant recipients must maintain an average of a 5% Click Through Rate (CTR) on their account for two consecutive months to avoid account cancellation?

If you can't meet the CTR requirement, you can always pause your AdWords campaigns to prevent cancellation. In the meantime, you can use AdWords Express which automatically structures your account. You can enroll to receive notifications regarding your account status. If your account is cancelled you can always complete a survey from AdWords to be reviewed for account reinstatement.

But don’t panic! We work with Google AdWords daily. So we have compiled lists of optimization opportunities that we see go commonly unaddressed. Also, we will inform you of how to measure the success of your ads in Google AdWords properly.

How to Measure Success

In order to achieve success, let alone measure it, you must have clearly defined goals and a system in place to measure them.

Defining Your Goals

When you are determining your goals, think about why you are advertising in the first place. Think about what action you want users to perform when they click on your ad and come to your landing page. Do you want them to fill out a form? Do you want them to donate to your organization?

Once you know that, you need to ensure that you create SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, timely) goals. Using a nonprofit organization as an example, here are some sample SMART goals:

  • 10 visitors making $500 one-time online donations per month by the end of Q1 2018
  • 50% increase in event registration one month after starting an online ad campaign
  • 20 e-newsletter signups by the end of Q1 2018

Measuring Your Goals

Now that you have decided what goals you’d like to accomplish through online advertising, you have to know how to properly measure your success. It’s essential to analyze your data correctly because you don’t want to waste money on ineffective ads.

Luckily, you are able to monitor the progression of your goals through analytical tools provided by Google AdWords.

Conversion Rate Tracking

An efficient way to measure your success is to analyze your conversion rate. Your conversion rate is determined by dividing the number of conversions you had by the number of ad clicks you had during the same time period. You want to improve this number and benchmark it against your industry. For example, for most nonprofits, a conversion rate over 4.6% is above average.

Don’t worry! Google AdWords provides a free conversion tracking tool that allows you to measure the effectiveness of your ads. Learn more about tracking your conversion rate and why it's beneficial in this video by Google AdWords.

Attribution Reports

Since website visitors usually don’t convert with the first interaction with your organization, it is also critical to examine every “touch” a user makes with your site to determine the exact success of your advertising efforts. Google Adwords provides attribution reports to show you the paths website visitors take to complete a conversion. For example, the reports can indicate which particular paid campaign assisted conversions that eventually happened through other keywords and ads. For more details, read an in-depth explanation of attribution reports on the Google AdWords help page.

Statistically Sound Data

To measure the results of your advertising efforts, you’re going to have to do a little math. There are plenty of free tools available that can determine the statistical significance of your ads for you, but understanding how it’s calculated will teach you why it’s significant and how to best test your results. Basically, you want to see if there is substantial proof that your advertising method is working or if your results were due to chance. You do this by creating a hypothesis, testing it, and calculating your results. For details on this process, check out our post on running statistically significant A/B tests.

Now that you understand how to define and measure your goals, let’s talk about ways to optimize your ads and keywords on Google AdWords.

Ad Optimization Tips

So how often should you monitor and tweak your ads? We recommend you review them weekly and give them a dose of TLC. We created a list of commonly unaddressed optimization tips that we’ve seen for you to refer to when you are modifying your ads.

  • Enhance ads with extensions. Some beginner-level extensions are sitelink and callout. Sitelink will let you add links to your website to assist people with their search. Callout enables the user to call your organization directly from the ad. There are other extensions available that will optimize your ads, they just require additional setup.
  • Optimize ad copy. Google recommends a minimum of 3 ads in an ad group, so slightly change the ad copy on each of your ads so that they all have the same theme, but still feel fresh to your target audience.
  • Send users to a relevant landing page and optimize them. The URL you place on your ad should lead your visitor to a relevant page that matches their search. To optimize your landing page, change out the images, copy, and calls-to-action to see what gets the best results.
  • Optimize ad targeting. With your target audience in mind when creating your ads, take other factors into consideration. Keywords your target audience uses is a main one, but smaller factors such as geographical location, time of day, device, etc. are essential as well.

Keyword Optimization Tips

To make the most of your ads, it’s essential to optimize the keywords you use. Similar to our ad optimization above we've compiled a list of keyword optimization opportunities we frequently notice in our clients' campaigns and ads. Be sure to take these tips into consideration when managing your keywords.

  • Perform manual keyword research. This one may seem obvious, but it’s important, so we had to include it. You have to get your hands dirty and perform manual searches for keywords that you think should be doing well for your organization. When you manually search for such keywords, you may discover that you are using the wrong search terms based on the results served on the search engine results page.
  • Increase profitable keyword budgets to get more exposure. If your reports indicate that a keyword is showing a significant profit, then you could increase the maximum cost-per-click for it. While you may pay more, you are also increasing your exposure. Which in turn, would potentially increase your conversion rate!
  • Decrease keyword budgets that aren’t profitable. If you’re paying a lot for a keyword that has a low conversion rate, try lowering the budget. This will free up more room in your budget to invest in profitable keywords. Also, decreasing the budget will reduce the number of clicks that keyword receives.Therefore, you’ll be spending less overall.
  • Refine your keyword list. Let go of the keywords that have a click-through rate of less than 1%. It’s ineffective to use keywords that aren’t doing anything for your organization.
  • Add negative keywords. Be sure to include keywords you don’t want your ad to appear under in your campaign. When your negative keywords are searched, your ad will not appear. These are important to consider because you don’t want to attract the wrong audience, that’s beneficial to no one.

Optimizing your ads and measuring your success is not a one-time thing. You should regularly do both if you want to have effective ads. Reference this post anytime you are optimizing your ads to make sure you’re covering all the bases. 

Want to learn more about optimizing your ad campaigns in AdWords?

2018-Q1-Google-Ad-Grants-Training-SeriesWatch our free on-demand webinar, Google Ad Grants: What Your Nonprofit Needs to Know. We go into more detail about the requirements, the application process, the first steps after being awarded, how to properly set up your AdWords campaigns, and ways to optimize and supplement your campaigns.

Hit the button below to sign up and access our on-demand webinar.