With new features being added all the time, Google AdWords is becoming more and more powerful and complex. But luckily, the tools for managing AdWords more efficiently are multiplying too.
Here’s our breakdown of the top 10 Google AdWords management tricks to save you time, and improve your advertising in the process.
1. Adwords Editor
The grandfather of all AdWords management tricks. Unless your account is small, you can benefit from using AdWords Editor for any wide-scale changes.
Google's free desktop application might be ugly, but it's a much smarter way to get things done than the regular web interface. Between quick find/replace functionality, backup exports, automatic error checking and the ability to copy campaigns between accounts, AdWords Editor makes it easy to make sweeping changes at scale, and it'll also keep you out of trouble if you try to make conflicting changes.
It can also be great for air travel, as it allows you to download your account, work on it offline, and upload the changes the next time you have an internet connection.
2. COPY/PASTE AND MULTIPLE-ROW EDITS IN THE WEB INTERFACE.
With the addition of just these two features, Google vastly improved its AdWords web interface a while back. So much so that you can actually get away with using AdWords Editor a lot less often than you used to have to (though it's still the better tool for bigger changes).
Now you can copy and paste campaigns, ad groups, keywords and ads, as well as make changes in bulk to ad text, bids, display URLs and final URLs.
Surely it's only a matter of time until the Bing Ads team follows suit with their web interface… right, Bing? Buddy?
3. AUTOMATED BIDDING OPTIONS.
While hands-on managers usually favor manual bidding, Google’s automated bidding options have gotten much better over the past couple of years -- particularly the Conversion Optimizer option's CPA bids.
Under Campaign Settings -> Bid strategy, you can set a campaign-level bidding strategy that goes from completely manual to completely automated, and several options in between, including Enhanced CPC (which can double your bids when Google calculates your chances of converting are higher) and flexible bid strategies.
A word of caution: don’t use these settings as a "set it and forget it" way to put your account on full auto-pilot. Instead, think of them as ways to algorithmically enhance your manual efforts, and continue to be vigilant about monitoring your account’s performance.
4. Automated Rules.
Different from automated bidding (where you give Google partial or full control over your bids), you can set up automated rules to take specific actions when you want based on triggers of your choice.
You can set up rules to trigger once at a specific day and time (e.g. to pause some ads and enable others if a promotion is ending over the weekend), or once each week, or every day (for more routine adjustments). Here are some other ideas from Google's support page on how to use automated rules:
Schedule ads for special promotions or events
Pause low-performing ads or keywords
Change keyword bids to control your average position
Raise keyword bids to ensure your ads show on first page
Send yourself an email if a campaign’s budget is nearly exhausted early in the day
Tip: always use the "preview" function before saving a new rule.
Some of our favorite uses for scripts are to automatically check for broken links, automatically test and report on the performance of different bids, and to automatically refresh prices to be displayed in ads. You can even set up automatic bid adjustments based on the weather.
If you're brave enough to try them, Search Engine Land put together a good primer series on AdWords scripts, starting with how to read them.
Tip: always execute a new script in preview mode first.
6. Focus on the Metrics That Matter.
A much more basic tactic than using scripts: simply remember that at the end of the day, AdWords-specific metrics like CTR, CPC, clicks, impressions and quality score are all secondary to the key performance indicators that directly affect your bottom line.
So above all else, focus on conversions (or revenue) and average cost per conversion (or ROAS: Return On Ad Spend) to save time and make your advertising more effective.
7. Draft New Ads and Make Bulk Edits in Excel.
When you're breaking out new ad groups, building out an account, or trying to test a large number of new ads, writing ads in the web interface is pretty inefficient. Of course, there's a better way.
You can draft new ads or edits in a spreadsheet and then upload it via AdWords Editor, or upload via the web interface.
To make edits (to ad copy, bids or otherwise), first download the spreadsheet, then edit it, then re-upload it (be sure to save the original as a backup). To add new text ads or keywords, add a new row with the pertinent info.
8. Shared Negative Keywords and Budgets.
Did you know that you can set negative keyword lists and budgets to be shared across multiple campaigns, rather than setting them individually for each campaign?
While it's not the right move for every account, for small accounts this simplified structure can save you a significant amount of time.
9. See Google Analytics Data Within AdWords.
Especially if you have conversion tracking (or ecommerce conversion tracking) set up in Google Analytics, you should be importing the data into AdWords so that you can see conversion figures or revenue, and engagement metrics like bounce rate, directly in the AdWords web interface. This will save you time because you won't have to look at Analytics itself nearly as often.
To make that happen, you just need to have at least "Edit" level permissions to the Analytics profile and "Administrative" (or MCC) access to the AdWords account. Assuming you have those, follow these three steps:
A) Follow the instructions here to link your Analytics and AdWords accounts together. This will allow you to see AdWords data such as cost, CPC and CTR in your Analytics account.
B) Then follow these instructions to begin importing in the other direction as well: bringing your Analytics data into AdWords.
C) Finally, follow these steps for importing conversions (goals and/or transactions) from Analytics into AdWords.
Voila! You can now see Analytics data in AdWords -- and AdWords data in Analytics.
10. Automate Your Experiments.
You can think of the AdWords Campaign Experiments (ACE) function as a way to automate and help you keep track of the tests you should be running, without resorting to the very advanced method of using scripts. Using AdWords Campaign Experiments, you can test different bids, different ad copy, and even different structures within your campaigns -- and you can have Google automatically select the winning variant at the end of the test period to become the new default.
This means less time managing your tests, and less chance of forgetting to resolve tests you're running: both saving time and helping you avoid mistakes.
To set up a Campaign Experiment, go to the Settings tab of whatever campaign you'd like to test, scroll down to the "Advanced settings" section and hit "Experiment."
Next, click "Experiment settings" and follow the steps.
What are you waiting for?
Go implement some of these tricks, and start basking in the glory of a lower-maintenance AdWords account. Time's a-wasting!
Special Announcement: After months of painstaking work, this week we're launching our first-ever marketing class -- and it's 100% free (at least for now). Details are below.
Years and years ago, when I was first learning about direct-response marketing, I didn't understand why anyone ever did anything else. I remember thinking, "marketing that doesn't sell is just a waste of money."
That's a pretty popular philosophy among digital marketers today. But it's not the truth. Not by a long shot.
Don't get me wrong, I still love marketing that sells on the first try -- that's why we focus so much on PPC and conversion-rate-optimization. When your marketing leads directly to sales, it makes it that much easier to measure its ROI and see exactly where your profits are coming from.
The thing is, most marketing doesn't lead directly to sales, but it's often still super valuable in ways that are harder to measure.
We've seen firsthand how adding a Display or Video component to a client's AdWords account can boost the ROI of their Search ads by 20% or more, through brand lift.
Would anyone read our blog if it was just a continuous sales pitch? Of course not. Blogs are a top-of-the-funnel strategy to spread brand awareness, attract visitors and build relationships. And they're great at it. As you build relationships with your audience through softer methods like blogging, you can gently nudge the people who are the best fit for the "not-free" part of your business in the right direction: from the top of your funnel toward the bottom.
Likewise, social media (and social media advertising) are good tools to "get your foot in the door" with your brand or to continue the conversation with someone who already knows you, but they're notoriously difficult to close sales with directly.
That doesn't make them any less valuable as long as you know how to use them the right way.
Once you have enough of a relationship with those people, or as you approach the effective frequency for your business, that's the time you should be looking to make the sale. Not before, and not after.
Today, we're announcing a free online course we've just launched that covers these exact topics.
It's designed to help you build and execute a cohesive marketing strategy based on the science of marketing funnels and effective frequency. The course is specifically aimed at startups and entrepreneurs, to put founders (who may not have much real-world marketing experience) ahead of the game. It's designed to help you acquire more customers and close more sales with less cost.
We're already getting some great feedback from our earliest students. I'd love to hear what you think, too.
Check it out and enroll for free here: [Free Course] Learn Effective Marketing for Startups and Entrepreneurs.
Everyone knows that SEO can be a great way to get traffic. But when you're just starting out, there are so many things to focus on that it can be completely overwhelming.
What if you're too busy to study detailed articles without knowing whether it will pay off, and you don't have the budget to hire a skilled pro?
That's where this short guide comes in. Read on to learn how to quickly improve your site's SEO and greatly increase your odds of attracting search traffic in your market.
Obviously, there's a lot more to SEO than what I've gone over above. But when your time and resources are limited, sometimes you have to focus on the smallest changes that can lead to solid outcomes - and build from there.
What small changes have you made to your site lately that are helping drive traffic or sales?
As Google works to make AdWords easier to use, more and more business owners are starting off managing their own accounts. But most entrepreneurs still don't have a lot of time to spend on all the nitty-gritty details.
The good news is, you don't need a ton of time: you just need to focus on the right things. There’s a large range of items that should be on any dedicated PPC manager’s regular checklist, but for those of you with less time to spare, here are 3 key ways to work on improving your AdWords account's performance and profitability:
Way #1: Focus solely on conversions and cost per conversion.
If you’re pressed for time, mostly ignore all the secondary metrics like cost per click, click-through rate, average position, impression share, quality score, and even clicks and impressions.
I’m sure I’ll catch some flak for saying that, because ignoring these things in the long run can really hurt you. In the long run.
But in the short-to-medium term, focusing on those things is more likely to distract you than it is to help you. Instead, focus solely on your number of conversions and your cost per conversion. The best use of the other metrics is really to optimize those two anyway, so that’s the only reason you should look at them for now.
(Of course, if you haven’t set up conversion tracking yet, whether by using AdWords tags or setting up and importing the data from Analytics, go do that ASAP.)