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.