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An AdWords campaign is a lot like playing a word game

Statistically speaking, you’ve tried an AdWords campaign. Google makes over $15 billion in revenue from advertising, more than 90% of all the revenue the search giant takes in. That means most businesses have given Google at least some money for advertising. Statistically speaking, your campaign also didn’t work.

Why do we say that? Because we see the remnants of these AdWords accounts every day. We see just how off they are and how much money they waste. Bad AdWords campaigns underperform expectations, don’t cover costs, get suspended and make the whole platform look bad. Then we sift through the rubble and figure out what really happened.

So how can we take these failed AdWords campaigns and get them to perform as much as ten times better than they did for you? We have our ways, which is why we’re not only Google Certified Partners, we also perform in the top 10% of all certified AdWords professionals.


Here are some of the most common reasons AdWords campaigns don’t work and what we do to fix them. Things we could absolutely do for you and your business, too, given the chance.

It’s Your Keywords

If you’re one of the statistical anomalies who have yet to invest in a campaign, AdWords lets you bid on Google search terms so that your listing shows up when someone is looking for what you’re selling. The words are the single most important factor for creating a campaign that delivers results.

There’s a science in determining the right keywords that goes beyond terms that relate to your business. It’s more about understanding how your customers talk about your business and speaking their language. For example, if you’re an auto body shop, you probably want to show up in search results for terms like:

  • Auto body shops
  • Best auto body shop
  • Auto body shop near me

And also:

  • Where to get car dents fixed
  • How to remove auto paint scratches
  • Fix damaged bumper

Your strategy will be different for these different types of keywords, which you will want to organize into clear ad sets. The ads for each will be different. Bids will probably be different, too, which will make your overall performance different across each set. Either way, you need to consider a wide range of keywords and optimize for the best results.

Keyword trouble isn’t limited strictly to the keywords you bid on. It’s also the keywords on which you don’t want to bid, but are paying for anyway. These are called negative keywords. You probably don’t want anyone looking for “free” or “classes” or “jobs” if you’re trying to sell services. By singling these terms out, you will stop paying for irrelevant traffic to your website and focus your spend on the most attractive searchers.

It’s Your Ads

Accountants are notoriously boring

The second most critical factor in creating an AdWords campaign that works is the ads themselves. Most search ads are either uninspiring or completely irrelevant. They’re simplistic, copy-and-paste text that doesn’t offer much in the way of information nor do they really make customers want to learn more. Fixing ads can really help campaign performance.

A good AdWords ad is like a good email subject line; they both invite the customer to find out more information about something they want or need. The difference is that your AdWords ad will ideally have some key terms in it that reinforce the search.

There’s also more you can do with your ads than simple text. Different ad extensions allow advertisers to list a phone number, connect to an address, show off reviews and internal website pages, even simply add to the text with callouts. Taking full advantage of all the real estate Google gives you can make the difference between a middling AdWords campaign and a profitable one.

It’s Your Targeting

Let’s go back a step or two. When you set up AdWords campaigns, you have a few options to target where and when your ads show up. You can select a geographic area. You can identify the networks you want to pursue. There’s even a way to turn your search ads into display banner ads on the Google Display Network. This is the default, by the way.

If you built your campaign yourself, you probably missed this step. Display Select traffic is often garbage, junk clicks by fat fingers on mobile devices that never intended to buy from you anyway. You might even be advertising well beyond your geographic capabilities, going broad when you should concentrate on a smaller area you can serve better.

This targeting error is likely compounded if you happen to use AdWords Express to build your campaign. Time and again, we see accounts managed through this simple program that are almost irredeemably broken. The problem comes from the terms Google thinks you want to bid on, which come from an algorithmic reading of your website. And if your website content is unclear, your account will pay for keywords that might not be valuable to you.

If those terms are off, there’s little you can do to fix it. There are also limits to the keyword targeting, especially when it comes to negative keywords. Yes, it’s a simple way to get started with AdWords. Every time we manage an account like this, though, we immediately change it over to a standard AdWords campaign and start from scratch.

It’s Your Website

We could build an extremely targeted campaign and attract relevant traffic all day. If you don’t have a website that can convert that traffic, you’ll have a hard time making an AdWords campaign work for you, no matter how well optimized we can get it.

What does a successful AdWords landing page look like? It’s explains what you offer in the simplest terms possible. It provides an easy call to action. The page loads fast. It instills a sense of trust or know-how and invites visitors to either buy from you or at the very least contact you for more information. In short, it’s professional, clear and modern while asking for the order. The perfect marriage of appealing digital content with your digital ad strategy.

That’s why we look at your website as part of our optimization process. We will suggest copy edits and structural changes to make. If that’s not possible, we can make no promises for how much money you’ll your campaign can generate. Even if we lower the cost per click, you might still lose them after they get to the page, which would be a wasted money no matter how low the cost.

It Actually Worked, You Just Don’t Know How to Measure It

Embrace analytics; they’re your digital best friend

Here’s the kicker. Your campaign might not have been a waste of money at all. You just think it was because you have no way of measuring it. Because you see the money going in with no tangible increase in sales, you stopped everything cold. Now you think AdWords doesn’t work. That’s simply not true, and here’s why.

Digital advertising can be extremely transparent in generating a return on investment. You can see the entire process, from click to conversion to sale, so long as it happens online. There are even ways to measure these things offline. Since so much business happens on the internet, though, you should be able to track how much money your AdWords campaign did or didn’t make.

Conversion tracking is the simplest way to accomplish this, embedding code into whatever page you want to count as a sale or lead. For the best effect, you should synchronize all your Google analytical properties, AdWords, Analytics and Search Console, to track people from first to last touch. You can even automatically assign dollar values to individual transactions and produce a real return on investment number that will show you what your investment nets.

That’s part of the reason we love digital advertising; it’s as transparent as you want it to be.

How To Make An AdWords Campaign Work

There’s really no secret to creating the perfect AdWords campaign. Each business is different enough to require a different strategy. There are some consistent factors we look to optimize whenever we’re charged with improving an AdWords campaign, though. Given our Google Certified Partner status and list of happy clients, it seems like our approach is working.

Notice the one thing I didn’t mention that you probably think is a major reason why your AdWords campaign flopped. Your budget really doesn’t matter. You can get results with a small investment or a large one. It’s all about how you spend your money and how you measure the return. Ideally, a modest initial investment earns back more than you spend, creating a feedback loop of investment and revenue that turns your AdWords campaign into a money-making machine.

You’re not there yet, though, because you haven’t fully analyzed your campaign with a professional eye. We can absolutely get more out of your AdWords campaign. Let us help you achieve your goals with search engine marketing and maximize your profits online.

It just takes a quick call to get started. What do you say?

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