One question I struggled with for quite a while, and I know most of my clients have as well, is how do you construct and manage an AdWords account so you know when “this is as good as it gets”? What metrics should you use to manage your account and how do you evaluate those metrics to fine-tune your account performance? At what point do you stop building and experimenting, and start optimizing? At what point is your account essentially on auto-pilot? That’s what this article is about.
There are many different ways to manage account performance and several different levels. The different levels are:
- Ad group
- Search term (a.k.a. search query)
Some examples of how you can manage your bids are:
- Manual bidding
- Google’s Enhanced CPC bidding
- CPA or Google’s Conversion Optimizer
My strategy is based initially on manual bidding at the keyword level, but focusing on search terms, conversions and Analytics data. In many cases, my goal is to get to the point where I can use CPA bidding because this is Google’s “artificial intelligence”. More on that at a later time.
It’s worth noting that many business owners & AdWords campaign managers can easily be overwhelmed and confused by the sheer number of options for managing an AdWords campaign. Almost every professional uses a different strategy or tool. When I agree to take on a new client, it’s because I am confident that my strategy will work for the client and we can get to the point where “it’s as good as it gets”, with a relatively simple campaign design and level of effort. But with this important caveat. That the metrics for Conversions and Economics are met. See my post titled PPC Essentials.
In order to appreciate my point of view, you must believe that having an optimized campaign means you are effectively managing probabilities. What is the probability you can convert a particular user if they click on your ad and go to your website? See my article titled A game of chance. In this example, a conversion is defined as an action a first-time visitor to your website from a search engine would take within a 30-day period, where that action is both measurable (using conversion tracking) and a meaningful part of the selling process, like filling out your contact form, calling you on the phone or making a purchase. If you agree, then it’s also important to believe that every user search query (what a Google user types into Google, not to be confused with a keyword) has a unique value to your business, that can be evaluated based on probability theory.
Let me pause for a moment to explain the two fundamental skills I bring to a client relationship: 1) a deep understanding of how Google’s algorithm works and 2) understanding the mindset of a visitor from a search engine, based on their search query. This would be a good time to read my article titled A chain of success so you can appreciate the fact that the user’s search query is the closest we get to knowing what the user is looking for.
The real key to understanding Google’s algorithm, is knowing how keywords and keyword matching options work. Almost anyone I speak with, prospect or client, thinks they know this, but there is so much they don’t know, and that is usually at the core of why they are struggling with AdWords.
Over the years, Google has evolved their their algorithm for a variety of reasons. Some reasons are to help users, some are to help advertisers and others are so Google can increase their own revenue and profit. An advertiser’s strategy that worked pretty well yesterday, may be losing money tomorrow. It’s all rather fluid. My approach to creating and managing accounts has evolved based on what Google is doing so I fully expect my strategy will continue to evolve over time.