3 of Google’s Best Tips for AdWords

3 of Google's Best Tips for AdWords

Recently we wrote about how to get started with your AdWords account. It seems fitting to follow up with some advice about how to get the most out of it — direct from Google itself.

It’s rare for Google to directly answer industry questions on their inner workings. But recently at SMX East, one of the largest annual conferences in the search industry, AdWords product managers gave a live Q&A session. Google’s Matt Lawson wrote up that Q&A for all to see.

The writeup is full of gold nuggets. I thought it would be fun to look at a few of the shiniest ones in detail. Here are three of the most surprising — and useful — of Google’s answers.

#1 Mobile Conversions Cannot Be Tracked (Sort Of)

The key to a successful AdWords campaign is tracking. If you can’t track the results from an ad, you don’t know what to adjust to improve it, or if it’s worth running at all. The great value of PPC platforms like AdWords has always been the instant, quantifiable results you get.

But Google seems to have admitted this isn’t always the case. When asked why mobile conversion rates are so low, Google’s said they aren’t — they’re just hard to track. People who tap through on a mobile ad and look at your mobile site are more likely to hold off and complete the purchase another way. The ad might lead to a sale, but it can’t always be visibly connected.

That’s disappointing, but it does stand to reason given what we know of mobile user behavior. That doesn’t mean you have to fly totally blind, however. Instead, consider three metrics:

  1. As Google suggests, check the “all conversions” column which will include in-store and cross-device conversions. These numbers are only estimates, but they’re useful.
  2. Look a proportional conversions. If one mobile campaign is doing better than others, that should still guide your decision making.
  3. Review your sales history. Do you see spiked in sales whenever you rolled out a mobile campaign? That suggests the ads are paying off.

#2 Radius Targeting is a Thing Now 

We’ve always known that you could target your ad groups geographically. But usually, that means choosing a city or state and leaving it at that. Some marketers were surprised at Google’s mention of radius marketing.

Radius marketing is what it sounds like — you choose a specific location and your ads only appear within a set radius around it.

This can work two different ways:

  • The ad shows to people inside the radius, and to people who have shown interest in that area. This is the default setting.
  • If you prefer, it can be shown only to people who are physically inside the radius. This is an advanced setting, and you can get instructions here.

Be careful changing to the second option, though. This will exclude many potential customers: people who plan to travel to your area, and those who live in your radius but work outside of it.

Learn how to do radius targeting here.

#3 Automatic Bidding is WAY Better than Manual Biddding

In AdWords, you bid on how much you’re willing to pay for a keyword. Companies that bid higher get first crack at top keywords, but they may also end up overpaying.

There are two ways to bid. You can set your bids manually, or Google will automatically calculate the optimum bid for you. Obviously, that makes many business owners nervous. But it turns out that using manual building may leave money — and ad impressions — on the table.

That’s because Google auctions off your keyword each time there’s an impression. In the second it takes to load the ad, it looks at factors like whether the user has been to your site before, what their search history is and even what time of day it is. All of those get factored into ad cost. And they are factors that we as advertisers could never begin to predict.

Automatic bidding is definitely the more efficient way to run your campaign. And in many cases, it will save you from overpaying to get ad impressions.

If you want more Google Q&A, SMX West happens in March.

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