Over the past year, I’ve been slowly tweaking my Adwords settings in order to improve click through rate (CTR), Cost per click (CPC) and keyword position.
After incremental tweaking every few weeks and continuous testing and refining, I was able to make improvements of 8-10x.
Note that I had never used Adwords or Google Analytics before this.
So like most people here, I was completely new to the tool.
Anyway, here are the results and how I did it.
CTR: 0.46% to 3.83%
CPC: $0.89 to $1.40
Keyword Position: 3.2 to 2.0
How I did It:
I like to generally think of my process as a continuous, thorough 80/20 analysis.
This means that every few weeks I would use google analytics to examine a certain variable and determine which 20% of the inputs were producing 80% of the desired results.
For example, with the hour of the day variable, instead of running my ad continuously all day, I am currently running it for only 8 hours.
I chose these 8 hours after comparing the performance of all 24 hours and selecting the best 8.
In a few weeks, I will analyze these 8 hours and cut three more.
So, the end result will be cutting from all 24 hours of the day to only the best 5 hours.
The two most important things I believe will give you accurate results in an analysis like this are to test one variable at a time and make changes slowly to ensure a large sample size.
Typically, I would analyze a single variable each month and leave other settings the same.
I did this process for many audience variables including location, age, and sex among others.
It’s also important to identify goals for your customer interactions.
Personally, my goal was to generate sales leads by driving customers to a certain page of my website, capturing their email address with a contact form which shows me they have an interest in purchasing, and then closing the sale via follow-up email.
However, your goals may differ from mine, and it’s important to recognize valuable actions that your audience takes.
For example, when analyzing the hour variable, the best hours for me were the ones that led to the most email captures.
Statistics like how much time a customer spends on a page, how many pages he views, etc. are of secondary concern.
I only judge success by whether or not a customer fills out the contact form.
So while my CPC has actually gone up since I started, my cost per email address acquired has fallen tremendously, and capturing email is the ultimate goal.
The numbers above may look impressive, but they are not as important as a visitor filling out the email form.
Other Important Steps to Take:
Target Long Tail Keywords
Since I started my Adwords account, I have cut the number of keywords targeted from 500 down to 7.
These keyword phrases are all of the longtail variety, meaning they are all 4+ words long.
For example, if I was selling hiking boots, I would target keywords like “men’s waterproof hiking boots with steel toe” or “men’s steel toed hiking boots for camping” as opposed to more general phrases like “hiking boots store” or “camping boots”.
People searching for general phrases are not typically as valuable as those searching for long tail keyword phrases.
For example, if you only sell hiking boots for men, then someone looking to buy a pair of boots for a woman is irrelevant to you.
In other words, the more specific your keyword phrase, the more relative your ad and the better your chances of ranking highly and generating valuable traffic.
Of course, this process takes time and lot of testing and refining.
It is not easy to find valuable long tail keywords that perform consistently.
You could try combining multiple phrases and only targeting exact phrase matches to improve performance. Although, there are paid tools and software available that make this process easier.
I used a free trial of Long Tail Pro for ten days to do my keyword research.
This eventually led me to a small group of seven keyword phrases which I currently target.
Use Negative Keywords
If you are not using negative keywords to help your Adwords campaign, you are likely wasting a lot of money.
Adding negative keywords to your campaign can eliminate irrelevant searches and audiences that are not looking to buy.
Adding negative keywords can be done on a regular basis. I tended to add a few every couple of months.
I have added negative words such as “free”, “cheap”, “youtube” and “how to” to eliminate customers looking for free and discount products and do-it-yourselfers looking for video tutorials.
This is the case for me as I sell rather high-end products and these types of shoppers are not really my target audience.
However, these words might be of value to someone else who generates revenue through video ads or lower-end products.
It all depends on what you’re selling and your target customer.
Well that about sums up what I did to improve my Adwords performance.
I feel like a lot of this is common sense, but hopefully this is new information to someone.
I never believed people who claimed to have 4% CTR, but it is definitely possible with thorough 80/20 analysis.
The best thing about this process is that it can be applied to just about any variable.
For example, you may want to eliminate women entirely from your audience if you find that men buy at 3x the rate.
You will never really know until you have some statistics to analyze.
If you are interested, I would be happy to take a look at your Adwords account and offer my two cents on how to improve your performance.
I am curious to know whether results like this could be replicated with other accounts and I believe they can.
Feel free to send me a Reddit PM.
Questions and Answers:
Can you perhaps provide free material in regards to long tail keywords etc, or point me to the right direction please?
Once you understand the concept, I would try the demo version of longtail pro.
They have some tutorial videos for using the software. And I just checked and they have a 7-day trial for a $1.
You’ll have to give them your credit card info, but you can just cancel before the 7 days are up:
Also, if you already have an Adwords account going, go to the “keywords” tab under your campaign and click on “Search terms”.
This will give you a list of the terms people are searching for which you can then add to your campaign.
Or if they are irrelevant, you can add them as a negative keyword.
Excellent advice and those improvements are significant! I’m doing a lot of keyword research at the moment and using adwords keyword tool.
I’ve been told that it’s recently been nerfed so results are in ranges etc. Have you , or anyone else, used any other tools e.g. Jaaxy – any suggestions?
I haven’t used anything else, really. But I will say that the estimator tool isn’t necessarily accurate.
Especially when it comes to monthly searches. I’ve found that even with the long tail keywords I use, I still get plenty of impressions.
So if you are developing keywords to potentially target and they have very low volume estimates, you should target them anyway to see how they perform.
One thing I’ve found is that you never will know which keywords are the best until you test.
Thank you! That part and explanation about the long tail keywords was excellent. I’ve seen “long tail keywords” while looking for how to be more effective but didn’t understand til now.
The term “long tail” doesn’t have to do with the length of the keyword phrase, but whether it’s a word with a lot of searches and therefore a broad match with lots of competition, or one with a relatively low number of searches and less competition.
Obviously, less competition is better.
I had a 13% CTR once upon a time, then I changed something and it plummeted to 3.5%. I was gutted! Can’t even remember what I changed. I’m far to impatient, chance 5 things at once instead of 1 at a time.