Top 15 Tips for Managing a Google AdWords Account

15 Tips for Managing an AdWords Account

AdWords is a big monster to tackle. The basic structure and setup alone takes up plenty of brain space, and once you start exploring the additional capabilities of AdWords – well, you might be exhausted. I’ve compiled the essential best practices for campaigns, targeting options, keywords and ads, as well as some avenues you should explore to get the most out of your account. Here are my top 15 tips to keep you on track:

Campaign Management

1. Utilize campaigns and ad groups

Some accounts need a lot of work by the time they reach me. Sometimes the previous manager is only using one campaign to run five or six ad groups. Now, there’s no right way to do it, but your PPC strategy should consider the functionality of campaigns and ad groups, and let that determine how you use them in conjunction with your keywords.

Become familiar with the adjustable settings for campaigns and ad groups; they are very different. You can set location targeting, device targeting, and budget at the campaign level. These things can’t be uniquely set at the ad group level. Your ad group, as the name suggests, is mainly to create a group of keywords that share the same ads, allowing you to separate keywords that require different ad copy.

2. Use location targeting

By default, your ads will probably target the entire United States. And if your business sells services to the entire United States and nowhere else, then that might be enough. But chances are there is a lot more that you can do.


Location targeting has gotten more advanced in the last year, and you can now target very specific regions, allowing small and medium businesses to be very selective about who sees their ads. Even if you do sell to the entire US, you can use location targeting to write ads specific to high-traffic states and cities to increase click-through-rate (CTR).

3. Separate Search and Display networks by campaign

This is another problem that I find with new clients: their ads showing on the Search and Display networks are lumped into a single campaign. The Search network is users searching Google or partner sites. The Display network is ads placed on sites across the Internet that users see while browsing a site. Everything about these networks is different: the user’s intent, the ad types used, the click statistics. Separate these networks so they can be evaluated individually.

4. Don’t target mobile devices unless you have mobile landing pages

If you’ve ever tried to navigate a full-size website on an iPhone, you know that it’s tedious and frustrating. Unless your company has created a mobile landing page, opt out of smart phones in your campaigns’ settings to eliminate clicks that won’t convert.


5. Create mobile landing pages and a mobile campaign

Mobile users don’t want to sift through a giant website to find what they’re looking for, but they’re still looking to make purchases. If your potential customers are using their smart phones, set up mobile landing pages ready to sell them what they want.

Create a campaign in AdWords targeting only mobile devices so you can measure the success. Mobile users use shorter queries when searching, so make sure your keywords reflect that simplicity.


6. Group similar keywords together

But how? Your initial keyword structure should follow two main guidelines:

  • All keywords in an ad group are showing the same group of ads. Consider the intent of someone searching for each keyword. If the searcher intent matches up for keywords, they might belong in the same ad group.
  • If a user searches a keyword, and that keyword (or a close variation) is contained in your ad text, it will appear bold in the ad, increasing CTR. Group close variations together, but keywords with similar intent yet very different wording may work better in separate ad groups.

7. Grow your keyword list with similar keywords

When you begin to identify keywords that convert well, you will hopefully be hungry for more. Before expanding into different keyword groupings, optimize the groups you already have. If you’re selling framing hammers, you could also be bidding on terms like “large framing hammers,” and alternate names for your product like “claw hammers.” There is also a difference between someone searching singular or plural terms like framing hammer or hammers.

8. Add negative keywords

Negative keywords will exclude your ad from showing for any query that contains those words. Since you’re paying for each click, using negative keywords can help cut down click costs from users who aren’t searching for your product but use similar keywords. To continue the above example, maybe your framing hammers are high-quality and expensive. You might want to add “cheap” as a negative keyword, so someone searching for “cheap framing hammers” doesn’t click on your ad then immediately bounce when they see the price.

9. Do some keyword research

To grow your keyword list, you need to know what people are searching for. The AdWords Keyword Tool is a great resource for finding related keywords and getting an estimate on the amount of people searching for the term, as well as the PPC competition around a term.


Ad Copy

10. Include keywords in your copy

The quickest way to get someone to pay attention to your PPC is to include the keywords they were searching for in the ad, which will appear in bold. Make sure your ads include the ad group’s keywords.

11. Promote unique offers

If ten advertisers are trying to sell framing hammers through AdWords, you’ll need to separate yourself from the competition in a meaningful way. What are the unique offerings of your product? Is it on sale? Is the shipping free? Is it made from recycled material? Put it in the ad text so people know.

12. Include a call-to-action

Your call-to-action is the last prompt before a user clicks your ad. Using the right phrasing can help send the most qualified traffic to your site. Ending your ad copy with a phrase like “Buy now!” or “Sign up today!” tells a user what to do when they reach the landing page. If you only tell them to “Browse now,” they will browse and leave without buying anything.

Beyond the Basics

13. Use Remarketing

AdWords Remarketing is an advanced technique that lets you target ads on the Display network at people who have visited pages of your site in the past. This tool can be used in several ways, but the best way to start for an ecommerce site might be adding remarketing code to the pages of your sales funnel (the pages leading up to the sale), and excluding the receipt page. Then you can target users across the Display network that have considered buying your product, but haven’t actually made the purchase yet. We usually see a 300-400% increase in conversion rate for remarketing campaigns over regular campaigns.

14. Use ad extensions

AdWords offers a wide range of ad extensions that can enhance the presentation of your ads:

  • Sitelink extensions. This feature allows you to add extra links at the campaign level that will appear directly below your ad. If you’re advertising framing hammers, but also have a Weekly Tool Special page, you might add a sitelink for that.
  • Call extensions. Include your business phone number in your ad, allowing customers to call you directly from your PPC ad.
  • Product extensions. Link your Google Merchant account with AdWords to show products below your ad.
  • Location extensions. This ads your business location at the end of ads when a user searching near you triggers an ad.
  • Social extensions. If you’ve got Google+ “+1” buttons on your website, and have a Google+ account, you can enable these extensions to show searchers how many people have given a +1 to your page. This type of social proof can go a long way considering most advertisers do not use this extension.

15. Use Google Analytics

AdWords data can only get you so far. Sure, you’ve got impressions and clicks, and then conversions to let you know if they bought/signed up for anything, but what about everything in between?


Google Analytics is an amazing tool for analyzing specific pageviews, time on site, bounce rate, and other visitor metrics that can help you determine how people are using your site. You can also enable goal tracking (similar to AdWords conversion tracking, but more specific) and ecommerce tracking for reliable sales numbers. Anytime I optimize an AdWords account, I also consult the Google Analytics data to see the full story.

There you have it: that is everything you can do with an AdWords account. Wait – no, that’s totally wrong. There are so many more opportunities to improve your AdWords account; I just can’t list them all here.

Did I leave out your best tip? Let me know in the comments.

About the Author

Jack is a PPC strategist at Portent. He dreams of keyword research and spends a lot of his time managing PPC for small businesses.


2 Responses to “Top 15 Tips for Managing a Google AdWords Account”
  1. Peter Tanham @ SparkPage says:

    Great advice Jack!

    For points 4 and 5 – I’ve actually some campaings have ok results sending mobile traffic to desktop pages, if the page is clear and simple.

    But on the whole you’re right, for most campaigns it’s just money down the sink unless you send mobile clicks to a well optimized mobile landing page.


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