5 AdWords Tips for Beginners

Starting a new AdWords account can be a very daunting task. Foreign concepts and metrics like keyword match types and quality score are not very intuitive to users who are new to digital marketing, making it is very easy to make mistakes and waste money in a short period of time. In a quest to help prevent costly mistakes right from the gate, I have thrown together five important tips for new users to watch for as they navigate through their account creation.

1. Structure is Key

AdWords, like any bid-based advertising platform requires a lot of maintenance to limit wasted spend and guarantee the highest return on investment as possible. Your AdWords marketing will be a part of your daily routine and to make life as easy as possible, as well as maximize success, you need to have a well-structured account. Make sure to follow best practices online to create your campaign and ad group hierarchy to not only make your account easier to navigate and analyze, but also help boost ad auction metrics like quality score. The strategy I tend to take with creating an account is to group your campaigns around key business themes like your site structure or business offerings. At the ad group level, create ad groups for each keyword type (modified broad, phrase, exact) with the same set of keywords in each ad group. What this approach enables you to do is get a top-level understanding of competition and performance while grouping related keywords into common themes that will help increase keyword quality scores.

2. Never use the Broad Match Keyword Match Type

NEVER, I tell you, NEVER use broad match as a keyword match type. The reason why using this match type will be detrimental to your account is because there are no limitations to what search queries will trigger your ad. If I was running a lumber mill and bid on a broad match keyword like, cedar wood, then I would be open to my ads appearing for irrelevant search queries like “wood baseball bat cedar coloring”, “fake cedar wood flooring” or “cedar wood cabinet”. None of these searches indicate a good customer for a lumber mill and will ultimately waste your spend at a fast rate.

3. Narrow your Geo-Targeted Locations Option

Narrowing the visibility of your ads to only the locations that you serve should be a given, but many users forget about about the locations options setting. This feature allows you to limit the scope of where your ads will appear based on physical location and location interest. The default selected value for this setting is to show ads to both users physically located in the area and users searching for the targeted area. From my experience, it is very rare to find a prospective customer searching from Eugene, Oregon for wood in New York, New York, which should deter you from including users searching for the targeted area. This might seem like an extreme example, but is a result you will commonly find by using both ad targeting criteria together. As a result, I highly recommend you choose the “People in your targeted location” option to make sure that every investment made will go towards a prospect within the area you serve.

4. Update your Negative Keywords

As I mentioned before, you can never have a set it and forget it mentality to running an Adwords account. It requires constant maintenance to elements like keyword bids and ads, but also at requires close monitoring of search queries. When you start to generate impressions for your keywords you will start to have data on the search queries that trigger your ads. Within this list you should identify irrelevant keyword themes and add them as negative keywords. This will not only limit wasteful spend, but will also help quality score as click through rates will begin to rise, indicating relevancy, a major factor in the quality score algorithm.

5. Be Wary of using “Search Network with Display Select” Campaign Types

When you create campaigns you are required to choose between two campaign type options, “Search Network only” and “Search Network with Display Select”. Without much experience or knowledge with AdWords, you might choose the latter option for the reasons that your ads can reach a broader audience and you will appear in banner spaces on websites. It seems like a no-brainer from this understanding, but I can tell you first hand that this is a very ineffective campaign type and does not optimally display your ads. Starting with the first argument, the larger audience and ad inventory does not mean that your ads will reach your audience segment. Since your ads will start to appear on websites, you are reaching into a territory that goes beyond pairing search queries to your targeted words and into pairing website content to your targeted words to the best of the platforms ability. There is less reliability and little ability to narrow the scope at this point. The second argument is a bit misleading because the ad that will appear in website banner spaces is not one that is visually appealing like the banner ads you see when navigating the web. It will appear in a white box with the plain text linking back to your website. Not the most visually appealing and an awful conversion performer.


(Example of a "Search Network with Display Select" ad)