by John Eberhard

Lately I have been taking over management of some Google AdWords accounts that were set up before I got there, and some common issues have come up. There are certain ways that a Google AdWords account should be set up, and some common mistakes I see that are being made.

Separate Out Different Topics

First a word about AdWords and the way they organize things. They have what they call a Campaign, which allows you to decide what geography you want (where your ads will appear), your daily budget, and some other settings. Inside of a campaign you can set up what is called an Ad Group, which is where you set up your ads, your keywords, and your pages where visitors will land on your site.

When setting up an account on Google AdWords or in any other pay per click system, it is important to separate out your different topics. If your company only sells one item, then this is not a problem. But if your company sells several types of products or services, you have to set up multiple Ad Groups, one for each product or service. And then you have to make sure to put all the keywords relating to each product or service in the right Ad Group, write ads that specifically relate to that product or service, and have the visitor land on a page that is specifically about that.

The ideal thing is that the visitor enters a keyword about one of your products, he sees a text ad specifically relating to that product, he clicks on the ad because it speaks to specifically what he is looking for, then he comes to a page that again is specifically about what he is looking for. In other words, he doesn’t enter a keyword about widgets, see an ad about watermelons, and come to a landing page that’s about tires.

Landing Pages

Too often I see pay per click (PPC) advertisers setting up their campaigns so that a visitor lands on their home page.

This works sometimes and especially if your company only sells one thing. But if you sell a number of products or services, you are making that person work harder than he should have to, to find the right page on your web site that is about what he is searching for. Minimally you should have him land on the page on your site that is specifically about what he is looking for.

But even better is to have him land on a customized landing page, a page that is made specifically for your Google AdWords campaign.

I’ve been managing pay per click campaigns since they first started in the early 2000s, and before that I did a lot of email marketing, before spam ruined it. And the concept works the same with both pay per click and email. My experience has been that in 80-90% of all cases, it works better to have a customized landing page than to have people land on a regular page from your web site. And a customized landing page should have:

a. Your logo or header at the top

b. The same general look as your regular web site pages

c. Sales text and pictures

d. An offer of some kind, like a free consultation or something of that nature

e. A form and phone number

f. No navigation buttons

I have had people argue with me about this point but statistically it works better. One point that people seem to disagree with is the navigation. But I find it controls the situation better in that you are not letting them wander around on the site. You’re focusing the situation better and that gets better percentage of people filling out the form or calling, which is what we’re there for.

Conversion Tracking

Google AdWords and MSN Ad Center both give you the capability of tracking your number of conversions. In PPC, the word “conversion” means that someone saw your ad, came to your site, and either called in or filled out a form. So we want to know how many conversions we are getting per week or per month.

Google and MSN will give you a code that you put onto a specific page of your web site, and when someone fills out your form, it sends a message back to the system and records that a conversion occurred. And in fact, it not only records that a conversion occurred but it also knows which Ad Group, which ad they clicked on and which keyword they entered in the first place.

Over time this tells you a great deal about the success or failure of a campaign. First of all if you are not getting any conversions it will tell you that. But it will also tell you which ads are working best, which landing pages are working best, and which keywords specifically are bringing you conversions. Sometimes you might find that a certain keyword is getting a lot of people to click on your ad and come to your site, but none of them are converting. In this case you pause that keyword (i.e. turn it off), because it’s not getting you the final product you want, which is leads.

Another benefit of conversion tracking is that it shows you an overall cost per lead. In other words, how much are you spending for each lead that comes in.

I see many Google AdWords accounts where conversion is not set up. This is a vital action and one of the first things I change.

Phone Tracking

I recommend to everyone doing pay per click advertising today to set up a phone tracking system. A number of companies offer a service where they will set up a unique phone number or set of numbers with your area code, and they track all the calls that come in to that number. Most companies will record the calls too so you can listen to them if desired and see how your receptionist or salesperson is handling the calls.

The idea is that you can put this unique number up on your pay per click landing pages, so you know that everyone who calls that number is calling specifically from your pay per click ad campaign and not from some other source. This then gives you an accurate count of how many phone calls you get from your PPC campaign.

Good luck with your pay per click ad campaigns.