Far too many advertising campaigns are not profitable right from the get-go. In fact, a few of the most successful AdWords campaigns lost hundreds of dollars in the first several months of testing before a turnaround was made.

Most would consider this wasted money. Most would fail to see that those first several profitless months were actually an invaluable investment in market research. The data collected from those months would typically be used to:

  • juxtapose those profitable popular keywords to those which were not
  • launch a brand new campaign using a yet to be used medium (e.g. direct mail)
  • make a quick change to the business strategy before losing more of your funds

Improving A Campaign While It’s Up & Running

First and foremost, it is important to check your account on a regular basis. Even when you think there’s not much work to be done, that everything seems to be in place and that there isn’t a need to make any changes, it is vital that you remain on top of things. By that, I mean, checking the status of your keywords at least every other day or so – just to make sure that the Quality Scores are still high and that you’re either not leaving money on the table or, even worse, throwing money away by investing in irrelevant keywords that lead to high bounce rates. Even someone with very little understanding of how Adwords works has the mental capacity to understand that a keyword with a Quality Score of 8/10 is better than a keyword with a Quality Score of 4/10. So staying vigilant and active, is by far the most important thing I’d like to stress. It’s far too easy to get carried away and take it that everything will just take care of itself.

The five Core Areas

Adwords optimization can be broken down into five core areas. A firm understanding of each is the barometer that separates the experts from the Adwords neophytes. These five core areas are:

  1. Campaign Continuity
  2. Keyword optimization
  3. Ad Copy Optimization
  4. Landing Page Optimization
  5. Top Performer “Isolation”

Campaign Continuity

The focus here is to ensure that the prospect has a consistent experience. It is important for the ad to be relevant to the searched keywords, for the landing page to be relevant to the ad, etc. Tricking people into clicking on your site by advertising something that has nothing to do with the product or service that you’re selling may give you a high click through rate, but your conversion rate will be terribly low – most probably a goose egg.

Here are a few questions that I think are worth asking if you want to make sure you have campaign continuity:

  • What question does your prospect have in mind when he or she searches for the keyword in your campaign? (EX. A prospect living in Houston who is interested in finding an online marketing service will ask: “Is there an Online Marketing Firm in Houston that I can get in touch with?”
  • Is the claim made in the ad actually visible on the respective landing page above the fold?
  • Are the facts in the ads concise, cogent and clear? Are they also clearly reiterated on the respective landing page? If not, why not?
  • Is the prospect one hundred percent certain that he or she is on the correct page after clicking on the ad?

Keyword Optimization

The three main functions of keyword optimization are:

  • Bid Optimization
  • Keyword Expansion
  • Keyword Elimination

Bid Optimization

A litany of optimization strategies abound. It’ll take a bible-sized text to go over them all, so for now, for the sake of brevity, we will focus on the core stuff – the stuff you can’t go without knowing. The most basic concept to keep in mind – the concept that everything roots back to – is to find the optimum bid that’ll generate the max number of conversions at a target cost per conversion.

This means that you have to have conversation tracking set up, something that intimidates a vast majority of people, which is both good and bad depending on who you ask. On one hand, a mental block in thinking that one doesn’t have the capacity to set up conversion tracking means dollars left on the table for your business. On the other hand, the go-getters will take advantage of the remaining share.

Keyword Expansion

Most folks consider keyword expansion a cinch. And there isn’t much to it. Keyword Expansion isn’t rocket science. On the keywords tab in AdWords, find the “See search terms” option and give it a click. This will run the Search Query Report. With the use of this handy tool, you can find out which keywords are driving conversions.

Keyword Elimination

The Query Report can also help you identify which keywords aren’t doing so well. Getting rid of the less than stellar keywords might be a good idea. That way, all the potential leads can be directed through the keywords that are making a difference.

Ad Copy Optimization

Optimizing ad copy takes a long time. It is one of those arduous, monotonous things taht just have to get done – slowly but surely. It is always recommended to have two ads running at all times. That way, a juxtapositioning of the two can help determine which one is leading to more conversions. This is a mini scientific experiment. You can even use one ad as the control gruop if you’d like. This stuff isn’t rocket science, but it sure can get scientific. It is highly recommended that you don’t sell in your ad. The primary goal of your ad is to get prospects to click through to your actual landing page. There are many companies, like Leadsquared, that provide special landing page services. You don’t necessarily need to spend the big bucks to create landing pages that can yield a treasure trove of data.

Landing Page Optimization

Much like ad copy, landing page optimization is an ongoing process – one that requires countless iterations. A great many tools for creating split tests are out there. If you’re just starting out, though, you can use Google’s Website Optimizer. It’s easy to use, and best of all, it’s free.

If you’re uncertain as to where to start, if you’re overwhelmbed by the litany of options, then it is recommended that you start with the headline. It is the easiest place to start, and it is by far the most important element because it’s a big leverage point for improving conversions.

Top Performer Isolation

The last step in optimizing your campaign is to isolate your top performing keywords, your top performing ads, and your best landing page(s). In every campaign, you’ll find that the majority of your sales are generated by only a few keywords.

Eventually you’ll hit your ceiling. There will be no more room for growth. When you do reach this limit, you can typically improve your campaign by putting all your top keywords in their own separate ad groups.