Having blogged recently about Adwords Mistakes, I thought I’d blog about basic Google Adwords setup and optimisation, and especially the difference between standard and all features campaigns. Time and time again, accounts that I audit accounts seem to be set to standard rather than all features. Take a look at the following screenshot of campaign setup where you can clearly select either standard or all features.
Go and check you Adwords account now, and if any of your campaigns are set to standard, and you spend any amount over £500 per month on Adwords, then you most likely need your account to be professionally optimised. All you need to do to check is click on any campaign, and then select the ‘settings’ tab. Go to campaign type and click edit, and you’ll see the following screen.
You’ll also see that standard campaigns are highlighted as ‘not recommended’, and there is good reason for that. I see so many accounts that spend significant amounts of money with this problem. Adwords is one of the most complex advertising systems known to man. It is an auction where you win or lose based on how much you bid and how well your account is optimised (by Quality Score). If your account isn’t even set to give you the option of advanced optimisation features, then you have a big problem. In fact, you’re likely throwing money in the bin every month!
I also hear all the time from prospective SEO clients that they’ve tried Adwords before, it didn’t work, and they think it’s a waste of money. I always immediately ask, so why do you think that ranking organically with SEO will be any better? After all, it’s the same people searching for keywords and they’re not less likely to buy/convert just because they clicked on an ad on the Google results page rather than an organic listing. The searcher doesn’t care. They’ve searched for a solution to a problem and the page they land on needs to help solve that problem.
So here’s a fact, and although it sounds self promotional, and it really is not. I’ve never seen and audited an Adwords account that can’t be substantially improved. Never. So as Adwords is competitive in its nature due it to being an auction, you’re never going to have huge success unless every single optimisation strategy is used where it makes sense. This leads me back to the discussion of standard V all features. If your account is on standard then you’re losing money hand over fist. You’d expect that the most successful of your competitors have mature well run adwords accounts, and until you at least equal the quality of their campaigns, you will never be able to compete.
I’m not going to cover all of the extra things that you can do with all features campaigns, and they’re covered briefly by Google here, but I will cover the most basic ones in more detail than Google does. These are important as they literally burn money if not set up correctly.
The Google Adwords Idiot Tax
This is a great one, which I always describe as the Adwords idiot tax. You know, when you go to a casino and you’re playing a card game and they always have a side bet you can play. They’re the sucker bets that cost you lots more than the main game in the long run even if they look like a good idea. In Adwords, the idiot tax is the ad delivery settings.
The image above shows a setting which isn’t even visible when you’re set to standard rather than all features. You can see that even when visible Google encourages advertisers to use the standard delivery option. This is a huge mistake, do not do it. The correct and only option that any certified professional optimising a client’s campaign is “Accelerated: Show ads more quickly until budget is reached.” Yes, there are a few limited arguments for using the standard delivery option, but these are very few.
It makes sense to spread your ads out throughout the day rather than spending your budget as soon as possible. That is, until you really think about it. If you are running out of budget by showing for your keywords all the time then either your budget is too low or your bids are too high. If your campaign is profitable then you should increase the budget, assuming there aren’t cash flow reasons to not do so. If you can’t increase your budget then you should lower your bids. In this scenario your bids are too high for your budget.
Reducing your bids will place your ads in lower positions and get you less clicks. However, the clicks you do get will be cheaper, and because you’re limited by budget, you’ll actually get more clicks in total! Thus, when budget is the limiting factor, lowering your bids and still showing all the time will get you more value from your budget. Spreading your budget throughout the day is therefore a terrible option. This feature alone is worth looking making this change for, and making sure that you’re set to all features in campaign settings.
More Advanced Adwords Options
Above are some more of the advanced options that are available on all features campaigns. I’m not going to talk about all of them, such as experiments or IP exclusions, but I will cover the 2 most basic advanced options, which most companies should definitely be using.
This one is a no brainer. Perhaps your business relies on Adwords to make the phone ring during office hours. If so, why would you want to be paying to advertise your keywords outside of office hours? The answer is you probably don’t, but you might do. You will need the all features setup to enable ad scheduling, which is shown here:
The more astute will notice on the above screenshot that there is a message saying that ad scheduling bid modifications are unavailable. Most likely you won’t see that on your account. I can still edit the times that this campaign runs, but I’m not able to change bids dynamically at different times of the day because I’m using target CPA 1 per click bidding on the campaign from the screenshot, rather than bidding per click on keywords. However, this is a relatively advanced setting that you’re probably not using.
By clicking ‘view ad schedule’ and following through the screens you’ll be able to select exactly when you want your ad to run and when you don’t want it to run. It’s all relatively easy to do. Maybe you don’t want to run in the early hours of the morning, or perhaps you only want to run Monday to Friday. The choice if yours, but only if you’ve got your campaigns set to all features. Otherwise you’re stuck advertising 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with no bid modifiers. With advanced settings you can modify your bids for times of day or days of the week. Perhaps you do want to run in the evenings and weekends, but you think your campaigns won’t be as successful. That’s no problem, you can just add a bid modifier. You might decide that you want to reduce your bids by 50% out of office hours on weekdays and reduce them by 70% on weekends. That’s no problem, and if you don’t ask the question of if that might be a good idea, you’re likely wasting lots of money.
Adwords Rotation Settings
I’ve spoken at length about split testing ads and rotation settings before so I’ll be brief here. It is fundamental to correct Adwords optimisation to split test everything in your account. By testing 2 ads against each other, for example, you can quickly find out which ads and messaging resonates better with your customers. So you need to have 2 ads in every ad group, and set the ads to display each one evenly so that you can quickly know which ad is the winning ad. Then you delete the poor ad and create a new one which might be better. Over constant iterations you can easily double the CTR of your ads, which is an immeasurably large benefit, given that the biggest factor affecting your quality score is CTR. Also given that your ads appear higher (your ad rank as Google call it) based on the combination of both your bid and your quality score, it is vitally important to always be testing.
As you can see from the image above I often use ‘rotate indefinitely’, even though Google say it’s not recommended for most advertisers. It absolutely is recommended if you want to optimise your account and improve the most important metrics. At the very least you should be looking at your ads in each AdGroup once a month and deleting the worst performing ad. Just be sure that each ad has at least 50 clicks in that period before you delete one. That of course is still not perfect, as you should be looking for statistically significant results, but as a good rule of thumb you should be ok.
Make sure that your account has all features setup, and have a very good think about:
- When you want your ads to run
- What your budget should be
- Split testing your adverts to find better performing ones
Alternatively, if you want all of these basic optimisations and many more advanced ones, just get in touch for a completely free and no obligation Adwords account audit. I’d love to talk with you. Just fill out the contact form on every page of this site, or call the office and ask to speak with Harvey.
See you next time!