How do I know if my AdWords account is working?

Posted by Aaron WeinerGoogle Ads

When it comes to AdWords, what works for some may not work for others.

One account’s goals may be different from another. I might want to show my ads to a large number of people, while you might only want to show your ads to those who are at a specific point in the purchase process.

We each have different agendas and how each of our accounts perform will be fundamentally different. We will also gauge success differently.

Begin by taking a step back.

Ask yourself, what do you hope to achieve by using AdWords, and how realistic are those goals?Goals Concept

AdWords provides you with the ability to precisely target your prospective customers as well as the analytics to back it up. The problem is that most people don’t know how to correctly interpret the analytics.

You should know that conversion tracking as well as Google Analytics are integral to understanding how your account has been performing. Clicks, impressions, CTR, cost and average position will only tell you one side of the story.

You want to understand what happened after the ad click.

Cheating is good!

What most people don’t realise is that conversion tracking is not accurate. You’re able to track some data but you won’t be able to tell how accurate it was. You won’t know if it was 10%, 90% or 100% of the actual conversions.

If you concluded that success is down to ROI, you’ll need to identify all the people who clicked on your AdWords ads and paid for your product or service. The problem is that you might not be able to see that occur every time.

In my years of AdWords experience, I have dealt with a wide range of AdWords account types. Accounts that advertised pregnancy classes, luxury resort rentals, real estate, enterprise level software and more. They all had one thing in common: Tracking success within AdWords is a problem.

Each of those accounts received sales, however they weren’t always attributed back to AdWords. Understanding this lack of accuracy with conversion tracking is critical when interpreting your account’s performance.

Determine what you can track.

If you’re just tracking sales and you’re not seeing many conversions, you won’t be able to act on that data. And you need data in order to make decisions.

Think in terms of what people do once they arrive on your website, starting with what you want them to do once they arrive on your website.

Most probably don’t arrive and then enter their credit card details. Your potential customers are more likely to read a few pages, fill out a form, download your software prior to purchasing or simply leave.

Track them all. The more data you have, the easier it will be when making decisions that impact your account.

Keep in mind that once you begin tracking more than one type of conversion, you’ll have to weigh them differently. Someone that clicks on your AdWords ad and then purchases your product will be more valuable than someone who just downloads a PDF whitepaper.

At this time, Google don’t look at them differently. To Google, a conversion is a conversion. Meaning you have to be careful when using Google’s conversion optimization tools.

Sometimes, you need to look beyond the conversion.

Let’s assume for whatever reason, that you can’t track sales back to AdWords. You’ve proceed to setup conversion tracking for various actions across your website, all of which indicate an interest in what you’re offering, and it’s producing plenty of data.

Just because you’re seeing large numbers of conversions doesn’t in itself mean anything.

To put it bluntly, people are strange! You might find a situation where a website or search term results in a large number of conversions that has nothing to do with your product or service.

These people are clicking on your descriptive ads, traversing your website, and ultimately performing those conversions.

Everything indicates that these people are interested in what you’re offering, however you’ll need to put the conversion tracking data aside and try to understand what is truly happening.

Conversions tracking will only take you so far.

Don’t let it lead you to the wrong conclusions. Understanding its limitations will help you determine if AdWords is working or not.

Start by reviewing your search terms report. This report provides you with the exact searches people performed in order to trigger your ads. If they seem overwhelmingly off-topic, then you’re not targeting the right keywords or you’re allowing irrelevant traffic to somehow enter the cycle.

Review your CTR (click-through rate). How has it been trending over time? If you’re seeing that it’s rising, that’s a good sign because it means that you’re delivering relevant ads. Google will reward you for relevance by showing your relevant ads more often and at higher positions. If you’re seeing that your CTR is declining, that’s not a good sign because it means you’re not showing relevant ads. In turn, lower CTRs could result in your ads being shown less often and possibly costing more per click.  

Review your bids and your average CPC (cost per click). If your bids are set too low, your keywords won’t trigger your ads. Setting your bids too high, will result in wasted spend. You wouldn’t want to pay more for something that you can get for less.  

Review your average positions. If your ads are shown predominantly in lower positions, they will be clicked on less often or not clicked on at all. That will impact your CTR as well as your cost per click.     

Review your Analytics data. Once people click on your ads, you need to understand what they do after they arrived on your website. If they leave immediately (bounce rate), then your landing page might not be the best fit. If people are arriving and then viewing a few pages (pages / visit), that could be a good indication, however you need to make sure they’re visiting the right pages. If most visitors are not finding what they’re looking for, that’s not good.

Review your conversion data. Once again, you need to be careful when analyzing your conversion data. Understand that the absence of conversion data does not necessarily mean that it’s a bad thing.

Last but not least, never look at just one metric. A high CTR is pointless if most visitors leave your website within a few seconds of arriving.

On their own, each metric is meaningless. Combined they carry power and authority.