There’s a growing problem within AdWords

Posted by Aaron WeinerGoogle Ads

There’s a growing problem within AdWords, and it’s going to hit your bottom line. And the result is that over time you’ll pay more or you’ll see very little in return from your AdWords spend.

I have been doing AdWords since 2005, and Dave started back in 2001.

Back then, things were different. AdWords, well let’s just say it was an infant, and now it’s more or less like a teenager. Hormones and all.

Even at the small-child phase, AdWords was a handful, but if you understood how it worked, you could nurture it and reap the rewards.

Nowadays, AdWords can be a raging lunatic. For example in the early days, there were one or two bidding strategies. Currently, there are eight different options to choose from, and that’s just on the search network.

Back in the day it was simpler.

The AdWords of today is more complex than ever before. And the choices for keywords are no exception.

Broad, phrase and exact match made sense, but nowadays there is a blurring of the match types. Phrase and exact can now include ” close variations”, and only Google gets to decide how close is close.

Only a few months ago, Google stated that 15% of the searches that they see each day have never been seen before.

If you think about it, this isn’t so surprising. Even the way we search today can be different from how we searched in the past. Take voice search as an example. Verbally speaking into our devices can be vastly different from how we type the search phrase.

So if you aren’t regularly looking for new keyword opportunities, your existing keywords can quite quickly become stale. Or worse still, the keywords you picked in the past may become completely irrelevant.

You have a growing keyword problem.

Even though I regularly perform in-depth keyword research for all our clients, some of them have a never-ending list of potential keywords.

What I’m about to suggest is a slightly different approach to what you might be used to. It lets Google do some of the work for you – they find new keywords while you reap the rewards.

It uses the dynamic search ads (DSA) functionality but with a slight twist.

With DSA, Google scans your entire website to find keywords that might be relevant to the content on your site. Google will then display dynamically created ads based on your content and those keywords. It sounds worrying, but it can actually work quite well.

DSA was primarily designed for ecommerce sites with many different types of products, each of which could potentially have hundreds of thousands of keywords. Even a well-managed AdWords account could easily miss out on relevant keyword opportunities.

The twist with my approach is that you can use DSA’s ability to capture new keyword ideas for use in your main search campaigns.

AdWords keyword trap.

Step 1: Make sure your website can handle this new approach.

Remember that when using DSA, Google scans the content on your website to find relevant keywords. If Google doesn’t understand your content, this isn’t going to work.

To see if this a problem for your site, visit the AdWords keyword planner and enter your website’s URL instead of using keywords.

If Google returns keywords that are primarily focused on what you’re offering, this approach should work for you.

If most of the keywords are off-target, it means that Google is not able to properly interpret the content on your website. If that happens, you can’t use this DSA-lead approach because Google will only send you irrelevant clicks.

Step 2: Identify sections or pages on your website that are off limits.

Remember that by using DSA, Google will spider your entire website. You need to identify which pages you want to exclude. These might be information about your refund policies, shipping information or pages that speak about your company history and so on.

An easy way to create this list is to use a tool that spiders your website. I use Screaming Frog SEO Spider tool. The free version can scan 500 pages.

Step 3: Set up your new DSA campaign.

You’ll want to keep this DSA campaign separated from your others campaigns because it’s so very different.

When setting up the new campaign, choose ” dynamic search ads” in the campaign types section. This will make it easier to spot the settings that you’ll need for this new campaign.

In the campaign settings, you’ll then need to enter your domain, set the language of your website and the targeting source. This is where you specify which web pages should be used to target your ads. You have a few other options but for our needs, let’s start with “Use Google’s index of my website”.

Step 4: Create your ad groups, configure which pages to target and create your dynamic ads.

Your options at this stage will depend on your particular situation.

If you have different products or services, and each of them is sold in different parts of your website, you’ll need to create separate ad groups. This can be accomplished by modifying the DSA targeting so that it focuses only on the appropriate sections of your website.

If you only have one single product, simply choose all web pages for your targeting.

Ads within DSA campaigns are mostly created by Google. So the landing pages, headline and display URLs are all created dynamically. You’ll then be able to set one 80 character description for each ad that you create.

I would suggest that you create about four different ads per ad group, each with a good call to action.

Step 5: Deal with the exclusions.

This is where you tell the DSA campaign which sections of your website never to target. Visit the auto targets tab within AdWords and add in some campaign-level dynamic ad target exclusions.

Important: The main point of this experiment is to have Google automatically find new keywords for your main search campaigns. With that in mind, you’ll want to export all the keywords from your search campaigns. Then paste them as campaign-level, exact match negative keywords into your new DSA campaign. Doing so will force Google only to find new keywords that you’re not already targeting.

Step 6: Let the campaign run and collect data.

You’ll now need to monitor the results by using the search terms report found on the dimensions tab.

Any new keywords performing well need to be cut out of the DSA campaign and pasted into your search campaign.

Don’t forget to then exclude those new keywords within the original DSA campaign.

Finally, don’t forget to exclude any keywords that Google find that are off target in the DSA campaign. This will help fine-tune the targeting.

Final thoughts.

It’s important to understand that this technique may not work for everyone. If your website doesn’t contain much by way of good content, and/or most of the pages are directly relevant to what you’re selling, it’s probably not going to work.

Have fun experimenting with AdWords.