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The 5 Basics Of Adwords – Part 4: Adverts.

The author

Steve Baker

Chief Analyst

In the series so far, I have looked at the fundamentals of Adwords and how some quite basic changes to the way that you manage your Adwords account can yield massive performance benefits.

This fourth blog looks at adverts and advert testing.

Adverts are obviously critical to the performance of the account – even if you get every other aspect of your account correct, if nobody clicks on your adverts, it’s all been a bit of a waste of time!

So, what is it that you are trying to do with your adverts? Is the objective to maximise the click through rate? After all, if you improve the click through rate, you can get more clicks at the same cost per click (or the same clicks for a lower cost per click), which is a good thing?

Maybe yes, maybe no.

You aren’t trying to get as many clicks as you can, you’re trying to get everyone that’s actually looking for what you sell. If you sell bespoke designer widgets (top price, top quality), but find that the advert that gets the highest click through rate is the one saying that you sell discount, cheap widgets, does this really benefit you? Not really, since most of the people that click on your advert won’t buy a widget from you – because your advert attracts everyone, rather than just people that want what you sell, all you’ll end up doing is wasting money on worthless clicks.

Yes, you want to improve your click through rates, but only if doing so doesn’t sacrifice the relevance of your adverts. Particularly if your website doesn’t cater to everyone searching for your keywords, you need to qualify visitors before they ever visit your website (and cost you money).

Something else to consider is that your advert doesn’t exist in a little bubble. Your advert may look great in Microsoft Word (or Notepad, or Excel, or wherever you write your adverts), but once you place it into the middle of a set of search results, it may not look quite so clever. Here are some critical things to consider:

  1. People don’t read adverts. They just don’t. They quickly scan the page, spot one that sounds about right, and click on it. If they land on an inappropriate page, they can always click ‘Back’ are try again. Clever adverts don’t stand out. But some things do, such as numbers, and striking words (Amazing works particularly well).

  2. You want to differentiate yourself from your competitors. Interest Free Credit and Free Delivery are good selling points, but if your advert is in position seven, and the top six adverts all offer Interest Free Credit and Free Delivery, you aren’t giving people a reason to click on your advert. Read the competing adverts, and offer something different (unless you’re top!).

  3. Don’t mislead people. Any claims you make in the advert should be backed up on the page. Not because Google require it (they do, but they don’t police it), but because if people are clicking your advert on the strength of that claim, if they don’t believe it once they land on your page, they’ll hit the back button and go somewhere else.

So you’ve got a good advert, and you’re too busy to test new versions? Unwise are you, and the consequences could be serious.

After all, if you keep testing new adverts, keeping the one that performs better, the performance of your adverts will gradually improve over time. The real kicker is this – your competitors are probably testing new adverts, and improving their click through rates. And since there are only a set number of clicks to go around, where do you think their additional clicks are coming from?

The bottom line is this – you want everybody that’s looking for what you do/sell to click on your advert, and nobody else. The only way to stop other advertisers from eating into your share of the market, let alone grow your share, is to test new adverts more quickly and effectively than they do.

One final thought on this – if you used the grouping structure from the last section, then you can test adverts across different groups of keywords and optimise them together in much the same way that you optimise your bids. An individual Ad Group may get too few clicks for effective advert testing, but grouping it with similar ones will give you far clearer results.


In the final part, I’ll look at the various settings that you can use in Adwords, and potentially how one quick change can double your sales instantly (or even more).