AdWords can be an effective way to drive traffic to your website, and in some cases, it can be far less expensive than other advertising methods. However, knowing what it can do and getting it to do that are two entirely different things. Like anything else, experience makes a huge difference, and if I could go back in time, these are the warnings I would give myself about AdWords.
1 Don’t be so naive!
If Google were a gleefully malevolent company that enjoyed using its advertising platform to randomly nuke businesses, I don’t know what it would do any differently. Google seems to get physical pleasure out of changing rules, removing tools while calling it an “improvement” and permanently banning people from AdWords, giving banned users literally no options for redemption.
There are multiple, legitimate stories of businesses failing because of AdWords bans. These weren’t due to people misusing the ad platform, and bans often came without warning. If you want to make AdWords your main revenue source, don’t let me stand in your way. Just make sure it’s not your only revenue source.
2 Don’t let yourself be fooled!
Google tends to be very blase about the importance of Quality Score. Don’t listen to them. It is not an exaggeration to say that your quality scores can make or break you with AdWords. They determine how much you pay for an ad, where it shows up and even if it shows up at all.
There are a lot of things that go into getting great quality scores, but two of the biggest, and the ones you have influence over, are your click-through rate (CTR) and your account history. Yes, those regrettable things you’ve done on your account will come back to haunt you. Google knows, and it remembers.
It’s also important to note that Quality Scores depend on your performance compared to your competition. I mentioned CTR earlier as a key component of how Quality Scores are calculated. Google uses the CTR performance of a keyword as a benchmark. If you do better than your competition, your scores are higher and you rule the world; if they are lower, you can expect to pay more and see your ads showing up in lower positions than advertisers who have higher CTRs.
Source: Tenscores dashboard
3 Are you really going to pay that?
Some people have really great AdWords experiences, making tons of profit while paying very little for clicks and conversions. However, as more and more people have started to use AdWords, competition has increased, and bidding has increased along with it. This means that even with a great quality score, your cost per click – which does not guarantee you a sale, only the chance for one – may be very, very high.
It is not uncommon to be in a market in which the costs per click are too high. So high that it would be unprofitable for you to even consider advertising with Adwords.
Take a look at the price for buying one single click on some of these keywords:
If you’re in a highly competitive keyword market, you’ll need to target the right keywords, have not just good but amazing quality scores to keep costs under control and have a profit margins that can justify the costs. Related to this, you’ll have to ask yourself …
4 Isn’t that customer too damn expensive?
Let’s say you have a cost-per-click (CPC) of $1 for a particular keyword. That sounds pretty affordable, right? Well, maybe, maybe not. It sounds like a small amount, but how many clicks will you need to get a sale? Do you need 10? 20? 100? If you need 100 clicks to make one $50 sale, a $1 CPC doesn’t sound so affordable, does it?
In some cases, AdWords isn’t a good choice if you’re in a highly competitive market and selling a relatively low-cost item. Before you start wading into AdWords, you’ll want to figure out the acquisition cost, also referred to as cost per acquisition or CPA, you can afford. To make the math easy, let’s say you determine that you can pay no more than $20 to get a customer to buy your $50 item. If you discover that AdWords will cost you more than $20 to get that buying customer, you need to either figure out a way to lower your CPC or the number of clicks to get that customer or find another advertising method.
5 Don’t get too lazy!
Google offers a variety of automated bidding and ad creation systems. Who doesn’t want automation? I know I’d much rather a computer handle my bidding and maybe even generate ads for me! However, it’s important to know that computers can be very dumb, and there have been some excellent examples of Google’s automation creating ads that are, quite honestly, astonishing.
Additionally, Google’s default response for improving ad results is to bid higher. It is true that you can overcome competition with higher bids, but you’re far better off obtaining a better ad rank or getting your ads to show up with a great quality score than shoving more money at the problem.
My suggestion is to treat Google automation like a small, mischievous child. You can leave them alone for a while, but you need to check up on them from time to time to make sure they haven’t set the cat on fire.
6 Don’t forget to test!
Since Google appears to spend tons of time every day figuring out how to change rules and remove tools in exchange for new ones that you don’t know how to use, get ready for a lot of change and a lot of tests. You should be testing anyway because you can always get better, whether it be your landing page, your ad wording or which keywords you bid on.
However, keep in mind that even if you seem to have the perfect formula for getting clicks and conversions, Google is going to yank the rug out from under you, so be ready to be running A/B tests until you have nightmares about multiple choice tests.