Google Ads Q & A
How to target gmail users, do less Adwords consulting for more money, get better CTRs on competitor names and more.

Christian N.By Christian N.

You turn the cube, and it twists you.

2,317 days and still trying.

I found it once. Then lost it. Then found it… then lost it again.


It’s a slimy slippery little creature that snickers at you everytime you think you have a hold of it.

On my quest, Adwords has been one of the most powerful weapon in my arsenal; it has taught me a thing or two about direct response marketing — and finding Freedom.

I recently sent this survey asking our subscribers what their biggest challenge with Adwords was to see how I could help.

Instead of creating blog posts for the main topics that came out, I decided to answer all the responses — one by one — to the best of my ability. Chances are you’ve asked yourself one of these questions and the answers might help you achieve your goals.

Here are the first fifteen, with my best answers, and the ones our customers were so kind to provide…

Table of contents

  1. Adwords seems too expensive for the main keywords I target, what should I do?
  2. How do I find time to manage and optimize all my client accounts?
  3. How do I get more conversions with the same budget?
  4. How do I optimize competitor campaigns for Quality Score?
  5. How do I make more profit from AdWords?
  6. How do I find time to manage bids across large accounts?
  7. How do I find time to write new proposals?
  8. I’ve been banned from using Adwords, how do I get unbanned?
  9. How do I get keywords for costly niches?
  10. Can I get a 60 day trial of tenscores?
  11. Adwords is too unpredictive. The top page bid keeps fluctuating by huge margins.
  12. How much should I bid in the start, when should I increase or decrease?
  13. Sir, I Am From Google And I Am For Google.
  14. I’m struggling with the Google Display Network. How do I properly set it up?
  15. How do I run ads without spend?

    1. Adwords seems too expensive for the main keywords
      I target, what should I do? tweet this

      This may be true. It may be not.

      Most of the time when I hear this, I find the person isn’t aware of all the targeting options that are in Adwords.

      I will assume you’ve done the math necessary to decide whether a keyword really is “too” expensive or not (many don’t).

      Yes, there are keywords that are very expensive in Adwords. But remember, the minimum required bid depends on competition in your target location and Quality Score.

      When I find myself with expensive keywords, first I try to find out why they are expensive. Is it because of the competitive landscape in the area I’m targeting? Or is it because of a low Quality Score?

      If it’s because of a low Quality Score, I’ll do my best to increase it.

      If it’s due to competitive landscape, I’ll either try and advertise the same keywords in other areas where I can find my customers or I’ll simply find other keywords to target.

      When I first started advertising Tenscores using Adwords, my keywords were “too expensive” in the USA, Canada, the UK and all major western countries. I started targeting other places around the world and found I could get great customers where clicks are still cheap.

      When it comes to keywords, cast your net wide lexicologically and find different ways of saying the same thing. Remember that not everyone searches in the same manner. Your customers may be using keywords other than the ones that come to your mind.

      If you can’t change the location you’re targeting and you’ve found all the keywords possible for your business, there’s a third option. It is a solution that will solve all your problems but will be a lot harder to implement: increase the value of a customer.

      When you increase the value of a customer, you can spend more on clicks and you won’t mind buying them at a more expensive rate. It requires an improvement of your whole business model and it’s what most of your competitors have done in your market.

      Finding profitable keywords primarily comes down to a few key things:

        • Targeting (geographic, time of day, device, etc.)
        • Match Type Strategy – relying too heavily on broad matched keywords can end up costing you a lot of money on less targeted traffic, so a good strategy if you’re going to use broad or broad match modifier, is to isolate those keywords in their own campaign and use them to discover targeted keywords to move into your main campaigns.
        • Bid and Position – If you know the maximum price you want to pay per conversion, then you can figure out how much you should be paying per click by using this simple formula: CPA X Conversion Rate = Max CPC. This will help you figure out how far off the mark you are based on the conversion rate you’re getting.
        • Conversion Rates – how well is your website or landing page converting the traffic that you’re sending from your campaigns? The pages where traffic is being sent often gets overlooked, but is the key piece that influences conversions. Even minor increases in conversion rates can have a significant impact on leads or sales. Not to mention that higher conversion rates mean that you can afford to spend more on keywords you’re bidding on since they are now more profitable. Check out question #3 below for some pointers on what you can do to improve your conversion rates.
        • Campaign Strategy – If despite your best efforts some keywords still prove too expensive, then taking a different approach such as setting up a RLSA (Remarketing Lists for Search Ads) campaign might help (Available in AdWords only at the moment). RLSA is basically remarketing for search, so for example you can target all the keywords that are too expensive and have your ads show to only those people who have been to your site and are familiar with your brand. RLSA is a great way to get incremental traffic from keywords that are either too expensive or that you wouldn’t normally bid on because they are too generic in nature.

      Xurxo Vidal
      Bloom Search Marketing
      @xurxovidal, Tenscores Customer

    1. How do I find time to manage and optimize
      all my client accounts? tweet this

      Increase your fees and manage less clients.

      That’s what I did years ago. With time, you’ll become very picky about who you work with. Only choose clients that you can deliver the most value to and the ones that can pay the high fees you’ll be charging them.

      There’s something about mindset. The first time I increased my prices, I put out a number out there to a potential client… it was three times higher than what I usually charged. I thought he’d chase me out the door and never talk to me again; instead he opened his cheque book and signed me a cheque. That changed the way I see pricing forever.

      Customers with the most money are the easiest to deal with. As an Adwords manager, you’re helping companies make money, so your service is very valuable. Double or triple your fees, take on less customers, find out where people who have the means hang out and sell yourself like you’re worth it… because you are.

      Use a project management tool with recurring tasks. Personally I use TeamworkPM. The tool helps me set recurring tasks and manage multiple accounts without worrying that I “forgot” or “neglected” this or that account. With time, the frequency of the different optimization actions that you take is lowered and you can start spending less time on your existing (and already successful) accounts, giving you more time to deal with the problematic accounts or signing up new clients.

      Arik Berzak
      PPC Account Manager, The Hot Lead
      @Arik_Berzak, Tenscores Customer

    1. How do I get more conversions with the same
      budget? tweet this

      Increase landing page conversion rates.

      I’ve noticed that many new adwords advertisers have yet to discover the power of boosting landing page conversion rates. It is the basis of everything. I can’t stress enough the importance of testing new landing pages continuously.

      I don’t know if this is your case, but I’ve seen people use the same landing page for years without ever testing a new one. The biggest sin is to NOT have a landing page test running at all times.

      Why should you?

      Because it is very common to change something small (like a headline) and double your conversion rate. That’s twice more customers, by changing a few words.

      The skill required to be able to double or triple conversion rates is one that takes time to learn. But sometimes, you can count on pure luck – let’s call it intuition – which I have relied on on more than one occasion.

      It’s actually two skills combined: Design and Copywriting.

      Knowing that a form converts better above the fold or that a button gets clicked more than a link, are part of design elements you need to understand. Though aesthetics are important, this aspect of design is about knowing which element to add and where to put it.

      However, copywriting will have the most impact. Knowing how to write a headline that pulls people in is an art (or a science). Copywriting is a skill that one can never stop developing; it is one that I keep sharpening relentlessly.

      The book I’m reading right now about copywriting is Breakthrough Advertising by Eugene Schwartz. Every page makes me feel so little, this guy is a mountain of knowledge. I highly recommend you start reading it (and finish it if you can, it’s quite intense).

      Unbounce just released a great guide focused on PPC landing pages, the design and the copywriting aspects of it all. You should read it (they want your email to give it you, it’s worth it. Full disclosure: I’m mentioned in the eBook).

      Here’s the anatomy of a successful
      landing page:

      There are a few other things you can do, like improving Quality Score, removing unprofitable keywords and replacing them with profitable ones… but you will always get the most leverage by increasing landing page conversion rates.

      Stop talking about yourself on your landing pages. Instead, tell your customers how what you offer improves their lives and give them a clear call to action. Too many companies focus on themselves instead of their customers. It’s a bizarre combination of bravado and narcissism. Never forget that marketing is about your customers, not about making you feel good about yourself.

      Wayne Vaughan
      President, Fuscient
      @WayneVaughan, Tenscores Customer

      It takes alot of hard work that pays off in the end. You should conduct an extensive keywords research for your product. Organize your keywords into small groups of very closely related terms. Sometimes it can be just one keyword per ad group. Then create a unique landing page for each ad group, matching the url, title, headings and copy as closely as possible to the keywords from that ad group. The landing pages I use are navigation free with clear call to actions that stick out and are above the fold. After that, create ads for these landing pages. Both the landing pages and the ad should try to solve customer problems and invite them to take action. In the end, use Tenscores to fine tune everything, but I promise there won’t be much tweaking and tuning if you invest time into the whole process and do it right from the beginning. I know it’s a lot of work, and that it is time consuming, but most of your competitors don’t do that, and that’s why you can beat them. It saves a lot of budget, lowering bid costs a lot. The Quality Score is usually very high.

      Oleg Čepak
      Managing Director, Marketing Bamboo Croatia
      @MBambooHr, Tenscores Customer

    1. How do I optimize competitor campaigns
      for Quality Score? tweet this

      Full question: How do I optimize competitor campaigns for QS? Let’s face it, the QS on competitor campaigns sucks, but sometimes you have to run them. I’ve gotten as high as 4, but a guide (or even list of tips) for achieving 5+ would be pretty killer.

      While getting 10/10 on your own brand keywords is as easy as taking candy from a baby (not that I’ve tried), getting decent Quality Scores on competitor names is hard indeed.

      Both happen for the same reason: a brand’s domain name will always get the highest CTR on its branded terms.

      I’ll tell you a forgotten truth, people look at domain names before they click. Sometimes way more than they look at the headline or the rest of the ad, which is the case for branded terms.

      A long time ago, when there were no restrictions on the display url and you could write whatever you wanted, testing the domain name was an integral part of testing ads. That’s how I learned the importance of domain name. Then, when that was no longer possible, we used to buy domain name extensions (.info, .net, etc) and use permanent redirects to create tests on competitor ads and drive results. That worked for a while but Google’s gotten clever. So now we rely entirely on our copywriting skills to write better ads using only the title and the ad text.

      I won’t tell you that I have all the answers (because I don’t and my own QS are shitty on some of my competitor terms), but I can tell you what’s working for me now and what’s not:

      What’s working for me now?

      Having ads that compliment the competitor. “Do you love X? We do too, get a free trial of Y for being a fan of X” or “Are you using X? Make the use of X even better by using Y”. That’s gotten me very decent CTRs and many 7/10 Quality Scores. It does not work all the time though.

      What has NOT worked?

      Being negative towards competitors. Trust me I’ve tried; it’s not the best course to take even if you think you have a better product or service. Being positive works much more efficiently so you should find creative ways of putting your competitors in their best light; it will also have a positive impact on your products.

      What I intend to test soon (but haven’t yet)?

      Because I know how important the domain name is for these kind of searches, in the near future, I’m planning on creating mini-sites instead of landing pages. The mini-sites will be on their own domains, and I intend to figure out a way to A/B test domain names on the same ad. I’m not sure about the whole strategy yet, but there you have it.

      As a lot of the QS is still weighted to the CTR and you have done all the fine tuning with Tenscores, stress your USP (Unique Selling Proposition). If the USP is better than the competition you will get clicked. Take advantage of the fact that not all your competitors will cover their brand terms 100%. Also look for Brand + Generic terms, this is sometimes overlooked by advertisers and can be a great way to capture interest away from a competitor.

      Adrian Cutler
      Head Of Digital, GlobalClick
      @ACutlerUK, Tenscores Customer

    1. How do I make more profit from AdWords? tweet this

      Decrease costs and increase revenue.

    1. How do I find time to manage bids across large
      accounts? tweet this

      Full question: How do I find time to manage bids across large accounts? It’s not that fun and I’d rather be testing ad copy, looking for negatives or expanding out the campaign with new keywords.

      Google’s own Conversion Optimizer (or enhanced CPC) is what I use along with automated rules. I hear you can also now use Adwords scripts to do the job on large accounts.

      There are lots of other third party tools that can manage bids for you as well. If you’re willing to give some personal info to Kenshoo, you can download the ForresterWave report on the big players in bid managemement.

      The most affordable option I know of is WordWatch (I have not tried it).

      I personally like to stick to basics since there are so many more things I can do with my time than worrying about bids. Get a tool to do it for you… if anything, turn on Conversion Optimizer.

      I got in touch with Marc Poirier for you. He’s the founder of Acquisio and he can tell you a bit about why it is better to use a third party tool rather than Conversion Optimiser.

      The fundamental difference between using Acquisio to optimize large accounts lies in the volume of conversions observed after enabling the technology, which is usually several orders of magnitude higher than Conversion Optimizer (CO). In fact it is not unusual to see Acquisio yield more than three times the number of conversions when compared to CO. Most of the time, we also see significantly lower cost per conversion than what CO delivers. Finally, because our platform uses a different approach, we can effectively optimize small accounts with very few conversions per day which is something CO just cannot do.

      Marc Poirier
      Founder, Acquisio
      @marcpoirier, Former Tenscores Customer (Come back Marc!)

    1. How do I find time to write new proposals? tweet this

      Full question: How do I find time to write new proposals that standout among the dozens of others that prospects are receiving as they research PPC firms? I actually enjoy this, but it’s time consuming.

      Stop writing proposals. I’m serious.

      Before creating Tenscores, I worked with small businesses as a PPC consultant. Every client I met had offers from other PPC firms. One thing that consistently sealed the deal for me was when I told them I was teaching about Adwords in an “ebook” selling for $69.

      So write an ebook instead; it doesn’t have to be perfect nor long.

      It positioned me as an expert and not just another PPC consultant. It’s also one of the reasons I could charge more than the other firms they met. Now, you must be thinking: “I don’t have time to write an ebook” or “I don’t know how to write an ebook”. Of course you do. If you’re good at what you do, then you know what to write. And if you don’t want to spend the rest of your life writing proposals, you will write it.

      The only way to stand out is to present yourself confidently as the one who can deliver results. When you do that, a proposal won’t be necessary; and when it is, it will only be a formality.

      Also, if you have a firm of “one person”, then don’t promote yourself as a firm; people like to work with individuals. Even if you have a team behind you, individuals like to work with individuals. At least that’s been my experience in my short life as a PPC consultant.

      Lastly, if you’re a Tenscores customer, use the Quality Score focus to differentiate yourself and close deals. I did this in my time and one of our best customer uses Tenscores to close deals. He shows potential clients how much they’re wasting on keywords that have poor Quality Scores. We have a metric for that in Tenscores.

      I’ve found out that translating all that expert-lingo into easy to understand stories will help you differentiate yourself and gain trust from potential clients. Instead of talking about “high bounce-rates will decrease your quality-score and increase your cost-per-click overt time” better try it with something like…

      “Imagine you are a store-owner and you see clients coming in your door and leaving after 10 seconds. This will make you think about possible root causes and if you are able to find and fix the problems, your potential clients will not only enter your store, but they will walk up to the counter and eventually buy your products. We use different technologies to identify possible problems online, so that you attract more happy customers.”

      My suggestion for every PPC expert is not only to invest in clever tools like tenscores, but also in your communication skills, this will really help you and your business a lot. ”

      Jörg Wukonig
      Co-founder of a Webagency
      With over 15 years of industry experience
      @wukonigcom, Tenscores Customer

    1. I’ve been banned from using Adwords, how do I get unbanned? tweet this

      You’re not alone. I’ve been banned three times from Adwords.

      First time was in 2009 when I was still doing a lot of affiliate marketing and they suspended thousands of accounts (mine included). Second time, was… I don’t remember, it must have been a so painful memory I erased it from my mind. The third time was not long ago over a site policy issue.

      The good news is, it has become very easy to get unbanned. Simply call: +1-866-246-6453 during business hours (EST/PST). You’ll speak to someone that will tell you exactly why you were banned and they will ask you to correct the issues one by one. You’ll need to be very honest with them and forthcoming, and if you fix the issues and they believe your business has nothing shady going on they’ll un-suspend you.

      If you violate a serious AdWords policy like the user safety policy, there’s no second chances. It’s the most important policy to adhere to as Google take their customers (regular searchers) safety extremely seriously. Google don’t explain their reasons for banning account to someone who disregards this policy. If you are SUSPENDED for another reason, you need to read the fine print in the AdWords policy section. Usually, it’s the user safety policy, the bridge page policy or the information harvesting policy that people don’t understand. Read those policies carefully and correct the mistakes on your site. Ask on the AdWords forum if it has been resolved and submit your account for a review. If the problem is a serious one, Google will generally not reply. If it’s resolvable, you’ll get directed to a policy document which you need to study carefully. Google wont tell you what part of your site violates the policy. Always ask on the AdWords forum in the policy section before submitting for a review.
      Dave Davis
      Top Contributor in the Adwords forum
      Managing Director, RedFly Marketing
      @redfly, Tenscores Customer

    1. How do I get keywords for costly niches? tweet this

      Full question: How do I get keywords for costly niches like forex, credit repair in thousands with a decent CTR and good conversion?

      You have two choices: pay the high CPCs that are required to compete, in which case your business needs to have a high lifetime customer value to justify the expense or get creative with the use of adwords.

      If search is too expensive to compete in, learn how to advertise efficiently on the display network. Learn how to show your ads on Gmail as a placement, or Youtube or any other websites that your customers are visiting. Do a lot of remarketing and target specific geographic areas with ads that are tailored to those locations.

      There are lots of things you can do. But you also have to know when to decide that Adwords simply isn’t suited for your business. I will write a blog post about that soon. Stay tuned.

      Sometimes you can get creative and think of keywords related to your niche that aren’t targeted by as many marketers. For example, if you want to attract people who are looking for “weight loss” websites, instead of bidding on that keyword, research popular weight loss pills and potions and bid on those keywords. Just make sure your landing page bridges the gap between their search and whatever you’re offering.

      Sean O’Dacre
      Search Marketing Coordinator, FluidSurveys
      @FluidSurveys, Tenscores Customer

    1. Can I get a 60 day trial of tenscores? tweet this

      Full question: Can I get a 60 day trial of tenscores? so that I earn money and then the product pays for itself? Can you introduce mobile billing like tzong?

      We don’t offer 60 day trials. But we do offer a 14-day trial from this page (credit card required).

      However, if you’re not already making some form of revenue with Adwords, Tenscores is not for you — yet. My advice is to keep working on your account until it’s making you a solid profit, then sign up to Tenscores to help you increase Quality Scores, get cheaper CPCs and more volume. Using Tenscores itself will not earn you money.

      I’ve never heard about tzong.

    1. Adwords is too unpredictive. The top page bid keeps fluctuating by huge margins. tweet this

      I wouldn’t worry about top page bids or even first page bids if I were you.

      It sounds like you have a new account with little history, in which case it is not uncommon for keyword quality scores to jump around influencing your top page bids.

      But the biggest thing is, it shouldn’t be your focus at all.

      You should find out what the maximum bid is that would make you break even with adwords (read answer #12 below), then never go above it despite any message in the Adwords interface telling you to increase it. If you find your maximum viable bid is too low for your current keywords, find new keywords with a more thorough keyword research or be creative with Adwords targeting to get traffic at lower costs.

    1. How much should I bid in the start, when should I increase or decrease? tweet this

      This is the question every new advertiser should ask themselves. It’s the question you should answer before starting any Adwords campaigns.

      And the answer is…

      You should bid the maximum required for you to break even.

      In other terms: don’t bid more than you can afford. Then the question becomes: how do I find the maximum bid I can afford?

      Simple math:

      Starting Bid   =   Max.CPA   x   ConversionRate

      Where Max.CPA is your Maximum Cost-Per-Acquisition (or cost-per-conversion) which is the maximum you’re willing to pay for a conversion; and ConversionRate is your landing page conversion rate.

      Let’s say you have a website that sells oranges for $100 each (they’re very special oranges that the Dalai Lama himself blesses before they’re shipped). Each orange costs you $30 to grow. When you sell one, you make a profit of $70. If you advertise them on Adwords, $70 is the maximum you should be willing to pay for a conversion (that’s your Max.CPA). You’d break even and not make a profit. Anything above that you’d be losing money.

      If your website or landing page converts at 2%, then your starting bid would be $1.40 ($70 x 2% = $1.40). Because Google will charge you less than your Max.CPC, there’s a good chance that you’ll make a small profit.

      Now, if your website converted at 5%, you would be able to increase your bid to $3.50. This illustrates the importance and landing page conversion rates and why you should be testing them ALL the time.

      Or, if you were selling the oranges at $200 instead of a $100, and your conversion rate stayed intact, you’d be able to bid at $3.40. This illustrates the dynamics in competitive markets where bids are high. Competitors can afford to bid high because they’ve improved their businesses for it to make sense. Your Max.CPA greatly influences your ability to bid higher.

      So that’s where you start. If the math works out as expected, meaning you get decent traffic that converts at the expected conversion rate, then only then can you start experimenting with slight decreases or increases of bids to see how it influences your traffic volumes and revenue. If you manage to increase your landing page conversion rate, you should revisit your bids. When your account is mature enough, then you can start looking into bid optimization tools that will figure out the optimal bid for maximum profit.

      Note: If you don’t know what your website conversion rate is, figure it out or give up on Adwords!

      Hal Varian from Google has a great video that explains how to bid in a far better way than I ever could, here it is…

    1. Sir, I Am From Google And I Am For Google. tweet this

      Awesome. Me too.

    1. I’m struggling with the Google Display Network. How do I properly setup campaigns, test, optimize, etc? tweet this

      Start with a managed placements where you decide on which websites Google should show your ads. Do a little bit of research, get a list of 10-20 sites that receive targeted traffic and that show Adsense ads within their content. A great way to do this is to simply type your main keywords in Google and go through the organic search results looking for websites that have Adsense ads.

      Make sure to create text ads and image ads in all sizes. Your success will depend a lot on your bid and ad CTR on those placements (or else Google won’t show them). If those websites are already showing ads, you’ll need to bid as much as the other bidders, and once your ads start being shown, you’ll need to have a better CTR for Google to keep showing them. It can be tricky. If you’ve tried this before and found that you were getting little impressions, the reason is either the bid is too low, or the CTR was too for the little impressions your ads received. So take time to craft great display image and text ads for them to work.

      When creating ads, understand the mindset the people are in. They’re not searching and you’re interrupting them. Your message better be compelling enough to get them to stop what they’re doing and click on your ad. If you want to take it up a notch, create ads that are related to the website in question that they are reading. And this reminds me that I should this more often.

      Next create a campaign targeted to Gmail. It would be a keyword and placements campaign, where your keywords would be one of your main keywords and the placement would be Gmail.

      The correct way to add Gmail as a managed placement is:

      •,Top center

      Use the second if you want tell google to specifically show ads at the top of emails. I use both.

      Next, create a keyword only display campaign. Be careful with this one, you’ll need to monitor it closely and check where your ads are really appearing then continuously remove website that get clicks but no conversions by adding them as negative placements. As you monitor this campaign, if you see websites that work well for you, create new ad groups for them as managed placements so you can write more targeted ads and bid higher.

      Those are the basics. Start slow, learn about your market in the process and expand as you see results.

      When it comes to GDN, I start with managed placements. I figure out a category or a interest in which the business fits into, and then I look up the best traffic sources for these topics, be it websites, bloggers, online shops etc.

      Marius Lazarescu
      General Manager, Today’s
      @todaysro, Tenscores Customer

  1. How do I run ads without spend? tweet this

    Pray and wish for a miracle.

    Of course there’s always Google Grants. I manage one Google Grants account for a foundation in Nijmegen (Nederlands) which exploits and maintains a large, monumental church building in the city centre. Someone looking up general info on the church might see an ad that the church cannot exist without small voluntary donations. People looking for volunteer work in the city might see an ad from the church as well. Fun thing is, Google Grants comes with a pretty big budget, and since everyone is bidding the max CPC allowed by the program, it’s all about quality ;)”

    Ivan Beemster
    Business Owner, Lijndiensten
    @lijndiensten, Tenscores Customer

Like I said… Pray. Build a church. Then you can run ads with no spend. That will be your miracle.

More than once I’ve felt like a baby trying to solve a Rubiks cube when dealing with Adwords. A game that is fun but hard to play, with many moving pieces but one objective, a rainbow of colors that can fill your pockets with green.

Christian N.

About Christian N.

Chris is one of the two-man team that founded, he wrote his first PPC ad in 2007, fell in love and hasn't stopped ever since.
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