Designing effective AdWords campaigns

Advice taken from Google, re-written by us: 

translated into no-nonsense advice!

All of this information is taken directly from Google's own help pages, re-written and re-structured into a much more understandable and digestible form for SMEs to grasp quickly without getting bogged down with the jargon and unnecessary details.
AdWords is Google's adversiting product for businesses that places adverts on its search results page. A good basic understanding of AdWords is priceless to SMEs & Startups in order to save money and avoid being overcharged. Get to grips with the basics of how AdWords works.

Rule One: Organise your campaign correctly

Break your campaign goals into specific groups

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  1. Create relevant 'Campaigns' for your product ranges & types of services you offer
  2. Next, create Ad Groups to create adverts for particular products 
  3. Create relevant keyword lists for each Ad Group, ads and optimised landing pages

Your Google account is the entry point to all your AdWord campaigns. You need to start by creating 'campaigns' for your various products and servies. 

Firstly: Create your campaigns

Start by grouping your products and services into distinct categories. Don't be too general. For example, look at Google's example (fig. 1) of a fashion retailer. They could have created a campaign called 'Clothing' but that would have been to general. Instead they give the example of creating a campaign specifically for each type of product they sell.

Why break down your campaigns into finer groups? 

Because doing so allows you to create more specific adverts and related keywords for each of these adverts. The problem with creating general, wide-reaching campaigns is that you risk becoming too general which often results in an ineffective advert: people respond better to adverts which are the closest to what they're looking for. Targeting is important. Think about it, you're searching to settle your craving for some new blue jeans. You see one advert that reads:
  • "Selection of jeans avalable on our online shop" 

Compared to a competing advert: 

  • "New blue jeans, sale now on". 
Which one would you click? Most people would go for the second one! ZMOT*
Create your own campaigns by first dividing your product types or services into campaigns, these are your 'top level categories' and then below this you create Ad Groups  which allow you to create specific adverts for each of your products/services. 
*This moment- when the advert you see is the very thing your looking for, this is what Google refers to as 'ZMOT' or,  the 'Zero Moment Of Truth'. They wrote a book about it, called Winning the Zero Moment of Truth.  To save you time, we've read it for you, and can condense its premise into the following:

ZMOT, is being the one (business, supplier, person) who sucessfully provides the very thing that the person is wanting. Convenience, and authenticity. ZMOT acknowledges that today people will research what they want before they buy, and attribute much higher value to personal recommendations. Give people exactly want they want, when they want it and most of all be informed and genuine. 

Our take on ZMOT, grossly condensed. 

Create your Ad Groups

Ad Groups are the individual product / service promotions.

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What is an Ad Group?

Ad Groups are a way of creating adverts for each specific item you're wanting to sell. For each item, you then create a list of keywords relating to it, and a selection of adverts for these products.

Step one: Create an Ad Group 

For example, see the 'Denim' Ad Group circled in red.  Google again uses the example of a fashion retailer. The 'top-level' campaign is called 'Jackets' and two Ad Groups 'Denim' and 'Vests' created below. This allows more specific and targeted adverts to be created, relevant to your customers. Rather than show customers a generic 'Jackets' advert, show them refined adverts for the exact product they are interested in.

Step two: Create a keyword list for this Ad Group that is relevant

Google recommends creating a list of 5 - 20 keywords per Ad Group. In this context, you need to create a list of keywords relevant to what your selling, and choosing precise keywords by thinking about what keywords and phrases your customer would type into Google when searching for your product. 

Example keyword list for an Ad Group

This is an example to help you create a keyword list for your own Ad Groups. 

Money-saving tip: avoid wasted AdWord clicks:

When creating your own list, keep in your mind your specific products, their brand, material type. What is particular about the product or service you sell? Include these factors in your Ad Group's keyword list. For example, if you sell 'Dry Denim jeans', but you don't sell 'Stretch Denim jeans' consider only putting 'Dry Denim jeans' in your keyword list. Don't blindly put 'Denim jeans' because this is too broad.  

Remember, every click costs you money

You may argue that being more general with your keywords will attract more potential customers, by casting your net wide. For example, including 'Denim jeans' in your keyword list. The challenge with this approach, however, is that f or low budget SMEs (defined roughly as those spending under £300 on AdWords per month), we find that being more specific about your keywords is a much more cost-effective and successful approach for SMEs and startups as it fits their budgets better. In fact, Google recommends:  

"If you want to get the most bang for your buck, select specific keywords that directly relate to your ad's theme."

Google, how to build the best keyword list
Make your keyword list reasonably specific, and you can run a 'highly targeted campaign' which focuses on getting the most out of your budget.

If you don't do this, as a smaller advertiser you run the risk seeing your AdWords budget dry out fast by being too general about your products Ad Group. This results in your adverts being shown to people who are less likley to buy- less of a ZMOT!

A example list might look somthing like this for a highly targeted campaign by an Fashion SME selling Dry Denim jeans:

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  • Dry Denim jeans
  • Fashionable Dry Denim jeans
  • Buy Dry Denim jeans
  • Dry Dry Denim jeans shop
  • Best Dry Denim jeans
Notice how the list focuses on 'Dry' denim jeans, this keep the campagn specific to the type of material this retailer actually sells. Also note the inclusion of 'buy mentality' or 'action' related phrases. We do this to attract potential customers who are already telling us that they are in the mood to buy. The immediate goal of this ficticious Fashion Retailers' campaign is to sell dry denim jeans, an example of bad key word phrases would include:
  • Dry denim jeans ideas
  • Dry denim jeans review
  • Vintage dry denim jeans

The above last examples would not serve the campaigns aims as well becuse it's unclear whether these search terms are demonstrating the 'buying mindset' and for lower budget targeted campaigns, you only have the one shot so your keyword lists are better focussed on the individuals who are searching in the buying mindset. These searches are more likely to result in conversions and sales!

Step three: Create your text ads! 

These are the adverts that appear on the Google Search results page. Make them relevant & action oriented.

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Parts of your text ad

You create text ads for each of your Ad Groups. In fact, you can create more than one ad for each Ad Group. This is engouraged because it allows you to experiment with different wording / styles of your adverts. When you do this, Google 'learns' the most effective adverts within your Ad Group set, and you can use the more impactful ads more frequently, AND use the feedback as a guide to further improve your other ads to increase their effectiveness. 

There are three components to creating a Google text ad. These are:

  • Headline - Grad attention!
  • Web address - Shown to the user, known as the 'display url' to show customer where they'll be taken if they click your ad.
  • Two line desciption - "Used to make your ad stand out, and let them know exactly what they'll find on your site." (Google - Tips for creating successful text ads)

Writing a great AdWords headline

Experiment, that's why you're able to create multiple ads per Ad Group!

A great AdWords headline should grab attention, and focus on your unique selling points which you want to emphasise to potential customers. What's yours: Are you locally sourced, cheapest, award winning...?

Display web address

On your advert you're able to specify a 'display url', which the customer sees on the ad. For example the ficticious fashion retailer might choose "" and relate this to her ad text. This serves as another indication to the customer what they should expect to find if they click your ad. If your page (known as a 'landing page') doesn't match up to expectations, then you've not done your job in matching the advert with the landing page and will lose interest and potential customers. 

Two description lines

Use all the real estate you have to get your message accross to your customer, tell them exactly what they will find on your site. This helps you and your budget too- be clear what your offering and you avoid attracting customers who don't seek what your selling which wastes your money and their time. Finally, make it goal oriented tell them what to do on the site, for example: 'book online', 'buy now' or 'reserve your ticket!'.
Google recommends including keywords from your keyword list within your advert to improve your advert display performance. So in summary, your two description lines should:
  • Make it explicitly clear to the customer what your're offering
  • Include an action e.g 'order online!'
  • Include keyword(s) from your keyword list

Have a splendid landing page

If your landing page sucks, you have wasted all your time and money at the last hurdle.

The landing page is the web page that your potential customer 'lands' on after clicking your text ad. If it dosn't match expectations, then the potential customer will leave but you'll still be charged by Google for the visit. 
Your landing page should simply be a reflection of what your ad promises. If it promises 'Dry Denim jeans 20% off, buy online' then your landing page should include those dry denim jeans, information of the 20% offer and the ability to quickly buy them online. To summarise this point, we quote Google's landing page advice directly:

"The landing page shoud allow them to do what your ad promises."

Google, 5 Tips for creating text ads

Key take-away points from this page:

  • A campaign is simply the overall name for your marketing initiative.  It sits above all of your 'Ad Groups'.
  • Ad Groups are well-defined collections of keywords which target a specific section of your target customers.
  • Create perfect landing pages for your ads by matching expectations stated on your ad with what is found on the landing page. Otherwise you are throwing money down the toilet at the last hurdle! 
  • Experiment with many ads per Ad Group to find out which keywords, phrases perform best

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