AdWords can be a great source of incoming leads and conversions, but only if it’s done properly. You can, of course, dump hundreds of dollars into a campaign every month. If done well, you’d even see a return from that high investment. Most small businesses can’t afford the expensive AdWords, however. It’s harder to use the cheaper, lower-traffic keywords, but if you do it right, you’ll have a significant ROI with a slashed expense.
Remember the Long Tail
The more specific and longer a keyword is, generally the lower search traffic it has. This is because when you get really specific, other users aren’t typing in the exact same query. They may type similar queries, but they won’t type in yours. If you feel this is a bad thing and attempt to target the keyword that fits both queries, you’re going to pay a lot more for your clicks. Using long tail keywords helps keep costs down while still targeting keywords in the same general niche, which is important.
Use Broad Match Precisely
A broad match setting allows your keyword to actually target a wide range of similar keywords. If your keyword is, for example, “blue widgets” as Google likes to use, a broad match will target similar queries, such as “blue gadgets” and “blue widget options.” If your niche is narrow, and many of the queries essentially mean the same thing, you can opt for cheaper keywords and pay for broad matches to maximize your exposure.
Be aware, however, that if you don’t happen to have anything to do with blue widget options, you don’t want to show up for those queries; you’ll look like an unrelated site and won’t get much traffic. This is why it’s important to pick a niche with a range of similar topics.
Use Phrase Match More
Phrase match is like broad match, but with a tighter focus. It helps eliminate the case where you have nothing to do with blue gadgets, but you specialize in blue widgets and blue widget accessories. It limits your ad to only show up in queries with your exact phrase, with or without other words. So if your phrase is “blue widgets,” you’ll show up for “blue widgets,” “green and blue widgets,” “blue widget options” and “blue widget configuration.” Generally, unless you’re playing your adwords hyper-precise, phrase match is where you’ll want to be.
Use Exact Match Sparingly.
The third type of targeting for AdWords is exact match, and it’s exactly what it sounds like. If you sell blue widgets, and nothing else, you’d want to target “blue widgets” and not “blue widget options.” You can achieve highly targeted results, but the scenario where you want to use exact match is rare. Specifically, you want to use it when your exact match has decently high traffic, but it’s surrounded by other keywords that don’t relate to your business and which you’d show up for with a phrase match or broad match search.
Remember Negative Keywords
Negative keywords are keywords you can set in your AdWords campaign that specifically don’t apply to your query. If you sell blue widgets, you don’t want to show up in queries for “free blue widgets,” do you? So you add “Free” to your negative keywords list. You can rightfully assume that anyone searching for free blue widgets isn’t going to be interested in buying them.
Each AdWords query can have thousands of negative keywords attached, to help you refine your results and target your ads. You can find lists of general words to use, generate them yourself or use custom lists for every keyword.
You can also make a phrase match setting more effective by identifying the few unrelated keywords that come up and adding them to your negative keywords list. Better targeting means better ROI, after all.
Pick Relevant Keywords
One of the factors that goes into the cost of a keyword is a quick analysis of your site and its relevance to the keyword you’re targeting. If you’re targeting blue widgets, but your site has nothing to do with blue widgets, you’re going to end up paying more for the low quality score. Your ad copy, your landing page and the keywords must all be closely related to maintain a high quality score and thus help lower the cost of the keyword.
Make Use of Ad Scheduling
You don’t need to bid on a keyword for 24/7 activity. You can choose to only run your keyword ad during peak hours.
The first thing you should do is run the keyword 24/7 for a few days to determine what time of day – and day of the week, if applicable – is best for converting new leads. From there, you can cut out times that don’t convert; late at night, early in the morning, weekends, and so forth.
Don’t bother with running your keyword any time your business can’t take orders. If you’re only available to take orders from nine to five on weekdays, running your ad after-hours is wasting money. Even if a user wants to convert, they can’t.
Target Local and Mobile Users Correctly
Geographic location and device are both options you can set to further refine your AdWords campaign. You won’t necessarily lower your cost per click by refining them – in fact, if you’re only targeting the expensive devices, it can raise it – but the cost is made up with the added conversions that come from a refined search.
Local businesses should target geographically local users and mobile users in particular, to catch anyone searching for one of their related keywords while on the move. Mobile users are some of the most likely conversions available, so they’re some of the best to target.
Make Use of Remarketing
Remarketing is a great practice to use, if you don’t already. It doesn’t directly affect your cost for individual AdWords, but it makes your cheaper, lower-traffic AdWords that much more valuable.
No AdWord is going to give you a complete, 100 percent conversion rate. There will always be people who click your ad, look at your site, then leave. Some of them will even get so far as adding an item to the cart before changing their minds and backing away. These people were clearly interested – they clicked your ad, after all – but they didn’t buy.
Retargeting puts a tracking cookie on their computer when they visit your site through your ad. This cookie lets you run ad campaigns later to target users who have the cookie. For example, you can run Facebook ads targeting anyone who has your tracking code. Now those people who bounced away are reminded about the product they almost bought while they’re on Facebook, and they’ll be more likely to return and buy.
The thing to remember when you’re trying to maximize your AdWords performance using cheap keywords is refinement. The better you target your ads, and the better you follow up on your clicks, the more you’ll earn from every penny you spend.