How do I improve my ad's performance?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009 | 10:58 AM

Whether you're just getting started with AdWords or looking to expand an existing account, it can be challenging to create campaigns that match the right message to the right audience and bring your website the traffic you're looking for. As a Google Grants volunteer working with AdWords for more than 4 years, I thought I'd share a few tips about developing successful accounts:

1. Use your site as a blueprint
You've probably put a lot of time and effort into building a website that's as useful and comprehensive as possible, with a clear audience in mind. This work will pay off when building your AdWords account!

  • Start by reviewing your site and identifying the pages that you want the most people to visit. These pages should contain enough information so that a new visitor to your site won't be confused or disoriented upon first visit.
  • Then, create an ad group for each page you've identified, keeping your keywords simple and straightforward. Start small, with just the keywords you'd expect to bring up your website in the natural search results. For example, if your page offers an opportunity to sign up for volunteer shifts at a local soup kitchen, start by choosing keywords such as 'san francisco soup kitchen volunteering.'
  • Let your ad text tell the story of why your website is relevant to the people searching on these terms, and set the stage appropriately for the page they're about to visit.
2. Location, location, location
It's easy to forget that everyone who visits your site lives somewhere, and a local message is often more relevant than a national one. Even if your company caters to an international audience, consider creating new campaigns that speak more directly to specific regions.
  • Creating separate, geographically targeted campaigns narrows your audience, allowing you to write more customized ad text and get better insights into search behavior. For example, you might create a campaign targeting Philadelphia, then run a search query performance report and see that the top search terms for that region differ from the top search terms in other areas. Next, you could modify your ad text to make it more relevant to the most popular searches.
  • If you don't know which regions your visitors are located in, run a geographic performance report in AdWords to see where your visitors are coming from in a particular ad group or campaign. If you want an even deeper set of information, install Google Analytics for more detailed data on the traffic coming to your site from individual countries, regions, or cities.
3. No time like the present
Try to make the ads you write as relevant as possible to the present moment. If you haven't updated your ad text in a few months, it's probably time for a review. Keep the following considerations in mind when writing your ads:

  • Seasonality: Do you have any products or promotions specific to a particular time of year? Search volume fluctuates for a wide variety of terms depending on the season. Plan ahead so that you can take full advantage of increased interest.
  • Current events: This economic recession is a particularly clear example of a current event that can be useful to keep in mind when adapting ad text. Maybe it's time to rethink your ad text or lower that requested donation amount. Periodically re-read your ads to ensure their message is appropriate.
I hope the above tips help you generate more interest in your cause than ever before. Thanks for all you do to make the world a better place!