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How to run successful AdWords campaigns – ten top tips

Welcome to the second part of our blog on how to run successful AdWords campaigns.

In part one we explained how we have increased conversions for a client by 1500% without increasing his budget.

We improved his landing pages by focusing on his biggest selling points – getting rid of unnecessary content, having industry badges front and centre and adding simple contact forms and phone numbers.

But that all counts for nothing unless you have the right people landing on your site in the right numbers. And that’s where our AdWords tricks of the trade come in.

We’re going to start with a few basic points and crank it up to the more advanced stuff later on…

1 Segment your campaigns so people land on the right pages

Apologies for stating the bleeding obvious but people are more likely to convert if they see exactly what they are looking for when they first land on a page.

Let’s assume you own a jewellery shop. You don’t want various users tapping in all kinds of terms from “sapphire engagement ring” to “diamond necklace” to everything in between all landing on your home page.

They would have to navigate their own way to the relevant page. Patience is short and you’d more than likely lose them.

Better to create relevant pages – each showcasing a relevant product or family of products – and have the users landing on those pages accordingly.

In our case, for our damp proofing client we created separate landing pages for all the services he offers from “dry rot” to “condensation” to “woodworm” to “basement waterproofing”. Then created matching campaigns accordingly.

The closer the page matches the search, the less likely you are to lose your user. And because the message match is better, your quality scores should improve too, meaning you’ll pay less for clicks. Bingo!

2 Maximise your ads’ performance on mobiles and tablets

Create mobile versions of your ads (these tend to use fewer characters) and monitor their performance carefully.

Make sure you’ve viewed your landing pages on a variety of different devices and they translate well.

After a while you will get a feel for how well they are performing across the board.

If you find they are doing particularly well or badly on mobiles or tablets, for example, you might want to alter your bidding strategy.

In our case, our damp proofing client has a conversion rate of nearly 30% on mobiles so we are willing to bid a little more for these clicks because we know there’s a great chance they are going to turn into custom for him.

3 Demonstrate value at all times – what makes you stand out?

Basic stuff but one of the key ways you can run successful AdWords campaigns: Get the ads right in the first place!

Far too many ads we see contain woolly platitudes that mean very little and do very little to convince potential customers to buy a particular product or use a service.

We always try to add as much value as possible, always asking ourselves what is likely to convert the customer.

So, in the case of our damp proofer, we stress their 30-year insurance-backed guarantee, their 30 years of experience and the free quote, for example.

Ask yourself what makes you stand out from the crowd and get that message out there as quickly and efficiently as possible.

4 Ad extensions, display URLs and dynamic keywords can all add value

If you can beef up your ads with relevant ad extensions you are almost certain to increase your click through rates, which again can increase your quality scores and decrease how much you pay for each click.

As if by magic, here’s one we made earlier for a different client of ours. For the purposes of this blog we’ve highlighted the ad extensions with red boxes and they add up to more than half the ad…


Display URLs – the green URLs searchers will see under the headline – are customisable. As such, they give you another chance to squeeze more value in, telling the searcher that the page they are about to see is relevant to their search.

We’d also recommend experimenting with dynamic keyword insertion across a reasonable chunk of your ads – if the ad that appears mirrors the user’s search term they can sometimes appear more “loyal” to that ad or company.

5 Make sure you drive the right people to your ads in the first place

If we are not struggling for volume of clicks, we often favour exact match keywords because we know precisely which searches we’ll be getting.

If you have keywords like [damp proofing companies] in exact match, then you’ll only get searchers who search for that exact phrase.

If, however, you have it in phrase match, you might attract informational searches like “how many damp proofing companies are there in London” and “tips for speaking to damp proofing companies”.

And don’t get us started on broad match, which really will open the floodgates.

Phrase and broad match have their places – most notably if you are struggling for volume and you need more clicks – but you have to monitor these keywords very carefully to ensure there is no waste.

Run daily search term reports – click on dimensions>view search terms and you’ll be able to see the exact phrases people have been tapping in before clicking on your ads.

If any of these look weak, informational or less relevant put them into your negative search terms and they’ll be excluded next time.

In the case of our damp company, we currently have roughly 1000 negative keywords, ranging from products they don’t sell like “membrane kit”, places that are out of their reach, competitors’ names and DIY-type terms tapped in by people who do not look like they are looking for help.

6 Filter your ads and keywords to sort the wheat from the chaff

While you are looking at your ads or keywords, for example, try pressing filter>create filter.

You can then highlight the ads or keywords that aren’t pulling their weight. Here’s a few suspects that we’ve got in our sights:-


We’ll often use the filter to find keywords whose cost per conversion is too high – assuming they’ve spent enough of an overall budget to ensure they’ve been given a fair crack of the whip.

It’s the same story with ads – you should have enough ads in each ad group to ensure there will be more than enough left to display even after you’ve paused the weaker ones.

But don’t overreact if you don’t have enough data!

We tend to rotate ads evenly for 90 days at the start of any given campaign and then optimise. This is another way to ensure your ads get a fair chance.

When in a campaign, go to settings>all settings>ad delivery>rotate evenly.

In the long run it’s probably a good thing but it does mean you should keep a very beady eye on any weaker ones because you won’t have Google as a safety net refusing to display the less popular ones.

7 Don’t overbid just to get to the top of the page

One or two of our AdWords clients are willing to pay extra to be the top listing on the page. It’s a prestige thing. Fair enough.

However, most of them just want us to make them money. And that obviously influences our bidding strategy.

Because you are bidding for places, you pay more for clicks at the top of the page than clicks lower down.

Now if volume is an issue and you need more clicks, you can’t afford to be stingy with your bids because the chances are you won’t get enough clicks if your ads are appearing too low down.

However, if your campaigns are thorough enough and effective enough to ensure that volume is not an issue, we’d recommend aiming to appear slightly lower down the page – often in positions four or five rather than one or two, for example.

Why? For the same reason you don’t go into a shop and barter them up: Most of our clients would rather spend £100 on 100 clicks in position four or five than the same amount of money for 50 clicks in position one or two.

If you want to dig a little deeper go to segment>top vs other and you can find out how your ads are performing in the top few positions compared to how they are performing lower down.

For most of our clients, cost per conversion is the key yardstick that we measure success by.

8 Locations: Just targeting a location is not enough!

We have transformed a few clients’ AdWords accounts by paying careful attention to where their ads are appearing.

Do not assume that just because your ads are only showing in London there won’t be anyone searching for the wrong locations.

Our damp proofer’s ads were only showing in London but he had enquiries searching for help anywhere from Hastings to Milton Keynes to Edinburgh.

It’s perfectly possible people in London might type in “damp proofing Edinburgh”. Perhaps they are visiting London for the weekend but they are searching for help with damp in their flat in Edinburgh when they return.

This is another reason to be careful with your match types – broad or phrase match keywords can let in a lot of waste – and negative keywords can be a godsend.

We weren’t happy with merely showing our damp proofing ads in London. We also added every other major town, city, county or country in the UK into our negative keywords to ensure we don’t get any of these “travelling enquiries” eating into our budgets.

9 Check what times of the day / week your ads are performing best

It’s another easy win if you have enough data: You might be surprised when you are getting your conversions.

Do you get better value in business hours? Before or after work? On weekends?

We find it tends to vary a lot from industry to industry but if you have enough data you should be able to tell what is working for you and what isn’t.

And if a certain time or day of the week isn’t working, you can pause your ads then – or lower your bids.

But don’t overreact on the back of six or seven conversions. We tend to find you need a lot of data before you can make decisions you can trust.

And for low-volume campaigns that could take months. So be patient my friend.

10 Retargeting display ads can work wonders when used correctly

Retargeting – you know, the ads that follow you around after you’ve visited a certain website – can really help in the right industry.

We tend to find they are less effective when conversions are high volume and low value: When conversions are less of a big deal, people are more likely to commit there and then. They don’t need chasing around.

However, when a product or service is a big deal, they are more likely to browse, go off to think about their options and get in touch later.

In these instances retargeting can really help.  We’d recommending three slides rotating with a clear and simple message.

Here’s one we use for a different client:-

how to run successful adwords campaigns - a remarketing example

How to run successful AdWords campaigns – summing up our tips

There’s a lot to keep tabs on if you are running AdWords campaigns – and these tips are only the start.

It obviously depends on your priorities but most of our clients want as many paying customers as possible for their money.

So cost per conversion is often key for us – but it goes without saying it’s up to you to how you choose to measure success.

A combination of these tips and improving the landing page experience has seen us drive cost per conversion down for dozens of clients.

As discussed, in the case of our damp proofer, we are getting 15 times more conversions for the same money they were paying another agency.

It’s a very similar story for others but there’s a lot of work involved and it goes without saying we are only really dipping our toes in the water with these ten points.

There’s a lot more to it when you get down to the real nitty gritty but hopefully this should give you some idea how to run successful AdWords campaigns.

As always, get it touch if you have any questions or need any help with PPC management. And good luck.