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15 AdWords Marketing Experts Share Their Top Strategies

Kristina Cutura

Founder/SEM Consultant KristinaCutura.com, Author of Advertising on Google: The High Performance Cookbook

What is your best quick implementation tip for companies and individuals trying to increase exposure and their profits through AdWords?

Pick highly relevant keywords, avoiding the more general, expensive ones. This sounds counter-intuitive because most companies believe that adding a lot of high traffic keywords increases your exposure. However, adding too many keywords can hinder your efforts at achieving good quality scores and the keywords that you choose could cost you more.

With Google, it’s all about relevance. Google wants their users to see ads that relate to what they are looking for. So, AdWords rewards advertisers who choose relevant keywords and write appealing ads by giving them better quality scores. AdWords discourages advertisers who choose keywords that are too general through poor quality scores. When you have better quality scores, you need to pay less for each click. Focusing on relevance (rather than adding any keyword you can think of) will pay off in the long run. Expand your keyword lists as you learn more about AdWords and what works for you.

If a company or individual is starting out with a total budget of under $1,000 for AdWords what would you suggest they do?

Don’t aim for the top ad spot, at least not at first. Being the #1 ad on Google is also going to be the most expensive. If your ads show in position 2-4, you can still get great volumes of traffic, but you’ll pay less for each click. Also, the top ad often gets lots of curiosity and impulse clicks that may not be as qualified. Ads 2-4 tend to get more clicks from users who actually take the time to read the ad copy.

Target more narrowly, rather than broadly. For example, if you are a local business, show your ads to only the locations where your customers are likely to come from.

Core Philosophy on AdWords:

“Set goals (such as how much you are willing to pay for each sale or lead) so you can focus your optimization efforts. It’s easy to get distracted with the many features and statistics, so you’ll need to keep in mind your end goal.”
Kristina Cutura, Founder/SEM Consultant of KristinaCutura.com, Author of Advertising on Google: The High Performance Cookbook

Jonathan Casella

New Media Marketing Manager/Search Specialist at Sparxoo

Please share a case study with us:

My client, a tourism company, wanted to utilize PPC after their site launch as a way of generating traffic and leads, while SEO had an opportunity to develop. We built five campaigns: one for each primary service offered. Within each campaign, we developed 10-15 ad groups with no ad group containing more than 5 keywords. Each ad group had it’s own landing page, optimized for the keywords being targeted. We embedded a brand video, added a phone number, and created a form in the right margin. In one month, we saw conversions (online lead forms) increase 250% with a 46% decrease in cost-per-conversion. This process take much more time, but is much more effective.

Do you have any text ad tips or a short case study on good performing text ads for us?

Make sure to test compelling call-to-actions (CTAs). Depending on the target audience, you’re likely to find there are certain CTAs that are more successful. In one scenario, two ads had the same copy, except for the CTA. One read “Sign Up Now!” and one said “Learn More.” Turns out, the “Learn More” had a 50% higher click-thru-rate.

I also like to test ads that have the first letter of each word capitalized. I find that capitalized ads generally have a higher CTR. As you become more experienced with PPC, you will see that the littlest things can influence the success or failure of a text ad.

Core Philosophy on AdWords

“I believe testing is key to AdWords success—test everything. Test your keywords, text ads, image ads, call-to-actions, landing pages—test to see if your ads perform better in position 3 verse position 1.”
Jonathan Casella, New Media Marketing Manager/Search Specialist at Sparxoo

Tim Schmidt

Internet Marketing Specialist, Explore Consulting

What is your best quick implementation tip for AdWords?

Adjust your ad schedule and cycles.  Most people simply default to running their ads evenly 24/7, every day of the year, no matter what’s happening.  First, decrease your bid during off-hours when there’s less competition.  There’s no reason to pay full click price at 3 AM.  Second, watch the trend of weekday vs. weekends clicks.  One set usually converts better, so bid up the one set and down the other.  Third, adjust for seasonal trends.   For instance, products around holidays or services around regulatory deadlines cause upswings, so emphasize the upside and relax afterwards.  Fourth, jump on breaking news stories.  If your product or service relates to a news story people are searching upon, AdWords can be a quick way to capitalize on that topic and drive people to your website.  While larger companies are still dithering with approval, an entrepreneur can craft and run an ad within ten minutes.

If a company or individual is starting out with a total budget of under $1,000 for AdWords what would you suggest they do?

Stay away from money terms and liberally collect negative keywords.  Anyone searching upon the modifier “cheap” or “free”, don’t pay for that click.  Likewise, while the search modifier “best”, “top”, and “sale” drives lots of traffic, those searches perform worse on conversions.  Instead, look for the long tail keywords searched upon less frequently, but indicates higher buyer interest.  Don’t bid up to the top position.  Being number one probably won’t increase your click through rate, but it will increase your costs.

Core Philosophy on AdWords

“I like Google, but I like my money better.  Ruthlessly optimize your ads and budget, but don’t get hung up on AdWords and don’t overspend.  The best way to generate new business is still the satisfied customer.”

Tim Schmidt, Internet Marketing Specialist at Explore Consulting

Alex Genadinik

Founder of Problemio

If a company or individual is starting out with a total budget of under $1,000 for AdWords what would you suggest they do?

I would suggest to definitely set a daily maximum spending limit and limit each keyword. Also, I would advise to not bid on too many keywords right away, but test different keywords slowly. That way it will be easier to determine which keywords are performing well and which are not.

The last thing you want to do is rush in. Also, before you start spending money, make sure your website converts visitors well. Otherwise it can just be a waste of money.

Do you have any landing page tips? 

For whatever you want the conversion to be, have it appear above the fold. And preferably, make sure that there is only 1 thing you want the users to convert to. And make that one thing extremely clear. And make sure you promise that one thing in the text of your ad.

Core Philosophy on AdWords

“There are 4 things that must absolutely fall into place:

1) Cost

2) Scale of people who will be reached

3) Targeting with tested keywords

4) Eventual conversion of the people who will click on the ad.”

Alex Genadinik, Founder of Problemio

Craig Streaman

Director of Marketing, Consumer Action Law Group

What is your best quick implementation tip for companies and individuals trying to increase exposure and their profits through AdWords?

Using ASCII Characters (%,®, +, *) will instantly set your ads apart from others competing for the same keywords.  It’s not rare to see an ad with a lower position receive a higher CTR by using attention grabbing characters that stand out from the rest of the plain text.

Any AdWords secret weapons that you could elaborate a little on?

For advertisers with a larger budget and larger potential audience, setting the Delivery Method to “Accelerated: Show ads more quickly until budget is reached” and turning the campaign budget and CPC up,  you can quickly determine how many clicks are actually available, and which times of day perform best.  After getting a good sample, you can then pare back a campaign to use only keywords, ads, and certain times of the day that prove to be profitable.

Core Philosophy on AdWords

“All good PPC starts with good SEO.  Clearly defined landing pages with a single message, and clear calls to action are just as important as your keyword choice and ad copy.  There is no point in driving visitors to a site / page if you have no chance at converting them.”
Craig Streaman, Director of Marketing  at Consumer Action Law Group

Eric Fischer

Web Designer and SEO/SEM Specialist at 20 Creative Media & Marketing

What is your best quick implementation tip for companies and individuals trying to increase exposure and their profits through AdWords?

For businesses with a local storefront, make sure your local profile is up to date. If your Google Places for Business page is up to date and validated, with appropriate business types selected, etc, it will allow you to dominate a visitor’s eye real-estate when they first search for terms associated with your business.

By choosing good keywords for your AdWords ads and associating them with your Google Places account, the Google frontpage can become your playground.

For those without a local storefront, expanded sitelinks are a must. Your wonderfully placed ad can disappear amongst the other entries if it’s just two lines.

Do you have any text ad tips or a short case study on good performing text ads for us?

Text Tips – Make sure you learn how to put the keyword that was searched for into the ad dynamically. This is really easy, and often overlooked. If your ad’s headline contains the keyword that was actually searched for, everything is golden!

Core Philosophy on AdWords

“Integration with Analytics is critical. Unless you know what visitors are doing once they click on your ads, you may be throwing your money away.”
Eric Fischer, Web Designer and SEO/SEM Specialist at 20 Creative Media & Marketing

Matthew Gibbons

SEM Manager at inSegment

What is your best quick implementation tip for companies and individuals trying to increase exposure and their profits through AdWords?

I would advise companies looking to get started quickly in AdWords to focus on the “low hanging fruit”. Create search campaigns focused on keywords that will bring in exactly your target audience. Be sure to use text ads and landing pages that continue the conversation that the user initiated when they entered a search. Conversion tracking is also a must for advertisers looking to measure their return on investment; this data allows marketers to optimize their account for maximum profitability.

Any AdWords secret weapons that you could elaborate a little on?

It’s a poorly kept secret, but the AdWords Editor is a great tool. It allows AdWords managers to make bulk changes in a way that the user interface does not, including adjustments as a percentage of the original value. Copying and pasting variables saves a tremendous amount of time and effort. It also allows multiple users to collaborate on an account without overriding each other’s changes.

Core Philosophy on AdWords

“inSegment’s core philosophy on using AdWords is to “continue the conversation”. Your advertisement should not be an interruption in the user experience; it should be an answer to a question they have asked.”
Matthew Gibbons, SEM Manager at inSegment

Lauren Davis

Lead Paid Search Account Manager at TopSpot Internet Marketing

Please share a case study with us:

Before we took over the account, an aftermarket car parts company had all their keywords in one single ad group. This means that no matter what keyword was typed in, the user saw the same ad and landed on the same page. We did a lot of research on their website to make sure we had all the car parts in their campaigns as keywords. We also separated the keywords out into their own ad groups, in order to create targeted ads for each keyword. Doing this increased CTR almost 6 times, and reduced cost-per-click by half. Having ads landing customers on product pages instead of the home page increased online sales by 50%.

Anything else you’d like to add in?

If you are not getting good conversions, first check your keywords to make sure they are driving targeted traffic. If the traffic is high quality, but they are not converting, it is time to consider making website changes.

Core Philosophy on AdWords

“Be a Paid Search Scientist: Test, Measure, Adjust. Like any scientist, start with a hypothesis you would like to test.”
Lauren Davis, Lead Paid Search Account Manager at TopSpot Internet Marketing

Kathy Horn

Marketing Consultant with vitalink®

What is your best quick implementation tip for companies and individuals trying to increase exposure and their profits through AdWords?

Don’t try to do too much at once. Start with a targeted campaign that tests 3-4 different ads for effectiveness, and limit the number of keywords to 10-15 to start. Be as specific as you can. You may wish to begin by accepting Google’s recommended settings, then adjust as you find out what works best for you. In my experience, the leads my clients have gotten through the Search Network have been of a much higher quality (and more likely to convert) than those coming from the Display Network. That said, we often use the Display Network to gain brand exposure and name recognition or to specifically target certain websites we know our customers and potential customers are likely to visit by using managed placements.

Do you have any landing page tips?

  • To be most effective, your ads should set the expectation for the landing page. As an example, if your ad says, “get a free sample of product A” and you drop visitors onto your website’s home page—where there is no reference to the free sample—they will likely leave and you just wasted money on an ad.
  • You’ll also want to make sure the keywords used for each ad group are represented on the landing page.

Core Philosophy on AdWords

“AdWords is a great tool to draw visitors to your website, but if you are in a competitive industry, it can be pricey. You really have to target and test your ads carefully to ensure you are spending your budget most effectively.”
Kathy Horn, Marketing Consultant with vitalink®

Mark Eckdahl

Chief Evangelist, ScheduleMax Online Scheduling

What is your best quick implementation tip for companies and individuals trying to increase exposure and their profits through AdWords?

For very quick AdWords implementation:  Try an AdWords test for your business – use (only) top two search terms and remove Display network distribution to focus your test.  Target the traffic from a click to a page with Google Analytics or other tracking already setup.  Start the Ad and see if the cost is worth the benefit it is to your business.  If it is, see how you can grow your AdWords usage to get more benefits for your business.

If a company or individual is starting out with a total budget of under $1,000 for Adwords what would you suggest they do?

Note, before you start with AdWords you need to get your best SEO terms and add them to your website.  This will result in both free traffic from searches and higher Quality Score (Rating of how close your website content matches AdWords keyword) for those same terms when used in AdWords.

A. Determine best search terms for your business.

B. Put these search terms in your website.

C. Target Adwords to either mobile or desktop depending on which will give you better results for each click.  And eliminate Display Network.

D. Set CPC at near what Google recommends, however pay less for keywords you see as less likely to benefit your business, and a bit more for keywords that fit your business exactly.

Core Philosophy on AdWords

“Test and improve a focused lead generation plan.”
Mark Eckdahl, Chief Evangelist at ScheduleMax Online Scheduling

Michael LaLonde

SEM Consultant, Londes Digital Marketing

What is your best quick implementation tip for companies and individuals trying to increase exposure and their profits through AdWords?

Define goals and learn to measure how effective your campaigns are at reaching those goals.  Whether you’re maximizing a tangible conversion likes sales, revenue, or leads, or have branding objectives and are using time on site, pages/visitor, and bounce rate, it’s imperative to monitor how effective each part of your AdWords strategy is performing and focusing on profitable segments.

Please share a case study with us:

Last year, we signed on an e-commerce client that had a budget of $2k/month for Google AdWords.  They had a 1.5 Revenue/Cost ratio, which wasn’t a profitable margin for them (for every $1 they spent, they generated $1.50 in sales).  With plenty of analytics and AdWords data to look at, we were able to restructure their campaign in a very measurable way that focused on what had been effective in the past.  Within two months, we had more than doubled their sales to a 3.2 revenue/sales ratio.  We did this by excluding unprofitable segments, focusing on long-tail searches that provided extremely profitable customers, and executing ad testing.  Over a year later, we’re helping them scale campaigns and increase budgets in the 3-5 revenue/cost range to increase sales and drive more profitable traffic.

Core Philosophy on AdWords

“Our goal when approaching AdWords is to be both scalable and measurable.”
Michael LaLonde, SEM Consultant at Londes Digital Marketing

Donnie Cooper

Founder of Inboundable.com

Any AdWords secret weapons that you could elaborate a little on?

I always use mergewords.com to help me organize the various keywords for each ad group. I like having every variation possible (and set to phrase match), so I can be sure I tested everything.

CallRail.com is another invaluable tool. This service (which you should be using too) tells me exactly which campaign, ad group and even keyword my phone calls come from! It’s my secret weapon, because competitors will continue to bid on keywords that send traffic but not calls. I like getting calls and sales, so I track calls from the website, not just calls from AdWords numbers.
If you’re on a shoe string budget, I built a wordpress plugin for tracking calls from visitors who have clicked one of your ads.

Do you have any text ad tips or a short case study on good performing text ads for us?

Always use the keyword topic for that ad group in your ad text. Beyond that, you can test several calls to action like “see our deals” or “offer ends today”. The most important thing to remember however, AdWords is all about who can get leads the cheapest… so your goal should be high quality scores via well organized campaigns. And this means, using your target keywords in your ad text.

Core Philosophy on AdWords

“In the vast majority of cases, I recommend structuring your account such that each of your campaigns has only 1 landing page (optimized for only 1 keyword topic). Each ad group would contain variations of that topic as keywords and similar ad text.”
Donnie Cooper, Founder of Inboundable.com

Russell Davies

Owner, Lobster Digital Marketing Limited

Any AdWords secret weapons that you could elaborate a little on?

Most people think that you have to bid the most to get your advert further up the serps but it’s not true. A lower bid on a phrase that has an advert that gets more clicks will get a higher placement on the results pages than a poorly designed advert that bids more than you do. Spend the time on your advert and run several adverts at the same time to test variations on headlines, subtitles and body text to see what works best. Pause under-performing ads or make further changes until you find an advert that converts well, gets high placement and low cost per click.

What is your best implementation tip for AdWords?

Keep it simple to begin with. Target a small number of phrases with optimized adverts that relate closely to the phrases you’re targeting.  Don’t be tempted by Google to add hundreds of suggested phrases to your list, stick to a small number of phrases that are middle or low competition but get regular visits. Its much better to get a high percentage of the visits from a less popular phrase that a tiny number of visits from a highly popular and expensive phrase.

Core Philosophy on AdWords

“Be targeted – take time to target small groups of phrases with optimized ads.”
Russell Davies, Owner of Lobster Digital Marketing Limited

Sean O’Brien

Director of Marketing, Pagely®

What is your best quick implementation tip for companies and individuals trying to increase exposure and their profits through AdWords?

Utilizing conversion tracking, make sure to figure out what an average lead/sale is worth, and then bid based on this. Bidding based on conversion value ensures you’re only bidding if you’re seeing ROI.

Do you have any landing page tips?

Make sure your landing page has a form visible above the fold, and has content relevant to the keyphrase you’re sending traffic for. Therefore, it’s optimal to have a separate landing page for each keyphrase.

Core Philosophy on AdWords

“My core philosophy on using AdWords is that in order to make it work, you either need to become an expert, or hire an expert. Many SMBs try AdWords and abandon it before giving it a fair chance, oftentimes because they figure it’s something they can do themselves without the proper training or experience. If someone wants to run their own AdWords account, they should study and sit for Google’s relevant certification exams.”
Sean O’Brien, Director of Marketing at Pagely®

Taylor Miles

CEO of WebbROI

Do you have any text ad tips or a short case study on good performing text ads for us?

Test, Test, Test.  Start with your brand name, see how current customers respond, then use similar ads for new customers.

Anything else you’d like to add in?

Most importantly, measure with Conversions on site both in AdWords and Google Analytics.  Start small and test.  Don’t even try using AdWords unless you are tracking some sort of measurable goal: Phone calls, Sales, or Contact us page requests.

Core Philosophy on AdWords

“AdWords is more than paying for clicks; it’s core to researching and understanding your market and customer base.”
Taylor Miles, CEO at WebbROI

Learn Google AdWords

Did you know that Google gets over 1 billion searches per day?

Just writing out the number is mind boggling:

1,000,000,000

That’s a lot of zeros.

And that’s PER DAY on the Google search engine.

Those searches are actually split through SEO and the paid listings run through AdWords.

If you want a piece of that 1,000,000,000 pie, then you need to get your website ranking high through natural search or AdWords (or both).

I love it when my webpages rank high naturally. It’s free traffic and I’ll take all of that I can get.

But AdWords can work well also, especially if you spend the time to properly optimize your ad campaigns. Even though you have to pay for AdWords listings, as long as you can make back more than what you’ve spent, it’s well worth it.

A really nice advantage of AdWords is it’s faster than SEO.

Another one is that as long as you have conversion tracking set up through your AdWords account, you’ll be able to see exactly how much you spent and what you earned. You can track all this right down to the keyword.

While you can create a campaign within the AdWords interface and have your ad running in just minutes, the reality is that before you’re able to maximize your profits with AdWords you’ve got to learn how to use it. Even the top PPC experts will tell you they’ve got to run their campaigns for a while to collect data. From there they analyze the results and fine-tune their settings for higher profits.

Like the experts, you need to go through this fine-tuning process to maximize your profits from AdWords. There’s really no way around this step.

If you’ve ever tried AdWords and didn’t get the results you were hoping for, it might be because you didn’t refine your campaigns.

Conversion Tracking is Vital

Many businesses set up an AdWords campaign only to turn it off for good because it wasn’t immediately profitable.

Worse yet, they let their campaigns run even though it’s not bringing in a profit. No one would do this intentionally, but if you aren’t tracking sales from your ads you really have no idea if you’re spending more than you’re earning.

You cannot spend money on AdWords and hope your profits go up by that amount each month. You have to actually track the ads and see if they’re directly resulting in sales. Otherwise, an increase in your profits may be due to something else and your ad spend could be doing nothing for you.

AdWords makes it easy to set up conversion tracking so you can see exactly which parts of your campaign are turning into sales for your business and which parts are not. Deleting or making adjustments to the parts that aren’t will dramatically increase the profits from your ads.

Every day that passes is a day your campaign could have been profitable. You just need to learn how to fine-tune your campaigns and then spend the time doing it.

The main takeaway is that although you can get an ad up and running in just minutes, to see great results you’ve got to be willing to give it some time. That time will help you make your ad campaign more profitable because you’ll be able to make the right changes based on the data you collect and analyze.

And the nice thing is you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to analyze AdWords.

I’m sure you know if you spend $50 and make $125 that you’ve made a profit of $75. If you can understand that logic—even if you need a calculator to do the math—then you can optimize your AdWords campaigns.

Benefits Breakdown

Here are a few benefits of using AdWords:

  1. It’s scalable. Once your ad campaign is set up to be profitable, the only limit is the amount of traffic available in your market. You can increase the number of sales you’re getting through AdWords by finding more keywords that convert for you.
  2. You can use AdWords with any budget. It works for businesses with very small budgets (as little as $100 a month) up to those spending millions in advertising.
  3. AdWords will help you gain extra traffic and sales. It’s best to use it (or any other method for generating traffic) with additional traffic sources like SEO, Facebook ads, or ads running on Yahoo and Bing. It’s always smart to diversify where your prospects and your customers are coming from.
  4. It’s a direct response marketer’s dream come true. If you’re interested in making a sale or getting visitors to take an action on your site then you’ll love AdWords. The platform allows you to put tracking code on your thank-you pages (the pages a visitor is taken to right after they buy or sign up) and your AdWords dashboard will track all the conversions.
  5. It has full tracking capabilities. You’ll be able to track all the way down to the keyword level. Depending on which keywords are converting for you and which are not, you can just adjust your bids. The goal is to optimize your whole campaign around conversions. That way you know exactly which keywords and ads are working and which are not. This gives you the information you need to adjust your campaigns for maximum profits.
  6. AdWords helps you collect conversion information. You can use AdWords to collect data about which keywords convert best for you. You can use this knowledge to shortcut your trial and error with other advertising platforms. That means you now know exactly what keywords you should try to rank high for in the organic search results.  Instead of optimizing your web pages for a variety of keywords that may or may not increase your profits or sign ups, you can focus only on those that you know result in a benefit. This saves you time since you won’t have to chase after keywords that don’t perform.
    You do have to pay for your AdWords ads, but again, if you can get your campaigns to be profitable, then you’re coming out ahead.

How AdWords Works

AdWords is based on an ad auction system where businesses bid on keywords.

They’ve got two networks. The Search Network which runs the ads on Google.com and the Display Network. I’ll just cover the Search Network here as the two networks are very different.

When a searcher types a keyword into the Google search engine, AdWords determines which ads to show and how to position them.

The system selects the ads from a pool of those that are bidding on that particular keyword.  In general, the higher the bid, the higher the position of the ad.

As an advertiser, the position of your ad is important. According to eye tracking studies, the top left of a webpage is the spot that gets noticed the most. If your ad shows up in the top paid spot of a Google search results page, your ad is more likely to be seen than any of the other paid listings on the page.

AdWords assigns a quality score to each keyword you bid on to help Google reward relevant ads.

If you sell eye glass cases and you bid on the keyword ‘cases for eye glasses’ your ad will be viewed as relevant (by visitors and by the AdWords system) for that search term. You’ll be rewarded for showing such a relevant ad by getting a higher position for less cost. However, if you bid on ‘wine glasses’ then your eye glass cases ad will not be viewed as relevant. AdWords will adjust your quality score to make it more expensive for you to bid on that term.

AdWords uses your click-through-rate (CTR) to help figure out your quality score. If out of a 100 impressions, or views, two people click on your ad then your CTR is two percent. That’s a decent CTR and indicates to AdWords that your ad is relevant or you wouldn’t have as many people clicking on it.

Now let’s say out of 100 impressions no one clicks on your ad. Maybe it takes 1,000 impressions before anyone clicks on it. This might hold true in the wine glasses example. If you bid on the keyword ‘wine glasses’ and your ad mentions ‘eye glass cases’ it might really take that many impressions (or more) before you get a click. That turns out to be a CTR of 0.1 percent, which is not so good.

In that case, AdWords gives you a low quality score for that keyword. And you’ll have to pay more to get a high position. It’s their way of discouraging you from bidding on that keyword at all.

The amount of the bid along with the relevance of the ad, keywords, and landing page are factored together to determine where your ad will be positioned on the results page.

What Profit Margins Work Best with AdWords?

This can vary across the board. Obviously, the higher the profit margin on your product or service the better. But in some markets you simply can’t justify an expensive price tag.

I was spending about $1500 a month and earning about $9000 a month at one point on products that were only in the $20 to $30 range. So that was a profit of about $7000 a month. I had to sell hundreds of products to make that kind of money, but the demand was high enough that selling so many products was possible. In that market, it was possible to earn a decent amount even with a low priced product.

But not every market is going to be like that.  For one thing you have to consider your competition. If you enter a market with a very inexpensive product while everyone else charges much higher prices, you’ll have a difficult time making AdWords work for you. That’s because your competition will drive up the bids for your keywords. In this case in order for your ads to show on the first page of the search results, you may need to spend more than what will allow you to make a profit.

But there are ways to work around that situation.

One way is to bid on long-tail keywords, which are very specific and usually consist of several words, sometimes three, four, even five word phrases, or more. These keywords are often cheaper and have less search volume, meaning not as many people search for them. For that reason they are often overlooked by the competition, especially those with big budgets because it takes more time to find and organize long-tail keywords. But if you take the time to target these types of keywords, you can greatly increase your chances of profiting with AdWords.

Collecting Email Addresses or Going for the Sale

Figuring out if your primary goal should be to make a sale or to collect email addresses really depends on your business model.

Every business is unique. Looking at what your competitors are doing will help serve as a guide. Keep in mind that not all AdWords advertisers actually track their conversions or know what they are doing. However, if most of them are running ads straight to a sales page, then you can presume at least some of them are actually tracking and coming out ahead with this strategy. So you may be able to earn by sending people to a sales page too.

It’s at least a good starting point. If you’re already set up to make sales and don’t have a way to collect emails right now then it’s best to start by using your sales page (or a modified version of it) as your landing page. It’ll help you get up and running faster.

And you can always test out the impact collecting email addresses has on your conversions later on.

If you’re going to try to collect email addresses, make sure what you’re offering in exchange for a visitor’s email address is leading them toward purchasing whatever it is you offer.  For example, a free trial is a great way to target both collecting emails for further follow up and instigating sales at the same time. You can offer a free trial or free download with or without a credit card.

A free trial is great because it exposes people to your product or service.  If you require an email address to sign up, you can follow up with them later on.

It’s easier to convert people to a paid version of your product or service once they sign up for a free trial. You know they’re interested in what you offer.

To really drive this point home let’s use a software company as an example. This fictitious company offers online project management software. If they offer a free ebook on project management they may get a lot of people who sign up for it, but will they convert?

Probably not nearly as well as if they offered a free trial for the project management software itself. People who sign up for the free trial get to see the software in action. And you know they’re interested in the exact product offered or they wouldn’t have signed up.

This won’t work for every business.  If you run an ecommerce store you probably want to lead people straight to the order pages of your products. In that case you’d set up conversion tracking and your goals would be purchases.

If you’ve got a training product or ebook then you might want to start by sending people right to the sales page and track purchases. Later on you can try changing a few of your landing pages to a free trial email sign up offer, which could be a free chapter or free video, along with email follow-up and see if that improves your conversion rate.

If you don’t have a product or service and instead earn money through affiliate marketing you can send people to your sign up page offering a free newsletter or free download. Then follow up with them and tell them about the products or services you make a commission on.

Ultimately what you want are sales so it can make the most sense to start out by having sales as your primary goal. Compared to making sales, there are many more moving parts to an email marketing campaign. If you’re just starting out, this may only complicate things for you and slow you down.

Either way, once you’ve determined your goal, set up conversion tracking. You may want to also enable Google Analytics or a similar tracking package. Analytics allows you to track more goals and gives you even more insights into the people visiting your site.

AdWords Analogy

I know a lot of people are scared to buy traffic. But here’s an AdWords analogy for you that might help you see how this can be worth your time …

Let’s say you figure out a system for winning with lottery tickets. Not a huge win, but you can go to the same store at the same time and spend $100 there every day.  As long as you select a certain combination of lottery numbers, you generate somewhere around $200 for your $100 lottery ticket investment.

It may have taken you several weeks to get that system down and you probably lost a little money while working toward figuring it out. But once you figured it out, it seemed to keep working for you.

So each day you grab all those tickets and take them home. Over a month you spend $3000 ($100 x 30 days) and your winnings are $6000, which puts you at a $3000 profit.

You’re spending $3,000 a month. But you’re earning more than enough to cover your costs and make a nice profit. Do you let the fact that you’re spending money turn you off from this little money making endeavor?

I hope not.

You’ll want to check on it daily and make sure your system is still working. And that’s how it is with AdWords. You figure out the system; that combination of keywords, ads, landing pages, and budget settings. Once you put it together you can keep earning from it.

You will need to keep a watchful eye on the system. You may need to tweak things.  But as it is you’re earning more than enough to cover your spending and make a worthwhile profit.

That’s how AdWords works.

And if you’re able to get to a profit, the skills you learn on the road to getting there can transfer over to a lot of other traffic generation methods as well. That only helps your business gain traffic from as many different sources as possible.

Have you used AdWords to bring in extra traffic with any luck? If you’re willing to share your story tell us about it in the comments box below.

Google Adwords Certification: Costs, Details, Tips and Study Guide

AdWords is a fairly complicated advertising platform. Complicated enough that it’s easy to burn through a decent sized budget on AdWords, sometimes in just a few days.  Anyone who’s ever tried AdWords with no previous experience or without investing in some training first can probably tell you that.

And that’s why many small businesses hire an AdWords specialist to help them turn a profit on their AdWords campaigns.  Those with a big enough budget hire a full or part-time employee as a PPC (pay-per-click) Manager. Others outsource their AdWords campaign management to a PPC firm.

The thing is, these small businesses need a way to figure out who’s really skilled in AdWords.  If you’re either:

a) Looking for a job as an AdWords specialist or,

b) Want to offer your services by starting a company or side job helping businesses use AdWords,

Then the AdWords certification is a way for you to show that you’re competent in AdWords. The certification is put together by Google and consists of passing at least two exams covering loads of AdWords details.

I recently became certified and decided to put together a guide about the process, why you might want to become certified, and a few details about what the exams cover.

What are the Different Types of Certification?

If you pass the certification exams and follow the terms and conditions of the program you will become individually certified.

You’ll have to re-take the exams once a year to keep your status.

There’s also a company certification.

Companies who’d like to gain the company certification must have at least one certified individual linked to their My Client Center account (this is a special AdWords account for companies allowing them to run several AdWords accounts within it).

The My Client Center account must manage at least $10,000 worth of AdWords ads over a period of 90 days.

This level of ad spend must be maintained for as long as the company wants to keep the qualification status.

There’s no limit to how much you must manage if you just want the individual certification.

What is the Cost of Becoming AdWords Certified?

It costs $50 to take each exam. You have to pass two exams in order to become certified so the total cost is $100 as long as you pass each exam on your first try. You have to pay $50 each time you attempt an exam.

I’m not sure how many times you’re allowed to take an exam. When I took my exams, there was a notice stating if you don’t pass you can take it at least one more time after waiting a week.  So AdWords does seem to have some rules about limiting how often and maybe even how many times you may take these tests.

When Can You Take It?

You can take the tests pretty much anytime you’d like. You don’t need to schedule a time to take them. You can take them any day of the week at virtually any time (day or night).

Where Do You Take It?

You take the exams online so that means you can take them pretty much anywhere you have an internet connection that can access the testing center browser.

I don’t know how the testing browser would work on a tablet or especially a Smartphone. I’d suggest taking the exams on a laptop or desktop computer and to find a quiet place where you won’t have a whole lot of interruptions since these exams are timed.

What are the Different Exams?

Everyone working on getting an AdWords certification should start with the Advertising Fundamental exam.  It covers the basics of AdWords, from the Search Network to the Display Network.

Once you’ve passed that exam, you can choose from one of the Advanced exams. At this time there’s a Search Advanced exam and a Display Advanced exam. If you’re not sure which one to choose, I’d go with the Search exam as the AdWords Search

Network is where most of the money is made.

I’ve got a breakdown of each of these exams for you here:

Google Fundamentals Exam

The Fundamentals exam covers the following:

  • Introduction to AdWords
  • Account Management
  • Campaign and ad group management
  • Keyword targeting
  • Language and location targeting
  • Ad formats
  • Budgets and bidding
  • Measurement and optimization
  • Performance
  • Profitability and growth
  • Managing multiple accounts

You can get all the information you need from the GCP  (Google Certification Program) Learning Center or a PDF that supposedly has the whole online training center within it. That PDF is over 400 pages.

I did not study from the PDF. Instead, I used the online materials. It has a ton of links to other pages on it and is hard to navigate, but that PDF seemed even more disorganized than the online center.

Here are the details of the Fundamentals Exam:

Time limit – 120 minutes

Exam length – about 100 questions

Passing score – 85%

The next step after AdWords Fundamentals exam is to take either the Search Advertising or the Display exam.

Search Advertising Advanced Exam

This exam covers the following:

  • Ad formats
  • Ad and site quality
  • AdWords tools
  • Performance monitoring and reporting
  • Optimizing performance
  • Profitability and growth
  • AdWords API

The Performance monitoring and reporting section is massive. I did not have many questions from this section so I wasted a lot of time studying these details that weren’t actually covered much on the exam (at least not my exam).

There are many areas of the Search Exam that overlap with the Fundamentals Exam. Sometimes when you click on a link in the online training center even when you start in the Search Advanced tab it takes you to a page in the Fundamentals tab. This made studying easier because I had already gone through some of it, but it added to the disorganization of the whole experience.

The PDF download for the Search Advanced exam is also over 400 pages long and again, it looked more disorganized than the online testing center so I did not use it. I studied from the online materials only. Here is a list of a few important facts about the Search Advanced exam:

Time limit – 120 minutes

Exam length – about 100 questions

Passing score – 80%

Display Advertising Advanced Exam

This exam covers:

  • Display ads on the Google display network
  • Display ads on YouTube
  • Display ads on mobile devices

The PDF for this section is only about 150 pages long.  So it’s fairly short compared to the other 2 exams.  That plus the fact that you only need a 70% may make this one easier if you are looking for an easier exam.

However, the Search Individually Qualified certification will likely carry more weight if you’re looking at attracting clients or gaining employment with an SEM (search engine marketing) firm. Here are a few facts about the Display exam:

Time limit – 120 minutes

Exam length – about 100 questions

Passing score – 70%

You may have noticed there’s a different passing score for each exam.  I thought the Search Exam was quite a bit harder than the Fundamentals Exam so  I was glad I didn’t need to score as high on that one.

Why Should I Take It?

The main reason why you would take the exams and become certified is to prove to others that you know your way around AdWords.

So that means if you want to become employed at a PPC marketing firm adding this certification to your resume could help you get hired. It’s not going to be the only thing potential employers look at, but it can help you stand out.

Alternately, if you want to take on clients as a PPC professional for your own business or for side work, then having this certification will probably help you. At least a few potential clients will take note that you’re AdWords qualified and it may put their mind at ease that you know what you’re doing.

Whether you work for someone else or decide to offer your services on your own, gaining this certification can help you attract work as a PPC specialist.

If you’re just looking at learning how to use AdWords for your own business then getting an AdWords certification is probably not the best use of your time.  You might be better off just learning your way around AdWords and skipping the tests altogether.

What is the Salary?

Since we’re talking about gaining employment with a PPC company or taking on clients you may be wondering about the pay.

It’s hard to find a reputable salary range for AdWords PPC managers, but from searching around it seems to start at about $40,000 – $50,000 a year and up.  The titles for these jobs range from PPC manager or PPC specialist to AdWords manager. Some companies are even looking for someone who’s got SEO and PPC experience and if that’s the case you’ll do both.

If you start your own PPC management company and take on clients you can make a good salary too.

Right now every business is trying to get online (or maintain their online presence). If you’re in charge of your own company (or provide PPC services on the side), then you decide what fees to set.  You can get hourly fees for consulting or a monthly fee. A monthly fee can be great because if you have clients who stay on with you (which they probably will as long as you’re helping them out and doing a good job), then you gain recurring income from them.

I’ve seen smaller PPC Management companies charge about $1000 as their set up fee for AdWords along with a monthly maintenance fee of starting around $300 a month. This is on the lower end. I’ve also seen companies charge a percentage of the client’s AdWords spend.

You’ll need to check into the going rates if you’re planning to offer PPC management services. But as you can see, it’s very lucrative.

If you’ve already got a business helping others market their products and services or you offer web design or development, then offering PPC management as another service makes a lot of sense. Of course you want to be able to get results, so start with marketing your own company through AdWords to gain the experience.

SEO is monopolized by Google at this point and Google’s been cracking down on link building methods and low quality content.

Due to this a lot of companies are looking at diversifying where their traffic comes from (which is smart).

Even though AdWords is still controlled by Google, using it to drive traffic is still not the same as getting traffic from SEO because AdWords and the organic search results run off different algorithms.  So a lot of companies are looking at PPC right now.

From helping so many people that have lost organic rankings I know the first thing they do is look into starting an AdWords campaign.  Many of them try it on their own and because they don’t take the time to learn it first, they don’t do so well at it.

Proving to them that I can help them with that too is part of the reason I decided to get certified.

The point is by gaining this certification you can attract a lot of clients looking at making AdWords work for them.

What Do I Get Out of the Certification?

You can say you’re Individually Qualified in Google AdWords on your resume or your website which should help convey credibility with this advertising platform.  You’ll also have an Individual Profile page you can share with clients or potential employers. It’s not very fancy, but it shows that you’re certified.

Who Can Take It?

There’s no prerequisite to gain the AdWords qualification.  You don’t need any AdWords experience or even an AdWords account to take the exams or get certified.  You also don’t need a special degree or anything else.

So pretty much anyone willing to take the exams can get certified. Which is why you’ll also need some actual experience with AdWords to impress anyone. But becoming individually qualified does indicate that you’ve at least got some knowledge of AdWords.

If you want a company certification then you need to manage $10,000 worth of AdWords spend every 90 days. That’s about $3400 in AdWords a month.

You have to meet that level  of ad spend at all times or your company certification can be terminated. So it’s better if you have a few clients and you run several $1000 over the minimum. That way if a client decides they don’t want you running their account, you’ll still meet the minimum.

How to Take it?

In order to get started with your certification, you need to sign up for an account here.

This login is tied into your regular Google product ID (login and username). So you can just use those login credentials.

Once you’re inside the Google certification program center you’ll see a few tabs.

Here’s what mine looks like.

When you first start, you won’t have anything under your status.

If you click on the exams tab it shows the exams they’ve got and your status.

I’ve taken two exams at this time.  The strange thing is this online center isn’t the website where you take the exams. That’s somewhere else.

Here on this My Exams tab where it says ‘To take exams, visit our Exam Testing Site’, that’s where you need to go.

It’s a whole separate online area where you need a whole new username and login (thank goodness for roboform).  So for that you need to sign up and you’ll be inside this area (where you actually take the tests).

You can buy the exams here and take the exams here.

Since it’s two separate areas, once you pass an exam it takes a while for that information to go over to the your Google account (I think it took about 2 days).

From within this dashboard you need to go to ‘purchase test’.

You’ll notice there are more tests in here other than just the AdWords exams.  But we’re concerned with the top 3 under AdWords where they’ve got the Fundamentals, Search and Display Advanced Exams.

Here where they’re talking about a valid candidate ID, you get that from the other online center.  Just copy it and keep it handy.

This way the online areas can figure out who you are and when you pass an exam, the Google account will eventually be updated. So make sure you have the right candidate ID when taking these exams.

You can purchase an exam before you take it. I don’t know if there’s an expiration on your exam purchase (I would assume there is not).

Here if you click on the Details link they give you detailed information about each exam.

I’ve got some of these details in the article for you, but it’s best to review this page the day you plan to take an exam in case it’s changed.  They’ll give you the time limit, the number of questions, and the percentage you need in order to pass.

That’s really all you do here in this testing center.

AdWords has a Testing Center Browser that opens up when you take one of the exams. You don’t actually install anything on your computer, the browser files run locally and is only loaded while your test is being delivered.

The thing with this browser is that once it’s running, you will not be able to do anything else with your computer until you’re finished. So you won’t be able to look anything up online or open any files on your computer. All you can do is answer the test questions.

However, if you have a book or printed papers obviously they can’t stop you from reviewing that while you’re taking the test.

They also can’t stop you from using another computer or device (like a tablet or Smartphone). It’s up to you what you want to do.

The thing is, these tests are timed so even if you plan to use lookup material, you’re not going to be able to look everything up.

You’re going to need to know most of the material before you go in to take the exam.

If you notice, you have to get a pretty high score to pass. For the Fundamentals Exam you need an 85% to pass. I actually only had 95 questions.  So that means I needed to get 80 of them right to pass. At 120 minutes to answer the 95 questions that means I had less than 1.5 minutes or 90 seconds per question.

So you’ve got to know most all the questions. You don’t really have much time to take these exams.

I can’t get a screenshot of the testing center for you since they keep you from doing anything with your computer during the testing session, but it was pretty easy to use.

You had the question in the middle of the screen and then at the bottom right you had arrow keys to go back or forth through the questions. There was also a button for marking questions. That way you can mark any you weren’t sure about and go back to them before your test was over (if you have time).  There’s also a timer and a spot that tells you which question you’re on. This helps you to see how you’re pacing yourself and if you’re taking too long on the questions.

When you’re done you can review the questions you’ve marked and go back to any that you want. When you’re ready you can click ‘end’ to indicate that you’re done. At that point you can’t go back through the questions. They’ll ask you to take a survey about the test (it’s optional) and then you get your score.

Hopefully, you passed!

How Can I Study for the Exams?

There is a GCP Learning Center where they cover what’s on the tests. However, it’s not super organized. It jumps around and has a ton of links to other materials that aren’t covered. So it can take you a long time to go through it that way.

They also don’t give you practice exams or any type of study aid so all you can really do is read through their material and then go into the test, hoping  you’ve learned the right stuff.

If you’ve got any questions or tips on the AdWords certification process or the exams, please leave them below.

Use Our Study Guide

I did write a study guide to passing the Google AdWords Certification Advertising Fundamentals Exam. It includes the material broken down into easy to understand language, workbook quizzes and some practice exam questions. I think it will help you pass this exam quickly.

If you’re interested in that, you can find out more here.

If you’ve got any questions or tips on the AdWords certification process or the exams, please leave them below.