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Samantha Noble

How to Save Money with Google AdWords

29th Jun 2012 Paid Search 8 minutes to read

Pennies-300x200With Google AdWords continuously adding new features it is becoming more difficult for novice AdWords users to keep on top of rising costs. In this post I am going to run through 10 ways to save money using Google AdWords using some of the features and tools that are on offer.

Earlier this month, I prepared a video on this topic so if you would prefer to watch the video rather than reading through the post, it can be viewed below.

Let’s get started….

1.   Negative Keywords

First up I want to cover negative keywords. At Koozai we have so many clients coming to us who have attempted to run their own AdWords campaigns and failed and I would say that around 99% of these accounts don’t contain even one negative keyword.

For those of you who may not know what a negative keyword is, it is a word or phrase that you wouldn’t want your ads to appear on if it was included in a search query. For example, words like ‘free’ tend to be included in a majority of AdWords campaigns as a negative keyword to stop ads from showing if a search is conducted containing ‘free’.

I would expect an average size campaign to contain thousands of negative keywords. Google AdWords allows advertisers to add up to 10,000 negative keywords so we should all be taking advantage of this.

Negative keywords can be added at ad group and campaign level, with campaign level negatives being the most popular to use.

 2.   Ad Scheduling

If your business can only take orders between a certain time it makes sense to only run your ads during this period so that you are not wasting budget on traffic that you may not be able to convert.

If you think you want your ads running 24/7 the best practice for this is to set the ads to run at all times but use the reporting offered to you in AdWords to check what times of day convert best for you. The reporting will clearly highlight if there are times that you ads are better off not running and using this will help you save money on your PPC campaigns.

Basic ad scheduling allows you to switch campaigns on and off during certain periods of any day of the week. As you can see in the above example, this campaign is running between 8am and 5pm Monday to Friday and it is switched off on the weekends.

There is another option which gets much more advanced and you can actually increase/decrease your maximum bid prices depending on the time of day or day of the week. This is a great feature if you want to get more exposure at a certain time of the day or want to make your budget last longer.

3.   Location Targeting

Location targeting is a must have setting for any local business. When creating a new AdWords campaign the location will automatically be set to target the entire UK, but if you are a business that only operates in one location, you will be wasting money and impressions displaying ads to searches who aren’t in your local area.

If you are able to provide your product or service in multiple locations, you can also set up targeting, so this is something to be aware of. There are more advanced settings for location targeting but for the purpose of this post I am only going to cover the absolute requirements.

4.   The Networks

As with a lot of the settings, AdWords automatically opts you in to the ones that will incur the highest costs for advertisers. Earlier in this post I spoke about the number of client accounts that come to us without any negative keywords, well the same amount also come to us with campaigns opted into the Display Network!

There are three options available when it comes to choosing the network you want your ads to be shown on:

  • Search Network
  • Search Partners Network
  • Display Network

Campaigns that are on the Search or Search Partners networks should never be on the Display Network, they should be treated separately. If you have a campaign set up and running on all three networks, login to your account now and change your settings. Campaigns on the Display Network need to be tailored to that particular audience and they will never work if targeted on all networks at the same time.

The networks can be set at campaign level by going into the settings and choosing Networks and Devices.

5.   Mobile Specific Campaigns

This brings me nicely onto splitting out campaigns so that you have separate campaigns targeting laptops and desktops and mobile devices. Andrew Tonks wrote a great post on how you can improve your mobile campaign results which dives much deeper into mobile PPC optimisation.

The main thing to remember here is that searches on a mobile device often have a different intent than those searching on a laptop or desktop. The search query tends to be shorter and a lot of local intent searches take place on mobiles.

I have seen the CPC on mobile campaigns reduce significantly if the campaigns are split out and the CTR also tends to be higher. You need to remember that on a mobile phone there are only two spots available for the highest ads, the rest of the ads fall to the bottom of the page.

6.   Quality Score

Quality Score is a metric that anyone using AdWords should be familiar with as it determines how much you will pay for clicks on your ads. The higher the Quality Score, the less you pay. There are a number of ways to improve your Quality Score and this has been covered in a previous post but your main focus should always be on increasing the Click through Rate (CTR) on your ads and keywords.

Here are a few posts on Quality Score that should help you understand what it is, why it is important and how to improve it.

7.   Match Types

Although this sounds like going back to basics, you would be surprised at the number of advertisers that don’t make good use of the various keyword match types. The three main ones are broad match, phrase match and exact match and each offer their own advantages and disadvantages.

If you want to save on AdWords spend, changing some of your keywords to broad match can often pick up some cheaper traffic and at the same time it will uncover new long tail keywords that you can bid on.

NOTE – Using broad match does mean that Google can show your ads for synonym matches, so you need to be using lots of negative keywords to stop the ads from showing for irrelevant searches.

If you are looking for a more detailed step by step guide on setting up an effective PPC campaign, the video below should be able to assist you.

8.   Ad Split Testing

At the beginning of May 2012, Google announced that the Rotate: Show Ads More Evenly setting was changing which caused a lot of uproar in the PPC community.

Search Engine Land wrote a detailed post about the change and how it would impact advertisers here – http://searchenginewatch.com/article/2171802/How-to-Handle-the-AdWords-Ad-Rotation-Changes

Advertisers should still be using this setting but it means that ads will need to be updated every 30 days to ensure the setting remains the same, otherwise Google will automatically select the ad that they believe will generate the most traffic and show that ad instead.

Not all campaigns are designed to attract the highest number of clicks, they are set up to attract the best traffic that converts at the highest rate or drives the highest CTR. This is something that we should all be paying attention to and ensure that ads are updated and optimised every 30 days.

9.   Bounce Rate

If you haven’t got your AdWords Account linked up with Google Analytics, you are missing out on so much valuable data. One of the tools that will help you save money on AdWords is the Keyword report in the AdWords section of Google Analytics (shown below).

By drilling down to keyword level you can see which ones have a high bounce rate and make the decision over whether to stop bidding on a particular phrase. In my opinion, if you are driving traffic through to your site and visitors are leaving the site before navigating to another page, you have a few options:

  • Stop bidding on the keyword
  • Try driving the traffic to a different page of the site
  • Create dedicated PPC landing pages

10.   Remarketing

Last on my list for saving money on Google AdWords is setting up remarketing campaigns. So how does remarketing work?

When anyone visits your website, a cookie is placed on their computer and AdWords starts to build up an audience of all these people. Once you get over 500 people in the audience you are ready to start remarketing to them. Because the cookie has been dropped, Google know each person that has visited your site and then all the websites (that are part of the Display Network) that they visit will display your relevant banner adverts enticing them back into your site.

This traffic is really cheap and often converts at a very high rate as the people you are marketing to have already expressed an interest in your website. Even if you don’t start the remarketing campaigns, all website owners should be using AdWords to build the audiences for use at a later date.

You can set up specific audiences by adding different code on various sections of your site. For example, if you are an online retailer selling kitchen appliances you may wish to have an audience for all the people who have looked at fridge/freezers. You can then follow them round with a banner specifically pushing a great deal you have on the latest fridge as you know they are interested in that product. You will get a much higher conversion rate doing targeted remarketing rather than following visitors round with a generic ad for all your products.

Mike Essex explains remarketing in more detail in the below video for those of you who are interested in finding out a little more.


I hope you have been able to take away from tips for lowering your AdWords spend and if you have any other suggestions please feel free to add them to the end of this post as we would love to hear about them.

Image Source

Out with the old via BigStock

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Samantha Noble

Sam is a talented multi-tasker, a dedicated mother to the gorgeous Theo and a big fan of cooking – word on the street is that she’s pretty good in the kitchen but we’re yet to know if this is true or not. Hint hint, we like cake, Sam.

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