Google Paid Search: Easy to Drive, Difficult to Win the Race

Published: January 27, 2015  by 
Formula one car:  Sebastian Vettel driving  Red Bull car
Sebastian Vettel driving the RedBull Formula One car (Photo Credit Redbull via Flickr)

Many people think paid search is easy, and in one sense it is. Google will easily give you the keys to your brand new AdWords account and set you free to drive on the road like a 16-year old with a new high-powered sports car.

If you were anything like me, you might have taken a few risks as a young driver. Perhaps you didn’t understand the power and responsibility. Maybe you even broke a few laws or were involved in a fender-bender.

One thing was certain–you were no Sebastian Vettel, though at times you pretended to drive like him.

Paid Search is Deceptively Easy

Just as it might look easy to sit in the drivers’ seat and handle a steering wheel, setting up a paid search account is deceptively easy.

You can set up an account, enter billing (credit card) information, give your first campaign a name, establish your audience, sprinkle it with some keywords and make an ad in just about 30 minutes.

It is easy to set up an account, but setting up an account correctly takes driving skills you might not possess.

Google Adwords has done a great job with its interface. The interface is clear in its layout, intuitive, and offers lots of help areas along the way. The systems that run them are complex statistically & content driven algorithms written by people who have Ph.D.s in mathematics.

space shuttle cockpit
The engine under the AdWords hood is more complex than the cockpit of the space shuttle.

5 Rookie Google Adwords Mistakes:

As a certified Google Adwords PPC partner, these are a few common mistakes I’ve noticed rookie drivers make:

1. Naming: It’s easy to enter a name for your campaign, but targeting can be tricky. Do you choose radius vs. city, vs. county vs. state? Are there advertising geo-targeting restrictions for your products and services? Should you geo-target or demographically target?  When is it good to use display vs. dynamic, vs. keyword targeting?

2. Keywords: I’ve noticed rookies enter in keywords without understanding the tools or keyword research process. Optimizing for relevance and profit is time consuming and takes in many factors like: keyword strategies, changing match types, optimizing bids for match types, using keywords for finding new terms.

3. Ad Writing: Writing ad copy is both an art and a science. One could write an ad in merely five minutes, but consistently crafting compelling copy over and over, conducting A/B tests, making small changes, and analyzing those changes correctly takes both expertise and experience. Also it takes time and patience. As the song goes, “You have to know when to hold’em and know when to walk away.”

4. Bidding: Rookies make sweeping bids to be ‘top position’ or worse set Google to manage the bids for them for a high positon. They don’t create bidding strategies for individual targets and look for the ‘sweet spot’ for their adgroups and ads like an expert would.

5. Internally Focused: You know your business, but you may not know how others see your business, or search for your products or services. One of the most common quotes from clients is, “I know my business but I don’t know how people search.”

Bill Martin
Bill Martin: Certified Google Adwords  Partner

Lots of very smart people try to run their own AdWords accounts. I’ve had clients with ‘MBA’ after their name, many with marketing degrees, and they still made all the ‘rookie’ mistakes above.

In each case I was able to improve the results of their campaigns, often doubling their click through rates (CTR) by a (sometimes not-so-simple) restructuring of their accounts. Just because you need help doesn’t mean you aren’t smart. Think of it this way: we all know how to drive a car, but very few of us know how to handle a Formula One race car.

If you’d like to talk sports cars, rockets, or Paid Search details– I’d love to chat.