Business technology

Running an effective Google AdWords campaign

- March 24, 2010 3 MIN READ

It’s easy to start using Google AdWords, but how do you run a Google AdWords campaign that’s cost-effective and successful? Here are some tips to start you off on the right foot.

This article highlights terminology you will come across in the process of setting up your Google AdWords campaign, so it will be of most use to you if you’re nearly ready to roll.

Google AdWord Campaign settings

Be realistic with your budget. There’s no point trying to advertise your service worldwide if you only want to spend $3 a day!

Google ads that appear on other people’s sites (the Content Network) typically have a lower conversion rate than ads that appear on search results, so to minimise confusion while you’re still learning, de-select the Content Network (under the Network section of your campaign settings).

Ad copy

Poor ads produce poor results. There are numerous theories about what constitutes good ad copy within the AdWords limitation of 105 characters. What works best varies from niche to niche, but here are a few principles to help you generate good returns:

  • Grab attention: The best way to harness attention is to include your keywords in the ad copy, particularly in the title line. If you know how to use it, try dynamic keyword insertion to help with this.
  • Appeal to an emotion: ‘Be a Winner This Weekend’ is an appeal to an emotion you might consider for an ad for tennis shoes.
  • Push the benefits not the features: Don’t focus on the new rubber compound used in the sole, talk about the fact your tennis shoes produce champions!
  • Appeal on quality and/or price: For example, ‘Quality at a Discount’, or ‘Australian Supplier & Guarantee’.
  • Include a call to action: Asking readers to do something now is especially effective when combined with an urgent price appeal, such as ‘See us Right Now for 10% Off’, or ‘See Us Now for Limited Offer’.
  • Capitalise important words: Did you notice that the examples I’ve used here use an upper case letter to start each word? This may not be great English, but it tends to be the best way to go within a Google ad.

Using split testing

Taking these tips into account, I recommend creating two ads so you have at least two variations in your ad group and can see which wording performs better. For more insight into the benefits of split testing, check out Stacey Barr’s article on the subject here.

Keywords and matching options

Let’s say you’re selling tennis shoes again. Firstly, think of several keywords that your target market might search for, such as ‘tennis shoes’, ‘women’s tennis shoes’, and ‘cheap tennis shoes’. And if you don’t stock kids’ sizes, use a negative match to exclude your ad from appearing when the ‘word ‘children’s’ appears in a search.

You could use AdWords’ exact match option so that your ads are only shown to potential customers using exactly the keywords you thought of above. Unfortunately though, that would mean they wouldn’t be shown to someone searching for ‘discount women’s tennis shoes’, and that might be bad for your sales figures!

At the other extreme you could try working with the broad match option, if you do that, you must understand that unless you also insert some more negative matches, your ad will possibly be shown to people searching for ‘running shoes’ and ‘designer tennis shoes’ which might not be ideal!

On the other hand, the phrase match option will allow your ads to be shown to searchers looking for ‘discount women’s tennis shoes’, but again unless you use some negative matches it might be also shown to people looking for ‘pink women’s tennis shoes’, which again may not be productive.

If negative match confuses you, try using exact and phrase matching to start with, which will help keep irrelevant ad impressions and clicks to a minimum while you learn more.


AdWords is not a set-and-forget system; you need to put in the maintenance if you want continued success.

In particular, run the Search Query Performance Report regularly. It shows the actual searches used by those who clicked through to your website and is invaluable for weeding out all the negative matches you should use.

Ask an expert

AdWords is a powerful advertising platform if used well, but can also cost you badly in lost sales, time and expense if you get it wrong. If you’re not prepared to learn to use it effectively, seeking professional help might just be the difference between profit and pain.

Getting a Google AdWords campaign right is sometimes a process of trial and error. Do you have any tips to share to help others tweak their own campaigns?