Adwords - 1 year later and over 100k - My feelings, let's talk

by iwiber
20 replies
  • PPC/SEM
  • |
Hi guys,

I've always been working with adwords, many years ago through an agency, then with small money by myself until last year when we decided to invest a lot more money. Now I have a full year of testing with big money and my observations are very ambiguous, so let's debate/talk.

Here I have developers/designers so I'm spoiled for doing a lot of landing pages and tests, so I did lol, about 25 to 30 different landing pages.

So far, my results has been like a roller coaster, so here's few of my primary observations:


More results when campaign is new

I found out that every time I created something new, I got more leads in week #1 than in week #2 to #4 combined. Makes me feels that google is trying to not have you get too much results, so you’ll test a lot and invest more money. This is a feeling that is supported by about 25 campaigns, not saying I’m right.


Very impossible to get a 10/10 QS in a competitive market

Ok this sounds brutal but, I tested everything (some will say not since I didn't got it), I have never passed 8/10. And actually, to please Mr. Google with an 8/10, I had to make my ad so boring with no catchy phrases and a boring title. For example, it’s like if you sell computers in chicago and your keyword is “Desktop Computers Chicago", well yeah you can have your ad title being “Desktop Computers Chicago" but seriously, is it appealing? Especially if all your competitors do it… On a side note, we always built our LP with google page insights in order to "give us a chance" to please Mr. Google.


Had my best results despite QS of 5 and less

I guess in my domain, ad relevance (not in gg pov but in a customers/prospects pov), having catchy titles and ads works better than pleasing google. Or for example, ignoring the red notice from google like "low QS low volume bblablabla" often still gave good results.


Had my worst results by trying to get a QS of 8+

Lately I have built a serie of 10 LP with very minor changes to target very specific keywords, having page insignts of 100/100 desktop/mobile with a load speed incredibly fast. Well, 5k later, got an average of 1 lead per $500 when I usually have 1 leads per $150. You may find this crazy but in IT, good keywords are in the $18 to $30+ and I’m targeting 1 lead every 10 clics.


Unexplainable suddent changes of my QS and leads results

Very often, things were on cruise control, getting good results, until suddenly I pass from an 8/10 to 5/10. The page is perfect, the price is still very high, but you can't find an explanation to losing 3/10.... New competitors? Yeah ok but 3/10 less? How can I lose ad relevance or user experience when it was ok for a month. PS: I never left an ad without monitoring for more than 2 days.


Now with that said, it's just feelings on my last year experience, I'm not perfect, I'm not saying everything I'm saying is logical neither not improvable... I'm just sharing my experience to open the discussion, to learn more about it and maybe ultimately make some of you learn a bit too. I hope this discussion will be very constructive.


PS: English isn't my primary langage.
#100k #adwords #feelings #talk #year
  • Profile picture of the author jamesfreddyc
    I think yiur score drops might be due to competition making better adjustments to their campaigns than you are.
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  • Profile picture of the author Greedy
    Learning to properly SEO configure my page to Google liking for the keywords I'm bidding on has help me.
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  • Let me address some of your points.

    "More results when campaign is new"

    I'll assume you mean "better" results. But what do you mean by better? What's the metric you are using? CTR? Number of sales?

    Since you say you test, you may have tested something new in the following weeks that simply did not pan out. So your campaign was better the first week. Hey, as you said, we're not perfect. Even I who does this for a living don't hit a home run the first time or for that matter improve each and every time.

    There's no reason for Google to somehow "punish" you with poorer results the weeks after you start a new campaign. It doesn't care. It's a non-emotional algorythm. Your perception may be wrong too. You said yourself it's a feeling. Back it up with statistics, enough of it.


    "Impossible to get QS of 10"

    I've heard some say in the past that you can't get even a 7 in competitive markets. That simply is not true.

    It also pretty much goes against how QS is calculated. QS is strongly influenced by CTR. That is, your CTR at your position compared to the CTR at that position for competitors. It very likely is a standard deviation calculation. By definition, it cannot be impossible to get a 10. It could be hard, but not impossible.

    Again, even though I manage many accounts, I can get frustrated myself with improving QS. I'm happy with a 7. Think of a bell curve: likely 60% of people have a QS of 4 to 6, 20% are below 4 and 20% are 7 and up. Being at 7, you are ahead of the curve which ain't bad. Doesn't mean you should not continue to try and improve. Don't even stop when you get at 10. I've saved a client even more and his QS were mostly tens already.


    "Best results with QS of 5"

    As said, QS is a comparison calculation of your CTR to competitors. It could very well be that an average QS gets better results, if by that you mean a higher conversion rate and hence ROI.

    But you have to find a balance. Test more. Which of the following would make more profit: first ad with CTR of 5% (and say average QS of 5) and conversion of 4% or second ad with CTR of 7% (and higher QS) but a 3% conversion? I choose the second ad almost every time because I make more sales per ad impression. The higher QS will also keep CPC down and better guard you against competitors.

    It would be very unusual to have a poorer CTR ad (and I mean by a lot here, at least 25% difference) do so much better conversion rate-wise that you would go with the poorer CTR ad. In fact, I cannot think any time that has happened to me, at least it is extremely rare.


    "Sudden changes in QS"

    That would be unusual too for a mature campaign but it can happen. Main reason is again you made an ad change (you do test, how much, I don't know but you test) that negatively affected the QS. Other changes such as adding/removing keywords, including negatives.

    Competitors also will affect your QS obviously but I don't think by that much. So you are affecting your QS by three points.

    QS changes for everybody with each impression and each change made. If there are lots of competitors, a few good ones can affect a lot of their competitors with positive changes to their campaigns. Remember, your campaigns are not in a vaccum, you are competing with others and everything is in constant flux.

    Also keep in mind that QS is not really an integer number. It is shown this way but in the background, it has many decimal places. Think if you are on the edge at 6.5001 (rounded to 7), it doesn't take much to drop to 6.4995 or a rounded 6. A really bad ad can drop you three points.

    I think this discussion will be constructive and many can learn.
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    • Profile picture of the author jamesfreddyc
      Originally Posted by LucidWebMarketing View Post

      Let me address some of your points.
      good stuff.
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    • Profile picture of the author iwiber
      Originally Posted by LucidWebMarketing View Post

      Let me address some of your points.
      Hello

      First of, thanks for replying that text, I have a lot of respect for that.

      As for “But what do you mean by better?” For me it’s about the amount of leads.

      Thanks again very much for your contribution!
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  • Profile picture of the author drewfioravanti
    I am in a competitive niche. I generally have a QS of 10/10 some lower, but nothing lower than 8/10. I get huge discounts on clicks.

    The key, in my experience, is that I have 1 landing page per keyword group. The keyword group contains the exact, phrase and broad modifier of the same keyword, plus the plurals.

    The keyword appears in the headline, the copy and the destination URL. It also appears in h1, h2, h3 and p tags on the landing page.

    The best part is that I get a CTR of about 8-13% from the 4-6 positions. I don't bid into the top 3, except on mobile. If I notice the ad rank getting below 3, I'll slightly decrease my bid.

    I get even bigger discounts on mobile.

    But, this particular campaign is highly optimized...day parting, languages, states, about 800 negative keywords, sitelinks, mobile, etc.

    In fact, I even day part my day parting by changing the bid percent for different times of the day.

    One thing I hate that I am sure you have noticed is that any time you start a new ad, the new ad has a lower ad rank than the control. Which sucks because it doesn't make the test all that fair. But I'm not pausing a winning ad for anything.

    I'll be honest. One of the things that opened my eyes to some of the optimizations I could make was when I talked with the AdWords sales rep. He gave me a bunch of things to consider that I never thought of, or didn't even know you could do.

    If you spend enough with them, you've had them call. It's worth it to go over the campaign with them. They'll tell you all the things you can do "to get more clicks". Which, as you may know, does not mean "make more money". But, you can improve your campaign and lower your costs.
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    • Profile picture of the author iwiber
      Originally Posted by drewfioravanti View Post

      I am in a competitive niche.

      Thanks for your reply bud


      Guys, do you believe the account history really have an impact when it comes to create a new ad?
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  • >> do you believe the account history really have an impact when it comes to create a new ad?

    You'll find 99 others disagreeing with me, but in my opinion, no. The reason is that it doesn't make any sense. Also, I don't see evidence that it does. If it does, it is very small as it should be.

    The reason you'll find many others disagreeing with me is mainly because Google says, or at least implies, that it does. I think it just may be the way it's worded (well, it does explicitly say clearly that it does) and people's interpretation. But I see no evidence. So either Google is lying or if they are not (why would they?), the impact is very small and can be easily overcome as per my experiences.
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    • Profile picture of the author iwiber
      Originally Posted by LucidWebMarketing View Post

      >> do you believe the account history really have an impact when it comes to create a new ad?

      You'll find 99 others disagreeing with me, but in my opinion, no. The reason is that it doesn't make any sense. Also, I don't see evidence that it does. If it does, it is very small as it should be.

      The reason you'll find many others disagreeing with me is mainly because Google says, or at least implies, that it does. I think it just may be the way it's worded (well, it does explicitly say clearly that it does) and people's interpretation. But I see no evidence. So either Google is lying or if they are not (why would they?), the impact is very small and can be easily overcome as per my experiences.
      Thanks for your reply bud
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  • Profile picture of the author iwiber
    Hey guys, I bump this subject because I got a very interesting call with an awesome adwords rep who even left me his infos if I need for over the weekend

    Ok for some what I'll say is just normal and not new but for me it's kind of been the ah! Long story short, he told me to stop thinking too much;

    Landing page experience: principally focus on the bounce rate.
    Ad Relevance: Try to be relevant (meh), close variants are fine.
    Expected CTR: Just try to be original

    He also mentioned to me that; if you have 1 above average and 2 average, it's good. What you don't want is one or more under average.

    Ok I simplified a lot, but I found it very nice that finally somebody there talks to me simply.

    Any thoughts?
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  • Profile picture of the author AliceChavarria
    Solid thread, definitely following this, have been trying to get my feet wet with adwords for a long time for now! couldn't be better time to find this thread!
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  • Stop thinking too much, good advice. More precisely, you must think about the right things and it seems most people put their efforts into the wrong things.

    I don't know what the obsession is with bounce rate. The definition is "the percentage of visitors who leave the site without visiting any other page on your site".

    If you have traffic, of any kind, that comes in, if you want them to visit others pages, you have to give them a reason to do so. But the main reason for them to be there in the first place is that you convinced them, either organically or with ads, that you have what they are looking for. Why would they visit other pages? They presumably found what they want on the page they landed on.

    True, if you sell something, you want them to go to the checkout. But even if your conversion rate was 20%, your bounce rate would be 80% (if non-buyers did not visit any other page). Do you find that too high? Well, then change your page to convince more visitors to buy. Personally, with a 20% conversion rate I would not care about bounce rate.

    But even so, you may have accomplished your goal. I have a client for example where half the visitors buy by phone instead of online. The bounce rate is (or may be) 100% for them but the end goal was accomplished. Another is a product where people have a long buying cycle of weeks but a remarketing campaign is used to remind them and a certain percentage eventually buy. The bounce rate may be "high" (whatever you think of as high) but the goal of making a sale is reached.
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  • Profile picture of the author stanton
    After spending $2m over the years on adwords, I realised it is full of inconsistencies and bugs, I honestly think I would have had way less stress and my clients would have made way more money if I had just spent the same money on blackhat.

    It is still a great way to get traffic fast, although at a high price, but make sure you track it all and claim the dodgy clicks back.
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  • Profile picture of the author willyboy104
    Let me chime in here a little, having over 5 years experience and spending more than £100 million in Google Adwords alone I can relate to some of the issues you are having but often there are reasonable explanations.

    I firstly want to say, I think you may be focusing on QS a little too much - don't be so fixated on that one singular metric, it's more important to focus on your click through rates, average cost per click and obviously your conversions and CPA.

    Why do I say this?

    Well, with the experience I have had I very rarely even cast an eye over the QS, to be honest I only checked it when my clients would ask about the metric and in my response I'd focus more attention on the metrics that really matter.

    So - focus on CTR, CPC & CPA.

    If these metrics are good, then I honestly couldn't care less if my QS was 3 or 10.

    However, if you are bothered about the QS then you also need to keep an eye on changes to Google's algorithm for calculating QS.

    With a couple of updates this year such as the amount of ad extensions you utilise having an impact on your QS it's now more important than ever to be using ad extensions that actually make a difference to your account such as:

    - Enhanced Sitelinks
    - Call Extensions
    - Review Extensions
    - Social Extensions
    - Location Extensions
    - Image Extensions

    And on and on and on.

    To be honest, Google Adwords is pretty simple, it's a science but a fairly simple one at that.

    You need to focus on relevancy & engagement and these come in the form of:

    Keywords
    Ad Copy

    Let me ask you a couple of questions

    - What match type do you use for your keywords?
    - When was the last time you pulled an SQR?
    - When was the last time you renewed your Ad Copy split test?
    - Do you use Enhanced Sitelinks?

    I'd be very interested to know
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    • Profile picture of the author iwiber
      Originally Posted by willyboy104 View Post


      Let me ask you a couple of questions

      1 - What match type do you use for your keywords?
      2 - When was the last time you pulled an SQR?
      3 - When was the last time you renewed your Ad Copy split test?
      4 - Do you use Enhanced Sitelinks?

      I'd be very interested to know

      First, thanks for your reply, I really appreciate it. To answer your questions:
      1. Phrase match all the time.
      2. I look at them 2-3 times per week
      3. I do it every 2 weeks approximately, I remove the less good one and add a new one to improve constantly.
      4. Yes
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    • Profile picture of the author allanminium
      Originally Posted by willyboy104 View Post

      I firstly want to say, I think you may be focusing on QS a little too much - don't be so fixated on that one singular metric, it's more important to focus on your click through rates, average cost per click and obviously your conversions and CPA.
      I came here to say this. It's only one metric and you never truly know what goes into this calculation even though Google tells you a few metrics which influence it.

      I've had big budget big brand name keywords at 50% CTR be a 9/10 at times for a CPC of $0.6 so don't focus all your time and effort on reaching a QS of 10
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  • Profile picture of the author HarryKarnes
    Hey I see so many adwords veterans in the thread so would appreciate if someone can clarify this for me..

    If I had a full-fledged website for diet supplements without way too much hype, would it be even possible to get started with it?
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  • Profile picture of the author iwiber
    I just started new compagins with all the comments I got here, and I'm stunt that the forth of my kw are 3/10 and lower, despite that I have put $25/bid which is over the est. top page bid.

    Sometime.....................fml lol
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  • Profile picture of the author badboy_Nick
    IMO Adwords is pretty straightforward:

    Early on, you want to push your ads into the top spots if you can to get maximum exposure and a higher chance of a good CTR. First few days, the only metric I look at is CTR which you want to keep at least at 1-2% at campaign level. Forget QS, it's all about CTR as it's Google's way of determining how much they can get for each impression they serve. Remember, they are a business as well and have stockholders to answer to.

    Once overall CTR is somewhat established and the worst CTR drainer keywords have been trimmed down, I focus on making the campaign profitable which now also involves ruthlessly deleting keywords which didn't convert or just run at a loss. But the pattern is always the same. I ignore everything apart from CTR early on ... and then I focus entirely on ROI on a keyword level, as well as ensuring my site's design also has a high conversion rate.

    But that keeps it simple

    Nick
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    • Profile picture of the author iwiber
      Originally Posted by badboy_Nick View Post

      IMO Adwords is pretty straightforward:

      Early on, you want to push your ads into the top spots if you can to get maximum exposure and a higher chance of a good CTR. First few days, the only metric I look at is CTR which you want to keep at least at 1-2%. Forget QS, it's all about CTR as it's Google's way of determining how much they can get for each impression they serve. Remember, they are a business as well and have stockholders to answer to.

      Once CTR is established, I focus on making the campaign profitable which involves ruthlessly deleting keywords which didn't convert. But the pattern is always the same. I ignore everything apart from CTR early on ... and then I focus entirely on ROI on a keyword level, as well as ensuring my site's design also has a high conversion rate.

      But that keeps it simple

      Nick
      Thanks for your reply! Love it!
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