This is Part 1 in a Series of Blog Posts by Anton McCarthy.

Advertising on Google AdWords can be one of the most cost-effective ways to market your ecommerce store – if done right. That can be a big ‘if’- given that AdWords is a complex system which requires constant monitoring of your campaigns, as well as keeping up to date with the latest trends and developments - something which can be tricky for a busy business owner to manage. In this article, I will give you some quick-fire tips and tactics to help you better manage your AdWords campaigns, and to help you capture opportunities your competitors may be missing out on.

Here are 5 tips to improve your Google AdWords campaigns:

1. Use Ad Extensions to Improve Your CTR

Probably the best thing about AdWords  is its broad range of features, which enable you to get the most out of your spend and maximise your reach among potential clients and visitors to your site. These are usually free and easy to implement, and can allow you to quickly increase your share of real estate on Google search results pages at minimal effort. One such example is a feature called ad sitelinks, which allows you to display additional links to pages on your site beneath your ad. As an example, below you'll see an ad for Shopify: The links that say "Feature Tour" , "Plans & Pricing" ..etc.. are ad sitelinks. 

These are quick and painless to set up, and can have a very positive effect on click-through rates (CTR) as they increase the amount of space your ad takes up on the page, and may entice more users to click on ad your ad, given there is more relevant information being shown and your ad is simply more noticeable. As with everything AdWords related – testing is key. Therefore, ensure you are testing the results from this free feature. Also consider using Location, Call and Social extensions for even greater visibility for your ads to get the edge on your competition. Learn more about Google Ad Sitelinks.

2. Use Negative Keywords to Reduce Your Costs & Increase ROI

Put simply, if you or whoever is in charge of managing your AdWords campaign is not using negative keywords – question why. Negative keywords allow you to specify keywords for which you do not want your ads to appear, and are an often overlooked tool. For example, let’s say you are running a campaign advertising a software product, but you don’t do free trials or give your product away for free. If you don’t have the keyword ‘free’ in your negative keyword list for that campaign, you are most likely needlessly incurring costs from people clicking on your ads in search of free software products - who will not find them on your site! This is harmful for your ROI as it means you are wasting money on visitors who are unlikely to purchase anything from you or engage with you, as you aren’t offering what they are looking for (a free product). An extensive keyword list is crucial to your campaign. Start your lists with the most obvious relevant negative keywords and work on building your lists from there in line with your product or service offerings – your campaigns will thank you for it. Learn more about negative keywords

3. Use Impression Share Data to Find Ways to Increase Traffic

One under-utilized source of data in Google AdWords is impression share. Impression share is a metric in your AdWords account which shows you what percentage of available impressions your ads are appearing on Google for. Simply put, out of all the times your ad could have shown, how much did it show? If impression share for a particular campaign is low, then you are missing out on clicks and traffic and you may need to review your campaigns – in particular your budget, your keywords and your bids. If a particular campaign has low impression share, then you can increase it through ensuring that your keywords are very relevant to your ad copy, and most importantly to your landing page. Optimizing in these areas can mean that your ads start to become more relevant and you start to appear more often. Also experiment with increasing your bids slightly to see how that impacts impression share – it may result in you attracting more traffic without spending all that much more. In addition, ensure that you are only targeting the relevant regions or countries via your campaign settings.

4. Optimise your Landing Pages for Better Results

This is a critical and frequently overlooked aspect of managing and optimizing a Google AdWords campaign. There is not much point in having a perfectly set-up campaign if the page you are driving traffic to is poorly designed or laid-out, or just plain unattractive. In fact, this will actually have a negative impact on campaign performance, as Google rewards well-thought out sites and punishes poor landing pages. After all, sub-optimal landing pages are less likely to give the user what they are searching for. Ensuring your landing page is the most relevant one a user can land on following a click on your ad means you are maximizing the chances that they will convert to a sale or lead on your site – and minimizing the cost for that click at the same time. Remember – Google rewards relevancy. Check that each ad leads to the most relevant page on your site! 

5. Tracking, Tracking, Tracking!

This one should go without saying, but should serve as a wake-up call to any AdWords advertiser who is not yet using at least one form of tracking in their account. This might be AdWords Conversion Tracking, Google Analytics (both free) - or some other tracking mechanism (or a combination of all three). To spend money on advertising without knowing how your investment is converting is something no business needs to do when it comes to online advertising – and only means you are in the dark when it comes to determining your ROI! Conversion Tracking in particular is simple to set up and allows you to track whenever a click leads to an action being taken on your site which you deem valuable. This could be anything from a purchase on your site to an inquiry through your contact form, or a sign-up to your latest e-book. Whichever it may be, tracking allows you to directly measure your return on investment through recording the cost associated with each conversion – and that allows you to better manage your account and plan and strategize accordingly.


This is a guest post by ex-Googler Anton McCarthy. Currently, Anton is an online marketing specialist and entrepreneur who loves all things digital. You can find him blogging at antonmccarthy.com and Tweak Your Biz. Also follow Anton on Twitter