5 AdWords Tips from PPC Masters

16 Comments Written on May 4th, 2012 by
Categories: Uncategorized

The following is a guest post from the Elisa Gabbert at Wordstream.  If you’d like to guest post on PPCblog, shoot me an email anytime.

Over at the WordStream blog, we’ve been running a series of interviews with search marketers who received unusually high scores using our AdWords Performance Grader, a free tool that scores your AdWords account relative to other advertisers with similar budgets. We asked these high scorers what strategies they use to get such great results from PPC. Here are the top five actionable tips from these AdWords experts.

1. Get Familiar with Your Search Query Report

“I pay a lot of attention to the search query report – that shows you what keywords people use to find you, and it’s invaluable for finding negative keywords,” said Rick Archer, the founder of independent search consultancy Search Summit.

As Archer says, your search query report in AdWords is a list of the search terms that triggered impressions of your ads. There are a couple of ways you can leverage the wealth of data in this report:

  • Find new negative keywords: Inevitably, advertisers who have been ignoring the search query report will be shocked to learn all the silly, irrelevant terms that are matching against their ads. By setting those terms as negative keywords, you can save a lot of money on clicks that don’t convert.
  • Find new keyword opportunities: You’ll also identify new relevant terms that are caught by broad match, and you can increase clicks and profits for those terms by adding them as new keywords and writing specific ad text to support them.

For more information on these techniques, check out Chad Summerhill’s series on search query mining.

2. Focus on Relevance

Marko Kvesic, Online Marketing Manager at GoTraffic Online Marketing Agency, believes “extreme relevance” is the key to successful AdWords campaigns:

My advice is always be relevant, create relevant campaigns and give the user the answer to his query as precisely as you can. There must be extreme relevance between keywords, ad text and landing page content. Narrowly focused ad groups, each one a variation of a single keyword.

As a check for relevance, Kvesic pays close attention to Quality Score:

The metric that indicates relevancy is Quality Score. I focus on getting higher scores (by increasing CTR, optimizing keywords, ads and landing pages). It’s also very important because with high Quality Scores I pay less per click. I always try to get higher Quality Scores than 6.

Improving your click-through rate will usually improve your Quality Score, because it’s an indication that your ads address the needs of the searcher. If your CTRs and Quality Scores are low, ask yourself if your keywords, ads and landing pages are targeted enough – do they speak specifically to the needs of the typical buyer of your product or service, or are you casting too wide a net?

3. Get Sufficient Data for Analysis

Stefan van Vliet, co-owner of Dutch agency Compass Online Marketing, recommends bidding high initially so that you can get into the second or third spot above the organic results. This will give you plenty of data to analyze so that you can optimize appropriately. Once you’ve gathered the data, van Vliet recommends following these steps:

  1. Keep track of conversions, cost per conversion and value per conversion (using conversion tracking with dynamic value tracking).
  2. Adjust bidding to meet a cost per conversion which is roughly 50% of the value per conversion.
  3. Optimize ads and try to improve conversion rates.

If you’re operating in a niche market, he warns, “it can take quite some time to gather statistically significant data,” since search volume for each keyword niche may be low.

4. Split Ad Groups Frequently

Both van Vliet and Archer advise a less-is-more approach when it comes to ad group size. Asked what his main AdWords strategies are, Archer responded, “Make ad groups as granular as possible.” All the keywords in an ad group should be tightly related. For example, if you’re running an AdWords campaign for a mail-order bakery, don’t put all your cookie keywords in one ad group – create separate ad groups for “sugar cookies,” “chocolate chip cookies,” “oatmeal cookies,” and so on.

Van Vliet explains how he implements this strategy for a costume store:

Split campaigns on a low level. We decided to create a campaign for every theme, which allows us to add sitelinks related to that theme, and to easily segment data based on themes. Within the theme campaign, we add ad groups targeting keywords like [theme] + [clothing]. For example, within the Halloween theme, we have a separate ad group for Halloween clothing, Halloween costume, Halloween Fancy Dress etc. This improves CTR dramatically.

5. Make Note of What Works in Your Account

Using annotations in Google Analytics, you can keep track of what actions led to spikes or dips in organic traffic. Similarly, you can annotate changes in AdWords to keep better track of what is and isn’t working. Here’s van Vliet’s advice:

Use the comments function within AdWords Editor to make notes of what you do. Note date, current position, CTR, etc. and of course actions taken. This will keep things organized and help you see the effect of your actions immediately.

When you know what brings about a positive change in your results, you’re more likely to repeat those successes.


Curious how your own campaigns measure up with competitors? You can grade your own account in seconds – get your free AdWords performance report now.

About the Author

Elisa Gabbert is the Content Development Manager at WordStream Inc., a provider of advanced AdWords tools and services. Elisa is a frequent contributor to the WordStream Internet Marketing Blog, and you can follow her on Twitter at @egabbert.

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16 comments “5 AdWords Tips from PPC Masters”

great tips thanks for sharing…Could you please explain how we can improve our Quality Scores. 

Thats pretty much your top 5 there.. there is one I think you should ad..

6. The content network.. If you don’t know what it is then you shouldnt probably turn it off! 🙂

Nice post..
Will Bakhos

A good edition to the search query report is to perform negative keyword clean ups every quarter, or even once a month if you’re adding a lot of negative keywords to an account .

Negative keyword clean ups are basically where you cross check if negative keywords from certain ad groups would fit into other ad groups to maximize the exposure. Going through your negative keyword lists and expanding upon singular negative keywords etc. could also be very beneficial. 

What a great and informative website. Some really good tips and a good step by step guide to the most important aspects of Adwords/PPC, thanks for sharing

I like the last suggestion to make notes by using annotations or comments. You may think you will remember every spike or dip, but in the end you usually don’t and if you are working for a client or boss, they for sure won’t know what was going on at the time when they look at a report. But if there are notes or comments it helps everyone understand the data better and you are better able to see what works and what doesn’t. It may help you to find something that works without you even realizing it – bonus!

Great Post!

I would like to thank you for this wonderful post. Even I split services in different adgroups and make relevant ad texts so as to get high CTR and Quality Score.
But, many a times I have seen that even after making relevant adgroups and ad text with keyword relevance in landing pages, I get low quality score. Out of 4 keywords of an adgroup, one keyword comes up with a low quality score. Moreover, a similar keyword added in the same ad group has a high quality score

Can anyone suggest me why does it happen??


Nice article. I’m glad that negative keyword maintenance is stressed; it is vital to Adwords success.
I do have to disagree with the line “create separate ad groups for “sugar cookies”, “chocolate chip cookies”, oatmeal cookies” etc… Keyword Insertion is the perfect tool to buy and show the best advertising for those keywords. Throw in top line punctuation to REALLY boost CTR and you will dominate all the other cookie stores in the neighborhood.


Adwords can burnout our cash to trash if not handled properly. 

This cautious tips should be very useful to many of us.


Thanks for this we are trying to improve our adwords campaign & this should help!!

Wonderful tips. I particularly like number 4 on this list. It is so important to divide your ad groups into tight niches.

Thanks for explaining how PPC works. It can be difficult to understand. This article had made it more simple to understand and easier to strategies. 

Hi There

My name is Terence Da Silva, and I consider myself to know a tiny bit of the AdWords universe.

below is a link to one of my latest articles, if it passes muster, perhaps I could write a post about one of my more advanced search methodologies?


#4 is a great PPC campaign management tip.  

It’s easy for an ad group to slowly grow over time by adding keywords.  Before you realize it you may loose the tight focus you had initially.  Run through your ad groups to see if you can break them down even further once in a while.

Great tips
I usually adding negative keyword to get less impression so i get a better CTR (clik through ratio) and by that i get a better quality score and lower cost


#4 by adding keyword overtime your ad group become to big and not focus, so it is really good to separate the ad group and ads. By doing that the relevancy of ads, keywords and landing page is improve by that the quality score is better too. And the cost will go down too..

Good Top 5 here and worth a bookmark, Thanks!

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