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March 27, 2008

Tweaking Google AdWords for Higher Performance

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This article is part of a 4-part series on Getting Started with Pay-Per-Click and Google AdWords. If you'd like to review these posts, click the links below:

In our last post in our series about PPC, we set up a Google AdWords account, created an ad, chose keywords, and set limits on our daily budget and cost-per-click. In this fourth in a series of four posts, we look at ways to drive down ad costs, increase the click-thru-rate, and boost the quality of our clicks. We'll also look at an advanced tool Google makes available to AdWords users.

Split (or A/B) Testing Overview

Because we're dealing with human nature, it's impossible to know ahead of time what will get people to click. In fact, most tests of marketing professionals show that we are really bad at predicting actual behavior. Nevertheless, by creating another ad and rotating it against the same keywords, we have a basis for discovering what works and what doesn't. Once we've added a second ad, Google will rotate the two automatically.

After a few days, possibly longer, you'll know which ad pulls better. The winning ad becomes your "control" - the ad to beat. The loser gets replaced with a new ad and so it goes. Make this the cornerstone of your PPC practice. As you get more clicks, Google will lower the price on your ads as a "reward for relevance."

This is why we recommended you include keywords in your ad.

Split Testing - Headlines

Try different headlines. Headlines influence click-thru rates more than any other element. It can be a challenge to include the keyword and still come up with variations within the 25 character limit. A worthwhile challenge, nevertheless.

Split Testing - Display URLs

The next most sensitive element of the ad is the Display URL. Is the Display URL relevant to what you're pitching in the ad? If not, it could be holding down your click-thru rate. Assuming it is relevant, another trick is to use is capital letters at the start of each word in your domain. This makes it easier to read and come to that conclusion.

Split Testing - Destination URL (Landing Page)

For starters, the Destination URL should not be your homepage. Your homepage was not designed to support the ad; rather, it gives visitors a first impression of your company. By taking them to your homepage, you're breaking the continuity and losing the sale or lead. For this reason, create a landing page dedicated to the ads you're running in a split test. Many people increase their conversion rate by 2-5 times just by changing where they send the people clicking on their ads from the home page to a targeted landing page.

You can split-test landing pages. Website Optimizer is a tool Google makes available to users of AdWords. With it, you can perform sophisticated comparisons based on:

  • Headlines
  • Calls To Action (e.g., different text on your buttons)
  • Product photos
  • Guarantees, Offers, PS
  • Layouts
  • Body copy

For a more in-depth discussion of Google Website Optimizer, check out this post at the Marketing Pilgrim Blog.

Creating a page designed for the highest conversion rate of clicks into sign-ups or sales is another subject we can address in future posts. If you're interested in this or how to set up multiple campaigns and ad groups in Google AdWords, feel free to request it in the comments below.


We hope you've enjoyed this 4-part series on Getting Started with Pay-Per-Click and Google AdWords. If you'd like to review these posts, click the links below:

While SEO is your most economical and most effective strategy over the long term, the fast feedback loop PPC offers a complementary way to learn what motivates your prospects. As you gain these insights, be sure to incorporate them into the rest of your website - the search engines will thank you on the organic side.

SEO kit

Topics: PPC Advertising

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