Google Ads is a paid platform for serving up ads primarily on search result pages but also on other sites and videos. This can give you exposure to the plethora of users that search Google every day. Google makes it very simple to create ads by using keywords to define who you want to show your ads to. The hope is that you’ll get tons of new business when you start running these ads, but that is not always the case. In fact, unless you have some experience in setting this up, it’s likely that Google will be the only one getting the new revenue… yours.

If you are not familiar with the way these search ads work, let’s take a moment to cover the basics. You pick the keywords that you want your ads to show for. You write the ad text. You set the budget of how much you’ll spend each day. You set the geography and some other details of when and where you want your ad to show. Google will show your ads when related keywords are searched. When your ad is clicked, the user goes to your site and you pay Google. How much a click costs depends on how many other companies want to be shown for those same keywords. The more competition, the more it costs. Now we could write a blog post of each of those steps, but that’s the basics of how it all works.

This is all fine and good on the surface, but when you peel back the onion one layer you see that much of the traffic to your website is not looking for what you are selling. Let me explain why, and then we’ll get into a solution. The keywords you type in Google when you set up a campaign will show your ad to anyone searching for those words OR any closely related words. Google does this to make sure they capture all the possible related traffic. This means when you select the keywords plumbing company that your ads will show for someone searching plumbing company near me, plumbing company jobs, plumbing company supplies, even drain cleaning service, free plumber service coupons or worst plumbing company could qualify as a close variant. Ouch. Obviously paying for clicks on these search phrases would NOT be recommended.

4 Steps to Good Traffic

All is not lost though. There’s a solid 4 step process to putting together a campaign that is both targeted to good traffic, and also competing on less general (more specific) terms whose clicks are generally less expensive.

Step 1 – Group your keywords

This is good practice for aligning the right message with the right terms. When someone is searching for hairdresser for women, you’d likely want them to see different key points than hairstylist for men, even though your business may service both. Ideally, the page the ad directs them too is also unique content, but that can come later. Theoretically, good messaging will help to deter users who are looking for something else from clicking on your ad. However, in our experience, we believe that very few users actually read the ads. Which leads us to the next point. 

Step 2- Use Broad Modifiers

This is a tricky part but makes the biggest difference. As we saw above, broad match keywords will trigger your ad for too wide a range of terms. A Broad Modifier is a way to tell Google to require that every word in this phrase must be present. You simply add a + sign before each word that needs to be required. For instance +women’s + hats  + scarves will show ads for women’s hats and scarves but not women’s clothing, which would have shown as a broad search term. You can be even more specific requiring certain phrases or even an exact match (which isn’t really exact, but close). Google has more information on this here.

Step 3 – Monitor Actual Search Terms

Google ads will show you the exact terms that people typed in that triggered your ads and then clicked on them. This is the best way to determine how clean your campaign is setup. When you look at this list, you should see queries that you think are reasonable for what you are selling. If you don’t, you’ll need to go back and clean up either your keywords or add something called negative keywords to help clean up the traffic you are paying for.

Step 4 – Negative Keywords

So if you like most of the traffic coming through from your broad modified keywords, but still a few a leaking past that you don’t like, you can add negative keywords which tell Google, if this word is present, DON’T show this ad. It’s a powerful concept when paired with narrow keyword set. Say for instance the terms all looked good,  personal injury attorney, lawyer for injury, on the job injury lawsuit, but every now and then you also had clicks to your site from terms like personal injury lawyer jobs, or personal injury law career. This is a perfect place to add negative keywords for job,  jobs and career, careers. In no cases would you want to show ads for those searches so you can keep your other settings as is and just cut out the job seekers.

When you do this well, you should see that while the overall amount of clicks you are getting may have dropped, the conversions for the people you are paying for should go up because they are exactly what you are looking for. The other thing you might see is that your cost per click has dropped because the very broad, highly competitive terms that everyone is bidding for are no longer on your radar. The searches you are paying for are more specific and likely less competitive. The real goal regardless of traffic or cost per click is to get your cost-per-conversion down. This factors in all the fall off in the process and lets you see, on average, how much you are paying before one person completes a desired action, like filling out a form.

Keep these tips in mind as you are managing your campaign. This is not a promise of success for the campaign, there are so many factors to deal with. It is however, a way to make sure that in the process, you don’t lose your shirt!