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Basic AdWords Lessons Learned

snlHere’s a Saturday night to remember

Sitting on the couch, feet up, MacBook Pro in lap, Angels-Yankees game on, I reconfigured both of my AdWords accounts…..for SIX HOURS! It’s one of those dreaded chores that’s been on my list for like six months now.

After about hour three, the wife walks by and says, “computer-freak-weirdo.” But in my defense, before plopping down, I carved my kids two pumpkins and I probably did something else redeemable that day. Maybe.

I’m sure everyone has heard just about enough from me on AdWords, however during this six hour process, I discovered I’ve learned a heck of a lot in the two years since I initially set up my two accounts. After all, I was a complete newby to AdWords back then. So in case any of you readers are newbies now, here are some basics:

Let’s start out with what I did wrong two years ago

1.    I didn’t know anything about AdWords except that it was an auction, so from the get go I tried to dream up unique keywords that might not be bid on heavily. This strategy was good, but just brainstorming for keywords in like 15 minutes is not the correct way.
2.    No real keyword research caused me to miss out on many great performing long tail keywords.
3.    I didn’t know the difference between campaigns and ad groups, so I ended up with 50 campaigns. Wrong.
4.    One AdWords account can only hold 25 campaigns, so my 50 campaigns forced me to spread across two separate Google accounts. What a pain: funding, monitoring and constantly switching back an forth between two accounts.
5.    Given that I had two accounts, linking them both to my Google Analytics account would be problematic to impossible. I had no idea.

Basically, I set up my accounts using best guesses and common sense and they have performed so well that I have ignored them for a couple of years. I mean, who is going to complain about a large quantity of $0.18 CTs in my market, or any market?

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So what do I know now that I wish I knew then?

1.    You must do thorough and expansive keyword research so you don’t miss low competition winners, ones that probably are not obvious to you. It’s a very time consuming process that requires a lot of experience to get right, but it’s very worth it and very revealing.
2.    The AdWords Editor has gotten even better and you should definitely be using it.
3.    Keeping everything in one account is easy. My 50 campaigns are now 50 ad groups in one campaign called neighborhoods. I’ve since added two more experimental campaigns, since this is so easy and manageable now.
4.    Linking one AdWords account to your Google Analytics account is super easy.
5.    AdWords (opportunities tab) will generate a huge list of suggested keywords for every one of your ad groups. You should manually go through every one of these keywords and add the ones that are targeted enough. This takes a long time, but doing this I found over 400 good new ones!
6.    I’ve stopped my ads from showing in certain geographies. You probably wont believe which ones.

With all my AdWords in one account, it’s much easier to run statistics across the entire 3,000 keywords, spread across three campaigns and 55 ad groups. In just a few clicks, you can rank every keyword by Quality Score, CT, CTR, Impressions, you name it, and make adjustments.

Finally, I had one of those light bulb moments where I realized that in the last two years, all but a few of my clients have been people relocating from out of town.  However, 70% or more of my registered leads are local people. So I have turned off my ads in my home state, Georgia!

Who needs these local tire kickers that typically already have Realtors anyway? I always love those folks that use your site and email you questions and already have a Realtor! (Where’s their Realtor’s site? Ok, I digress)

Anyway, my geographic exclusion test is not without risk because as my CTR drops, my Quality Score may come right down with it, and then I’ll be getting no traffic from anywhere. But I’m going to give this a try for a month or so and see what happens. It’s all being tracked in my ONE AdWords account which is also linked to my Google Analytics account.

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Written By

Rob is the founder of The Georgia Realty Group, a real estate company focusing on the five large counties north of the 285 perimeter in Atlanta. Out of USF in 1991 as an Electrical Engineer, he then quickly shifted into software sales. For 12 years, he sold enterprise level Engineering Design Automation (EDA) software to Fortune 500 companies. His current focus is web site design, SEO and lead management activities and he also takes on the occasional excellent client. Find him at AtlantaRealEstateInfo.com

9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. Bob

    October 21, 2009 at 9:36 pm

    Well done Rob. That info will serve you well on the organic side.

  2. Stephanie Crawford

    October 29, 2009 at 9:16 pm

    Not targeting your home turf?!? That’s something I’ve never even considered. I’ve considered the opposite strategy in fact. I love working with out-of-towners as they tend to make their decisions much more quickly, but I always end up wondering how many of those folks are just day-dreaming. Granted, the local ones could just be lookie-loos too.

    I’m interested in hearing how the experiment goes. Best of luck!

  3. Rob McCance

    October 29, 2009 at 10:02 pm

    Steph:

    The experiment lasted only four days.

    Since 90% of my traffic was local, my traffic and registrations dropped way off. After a few days of that, I panicked and turned my ADs back on in GA.

    Also, the little voice in my head kept reminding me that I did have two local clients last year that found me on my web site. So, even if it’s just ONE, that’s worth it.

    But I had a pleasant surprise. After the big AdWord reconfigure, I’m now getting CTs at $0.08 CPC.

    Sweet!

    How’s your landing page building going?

  4. Nick Nymark

    July 31, 2010 at 4:02 pm

    Sounds Interesting. I might have to try for an experiment to have ads up across different area’s of the US and keep out my local area. I think there is some truth to people coming from out of town to buy will be more motivated and ready to purchase.

  5. Chris

    October 24, 2010 at 11:05 am

    I couldn’t agree more Rob.

    Constant analysis and adjustments are needed to keep AdWords focused, on target and effective.
    If you let them get away from you, the clean-up is a long and ugly process.

    Do you think there is any value in creating an AdGroup that uses keywords focusing on in-state relocations? That way you can turn off your other AdGroups that are ‘wasting’ space by showing up in your local market’s ads.

    • Rob McCance

      October 24, 2010 at 3:21 pm

      Chris,

      It’s hard to be that specific.

      While it’s obvious that a CT from another state has a high probability of being a relocation, a local CT has a very low (but not zero) probability of being a relocation.

      I just run ads in the entire US region now, but one recent change I made was to start using negative KWs so I’m no longer getting CTs for lease/rent related KWs.

      My current business model can’t support servicing leases.

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