AdWords Guide – AdWords Tips from Former Google Employee

1. Keyword Research

Your number one go to tool for keyword research is Google’s Keyword Planner. You will have to have an AdWords account before you can use it, but it’s easy (and free) to sign up. Use it before adding new keywords to your campaigns to find out:

  • Suggested bids – how much you’re likely to pay per click
  • Average monthly searches – for your chosen geographical location
  • Competition – see how competitive certain search terms are to advertise on

Tabs available on the Googel Keyword Planner ToolYou can see that there’s two tab options at the top: the ‘Ad groups’ ideas is the default, but you will almost always change to the ‘Keyword ideas’ tab. The Ad group ideas tab is useful if you need to think of contextual Ad groups, but in general, start with ‘Keyword ideas’

At the top, there’s the keyword ideas that you entered, giving you information on each one. Below this is a box called ‘Keyword (by relevance)’ which shows similar keywords to your own. Look through for  suggestions for keywords that have high average monthly searches, but low competition. Aim for long keywords (e.g. three words or more) that are likely to convert and have a reasonable estimated cost per click.

You can stand out from your competition by having really compelling Ad Copy, as well as achieving a high quality score.

To research search term trends, use Google Trends (below).

google insights for search

See what keywords and ads your competitors are using with or These tools will help you to advertise on the right keywords at the right time. Always do keyword research before adding keywords to advertise on.

2. Set up Tracking – AdWords Conversion Tracking & Google Analytics

– Add the basic Google Analytics Tracking to all pages of your site before it’s launched. It’s free, quick, easy and standard practice for web designers.
– Add AdWords Conversion Tracking to your conversion ‘thank you pages’. You can then see, from within your AdWords account, which keywords and ads lead to conversions (e.g. downloads, purchases etc). This also allows you to enable automated cost per acquisition bidding tool, Conversion Optimiser.
– Set up Google Analytics Goals to track conversions coming from all sources (not just AdWords).
– If you sell online, set up Google Analytics E-Commerce Tracking. This not only counts the conversions, but shows you a breakdown of the products purchased and revenue generated within each order. 

3.  Website Optimisation

Optimise your website to improve conversion rate. Small changes can make a big difference. There’s no point spending money on advertising if the chance of that visitor converting is low.

– Review your navigation and checkout process.
– Ask people what they think.
– Use the Google Content  Experiments to run tests.
– Keep an eye on ‘bounce rates’, ‘time on site’ and ‘conversion rates’ in Analytics.

4. Separate Keywords into Tightly Themed Ad Groups

Keywords in each ad group should all generally have at least two words in common within each keyword. Each of those keywords should be completely interchangeable. The keywords and ads within each ad group should be highly relevant, as in the example below.

tightly themed AdWords ad group example

5. Keyword Match Types

By default, the new keywords you add in AdWords are ‘broad match’. They expand to show your ad when users search for ‘similar’ terms. For example, you might have the broad match keyword, digital camera, but Google expands to show your ad when someone searches for SLR camera, or phone camera, or camera reviews.

The other keyword match types allow more control: find out more here about keyword matching options.

adwords keyword match types

6. Add Negative Keywords

Restrict your ads from showing on irrelevant searches by adding ‘negative keywords’. For example, block searches that include ‘free’, ‘review’, ‘jobs’ etc from triggering your ad to show.

On your Keywords Tab, scroll down to the bottom and click on ‘Negative Keywords’. You can choose whether you want to block your ad from showing on those terms at the campaign or ad group level.

Input box for negative keywords

7. See Search Terms that Triggered your Ads to show

That is, see all the search terms that your keywords expanded to and showed your ads on. With the Keywords Tab selected, choose ‘See Search Terms’.

8. Add Quality Score Column

Google gives keywords a score out of 10 based on relevance and performance, ie. a ‘Quality Score‘. By default, this column is hidden. To show the Quality Score for each of your keywords, when on the Keywords Tab, click on Columns and add the Quality Score attribute.

9. Separate Campaign for Display Network

By default, when you add a new campaign, it’s opted into showing your ads both on the Search Results pages and on the Display Network.

The Display Network is a massive range of websites, from the New York Times to your sister’s blog, that you can place ads on. Unless you want to target your ads to appear on specific Display Network sites (which you’d be best to do in a separate campaign), opt out of the Display Network (in the Campaign Settings, as below).

A new option is to choose the search network with Display Select. This is designed to extend the reach of your advertising, and differs from the old display network. It uses improved signals and methods of predicting when and where your ads are likely to perform best. This can be used as a quick test to see which sites/audience your ads work best with. Generally though, it’s still best to run separate Search and Display campaigns.

Choose Display network options

10. Have 3 Ads Per Ad Group

By default, your ads will rotate and the best performing ad in each ad group will gradually show more often. Try 3 ads in each ad group, each with slightly different messaging. Observe to see which ad performs best and test similar messaging in other ads. You can even use AdWords labels to A/B test ad copy over the course of a month.

11. Use Keyword Insertion

This formula inserts what the user actually searches for into your ad. Be careful that you’ve restricted your keywords enough to only show your ads on relevant terms. Try it in one of your three ads within an ad group. It tends to improve click through rate.

{KeyWord: _________}

In place of the blank line, add default words that your ad will show if the user’s search term is too long. Find out more about Dynamic Keyword insertion.

12. Include Calls to Action in your Ads

Tell people what you want them to do. For example, ‘Buy online’.

13. Include Unique Selling Points in your Ads

Check what your competitors have in their ads and stand out from them where you can. A common one for merchants is a Free Delivery offer.

14. Make Sure You’re Competitive

If other websites sell the same product as you, and you’re advertising that product, be as competitive as you can. This doesn’t necessarily mean decreasing your prices below competitors (though this can be effective). It’s really a matter of giving the consumer a reason to buy from you rather than other sites.

15. Use Ad Extensions

These allow you to add more information to your ad, outside of the character limits. You can add them by going to the Ad Extension tab and selecting to add a new extension, as below.
AdWords Extensions Options
See screenshots of ad extensions below.
Location Extension for AdWords

Screen Shot 2013-11-29 at 15.55.36


AdWords Seller Extensions


16. Can’t See Your Ads? Use the Ads Diagnostic Tool

Hover over the speech bubble in line with your keyword under the Status column. It will give you more information.

17. See your ads in a different position to that stated in account?

If you repeatedly search on your keywords and don’t click on your ads Google will take that as a sign that you’re not interested in that ad and will gradually show it in a lower ad rank then not at all, to you. For a more accurate reading, and without decreasing your click through rate, use the Ad Preview Tool (or clear your cache).

18. Segment your Data

See your AdWords stats separated out by time of day, device (ie. mobiles, desktops and tablets), network and more. You can then focus in on what’s working and remove what’s not. Also check out the Dimensions Tab for similar, but additional information.
segment adwords data

19. Ad Scheduling

If from segmenting your data you find that you’re only getting conversions at certain hour of the day or days of the week, you can schedule your ads to only appear at those times. Under Campaign Settings go to ‘Advanced Settings’ then ‘Ad Scheduling’.

adwords ad scheduling

20. Geo Targeting

Target your ads to appear to users anywhere in the world. This is on the Campaign Settings page. Help your relevancy and potentially your conversion rate by referencing the area targeted in your ads. For example, if you’re targeting Northern Ireland, include NI in your ads.
geo targeting adwords

21. Download AdWords Editor

An offline tool that allows you to make almost all of the same changes as in your live AdWords account, but faster. Great for bulk changes. Download here –

22. Use an AdWords Voucher

You may have received a voucher in the post. If not, you can get a £30 AdWords voucher here –

As a Google AdWords Certified Partner, Search Scientist can provide our clients with an AdWords voucher worth £75 or more to help them get started. We also occasionally give these vouchers away to our Facebook followers. Follow us at for a chance to get one.

If you’re based in Northern Ireland and would like AdWords Training tailored to your business including a review of your current AdWords account, please contact Alternatively, we also offer AdWords management services and one off AdWords optimisation. We’ll work with you to get the best return from your AdWords advertising.