AdWords Made Simple: Creating Ad Groups & Writing Text Ads in Google AdWords

To help you start the New Year with more traffic to your business website we’re showing you how to get started with Google AdWords. Last week’s AdWords post covered:

  • signing in to AdWords for the first time
  • setting your time zone and currency
    preferences
  • selecting all your AdWords campaign preferences

How to write your first Google AdWords ad

Today we’ll cover the next couple of steps in the process:

  • creating your first ad group
  • writing  your first AdWords PPC ad

We’ll assume that you chose Search Network only in your AdWords campaign preferences since that’s the simplest and most common choice.

Creating an Ad Group

Ad groups are just what they sound like: groups of ads, plus related keywords. It is simplest and most effective if you start by creating one ad ground for one product or service rather than trying to sell many products from one ad group. Trust me. All you need to do is enter a name for your Ad Group #1. Don’t go crazy. Make it clear, concise and descriptive so you’ll be able to easily tell what that group is for later when you have many other ad groups.

Writing Your First Ad

I’m sure you’ve seen them when searching on Google, but you may not have paid close attention to the structure of AdWords ads. You may actually want to pause here and go do a search and look at the ads in the results. Better still, do a few searches using the same kinds of keywords you think you’ll be using in your campaign. That way, you’ll not only get familiar with the structure of the ads, but you’ll get an idea of your competition and what they are saying. Google AdWords ads have a very specific format with rigid rules, but don’t worry, they’re pretty easy to create. You can’t really get it wrong since Google will stop you from writing too much and warn you if you make other mistakes.

You will need to fill in 5 fields to create your AdWords ad (see the screenshot above):

  1. Headline (up to 25 characters long)
  2. Description line 1 (up to 35 characters)
  3. Description line 2 (up to 35 characters)
  4. Display URL (up to 35 characters)
  5. Destination URL (not shown;  it is the actual URL you are sending people who click to)

Headline Tips: Though you may be limited based on the length of your business name or product name, a common AdWords headline tactic is to use Keyword(s) + Brand/Business name or Keyword + Deal/Offer. I just did a search for 3D glasses (my daughter said she wanted them) and I many ad headlines that fit this model: 3D Glasses at Walmart, Glasses 3D at Amazon, 3D Glasses for Less, and 3d-glasses on eBay. Including your keywords in the headline is typically very important. If you don’t, searchers may glance at your ad and assume it isn’t really relevant. Plus, keywords get bolded by Google in the ads, making them stand out.

Description Tips: There are too many strategies for all the different possible products to list here, but you will typically want to include prices, discounts, offers and promotions if possible. Include some reason to select YOUR ad/website over all the competition, and a strong call-to-action: buy now, save 25% today, call to order, etc. You may also wish to include your keyword a second time (or a variation of what you used in your Headline); again, keywords get bolded in search results, so including them in your description can help attract attention.

Display URL Tips: The display URL needs to show people what website they’ll be going to, but you can show a shortened, customized URL that’s not the complete URL of the landing page. Let’s assume I want to promote 3D Glasses on my fictional TomsTechGoods.com website. I can’t show www.3dGlassesOnSale.com as my destination URL (since that’s not the website I’m actually sending traffic to), but I can use TomsTechGoods.com/3D-Glasses or TomsTechGoods.com/3d-Glasses-Sale even if the actual landing page URL is www.tomstechgoods.com/products/tv/hi-def/accessories/glasses/3dglasses. Some big, well-known brands will simply show their homepage URL (www.Amazon.com) as the Display URL, but most others will add either keywords or some offer-related text to the URL to make the URL look more relevant and compelling.

I also want to leave you with two important general tips for writing and running your AdWords ads:

  • Match the Landing Page: Make sure you are promoting the same products with the same offers in your AdWords ad copy and the landing page you are sending your search traffic to. If your AdWords copy says Save 30% on Samsung 3D Glasses than anyone who clicks on your ad should see Samsung 3D glasses on sale for 30% off. And make sure you use the exact keywords whenever possible. It’s not as effective, for example, to advertise about 3D glasses and then use the term 3D eyewear on your landing page, even if it means the same thing.
  • Test, Test, Test: One of the great things about Google AdWords is that you don’t have to have all the answers right away. Don’t worry that your very first ad isn’t the best possible ad. You can (and should!) test to see what works and to constantly improve your results. Simply write a few different ads where you vary the language you use. Vary the headlines, description, and display URL and see which one gets the most clicks. You might want to test putting an offer in the headline vs. in the CTA in your description. Or highlight different benefits of ordering from you. Let the ads run long enough to see that one is the clear winner and then pause the others. Then you can write another new ad to see if you can beat the first one.

Here are some additional tips for creating successful text ads from Google.

Next week we’ll cover AdWords keyword selection.

AdWords Made Simple: How to Get Started with Google AdWords

How to Create Your First Google AdWords campaignIs your resolution to drive more customers to your business website in 2013?

To do that, you may want to experiment with pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, also called search engine marketing (SEM). Google AdWords is the biggest player in PPC, so we’ll use that service as an example to show you how easy it is to get started.

Why Use AdWords or Other PPC Services?

AdWords lets you create your own online ads and deliver them to your target audience right when they’re interested in the products or services you offer: that is, when they are searching Google with keywords that describe your business’s offerings.

In addition to helping you sell products, you can use AdWords to promote your business, raise awareness, or increase traffic to your business website.

One of the great things about AdWords is that you can spend as much or as little as you want. There’s no minimum spending commitment.

You set and control your daily budget from your own online dashboard, which is also where you set up and control your ad campaigns.

You’ll also be able to measure the results of your AdWords campaigns and make adjustments to optimize your results. You can change your ad campaign at any time, including your ad text, settings, and budget.

So, let’s get started…

How to Get Started – Create Your  AdWords Account

  1. Go to www.google.com/AdWords/ and click the Get Started Now button.
  2. If you have a Google email address and password (from Gmail or another Google service), click that radio button and decide if you want to use the same login for AdWords or create a new account. You can also create a brand new Google Account for use with AdWords if you don’t have one.
  3. Set your time zone and currency preferences. Note: you cannot change these currency and time zone preferences later. Currency should be simple: you’ll be paying Google in dollars. The time zone you enter affects reporting on your AdWords ads (which days you got clicks and what times during the day or night you got clicks). Entering Pacific vs. Eastern Time will change your reports by 3 hours (and potentially move some clicks to another day).

This is all you need to do to create your account. Click the Sign in link to go to AdWords and create your first ad campaign.

How to Set Up Your First Campaign

Today, we’ll give you a general overview and tips about the AdWords campaign settings you will need to choose to get started. We’ll follow up in the coming weeks with additional posts to help you finish setting up and launching your campaign.

When you log into AdWords for the first time after you create your account, you’ll go to a custom landing page for first time users prompting you to get started (see screenshot above).

You may want to first explore some of the helpful information offered on this page. There’s a 3 minute introductory video as well as links to a Beginner’s Guide and common questions.

When you are ready to get started click the Create your first campaign button.

Select Your AdWords Campaign Settings

This page lets you specify setting for your whole campaign. If you’re not sure about what certain terms mean, hover your mouse over the question marks for an explanation.

Don’t worry, although some of these settings seem like very big, broad decisions, you can come back and modify your settings at any time (unlike the currency and timezone preferences above).

  1. Campaign Name: choose a name for your first AdWords campaign. We recommend you keep it simple. Focus on one product and name the campaign for that product (or perhaps a location if you are only going to advertise in one place).
  2. Type: The default setting is for Search & Display Networks. Display means text ads that are displayed on relevant pages like banner ads are, as opposed to ads that show up when people search. Many people like to test one of these at a time. To do that, select Search Network only from the drop-down menu. You can also specify Standard or All features at this point (keep at Standard for now unless you know you want to use some more advanced AdWord features).
  3. Networks: Here’s where you decide if you want to include Google’s search partners or just the Google Search Network. If you want to keep things as simple as possible, uncheck search partners. If you want to advertise more broadly, slick to include partners.
  4. Devices: Leave the radio button selected to have your ads show up on all kinds of devices (desktop & laptop computers, tablets, mobile devices) or click Let me choose… if you want to narrow your focus (some new advertisers like to wait to add mobile after some initial results with regular computers).
  5. Locations: This setting is very important. You want to make sure your ads show up to potential customers without wasting your budget advertising to people who can’t buy from you. Unless you operate internationally, you will either select United States or the Let me choose… option. For Let me choose, enter a country, state, city, region, or zip code. If you are an accountant in Los Angeles, you might want to enter Los Angeles as your location. After you click to add one location, you can add others or exclude other locations. For example, you could add the state of New York but exclude New York City if it doesn’t apply to your business. Some businesses like to start as broad as possible (to reach the widest audience) and then refine the locations later. Others like to start with the most focused location possible (where are your very best customers?) and expand from there later.
  6. Bidding and budget: It’s money time. First you need to choose how you will bid for your ads. The Basic options are that you will manually set your own bids (what the maximum you will pay for any click on your ads) or have AdWords automatically bid to try to maximize the number of clicks you get based on your budget. Enter the maximum amount you want to spend per day (the actual amount may vary up to 20% on any one day, but over the month it will even out). Click the Advanced options if you want to bid based on conversions (if you have Google Analytics set up). You can also bid based on impressions if you are using the Display network.
  7. Ad extensions: Extensions are optional. Click Location to have your business address and phone number show up with your ad (good for local search). Click Sitelinks to have multiple links to different pages/sections in your site show up as options to searchers (you may get more traffic but it may be less targeted). Click Call to have your business phone number show up on iPhone/Android mobile phone searches. Click Social to allow people to be able to +1 your business’s Google + Page from the ad results.

Click the Save and Continue button when you have finished making all your settings choices. Remember, you can go back and change these at a later time.

Creating your first AdWords Ad Group and writing your first ad are the next step, which we’ll cover next week.

Happy New Year!

Why Buy Multiple Versions of Your Domain Name?

Domain name confusion: Where am I?There used to be three streets named Washington in the area I live: Washington Blvd., Washinton Pl., and Washingon Wy. (this last one has, thankfully, been renamed).

Not surprisingly, this was confusing and people often got lost, especially people who were relatively new to the area.

And if you had a business on one of the Washingtons, you likely lost business because some people couldn’t find you.

I definitely remember looking for a store I heard was “on Washington” (assuming it was Washington Blvd, the biggest of the streets), giving up when I didn’t find it, and only much later learning the store was on one of the lesser trafficked Washingtons. (Atlanta is more widely known to have and much bigger issue with streets named with some variation of Peachtree.)

Losing customer traffic can be an even bigger issue for business websites if they don’t plan to prevent confusion by registering multiple versions of their domain name or URL.

Online, domains ending in .com are dominant. They are the Washington Boulevards and main Peachtree Streets of the Web, the place most people will assume your business is.

That’s why one of our top domain name tips is to get a domain name ending in .com if possible.

If it’s important that you get a specific domain name but only the .net or .org extensions are available, you may still want to get it, but know that you will lose some amount of traffic to the .com site.

For the same reason, you’ll want to register multiple extensions of the same domain. It’s a simple, inexpensive way to assure that people won’t miss you by going to YourBiz.net instead of YourBiz.com (much simpler than opening a store on each of the three Washingtons to make sure people can find you).

You’ll also want to register any likely misspellings of your domain (just think how confusing it would have been if there were Washinton and Washingten streets nearby as well). Homonyms can be confusing: is it ThreeSuns.com or ThreeSons.com? Also numbers: 3Sons.com or ThreeSons.com?

If you have a business name that is purposely “misspelled,” like Three Sunzz, it’s even more important to register the more common spellings. Flicker.com was supposedly getting over 3 million hits from people looking for the popular photo sharing site Flickr.com before Flickr.com eventually bought the more commonly spelled version of the domain.

And you should also consider registering different variations of your company name: if you own a craft store called The Big Yarn Company, your customers may look for you at TheBigYarnCompany.com, BigYarnCompany.com, TheBigYarnCo.com, BigYarn.com, etc. Even if you are lucky enough to own Yarn.com, you may still want to register these other variations, both for traffic purposes, but also to support and protect your brand.

Be aware, if you don’t register variations of your brand’s domain name, others will. And that creates the possibility that consumers may be confused and think the site they landed on with all the spammy ads is your site.

It’s best if you register your multiple domain names right away when you sign up for web hosting service, but you can go back and register new domain names at any time for just $20 a year. That’s less than $2 a month, very well spent.

Whenever you a get new domain variation, you simply set up what’s called a 301 redirect, so that when people type in or link to any of this alternate URL, they will go to your main domain/website automatically.

As a final word of advice, when you register your domain names, you should also consider protecting them with these three domain protection services from EarthLink Web Hosting: Private Domain Name Registration, Domain Name Guard, and Domain Name Monitor. You can add each service for just $1 a month. (Our previous blog post can help you learn more about protecting your domains.)

Website Traffic Analytics – Using Urchin with Your Site

So, you’ve been able build your own website. Or you decided to have a professional web designer build your website.

And now you may be wondering…what next?

How about website traffic tracking and analytics?

All EarthLink web hosting & ecommerce hosting plans come with integrated Urchin web analytics.

Of course, if your site is brand new, don’t expect there to be much (or any) traffic to track, but it’s a good idea as soon as possible to take a look at your baseline numbers so you can measure your website traffic growth and monitor which marketing efforts are working and which ones aren’t.

Urchin Website Traffic Analytics - LoginTo get started, simply log into your EarthLink Control Panel at cc.earthlink.net. Once you are logged in, click on the Manage Site tab, and then click the Urchin icon (shown on the left).

This takes you to the Urchin login screen, which lists your domain names (called profile names). Click on the domain link for the website you want to work on.

Your default view will be the Advertiser dashboard. You can switch to other dashboard views with the drop-down menu.

Urchin Web Traffic Analytics - Report Navigation

  • The Advertiser dashboard view gives you a Marketing Summary snapshot of your traffic (visits) from your Top 5 Sources (e.g., direct, other websites, search engines), Top 5 Keywords, and Top 5 Campaigns (Campaigns may be the same as Sources for you until you start running campaigns). Use the calendars at the lower left to compare visits over two time periods.
  • The Executive dashboard view shows you a Content Summary of the most popular entrance and exit points on your website and which content is most popular. Click Geo Map Overlay to see where, worldwide, your traffic is coming from.
  • On the Marketer dashboard view, pay close attention to the Entrance Bounce Rates. There you’ll see the pages on your website that people entered (it won’t always be your homepage) and what the bounce rates for those pages are. Bounce rate is the % of people who landed on one of your pages and then exited the site without doing anything else. A high bounce rate is often, though not always, a sign that the page isn’t offering the content your visitors want or expect. Of course, if you have a one-page website you’ll always have a 100% bounce rate, so you would disregard that.
  • Click on the Webmaster dashboard view to get stats on the kinds of web browsers your visitors are using, what platforms they are on, and what connection speeds they are using. This information may be helpful when making some content optimization decisions.

There are dozens of available website traffic reports (too many to detail here) organized into four main categories: Advertising Optimization, Marketing Optimization, Content Optimization, and IT Reports.

I’ll give a brief overview of the types of website reports offered in each area. But I encourage you to click through all of them yourself to see what would be helpful to know about your website. Tip: on any report you don’t fully understand, scroll to the bottom of the page and look for Help Information.

  • Advertising Optimization is where you can monitor results of Google Adwords campaigns (with either a campaign view or keyword view), compare CPC vs. organic keyword conversion, and monitor the conversion rates of website traffic coming from various sources (requires setting up conversion parameters).
  • Marketing Optimization should give you some good insights on your website traffic right away. Under Unique Visitor Tracking, click the Visits & Pageview Tracking link to see charts showing Visits by day, Pageviews, and Average Pageviews per visit over the date range you specify. Under Visitor Segment Performance, click Referring Source to get more details on which website, search engines, and other sources your visitors are coming from. 
  • Content Optimization gives you a good overview of how people are using your urchin website top content chartsite. Click Top Content to see the most popular pages on your website. Depth of Visit shows you a graph with the number of people who viewed 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 etc. pages on your website. Click Engagement Metrics for graphs showing the percentages of visitors who spend various amounts of time on your site, as well as time on your site broken down by date.
  • IT Reports may be a bit too geeky for some, but you can use this section to find reports on browsers & platforms, robots (to see which search engines have crawled your site), domains, top files and downloads. One important thing to check here is the Referral Errors link. You want to make sure if there are many 404 errors, you figure out what’s broken on your site or why people are looking for content in the wrong place on your site (maybe you misprinted a URL in some marketing?).