I compare Google AdWords to fire. Used correctly, fire can be extremely useful. It can cook your food and keep you warm. Used incorrectly and it can burn your house down.

After auditing hundreds of Google AdWords accounts, I continually see the common mistake of using broad campaign targeting and keywords. The problem with broad in any digital marketing program is that you are competing with everyone (big and small).

For example, if you are a local barber and bidding on the keyword haircut in your state, you are too broad. The broader your keyword, the more competition, thus the higher cost-per-click. The key is granularity for who you’re targeting and the keywords you choose for your campaigns.

Some tips for small businesses before using Google AdWords:

  • Location, location, location; If you’re local, stay local with geo-targeted ads.
  • Use long-tailed keywords. ex. If you offer car insurance only in New York, don’t bid on the keyword Insurance. Try New York Car Insurance Quote and other long-tailed keyword variations.
  • Create tightly themed keywords, ad copy and take users to the deepest, most relevant landing page possible. This will bring up your quality score.
  • Don’t forget about bid adjustments: Adjust bids by day, time, device, geo and demo. Go where the conversions are happening!
  • Use ad extensions: Not only do they take up valuable real estate and provide additional content, but one of the many factors involved in quality score.
  • Leverage your email lists and re-marketing audiences. Think holistic.
  • Cut wasteful spend by using negative keywords.
  • Cut losers when you see them: If your website’s conversion rate is 2% and a keyword hasn’t converted once in 100 clicks, think about lowering the bid or outright pausing it. RLSA target and bid is also a great option, but that’s for another day.

Happy to hear your thoughts and feel free to add your own best tips. Happy searching!