I started using Adwords for let’s just say “widgets”. At first this was going out through Google searches and also across Google’s network and it got a lot of clicks but no orders for “widgets”. After a little bit of thought I decided that restricting it to just Google searches was more appropriate as the ad would only appear when someone typed in the phrase as opposed to just curious clickers on a related website. Sure enough the number of clicks went down dramatically and I assumed this was becoming a more focused campaign and better value for money.
Next I noticed that the majority of clicks I was receiving was during the day, specifically working hours. Now it just so happens that the type of “widgets” that I sell would come from customers direct and not from businesses. As these customers would be working during the day it became obvious that the clicks I was receiving were from other competitors. Now I know Google is good at filtering out click fraud but assuming this is from the same I.P. address then this is flawed. Let me explain: In times of recession every business is looking at every other business assuming that they have taken their business. As a result they assume that clicking on their competitor’s ad to use up their entire budget and make the ad disappear from the results is fair game. Google will spot this for one company doing this, but what if all the companies are doing this? i.e. suppose twenty companies all competing for the same business are all clicking on each others ad’s? Multiple I.P. addresses all across different parts of country – can Google filter this? Unlikely.
At this point I decided to restrict the hours when the ad was being shown – specifically tea time onwards until bed time and before midnight (who wants a bunch of drunk clicks). Weekends I decided to have them running all day. The result was very good – no irrelevant clicks and some results. At this point I thought I had a very tight and focussed campaign and was quite happy. That was until I realised that for some unknown reason that only Google can understand is that you cannot have automatic bidding and restrict the hours that the ad’s are running – WHY? The result is manual setting of bids – no problem I thought I’ll just get this even more refined and aim to be in the result near the top.
After a lot of adjustment to the bids they started to become erratic. One day 30p is fine the next it’s 50p and the day after that £1.30. What’s going on? Finally I work out there is a fudge factor that Google applies to ad’s - Quality Score. Effectively if no-one clicks on your ad then Google considers it irrelevant and your score drops and you have to bid more to keep your position for this keyword.
Fine. So I have to manually set lots and lots of keywords every day wasting an enormous amount of time doing this just to keep pace with the fact that the keywords have not been clicked on. Hmmm. Almost like Google doesn’t want you to do this!
So I had another look at quality score. Relevancy kept coming back at me. So, I check the keywords against the ad and the landing page and make sure they are all okay. After a bit of thought I decided that some keywords could be grouped better and set about doing this with relevant ad groups. So instead of “widgets” I now had “red widgets”, “blue widgets”, “big widgets” etc. Result? Wonderful, highly relevant ad’s to the product being sold. Great I thought – that’s all I needed to do.
Some time later…. Relevancy is down again. What can possibly be wrong now? Type in “Red Widget” and for some unknown reason to Google, up comes the “Blue Widget” ad. Why???? Stupid – I set it to a very relevant ad group and Google overrides this and changes it to another. Now, not being funny Google but I think I know my business better than you do! My choice is better than yours. So, after much searching I discover that ad’s can be “broad match”, “phrase match” and “exact match”. This is daft. Why would I want another ad to appear for something that isn’t relevant to it? Google knows this too. So why do it? The only thing I can conclude is that it is less strain on the servers if “broad match” is used and if everyone used “exact match” then the strain on the servers would be too great and things would stop working. Do I care? No! After all Google bleats on about ad relevancy and then serves up an ad completely irrelevant. So I change all the keywords to “exact match” and in the process bump all the bid prices up again. Great, now all the keywords are very relevant and the ad’s being shown are extremely accurate. Wonderful. Except now they are not showing again…… Arrrrrrgggggghhhhhh.
What is wrong now? I roll over the little box that says the ad score is too low to show it. I check the keyword and it is a great match for the ad. I check the landing page and it is a great match for the keyword. The advert is approved and is perfectly fine but because no-one is clicking on it then Google assumes it is irrelevant and demotes it. So am I supposed to click on my own ad’s now???
I note, however that a very large online retailer beginning with “A” and ending in “n” appears above my ad’s. Looking at the results served up the top three had the keyword that I typed in. Then “A” was there and doesn’t even mention the keyword. Then little old me who does have the keyword in the results. Surely this cannot be – an irrelevant result above me? Google constantly bleats on about relevancy…..
Then it all started to make sense. Google wasn’t making any money out of me which is the real reason behind “Quality Score”. As my ad’s were very relevant and extremely focussed they weren’t getting enough revenue from me. Fair enough I think but why put up the smoke screen of “quality score”. Why not call it “budget positioning”.
I mean let’s just run this logically. If your ad is not appearing near the top then by Google’s quality scoring it will drop because the chances of someone clicking on an ad shown on the right is less than that of the ad’s shown at the top. By their way of measuring effectiveness of an ad your score will diminish because of this. That is until you “pay” more to maintain your position.
So now I am constantly forced to faff about checking positions against bid costs etc. and I just can’t help thinking this is an enormous drain on my time and I would be better off doing some work instead! But I cannot turn it onto automatic bidding because this doesn’t work when you restrict the times when your ad is being shown. So, what do you do? Only answer is to turn automatic bidding on and accept that your ad is running all the time (along with all my competitors clicking on it).
What I have concluded from this is that relevancy is a great thing and Google certainly thinks this is true up until they don’t make any money out of you for being too relevant. They are then quite happy to be completely irrelevant with your ad’s and also large online retailers. Double standards with out a doubt.
Was my ad campaign successful – no. Will I be using Adwords again – no. I guess I was a pawn in their game of chess being used to up the bid price for larger companies with specific keywords. Afterall where do all the keywords that appear in “Opportunities” come from? Could it possibly be an amalgamation of several related company’s keywords? Hmmm, wouldn’t that cause a bidding war between companies – I wonder who could possibly benefit from that?
Re: Adwords Experience
It's a shame that your efforts with PPC were not successful.
I can assure you that it is possible to do it successfully - but with all due respect it's really dangerous if you try to learn as you go along, as you described. The program does not lends itself to beginners or people with little practical experience of running campaigns.
The quality score factor punishes you for poor performance almost forever, so sometimes by the time you've worked out how to avoid getting a poor QS (tight groups, exact match keywords) it is too late and Google forces you to continually increase your bids if you want to be shown in auctions.
I'm not saying that Google are good or bad for this - I'm just saying that it's easy to waste money if you're not sure what you're doing right from the start and thereafter it's very difficult to recover.
You asked a lot of rhetorical questions in your post, which is fine, but if you had any specific ones which you'd like an answer to then let me know by post reply.
Good luck with your "widgets"
Re: Adwords Experience
Quoting myself is not something I like doing, but I just managed to successfully deal with precisely the advertiser you're talking about.
Maybe this link http://www.en.adwords-community.com/t5/Improve-results/When-advertising-gets-tough/ta-p/13096, and the post that inspired it, along with my personal experience, could be of some use.
That advertiser is, for those willing to take him, a sitting duck. I'm looking at their ads:
Keyword at Advertiser - Big savings on Keyword
Advertiser is rated **** xyzt reviews
Free ** delivery on Key + Word on Advertiser Orders
And the keyword is not even identical to the search term (they can't afford to put that much effort into tweaking their ads, they make enough as it is, probably). All ads are pretty much like that. Boilerplate. Nothing but the "free shipping" and "savings". No specific, search terms related ads, no sitelinks, nothing like that.
Nothing to be scared of, it's just that you have to start by studying and tweaking everything the best you can, not learn as you go along, and even worse, from your own mistakes.
Start with a handful (5 at most) keywords. Put them all in exact match (hopefully you'll have enough search volume). Write the best 3 ads you can come up with, which describe your product/services best, and make use of your unique selling proposals. Put sitelinks in there, make good use of them to extend your ad. Watch for any keyword diagnosis tool issues, and fix them. Bid over the top page bid, let them run for a while, study them. Rinse and repeat. At one point you'll reach the top and take up 2 times more ad space, and they will not recover, because they cannot afford to "snipe".
They will keep beating others, but not you. Or anyone willing to put enough effort and study into it.
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