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Recently, I had a new client come on board that told me they had been investing some resources into Google AdWords. My initial positive response to their efforts were soon quelled when I discovered they had over a 95% bounce rate for those ads with zero conversions after over a month.

Once I was provided access to their account, I quickly realized that what they thought was AdWords, was actually just AdWords Express. There were certainly issues with their landing page that were causing the lackluster results, but as I dug into the account, it was clear that the limits of the Express platform were to blame as well.

Easier Isn’t Always Better

For someone accustomed to the depth of settings and options within AdWords, I’m always shocked by how bare bones Express is. Of course the big selling point for Express is that it’s super easy to set up and requires very little monitoring, but in the world of PPC (pay per click) campaigns, that’s not necessarily a good thing…well, unless you’re comfortable with throwing money out the window (more on that shortly).

As I reviewed the internal settings of the active campaign, it was clear that my client had filled out all the options to the best of their ability, but the Express system was failing them. Their ad text was appropriate, and their geo targeted location was just fine, but the keyword section was severely lacking.

The way Google makes Express easier is by having you write a description of your product/service and add a list of general keywords you think you’d like to bid for. Google then takes that info and also tries to bid for phrases related to your description and keywords they think are similar. I found that most of the keywords Google added automatically were way too generic and my client would never win a PPC auction, or they looked related but had different connotations than what Google thought.

The whole point here is that my client’s ad was showing up for keywords that had different intent than what their real customers would normally have because of the poor automated keyword choices made by Google. This then would certainly contribute to a ridiculously high bounce rate for their landing page that had zero conversions.

If you’re going to use AdWords Express…

  • A short term solution here was to keep checking in as often as possible to see what other keywords Google thought were relevant and remove them from the list. However, that clearly defeats the purpose of going with the automated, low maintenance PPC option.
  • Create a handful of ads to give you a better chance of winning the auction. That will also allow you to create more specific lists of keywords per ad, which hopefully will keep Google from suggesting too broad of a keyword for you.
  • Link your Express account with Google Analytics. This will allow you to see how users interact with your site after they click on one of your ads, and be confident in determining if Express is paying for itself, or if you need to consider jumping up to regular AdWords for increased control.

My Recommendation

Ideally, I’d recommend any small business who wants to run a PPC campaign to spend an hour a week learning about the full AdWords platform for a few weeks until they are comfortable investing their hard earned money into it, rather than take the easy way out with Express and throw money out the window. The plethora of added options a full fledged AdWords account provides, like ad extensions, logical campaign hierarchy, knowing where your ads are displayed, among dozens of other things, make it the clear best option.  

If you are at all serious about your business, those few hours of training can pay real dividends for your advertising budget in the future.

And if you don’t have the time to learn all about AdWords on your own (shameless plug incoming!), you can always contact your Cazbah Internet Marketing Consultant for some advice on the matter, or to set up and manage your account completely! You’ll be in great hands no matter who your IMC is as Cazbah is an AdWords Certified Shop.

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