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In the landscape of digital advertising, Google Ads have long been a prominent feature. They’re not only ubiquitous, but they’re also (still) useful and effective.

For example, on average, companies enjoy a healthy return on the AdWords investments they make, earning around $2 in revenue for every $1 spent on their ad campaigns with the search giant. Businesses recognize that value as well; approximately 78 percent plan to increase their ad spending with Google AdWords in the coming year.

If you’re not seeing the results you’d like from your own AdWords’ campaigns, there’s no need to throw it all out and start from scratch (although you certainly can). Instead, take your current campaign ads and give them a makeover.

1. Research and Select the Right Keywords

Do keyword research and select your keywords for each piece of ad copy carefully. Think about a tight alignment between and among the ad group, the specific ad’s creative elements and whatever page is on the other side of the link in your ad (usually a landing page, products page, or sales page of some kind, but this depends wholly on your own ad campaign goals).

The obvious place to start is with the Google Ads Keyword Planner. This free to use tool helps you uncover new keywords you might not have thought of, research the volume and intent behind those keywords, and estimate your budget for specific campaigns you might be considering. Even given the substitution of numeric ranges for search volumes, as opposed to specific values, it’s still a useful place to start.

To broaden your keyword research plan and gain the most useful information to plan and perfect your campaigns, explore other free keyword research tools that help boost your ads’ effectiveness. Here are a few you can try:

  • The AdWord & SEO Keyword Permutation Generator: Helps combine and generate further permutations from single word keywords. This is particularly useful when you want to generate the best keywords for commercial intent; you can simply add modifiers that indicate readiness to purchase, such as “free” and “shipping” or “discount.”
  • Answer the Public: A fun-to-use website that helps transform your seed keywords into questions, prepositions, comparisons and alphabetical lists of longer-tail key phrases that can help you pinpoint what your prospects are seeking.
  • Google Trends: This Google tool helps you see how search trends for specific seed keywords evolve over time. You can see when popularity increases or drops, which can help you pinpoint the most effective time of year for your campaign.

Add these sites to your toolbox. The idea isn’t to replace Keyword Planner but to augment its reach and efficacy by adding resources with slightly different focal points.

2. Streamline and Strengthen Your Ad’s Quality

Make sure your ads are simple, emotionally appealing and enticing. One frequently encountered problem is that the ad is creative and clever, but doesn’t really resonate with the targeted audience. To fix this issue, make sure you’ve stated the value and benefit to the prospect (i.e., free shipping, significant discounts, free trial period, etc.) upfront and in clear, succinct language.

In addition, install and use useful AdWords extensions that help you improve the quality of your Google ads. These are little snippets of code that expand the functionality of your ad controls.

3. Make Your Call to Action More Compelling

One of the best things you can do to vamp up your ad campaign and enhance its effectiveness is to refine the call to action. Including a strong, compelling call to action tells your prospect what you want them to do next in brief, succinct language and increases your CTR.

A strong call to action (or C2A) generally:

  • Leads with a compelling active verb – e.g., “buy” or “try” or “order.”
  • Seek to evoke an emotional response, such as enthusiasm or desire.
  • If you can, be clever and creative – but being clear should always come first.

The right call to action can mean all the difference to a campaign that’s well-crafted in other respects. Even when users read, align well with and respond positively to the other creative elements in an ad, if they encounter a weak call to action at the end of all that, they may not take the action you’ll want them to take.

4. Analyze Your Campaign’s Metrics

Keep an eye on your ad campaign’s metrics. It’s a good idea to keep a consistent analytical eye on your ads’ performance. Two metrics that you want to keep a particularly close eye on are your click-through rate (CTR)—the number of people who clicked on your ad, out of all people who saw the ad—and your bounce rate.

Bounce rate is the percentage of people who visit your site but only one page of it, before leaving your site altogether—that is, the people who “bounced” quickly off your page. It’s a fairly reliable indicator of the alignment in your visitor’s mind between the ad (or whatever led them to that page) and the content they found there, since ostensibly if they saw what they were looking for there, they’d stick around.

Or to put it another way, if your site has a lower bounce rate, your visitors are presumably more engaged with your content and will have a better feeling about your brand and your ad.

Tracking these metrics tells you when there’s a problem and what it likely is. A low CTR means your ad isn’t compelling the right people to click that link and find out more about your brand and your offer. In that case, your attention should be focused on the elements of the ad itself, particularly the copy and the call to action.

On the other hand, a high bounce rate tells you that the problem likely lies on the website side of the ad equation. At some level, your prospects are responding to your ad, but not to the content on your page. Likely weak points can be any one or more of the following:

  • Headlines and subheadings
  • Calls to action
  • Image use
  • The tone of the copy

5. Make Adjustments Based on Your Results

Once you’ve analyzed your metrics closely and have a clearer idea of how those ads are performing, it’s time to do something with that data.

So, based on your metrics analysis and your split testing results, periodically tweak various elements in the ads that aren’t performing as strongly as you feel they could be.

You can also vary your ad positioning. Often when you’re looking at an underperforming ad, the only real problem is a position that’s low on the page. This could explain a low CTR. To remedy, simply increase your bid a bit, at a slow pace over the course of several days, until the ad finally achieves a more top-of-page positioning. When that happens, watch your CTR, which should increase. If it doesn’t, then the problem isn’t positioning but could be keyword/copy alignment or a weak call to action.

Take some time to revise and improve key elements slowly, based on the analysis of your metrics, then track your results. Continue to make adjustments suggested by your ad’s performance until you’ve hit the right combination of creativity, clarity, and persuasion.

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