Brittney Sheffield / Digital Marketing / August 13th, 2014

Why You Shouldn't Ignore Messages from Google

Remember that borderline spammy-looking email you received from Google a couple of months ago (and the one about 10 minutes ago)? To be more specific, the one about your Adwords account, not the one about using Google+ more (that was spam). Well, I hope you read it.

If you’re like me, you may receive upwards of 40 emails per day, and chances are good that if you don’t know the person emailing you, you’ll ignore the message all together. Fortunately, when I received an email from 352’s AdWords account specialist I decided to respond, and I’m really glad I did. I wasn’t sure what to expect out of the 30-minute call that resulted from my email response, but what I got was some really solid advice and learned a few new things about Adwords.

Campaign-specific advice

I have to admit that the idea of a 30-minute phone call about my account sounded like it was going to turn into something more than a helpful offer. Happily, I was wrong. The AdWords account specialist I spoke with asked for details about my company and our KPIs. At no time during our conversation did I feel like she was attempting to sell me on something I wasn’t asking for or convincing me to up my ad spend.

Location-targeted bid adjustments

The first tip was to get us even more specific with location-targeted campaigns. Instead of simply targeting one metropolitan area, she recommended that I research specific neighborhoods where my target businesses or audience would be located and upping my bid in those areas, which should increase the chances of my ads displaying on page 1 or in a higher position for people searching in those locations. This specialist happened to be familiar with the city we were targeting, so she helped me select neighborhoods, utilize radius location targeting and adjust the bids. Here is a brief walk through of the steps:

1. Select the campaign you want to update. Then Click the Edit  link next to targeting (above the tabs) or select the Settings tab>Locations.

PPC Targeting

2. Scroll to Locations and click Advanced Search.

Advanced Location Search

 

3. Next, select radius targeting and input a location you’d like to target more specifically. Let’s say we want to target Microsoft. I’d probably select Redmond and a 5-mile radius around that area. From there you can individually add locations to target in the surrounding area and click Done.

Radius Targeting

4. After you’re done, click on the Settings tab for your campaign and click the Bid adj. area for the location you’d like edit. From there you can increase or decrease the bids for your keywords in these areas and save your changes.

Adjust Bids for Locations

Dead ends for users lead to lower Quality Scores

Landing pages are a tricky thing to get right, but especially if you’re driving traffic with paid ads. Managing landing pages can be a nearly full-time task, and I learned that we were occasionally making some big mistakes in Google’s eyes, even though we thought we were acting in a user’s best interest.

When done right, custom landing pages for PPC campaigns can be far more successful than driving people to your homepage, for example. A few months ago we created some new landing pages for our Ad Groups that really focused on the ad content. We felt pretty good about the content we put on those pages, the case study examples we added, and the overall user experience.

Unfortunately we were still seeing a low quality score, and we couldn’t figure out why. So we switched a few of our ads to direct to some of service-oriented landing pages and even our homepage. Our quality scores went up. I wasn’t sure what to make of that until speaking with our AdWords account specialist, who told me that when it comes to quality score you should be careful to never create a dead end for your users.

Our landing pages may have had solid, targeted content, but in an effort to eliminate distractions we had decided to remove our typical site navigation from our ad landing pages and instead only link to our homepage via our logo in the top left of the page. What we thought would prevent people from getting off course actually caused us to be penalized a bit by Google. (To be fair other factors may have led to our low QS, but we certainly think this was one of them.)

ad-landing-page
Part of our AdWords landing page. Notice the missing navigation compared to other pages on our site.

When creating custom pages for an ad campaign be sure to give your users the ability to look around for themselves and determine what information they need to make a decision. Don’t create a dead end.

 Don’t be afraid to learn

It’s pretty natural to be leery of jumping on a call with a representative of any company that will potentially want your money, but it can often pay off in unexpected ways. Digital services change so quickly, it’s almost necessary to occasionally touch base with reps to help you stay on top of your game. One of my coworkers recently jumped on a call with our press release service and came out talking about how much he learned to help clients, without being sold a thing.

So give those AdWords account specialists a chance and don’t be afraid to take advice from the experts – they may be ready to give you some great tips. Let me know in the comments about the last time you went into a sales conversation and ended up getting some solid advice out if it.

Image Credit: JayMantri

  • Trish Trout

    Great Job! Love the easy steps to follow!

  • Trish Trout

    Great Job! Love the easy steps to follow!

  • Jill Jones

    Nice post. I thought single CTAs on landing pages was always best practice. I didn’t know Google was penalizing those with dead ends. Great insight! Thanks for sharing.

    • Brittney Sheffield

      Thanks for the comments! I probably shouldn’t have thrown out the word “penalty” because it can have very different, harsher meanings in the online marketing world now. I wouldn’t say Google penalizes you for dead ends, if by penalize you mean those scary notifications sites can receive in Webmaster Tools, but it can result in a lower quality score which hurts the chances of your ads appearing where you want them to. Here’s more on QS info if you’re interested: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fZU3UA2Grlc

      • Jill Jones

        Lower quality scores result in less lead flow so in my mind that is a penalty, even if that’s not in the Google definition of penalty. 🙂

  • Jill Jones

    Nice post. I thought single CTAs on landing pages was always best practice. I didn’t know Google was penalizing those with dead ends. Great insight! Thanks for sharing.

    • Brittney Sheffield

      Thanks for the comments! I probably shouldn’t have thrown out the word “penalty” because it can have very different, harsher meanings in the online marketing world now. I wouldn’t say Google penalizes you for dead ends, if by penalize you mean those scary notifications sites can receive in Webmaster Tools, but it can result in a lower quality score which hurts the chances of your ads appearing where you want them to. Here’s more on QS info if you’re interested: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fZU3UA2Grlc

      • Jill Jones

        Lower quality scores result in less lead flow so in my mind that is a penalty, even if that’s not in the Google definition of penalty. 🙂

  • Kate Griggs

    I never thought simplicity would lead to penalties. Quite interesting.

  • Kate Griggs

    I never thought simplicity would lead to penalties. Quite interesting.

  • Robert C Hanley

    Maybe the logic is a site with no dead ends is more ‘legit’/’trustworthy’? An ad leading to a very specific focused page makes sense but it must be structurally too similar to the kind of ‘problem’ pages google doesn’t want in their system

  • dwasylow

    Google emails drive me nuts because we have so many clients using so many Google products that you never know which messages are actually relevant – and to whom.

  • Chris Manning

    Excellent post! I never knew so many factors could land you penalties.

  • Jennifer Fix

    Really helpful post, Brit. I found the part about the simplicity and ‘dead ends’ really interesting… especially as it relates to discussions about Lean UX and simple designs.