Google AdWords Strategy – Part 2: Targeting

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Google AdWords Strategy – Part 2: Targeting

With permission from the Google AdWords Guide: Novice to Expert to Superhuman –


There’s no point in advertising anything unless the ad reaches a person who might be interested in it. That sounds obvious, but the number of advertisers who waste money on “catch-all” ads with a “shotgun” approach, hoping for the best, is astonishingly high. If you follow their example, you’ll lose a lot of money fast with Google AdWords. The secret of success with Google AdWords, as with any advertising medium, is accurate targeting. With Google AdWords, though, you can home in on your target market with pin-point accuracy.

If you sell a machine with a specific model number, that model number should be your main keyword. If you sell it only in a certain town or county, that town or county should be a keyword in the Ad Group. If it relates to a particular season or festival, that should be a keyword.

Keywords can be combined with each other or with incidental words, such as prepositions like “in”, “for”, “with”, to form 2-word, 3-word or 4-plus-word phrases in various ways and different word orders. Ideally, every conceivable phrase that a surfer might type as a search term would be desirable to have in an Ad Group as an exact match keyword phrase. Then your cost per click for each of those keyword phrases would be minimal. If you’re creating your Google AdWords campaign manually, such a task would be totally impractical, of course, if not impossible. For such jobs specialist software that applies “brute force” algorithms is a sound investment. You get what you pay for, and even the high-end software pays for itself, usually many times over.

Negative keywords have a great impact on a targeted AdWords campaign. If you sell software, for example, and don’t just give it away, you do not want your ad to appear when someone types the phrase “free software”. That might trigger an impression of your advertisement unnecessarily, thus affecting your keyword’s and your ad’s click-through rates adversely. Worse still would be if that person were to click on your ad. Yes, it’d help your CTR but you’d pay good money for a non-revenue-earning click. Specify “free” as a negative keyword, to prevent your ad from being displayed. To micro-target your market, your negative keyword list could be surprisingly large.

The same principle applies to the ad text: You don’t want freebie-seekers clicking on your ad unless you’re giving away something for nothing on your landing page. That costs you money. Don’t be afraid to target your potential customers who are prepared to pay for your product or service by making it clear in the ad text that it’s for sale and not free. Stating its price in the ad is the easiest and most succinct way to get that message across.

As well as geographic targeting, you can also make use of demographic tageting to a certain extent. Demographic targeting with Google AdWords, however, requires some judgment on your part. Use the Google AdWords “placement targeting” function (see ‘Tactics > Placement Ads’) to pick specific web sites that, in your opinion, would be visited by the kind of people you want to see your advertisement. Combine those placements with specific keywords and bids to attain the desired position for your ad on context-relevant pages on those web sites.

Here’s a summary of what happens, depending on the Google AdWords settings you choose:

Select ‘Search’ with keywords in the Ad Group: Your ads can appear on user searches related to your keywords. Select ‘Search’ with no keywords in the Ad Group: Ads in this Ad Group won’t appear on search. (Keywords are needed to be matched to user searches.) Select ‘Relevant pages across the entire network’ with keywords in the Ad Group: Your ads can appear on Content Network pages matching your keywords. Select ‘Relevant pages across the entire network’ with no keywords in the Ad Group: Ads in this Ad Group won’t appear on the Content Network. (Keywords are needed for your ads to be matched contextually on the Content Network, but if you have also selected Placement targeting in this Ad Group, your ads can appear on any individual placements you selected.) Select ‘Relevant pages only on the placements I target’ with keywords in the Ad Group: Ads can appear only on the placements you choose, and only if the content of those placements matches your keywords. If your chosen placements don’t match your keywords, your ad won’t show. Select ‘Relevant pages only on the placements I target’ with no keywords in the Ad Group: Ads can appear on any of the placements you choose, regardless of relevance.