If you aren’t running Google AdWords for search engine marketing (SEM), then you’re not really doing digital marketing. Nope. You should probably stop reading for a moment to hang your head in shame. We’ll wait.

Okay, maybe “shame” is a little too harsh, but let us not understate the impact of the Google AdWords platform. You can have the best SEO on the planet and still lose out to a competitor with better SEM. You may not feel the icy sting of shame, but you can be sure that they’ll be laughing at you… all the way to the bank.


Indeed, time is short. In the time it’s taking you to read this sentence, your competitors have already notched 20 click-throughs and a half dozen conversions. Maybe I should try writing shorter sentences. Okay, okay. TO THE LISTICLE!


The first thing you have to realize in running a Google AdWords campaign is that Google don’t play. Like Santa Claus, the Goog has full visibility into every aspect of your SEM campaign. They know when your ads aren’t relevant to their users, and this displeases them.

But rather than crushing you with their sheer omnipotence, they just penalize you by making you pay more per click. Do you want to pay more? No, you most assuredly do not. So listen up.

The Google AdWords quality score is a ranking (from 1-10) of how closely your ad text corresponds to your landing page. The more relevant your ad text is, the higher your quality score. So, simply by raising your quality score, you can get more clicks without having to raise your budget at all. See? This is already paying off for you.

Of course, the text of your AdWords ad is concise by definition. So, you may find it easier to boost your quality score by modifying your landing page rather than your ad.


Just like with the quality score above, relevance is everything to your AdWords ad groups. Most advertisers tend to place 10 or more keywords per ad group, reasoning that it spreads a wider net. But just because it makes sense in fishing doesn’t mean it works the same in SEM. You want clicks, not carp.

There’s nothing fishy about it, either. The problem is that it’s almost impossible to write ad text that’s relevant to every keyword. And remember, it has to be relevant to your landing page as well. It may be more work, but it works. Some companies that have implemented this strategy have seen more than a 100% jump in conversions.


So by now you’re probably noticing that Google favors the narrow focus. They do. After all, users rely upon them to find very specific things in the vastness of the Interwebs. Imagine seeking millions of needles in billions of haystacks every minute of every day. And you think YOU work hard.

But this doesn’t mean you can’t still cast a wide net. You just have to be smart about it. And hey, if you’re reading this, you must at least be self-aware.

For example, if your business sells sweaters for reptiles, bidding on “pet sweaters” is going to be less effective than “lizard sweaters.” But when you try to tap into the huge national market for lizard wear you find that there is massive competition for those valuable AdWords. What’s a reptile clothier to do?

Simple. After shaking your fists at the heavens, you remember reading this article. And then you focus. See? Self-awareness works.

Think of a city with a huge population of pet lizards, like Cincinnati, where they roam the streets in herds. Then duplicate your national campaign and change the target location to there. Next edit your ad’s copy to add relevance: “The Queen City’s best source for beautiful lizard apparel.” No, I don’t know why they call Cincinnati “the Queen City,” but they do. Yes, it’s a little odd, but before you go judging, remember that you’re the one hawking lizardwear, weirdo.

The last step is to exclude Cincinnati from your national campaign, so they don’t see the lame non-Cincinnati ads that you’re pushing on everyone else. Bingo! You’ve localized a part of your campaign. Now do the same thing with the rest of the lizard cities on your list. I’m looking at you, Des Moines, IA.


This is so closely related to tactic 3 that it doesn’t deserve its own tactic number. We don’t just hand out numbers willy-nilly. No sir. We have standards.

So now that you’ve set up your national campaign to localize around lizard-friendly hotspots, the next step is the next step. Literally. Once some poor unsuspecting fool clicks on your ad, where do they go? Are you going to send them to some lame, generic landing page? You would do that to a prospective customer? Of course not. You remember tactic #1. You worship at the quality score altar.

Of course, you don’t want to spend time creating separate landing pages for each localization because time is finite, and you’re a lizard clothier, not a landing page developer. So you use a dynamic landing page.

Dynamic landing pages are landing pages that are dynamic. I guess that pretty much covers it. 

No? Okay, then just imagine a generic landing page that automatically populates with localized text based upon which ad was clicked. Thus, your Queen City customers will arrive at a landing page that promotes “The Queen City’s best prices on today’s hottest lizardwear” or something like that. So, your customers will think you’re their friendly neighbor rather than some giant multinational corporation headed by a James Bond villain. That’s how you market.


This might sting a bit, so hold on tight. You know the difference between SEO and SEM, right? Well, most advertisers like to believe that their brand is SEO enough to earn a click from anyone who searches for it directly.

But no. Unfortunately, it’s just not so. And there’s no Santa Claus, either. Sorry.

The truth is that the Internet is very large and there are a finite number of words in the world. And while you may not know of another company called “Lizard Lounge” that sells premium reptile attire, that doesn’t mean you’re going to win the SEO war for those searches

Especially not in a crowded, competitive market like lizardwear. In fact, in competitive markets, it’s not uncommon to find companies actively bidding on their competitors’ brand names. You can do that, too.

You see, even if you do make it to the absolute pinnacle of search engine listings, you’re still going to show up under the AdWords ad for that search. And even when there is no competitor ad in your brand search, studies show that adding your own can yield up to five times as many clicks. That alone makes it worth it.


Yes, it’s a shameless plug, but it’s also DAMN GOOD advice. While it’s true that anyone can do digital advertising with Google AdWords or some other PPC platform, it’s also true that anyone can repair their own plumbing or fly a plane. But neither one is something you want to mess up.

By being so very attractive to everyone who advertises anything, AdWords has become very competitive. An agency is a big plus in navigating this competitive landscape, and in maximizing your precious marketing dollars at the same time.

And I happen to know a DAMN GOOD agency I can recommend.

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