Straight Talk About Google Ads

For the Business Owner, Google Ads can be Frustrating

Google Ads dominates the paid search market, and offers a host of options to allow advertisers to pinpoint potential customer with amazing precision. However, too many times, business owners receive a free $50 coupon, only to lose a few hundred after they attempt a campaign.

Dozens of targeting options

While Google Ads seems to be pitched as a ‘plug and play’ marketing option, there are so many options that it is near impossible for business owners to set up a campaign without dozens of hours of research and training. That is, if they can find solid advice in the first place.

Ashley Schweigert returns to talk through the many details of setting up a Google Ads account. From targeting keywords, understanding keyword match types, setting budgets and then dealing with the Quality Score. There is a lot to unpack when it comes to Google Ads, and Matt and Ashley attempt to help people navigate through the confusing layers of setting up a campaign.


Speakers: Matt Bailey & Ashley Schweigert

Ashley: SEO is a long-term strategy. I usually tell—I mean obviously this is going to depend on the industry and the type of competition that is out there for the keywords you’re aiming to ring for. But usually I do say that very candid response that it can take 6 months on average for a site to start seeing some results. But with paid, you can get those results  really quick. So if you’re trying to go after a new audience and you want to see maybe what types of messages are going to work and what really, you know, drives that type of user to convert, this is a good way to test that. I actually believe that you could do a lot to combine your paid and your organic effort and really reap the benefits of having roi.

Introduction: Welcome to Endless Coffee Cup, a regular discussion of marketing news, culture and media or our complex digital lifestyle. Join Matt Bailey as he engages in conversation to find insights beyond the latest headlines and deeper understanding for those involved in marketing. Grab a cup of coffee, have a seat and thanks for joining.

Matt: Hey welcome to the Endless Coffee Cup podcast. I am your host Matt Bailey and I’m very happy to have—actually back in the studio, Ashley Schweigert is with us again. And I think we’re just going to do a series, Ashley, on different channels of digital marketing. How’s that sound?

Ashley: That excites me. I love digital marketing so I can’t wait.

Matt: I can tell. You are a busy woman. Just the amount of marketing that you push out, I just—I see it on LinkedIn, I get envious.

Ashley: Oh I love doing my own, you know. I could do whatever I want that way.

SMB Frustrations with Paid Search

Matt: It’s true. It’s true. So, I thought today, Ashley, let’s talk about paid search. I think we left off our discussion on SEO, same we ought to do on paid search and maybe help people just think through this because I heard so many people say, “I tried it and it didn’t work.” And when I start prying and asking questions, usually what I find is that they didn’t set it up right. You know, that’s the first thing. They didn’t set it up right. They didn’t understand really what they were getting into. They looked at it as almost, I’ll use that old term, Yellow pages ad where I create an ad, send people to my site, you know. I used Google’s $50 free coupon but I spent $200 and I didn’t get anything out of it. So has that been your experience in talking with people?

Ashley: Yeah it’s really… Absolutely. It’s really unfortunate because when I start with a client, I always look to see what is the structure even if someone is just looking for a quote. I look at the structure of their site I mean at their hours campaign and even the structure of their site because sometimes that hours campaign can be structured according to the site and you really have to look to see what do the keywords talk about and doing that research. That’s why it’s really hard without getting into the heart of that keyword research to understand what is a good structure for these different campaigns that are in this client’s account. But I have to say, if you don’t have a good structure, you’re not going to have success with your ad words campaigns. And yeah, maybe it won’t work for you but there’s a lot of other elements that go into it besides good structure.

Matt: One thing that I’ve noticed is, the instructions are unclear.

Ashley: Yes.

Matt: It’s not built for someone to be able to go in and easily build a campaign. In fact—okay, I was walking through it the other day with someone and I was struck about how difficult and non-intuitive the entire process is. It makes you believe that you have to enter your budgeted amount targeting and then create your ad

Ashley: Right.

Matt: And go. And it really is kind of a backwards way when you think about it of setting up a campaign.

Ashley: Well until you have to understand the different levels. There’s account level, there’s campaign level, there’s the ad group level and there’s the keywork level.

Matt: Yeah, that’s big.

Ashley: Right. Right. And I just don’t think that everybody understands what is needed on every different level and going back to your point, it is not intuitive. And I was just talking to somebody who is very good at digital marketing. She understands SEO but unfortunately she doesn’t know SEM. So…

Matt: Oh no. We’re going to go into acronyms now.

Ashley: I know. I know. She doesn’t understand us, you know, search advertising. And so we were talking about, “Well I could probably teach myself. I mean I understand all these other pieces.” And I said to her, “Probably not.” It takes a lot more work than just doing a little research and a scene—okay I’m going to read this article on Search Engine Watch. This is going to tell me everything I need to know to set up the perfect campaign. Not necessarily because every client is unique not—I haven’t seen one ad words campaign that is the same.

Matt: No. Absolutely not. And the thing is, is that it’s so custom to you as a business but at the same time you’re not just simply putting out an ad. What you’re doing is building an automated set of instructions of when your ad should show.

Ashley: Right.

Matt: How streamline should the targeting be. How much are you willing to spend for different, you know. It—you’re building a system, not just an ad. And I don’t think people understand that.

Google Ads is NOT ‘Set it and Forget it!’

Ashley: Well you brought up something very interesting. So, automation. A lot of people who manage ad words campaigns, they like to get in there, they set up ad words campaigns and then let it go. Just let it go. They don’t come back and they don’t check the keywords. They think, “Oh well it’s on autopilot, it’s automated, I have all these rules in place. I don’t have to worry about it and that’s actually not the case. You do have to keep (overlapping conversation) You do have to keep going in there.

A good example I can think about, think of is keyword in search and roll. That I actually don’t really believe is the answer for everybody because when you do that, say you have an ad group that doesn’t have minimal keywords. You have too many keywords which, it’s another issue that can happen. I firmly believe that you should have as targeted as possible ads and your copy should be very specific. So if you have all these different keywords and you’re using that keywords in search and roll, your ad is going to look like it’s poorly written.

Matt: Right

Ashley: Therefore you’re not going to get that click through rate to be at a good rate which it does impact your quality score.

Matt: Okay we’re opening up a big can here.

Ashley: I know. I know.

Matt: Let’s start with the basic, Ashley. And we briefly talked about this earlier when you first came in. The inability of the industry to properly decide on terms.

Defining the Terms

Ashley: I know. It’s the acronym soup, it’s horrible.

Matt: Yeah. So… And I don’t… So here’s the way I’ve always understood it. SEM, Search Engine Marketing, is the umbrella and underneath that umbrella you have you organic optimization, your SEO and your paid search. So you’ve got the organic and paid underneath your search marketing because as I understand, they’re both marketing. So they should both be under that. But I know a lot of people who considered SEM to be the paid side.

Ashley: They do. I agree with you. I do things. Search Engine Marketing or SEM is that umbrella and encompasses. I even think encompasses social media marketing but because it’s an aspect to digital but you are absolutely right. Everybody says search engine marketing as paid. In fact on my website, I have a pillar page. It’s all about search engine marketing and it’s basically referring to pay per click because I know that that’s how people are searching and using that term even though I don’t necessarily agree with it.

Matt: I’ve always resisted. I’m going to say it the way it’s—

Ashley: I know.

Matt: I’m not going to give in. Yeah, okay. So that’s our first thing. Then let’s get into—let’s just kind of walk through, you know, what are things we have to know. I looked up some numbers today just to kind of give us a scope because I have seen a few  people say that paid search is not as effective anymore which bothers me because again, I think it comes back to, “Did you set it up right?” You know, “Did you do everything you need to do?” Because it’s a system, it’s not, you know, putting up an ad.

Ashley: What did they say does work? Just out of curiosity. If paid isn’t as effective, what is.

Matt: That’s a good question. I’m trying to remember what they were going after. Because we have to talk because I’ve seen like amazing things now about, you know, the effectiveness of Facebook is falling because of the trust.

Ashley: Yes.

Matt: The effectives of programmatic is falling because of privacy. And so, it’s very interesting. I can’t remember what they were saying to move towards.

Ashley: There is always an end game.

The Audience in Search is Increasing

Matt: There is, there is. You have to watch who writes these articles. Absolutely. Okay, so Google alone has 40,000 searches every second, worldwide. Worldwide. 40,000 every second. That comes out to 3.5 billion searches per day. So… And that has increased over the past ten years.

Ashley: That does not surprise me.

Matt: No. And I think one of the things that resulted to increase is mobile—

Ashley: Right.

Matt: Because now when we have a question, it is just natural. Pull it out, search, see what the answers are. Now to me, I think that makes paid search even more effective because if you do a mobile search, the first result you’re going to see is a paid result.

Ashley: Well, this actually gets into our conversation that we’ve had about SEO and when you were asking me the question if I come from that school of thought thinking that Google is… Search results are being dominated by Google paid and you know, after really thinking about it, you had my wheel spinning and I wrote a blog post about it and I think that even though I do feel like they have two different objectives, SEO and paid search, I do feel that Google is moving in the direction where you have to do paid because of the click share. So whenever you’re doing any type of Google search, especially on a mobile device, going back to what you’re saying, that those search results are being dominated by paid search because of the expansion of the text ad.

Matt: Yes. So you got the text ad itself and then you have the attributes that go along, so the other links, phone extension, address extension to now, I think one of the last screenshots that I took, the ad was 90% of the screen size and the only thing the 10% was the top of the next ad ad so to get to the organic on mobile, you have got to scroll.

Ashley: Yes.

Matt: So yes. Paid is the only thing that will guarantee that visibility and so now I come from, you know, doing SEO 20 something years ago.

Ashley: Right.

Matt: When Google started doing ads, I thought it was the end of the world because I was pure SEO and I’m like, “These ads, they’re evil.” And Google’s motto back then was, “Don’t be evil.” And I’m like, “The ads are evil.” They just want to make money and…

Ashley: Right.

The Advantages of Paid Search

Matt: And over the years I have become not only a believer but now a full-on advocate for paid search because it works. When you know what you’re doing when you set it up, it works. It’s one of the coolest things. I describe it sometimes, it’s like that atm. It’s not an atm, it’s a money machine. That if I can get to the equation where for every dollar I spend and paid, I’m getting $8 in revenue. That’s an equation. That’s not a budget.

Ashley: Right.

Matt: Because a budget thinking is, “Here’s $5,000. Set up a paid account and you know, I’ll give you $5,000 every month.” Well if I come back and say, “Okay, give me $5,000 but for every dollar I spend, I’m making you $8. Are you going to limit me now to $5,000 a month?”

Ashley: Yeah.

Matt: Because that’s what everything works towards is getting to that ratio when it’s set up properly, managed, measured, you know, to me it’s like, there’s no other marketing that does that level of finite accounting.

Ashley: Well and you know, it also gets into short term versus long term results. SEO is a long-term strategy. I usually tell—I mean obviously this is going to depend on the industry and the type of competition that’s out there for the keywords you’re aiming to ring for. But usually I do say that very canned response that it could take six months on average for a site to start seeing some results. But with paid, you can get those results pretty quick.

Matt: Yup.

Ashley: So if you’re trying to go after a new audience and you want to see maybe what types of messages are going to work and what really, you know, drives that type of user to convert, this is a good way to test that. I actually believe that you could do a lot to combine your paid and your organic efforts and really reap the benefits of having a good ROI.

Keyword Research

Matt: Oh absolutely. Absolutely. There’s a lot you can learn from both and seeing the trends. So if we’re going to set up a campaign, where do you start?

Ashley: Keyword research.

Matt: I love it.

Ashley: Yeah.

Matt: Absolutely. I find that that typically, we got to do a show on keyword research, because that’s typically where, if you’re going to fail at keyword research, you’re going to fail in your campaign.

Ashley: Oh yeah. Yes.

Matt: And the more you put into the keyword research, understanding the needs, understanding—so for me, when I had an agency, keyword research is like a 2-day project. It was digging in and finding thousands but then distilling them into ideas. How are people searching, what words do they use, how are they describing the brand? How are they describing their problem? And coming up with concepts that, we’re not just repeating keywords, we’re trying to figure out, what do people need.

Ashley: Right. Well it will determine your structure. So if you’re seeing certain trends, that’s going to tell you the type of ads that you…

Matt: Yes.

Ashley: Should be writing about to have those keywords, to bid on those keywords for those ads.

Matt: Yeah. So keyword research, yeah, absolutely. You got to start there. And then, where do you go from there? We got our keywords.

Organizing Keywords

Ashley: So I usually, I love to do my keyword research in an outline form. So I’ll look for everything under the sun, right, and I’ll put that all in one giant list. And then I’ll look for those trends and different variations of a particular keyword. And just like I was saying earlier, I do think that there shouldn’t be a lot of keywords in one particular ad group.

Matt: Right. Yeah.

Ashley: I do think that you should divide those. So if you’re seeing a trend and you’re seeing a lot of keywords for that particular trend, break it up even more.

Matt: Yes.

Ashley: The more specific that you can get, the better. And this is also where you have to think, you know, when a campaign is successful or not successful. Are you going after the right searching tent which goes back into your keyword research. So, you can look for everything under the sun but if the goal for that particular ad words campaign is to generate revenue to increase versions, then you’re not going to go after necessarily these long tail keywords. These long tail keywords like I have seen definitely people utilize ad words campaign. Even I’ve done it to help with my organic efforts. I’ll go after some long tail keywords just to see what is happening with an audience, to do some audience testing. But if you are really utilizing that tool, I mean that’s for somebody who has the budget, right. But if yours is a company that doesn’t have very big budget and you really just want to increase your conversions, you definitely want to go after more narrow of a search. Somebody who’s looking for a specific product or service.

Matt: Yes. Absolutely. It takes a mix of, you know, understanding these are my popular terms but they’re early, they’re top of the funnel terms.

Ashley: Yes.

Matt:                           They’re getting people in. Then there’s the long tail, the, you know, they know the price, feature, color, size and they’re using those words and I’m getting them right to the page they want. So this speaks to one of the biggest things that I see, especially, I don’t want to downplay the agencies, but if an agency is going to take advantage of you in paid search, this is where it happens. Typically what I see is the agencies will set up an ad group with 200 keywords in it.

Ashley: Yeah. That’s just not (overlapping conversation).

Matt: And you know, that is one of the biggest mistakes to start with, is that if you’ve got one ad group with 200 keywords in it, honestly, anything more than 20, even 20’s a lot.

Ashley: I like to keep around 10. Nothing more than 10.

Matt: But I’ve seen 2-300 keywords in one ad group.

Ashley: Oh my gosh.

Matt: And one ad. And—

Ashley: You’re not even testing them.

Matt: Yeah. So then the company’s wondering, you know, it doesn’t work. Well no because your agency took all the keywords, they just made a list—

Ashley: Dumped it in there.

Matt: Dumped it in there and created one ad which probably goes to your homepage which is another dumb mistake

Ashley: Right.

Matt: You know. So it’s putting all the keywords in one plan, creating only one ad and setting it in the homepage. The three biggest mistakes that I see consistently in companies.

Ashley: More like inappropriate keyword matching. I have seen that so many times. Like broad match, don’t get wrong, there are some cases where you do need to do broad match but it’s very—it doesn’t happen a lot.

Keyword Match Types

Matt: It doesn’t help that the broad match—okay so, there are match types. So if I select the keyword, let’s—I’m going to back you up a little bit.

Ashley: I know. I’m sorry. I get too much in the weeds!

Matt: Because these are those things that, if I’m paying an agency to do this, I don’t know it. And if I’m setting it up as a business owner, I don’t know it because it’s that insider information.

Ashley: Yeah.

Matt: Okay. So there’s different match types. There is the, you’re going to have to help me with this, there is the… Let’s start at the most focused and that would be the—

Ashley: Exact match.

Matt: Exact match. Yes. Duh.

Ashley: No, no. You’re fine.

Matt: That would be the exact match where my words, I believe in that order or the order can be flipped in an exact match. I think it’s—

Ashley: No. It’s in the exact order. So you’re thinking of like a modifier like in a broad match modifier.

Matt: Yeah. Okay. So let’s go tennis shoes. Someone has to search on the word tennis shoes. And if I’m exact matching tennis shoes in that phrase, my ad will show. And that’s the only way my ad will show. If someone searches for shoes for tennis…

Ashley: Your ad will not show.

Matt: It will not show, that’s right.

Ashley: Yeah.

Matt: Unless…

Ashley: No, no, no. You’re fine.

Matt: (overlapping conversation) all the time. One of those—

Ashley: Well you know it’s hard. You don’t necessarily think about the technical terms for your keyword matching. And like as you’re talking, I’m thinking like, bracket. New brackets, plus size. That’s what you’re thinking about. You’re thinking about how you’re entering it into the platform. You’re not think about the actual term.

Matt: Absolutely.

Ashley: Or what it’s called.

Matt: And then there’s the phrase match.

Ashley: Yes.

Matt: Where that’s—I like the phrase match. I’m a big fan of the phrase match.

Ashley: The phrase match is a lot better.

Matt: Yeah. And that’s where I can put in, you know, two or three keywords and the order doesn’t matter other than there are words in the middle, sometimes that will (overlapping conversation)

Ashley: Yeah, it might not pop, pop-up.

Matt: But I’m limiting the exposure of my ad to people who are using two or three similar terms in that order and then my ad shows. Then we get to that broad match. And the broad match—oh I got a story for you.

Ashley: I can imagine.

Matt: The broad match—now here’s what I don’t like. If you add keywords in, by default, it’s a broad match. And I don’t like that.

Ashley: No you know, there’s so many—that’s when I know a client hands me an ad words account and they say, “I’m not getting the return,” or “I’m spending too much of my budget.” That’s the first thing I do, I look at their keyword matching because usually that is a good indicator that an agency does and doesn’t and what they’re doing and I’ve seen a lot of broad match where this doesn’t make sense. That means that somebody is going—like searching for that term and any type use for that particular terms like baseball bat is going to show—their ad is going to show up. So why would I want my ad on baseball bats and say I’m a sporting goods store. So why would I want, say, my ad to pop up for what is a metal baseball bat made of.

Matt: Or any baseball equipment

Ashley: Right

Matt: Or anything—and that’s the thing. A broad match is when you let Google decide the relevancy of the search for your ad. And so, here’s my story. So this company, how do I explain this. They did silicon oil reclamation from different uses and I ask, “Do you want help with this?” and he said “No, I could do this myself, what could go wrong.” Oh, everything. The ad was very technical. A certain kind of silicon oil reclamation and very legitimate ad. If you knew what it was, you’d have no problem with it. The problem is, he bid on the word silicone with a broad match. And I like to tell people, just let your mind wander of anything that has to do with silicon that’s out on the market. And then think about all the weirdos that search on Google for anything that has to do with silicon and they were clicking on his ad. I don’t know why.

Ashley: (overlapping conversation) goes off.

Matt: And in four days, he had accumulated $3,000 worth of clicks. In four days.

Ashley: Make that money burn. It’s not a good idea.

Matt: Fortunately, I was able to contact the Google rep, we talked through it and I’m like, “Look, this is obviously…” you know, this is when we had keywords.

Ashley: Yeah.

Matt: You could still get them from paid. So I showed the Google rep, obviously these are not relevant at all. They’re borderline… I had to take a shower afterwards seeing some of these words. But that’s what happens with the broad match is… He broad matched the word silicon. You’re going to get what you get. But to me, I love that example because it tells people just because the word is relevant to you in your context, you need to remember that if you broad match a single word, there are many other industries, many other uses of that word that could be brought in. Now Google’s getting better but at the same time, you’re letting Google decide.

Ashley: Well Google is getting better because of our favorite, artificial intelligence. They’re taking over.

Matt: Yeah. The machines are doing our thinking for us. That’s why I like the phrase match and exact match because I’m managing that, not Google. And part of it is, you know, I’m naturally, you know, it’s Google’s got the search inventory. It’s their system, the prices are set and if I make a mistake, they still make money. Regardless how successful my campaign is, they still make money. So, just, you know, I’d rather manage it.

Ashley: I want to know your thoughts on… Now they have it to where you always get a call from a Google rep and I find it really annoying because I feel that I know more than a Google rep.

Matt: Oh absolutely. Most people do.

Ashley: Yes.

Matt: If you’ve been doing this and you’ve been trained in any level, you know more typically than a Google rep. Years ago when I had dealings with them, they were interns. They’re not full-on professionals. They have not been trained. Their job is to get you increase your budget and I’ve heard story after story of business owners and as well as seasoned professionals that the advice is contrary to a good campaign.

Ashley: It really is. They like to promote that and this is where we get into the technical terms, but the optimized conversions bidding and it’s actually not a good—

Matt: No.

Ashley: Bidding strategy. It looks like—I mean a lot of Google will look at your historical data which is why older accounts are actually better than newer accounts but that’s another discussion. But I do feel that the optimized bidding is not good. Now I will say that the optimized clicks can be a good bidding strategy but that optimized conversion is really is that I never seen a campaign do well. It sucks out your budget, you stock, really—you lose control.

Matt: Yeah. And you’re brining up a really kind of next stage that after we get passed, here’s my keywords, here’s how I’m going to match them. It’s how much I’m going to bid for click and of course, there’s numerous ways to do that. So, and this is where I feel from a small business owner that, “I just want to sell my stuff.” You know, I just want the stability but there’s ten options for everything. We didn’t even get in the negative keywords.

Ashley: No. That’s another animal. But yeah. If you’re trying to figure out, you know, what you should bid for, for a keyword. Depending on what you’re using for your keyword research tool, I do like to use the keyword planner that’s right between ad words, it’s free, why not. So I will use that and I will see… They’ll have a suggested bid next to it. Now also have the type of competition that is being bid on for that particular term. So once if you put that information into your spreadsheet or whatever you’re using to keep track of your different terms within your keyword research process, once you have those ad groups decided upon, you can then figure out the average what that ad group is going to cost

Matt: Yes

Ashley: For a cost per click and then I typically start there knowing that you’re obviously going to have to adjust once that campaign gets started.

Organizing Your Campaign

Matt: Yeah. Interesting you bring up spreadsheet.

Ashley: Yeah. I use them. I’m old school.

Matt: Because last few years, I have made the client as well as when I’m training people, put your entire campaign on the spreadsheet first.

Ashley: Oh yeah.

Matt: Your headline, your call to action, your landing page and every line of the spreadsheet is the ad so that you can start your grouping, you can look at your keywords, look at your—because there’s nowhere in the Google interface to look at my entire vertical of keywords ad URL and then also the attributes that I’m putting into it, the phone extension, the address extension, the site links extensions. This way I can see and make sure that I have full alignment of my keyword the whole way through of all of the attributes all the way through. And that also I’m grouping these ads for these keywords and then these ads for these keywords. Here’s my early stage funnel, here’s my long tail, late stage buyer. Here’s my branded campaign so in a spreadsheet I can see all of that together and then go enter it into the interface.

Ashley: I completely agree with you. Not a lot of people do that. Makes me smile hearing you say that.

Matt: As soon as you said spreadsheet, I’m like, ooohh.

Ashley: Oh yeah, I use the spreadsheet. Another reason why I like the spreadsheet is, you can keep track of the variable that you’re testing and you should only test one variable of your ad every month and then you know what is really working with you audience. So many times I’ve seen different, you know, marketers test different variables for their ads. There’s multiple variables so they see the headline, the url even, what they’re using in that url, their call extensions versus just picking one and seeing one at a time and seeing what’s working otherwise you’re not really going to know what’s working and using that spreadsheet to keep track of that variables that you are testing and when you are testing will help you to keep organized because you’re absolutely right that interface does not help you with that at all.

Matt: No. It makes you believe you’re setting up one campaign.

Ashley: Right.

Matt: One ad and you’re done, now launch it.

Ashley: Right.

Matt: I mean you look at anyone who does UX or UI design, user interface or user experience, it’s one of the worst for the end user.

Ashley: Yeah.

Matt: For Google, it works because it’s pushing you to launch that campaign with a budget in place because until you put in your credit card and a budget amount, you don’t go forward.

Ashley: Right.

Matt: And that’s scary to a lot of people.

The Daily Budget 

Ashley:                         It is. You know, always keep in mind you have a daily budget. So, you know, if you’re nervous  to get started—because I remember when I first got ad words, I was so scared. But then I was like, “Oh wait a minute, this has a daily budget. So I’m okay.”

Matt: Yeah. That’s true.

Ashley: I’m not going to come in and then I spent a million dollars on this credit card. But no, I mean, you can make some control, you can put some control in place but I do think keeping track on a spreadsheet is very helpful.

Matt: Yeah, yeah. So if we haven’t overwhelmed the business owner, a small business owner with it, everything you got to think about and we’re only halfway through. From an agency standpoint, if I’m dealing with an agency, so top questions I should ask my agency. Number 1, how many keywords are in my strategy or how many keywords are in my plan and then how many ads are you running? Because usually  it’s just 1 with 200 keywords. If you get more 20 keywords or just one ad being run, those are the wrong answers. What I recommend is, if you’re working with an agency, they have to have a testing plan like you were saying with a spreadsheet, what’s being tested, how long are we going to run the test, what’s the variable and what’s the outcome that we want. And if they don’t have that testing plan in place, guess what’s not going to happen. You’re not going to get a tested ad, they’ll run the same ad. Now the reason why is, and this gets to a—I see your eyes light up when I say quality score.

Working with the Quality Score

Ashley: Oh yeah.

Matt: It is so this is what’s amazing about Google’s paid search is that it’s not heavily weighted to advertisers with big budgets who can come in and say, “We’re going to outspend everybody to be number 1.”

Ashley: Oh I love that too. Even playing field.

Matt: Yes. They even it out and how they even it out is the quality score and it rewards advertisers who actively manage and improve their campaigns. I love it.

Ashley: Right.

Matt: I love it. So you just simply outbid everybody to win.

Ashley: And that’s why I think asking your agency about, you know, what should I be looking for within my quality score, will also help you to make sure that they’re picking a solution that fits your business objectives because sometimes, while I love doing paid search, it’s really not the—especially for you small business owners, really not the best solution because of the fact that maybe your website is not in a good place. And, you know, your quality score does factor in your landing pages and if your website and I’ve seen this time and time again where somebody wanted to do a paid search or they, an agency did a paid search campaign for them. They were like, “Oh, I’m just not doing very well. I don’t know why I don’t have a good return.” And then I’m looking at… I’m looking at the campaign and I see some problems, nothing that’s really alarming.

But then I go back to the website and I’m thinking, wait a minute here. This website really isn’t—it’s not positioned to succeed. It’s—there’s other poor user experience, there aren’t unique landing pages or there’s one landing page for every ad words, for all the ad words campaigns which is another thing. I mean that’s something you really have to look at. And if you have a poor site, I actually suggest focusing on your site first,

Matt: Yeah. Absolutely. Yeah, you’re sending people to a haunted house basically.

Ashley: Right.

Matt: If they can’t find their way around. Like I said, sending people to the homepage, mistake number 1. I assume I’m going to go to where I want to go to complete what you said I could complete. Great way to just waste money there. But yeah, setting them to, you know, if you’re running any commerce and your site is not the most usable or understandable site, that could lead to problems. So absolutely, yeah. That’s where there is some advantage even if your site’s not ready for prime time landing pages. For lead generation, you can create a landing page that looks great, no one ever has to go to the site.

Ashley: Right. Right. That’s why it’s really up to what’s your budget, what are you willing to put out there, what is the condition of your site. I love how you said e-commerce websites because  that’s where I usually run into the problem.

Matt: Yes, yes.

Ashley: They want to drive, the client wants to drive the user back to the website and then there isn’t that appropriate hierarchy so you have like the product pages are all on, well, the products are all on one page versus having like a category page and an individual product page.

Matt: Yes.

Ashley: It’s just not very—it doesn’t make sense. I actually feel like a lot about user experience with e-commerce as common sense. And when I see that, all the products on one page, I’m thinking, there’s no way you’re going to help a user to find what they need after they click on this ad.

Matt: So one of my favorite examples, I use this in my training is searching for fishing poles, major brand, major brand retailer. Fishing poles, you know, thousands in stock. Oh great. Click on it and what I went to was the category page for fishing poles. 400 images.

Ashley: Oh my God.

Matt: Fishing poles.

Ashley: (Overlapping conversation) search for that.

Matt: That’s where they sent me. And there is nothing more un—how would I say this, there’s nothing more unaesthetic, I’m trying to think of the right word. Unappealing than 300 pictures of fishing poles.

Ashley: It’s kind of like you’re going—

Matt: It’s a stick.

Ashley: Right. Well, and this is where it’s like you have this baby commerce websites and you’re thinking, what do I do. And that’s why I think what happens when these digital marketers are being handed these large sites and they’re not really sure how to handle it because you do typically send the user to a category page, right. But when you have that many, that’s where you might consider dynamics or search campaigns or maybe you send out, I see this for a lot of car dealers and it’s—this is the way to go. I actually think a lot of companies can mimic this. But they go back to the landing page and that landing page has a search bar.

Matt: Oh yeah.

Ashley: And you can actually search for that, like you’re in that category, you can search those different categories. And then you’re more likely to stay, right.

Matt: No, I have seen that where sometimes a landing page is a search result from within the site.

Ashley: Right. Which is probably dynamically…

Matt: And sometimes it works. Most of the time. But that’s the thing. I’m looking at this going, you could’ve created a landing page that was category-based instead of 500 options that scroll up the page of basically looking at sticks that now, okay, kids, professional, you know or maybe even just price ranges or different usages but give me five options, not 500.

Ashley: Right.

Matt: Something that you know what, again, that gets into the planning of the campaign which that really—again, you’re putting together a system. You’re putting together a full-on campaign, you’re not just buying an ad.

Ashley: Right.

Matt: And again, that thinking is what escapes people.

Ashley: So when at the beginning of this conversation, we were talking about looking at your website structure. This is when you go back to that website structure.

Matt: Right.

Ashley: And if your website structure is not in a good place and if you’re not willing to pay for landing pages then maybe ad words isn’t the solution for you.

Matt: Yeah. Ooohh…That’s bold.

Ashley: It is. It’s bold but that’s something that’s really… It’s a conversation needs to have it at the very beginning. I believe in selling to a client that is going to be happy with me and my results, not somebody I’m just trying to make a buck for at that time period because I know you’re not going to get the results that you want if you don’t have good site structure, if you’re not willing to really put the money into developing those unique landing pages.

Matt: Absolutely. Absolutely. You’re just—yeah. You’re going to waste. So let’s get to the quality score. This is what evens the playing field.

Ashley: Yes.

Matt: And again, if you look at ad words as a set it and forget it type of advertising, you’re going to lose every day.

Ashley: You know, a good example of that is what’s happening recently with nonprofits. The Google grant. So there’s been a lot of changes to the Good grant policy which really get into quality score because what’s happening is, if you don’t have a good click through rate of 5%, how do you like that one? I mean you know that is—that can be a difficult click through rate to get to and but if you don’t have a consistent click the rate of 5%, your campaign could actually get turned off.

Matt: Wow.

Ashley: Yeah.

Matt: Wow. That’s amazing.

Ashley: They want you to have it back up but why they did that is, they want people to, they being Google, to go back into the account and making sure you’re keeping up on it because they’re giving away grant money. So they want you to keep up on it.

Matt: They want their money to be used properly.

Ashley: Right.

Matt: Imagine that.

Ashley: Yeah. But you know, anybody else, I don’t know what your click through rate is.

Matt: So the quality score actually, I love the quality score because it involves elements of SEO and so—and I love to explain to people how simple the quality score is.

Ashley: It really is. It all comes down to, right, quality content, right.

Matt: Common sense. Common sense. I love—so talking with an enterprise company and I was walking them through and okay, number 1. Is your keyword that’s in your strategy list, are you using that in the ad? You know, that’s the first step of the quality score. You know, so if I’m bidding on a smart watch, that’s the term in my keyword list, is the word smart watch somewhere in my ad?

Ashley: Right.

Matt: It’s as simple as…. It’s common sense.

Ashley: It really is because I mean with SEO you have to think about what the keywords you’re trying to ring for and you’re putting those keywords that you’re trying to ring for not only in that manner of data but you’re also putting it within the copy of that web page. So if that is in place for those landing pages, it’s going to help your quality score within Google ad words.

Matt: And then we focus on the ad. So you’re using your keyword. But then, branched off of that, not always related to the quality score but this is the assist to the quality score is amazing. How many people write ads without a call to action.

Ashley: Oh, yes.

Matt: Without explaining, here’s what you’re going to see, here’s what you’re going to get. Here’s the offer. Here’s… you know. Just—and that’s, I tell people, that’s what those little lines, those description lines are to figure out what do they need, here’s where you give the answer to their need and here’s how you tell them how to get it.  And that’s the call of action to the ad. And I’m amazed how many don’t do that.

Ashley: It is astounding especially now there’s more options for text.

Matt: Oh, yeah.

Ashley: So you really have that room and you can even put that in your site link. I mean, I’m sorry not your site link, your extensions, whatever it is you’re using like site links. But I will say that, competitive advantages really need to be highlighted in your ads because you can’t just say, and this is where you get in your common sense, you can’t just say, “Okay, my brand’s awesome, Viber me.”

Matt: Right, right. No. And even if you put compare. Compare options. That’s a call to action. Download a white paper, download, you know, something like that where you’re telling somebody, here’s what you’re going to get. Not just, here’s how great we are. But here’s the offer. And the offer, I call that sort of the mini sale. We’re just trying to get the click. We’re not trying to sell you anything. I just want the click. What am I giving to get you to get the click.

Ashley: Well you know that’s so interesting if you had that conversation at the beginning of your keyword research you would know because you said something that triggered this. What is your call to action? Is it to get a quote, is it to buy a product, is it to download a white paper. Because downloading a white paper, the keywords that are used to be interested in the content in the white paper are going to be different from keywords that are used if I want somebody to buy a baseball bat.

Matt: Yeah. Absolutely. We did—I was working with someone on smart watches and one of the click the ads that generated a great click through was sea color options. That’s all it took. You know we’re pitching a smart watch but it’s okay. I want the click. I’m not trying to sell the smart watch. I was trying to get the click. And if I think about it that way, what’s going to make people click? Well, let’s see what they look like.

Ashley: Right.

Matt: And we can sell it based on fashion, based on sport. And this is where we even get into a bigger picture, creating personas of who was selling to and what turns them on but…

Ashley: Which goes back into your keyword research

Matt: Absolutely. It does. Yeah it does. So, telling people to view color options as a call to action into the ad actually includes the click to bait. Because it was a non-committed, non-commitment that I’m not committing to buy, I’m not committing to anything, I’m just looking.

Ashley: Right.

Matt: Which is what a lot of people in the store want to do.

Ashley: And you have to think of it that way because people aren’t going to stores as much as they’re used to. They’re shopping online. So, when you think of your ad that way. It’s really just to help somebody look around or, you know, and that’s why you get to really, what is your budget. What do you want to do. If you want to help those people in the middle of a funnel just as much as people further down the funnel, then you’re going to have different types of ads.

Matt: Yeah. Absolutely. Yeah. Customed, again, go back to the keyword research, custom develop for each stage or each personality this comes out in the keyword research, it comes out in your customer research.

Ashley: Yes.

Click-Through Rate is King

Matt: Absolutely. Then, and that’s the next stage of that quality scores, that click through rate is ads are based on performance and Google, and here’s why, Google makes money when there’s a click. And so if your ad gets clicked on more than others, you not only are making Google more money, you are showing that you have a more relevant ad for the keyword search. And so click through rate.

Ashley: It’s huge.

Matt: It’s the king.

Ashley: It really is. It’s the top when it comes to quality scores. In fact, this is where you’re getting to, you know, mixing your paid and your organic efforts because even the click through rate of your meta data your title tag and your description, that counts as far as rankings. I mean, it makes sense. Google wants something that is going to be enticing to the user when they learn about that search results.

Matt: Relevant, enticing. It answers questions.

Ashley: Right.

Matt: That’s the big thing. Does it answer the question and click through rate is the best indicator that it does. And this is how someone with a bigger budget can’t come in and just dominate because other ads that show to be very relevant, they got good click through rates, Google is going to reward that over someone. In fact, and this is what I love about quality score, I think it’s like, I can bid the same amount as another advertiser but if I have a higher quality score, I will pay half as much, up to half as much than my bid. So if I’m bidding $4 for a click but I have a high quality score, I will only pay $2 for a click if I’m in that top spot.

Ashley: It’s very true.

Matt: And so what that means is my campaign can go, my campaign dollars can go further because I’m being charged less. And so, driving for that quality score is just a financially good decision.

Ashley: And that’s some those Google reps don’t talk about a lot.

Matt: No. Yeah, Yeah.

Ashley: Because they don’t care if you’re spending more money.

Matt: Yeah. Absolutely. And so, yeah, that quality score is the big thing. And you can get into your ad words account and see what your quality score is for every campaign, for every ad group and for you as an advertiser. That is so critically important because it is directly tied to how much money you are charged per click. That’s huge.

Ashley: It really is huge because it all comes down especially this small business owner, you’re trying to do the most with your dollars and if you really want to do that, that’s why looking at your agency strategy and what they’re doing is going to be crucial because that quality score is going to determine how much you’re going to spend at the end o the day.

Matt: Yeah. And this is why it goes back to our keyword selection. Why we’re not putting 200 words in a plan because they’re different. I want that ad to be as highly relevant as possible to the keyword. I’m going test ads to which ads get higher click throughs, it all rolls back in to that click through rate.

Ashley: I’m really about the automation when it comes to Google ad words especially you can—there’s a script that you can put in place if you have low quality key words to have those put on pause. Yeah. So I’m really about that but I have to say, the more that you go in there and manually control things, the better. Just because you want it to look as human as possible because that’s what people want. So what you’re getting into is it about the robots or is it about the searcher? It really is about the searcher. Don’t ignore the robot, but don’t forget about the searcher. So even though you’re creating these ads and in this platform, and there’s all these different automations, always just consider like what is going to make sense to the searcher.

Matt: Absolutely. Absolutely. Because then you get to the part of the other quality score which is the landing page. And this is where it has to be optimized.

Ashley: It does.

Matt: Just like SEO and again, I’m like, so the keyword that you bid on, the keyword that’s in your ad, you should also have that keyword on the landing page.

Ashley: You should. You have to think too what are your value propositions. So you know, going into what is that called, the ad CTA,What are your competitive advantages. Making sure those are really been highlighted on that landing page along with any of that trust symbols. You got to think about it as, you’re going to get users that don’t know you and they may be looking for, I’m going to use the word, baseball bat because it’s been in my mind and I’m not even a sports fanatic.

Matt: You’re really into the beginning of the baseball season, aren’t you..

Coordinating Your Landing Page

Ashley: I am. If you’re looking for a baseball bat, you’re like, “Oh, I know I’m looking for this baseball bat but here I am landing on, you know, XYZ’s landing page but I don’t know who this brand is. I don’t know if I want to buy this baseball bat, I don’t want a cheap baseball bat.” So in order to build your credibility, you want to put different trust symbols in place. Are you involved in any organizations? What are your affiliations? Do you have any awards? Put that on the page. Then that user is most likely to convert and also if your landing page, your site is trusted, so getting into that SSL Certificate.

Matt: Yup, yup. It also comes down to eliminating the friction that people can get to that landing page. I know exactly what’s going on when I see it. The information I want is readily available and I can clearly see the button that, you know. And also, I love from a B to B lead generation. Maybe because I’ve done so much with that, clear form I know what field through there. You know, great, and there’s the button and you know, the check box if I want to get emails too or something like that but it’s in a prime, visible place. I know exactly what’s going to happen, done some eye tracking on the landing pages.

So one company did a graph where they put the benefits of their product and then their competitors and kind of did a check mark, yes that’s us, that’s us, that’s us, competitor, it’s a red x. And on the eye tracking study, nobody looked at the words. They only looked at the green checkmarks in the column for that vendor and the red x’ers. They didn’t even look at who the competitors were because it—and again, it comes down to kind of like, eyes and contrasts and color and it—I joke with people I could have put anything in there.

Ashley: Yeah you could.

Matt: I could have written anything and people don’t, but it’s a trust symbol.

Ashley: It is, it is. And this (overlapping) remember those like those colors are so important and I’m sure you got into a lot of arguments with different designers where I know… I just think it’s you know, the designer wants your website to look pretty, I get it. And they’re thinking about, okay this is… These are our brand colors while green isn’t in our brand colors. I know that green symbolizes go to a user and even though I do believe you should do some AB testing no matter what industry you’re in but there are just certain colors that you know from experience that do well. So green and orange are those colors. Red because sometimes symbolize stop so that’s where you get into looking at, you know, what’s going to work for this industry. (overlapping conversation) So doing that AB testing. But a designer might not want to use that color and that will impact your conversion rate.

Matt: Yup. Absolutely. Yeah, that was one thing so fascinating when I got into that, it’s the color of the button, the size of the button, the words you use in the button.

Ashley: You know what I love about it because if you think about it and you’re using this well I know it’s very digital, well I think digital is really getting that, the now, right. You’re doing the now response. You’re learning. It’s very trackable. You can use some of those same methodologies within your print.

Matt: Absolutely.

Ashley: If you know what is working in the landing page, the color. That should be your call to action on your front piece.

Matt: Yeah. I can see that spilling over very easily because yeah, you’ve got the eyeballs on there and you know what’s going on and actually print works because the contracts are so much better

Ashley: Right

Matt: On print. But yeah, it’s a fascinating study just getting into size, shape, color, text. All those things in that call to action button.

Ashely: Text is an interesting one because I love to keep it short and simple, right. So learn more buy now those type of things but recently I’ve been reading how users try to click on I want to get my eBook or get my eBook. Like it’s more in that first person.

Matt: Yeah. Those are good and even the end objective like, “I want to further my career”. So, you know it’s now, it’s not just, I’m getting an object. It’s, I’m getting this to do that.

Ashley: Yeah. It reaffirms a goal

Matt: (Overlapping conversation) back to the need, yes, the need, the goal. You know, I want my 20% savings, you know, I want more money in my wallet. I’ve seen those and was kind of like, “Okay. That’s kind of cool.” But then I also see it on some of the—this is so off the subject, the pop-ups that come to the site, to get you to subscribe and then subscribe or no, I’m not interested in making more money.

Pop-ups and Slide-ins

Ashley: I’m with you, you know, I know this is at another topic but I am just… I don’t know what to think about the pop ups because I love the slide-ins, I think the slide-ins are non-invasive, but the pop-ups as a user, I get annoyed. But I do know that they work.

Matt: Oh, so we’re going to have another show.

Ashley: We should have a show about those because I would love to hear your thoughts.

Matt: Well… And we’re going to bring in my brother because he’s the analytics UX guy. (overlapping conversation) We’ve talked about this numerous times that just because it gets more conversions, is it a better user experience?

Ashley: Right.

Matt: I don’t… I don’ t believe it is.

Ashley: I don’t think so either. And that’s why I do think, I mean, I use slide-ins on my site, but I don’t have pop-ups.

Matt: No. I use sort of like sort of pop-up but I’m working on the website and I told the company, I’m like, “I do not want to take over pop-up. Never ever.” They’re like, “But it gets—”  I don’t care. I don’t care. I do not want to disrupt the user experience and it’s interrupting people to convert and I don’t want to do that. I don’t care if it gets a higher rate.

Ashley: It’s all building that loyal customer too. So, I mean you want them to keep coming back and I just think that they convert the first time and I wonder if they’ll keep coming back because they’ll remember that experience that they had.

Matt: I’d rather have someone who, yes, I want to register. Yes, I want to subscribe. Yes, I want some more information rather than forcing them and yeah.

Ashley: I’m not a fan of it either.

Matt: So, I think we’ll have that because—it’s a half-written article I’ve had for probably a year now where I’m calling it—going online now is an increasingly aggressive experience.

Ashley: Oh yeah.

Matt: That I can’t read an article on my mobile because everything keeps shifting and moving as the ads populate. And so to read an article on mobile, it’s not fun anymore. And now I find myself… I’ll save it or something and read it on my laptop or my desktop because it’s so hard.

Ashley: At first, I love Forbes. Just let you know. (overlapping conversation) It is annoying. As soon as I go to a webpage, there is a video right there and it’s loud and I’m thinking, “I don’t want everybody knowing what I’m reading.”

Matt: And I thought that was illegal or according to—I didn’t think that was…

Ashley: Well I’ll tell you. Many times I’ve just had a video pop up and I don’t want to read this and I’ll click off of it and it’s still there in the corner of my screen. Oh yeah.

Matt: Yup. I don’t go to Forbes on my mobile because, yeah. It’s unreadable.

Ashley: Which is a shame because Forbes is all over LinkedIn and I know we were just talking a little bit ago about LinkedIn and I’m all over LinkedIn and so that’s where I’m seeing Forbes and caring about their articles and I’m thinking, “I really want to read that but I think twice before hitting on it now,” because I know I’m going to be dealing with this full-on video.

Matt: Yup, yup. Well we’ve gotten way off target.

Ashley: We have.

Wrapping up Paid Search

Matt: Let’s bring it back around because if there is anything that I would want to sort of set the tone with if someone wants to do a paid search campaign or if they want to review theirs. My advice would be to see a page search campaign as a full-on system that it’s not just an ad, it’s a system and even if I get people to my landing page, not to look at that, that they go to my landing page but they don’t register, they don’t buy, they don’t do anything like that. It doesn’t mean that you failed, it doesn’t mean—you got a click through. They’re interested. Now we can re-target them. And we can re-target them with a video. We can re-target them with display if you want to do that. You can re-target—you can set up a page search ad that will only show up to people who have clicked on your ad before, you know. And then set it up with different language. And now you can start personalizing these re-targeting messages because you know they’re interested, you know they clicked on your ad and that’s where I find companies don’t really think of that long term. You brought it out earlier. That long-term view of, I’m not just buying an ad. That’s short-term, limited. This is long-term. I’m creating an audience that in some ways I have to persuade to keep coming back.

Ashley: Yeah. It’s going back to you know the traditional funnel on how it’s gone and how it’s moved into. I, you know, personally believe that that fly-wheel approach. So nurturing and how somebody, you know, goes back into the funnel. So you still have the funnel I believe. But I believe there are more stages and yes you do have more of that circular approach because of the reengagement that needs to happen. So exactly with what you’re saying. So when you think about these traditional approaches so when you think about the funnel and you would use—I mean just training your sales team. That same approach needs to happen within your marketing, it needs to happen online. So you don’t just have somebody that’s buying from you once, you have to think about that long-term sales cycle and what that looks like.

Matt: Absolutely. Absolutely. It’s not a quick fix.

Ashley: No. No.

Matt: Ashley, thanks for coming in today. I really appreciate it.

Ashley: Well thank you for having me.

Matt: Looking forward to the next time. I think we key every time we talk, we come up with more ideas for future shows.

Ashley: Oh we do.

Matt: Well thanks again, Ashley. Hey, this has been another installment of the Endless Coffee Cup. I hope this—I think this is probably a 3-cup episode here. Mine got cold and yet I’m still drinking it. You doing okay?

Ashley: I finished mine.

Matt: Alright. I think we’re ready for another cup of coffee. Dear listener, thanks for tuning in. Really appreciate it and please leave a comment, leave a review. Let us know how we’re doing or if you have any questions about digital marketing or even culture. I love handling the cultural episodes as well. So let us know. Other than that, see you on the next episode of the Endless Coffee Cup.

Featured Guest:

Ashley Schweigert

Marketing Communications Consultant

LinkedIn profile: Ashley G. Schweigert | LinkedIn

Website: Marcom Content by Ashley

Listen to Ashley Schweigert on another episode:

Endless Coffee Cup: “Have Best SEO Practices Changed?”