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5 Reasons to Use the AdWords Performance Grader

  1. Do you wonder how your AdWords campaigns fit into the competitive landscape?
  2. Do you have a sneaking suspicion that your AdWords campaigns could be doing better?
  3. Need to justify greater investment in PPC to your management?
  4. Just curious if all your hard work in PPC has paid off?
  5. Want to show off to your coworkers what a PPC rock star you are?

Any and all of these are great reasons to use the AdWords Performance Grader to get a free, instant report on your AdWords account and see how your PPC metrics stack up against advertisers with similar accounts.

How the AdWords Performance Grader Works

WordStream’s Google AdWords Performance Grader is a free tool to help AdWords advertisers better understand how well their campaigns are performing compared to advertisers with similar monthly budgets. The AdWords Performance Grader uses a proprietary grading algorithm based on more than 60 different factors, including ad spend data, Quality Score, ranking, impressions and other variables, to compare your AdWords account to the millions of others that we have previously graded.

Your AdWords Performance Grader report includes an overall grade as well as individual grades in eight key areas of pay-per-click management:

  1. Wasted Spend – Are you making proper use of negative keywords? Or are you wasting hundreds, even thousands of dollars per month on irrelevant keywords that never convert?
  2. Quality Score – Are your campaigns Google-approved? High Quality Scores have a major impact on your ROI, improving your rankings and lowering your costs.
  3. Click-Through Rate (CTR) – CTR is a measure of how targeted your ads are. If your CTR is low, you may be losing ground to competing advertisers.
  4. Account Activity – To maintain performance, you need to spend active time in your account. How often are you checking under the hood?
  5. Long-Tail Keyword Optimization – Are you utilizing longer, more targeted keywords in your campaigns? If not, you’re missing opportunities to grab high-intent, low-cost traffic.
  6. Ad Text Optimization – Are you writing enough text ads to get strong performance in terms of impressions, clicks, CTR and ad ranking?
  7. Landing Page Optimization – More landing pages usually means more targeted messaging. Do you have more or fewer landing pages than similar advertisers?
  8. PPC Best Practices – Are you adhering to the proven best practices that PPC experts follow to ensure optimal AdWords performance?

You’ll learn how well you’re really doing in each of these important areas, as well as how you could improve your performance, driving more leads and sales at lower costs.

AdWords Best Practices

In addition to a full report of your current AdWords account performance, you’ll get actionable tips on how you can improve your score. These best practices for AdWords account management include:

  • Filtering out wasteful, irrelevant clicks and non-converting traffic with negative keywords
  • Maximizing relevance across your campaigns for higher Quality Scores
  • Raising click-through rates with strong keyword, text ad, and ad group targeting and organization
  • Practicing regular, active account management and optimization
  • Expanding and refining your campaigns with long-tail keyword research
  • Testing multiple text ads to optimize CTR, conversion rate and cost per conversion
  • Creating unique, targeted, well-designed landing pages for each ad group
  • Making use of the modified broad match option and other settings that improve targeting

Are you following these all-important best practices in your own AdWords campaigns? Or do you only think you are?

What is Google AdWords?

Goodle AdWords is Google’s pay-per-click (PPC) advertising platform that enables business to create ad campaigns on Google properties.

Google AdWords uses a paid search advertising model, in which users bid on the keywords they want to have trigger their sponsored ads. Your AdWords ads are then displayed alongside search results on Google when someone uses one of your keywords in their search query.

The prevalence of your advertisements appearing depends on which keywords and match types you select. WordStream offers a number of free keyword tools that can assist in your PPC keyword research, as well as informative, free white papers on topics such as AdWords match types.

While a number of factors determine a successful Google AdWords campaign, much can be achieved by focusing on:

  • Relevance – Crafting relevant AdWords keyword lists, tight AdWords keyword groups, and proper ad text.
  • Quality Score – Google’s rating of the quality and relevance of your keywords and PPC campaigns.

What Is a Good Quality Score in AdWords?

Google’s AdWords Quality Score is a grading system that judges your ads and gives you a “score.” Having a good AdWords Quality Score is essential to a successful AdWords campaign.

Google’s quality rating has a powerful influence over the cost-effectiveness of your paid search campaigns, making it essential to have a good Quality Score in AdWords. Having a high Quality Score is a tremendous benefit to your AdWords campaign, as it provides you with:

  • Lower costs – Google rewards advertisers with high Quality Scores by lowering their cost per click (CPC), which can subsequently lower your cost per conversion.
  • More exposure – When you have high Quality Scores, your ads will display more often and in better positions. You can get more exposure, more clicks, and more conversions without having to raise your bids.

Your AdWords Quality Score is determined by several factors:

  • Relevance of ad copy to the keyword
  • Relevance of the ad to its corresponding landing page
  • The ad’s click-through rate (CTR)
  • Historical account performance
  • Other relevance and performance factors

A higher Quality Score equates to more impressions at lower costs, lowering your cost per click and cost per action.

Having a high Quality Score is key, but it can often be difficult to manage the varying factors that contribute to Quality Score single handedly. WordStream offers easy-to-use and expertly engineered PPC management software that is specifically designed to improve your Google AdWords Quality Score.

What Is a Good Click-Through Rate (CTR) on AdWords?

Click-through rate (CTR) measures the percentage of clicks advertisers receive on their ads per the number of impressions. “Impressions” refers to how often your ad is viewed-if your ad has a lot of impressions but no clicks, you will have a low CTR, which generally reduces the effectiveness of your campaigns.

Click-through rate is important because it affects your Quality Score, making a high CTR an essential component of a profitable AdWords campaign.

Google AdWords and other search marketing platforms offer pricing discounts for ads that have high relevance, providing searchers with the ads they want to find. Google AdWords gives high Quality Scores to advertisers with high AdWords click-through rates. In sum:

  • High click-through rates lead to high Quality Scores.
  • High Quality Scores allow you to improve or maintain ad position for lower costs.

What Are Negative Keywords in AdWords?

Negative keywords serve as essential building blocks in establishing a successful keyword list.

Adding a negative keyword to your AdWords ad group or campaign ensures that your ad will not appear for search queries containing that term. Using negative keywords in your Google AdWords campaign is beneficial because they:

Google AdWords and other search marketing platforms offer pricing discounts for ads that have high relevance, providing searchers with the ads they want to find. Google AdWords gives high Quality Scores to advertisers with high AdWords click-through rates. In sum:

  • Filter Out Unwanted Ads – Creating a negative keyword ensures that your ad doesn’t show for that particular term.
  • Allow You to Reach the Most Appropriate Audience – By ensuring that only relevant queries trigger your ad, you are more likely to reach an audience that is likely to convert.
  • Reduce Cost per Click and Increase ROI – Don’t waste money on unwanted impressions and clicks from irrelevant searches that won’t convert to sales. Using negative keywords helps put a stop to wasted spend.

Discovering Negative Keywords

Finding negative keywords and adding them to your account can be a difficult and tedious process. Digging through AdWords search query reports is a slow, redundant process, and AdWords limits how much query data is visible to advertisers.

WordStream offers an innovative negative keyword tool that makes finding negative keywords easy. It’s also a proactive method of negative keyword discovery, enabling you to weed irrelevant keywords out of your campaigns before they can cost you a cent.

To learn more about how to use negative keywords, read our free white paper on negative keywords.

What Makes a Good Landing Page for AdWords?

Having a well-crafted landing page is a big component of a good Google AdWords Quality Score. From the moment a prospective customer reaches your landing page, everything should be tailored to helping the customer find what they are searching for and assist them towards a conversion.

A successful landing page requires a number of different elements:

  • Keyword Segmentation – Different types of keywords should take visitors to different landing pages with their own customized offers.
  • Navigability – Users should be able to easily find what they are looking for and move around your site.
  • Compelling Offer – If your ad references special products, have those products be front and center on the landing page. You should give visitors a reason to stay.
  • Focused Page ContentOptimize each landing page by authoring page content around groups of relevant, narrowly focused keywords.

The better the landing page, the more conversions you are likely to achieve. Expertly designed landing pages have a powerful impact on both SEO and PPC marketing campaigns.

  • Organic Search Benefits: Keyword-relevant content results in higher rankings in the SERPs for the keywords you’re targeting, bringing more visibility and more traffic.
  • Pay-Per-Click Benefits: Keyword-specific AdWords landing pages are much more likely to earn strong Quality Scores and high conversion rates, as the landing pages will be more aligned with the searcher’s intent.

While a better optimized landing page will help increase conversion rates, depending on what you are trying to persuade visitors to do, what constitutes a “good” conversion rate will vary.

A “good” conversion rate depends on what the desired conversion is. Conversion rates will tend to be higher if visitors are asked to sign up with a simple form to receive something free. If visitors have to fill out a lengthy survey or provide credit card information, conversion rates will be lower. While conversions can range from 0-50%, 2% is quite common.

Using the Google AdWords Grader

With Google conducting nearly 70% of all online searches (more than Yahoo and Bing combined), success with Google AdWords can drive an enormous amount of traffic to your business.

Google AdWords has revolutionized the online advertising landscape, encouraging advertisers to create relevant ads that cater to the searcher’s needs. The innovative quality requirements that make Google AdWords so unique and powerful can also make it tricky for advertisers to maximize their ROI, especially as new businesses struggle to juggle the various components that make up AdWords.

The AdWords Performance Grader provides clarity and understanding to the difficult and confusing elements of Google AdWords. Because AdWords is so complex, it can often be difficult to determine where you are losing money in your campaign.

The AdWords Performance Grader gives you a fast, free, and easy-to-understand audit of your AdWords campaign, showing where and how to improve your PPC campaign in order to maximize profits.

The AdWords Performance Grader can be used in numerous ways:

  • New to Online Marketing? Learn where to focus your efforts as you begin in Google AdWords, ensuring a profitable and efficient campaign.
  • Are You an Experienced AdWords Advertiser? The AdWords Performance Grader provides a thorough and comprehensive report on your Google AdWords campaigns, bringing your attention to where you can improve results and save money.
  • Does an Agency Manage Your Google AdWords Account? Use the Performance Grader as a free auditing tool to see how well your agency is working for you.
  • Are You an Agency that Manages Google AdWords Accounts for Clients? Use the AdWords Performance Grader to explain and illustrate your work to clients in a format that can be easily understood.

Try out our free AdWords Performance Grader, and let us unlock the secret of AdWords for you.

Want to Know How to Improve Your AdWords Grader Score?

Looking to improve your AdWords score? We’ve recently interviewed the top scoring users of the Performance Grader and have asked them to share their AdWords secrets and strategies, explaining how they’ve gotten their Google AdWords campaigns into top-notch condition.

Marko Kvesic of Zagreb, Croatia, holds a master’s degree in traffic science, and explains that he often alters his campaign strategy depending on a client’s goals—some may be dedicated to building a solid long-term AdWords campaign, while others might be more focused on an immediate increase in traffic. Marko explains that different needs require different organization.

Here are some of the key PPC techniques Marko suggests in building a successful AdWords campaign:

  • I create ad groups of related keywords with exact mach only keywords, and ad groups with broad and modified broad keywords.
  • I bid based on my client budget and goals (if the goal is traffic on the site I use CPC, if it is conversion I use CPA, if it is branding I use CPM bidding).
  • I focus on increasing Quality Score so I pay less for the click.
  • Location extension is a must.

Marko also notes the importance of continuously working to improve campaign results through testing and optimization.

His advice to struggling AdWords managers?

“My advice is always be relevant, create relevant campaigns and give the user the answer to his query as precisely as you can.”

To read the full article, with Marko’s complete list of tips and in-depth recommendations, check out the full interview on our blog.

Also consider the advice of Stefan van Vliet, co-owner of Dutch agency Compass Online Marketing, who completed the second interview in our second series of ongoing interviews with those who received high scores with the Performance Grader.

In our full interview with Stefan, he explains some of the AdWords errors he made early on when first beginning his campaigns:

“I chose to set the budget to virtually limitless and tried to optimize our campaign while running, but just couldn’t keep up (and honestly didn’t know what I was doing). So only 1 week and almost €10k in losses later I pulled the plug. So for an extensive lesson in AdWords management: always test before you allocate serious budgets.”

Stefan explains his company’s successful AdWords strategy:

  1. Get sufficient data by bidding high and getting in spot #2-3 (above organic results).
  2. Keep track of conversions, cost per conversion and value per conversion (using conversion tracking with dynamic value tracking).
  3. Adjust bidding to meet a cost per conversion which is roughly 50% of the value per conversion.
  4. Optimize ads and try to improve conversion rates.

When asked for his advice for low-scoring marketers, Stefan suggests to:

  1. Leverage negative keyword lists
  2. Split campaigns on a low level
  3. Leverage advanced CPC bidding in AdWords Editor
  4. Use the comments function within AdWords Editor to make notes of what you do

For more detailed information about Stefan’s winning techniques and suggestions, read the full interview on our blog.

What Are People Saying about the AdWords Grader?

The AdWords Grader has been applauded by various media outlets, recommending it as a fantastic tool that can help improve your AdWords campaign. See what trusted sources have to say about the AdWords Grader:

“What excites me the most [about the AdWords Grader] is the ‘PPC Best Practices’ scorecard which indicates whether or not the account is opted into such aspects as conversion tracking, geo-targeting (essential for small and medium businesses) and usage of ad-extensions like site-links and business phone numbers.”
– Graeme Lipshitz of Memeburn

“The [Adwords Grader] tool is efficient enough to provide insightful analysis on par with the audits one would receive from an agency or a consultant.”
– Navneet Kaushal of Page Traffic Buzz

“This [Adwords Grader] tool is easy to use and provides the same kind of account analysis you might get from a consultant or agency. It gives you actionable insights and competitive intelligence with instant reports. What’s not to like?”
– Claudioa Bruemmer of Top Ten Wholesale

“Do you toss and turn all night, unsure if your Google PPC campaigns are measuring up? Better take a trip over to WordStream to get a free audit through the AdWords Performance Grader.”
– Gavin Dunaway of Adotas

“While there are no universally determined benchmarks for good AdWords campaigns, the AdWords Performance Grader from WordStream goes a remarkably long way towards establishing standards for this.”
– Marshall Sponder of Web Metrics Guru

“One of most helpful features of the report is how it scores your account relative to other advertisers…Your grade may reveal that you’re doing much better than similar AdWords advertisers. Or you may find out you’re doing a whole lot worse. Either way, it’s helpful to know how you stack up to similar advertisers — and how you can improve your account’s performance.”
– Ryan M. Healy

“This tool would be highly beneficial for medium and small-sized businesses.”
– Jitesh Pillai of Ebrandz

“The AdWords Performance Grader tool returns a visually pleasing and easy-to-navigate ‘report card’ comparing them to other people in their ad spend category…we’re really excited about the help this tool can offer PPC advertisers as they work on more efficiently managing their PPC campaigns and improving their ad text writing techniques. Congratulations to WordStream on a great new free PPC tool!”
– Tom Demers of Boost CTR

Give it [AdWords Performance Grader] a try. (It’s free — why not?) I’m willing to bet you will learn something you can use — either to improve a campaign or to reduce the amount of money you’re wasting. Either way, you win.
– Jeff Haden of BNet

“The areas that this new tool focuses on can have a profound effect on your account’s overall performance. I would recommend you give it a try to see how you compare.”
– Chad Summerhill, writer of PPC Prospector blog

I’m impressed with the results… I think [the AdWords Grader] is a valuable addition to any competitive analysis of PPC.
– PPC Without Pity

“…the AdWords Grader tool gives a great overview of general account performance and areas of possible improvement, and is definitely worth checking out!”
– Jessica Niver of PPC Hero


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