Google AdWords is one of the most powerful marketing platforms in existence. 96% of Google’s 37.9 billion in 2011 revenue came from advertising, and AdWords now controls roughly 44% of total global web ad spend.
In order to keep current advertisers happy, and continue to attract new ones, Google is constantly adding new features and systems to AdWords. Each new addition is designed to improve performance, add flexibility, and make advertising either easier for small businesses, or more granular and precise for large enterprises.
The speed of AdWords updates often seems hard to keep up with. Ask any web marketer, and you’ll hear that staying on top of every new AdWords feature, while also tracking SEO, social, CRO, and a dozen other tactics, seems almost impossible. In this post, we’ve put together 10 of the most useful and powerful AdWords features, that will make your ads more effective and easier to manage.
Location Extensions allow you to append extra local information into your ad text. By either connecting your Google Places account, or just manually entering your locations, Google will associate your ads with a physical business location. Then, when Google can determine that an interested user is close enough to your location, your ad can be extended with the added local info. This is a great way to appear more relevant to local searches, and improve both click-through rate and conversion rate.
Just like Location Extensions, product extensions are a way for advertisers to add richer information to the traditional plain-text Google ad. By connecting your Google Merchant Center account with AdWords, Google can automatically match your text ads with your most relevant product. Google will then display this product information in addition to your standard ad. This adds a product image, description, and pricing information. This extra info makes your ads much richer and more attractive to searches, and also improves click quality.
Remarketing is a technique that allows you to specifically target users that have already visited your website, for advertising on the display network. By adding some code to your website, Google can cookie users who’ve already seen certain pages on your site. As these cookied users browse sites on the Google Display Network, Google is able to specifically show them targeted ads. This means that you can reach out to users who’ve already shown an interest in your business. Remarketing can also get very granular – for example, an e-commerce site can show one ad to people who’ve seen electronics products, and another to someone who’s seen clothing products.
For anyone managing a large AdWords campaign, the AdWords editor is hugely valuable tool. The AdWords editor allows you to make large-scale changes to your account in just a few clicks, without having to manually repeat the same edit over and over. For example, within the editor you can copy/paste ads, keywords, and even entire campaigns. You can also import and export AdWords content and settings, make efficient bulk changes to various settings, and generally navigate and manage large accounts much more easily.
A surprisingly little-known feature, the Ad Preview Tool is a simple but highly effective way to see how (and if) your ads are appearing on Google. Simply by entering your query, and selecting the relevant settings, you can query Google on any domain, and with any combination of device and location settings. This is a great way to test ads that are running outside of your current location, or on devices that you don’t have access to. It’s also a neat way to analyze how Google results look in different places and on mobile or tablet screens.
AdWords automated rules allow you to program AdWords to take specific actions based on certain conditions. This automatic account management system can be a huge time saver for businesses that frequently make the same AdWords changes over and over. For example, you may have a set of keywords that you want to keep in roughly the same position. By setting automated rules to increase the bid when the ad drops, and lower the bid when it rises, you’ll be able to maintain your desired position without having to constantly make adjustments.
AdWords Experiments are basically a split-testing tool that allows you to apply changes to a certain portion of your budget, and test how effective the changes were. You can test keywords, bids, placements, and various other factors, without having to commit your entire budget to the change. As the test runs, Google will give you information on the results in terms of performance going up or down, and in the end you’ll be able to decide if you want to apply the tested changes to your whole budget, or scrap them entirely.
The AdWords click-to-call system, also known as Call Extensions, allow you to extend your normal ads with a clickable phone number. This feature leverages the ubiquitous smartphone functionality that allows text phone numbers to be dialed, simply by clicking. This is a great feature for lifting mobile search performance. Google charges the same cost per call as you’d normally per click, but since generally a call is a more valuable lead, advertisers get better performance for the same price. Clickable numbers also lead to a higher CTR, with Google reporting an average lift of 6-8%.