googleadwordsHow to Save Money with Google AdWords


1.   Negative Keywords

First up I want to cover negative keywords. At Koozai we have so many clients coming to us who have attempted to run their own AdWords campaigns and failed and I would say that around 99% of these accounts don’t contain even one negative keyword.

For those of you who may not know what a negative keyword is, it is a word or phrase that you wouldn’t want your ads to appear on if it was included in a search query. For example, words like ‘free’ tend to be included in a majority of AdWords campaigns as a negative keyword to stop ads from showing if a search is conducted containing ‘free’.

I would expect an average size campaign to contain thousands of negative keywords. Google AdWords allows advertisers to add up to 10,000 negative keywords so we should all be taking advantage of this.

Negative keywords can be added at ad group and campaign level, with campaign level negatives being the most popular to use.

 2.   Ad Scheduling

If your business can only take orders between a certain time it makes sense to only run your ads during this period so that you are not wasting budget on traffic that you may not be able to convert.

If you think you want your ads running 24/7 the best practice for this is to set the ads to run at all times but use the reporting offered to you in AdWords to check what times of day convert best for you. The reporting will clearly highlight if there are times that you ads are better off not running and using this will help you save money on your PPC campaigns.

Basic ad scheduling allows you to switch campaigns on and off during certain periods of any day of the week. As you can see in the above example, this campaign is running between 8am and 5pm Monday to Friday and it is switched off on the weekends.

There is another option which gets much more advanced and you can actually increase/decrease your maximum bid prices depending on the time of day or day of the week. This is a great feature if you want to get more exposure at a certain time of the day or want to make your budget last longer.

3.   Location Targeting

Location targeting is a must have setting for any local business. When creating a new AdWords campaign the location will automatically be set to target the entire UK, but if you are a business that only operates in one location, you will be wasting money and impressions displaying ads to searches who aren’t in your local area.

If you are able to provide your product or service in multiple locations, you can also set up targeting, so this is something to be aware of. There are more advanced settings for location targeting but for the purpose of this post I am only going to cover the absolute requirements.

4.   The Networks

As with a lot of the settings, AdWords automatically opts you in to the ones that will incur the highest costs for advertisers. Earlier in this post I spoke about the number of client accounts that come to us without any negative keywords, well the same amount also come to us with campaigns opted into the Display Network!

There are three options available when it comes to choosing the network you want your ads to be shown on:

Search Network

Search Partners Network

Display Network

Campaigns that are on the Search or Search Partners networks should never be on the Display Network, they should be treated separately. If you have a campaign set up and running on all three networks, login to your account now and change your settings. Campaigns on the Display Network need to be tailored to that particular audience and they will never work if targeted on all networks at the same time.

The networks can be set at campaign level by going into the settings and choosing Networks and Devices.

5.   Mobile Specific Campaigns

This brings me nicely onto splitting out campaigns so that you have separate campaigns targeting laptops and desktops and mobile devices. Andrew Tonks wrote a great post on how you can improve your mobile campaign results which dives much deeper into mobile PPC optimisation.

The main thing to remember here is that searches on a mobile device often have a different intent than those searching on a laptop or desktop. The search query tends to be shorter and a lot of local intent searches take place on mobiles.

I have seen the CPC on mobile campaigns reduce significantly if the campaigns are split out and the CTR also tends to be higher. You need to remember that on a mobile phone there are only two spots available for the highest ads, the rest of the ads fall to the bottom of the page.

6.   Quality Score

Quality Score is a metric that anyone using AdWords should be familiar with as it determines how much you will pay for clicks on your ads. The higher the Quality Score, the less you pay. There are a number of ways to improve your Quality Score and this has been covered in a previous post but your main focus should always be on increasing the Click through Rate (CTR) on your ads and keywords.

Here are a few posts on Quality Score that should help you understand what it is, why it is important and how to improve it.

7.   Match Types

Although this sounds like going back to basics, you would be surprised at the number of advertisers that don’t make good use of the various keyword match types. The three main ones are broad match, phrase match and exact match and each offer their own advantages and disadvantages.

If you want to save on AdWords spend, changing some of your keywords to broad match can often pick up some cheaper traffic and at the same time it will uncover new long tail keywords that you can bid on.

NOTE – Using broad match does mean that Google can show your ads for synonym matches, so you need to be using lots of negative keywords to stop the ads from showing for irrelevant searches.

If you are looking for a more detailed step by step guide on setting up an effective PPC campaign, the video below should be able to assist you.

8. Ad Split Testing

At the beginning of May 2012, Google announced that the Rotate: Show Ads More Evenly setting was changing which caused a lot of uproar in the PPC community.

Search Engine Land wrote a detailed post about the change and how it would impact advertisers here –

Advertisers should still be using this setting but it means that ads will need to be updated every 30 days to ensure the setting remains the same, otherwise Google will automatically select the ad that they believe will generate the most traffic and show that ad instead.

Not all campaigns are designed to attract the highest number of clicks, they are set up to attract the best traffic that converts at the highest rate or drives the highest CTR. This is something that we should all be paying attention to and ensure that ads are updated and optimised every 30 days.

9.   Bounce Rate

If you haven’t got your AdWords Account linked up with Google Analytics, you are missing out on so much valuable data. One of the tools that will help you save money on AdWords is the Keyword report in the AdWords section of Google Analytics (shown below).

By drilling down to keyword level you can see which ones have a high bounce rate and make the decision over whether to stop bidding on a particular phrase. In my opinion, if you are driving traffic through to your site and visitors are leaving the site before navigating to another page, you have a few options:

Stop bidding on the keyword

Try driving the traffic to a different page of the site

Create dedicated PPC landing pages

10.   Remarketing

Last on my list for saving money on Google AdWords is setting up remarketing campaigns. So how does remarketing work?

When anyone visits your website, a cookie is placed on their computer and AdWords starts to build up an audience of all these people. Once you get over 500 people in the audience you are ready to start remarketing to them. Because the cookie has been dropped, Google know each person that has visited your site and then all the websites (that are part of the Display Network) that they visit will display your relevant banner adverts enticing them back into your site.

This traffic is really cheap and often converts at a very high rate as the people you are marketing to have already expressed an interest in your website. Even if you don’t start the remarketing campaigns, all website owners should be using AdWords to build the audiences for use at a later date.

You can set up specific audiences by adding different code on various sections of your site. For example, if you are an online retailer selling kitchen appliances you may wish to have an audience for all the people who have looked at fridge/freezers. You can then follow them round with a banner specifically pushing a great deal you have on the latest fridge as you know they are interested in that product. You will get a much higher conversion rate doing targeted remarketing rather than following visitors round with a generic ad for all your products.

Mike Essex explains remarketing in more detail in the below video for those of you who are interested in finding out a little more.


I hope you have been able to take away from tips for lowering your AdWords spend and if you have any other suggestions please feel free to add them to the end of this post as we would love to hear about them.

So How do You Save Money with Google AdWords!

1. Measure Conversions – To be 100% transparent, when I took over managing this campaign the client had already cut out a significant amount of keywords that were not performing.  They were already measuring conversions, so they could see these keywords weren’t working.  However, the cost per lead was still around $190.00 when I started managing the campaign in November 2012.  When you measure conversions in Google AdWords, you are able to quickly see keywords which are not generating leads/sales, and it is important to cut out the dead weight.  If you haven’t done so already, set up conversions in Google AdWords so you can see what is working and what is not.

2. Geographical Targeting – In November 2012, when we started their ads, they had only one campaign that covered the whole world.  They were paying $5.00 per click for USA traffic, which was good for them to do because these clicks converted into actual buyers.  The problem was, they were also bidding $5.00 for the top spot in Jamaica, where sales were flat.  We broke down the campaign into 3 targeted campaigns.  The first was for the USA, which had their highest bid.  We made a second group, which had their “major” countries, and the bid for those was less, but strong.  Then we cut their bids way back for the minor countries.  The results were dramatic.  Their cost per click was cut in half, because now they were able to leverage their spend and generate more clicks and thus more overall traffic.  Remember, these three campaigns all have the same ads and keywords, they are just segmented so we could control the bidding by location more effectively   Yes, they did give up their rankings for many number 1 spots in these smaller countries, but at the end of the day, it is about the number of visits, leads, and revenues right?

3. Partner Traffic – Next we created a new campaign for partner only traffic.  This campaign also had the same exact keywords in it, however, we underbid our main USA campaign so that these ads would show on the partner network.  The cost per lead generated at $32.51 per lead a huge savings compared to the past which was $231.00 per lead including partner traffic.

You’ll notice on the comparisons, that the the 2012 click through ratio is lower and that is because we bid less for some keyword by geographic location on purpose!  However, you should also notice that the average positions decreased by only 0.3 spaces.  This is because we gave up the number 1 spot for many of the keywords and bid less to get more overall clicks.  This allowed us to purchase more traffic at a cheaper cost.  We used keywords that converted, and thus you can see we generated almost as many leads for less than 1/2 of what they spent before.  We now get a click for just $1.00 verses the previous $1.79 per click.

The first three tips I’ve given you are all about controlling your bid and why you don’t want to always be number 1 with your bidding.  We are able to increase or decrease our bid based upon cost per conversion.  Obviously, in some of the campaigns we’re in the process of adjusting them higher due to the enormous savings we’re seeing.

4. Improve Quality Score – What many business owners don’t realize is that Google gives each keyword a Quality Score.  When I started managing the campaign, the average quality score was about a 3.5.  After restructuring the thousands of keywords, landing pages, and ads, we’re up to about a 6.0 on average.  The higher your quality score, the lower you pay per click.  So, if you follow Google’s guidelines, you can actually pay less to be ranked number one than someone who is bidding more.  Remember, Google wants you to use their search engine, so they reward “good” advertisers.  If you want to decrease the amount you spend with Google, the secret is in building very tight ads, adgroups, keywords, and landing pages – how to do this will have to wait for another post though.  Google is picky and the average small business owner doesn’t have the tools to make sure their quality score is strong, so they typically overpay for their traffic as was the case for this client.

5. Clean Up Non-performers – The last thing we’re in the process of doing is cutting off keywords with a low quality score, or keywords with a low click through ratio.  For example, let’s say, the keyword was a model number – 1000bxm.  If we’re getting to many impressions without any clicks, there is a good chance that the same model number exists for an entirely different industry.  In other words, we’re getting impressions where people have no interest in the product.  This hurts not only our quality score, but it also can cause us to get clicks from people not interested in our product.  It is critical that we watch click through ratios carefully.  We want our target audience clicking on ads, not someone who’s looking for a car part.  Secondly, the keywords with a very low quality score get paused until we can fix them.  This doesn’t fix the quality score issue, but it does allow us to get the most bang for our buck!

14 Tips to Save Money on Google AdWords

The Very Basics

Tip 1 – If You Can’t Do This One Thing, You’ll Never Know How Much Money You’re Wasting

If you have someone else managing your Adwords account for you, make sure they allow you to log in to AdWords yourself. It might surprise some people, but we have heard of many businesses whose agencies won’t give them logins to their own Adwords account. This means that you can never be sure of where and how your money is being spent.

Tip 2 – Tracking

You’re paying for each click to your site, so make sure you can measure how valuable those visitors were.

Enable conversion tracking on your purchase/lead confirmation pages;

Ensure you have Google Analytics set up;

Link your Analytics and AdWords accounts;

Most importantly – actually look at this data!

On The Settings Tab

Tip 3 – Limit Your Daily Budget

Of course you need to nominate a daily budget, but consider setting a budget lower than your target when you first start out. You don’t want to waste more than you need to while you get a feel for the platform.

Tip 5 – Plurals/Misspellings

There is a checkbox for plurals/misspellings on the settings page – if you want to limit your spend, don’t opt to bid on plurals/misspellings until you’re looking for more depth in your audience.

Tip 8 – Location multipliers

Google’s new enhanced campaigns mean that you can bid less/more on different geographic areas. For example, you might want to bid less on areas which are more expensive for you to ship to. You should also check out the Dimensions tab of Adwords to see your statistics by geographical area. This can give you insights into which areas you should invest more or less in.

Tip 9 – Bid Multipliers

While Google makes it easy to enable bid multipliers that increase/decrease your bid by location, device and time of day, keep in mind these will multiply on top of each other and could change your bids in unexpected ways.

To find out the results of your various multipliers go to the Settings tab of ‘All Online Campaigns’. Choose the ‘All Settings’ sub tab and make sure the ‘Active bid adjustment’ column is visible (if not, add it). Any campaign with a bid adjustment will have a calculator icon, which you can click on to show you the effects of your bid multipliers.

Screenshot from Google AdWords

Save on Keywords

Tip 10 – Keyword Match Types

Understand the different match types and what terms they will result in your ad showing for. You might consider starting with tighter match types like exact match, which will have a smaller reach, and expanding as you need more volume.

Tip 11 – Choose Keywords Carefully

While you can choose broader/narrower match types, you can also do this with the words you choose. For example, if you sell lipsticks on your site, consider bidding first on ‘lipstick’ terms rather than the generic term ‘cosmetics’.

Tip 13 – Qualify your Ad copy

You can limit frivolous click throughs on your ad with qualifying words, for example, ‘professional’ or ‘luxury’. You can also describe your product specifically so that it discourages people looking for the wrong things.

Tip 14 – Accurate Landing Pages

Make it easy for your customers to convert on your site by sending them to the most relevant landing page. You don’t want visits you paid for to bounce straight from your site. Note that you can make the landing page even more relevant if you use destination URLs at the keyword level.

While there is no fool-proof trick to ensure your Google AdWords campaigns are instantly profitable, these tips will go a long way in limiting wasted spend and ensuring your ad dollars go towards your