Adwords for Web Technology Businesses

In this article, I will discuss Adwords strategies for web based service businesses, think web developers, graphic designers, programmers, web hosts and other web technology companies.

A lot of the strategies for local businesses apply here, particularly if you’re a graphic design/print firm with a retail outlet where clients would prefer to see you face to face. So if that’s true for you, read the local business post here

Avoid bidding for the obvious “short tails”

Adwords works in an auction style system. Ads with high relevancy (read quality score) and a high max bid will go at the top of the pile. Within each market there are always major advertisers with deep pockets who will bid up the ad costs so they get the top spots. Case in point in Google USA if you search for “web hosting”, you will inevitably find a Godaddy,com result offering web hosting for incredibly cheap, something like $1.99 a month. The Adwords bid costs around $17 a click (starting).

For small players, there’s no chance of competing at these price points. Often one of the biggest complaints from business owners is that ad costs are far too high. A website like Godaddy will have a huge team of experts working to optimise their pages to convert, their Adwords accounts have a long record of good quality score so their bid prices are cheaper. Their sales funnel is also designed to upsell other related services so their average basket checkout value is probably higher than any other competitor out there. Most importantly they have huge funding to “stick it out”, they may pay in advertising costs what it costs [per capita] to have a web host customer on account for 1.5 years. Their larger funding means that they can play the long game and wait it out to break even.

The best approach for SMEs is to specialise and offer a very bespoke service based on user needs. Bidding on keywords like “web hosting for e-commerce”, “web hosting for web stores” etc. Are a lot cheaper than just web hosting on it’s own so you will have a higher conversion rate. Similarly for web developers you could copy the same footprint as the web hosting examples above. Graphic designers can target different trades such as restaurants, concerts, street flyers, billboards etc. Doing a search in Google UK for “graphic designer for billboards” I cannot see a single graphic designer targeting this industry specifically (there are some who have targeted the catch all term “graphic designer”). How well do you think an ad with an emboldened title Billboard Graphic Design be here? It will stand out and get higher click through rates than any of these other ads.

Obviously, this isn’t a common search term. But the commission for this job is probably huge so it’s best to target these low hanging fruit and bid on this longtails.

Tailor Made Ads

In the above example you can see that there are few actual graphic designers advertising for the search phrase “graphic design for billboard”, but they have only fallen through because they were simply going after the short tail “graphic design” with phrase match. Other billboard adverts have fallen through as well but I guess since the search will be looking for billboard locations at some point it’s not such a bad idea to advertise on this keyword.

The worst ad of all is the college advertising the graphic design course.

A properly crafted ad should include some descriptions with some unique benefits for the end user and a call to action something like Billboard Graphic Designer – Large Canvas & Billboard Specialist – Enquire Today & Get Free Consult.

You can only achieve this level of targeted ads by placing your keywords in tightly themes categories and placing them inside their own ad groups.

Custom landing pages are critical

So you’ve got the industry specific longtail keyword, where do you send the traffic? Do you send it to your generic sales package page? No. If you were targeting the keyword Graphic design for billboards, you best make sure that you divert these clicks to a bespoke landing page that describes the specific needs for that service. Think from the customers point of view, what would an agency or a company looking for a graphic designer for billboard posters want? Perhaps there are standard billboard sizes? Minimum resolution? Lots of printed test samples? Integration with other advertising mediums? etc.

Firstly you have to really understand the mind set of the buyer, think in their shoes and then craft landing pages which address these needs specifically.The book Ca$svertising does a great job of introducing web copywriting principles. Worth a read.

In the case of the earlier example of “web hosting for e-commerce” Adwords campaign. On the landing pages you’d want to have 3 or more different price plans, the price structure could include a ballpark estimates of the number of inventory/admins/traffic allowed on the web page. I see time and time ago how a lot of web hosting companies provide mysql database numbers and storage space. Many state the quota which is completely meaningless for the average web hosting customers. Others avoid the issue altogether but stating “unlimited”, which in most cases are anything but. Personally, I like how Apple approached this with their marketing for the iPod. They didn’t just list “megabytes” supported. They listed the number of songs supported, puts things in perspective for the luddite customer. Which 95% of their customers are.

Obviously for a web hosting for e-commerce landing page you’d also want to include the various other inbuilt shopping carts included and some of the technical specifics like SSL support, email support etc.


All these tweaks and enhancements should keep your ad costs low and the conversion rate high, in doing so you maximise your conversions and minimise your ad costs.

If all this flies over your head, you may want to hire an Adwords consultant to look after your campaign for you. I offer Adwords consulting to small business and SMEs.


Adwords strategies for freelancers and consultants

Freelancers can use Adwords to reach to their target prospects better. But there are a few strategies freelancers need to adopt which will differentiate themselves form larger companies or agencies providing the same service.

Because freelancers don’t typically have a large ad budget, it’s important to use your ad budget effectively. So each pound or dollar goes further than a large company providing a similar service.

Adwords startegies come into play, but I want to start off by discussing conversion optimisation first.

Conversion optimisation

A conversion is simply the percentage of people who land on your website that turn into a sale. A easy way to improve your conversion rates is that tweak your site or landing page so that you are offering exactly what the user wants. Refrain from offering a wide range of services on a page, ideally build a different page for each service you offer. It’s even better to create a different service page for each of the sectors you support.

An example of this would be, say if you were are graphic designer, you could tailor a web page for graphic design for dentists, hotels and restaurants. Then you can tailor your marketing channels specifically for these industries and land the traffic on the bespoke page.

On the page itself you should discuss graphic design solutions for that particular sector. For instance on the graphic design services for restaurants page you can mention specific requirements for that industry such as menu design, food photography optimisation, store front banner design, branding & logo design services, 3 year free revisions for menu price changes, discounted printing services with partner company etc.

What your essentially doing is building pages tailored towards very specific market segments. So when that particular market segment lands on your web page they are almost ready to sign your contract and hand over their credit card details because you’re offering exactly what they’re looking for.

Long tail Adwords campaign approach

Now if you’ve read the paragraph above already the adwords campaign approach would be pretty self explanatory, it’s simply not worth bidding for keywords like “graphic designer” or “graphic design”. These keywords are usually bid on by large companies who’ve established dominance for those short keywords and get much cheaper ad clicks than you because of their campaign longevity and quality score. What you want to do is shoot for the low hanging fruit, go for keywords like “graphic design for restaurants”, “hotel graphic design”, “graphic design for dentists” etc.

Note: recently google has prevented users from sniping the longtail keywords in this manner, so you will haver to use a variety of different match types, a good one to use is the partial phrase match such as +graphic +design dentists. this will find all the keywords that contain a synonym of dentist with the words graphic and design with them. This should do the trick but can pull up some unusal keywords as well so you need to watch the keyword carefully and use the negative keyword feature to band bad clicks.

Another great way to go for long tail is to target your local town. If you lived in Hull for instance, you could target “hull graphic design”, a lot of businesses and freelancers want to work for a local firm and this is a fantastic way to do so.

Hopefully these tips will help you out, this should give you a rough start on how to manage your Adwords campaign for your freelancing gig. There are other Adwords strategies which I can’t really go on about, maybe another time. If this is still going over your head and almost sounds like a foreign language. You’ll be pleased to know that I’m available for hire. Click on the hire me link, and drop me your info.

Adwords management for web stores

Adwords managements for web stores requires a highly controlled and structured approach to management. Often in retail margins are thin and overheads are high. Unlike the service industry where businesses can afford to spend up to 50% of revenue to marketing. Retail does not afford that luxury.

In order to run a profitable web store marketed using Google Adwords, a variety of different criteria needs to be met.

Structure your Adwords campaign like your web store.

Campaigns should start off mirroring your web store, you’ll find that the web store usually has products listed in logical categories and product ranges. Mirroring the Adwords campaign closely to your web store allows you to manage changes to your Adwords campaign better. Remember, your e-commerce store will have products on automatic inventory management – it will list products for sale until inventory runs out and then it will display 0 items left and remove the buy now button. Your Adwords campaign does not have that feature so you should be able to locate the relevant ad groups easily and quickly.

Oh and let’s not forget, always land visitors onto the appropriate product/category pages. Do not land all the visitors onto the homepage. Ever.

Target both category keywords and product keywords.

Past experience has shown me that there’s about an equal conversion rate between searches for a product category, and searches specifically for one product. What do I mean by this?

A category search might be: 10MP digital camera
A product search might be: Nikon 10MP DL-510A digital camera

For the former keyword you would be advised to create a page which lists all your 10MP digital camera and land them onto that page. Fully commercial shopping carts systems will have lots of features in place to do this, but for freeware shopping carts like zencarts, magento etc. You can tag all your 10MP digital cameras as such and locate the tag url for 10MP digital camera and it will list all your items there.

Yes! the tag view does have a worthy purpose and aren’t just designed for SEO keywords nerf.

Alternatively if you have an actual broad yet specific enough category such as “waterproof digital camera”, you can target that keyword and land visitors onto that category view. In this case the category is specific enough. A category like “blue sofa” isn’t really specific, there are all sorts of different types of blue sofa as well as price brackets.

Expansive product range.

Have plenty of alternative products and substitutes in your inventory. If you grab visitors from Google by bidding on the keyword “WD 500GB hard drive”, you best have quite a few different models of WD 500GB hard drives, as well as 320GB, 1TB, 750GB variations. It’s natural human psychology to compare and contrast the price and more importantly the value of what they’re getting for their money. Firstly, the buyer wants to compare prices on your site with the prices on competitors website. If your prices are overall better value they will return to your site with the intention of buying, they will then compare different product variations and pricing to ensure they are making the best purchase. If you have a computer store and you only have one hard drive in your inventory, it does not inspire confidence.

In addition to this, having lots of alternative products in your inventory allows you to maximise your ROI. After running your Adwords campaign for a period of time and after exhausting all techniques to hammer down bid costs and improve conversion rate, you will reach a point where you cannot increase the campaign performance any longer. Then, the only way to increase Adwords performance is to increase the basket value of all purchases, you do this by offering plenty of alternative products.

Restructure your high converting and profitable keywords into their own campaigns/ad groups

Remember what I said about mirroring your adwords campaigns to reflect your site structure? Well this is when things start to get complex. You will invariably have some items in your inventory which convert well, or you may have some items that are frequently searched for and have high spend. You want to watch these clicks carefully and make sure that costs don’t spiral out of control, and they are regularly maintained.

Case in point, you may have a high traffic & high converting keyword. It’s not just the case with you, but your competitors too, so they’ll be looking to increase their profits and they may increase the bid, change their ad copy to reflect current buying trends etc. So their actions may affect your ad performance, so you need to stay on top and make sure your ads are current and your bid strategy is sound.

Promotional items go on their own ad groups.

Obvious reasons really, Christmas sales/January sales items always go on their own ad groups, and so do other one off or seasonal ads. You want to be able to start and stop them easily. You probably don’t want to have special promotional sales to keep displaying ads long after the stock has cleared.

Hopefully these tips will help you out, this should give you a rough start on how to manage your Adwords campaign for your web store. There are other Adwords strategies which I can’t really go on about, maybe another time. If this is still going over your head and almost sounds like a foreign language. You’ll be pleased to know that I’m available for hire. Click on the hire me link, and drop me your info.