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Optimise your AdWords keywords using Google Analytics

Monday 22 June 2009 | 10:17

Have you ever wondered how good the return on investment is from your AdWords traffic? More importantly have you ever asked yourself how you can improve it? In today's post we're going to address these thoughts and go over how you can answer three specific questions:

Which of your AdWords keywords are generating the most revenue?

Which are generating the least revenue?

How can you make your keyword advertising more profitable
?

Before we begin, make sure that you have linked your Google Analytics and AdWords accounts together in order to see detailed AdWords reporting within your Google Analytics account. To find out how, check out this video. With both accounts linked the next step is to ensure that you make decisions based on trustworthy data. Isolate the data you need in Google Analytics by following the steps below...

Make decisions based on valid data

Imagine the following scenario, you've just started tracking with Analytics and 10 visitors arrive on your site, all of them converting by performing an action you have set as your goal. You could say that you have a 100% conversion rate since every visitor you have tracked has converted. However, it is unlikely that this behaviour will hold true for the next 10 visitors.

To ensure that we are making decisions based on normal user behaviour we will only examine keywords that meet a certain threshold of visits. The higher the threshold, the more diluted the one off anomalies become. If most of your keywords are showing tens of visits rather than hundreds of visits, you can always expand the date range to increase their visit numbers.

Generate your AdWords optimisation report


Now that we have isolated only the keywords we're interested in, we can return to the 'AdWords Campaigns' report.


Under the 'Site Usage' tab we want to focus on the 'Bounce Rate' metric. We'll then compare it to a metric that shows us the return for our money such as 'RPC' (revenue-per-click) under the 'Clicks' tab or 'Goal Conversion Rate' under the 'Goals' tab. Whilst it's possible to toggle between the different tabs it's probably best to create a Custom Report , as seen below, to show only the data we are interested in.



With our new report now active, click on the 'google / (cpc)' entry to see only AdWords keywords. Next click on the comparison link on the top right of the report and compare 'Bounce Rate' on the left with either 'Goal Conversion Rate' or 'RPC' on the right.




Now that we have manipulated the data to show only information that is relevant, the next step is to discuss what can we do with it.

Separating the winners from the losers

The report should now be ordered by keywords that have a higher bounce rate first. Looking at the right of the screen we can see that of these keywords those with a green bar have performed above average for 'Goal Conversion Rate' or 'RPC', whilst those with a red bar have performed below average, i.e. green is 'good', red is 'bad'.

Now it's time to optimise your keywords...

Group 1: High Potential keywords

From the initial screen isolate only our 'green' keywords. These are keywords with a good return but a poor 'Bounce Rate'.

We should focus on trying to optimise these top performing revenue generating keywords with the aim of further increasing the return they bring in.



For our list of 'High Potential' keywords consider the following, our aim is to decrease the 'Bounce Rate' but maintain our higher than average return.

  1. Examine the current Landing Page and consider deep linking further into the site to more relevant content.
  2. Experiment with different ad copies that include the keyword in the title and possibly the Visible URL.
  3. Drive visitors to a Landing Page that is built around those keywords. Experiment with Google Website Optimiser to achieve the best results.
  4. Concentrate a higher percentage of your advertising budget on these keywords.
Group 2: Poor Converting Keywords

Previously we focused on the keywords that were generating the greatest return from AdWords. Looking on the other end of the scale we'll focus on the keywords that are performing below average and outline what actions you could take with them.
Switch to the default 'table' view and order by 'Goal Conversion Rate' or 'RPC' so that the poorest performing keywords show first. Switching back to our 'comparison' view we should arrange our report to see poor performing 'Goal Conversion Rate' or 'RPC' results on the left and 'Bounce Rate' on the right, as in the image below.


Focusing on the keywords with poor conversion rates and that are in the red section of 'Bounce Rate' we can consider the actions below. Our aim is firstly to improve the 'Bounce Rate' and secondly, the return we get from these keywords:
  • Are these keywords relevant to your product/service? If the keywords are not relevant, are not performing, but are using up budget you could consider removing them. If they are relevant or you feel they have potential, optimise to improve performance per the steps below.
    1. Examine the current Landing Page and consider deep linking further into the site to more relevant content.
    2. Experiment with different ad copies that include the keyword in the title and possibly the Visible URL.
    3. Drive visitors to a Landing Page that is built around those keywords. Experiment with Google Website Optimizer to achieve the best results.
    4. Consider expanding these keywords to make them more specific or conversion focused e.g. 'buy google hat' in place of 'google hats'.

Group 3: Non-converters The final group of keywords are those that are within the green section of 'Bounce Rate' from the report structured in Group 2. Remember, a green 'Bounce Rate' indicates that visitors to the site via these keywords are more likely to explore your site.


These keywords don't convert but are driving traffic beyond the landing page. People are sticking around so these keywords do have some value. It is possible customers are researching before they commit to a purchase and to confirm you could look at the 'Visits to Purchase' report within the Ecommerce reports section of Google Analytics.


If you are satisfied that these keywords help in the conversion process then you could take the following action:
  1. Move these keywords to a branding campaign whereby you could allocate a specific budget you are comfortable with to this campaign.
  2. Consider expanding these keywords to make them more specific or conversion focused e.g. 'buy google hat' in place of 'google hats'. Monitor their performance over time to see if they improve.
Now you should be able to analyse your AdWords keywords using the data in your Google Analytics account. To learn more about optimising your AdWords campaigns visit the AdWords Help Centre and to find out more about optimising AdWords using Google Analytics check out this video.

We'd love to hear how you've used Google Analytics data to improve your AdWords performance, if you've got tips to share please
let us know.