Don’t waste your money on Google AdWords

November 30, 2023

I’ve wasted thousands of dollars on Google AdWords campaigns that didn’t work.

When I started advertising on Google in 2008, my credit card took a hammering, with little or nothing to show for it. I lost my nerve and gave up on AdWords for about a year.

But I came back, determined to master the AdWords game. And eventually, I did get better at it – to the point where AdWords doubled the revenue of my web design business within six months.

When I started doing Adwords for clients, a couple of years later, I initially got mixed results. Some accounts achieved terrific success and the clients thought I was a genius. But others bombed. I was doing the same things, optimising the AdWords campaigns in a similar way but some accounts succeeded while others failed.

So, what the heck was going on?

I eventually realised there are two main components to AdWords. You need BOTH parts of the puzzle to be in place to get real results.

The first thing is to have the AdWords campaigns correctly set up and optimised. These are the basics, which any good AdWords manager knows. For example, you need your campaigns divided in to small, tightly-focused ad groups with just a few keywords in each.

You need well written ads, which get a good click through rate. You need to set your bid prices for clicks at the right level.

You can engage any reputable AdWords agency and they should do these basics. In some cases, the AdWords agency will strike it lucky and get results. But in other cases, even the most expertly optimised AdWords campaign will flop.

Here’s where the second vital componment of AdWords comes into play

This is where many AdWords agencies miss the boat – including me in the early days.

The most perfectly optimised AdWords campaign in the world will fail if people click on an ad and go to a web page that fails to complete the sale. In other words, AdWords is only 50% of the sales process. The other 50% takes place on the web page where people land AFTER they click on the ad.

You absolutely MUST develop web pages that have a compelling sales message, which are clear and simple to use and get people to respond in the way you want.

Looking back on my early efforts with AdWords, I realised the campaigns where I succeeded were those where the client already had a great website. These clients were smart marketers in their own right. They had a clearly thought-out sales message on their websites and had invested in professional web design.

These days, if someone asks me to manage their AdWords and I can see their website is poor, I will point this out. I’ll make it clear I can’t manage their AdWords unless they also have some work done on their website. Often, the simplest solution is to create a new “landing page” – separate from the main website – where people get taken after they click on an AdWords ad. (I use a service called Instapage to build these landing pages.)

When you have a well optimised AdWords campaign combined with a high-converting landing page, it’s a beautiful thing! It’s a fantastic feeling when a steady stream of enquiries and sales keeps coming in off your website.

But this doesn’t happen by accident. And it also doesn’t happen just by engaging the cheapest AdWords agency to manage you account. You need an AdWords manager who is more than just a technical geek – someone who can step back and look at the entire sales process and optimise it from start to finish. Someone who understands how to create a high converting landing page.

You’ll pay a bit more for this type of AdWords manager. But you will reap the rewards in the long run.