Google Adwords and the 80/20 Rule – A Truly Radical Approach

April 20, 2024

This post is for Adwords geeks (mainly). It’s somewhat technical but very exciting if you love the challenge of getting optimum results from Google Adwords.

Having discovered the 80/20 rule (i.e. that 80% of your results come from 20% of your efforts – as a universal principle in any aspect of life) I’m now fascinated by how to apply it specifically to Adwords.

Even before I discovered the 80/20 rule, I knew instinctively that it was true. I’ve always tended to prune back my Adwords campaigns ruthlessly by focusing only on the top performing keywords and ads.

But now, I’ve decided to experiment by taking this to a radical extreme. So, here’s the strategy – to be used only on my own Adwords accounts initially (not clients’ accounts – yet).

Step 1: Set up an ad group with one single solitary keyword phrase – exact match e.g. [website design christchurch]. The objective is to get a great quality score and lowest-possible cost per click for this single keyword phrase.

Step 2: Write two ads for that one specific keyword. Turn on the campaign and start watching results over the next few weeks. Split test these ads on all the major factors such as headline, the body, and URLs.

In addition, find the position on the page that delivers the best return on investment (this is not usually the No.1 spot, unlike what many of my clients think). Often you’re better off to take a lower position, pay less per click, and thus get a lower cost per conversion.

Step 3: Create a specific landing page for each keyword. Test the headline, body copy, graphics etc over a period of weeks.

So why do I think this is a good idea? Well, for one, if your time is limited, it reduces the number of variables you have to manage. It makes life much simpler and easier. One keyword. One pair of ads. One landing page. One set of variables you have to look at to see whether it’s working or not.

Critics might be concerned this approach is putting all your eggs in one basket. Well, that’s true to some extent. But if you’re in a highly competitive market, it’s actually better to totally dominate that market with one keyword, than to scatter your efforts over many keywords.

Dominate the market with one keyword. Then move on and do the same with a second keyword. Etc.

Like I said, I’ll be testing this with my own personal Adwords campaigns first. Not with clients’ accounts. The problem with many of my clients is that they know a little bit about Adwords – enough to know that you are “supposed” to use massive great lists of keywords. The more keywords the better (so these clients seem to think). When they see their account with hardly any keywords, they prod me to add more.

Only when I’ve proved this radical new 80/20 approach beyond doubt with my own accounts, will I start using it with clients’ accounts too. By then (I hope) I’ll have the indisputable evidence to counter their requests to add more keywords.

2 thoughts on “Google Adwords and the 80/20 Rule – A Truly Radical Approach”

  1. I think this technique works great for highly competitive keywords. You’ll find if you’re just targeting the New Zealand market your efforts might be somewhat fruitless unless you’re operating in a very lucrative, high conversion-rate market.

    By the way, I like your blog – very informative and engaging.

  2. You’re right James.

    But more specifically it’s about getting sufficient traffic. Some areas in NZ are ripe for this tactic.

    Higher conversions are also related to ad quality, and ad quality is a highly underrated factor in the Adword’s puzzle.

    Most Adword’s developers play Google’s game a little too closely with keywords and end up pleasing Google more than their clients and their customers.

    The truth is that unique ads, that hit the mark, always convert better, and that metric isn’t even on the radar yet!

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