5 Quick Tips to Improve Your Google AdWords Performance

Spinning up a Google AdWords account is a great way for your business to tap into new markets, create new revenue streams, and funnel highly targeted traffic to specific pages on your website. However, managing an AdWords account AND getting a positive return on investment (ROI) is a full time job. If you don’t have much experience managing an AdWords account, it’s very easy to overlook certain areas that can cause you to have hundreds or thousands of dollars in wasted ad spend.

Follow the 5 quick tips to improve your campaigns’ performance and get the most out of your ad budget.

Perform Negative Keyword Audits

There’s usually a lot of waste in most AdWords campaigns and a lot of it goes under the radar from a lack of negative keyword audits. It’s such a prevalent issue that it’s one of the top reasons why businesses struggle to get conversions from PPC.

There’s a misconception that the keywords you’re targeting are the ones people are searching for and that’s not entirely true.

For example, let’s say you run a sporting goods store and you’re running an AdWords campaign for hiking boots. One of the keywords you have in your campaign is “best hiking boots” and it points at the hiking boots category on your website. This is pretty decent targeting, but if you haven’t done any negative keyword audits, “best hiking boots” is not going to perform well and here’s why.

That keyword is wrapped in quotations which makes it a phrase match keyword. This means that as long as the words best, hiking, and boots appear in that order in a search query, your ad will be served up. This means that your ad, whose goal is to generate sales, is going to show up for searches like “what are the best hiking boots?”, “best hiking boots for long hikes”, “best hiking boots in the 70s”, etc.

Each one of those searches has “best hiking boots” in it, but they’re all looking for information, not to buy boots right now. That means that every dollar spent on getting those clicks is wasted.

To do a negative keyword audit:

  • Click on your desired Campaign in AdWords.
  • Then click on your desired AdGroup.
  • Click on Search Terms in the horizontal menu above the graph.
  • Add non-performing, irrelevant, and/or incorrect search terms as Negative Keywords.

Make an effort to do at least one negative keyword per week to prevent wasted ad spend and to save yourself (or your client) a lot of money.

Pause Under Performing Keywords

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again. Not all keywords are created equal. Some generate leads and sales while others just get clicks. And that’s the problem.

AdWords is a straight-forward tool. You tell it what you want it to do and it’ll do exactly that until you tell it to stop. This makes it a double edged sword. If you don’t check on it periodically, you can have multiple keywords that rack up the clicks, but never actually convert.

This basically makes AdWords a very sophisticated money burning machine.

You need to perform regular pulse checks to see how your campaign’s performing. This lets you nip any under performers before they waste hundreds (or thousands) of dollars.

To audit your keywords:

  • Click on your desired Campaign in AdWords.
  • Then click on your desired AdGroup.
  • Check your keywords’ performance and pause those that don’t meet your criteria for performing well.

Tweak Your Ad Schedule

Much of online marketing breaks down to showing the right customer the right thing at the right time. This can be the right time in the buying process or the right time of day.

For example, let’s say you run a sandwich shop. Do you want to run ads at 10 o’clock at night? No! You want your ads running around lunch and dinner time when people are hungry.

This is why fine tuning your AdWords ad schedule is so important.

A common mistake companies make with their ad schedule is that they set it to run during all hours of the day. That means they’re paying money when no one’s in the office manning the phones or able to respond to leads. That’s terrible. You want to strike when the iron’s hot and get in touch with these potential customers while the leads are still warm.

My personal professional opinion is that the default ad schedule should be whatever your normal business hours are. If you’re open 8am – 5pm on Mon – Friday, set that as your ad schedule so you can start collecting data.

Then, you can dig into the data to find out what times of day you get the most traction and update your schedule accordingly.

To dig into that data:

  • Click on your desired Campaign in AdWords.
  • Then click on Ad Schedule in the left navigation menu.
  • Then click on Day & Hour to get the full breakdown.

However, a word of warning. You need a lot of data before you do this. I wouldn’t go this granular until you have about 3 months of data. Otherwise you run the risk of making an ad schedule off of an inaccurate data set.

Want to double your conversion rate?

Get our FREE PPC checklist to start cranking out conversions in just 15 minutes a day!

AB Test Your Ad Copy

AB testing is the backbone of all PPC marketing. It doesn’t matter if you’re advertising on AdWords, Facebook, BingAds, or another platform, you need to be AB testing your campaigns. Making incremental changes and tracking their effects is the only way to make your AdWords campaigns profitable.

It’s also the most neglected part we find while running an AdWords audit for new clients.

In a nutshell, AB testing your ad copy is when you make a copy of an existing ad and then make a single change to the copy to see how it affects the ad’s performance. This could be changing a single word in your headline or changing the call to action in the ad copy.

However, you can only change one thing so you’re able to pinpoint the cause of any change in performance. Otherwise you won’t be able to guarantee that the change was due to your tweak. In the image above, you can see how the two ads are identical except for a minor tweak in the headline.

That single change, that one little change, resulted in:

  • 14% increase in click-through-rate (CTR)
  • 4% increase in conversion rate
  • 3.3% reduction in cost / conversion
  • 5.6% reduction in cost / action (leads & phone calls)

And that’s from one round of AB testing. Imagine how much of an impact a month or two of AB testing would have on your campaigns. These small incremental changes add up to huge gains and wins over a long timeline of consistent testing.

Adjust Where Your Ads are Shown

Geographic targeting can have a major impact on an AdWords campaign’s performance.

Like all forms of marketing, there will be some geographics that respond very well to your campaigns and others where they just fall flat. That’s completely normal. You can’t please everyone, but you don’t have to spend money to show ads to people that don’t want to see them either. This is where geographic targeting comes into play.

By adjusting where your ads are shown, you can exclude areas that don’t perform well so your daily budget can be used by regions that generate leads / sales / phone calls / etc.

google adwords performance tips geographics
Houston has the highest cost / conversion of all converting AdWords campaigns.

For example, we manually set this client’s geographic targeting to show ads in metropolitan areas throughout Texas. By segmenting the targeting this way, we can see each area’s performance and use that data to optimize the campaign.

In this instance, you could remove Abilene due to its lack of traction and possibly Houston if the client isn’t willing to spend that much per lead. This would free up that budget for other campaigns that generate leads at a lower cost. Thus, making your AdWords account more efficient and boosting your ROI.

To adjust your geographic targeting:

  • Click on the desired Campaign in AdWords.
  • Then click on Locations in the left navigation bar.
  • Then adjust your campaign’s targeting.


Your AdWords account needs constant attention. Setting it up and then leaving it on auto-pilot for weeks or months at a time is the same as setting your money on fire. If you follow these tips to optimize your AdWords campaigns, you’ll be able to avoid wasted ad spend and boost your accounts ROI.

If you have any questions about managing your AdWords account or you’d like a professional audit, don’t hesitate to contact us today!

Get FREE expert advice in your inbox!

No spam. No sales pitches. Just free actionable tips to help grow your business.

Kenny Empey

Kenny is a digital marketing specialist with over 10 years of online marketing experience, and Founder of Rank Boss Digital Marketing Agency. With 1M+ leads and countless dollars generated through his targeted strategies, he'll help unlock new traffic and revenue streams that take your business to the next level.

Leave a Comment