I can hear the “gotcha” question by my interviewer. The year was 2009. I was interviewing for a paid traffic position early in my online marketing career.
What’s the largest account you’ve managed? 10,000 keywords? 100,000 keywords? One million keywords?
The thoughts in my head were racing…”What was the largest account I had managed? Is it large enough? Will they think I’m not talented if I say a number too small? Damn, am I not talented because I haven’t worked on a million-keyword account? What kind of account needs to be 1,000,000 keywords?!”
Years later, I can’t imagine using this question in an interview. Any good account manager knows that campaign size is no sign of “campaign goodness”.
An account with over 10,000 keywords is likely full of wasteful spend than a true revenue machine.
It’s better to roll out new campaigns in a step-wise manner than doing everything at once.
Tales from the AdWords Battlefield
Why am I telling you all this? It’s easy for an account’s performance to decrease while size increases.
Here are some real accounts. What I’m showing you is their ‘dead weight’. This is the amount of money they spent on keywords and product groups without a single conversion.
Exhibit A: 20% of Search Spend with No Conversions (Almost 27,000 dollars in 30 days)
Here we have 20% of all search network spend on items that didn’t have any conversions. The campaign will spend $322,000/yr on keywords that will never generate a single conversion.
Exhibit B: 22% of Search Spend on Keywords with Zero Conversions
A different account with the same story. This account would end up spending $100,000/yr on keywords that don’t convert.
Accounts that focus on ROI first and growth second avoid this pitfall. The account could also benefit from some automated rules. If they could have received an alert that said ‘this keyword has just spent 100 dollars without a conversion,’ they could have avoiding this.
The Reality: A Lot of Keywords Just Need to Get Paused
Let’s keep it simple here. First, be sure you’re tracking conversions. If you have an active AdWords campaign, we’re going to save you a bunch of money, right here, right now.
How to Find Your Worst Keywords in 10 Seconds
- Open AdWords.
- While looking at all your campaigns, open the keywords tab.
- Click the filters drop down
- Add the filter: “Converted Clicks = 0”.
- Optional: You can add a cost filter, too. Maybe you choose Spend > 75 dollars. A good rule of thumb, if something is more than 2x your target CPA, then it’s had a fair shot to get at least one conversion.
- PAUSE ALL THE FILTERED KEYWORDS.
I know it will hurt. You worked hard to research and add all those keywords.
Never Be Pot Committed to Your Keywords
There is a concept in poker called ‘pot committed.’ Yes, I’m from New Jersey, and I spent my fair share in Atlantic City Poker Rooms.
In poker, there are several rounds of betting. What might look like an excellent opportunity for the start of the hand may change as new information comes to light. Some players assume since they already dedicated time and money on the hand – that they are ‘pot committed’. They will then stay in the hand ‘just because.’
Don’t be pot committed to your keywords. Cut them loose. Pause them. Understand you have nothing to gain by keeping them around. Don’t feel silly or defeated that you added the keywords in the first place. AdWords keyword optimization is all about improvement, not perfection. It’s entirely possible that you will be turning off keywords that are relevant. It’s important to understand, keywords can be relevant and still be unprofitable.
Recently, I wrote a huge post on all the different ways to save money in your AdWords Campaigns. If you’re not familiar with automated rules alerting you, it’s time that changes. It will add solid ROI to your AdWords account. You’ll then receive a notification any time a keyword runs astray.
- Read our post on avoiding wasted spend. You will learn how to notify yourself when keywords become very unprofitable.
- Take a deep breath
- Pause the weakest part of your account’s keywords. Usually these keywords are 2x your target CPA.
This post is part of a series ‘100 Days of AdWords Help‘.