AdWords Experts Share the Secrets of Their PPC Success, Part 1


This is the first in a series of interviews we're conducting with AdWords advertisers who got unusually high scores using our AdWords Performance Grader. We're reaching out to high scorers to find out what strategies contribute to their strong AdWords performance.

Our first respondent is Marko Kvesic from Zagreb, Croatia. Follow Marko on Twitter.

Tell us a bit about yourself. How long have you been using AdWords? Are you an agency or an advertiser? What is your primary goal for AdWords marketing?

I'm the Online Marketing Manager at GoTraffic Online Marketing Agency. I have a master's degree in traffic science and I'm a Google AdWords Qualified Individual. I've been using AdWords for more than eight months. Since I work at an agency and I'm managing my clients' accounts, my primary goal is to achieve results based on my clients' needs and goals. I insist on strong communication and interaction with my clients so I have the whole picture and fully understand each client's situation. Based on that knowledge I create campaigns. Some clients want to build a strong online reputation with AdWords, some want to increase revenue or even traffic on their sites. All these different goals require different campaign organization.

There are tons of metrics in AdWords – what are your top three key performance metrics in AdWords and why?

My top three performance metrics are:

  • Quality Score – The most important thing in AdWords is to be relevant (give the user the right answer to his query) and the metric that indicates relevancy is Quality Score. I pay close attention to Quality Score and focus on getting higher scores (by increasing CTR, optimizing keywords, ads and landing pages). It's also very important because with high Quality Scores I pay less per click. I always try to get higher Quality Scores than 6.
  • Conversion Rate – When a user clicks on an ad he must take some action on the site. You always want to make sure your click dollars are not being wasted. To increase conversion rates I try to include a call to action in my ads and set up proper landing pages.
  • Click Through Rate (CTR) – CTR is very important because it shows my ads are relevant, clickable and my Quality Score is higher (which means I'm paying less for the clicks). To increase CTR I always try to include keywords in the ad text and study the "See search term" report to include some negative keywords. I highly recommend DKI (Dynamic Keyword Insertion) which bring great results for me and increases my CTR and Quality Scores.

Can you describe your AdWords management strategy? How do you set your campaign objectives, and how do you know what’s realistic or not? What about your AdWords management workflow? When you’re doing your account optimization work, how do you decide what to do next? How do you prioritize your work?

I can divide my AdWords campaign management into three phases. In the first phase I do a lot of research. I communicate a lot with my clients in order to determine what exactly they want to achieve. I must have a full understanding of their products or services and their business. I research their market, competitors and, most importantly, target audience. In that phase we also determine campaign expectations and goals.

In the second phase, I create campaigns based on my client's goals. I approach my campaign organization solely on the basis of the goals of my client. If the campaign goal is to increase revenue and high return on investment, you must organize your campaign differently than if the goal is more traffic on the site (for example).

Another important question is if the client wants to advertise on Google Search Network or Google Display Network – since those two networks function in different ways, the organization of those campaigns is also different. When I’m organizing campaigns for Google Search, the first thing I do is thorough investigation and categorization of keywords. I create tightly themed ad groups. How many ad groups do I have? As many as necessary, as long as I stay relevant.

Here are some more techniques I use in this phase:

  • I create ad groups of related keywords with exact mach only keywords, and ad groups with broad and modified broad keywords.
  • When I’m creating ads I use DKI as much as possible, because I realized that people want to see keywords they type in search box in the ad – that makes ads more clickable.
  • I bid based on my client budget and goals (if the goal is traffic on the site I use CPC, if it is conversion I use CPA, if it is branding I use CPM bidding).
  • I focus on increasing Quality Score so I pay less for the click.
  • Location extension is a must.
  • I also implement sitelinks.
  • I do location targeting and ad scheduling based on client needs.

In campaigns for the Display Network: 

  • I always do some research with Ad Planner and find out where is my target audience.
  • I use the contextual target tool which is great for organizing contextual targeting campaigns in GDN.
  • I create tightly themed ad groups with 3-5 keywords.
  • I usually create a "discovery campaign" where I detect the best performing placements, then exclude them from the "discovery campaign" and put them in new display campaign with only the best performing placements.

The third and final phase is testing and optimizing. I always try to improve my campaign results. I regularly redefine my keywords. When I detect the best performing keywords, I usually remove them from that ad group and put them in a new ad group with ads created just for that new ad group. I often research the "See search terms" report where I detect new and negative keywords. I always test my ads and I try to have at least two ads in one ad group, where I replace the worse ad with a new ad. I’m especially focused on improving Quality Score, conversions, ad positions and bids. Testing and optimizing is one of the most important things in my campaigns. When you create your campaigns the job is just getting started with a lot of testing and optimizing. I carefully analyze campaign results, detect what part of the campaign needs further improvement and that’s how I know what to do next in my account.

Any advice or tips for AdWords marketers that didn’t score as well as you?

My advice is always be relevant, create relevant campaigns and give the user the answer to his query as precisely as you can. There must be extreme relevance between keywords, ad text and landing page content. Narrowly focused ad groups, each one a variation of a single keyword. Use DKI for better ad performance and higher CTR. Use negative keywords to eliminate irrelevant traffic and increase CTR. Bid high in the beginning to get more clicks (although more expensive) but you will increase CTR and Quality Score, then gradually lower your bids. Track keyword conversion, and split-test both your ads and your landing pages.  Pay close attention to your account performance, determine which parts of your campaign are not doing well and optimize them. When you are creating campaigns always have the target customer in your mind.

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Sep 01, 2011

Great advice! I get the importance of having many tightly themed ad groups (such as one for "soccer balls", another one for "soccer shorts" and another one for "soccer shin guards", etc.) but are you saying that you create one tightly themed ad group of exact match only keywords, and then you essentially duplicate that ad group and its keywords but set those keywords to broad and expanded broad? What about a third ad group for phrase match? Can you elaborate on your reasoning behind separating the match types, and why you don't do phrase match, please? Thanks!!

Elisa Gabbert
Sep 01, 2011

Good questions, Leese -- I've alerted Marko to your comment so he can respond!

Sep 01, 2011

Hello Leese. Thank you for your comment. Very well have you noticed. Excellent :) I will try to explain more precise. My ad group organization depends on complexity. If there's not that much keyword variation I put exact, phrase, broad, expanded broad in one ad group. But if there are pretty much keyword variations I use one ad group where I put exact only keywords, and one group where I put broad, modified broad and also phrase keywords. For example, for the exact match group "soccer balls" I would put exact match only keywords like "soccer balls", "buy soccer balls", "soccer ball size 4" etc and in the other ad group I would include broad, extended broad and phrase variations. When I find popular search in "broad ad group" I put it in exact match ad group. I bid higher on exact match only ad group and use DKI in that ad group wherever I can. That way I increased my relevancy, but in the same time I have a wide range (and also keep close attention to negative keywords). That turned out great for me. This was my ad group organization for this campaign where I achieved this great result. I hope I answered your question.

Sep 01, 2011

Marko, Thanks for your quick reply. I was just curious if you used phrase match in a third ad group or chose not to use phrase match for some reason, and now that you mention it, I'm curious about your strategies in bidding on the various match types. I've debated about separating match types out by ad group and bidding incrementally, but usually I just put all match types in one ad group. Sometimes, though, I see instances in which the 'actual user query' should have matched to the exact match version (because I had that search query as an exact match keyword already), but the broad match keyword was actually the one that shows as being associated with the click; I don't understand why this happens - isn't the "theory" that Google will match the user's query to your exact match keyword first, then it would match against phrase match, and as a last resort it would match against your broad match? In theory, aren't we supposed to pay less for clicks on exact match keywords and pay more for clicks on broad match keywords -- or do I have something wrong?

Sep 01, 2011

Hello Leese! Thank you once again for great comment! I always bid highest in this order: exact, phrase, expanded broad, broad – because of the relevancy of the matching type to the user query of course. You are totally right and sometimes I got the some situation. But the one who should explain this to us is Google. Because here's the link where it says: ; "When keywords are the same but have different match types, the system will use the keyword with the most restrictive match type. ; For example, if the query is "plumber", and both a broad-match keyword "plumber" and exact-match keyword "plumber" exist in your ad group, the system will prefer to use the exact-match keyword." And yes, we should pay less per click on exact match keywords and pay more for clicks on broad match keywords because they are more relevant – and since Google love relevancy we should pay less.

May 20, 2012

I was told the same things by a Google representative about my account in a one on one consultation that lasted 40 minutes.  I achieved a huge improvement in all metrics and I'm not Google Certified nor did I get a Master's Degree in Traffic (whatever that is).

Nov 23, 2014

Just awesome! I loved every single word Marko said! Thanks for your wonderful tips. Bookmarked!

Bad Dave
Nov 29, 2012

This is great, loads of helpfull advice here. As I work in the finance inustry, with the most expensive and most competative adword keywords, I need all the help I can get!

Sep 05, 2011

Do you have any idea what is remarketing in google adwords. How effective is it? And do we need to have a seperate campaign for it.

Sep 18, 2011

Doesn't breaking up your campaigns by match type create a whole lot of extra work? I'm curious as to how you would respond to this article: 

Sep 18, 2011

Ah, just kidding. The match types are split into ad groups, not campaigns. 

Mr Smith
Sep 19, 2011

Almost done reading a 270+ pg book from some Perry Marshall guy. He's supposed to be a high mucky, muck in the PPC and adwords field. The brief interview and few paragraphs of the interview you provided here. Had more insightful and informative instruction in it than that whole book.

Thanks, bkmarked your blog.

Elisa Gabbert
Sep 19, 2011

Wow, thanks!

Sep 20, 2011

Wow! Thank you very much for this :)I agree that P.Marshall is overrated (in my opinion). I would suggest you to read Brad Geddes. He wrote excellent book called "Advanced Google AdWords."Here's the link: of course keep reading this blog for more excellent tips ;) 

Sep 22, 2011

Hi Marko, what if you have a keyword as broad and just keep taking out all the other keywords it triggers by eithermaking them negatives or making them their own keyword and giving it their own ad group.  So now you have a broadbut all triggers is it's own exact match and no other keywords.  So I guess my question is, is it the same to have akeyword as an exact match as it is to have a keyword as a broad match while only triggering that keyword and noothers?  Does it make a difference in adwords as to how many times adwords will use your ad, basically will adwordsuse your ad the same if it is exact or broad match?  Will they have the same quality score?  I guess what I am askingis will adwords look at an exact keyword the same as a broad keyword which only triggers that one keyword?  Forexample, is exact match keyword, Ball, the same as broad keyword, Ball, that only triggers Ball and doesn't triggerbasketball, football, or baseball etc, because you either have all those other keywords as negatives or have anotherkeyword in your campaign triggering them for search queries?

Dec 05, 2011

Suprised you have someone giving tips who has only been working on Adwords accounts for 8 months...

Elisa Gabbert
Dec 06, 2011

I guess Marko is proof that you can succeed in just eight months! His account scored better than roughly 90% of accounts we've graded.

Frederik Larsen
Dec 15, 2016

Very useful stuff, even tho it is an old article it is still highly relevant. DKI is still a great tool for broad keywords

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