Want to improve the performance of your AdWords search ads? In this article, we'll provide useful tips and information to do just that.

You'll learn how you can set up, group, and create different versions of your ads; optimize your ad text and keyword selection; and improve your bidding strategy, location targeting, and ad extensions.

Google AdWords is a relatively complex advertising interface. It's less than intuitive for the average user, with dozens of options perplexing for the inexperienced.

To make it easier on small business owners to get their ads up and running, Google introduced AdWords Express. However, this simplified version of AdWords doesn't mean that a business's ads are going to perform better.

Even if you understand what keyword phrases drive sales to your business, setting up AdWords search networks ads for stronger performance with a solid return on investment can be challenging.

Here are 10 tips you can use to boost your search ad results.

1. Regularly log in to your account

AdWords is not a set it and forget it ad platform. If you don't have the time or desire to regularly monitor and optimize your account, you shouldn't be advertising on AdWords. Regularly analyzing and review your performance and making keyword and ad adjustments can make a big difference in your campaign's performance.

2. Set up ad groups

Unless you sell only one product or offer only one service, setting up ad groups is critical to get the results you want from your ads. Setting up an ad group specific to each product or service you want to advertise on AdWords is important for user relevance and serving the ads with the highest click-through rate.

3. Optimize your ad text

Google rates each keyword phrase you select with a Quality Score. Every time a user search is conducted with your keyword, your quality score is calculated in Google's algorithm to determine the listings. It plays a big factor in how your ads perform. Having a high quality score means you can pay less for ads than your competitors and have a higher conversion rate.

One of the factors Google uses in computing Quality Score is whether your ad text uses the phrases tied to your ad group. For example, if you're advertising a car dealership and you have an Ad Group for "Cars" but your ads in your ad groups reference only "autos" in the ad copy, that could adversely affect the Quality Score of keywords with "autos" in them, since "cars" is not in the copy.

4. Test ads

It's crucial to test different versions of your ad copy regularly and to track performance. Even subtle changes can make a significant difference in click-through rate. Take advantage of your best-performing ads in each Ad Group, use those ads, and continue to test and refine them.

5. Eliminate negative keywords

Negative keywords are phrases that may be related to the keywords you are targeting but they don't benefit for your business. For example, if you were advertising for a bankruptcy lawyer, you would want to avoid keywords such as "divorce lawyer," as that is a phrase that would be unlikely to result in a conversion.

Negative keywords can be a real drag on campaign performance. It's important to go through each of your keywords and minimize ineffective targets.

6. Weed out lower-performing keywords

If you have keywords that are too general or just aren't performing well, it's best to pause those keywords or to delete them from your campaign. Though it can be tempting to add as many keyword phrases as possible that may benefit a business, it's also wise to eliminate low-volume keywords to keep campaigns manageable.

7. Add extensions

When you're paying for search engine leads, you want the biggest parcel of space in the neighborhood. By enabling AdWords Extensions, such as location, sitelinks, reviews, and call tracking, you're taking up more real estate for your ad. The extensions draw more attention to the ads from searchers, display more relevance, and help the ads convert better.

8. Consider mobile versions

If you go into each of your ads, there is a check-off box for mobile preference. If you select mobile, these ads will display and optimize for mobile devices. Thus, if you want to target desktop, laptop, and mobile users, it's best to create different versions of your ads. If you don't already have mobile targeted and wish to do so, you can copy and paste your individual ad groups and then go into the copied version of ads, select mobile, and make changes to the ads while maintaining the same keywords or adding new ones.

When search ads are served, Google detects the browser and will serve the ads best optimized and most relevant to the user. Mobile ads also make using the Call Extension an even more valuable option.



9. Increase bidding on high-ROI ads

If a product or service proves significantly more profitable for your business, it can make a lot of sense to increase your bidding amount in the ads for the applicable ad group. Set your bidding to manual and increase the percentage for your most profitable ads.

10. Target by location

In AdWords, you can target specific user locations. If you have a local business that does business regionally or statewide, it may be wise to increase your bidding on search users that are closer to your business, as your conversion rate should be higher using the Location Extension. You could also set up additional custom targeting and bid slightly higher for users in a more medium distance—for example, a 30 mile radius from your business's location—than your bid for searches statewide.

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Implementing these 10 tips to boost AdWords search network ads can make a significant difference in your click-through rate, Quality Score, and campaign ROI.

In your experience, what strategies make the biggest impact on the performance of paid search ads?

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Jason Nelson is the principal at Ascent Internet, a digital marketing company that helps businesses drive results with PPC, content, social media, and email marketing.

LinkedIn: Jason Nelson