Setting up a brand new Adwords campaign can be a complicated process, and much time and effort has to go into keyword research and account planning in order to make sure that a budget is used as effectively as possible. Due to the competition within higher education, single keywords in an account can quickly eat up budget without producing strong results. Google has figured out that individuals new to Adwords need help setting up these accounts, but don’t always have the client’s best interest in mind when they offer their services.
Typically people like and trust Google, which is understandable as they provide an array of great free tools and their search engine is the most widely used in the world. But as society’s reliance on the Internet to find goods and services grows, it is absolutely essential that businesses implement a website and traffic generation strategy in order to stay alive.
One of the easiest ways for a business to drive relevant traffic to its website is through the use of Google Adwords. Google Adwords, when setup correctly, can be used to effectively spend a dedicated budget and provide detailed metrics on web based brand interaction while painting a clear picture of ROI.
But with that being said, here are some facts:
1. Google is a business
2. Google makes a large % of its revenue from the Adwords platform (up to 97%)
3. A Google Reps job is to get you to spend as much money as possible within your Adwords campaign
4. The more competition there is within the Adwords platform, the more $ Google makes
So here’s where many marketers who are new to the Adwords platform run into issues: there is a massive conflict of interest between the goals of Google and its reps and your organization or university.
When a marketer is looking to setup a new Google Adwords campaign, they are generally provided with some type of Google representative. Normally this rep will provide you with some insight into “traffic generating opportunities” (through spending more money), and might even offer to build out the account for you. The problem with this is that your rep will most likely focus on keywords that produce a lot of volume. This rep generally has little to no knowledge about the products or services you offer, and even less about your brand as a whole, and they aren’t going to spend an exorbitant amount of time learning about it. Sometimes this rep doesn’t even work for Google, but is outsourced.
Tips for Launching a New Google Adwords Campaign
So if you are looking to setup an Adwords campaign for a larger budget program, my recommendation would be to find an outside firm who is familiar with Higher Education, and specifically your program. The money they will charge in agency fee’s is going to be lower than the money you might waste running the campaign yourself or trusting a rep to help run it for you.
This isn’t to say that a marketer new to Google Adwords can’t setup a campaign that performs well, but generally it’s a better idea to reach out to an expert. But if an outside firm isn’t an option, then here are some recommendations for keyword groupings that will help you to maximize your budget and minimize waste.
Start With Your Most Relevant Keywords
First off, determine what your top keywords should be and group them in a way that makes them easy to manage. I will normally draw out how I want my Adwords campaign to look prior to even thinking about building it in Adwords Editor. Once you have the basic skeleton of your Adwords campaign, you can dig a little bit deeper into your keyword research to figure out exactly what keywords should be included in what campaign/ad group.
For example, if you are managing an Online Masters in Computer Science then you probably want to create a campaign dedicated to your extremely relevant keywords (ones that include the words online + masters). Inside it you might include Ad Groups similar to the following (ad groups in bold, keywords in quotations):
Degrees: “online masters in computer science degree” “computer science masters degree online”
Program: “online masters in computer science program” “masters in computer science programs online”
MS: “ms in computer science online” “online ms in computer science”
Master of Science: “online master of science in computer science” “master of science in computer science online”
And any other Ad Groups that you can think of that would make sense. You want to keep them in their own groups because you want to have ads that are extremely relevant for those keywords, which will help you click-through-rate and quality score.
You probably want to spend a good proportion of your budget on these keywords, as they are the most relevant to your program and will most likely convert the highest to lead and student. Also don’t be afraid to bid up these keywords, as really you probably want to try and be in the top 3 positions.
Create Organized Secondary Campaigns
Next you want to create campaigns for secondary keywords that are relevant to your program, but might not be an exact match. Using the Online Masters in Computer Science example from above, you might create a dedicated campaign for non “online” masters variations. This campaign would still include keywords such as “masters degree in computer science” and “master of science in computer science”, but would exclude keywords like “online computer science degree”. You will notice that the volume around these types of keywords is most likely going to be higher, but being very descriptive in your Ad (mentioning that it is an online program) can help to ward off non-relevant clicks. This is probably going to be your second most important campaign, so allocate your budget here accordingly.
From there, create a campaign dedicated to “online” variations. Someone who searches for “online computer science degree” could be searching for a bachelors or an associates, but by being very descriptive in your ad, you should be able to keep your traffic quality high.
After this, I would probably create a fringe keyword campaign. There is actually some search volume around people searching for “computer science school” or “computer science university” so maybe include a campaign for those. Generally you should only implement these campaigns if you have some extra budget left over.
The main idea behind this is you start with a campaign with keywords that are extremely relevant, and then introduce secondary the third level campaigns for additional keywords if you have the budget. With a dedicated campaign for each of these groupings, you can increase and decrease your budget for them depending on performance.
Don’t Get Too Broad and Match Types
One of the trickiest aspects to setting up a new Adwords campaign is understanding how match types work. A whole other article will be dedicated to understanding the difference between phrase, modified broad, and exact, but generally a best practice is to never go just straight broad on any keyword.
Here is a link to Google’s guide on match types: https://support.google.com/adwords/answer/3205250?hl=en&ref_topic=3122868
Unfortunately broad match is the default within an Adwords campaign, and Google deems what is a relevant keyword to the one in your campaign. This can get extremely messy, and your ad could render for keywords that have nothing to do with your degree program.
There are a lot of different strategies surrounding how to utilize match types to create an organized Adwords campaign. So without providing too much insight into our strategy, a general best practice is to create dedicated campaigns for modified broad and exact variations.
While the above content is meant to be a basic guide for selecting and grouping keywords for an Adwords account, it is by no means is a step-by-step guide on how to launch a full-blown campaign. While there are many resources on the web for how to effectively launch a campaign, because higher education is such a competitive industry it is recommended that you reach out to a trusted consultant that can help to point you in the right direction.