So, you’re looking at your Google AdWords reports and see that while you’re getting lots of site traffic from your ads, not many visitors are converting (i.e. buying, signing up for things, or using click-to-call). What’s going on?

Let’s take a look at five common reasons your AdWords might not be converting, and what you can do to improve them.

1. You’re using too many “browsing keywords” and too few “buying keywords.”

Specific keywords tend to have a better conversion rate than general keywords, especially when it comes to ecommerce.

Take a look at the following example. Which of these keywords is the most likely to result in a conversion?

  • Brand X
  • Plasma TVs
  • Brand X TVs
  • Brand X Plasma TVs
  • Brand X 123A Plasma TV

The top three are general “browsing keywords.” People using these are likely in the research phase of the buying cycle. The fifth is a specific “buying keyword.” People searching for a product name and/or model number are likely to have already done some research, and are close to purchase. The fourth keyword is a browsing keyword, but more specific—a sort of happy medium.

While specific keywords get you closer to purchase, you shouldn’t use them to the exclusion of all else. Since fewer people search for these terms, you’ll have fewer impressions, meaning less visibility for your ads. You’ll also eliminate people who don’t know exactly what they want, but may convert now or down the line if they like what they see. (You might use a remarketing campaign to reach these people.)

The trick is to find the right balance between being general enough to match what people are searching for, and specific enough to lead to conversions.

2. You need to adjust your balance of broad, phrase and exact match keywords.

AdWords allows you to add keywords to a campaign in one of three ways:

  • Broad match
  • Phrase match
  • Exact match

A broad match keyword means that your ad can come up if any of the keywords you enter are used in a search, regardless of order. For example, if your keyword is Brand X Plasma TV, your ad can show up for users who search Brand X 55 Inch Plasma TV or what is the best Plasma TV by Brand X.

A phrase match keyword means that your ad can come up if the complete keyword phrase you enter is searched, in the order you entered it. If you enter Brand X Plasma TV as a phrase match keyword, your ad can come up for that exact phrase and longer strings that contain it, such as where can I buy a Brand X Plasma TV. It will not come up for where can I buy a Brand X TV Plasma because the phrase isn’t in the exact order.

An exact match keyword is fairly self-explanatory. Your ad can display only if the exact keyword is searched—no more, no less, no changes in order. If your exact match keyword is Brand X Plasma TVs, your ad will not show up for Brand X Plasma TVs for sale.

How does all this tie into conversions? Ads with broad match keyphrases will garner more impressions, but are less precise. They may show up for many search terms that aren’t a tight fit with your product or service. Phrase and especially exact match keyword ads deliver fewer impressions but are more precise, meaning they often have higher conversions.

As with choosing specific or general keywords, this doesn’t mean you should only use exact match. This can shut off the tap to users who, again, don’t know exactly what they want yet, but may convert once they see what you have to offer. It will also eliminate variations on your keyword that are still relevant, such as buy Plasma TV instead of just Plasma TV. Test a combination of keywords types to find the right balance for your objectives.

3. The search terms that bring up your ads don’t match what you offer.

Unless you’re using exact match keywords exclusively, the queries (search terms) that people use to find and click on your ads may not always match your intent.

You can use the AdWords Search Terms Report to see a list of the queries that people used when your ad came up, and whether or not they clicked. You may find that some of the queries aren’t relevant to what you offer, and an adjustment to your keyword strategy is needed.

For example, say that you sell Plasma TVs, and the report shows that your ad comes up when people search Plasma TV repair. You don’t offer repair, so that’s a wasted impression or, worse yet, a wasted click.

How to weed out this irrelevant traffic? You could add repair as a negative keyword so your ad will no longer come up for these queries. Or, you may need to change from a broad or phrase match keyword to an exact match.

The report can also shed light on new opportunities. Say that your ad comes up for Plasma TV stands, which you do offer. You could create a new ad with that specific keyword, that links to a page with the stands.

4. Your landing page doesn’t correspond well with your ad.

In their quest to come up with perfect keyword strategy, Google advertisers sometimes overlook a crucial piece of the conversion puzzle—the landing page.

The tendency is to send all ads to the homepage. This may work fine in some instances. For example, if you’re using a general keyword around your type of business (like “dentist city name”) sending people to a homepage with easily visible contact information can work well.

But if you’re trying to get conversions on one specific service or product type of many you offer, a homepage won’t cut it.

Why? Because people searching online have a short attention span, and will not look too hard for something once they hit a site. Say a person clicks on your ad for Plasma TVs and hits the homepage. Could they navigate to the Plasma TV category? Yes. Will they? Likely not. Rule of thumb with Internet marketing—with every click a user has to make, and every second they have to spend looking, your chance of conversion drops.

Google also has a vested interest in serving up relevant pages. They’re the top search engine because people find their search results useful, and they want to keep it that way. If your landing page doesn’t match your ad, Google may reject it, or may assign it a low Quality Score. Your Quality Score greatly affects how your ads perform and how much you pay for each click, either positively or negatively.

The solution? Send your ads to landing pages that directly match your ad content:

  • Groups/types of products go to a category page
  • Individual products go to a product page
  • Special promotions go to a sale page, or at least a category page with a sale graphic
  • Signups, downloads go to a squeeze page

This may require building new landing pages on your site, but the efforts are well worth it.

5. There’s no clear call-to-action on the landing page.

You know the action you want users to take on your landing page. But is it obvious to them?

This is straightforward on a product page, where the idea is clearly to buy. But what about other actions? If you want people to call, is the phone number prominent and click-to-call enabled? Are action buttons bright and easy to see? If you want people to fill out a form, is it clearly labeled so people know what they’re signing up for? Most site users won’t take more than a second or two to try to figure out your page.

Also avoid trying to do too much on one landing page, such as multiple forms, promotions and calls-to-action. If you want them to complete a cart checkout, don’t throw a social media follow into the mix. The confused site user does not convert!

Before you start making changes to your ads…

…set up AdWords conversion tracking if you haven’t already. AdWords conversion tracking allows you to see exactly how many conversions your ads are getting. Common conversions you can track include purchases, phone calls, downloads and signups.

Once you’ve set up conversion tracking, you’ll be able to see how the changes you make affect your campaign performance, either positively or negatively. You’ll get a better idea of what works and what doesn’t, so you can adjust accordingly. Even a small change can make a big difference!

Do you need a Google AdWords strategy tailored to your business? Are you interested in having an AdWords specialist run your campaigns for you? Contact 360ideas today!