9 Ways to Improve Google Adwords ROI

Improve Adwords ROI

With every passing day, running campaigns on Google Ads / Adwords is becoming crazy expensive with increasing CPC, and more and more advertisers coming onto the platform, and intensifying competition. However, as a digital marketer, particularly, if you are a performance marketer, you cannot run without Google Ads, given the immense reach and potential the platform offers. But what you can do is work on your campaign to improve Google Adwords ROI for every dollar you spend.

The operating premise of a successful Adwords campaign is to acquire the maximum number of leads/sales/revenue at the lowest possible cost and if you manage to do that you will get a Positive ROI on your Adwords. In this blog, we are going to talk about X ways that are sure to boost your Google Ads campaign and improve your Google Adwords ROI.

For those of you who are not familiar with the concept of ROI – ROI is the abbreviation for Return on Investment and while I plan to do a much more detailed post on the nuances of calculating the Adwords ROI, for now, let’s stick to the simple formula  –

ROI= ((Revenue-Spend)/Spend)*100

ROI is expressed as a percentage.

So if you spend $100 on ad campaigns and generate a revenue of $500, your ROI is –


Now, let’s get on to the specific strategies on how to improve your Adwords ROI.

Analyze your search terms report

The search terms report is probably one of your biggest assets in improving campaign performance. The search terms report is a list of search terms that users have used in actual searches on Google, that triggered your ad to show on the search network.

To access your search terms report, go to the Keywords link in your left-hand navigation in the Adwords console, select the keyword for which you want to view the search terms, and then click “Search Terms” at the top of the page. This will display the search terms for those selected keywords along with relevant stats for each one of them. You can also use the download button on the top-right to export the data into Excel.

Now let’s look at how the search terms report can help you improve your Adwords ROI. There are actually two ways this can benefit you.

Negative Keywords to Avoid Wasted Spend

Keywords are those that advertisers bid on, and search terms are the actual words or phrases users type into Google. When you will look into the search terms report, you will often come across terms that are completely irrelevant and you are paying for every click you get on them. For example, if you have the keyword “web development” ( phrase match) in your keyword list, it can trigger ads for search terms like ‘web development jobs’ – in this case you know the user is clearly looking for a job and not a prospective client.

It should be a standard practice to look at your search terms to identify such irrelevant search terms and at them to your negative keywords list. A very basic exercise but this can save you a ton of money, directly improving your Adwords ROI.

Identify and Add High Converting Search Terms

The search terms report will also help you identify some terms that are more commonly used by users and are also giving you conversions. For example, the “web development” keyword might also trigger a search term, ‘Magento web development for e-commerce’ and you notice that your key skill is Magento, you are getting a lot of conversions from this. What do you do? You should be adding such high-converting search terms in your campaign as Exact Match. This will ensure you get a better impression share at a relatively lower CPC for the term. More conversions, lesser cost.

Misspellings & Typos – Low-Cost Conversions Improve ROI

Let’s face it, typos happen with everyone – to the extent, 10% of all search queries are misspelled! While we target all possible keywords one thing that we often miss out on is typos and misspellings. The competition for misspelled keywords is much lesser making it easier to get visibility with minimal bids. Because there are very few people bidding for those misspellings and typos, the CPC on those terms is often much lesser than the correctly spelled keywords, whereas there is no difference in the user’s intent.

Using these misspellings and typos, will likely get you very few clicks but the best part is that these clicks could come really cheap and with as strong an intent as the original keyword – oftentimes delivering conversions.

Google does offer the “close variant” option by default, so you’re already accounting for misspellings, singular or plural forms, acronyms, abbreviations, and stemming (“getting a phone charger” instead of “get a phone charger”) but having them included in your ad group as exact or phrase in most cases gives you better control and more clicks at reduced CPC.

Here’s a tool to find misspelled and typos for your keywords.

Improve Ad Relevance with Dynamic Keyword Insertion – DKI

More relevant ads => Better Click through, Better Quality Score => Lower CPC, Better Conversion(possibly) => Improved ROI

Using Dynamic keyword insertion can significantly improve ad relevance and consequentially improve your Adwords ROI. When users see their exact search terms in the ad they are more likely to click. Improved CTR, can directly improve your Quality Score and reduce your CPC. The lower cost would directly lead to improved ROI on your Adwords spend.

If you are not familiar with DKI, here’s a quick refresher on how DKI works –

Dynamic keyword insertion (DKI) is an advanced feature that dynamically inserts a keyword from your ad group that matches the real search query into your ad copy in real-time. Your ads will automatically match what the user is looking for, making them more relevant.

Let’s say you create Google Ads for your earphones business and you want to use DKI for the ad headline ( you can also use it in the ad description lines).

While creating the ad you must include the following code:

Headline: Buy {KeyWord: earphones} today!

Now see what happens when users are searching online to buy earphones:

Search Query: waterproof earphones

Your Ad Headline: Buy waterproof earphones today!

Search Query: earphones with mic

Your Ad headline: Buy earphones with mic today!

These ads resonate much better with your customers as compared to a generic ad like, “Buy earphones today”.

However, note that if the search term is too long, the word after the colon will be inserted ({KeyWord: earphones}) (the character limit for headlines is 30). Also, if the searched term is not an available keyword from your ad group, the word after the colon shows as the default.

Qualify Users Through Your Ads – Improve ROI by Lowering Spend

When you are running your Google Ads campaign with a focus on improving your ROI, you need to be clear about one thing – you just don’t need clicks, you need clicks that convert. Getting too many clicks mean higher cost, so it is important that you know how to reduce unwanted clicks, which reduces your cost and improves your ROI.

The way you write your ads can actually help you filter out unwanted clicks, thereby reducing your overall ad spend. Often times you will have some qualifying criteria for your leads/ prospects. You should try to work this into your ad copies. For example; you are an SEO consultant but you require a minimum monthly fee of $500 to take up any contract. If your ad says, ‘Expert SEO Service’ it is likely to attract clicks from anyone who is looking for SEO services, but if your ad says “SEO Services From $500”, prospects who do not have the minimal budget of $500 are most likely not going to click – saving you a bunch of money in wasted clicks.

Such filtering through ad copies can be done based on various parameters, like cost, location, specificity of service, or any other qualifying criteria that you would use for your business. Also, more specific ads, help set the user’s expectations right, which in turn improves conversion. Now, this combined effect of reducing unwanted clicks and increased conversion rate will directly result in improved ROI for your Adwords spend.

Single Keyword Ad Groups – SKAG

Your account and campaign structure also affect the campaign performance and can have a direct impact on the ROI of the campaign. Single Keyword Ad Group ( SKAG) is one of the most powerful Adwords strategies that can deliver multiple benefits, all of which culminate into improved ROI on the overall Adwords campaign spend.

SKAG, as the name suggests, is a strategy where you use a single keyword in each ad group. SKAG as a topic should ideally be a post in itself as the benefits are multifold and the technicalities should also be understood in full.

At an overview level, SKAG would involve creating ad groups with a single keyword and including multiple match types of the same keyword. It is advisable to include Modified Broad Match, Phrase, and Exact match. The Modified Broad Match and the Phrase match help to capture the different search terms arising from the keywords, however, because we are just using one keyword the terms are still relevant and closely related. Also, using SKAG ensures that your ads are highly relevant to search terms – it necessarily creates an opportunity to write ads that are closely related to the keywords.

Now how does SKAG exactly help in improving Adwords ROI?

If SKAG is implemented right, there are multifold benefits –

  • You will have better control over where your ads show up – for which keywords they show up and where they don’t. Reduce wasted spend.
  • You will have stronger control over which ad shows up for which search terms/ keywords. Increased ad relevance results in higher CTR.
  • Higher CTR and increased ad relevance result in improved quality score. Improved Quality Score translates to better Ad rank / Lower CPC.

While writing this, I feel that I should definitely do a much more detailed post on SKAG. But to summarize, the use of SKAG results in cost savings while improving the quality of traffic received through ad campaigns ad this clearly helps improve conversions.

Location Targeting

Location targeting is one of the most common targeting features used by almost every advertiser, then why am I talking about it here? Well, there are a couple of features that you can use to improve your campaign performance and also save money on wasted clicks.

Radius Targeting

This is a common feature and has been there forever and this can do wonders for your conversion rate. There are multiple cases where this can be used. Particularly if you are a business where clients walk into your establishment, Radius targeting is definitely your friend. Though it depends on the nature of the business, how famous it is, and various other factors, most walk-in type businesses get their customers from their surrounding area, and doing a location targeting around your business address gets you the customers that are most likely to convert. Higher conversions = Improved ROI.

Location Options

While you choose your location targeting, Google also offers location targeting options, which are hidden just below and by default you are opted in to “People in, or who show interest in, your targeted locations (recommended)” – which is also Google recommended option. But like many other Google recommendations, it increases your clicks and consequentially ad spends but not necessarily conversions. With this option on, a person who might not be in your target area will still see your ad if he shows interest in your target area. What can you do? Instead of the recommended approach, select the next option, “people in your targeted locations” – and once you do that your ads will show only to people who are physically present in your target locations. This reduces a lot of wasted clicks and spending coming from people whom Google think is interested in your ads but might not be in the location to do business with you. Reduced wasted clicks and spends = improved ROI.

Shoot up Conversions with RLSA – Ad ROI Improves

RLSA (Remarketing Lists for Search Ads) is an extremely powerful feature that allows you to target search ads to users who have previously visited your site. While retargeting o the display network is also powerful, retargeting on the search network (RLSA) can actually put your conversion rate on steroids, if done right.

Remarketing ads give your business a second chance to convert customers who are already aware of your business. The combined effect of the users’ high intent with their familiarity with your brand and offering creates a very potent situation for increased conversions.

Here are some RLSA tactics that are a surefire way to bring back customers:

  1. Optimize bid adjustments for existing keywords for retargeted users only. Here just add the remarketing list to the existing search campaign and adjust bids for each list. Paying a tad bit higher for this audience makes complete sense as this traffic is likely to convert at a much higher rate.
  2. While using RLSA, it is advisable to also bid on broad keywords. This helps your ads to get visibility with the users even if they are not searching for your exact keyword but something related and relevant. Even bid on your competitor names and similar product names.
  3. If your RLSA lists are well segmented based on user behavior ( which product pages they have visited, what have they done on your website, etc), you can actually have them on separate campaigns and ensure that the ads served are customized to appeal to those specific segments. This will not only improve CTR but also can improve the chances of conversion.

Using RLSA effectively can significantly boost your conversion rate and lower cost per conversion, consequentially improving your Google Ads ROI.

Mine your competitors

There are a couple of things that you should do to take advantage of your competitors.

  1. Advertise on your Competitor Brand Names: You cannot include their brand name in your ads as per Google’s guidelines but you can definitely have them in your keyword list. This will land your ads directly in front of users looking for your competitor, and if you’re persuasive enough you have a fair chance of eating a slice of your competitor’s pie. Now, why is this part of the ROI strategy? Competitor brand names are often not excessively competitive, you can get clicks and conversions at a reasonably low cost.
  2. Consider Competitive Intelligence: Use a tool like SEMRush to look into competitor details. You can actually see all your competitor’s keywords, ad copies, and landing pages. Make sure you go through them in detail and this can expose a lot of hidden opportunities for more clicks and conversions. You can get a free trial of SEMRush here.

You can read this SEMRush review on how to get detailed competitive intelligence using the tool.

Improving Landing Page Improves Ad ROI

Increasing your Conversion Rate is one of the most effective ways to increase your Adwords ROI. While all the above pointers mentioned earlier help to reduce wasted clicks, get low-cost clicks, improve conversion rate, etc, all of which result in increased ROI for ad spend, they were all part of campaign management. However, a well-optimized landing page can also help increase your conversion rate dramatically, resulting in improved ROI for the campaign. While most campaign managers optimize their landing pages, here is one tip that will help you further.

Using a little scripting you can actually customize your landing page to show the exact keyword and related content to what the user has searched for. How does it help? Well, for a starter when the user finds the exact term they searched for after they have clicked through to an ad, they are likely to be more engaged, and the chance of conversion increases. Also, these customized landing pages create a lot more synergy between the search term, the ad, and the landing page content, which also results in improved quality score. This further helps with lowering costs and improving ad ranks.

In summary, if you are looking to improve your Adwords ROI, you should focus on a few key objectives –

Reduce Cost

  • By removing wasted clicks
  • Getting Clicks at lower cost
  • Improving quality score

Increase Conversions

  • Better targeting
  • Focus on conversion optimization

If there are other tactics that you think can help to improve your Adwords ROI, feel free to leave a comment and share your views.

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Check out the About SRC Page for more details about Saptarshi Roy Chaudhury.

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