Managing your AdWords campaigns can be a daunting task, and many nonprofits just don't have the resources to outsource the day-to-day campaign management. Totally lost? Here are some tips to help make it a bit easier.
Bid Management: Google Grants
Good news! Google Grants limits your bid on each keyword to $1, so there is virtually no bid management in a grants account. You may worry that if you set the bid on all your keywords to $1, you'll be overpaying, but that's not how Google works. Your bid is the maximum amount that you will pay to show an ad for that specific keyword. If the competition is low, you may only actually pay 50 cents for clicks on that ad.
Bid Management: Paid Google AdWords Account
Start out by clicking the first campaign you want to manage. From there, click on the Keywords tab and you can see all your keywords for that campaign and sort by the different metrics. If you click on "average position," it will sort your keywords so you can easily see which ads are not showing on the first page. Ideally, you want your ads to show in the top five positions, although every ad does not have to be in the top spot. Staying number one can be costly, and users who scan past the first ad are generally more knowledgeable about what they're looking for, so your clicks will be more relevant. With your keywords sorted, go ahead and increase your bids appropriately.
Next, it's good to make sure you don't have any keywords that have a bid below the first page bid. To find these keywords, sort by "status" and scroll down past the eligible keywords. There you will see a status of "Below First Page Bid" as well as an estimated bid to have your ad appear on the first page based on the competition for that particular keyword. Edit your bids to either be equal to or slightly higher than Google's estimated bid to ensure your ad will show on the first page.
A Note on Filters
Filters are basically just a fancy way of sorting, but with the added bonus that you can save each new filter in your account and see those options the next time you log in. Under the Keywords tab, you'll see different dropdown options, one of them being Filter. For average position bid management, filter out keywords with an average position worse than four or five. (Make sure you check "save filter" at the bottom to save for next time). For status bid management, create a new filter and deselect all the keyword status options other than "below first page bid."
After you've completed the bid management for your first campaign, continue to move on to the next campaign and repeat the same steps until all of your campaigns are optimized.
Search Query Reports
The final step to good campaign management is to find and add negative keywords. Negative keywords help you target customers better and exclude irrelevant searches and clicks. For example, if you're a party store and are using "parties" as a keyword, if you add "bachelor" as a negative keyword, a user searching for "bachelor parties" would not see your ad. (More on negative keywords here.)
A search query report will show you specifically what people have searched for who clicked on your ads, and how much their clicks cost you. This can be helpful to find new (positive) keywords that you may not have thought of before, but it's particularly helpful to find potential negative keywords. Once you start reading through the search terms, you'll easily see words or keywords that aren't relevant to your campaign. And they could be costing you a lot! (you'd be surprised what people will click on). However, make sure when you're customizing the columns of the report that you select conversions. You wouldn't want to accidentally exclude a search query that led someone to convert!
There are two ways to run a search query report:
*Why would a nonprofit use a My Client Center? It can be helpful if you have more than one account to keep track of, such as for different business lines, or separate Grant and Paid accounts. Using a My Client Center you can access multiple accounts through one login.
Additional Best Practices:
Also worth noting that Google has just raised the bid limits for Google Grantees to $2.00 USD (as of January 28, 2013). This should open up some new doors to keywords where Grantees had been previously priced out.