Google AdWords Not Working?

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…The Problem Could Lie Elsewhere!

If you've tried Pay per Click (PPC) advertising with Google AdWords but haven't received the results you were hoping for, it is easy to assume that the problem is simply a case that AdWords doesn't work. Delete your campaigns, close your account and move on. But wait! Are you sure that AdWords isn't working? Have you really analysed your data to see if the problem might be something else?

There are many aspects to creating an AdWords campaign that delivers the sort of return on investment that you want as an advertiser. Without repeating some of those steps here, review this earlier post that offers some AdWords advice if you are new to Google's PPC platform.

Let's assume though that you, or your AdWords agency, have done a good job of organising your AdWords account correctly. You've used the correct keyword match types, selected appropriate negative keyword lists and written ad copy that is totally aligned to your keywords and landing pages. You've even implemented the free conversion tracking that AdWords provides.  So what other reasons could there be if your AdWords campaign isn't working?

Are You Price Competitive?

Although it must sound obvious, have you taken the time to compare your prices against your competitors? I remember a situation a few years ago when a company couldn't understand why their conversion rates were so low. A quick pricing review of ten of their products highlighted very quickly that they were generally a lot more expensive. It may not be rocket science but people don't want to pay £400 for a product if they can get it for £200.

How Does Your Checkout Process Compare?

If you are an ecommerce site owner, have your compared your visitor's shopping experience to those of the market leaders? At a recent Google event, one of the presenters mentioned that Amazon's conversion rate was 14%. Why? Because they weren't satisfied with 13%!

Don't put unnecessary barriers in the way. Set up goals in your analytics account and make use of funnels to see where people are dropping out. I once saw a case where potential buyers were leaving a site in their droves after adding products to their shopping basket. Something in the terms and conditions was putting them off even though they had intended to purchase.

Have Your Site Independently Reviewed

You may well like your own site. Perhaps your friends and relatives have said kind things about it too. Whilst it's nice to receive positive feedback, I'd also suggest you seek some independent views. This could just be a case of contacts you've met at a business networking event or, perhaps, a LinkedIn group. If you really want to get structured reviews, I'd recommend using a service such as It's not free but it may just help turn your site's performance around.

Review Your Search Queries

Earlier in this post, I said let's assume your AdWords account has been built and is optimised correctly. How would you know? In my experience, some AdWords users assume that the phrases they are bidding on are the phrases for which they will be paying for clicks. This is not necessarily the case and, if using broad match, can be an expensive assumption to make.

One of the most important reports to run is the search terms, or search queries, report:

Search terms report

Running this should be a regular occurrence. You can even set up an automatic schedule and have it delivered via email. It will show you the actual search queries for which you received clicks on your adverts. This will then highlight new terms to add to your account. Perhaps more importantly, it will also show you phrases you may want to prevent by using negative keywords.

If you are reviewing your search queries and the terms you see are relevant to your business but conversions are still low, it may just be a case that AdWords isn't performing well for another reason. Google AdWords not working? Sometimes you just need to look beyond the obvious.


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