Pursuing Quality Over Quantity In Google AdWords Traffic

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Synopsis — Although you may often wish for more traffic to come to your site and consequently more clicks on your pay-per-click ads to bring them there, it makes little sense to bring a lot of traffic that has no intention to convert via a purchase of a product or service. It’s important not to lose sight of the fact that your primary goal is “quality” traffic, without which you may wind up having a lot of visitors but going bankrupt in the bargain.

In her article, “Pursuing Quality Over Quantity In Google AdWords Traffic,” Kim Clinkunbroomer explores this very dilemma and offers five crucial tips to help you identify areas in your Google AdWords account where you can trim and modify to bring about greater overall success. Kim provides screenshots to illustrate her points and make it simple for readers to implement the best practices she suggests.

The complete article follows …

Pursuing Quality Over Quantity In Google AdWords Traffic

Google AdWords pay-per-click marketing is about more than just bringing traffic to a website — at times, avoiding traffic is just as important. To preserve budget, we avoid traffic with less potential for positive ROI, as well as work to maintain healthy clickthrough rates by reducing ad impressions that are unlikely to result in a clickthrough.

On the flip side, when we identify areas with proven potential, it warrants exploiting that for all it’s worth. In essence, the bottom line, when it comes to many pay-per-click advertising budgets, is the need for quality over quantity traffic. The following five tips will help you reach that point.

Tip #1 — Hunting Season Is Open Year Round On Negative Keywords

The AdWords Keyword Tool is not just great for identifying keywords that will accrue traffic. It is also an excellent tool for identifying and proactively adding negative keywords to your account. The tool offers suggestions based on variables provided by users. If used in a Broad or Phrase match type, its keyword suggestions are ones that your ads have the potential to be served on. In addition, take the proactive approach of identifying irrelevant keywords and adding these negative keywords to your account now, rather than scraping them off a search terms report later when they have already cost money in nonproductive clicks.

To do so, launch the tool from your AdWords account under the Reporting & Tools > Keyword Tool link. Once the tool is loaded, enter keywords relevant to your marketing efforts; select advanced options such as geography, language, etc., that are relevant to your needs; and then run the tool.

Review the returned results for irrelevant keywords, and add them as negative keywords in the appropriate negative match type. Review additional metrics such as average cost per click via the Columns button. Realizing the potential cost-per-click impact that irrelevant search terms have on your budget is an eye-opener and big motivation for most advertisers to continue the hunt.

Currently, the tool cannot directly add negative keywords at the campaign level or to Campaign Negative Keyword Lists. Alternatives include adding negative keywords to each ad group (as the tool function allows) by selecting the negative keywords, downloading them to a spreadsheet, and then copying and pasting at the campaign level. If you plan to use the same set of negative keywords in multiple campaigns, add them to a Campaign Negative Keyword list under the Control Panel And Library section. This lets advertisers update a master keyword list attached to multiple campaigns versus each campaign individually, streamlining the process.

Tip #2 — Someone Pass Me A Flashlight For The AdWords Display Network

By accessing the Networks tab, Display Network advertisers looking for transparency can discover a good deal about the domains serving ad impressions as well as specific interior URLs under the See URL List feature.

Find domains that perform well — exploit what you can from them — and exclude the sites or interior pages that don’t perform well.

Tip #3 — Wield A Scalpel, Not An Axe, On The Display Network

Once you have identified domains and URLs with accrued traffic within the Display Network, and proven potential in the form of conversions or other trackable actions, it’s time to consider segmenting. Move this domain into its own campaign as a managed placement and then build out highly contextually targeted ad groups using data extracted from interior pages of the Display Network domain. Gather the interior page URLs with the See URL List feature and by scanning the domain for other pages of interest.

The next step is to take the domain URLs and individually run them through the AdWords Keyword Tool to extract keywords relevant to your product/service directly from the content. Organize these extracted keywords into theme-based keyword lists and move them into ad groups containing relevant ad messages.

Even if the Keyword Tool returns hundreds of ideas for a keyword like “solar,” the ideal ad group should have a maximum of 20 keywords before you break the keyword list theme and create a new ad group. Take the larger list and group it by themes, such as solar systems, solar heating, etc. This way you can deliver the most relevant ad text for the keyword theme. Don’t forget to take advantage of the entire keyword list to scan for potential negative keywords.

With this process, you can ensure a strong contextual match between the Display Network URL page content and your ad group content.

Tip #4 — Working Hard To Avoid Traffic On The Display Network

If you advertise on the Display Network, no matter your type of target (Auto, Managed, Topics, etc.), you will likely appear on sites and interior page URLs you don’t belong on. At times, you may even show up on sites or interior pages you want absolutely no association with. Ways do exist to avoid unwanted ad impressions by preventing ads from appearing on certain categories of pages, for certain topics and keywords, and also to control the number of times a specific person is exposed to your ads. With Site and Category Exclusion, Topics Exclusions, Negative Keywords, and Frequency Capping, advertisers can take more control than ever over unwanted ad impressions and traffic, improve clickthrough rates, and save money by avoiding traffic unlikely to result in a desired action on your site.

Site and Category Exclusion

The following categories can be excluded on the Campaign level only. Luckily, it’s not difficult to identify the types of sites in this list your ads don’t belong on.

  • Crime, Police, and Emergency
  • Death & Tragedy (subcategory of military and international conflict)
  • Juvenile, Gross, and Bizarre Content
  • Profanity and Rough Language
  • Sexually Suggestive Content
  • In-Video
  • In-Video (User-embedded only)
  • In-Game
  • Error Pages
  • Parked Domains
  • Forums
  • Pages with Significant Image Content
  • Social Networks
  • Pages with Significant Video Content
  • Below the Fold
  • Non-AdPlanner 1000

Topics Exclusion

 Topics can be excluded on both the Ad Group and Campaign Levels. For example, if you offer training for medical  technicians, but not veterinary medical technicians, this would be a good reason to exclude the Pets & Animals topic.

Frequency Capping

 You can control the number of times your Display Network ads appear to a specific person. For example, if a person frequently visits forum sites upon which you advertise, you can limit the number of times your ads appear to this person, since they have likely already acted or are not interested in your product/service. However, it’s possible that the ad itself is ineffective, so you may wish to change the setting to ‘X’ number of impressions per day/week/month per ad versus ad group or campaign to give other ads in your account a chance. Frequency capping allows you to preserve your clickthrough rate by eliminating needless ad impressions and saves money by avoiding clicks that are not likely to result in a desired action on your website.

Negative Keywords

Due to the lack of transparency on the Display Network when it comes to search terms data, and the fact that all keywords are treated as broad match, Tip #1 above will provide a good way to identify and add negative keywords. You can also identify specific URLs, as outlined in Tip #2, that hold a low clickthrough rate and run the URL through the Keyword Tool to identify negative keywords to reduce unwanted impressions.

Tip #5 — Timing Is Everything With Ad Scheduling, Day Parting, And Bid Multipliers

Advances in ad scheduling and the addition of bid multipliers allow advertisers the opportunity to strike at the precise times their potential customers are taking action and back off at the down times. To identify times of the day that your account has received conversions in the past, review your account performance by the hour. If your campaign is under budget and not receiving a full scheduled day of traffic, consider the possibility that you do not perform well later in the day due to budget restrictions instead of user behavior.

Visit the Dimensions tab to run a report by the hour.

Identify the times of day your account received traffic that resulted in a desired action taking place, as well as the cost per conversion. Also take note of times that did not result in desired actions to identify specific reasons for this. Perhaps the position was low during certain hours of the day and a 120% bid increase is necessary for those times.

Once you identify the strong and weak areas, manipulate your scheduling under the Settings tab > Advanced Setting > Schedule, Start Date, End Date, Ad Scheduling section. Adjust scheduling and bids accordingly to capitalize on specific hot times as well as make modifications to reduce or stop impressions during the hours of low or poor ROI conversions.


There are many different ways that AdWords advertisers can get more from their accounts. The five tips covered in this article will get you started thinking about — and acting upon — some aspects you may not have previously considered. The answer isn’t always throwing more money at the problem. Often, it’s quite the opposite, such that the old saying “quality over quantity” is quite appropriate. Dig deep and wield that scalpel to make changes to your AdWords campaigns that will yield great results.

About the Author

Kim Clinkunbroomer is owner of ClinksWebService.com, a Google AdWords Partner Company working with online advertisers since 1999. Kim's expertise covers all things AdWords for small to large advertisers. To learn more about Kim and her services, visit www.clinkswebservice.com or contact her at [email protected]

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