Why I started, then quit, using Google Adwords (for now, anyway)

I haven’t done an article on things that haven’t worked lately – so it’s probably about time for one!  Plenty of this will still be useful and relevant if you’re thinking of setting up a campaign of your own.

When I had my new Shopify store up and running, I decided it would be a good idea to drive more traffic to it directly, rather than getting all my sales through Amazon.

Shopify advertised a £75 credit for new Google Adwords users (you have to spend £25 in order to qualify), so I thought I’d give it a go.

Keyword research

You need some keywords to target with your ads.  I began with carrying out some keyword research, to figure out which keywords to even target with my ads.

One of the most useful apps is free – Google keywords planner.  You type in any keyword and it shows you the average monthly searches and the competition for relevant related keywords.  It also gives you an idea of what you want to be bidding.

You’re ideally looking for search terms that give you a high average monthly search, but with low to medium competition.

Google keyword planner screenshot
This is using the keyword ‘swaddle’

Setting up campaigns

You then need to set up your campaigns. This is actually pretty straight-forward, as it walks you through each step.

First you go through the settings, choose your keywords, then you create the text for your ads and select the urls you want them to go to.

From then on in, it’s just a case of reviewing regularly and adding and pausing keywords as you would on Amazon Sponsored Products (or any other PPC platform).

There are more targeting options than just keywords.  You can target by country and also narrow down your audience quite a bit.

In fact, it can get very detailed and complicated (which is similar to how I feel about Facebook ads) and I would suggest keeping it simple, unless you really know what you’re doing.

Google Shopping

If you sell products, it’s probably a good idea to get them on Google shopping too.

Before you can do this, you need to have your products in Google Merchant Centre.  (It’s actually spelt Center – but I’m sticking with the UK spelling!) To do this, you either need to upload them manually, or use an app that pulls them in for you.

As far as I know, you can’t pull them in from Amazon, as you have to be linking back to your own site. (i.e. you need to be able to verify that you own the domain.)  You can however do this from Shopify and there’s a link to the app that I use in the list below.

You may need to modify your data a little, once it’s in the app. The main thing is getting it in the right Google product category.  I’ve included a link to these below. You may find, like I did for my towels, that there’s not an exact match. My advice would be to go for the next best thing.

Whichever app you use (or if you do it yourself in a spreadsheet), you can add in things like the product condition, price, etc.

Once you’ve done this, you then need to set up your feed in Google Merchant Centre, so that your products are pulled through.  Whichever solution you use, should walk you how to do this.

You should then be able to see a list of your products in Merchant Centre.

Things to note

  • If there are any errors in your product feed (for example, too-long titles, or missing information) you’ll get a notification and can fix it.  You have to do this at the source – i.e. wherever your information is pulling from – you can’t do it in Merchant Centre directly.
  • You are able to amend your information from what is shown in Shopify (or wherever you list your products.  For example, you can simplify product titles, or add in more keywords.
  • Speaking of keywords, you don’t set them up for Shopping ads.  Google determines whether your ad is shown, based on the information on your product page – so make sure it has all the keywords you want included!

Why I stopped

I listened to a great podcast by Rick Mulready (link below).  He has a guest, who’s a Google Adwords ‘expert’, and says (incase you don’t have time to listen!):

  1. Google Adwords is tricky and a money pit if you don’t do it right.
  2. You could pay someone to do it for you – but this can also be a money pit.
  3. His advice for small businesses was:
  • If you’re doing it yourself, and you don’t know what you’re doing, don’t use any keywords other than your own company name. (As you want to rank for that!)
  • If you sell products, you should use Google shopping.

After listening to that episode I set up Google Shopping and paused all keywords other than my own name.  Maybe I didn’t give it enough of a go, but nothing appeared to change. I spent my ‘free’ £75, plus my own £25 and didn’t see any return on that.

Perhaps I should have been more patient and given it longer.  Perhaps I should have optimised it more. BUT, I still don’t know what I’m doing and I don’t have the time to sit and figure it out, or the money to burn through trial and error.  So, for now, I’ve decided to focus on what is going well (and what I’ve got relatively good at) and wait until the timing’s right to find someone to help me out here. So, if you know any reasonably-priced experts do put me in touch!

Useful links if you want to try Google Adwords yourself (if I haven’t put you off already!):