In 2004, while working at Yahoo, I started looking at the powerful options for paid search advertising. While it was just “play/research” at the time, I came to recognize the extraordinary solution Overture (originally had for targeting the visitor/searcher: “present a compelling, relevant advert at the time potential customers are looking for you.”

While Goto/Overture was the innovator, it was actually Google Adwords that took this basic premise to the next level, in a big way: Offer similar functionality, but enhance the logic such that the ads with most relevant text and overall workflow (content and page quality, user experience) get awarded better or same placement on the page, at a lesser cost per click (CPC).

I started diving into Adwords in earnest in January 2005 after an introduction by Perry Marshall, and I got hooked. That same year and into 2006, I started accruing some “age” to the Google Adwords accounts, my own and existing client accounts with some “history.”

After spending much time researching and testing ads, keywords and landing pages, and working on bid management strategies, I found myself wondering whether old Google Adwords could be resurrected, or if they should be canned altogether.

Then, after speaking with several friends, including and my older brother, it became apparent that, after a certain threshold, an Adwords account with poor history (not optimized from the outset) could never become successful. I define successful as the ability to positively impact the algorithm to make it work for you, not against you.

Chief Takeaway:
If you are spending time trying to improve quality and nothing works, drop the entire Adwords account and start fresh.

Here are some tips for optimization after drop and re-creation:

  1. Turn off Content Network (at least initially, until testing proves otherwise).
  2. Match keywords tightly to adgroups. No more than 10 keywords per adgroup.
  3. Ignore broad match type, use phrase and exact keyword matching, and review your negative matching types.
  4. Include keywords in ad text: title of ad + body text of ad.
  5. Create custom, keyword-rich landing pages; don’t use home page. Think traditional SEO onpage factors when developing.
  6. Apply Google Analytics (free) across all pages, and specific conversion code on your “thank you” pages.
  7. Split test (A/B) ads, always.
  8. Split test (A/B) landing pages, using Google Web Optimizer (Adwords account is all you need) and apply simple scripts.
  9. Advanced: Use sectional, multi-variate testing for inline elements on pages. (Don’t start with this unless experienced).
  10. Use “placement targeting” for laser-sharp page/site positioning, and lower click acquisition costs on pages where customers live. Use the Adsense Finder to easily discover them, and save hours of work trying to do this manually.


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Entrepreneur Magazine says Jon Rognerud is one of the most sought-after Digital Marketing Experts. His clients extend from high-end brands and middle-tier businesses in both B2B and B2C. His SEO website optimization book, "The Ultimate Guide to Optimizing Your Website" from Entrepreneur Press is in bookstores now.