How To Use Adwords The Right Way With Your Online Store

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I was discussing the merits of using Adwords the other day with a few buddies of mine when I couldn’t help but notice the skeptical looks on their faces.

In fact, both of my friends were quite shocked when I told them how much we were paying Google every month to use their Adwords service.

I must say that I was a bit surprised by their reaction. Even after explaining to them that our return on investment for Adwords was quite high, they still didn’t see the value.

After all, they had both dabbled with Adwords in the past and felt as though it was a complete money pit.

So I dug a little deeper and asked to look at one of their accounts and soon everything became clear. There were several things that they were not doing correctly and they were optimizing for the wrong metrics.

A High CTR Means Nothing

I fell into this trap as well when I first started using Adwords. I desperately wanted customers to visit our online store so I purposely wrote my ads and chose keywords that would get me the most traffic.

I chose my keywords purely based on how many people searched for a particular term rather than considering how many of these people would actually make a purchase.

The result was that I managed to get an extremely high click through rate but not a whole lot of conversions. If you stop to think about it, it’s very easy to fall into this trap especially when Google gives you a $100 check to try their service out for free.

When you don’t know what you’re doing, it’s like handing someone $100 worth of chips at a casino and sending them to a blackjack table. They’ll lose the $100 real quick and soon start wasting their own money as well.

Use Conversion Tracking

Perhaps it is because both of my friends are tech averse, but neither one of them were tracking their conversion rate or their cost per conversion with their Adwords account.

In fact, I had to explain to them that running ad campaigns using Adwords is different from running advertisements on traditional media because you can actually measure everything with near perfect precision.

If you don’t run Adwords with conversion tracking, don’t even bother using the service. Because if you don’t know how much business the ads are getting you, there is no way for you to refine your ad campaigns to make them profitable.

Using Adwords is not like putting an ad in the paper. With Adwords, you can tell exactly how many people came to your site through the ad and what percentage of them made a purchase.

And that is why using Adwords or any cost per click service is superior to running ads on traditional media.

Adding Conversion Tracking Is Easy

Google has made it about as easy as possible to add conversion tracking to your existing website. Every shopping cart has a conversion page or a page that is displayed to a customer once their order is complete.

By adding the following little snippet of code to the end of your checkout page, you can track the conversion and the conversion amount. Just be sure to replace the adwords account information below with your own.

Also, don’t forget to replace the “google_conversion_value” with the actual conversion value of the purchase.

<script language=”JavaScript” type=”text/javascript”>
var google_conversion_id = 1234567890;
var google_conversion_language = “en_US”;
var google_conversion_format = “1”;
var google_conversion_color = “666666”;
if (1) {
var google_conversion_value = 1; //<----Add conversion amount here } var google_conversion_label = "Purchase"; //--> ^</script> <script language="JavaScript" src=""> </script> <noscript> <img height=1 width=1 border=0 src=""> </noscript>

Refine Your Keywords And Ad Copy

By eliminating non-performing keywords, you’ll soon discover that the object of the game is not to get the most clicks but to make the most money.

After wasting a few hundred dollars of my own money, I started choosing keywords and rewriting my ad copy so that only people who were highly likely to make a purchase would be tempted to click on the ad.

Here’s an example. With our online store, we sell linen dinner napkins, but mostly in white. We also don’t carry a huge variety of napkins but our best selling napkins are of the lace and hemstitched variety. Our first version of our adwords ad sounded like this

Linen Dinner Napkins
Linen Napkins For Your Next Event
Save Now On Popular Napkin Styles

As you can tell, the ad is very broad and we initially did this on purpose because we wanted to capture every customer looking for linen napkins. But this was a big mistake. Eventually, we found that the following ad copy converted much better.

White Linen Napkins
Elegant Hemstitched and Lace Napkins
Save Now On Popular Napkin Styles

Arguably, this ad could have been made to sound even more specific but I think you get the point. You want to write your ad copy to draw in customers specifically looking for your product.

Give Adwords A Chance

Instead of blowing through your $100 Adwords credit and declaring that Adwords is a complete and utter money pit, make sure that you are doing things the right way.

As with any skill, using Adwords effectively takes practice and patience. Yes, you will lose money initially but you will gradually get the hang of it.

The important lesson here is to not write things off without giving it a proper chance. Millions of people are using Adwords successfully.

If you aren’t making a positive return on your investment, chances are it’s you. Don’t blame the service.

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18 thoughts on “How To Use Adwords The Right Way With Your Online Store”

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  3. Carla says:

    Thank your for this post! I started using my $100 credit with as much broad keywords as I could find. Many of my keywords never showed up in ads due to how broad I was making them – so I got really confused about that. I lightened up a bit and my keywords were showing up in ads. I was getting clicks, but very little conversion from it.

    Its definitely a learning process and more than what $100 can give! I would have been bummed out if I wasted $100 of my own money with this.

    1. Steve says:

      It took us about 6-700 dollars to get our account on track. Would have cost us less if I knew what I was doing in the beginning.

      Thanks. I’m glad this article was of some help

  4. Andrea Hess|Empowered Soul says:

    Awesome article! I’ll confess to NOT tracking from Google Adwords, and quite frankly I haven’t used the service much. But I’m getting ready to dive in as some of my business is focusing away from services and more towards products!

    Your advice is very timely!!!


  5. Seamus says:

    I totally concur with all of the above. Further the truth is, if you don’t have the time or inclination to knuckle down and concentrate on the minutia that a successful Adwords campaign(s) demands, then you are better off employing an expert Adwords management firm to take care of it for you… BUT … beware! Many so-called Adwords management firms will “manage” your Adwords no better than you could yourself – and very often they will do a worse job – so shop around for a reputable company.

    1. Steve says:

      Allow me to finish your comment for you:) Sometimes you are better off employing an expert Adwords management firm to take care of it for you such as Hey folks, Seamus does this stuff for a living so if you need adwords help, click on his name and checkout his firm.

  6. Carla says:

    @Steve – Thanks for letting me know! Since my sales are not in the thousand dollar range (average sale is $20) I’m afraid of spending too much of my money once my credit is up!

  7. Mark Foo | says:

    Hi Steve,

    I was just thinking of giving Google Adwords a try so this post could not have come at a better time! Thanks so much for the info!

    And I love what you said last, “Millions of people are using Adwords successfully. If you aren’t making a positive return on your investment, chances are it’s you. Don’t blame the service.”

    Too many people are just not taking enough responsibility for their own lack of results and are always looking for excuses and something else to blame on. It doesn’t take a genius to realise that, as long as there’s one person in this world who’s done it successfully, it’s enough to show that it can be done.



    1. Steve says:

      Glad the timing worked out for you!

  8. Carla says:

    I was also going to say the one good thing I like about AdWords is that you can “pause” your campaigns. That feature is really coming in handy now that I am putting more time on other things in my store during this time of the year. If I know I wont be around for a day to check it, I pause it – at least while I’m getting started and learning the process. My first mistake was not tracking multiple times a day during my first two days using it. I guess I didn’t think I was going to get any hits from it right away! I also made the mistake of having too much active campaigns at once. Thankfully, I didn’t lose too much money.

  9. Seamus says:

    Thanks Steve for the generous plug. Just a point: we are based in Australia, but there’s no reason why we can’t help out O/S businesses. Just drop us an email via the form on the site. Happy just to answer questions gratis if that’s all you want 🙂

  10. Xurxo Vidal says:


    Thanks for sharing this story – all too often we come across entrepreneurs that tell us adwords doesn’t work only to find out that they made many of the same mistakes that you pointed out.

    And like Seamus points out, the problems just get worse when they hire an “expert” search marketing agency/consultant to help them out and only end up getting mediocre results. No wonder so many people quickly lose faith in adwords and PPC in general.

    I’d add the Google makes it sound easy to advertise with them and doesn’t let on early enough how to properly setup a campaign and what things to look out for. The fact that they even give you $100 in credits to start you out does you more of a disservice as many will spend the credit more carelessly than their own money as a “test” and then declare adwords is not worth it when they get poor results.

    Two of the most common and deadly mistakes that most people new to adwords make is that they don’t opt out of the content network initially and they use only broad match keywords. In their defense, Google defaults to these settings so unless you’re aware of them, you’ll quickly come to the conclusion that “this adwords thing just doesn’t work”.

    Adwords is a very powerful advertising tool, but you have to take the time to figure out how it works before you can get results with it. Good for you that you were able to do that where so many others are still struggling!

    1. Steve says:

      Hi Everyone,
      Like Seamus, Xurxo is also an expert on Adwords and PPC marketing as well and runs a firm located at If you have questions about Adwords, be sure to hit either one of these guys up with your questions

  11. Petrol Lawnmower says:

    I totally agree with what you are saying but I have tried all those tactics and still get a high bounce range on running ads. Even when I know I have placed a good deal in the advert. I have placed adverts knowing I am the lowest price for a petrol lawnmower and my bounce rate is still over 75%. Am I missing something here or do adverts have a high bounce rate period? How do you reduce this? my organic traffic is lower but my ads are always higher

  12. Victoria says:

    After reading a ton of your posts I’ve started looking into adwords – I’ve tried a few times but honestly the interface isn’t particularly user-friendly (or maybe I’m just dense) and I don’t know exactly what to do, so I feel like I’m floundering.

    I have the conversion tracking set up, though I haven’t actually had any conversions yet. If you ever write a more detailed post about the top 10 things to be sure to do in an adwords campaign, I’d be all over it.

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