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  • Will AdWords work? Knowing if AdWords is a good fit can make or break a business. A great Google AdWords campaign will generate a steady stream of sales for many years. But there are thousands of people who’ve wasted money and time on AdWords without ever making a single sale.
  • Improving conversion rates by changing enquiry forms. Conversion rates increased from about 1% to greater than 30% in some cases. Summarises > 1 000 hours investment in conversion form optimisation.
  • PPC landing page best practice. A handful of simple rules hard-learned in a decade of living off the web.


I've been writing since 2009 but much of my earlier writing on technical subjects including Google AdWords is now obsolete. I'm working through the archive to pull out and polish up my best work.

Improve conversion rates with these changes to your enquiry forms.

I've spent more than 1000 hours over the last 10 years improving the contact forms on our lead generation sites. Here are some of the things we've done that have improved conversion rates from about 1% to greater than 30% in some cases.

CAPTCHA is like putting barbed wire in front of your shop

Don't make it difficult for your customers to contact you. Businesses with the smoothest processes will attract (and keep) the best customers.

How to write a good Google advert: Don't dilute your message.

Adverts with with a tight specific message get clicked more often. Give the searcher what she wants. More signal, less noise. More needle less haystack.

What makes a good keyword?

The better your keyword choice the better your AdWords campaign. So what makes a good keyword?

Avoid early split testing

Conventional wisdom says that you should split test your adverts. Good idea in theory but there are some catches and, the biggest problem is that focussing on the AdWords nitty-gritty can distract you from more important things you can do ti move the needle on sales.

Selling to strangers is different

Ask 100 small business owners how they find customers and 99 of us will say "word-of-mouth". What we won't tell you is that our word-of-mouth marketing is not well tuned engine that spits out a steady stream of great prospects. They arrive by luck or magic.

Free AdWords Clinic.

When is the best time to show PPC ads?

Your market’s buying patterns can be used to guide the best time to show your ads.

Google AdWords Clinic 26 June 2017

Google AdWords clinic. Showing your ads to the wrong people. Flying blind. Audience questions.

Google Adwords: Not DIY anymore?

The words "DIY" and "cheap" are like crack cocaine to us small business owners. Google figured this out long ago and sold the Adwords program as a self-service solution. I think that's overly optimistic.

Google AdWords: Automated vs manual bidding.

The question: "How much of a performance gain can I expect with good manual tuning?" I decided not to answer the exact question and suggest an alternative to manual tuning.

Preventing bot spam without using CAPTCHA.

CAPTCHA kills conversions. Here's how we prevent form spam without annoying potential customers.

Google AdWords for industries with long sales cycles

A client installs billboard size video screens. Here's how we used AdWords to get him in front of the decision makers early enough.

Did you use the Yellow Pages this week?

Norman didn't either. He told me that his regular Yellow Pages sales rep was almost in tears after their last meeting. Norman cancelled his R300 000/year Yellow Pages advertising contract.

Using the Search Terms Report to find negative keywords.

The Search Terms Report is a great place to find negative keywords to add to your AdWords campaign. It shows (some of) the actual words and phrases that triggered your ads.

How to improve landing page experience.

Improving page speed helps improve landing page experience. Google's guidance is broad, not specific. That makes it hard to know what to do. Google does provide one specific set of instructions, following these will improve landing page experience and boost conversion rates.

Monitor just 4 AdWords metrics for a dynamite Adwords campaign.

Google gives loads of stats, they don't tell you what they really mean to you. There are four numbers in your Adwords account which will tell you if you've set your campaign up correctly and if it's running well enough. If you don't have time to monitor every other performance metric watch these like a hawk.

Things you should never advertise on Google.

Making money advertising identical branded goods on Google is really hard.

How much is a Facebook like worth?

I've just run a quick calculation and can confidently say that a Facebook like is worth $0.007. Let me explain

Do I really need 7 websites?

Two groups of people visit your website: people who know what you sell and strangers who don't know you but want what you sell. One website can't serve both groups effectively.

Has Google jumped the gun on mobile?

How much commercial activity happens on mobile phones? Is it enough to justify a mobile-first approach to development? Case study with mobile vs desktop AdWords generated leads across 7 industries.

Should you advertise on Search Partners?

We check the campaigns we manage regularly to see how much it costs to generate an enquiry on Google search versus search partners. Most of the time it costs more or less the same. Sometimes the difference is huge.

Rules for Writing Google AdWords Expanded Text Adverts

Here are the rules we use for writing Google AdWords expanded text ads at MarketingMotor. Feel free to copy them.

Digital immune systems

“How can you go for a walk at a time like this?” My face what white with shock. I’d discovered that criminals had attacked the servers that power my business.

Can you market a home services company using PPC?

Can you market a home services company using PPC? Is AdWords suitable for small local service companies?

PPC landing page best practice.

You'd hoped AdWords would send you an inbox full of opportunities. Instead your conversion rates are < 1% and the kids are getting thinner. Want to feel like an AdWords genius? Without rebuilding your campaigns from scratch? I've seen landing page conversion rates double, triple, even 10x by applying these landing page design rules.

Does PPC work for accountants?

The short answer is “Yes, but only sometimes”. Google suggests that AdWords will work for any business but this is not true in real life.

Will AdWords work?

"Will AdWords work for my business?" That’s a question we hear often. And it makes sense to ask it. Knowing if AdWords is the right advertising channel can make or break a business. A great Google AdWords campaign can generate a steady stream of sales for many years. But, at the same time, there are thousands of people who’ve wasted loads of money and time on Google without ever making a single sale.

Do I need a separate AdWords account to run ads for another business?

When we first started we used one account for all our clients. It worked well enough in the beginning but it's not best practice anymore.

Google AdWords: Can I use capital letters in the Display URL?

AdWords question: Can I use capital letters in the Display URL? Is it ok to write it like ? Will Google allow this? Here is the answer with links to the relevant Google AdWords policies.

My Google AdWords adverts are not showing.

Google AdWords not showing your ads? Here's how to find the reason why.

How to Increase AdWords Impressions.

There are two ways to get more AdWords impressions. Increase the reach of your adverts and give Google more incentive to show your adverts. Here's how to do both.

5 ways to increase AdWords impressions.

Need more AdWords impressions? Here are 5 things you can do to get your ads seen by more people.

Where can I find a programmer to help implement the Google AdWords API?

Good news is that you don’t a programmer who is an expert at the AdWords API because the programming constructs that the API uses are well known. For instance, the API uses OAuth for authentication which is very common.

Is AdWords scaleable?

There are a finite number of people who want what you sell, can afford what you sell and are in an area you can reach. Some portion of those people will use Google. That number is the upper limit of AdWords scaleability.

Should you show ads to people on their phones?

It is a fact that more people use the internet on their phones than they do on computers these days. But are these glued-to-their-phone types going to buy from you?

Do I need to put quotes around single negative keywords in AdWords?

Do I need to put quotes around single negative keywords in AdWords?

Is AdWords worth it?

"Is Google AdWords really worth it? I have found that through tracking my CPC, I am not having that much success." was asked on Quora. My answer saved below.

Which are the specifically right targets for a small paper pallet company?

This question was asked on Quora. Saving my answer here.

The cost of zero.

Every small business owner needs to understand the cost of zero before they next invest in marketing. It does not matter what medium it is: Google AdWords, Facebook, LinkedIn, magazines, radio, or anything else. The reason these campaigns fail so often is never as obvious as you might think.

Improve conversion rates by adding extra calls to action.

I love working on ways to increase the number of people who fill in the enquiry form on one of the MarketingMotor lead generation websites. Jakub Linowski inspired this change.

How long does AdWords take to work?

You’ve chosen good keywords, written decent ad copy, set up a landing page that should convert. You’re getting impressions and the CTR looks ok but you’ve still not had any conversions. Is this normal or should you worry?

Is your AdWords running at 100%?

Are you worried that it might be underperforming? Perhaps you've neglected your AdWords account. Maybe it used to do better but now it’s costing more and delivering less. Maybe you’re behind on some updates or not confident that everything is as it should be.

Google showed your ads to the wrong people today.

Google showed your some of your adverts to the wrong people today. You (or someone you hire) must deal with this or your ads are going to start costing more and generating fewer leads. Here's how.

How to get fast traction on a brand new AdWords campaign.

I worked out a process for getting fast results from new AdWords campaigns so I didn't have to worry as much. You're welcome to copy (and improve) my process.

Improve website conversion rates with autocomplete.

Here's a small tweak to the contact form on your website that'll make it easier for people to complete it. Adding autocomplete to your form fields is one of those 1% kaizen improvements. They all add up.

© Peter Bowen 2017 | Isle of Wight