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AdWords Strategies For eCommerce Websites

Here is my list of the top five things eCommerce advertisers should be aware of when using AdWords. When executed properly, these strategies will produce significant differences in the performance of your AdWords campaigns.


In the campaign settings, you should be aware of a little box that says “Include search partners” (next to the Networks setting). If this box is checked in your campaign, go to the “Campaigns” tab, click the “Segment” dropdown button, and select “Network (with search partners).” This will split up the data for the Google Search network vs. the Search Partners network. The Search Partners network will likely have a lower CTR, a lower conversion rate, and a lower CPC. Depending on how the math works out with the conversion rate and the CPC, you may end up with a CPA that is much higher or lower than average. If the CPA (cost per conversion) is too high to be profitable, go to your campaign settings and remove the Search Partners network.


When targeting locations, it’s best to set up a separate campaign for every country you want to target. Within each campaign, select smaller regions within the main location target (so a campaign targeting the USA should, at a minimum, include each individual state as a location target). Location targeting for eCommerce should always be set to “People in my targeted location” to eliminate traffic from anywhere you don’t ship to.


Don’t use ANY of Google’s automated bidding features. Most of Google’s automated bidding features are the default settings, and include:

Bid strategy. This should be “I’ll manually set my bids for clicks” (don’t let AdWords set your bids, don’t use Enhanced CPC, and don’t use Conversion Optimizer.

Delivery method. This should be Accelerated. Standard delivery mostly just allows Google to fill its inventory as needed throughout the day. If you are hitting your budget every day with Accelerated delivery, then either increase your budget or decrease your bids.

Ad delivery. To properly split-test your ads, select “Rotate indefinitely.” With any other option and Google will essentially split test your ads for you, but they usually start giving preference to a certain ad before there is enough data to justify it.


Add negative keywords relentlessly. Review your search term history report at least once per week and look for search terms that have a low CTR compared to your other keywords (this is the easiest way to spot negative keywords that should be added). Read through every search term to determine which ones don’t below. Negative keywords can be added as broad match, phrase match, or exact match. If you’re targeting the keyword ‘red shoes’, Google may decide that shoes is a broad match and start to show your ads. To avoid this, you need to add [shoes] as a negative keyword.


Create separate campaigns for mobile and desktop. Google doesn’t make this very easy, but your conversion rates on each device will likely be very different. Simply adjusting the device bids in your campaign isn’t good enough, as this will throw off everything else you’re doing to optimize the campaign. Create a Desktop campaign with a -100% mobile bid adjustment. Create a Mobile campaign with a +300% mobile bid adjustment, and decrease the bids in this campaign accordingly. You can’t eliminate desktop from the mobile campaign (which is why I said Google doesn’t make this easy), but setting it up this way will make sure most of the traffic goes through the appropriate campaign.


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Only one language should be targeted per campaign.
Combined Search/Display campaigns should never be used.
Ads should constantly be split tested (two at a time) with CPA as the deciding factor.