3 Ways you Should Detox your Adwords Keywords for 20144 min read

2014January is a great time to take stock your Adwords Keyword activity. As we all know Adwords isn’t something you can just set up and leave alone – it needs constant optimisation. For most that optimisation is just the monthly or weekly checks you run on the good, the bad, and creating new keywords and ads, but it’s also really important to perform a detox every 6 or 12 months, and January is a great time to do that.

There are 3 key areas for your Adwords detox all are about taking a high level view of your account, reviewing all that’s been set up and then streamlining it again to make it easier to manage and thus improve results in the coming months.

Detox 1 = Check your Keyword Structure

Part of our regular optimisation involves adding extra keywords, and new adgroups. That often leads to the clear keyword groupings that were set up on day 1 creeping, blurring the lines between adgroups and leading to inefficient optimisation.

For example, if you are a Bed and Breakfast in Bicester you might have set up adgroups for:

  • B&B Bicester
  • Bed and Breakfast Bicester
  • Accommodation Bicester
  • Hotel Bicester
  • En Suite Bicester

With only the relevant keywords in each. But, during the normal optimisation process some “B&B” keywords have snuck into “Bed and Breakfast Bicester”; and lots of “Oxfordshire” keywords have appeared too.

You’ll only really notice this if you take the time to review it. It’s a simple process of looking through the keywords in each of your adgroups and deciding whether or not they are in the right place. Then moving them to where they should be or setting up new activity.

In the example above we’d move all the “B&B” terms back into the “B&B Bicester” Adgroup, and set up a new set of adgroups for the “… Oxfordshire” keywords.

Detox 2 = Adtext and Links Review

Just like your keywords can get a bit muddled so can your Adtext and the pages they link too.

It’s very easy to forget to turn off an adtext about a specific promotion, to forget about an adtext test you were running, or not to realise one of the pages you linked to has died!

That’s why an Adtext and Links review is a really important part of a Adwords New Year Detox.

Run a report on all your adtexts, download it to Excel and go through every line checking you are happy with the ads, and that they are linking to the right place.

Whilst doing this also take a look at the performance over the last 6 months or 12 months – what’s worked well? Which ads should you be using in more places? Where have you ended up with just generic ads instead of ones specific to the keywords in that adgroup?

It’s a simple process – but an essential one!

Detox 3 = Negatives

It never fails to amaze me how many businesses don’t use this piece of functionality. It’s critical to making the most of your Adwords budget.

You’ll find the list of Negatives at the bottom of the Keywords tab, and you can set them up at either Adgroup or Campaign level. A negative keyword will stop your ads showing for searches containing that keyword. So for our B&B campaign above we’d want to add the negative “hotel” as we don’t want to put the ads in front of people searching for hotels.

There are many effective negatives you can add off the top of your head. Common negatives in eCommerce are “free”, “downloadable”, “Cheap”, “second hand” – we didn’t need to do much analysis to come up with those!

Make sure your obvious negatives are set up. Then take a look at what searches your ads have been appearing for and add more negatives based on that analysis. You’ll find the Search terms report in the “Dimensions” tab. When you look at it for the first time you’ll notice lots of searches that have cost you money that you would never have wanted to appear for – getting the negatives set up right will stop this happening.


Once you’ve worked through these 3 detox steps you’ll be all set up ready to optimise effectively in 2014.

Becky Hopkin

As MD Becky works to ensure Digital Gearbox’s values are being lived, and that our customers are receiving the best service possible. A self-confessed Disney fanatic, Becky loves spending down time with her golden Labrador, Nala, and her young daughter, Emily.

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