Posted June 7, 2007 2:53 pm by with 6 comments

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Share on FacebookBuffer this page

By Ryan Douglas

I was shocked to read that a small, top online retailer of jewelry had badmouthed the performance of Google’s AdWords program. Google responded by sending a team out to offer services to assist the displeased retailer.

Google AdWords, for many retailers, is a valuable tool that drives millions and millions of dollars in revenue for a whole host of businesses ranging from extremely small one-man-shop’s to behemoth sized organizations looking to advertise on the web. Advertisers are able to control their budgets, measure key performance indicators like ad click through rates, conversion rates and more, using Google Analytics. While it is not easy to advertise all industries on the web and some are more difficult than others there definitely are some very tough industries to advertise for on the web, most retailers are seeing good results. Good results are okay, but great results are even better so it is not unusual for retailers to be constantly vying for top performing ad spots and keywords, while trying to control exponentially growing advertising costs. spends approximately $1 million a year in advertising on Google, the majority of it through AdWords, and over the past holiday season saw less than stellar conversion rates. Maybe online shoppers were not interested in buying engagement rings for holiday gifts this past season, but sought mp3 players and ticklish red children’s dolls (think iPod’s and TMX Elmo’s)? While does offer a variety of other types of jewelry, I believe that their poor conversion rates may not have been solely to blame on AdWords itself.

There are a multitude of factors that go into the success of advertising campaigns on the web, especially through AdWords and similar platforms like MSN’s AdCenter and Yahoo’s Overture. Developing appropriate keywords lists for jewelry would be crucial, think about a user searching “cheap engagement rings” and the perception they will have of retailers with such offers. The word cheap here can mean low quality, or inexpensive in price. No one wants a low quality ring. So unless you are offering high quality rings at exceptionally low prices, consider choosing a different keyword. Organization of keyword campaigns would also be an important key to the success of your efforts. Just like most people sort belongings based on particular attributes; organize similar ad groups of keywords together to setup like goals, specific ad copy and appropriate budgets. One piece of the keyword campaign puzzle that I find many advertisers fail to do well is creating relevant landing pages. If a user was to search “3 stone platinum engagement ring” and click on your sponsored ad, they ought to end up on a page, on the advertiser’s site, with such products.

I also found that will be using Google’s recently released Website Optimizer, a tool that lets website developers and staff test endless permutations of website designs to develop the most successful version with the highest conversion rates. This tool has already been offered to a massive amount of AdWords advertisers, so I don’t see why larger retailers are not using this tool already on their own. It doesn’t’ take a visit by a few Google employees to your office to set it up for you; in as little as a few hours the code can be added to a website and testing can begin.

I think that if you really are dissatisfied with the performance of your search engine keyword campaigns, before you speak lowly of any one, ensure that you are doing everything in your power to optimize performance. 

– If you are entirely too busy to create properly setup AdWords campaigns, or spend a few hours a week reading in the forums, or don’t have time to read a couple books (for free in your local mega-bookstore) then consider outsourcing your keyword campaigns to a qualified third party.

– If you have the time but are too lazy to complete the above, I would still suggest handing over your keyword campaigns to an individual or organization that has the desire to manage them for you.

-Try to use the technology provided to you (Google Website Optimizer and Google Analytics), which in this case is free.

There are plenty of things to blame for low website conversion rates, and I don’t think Google’s successful engineering of online advertising methods is one of them.

About Ryan Douglas

Ryan Douglas manages search engine marketing and comparison shopping engines for

  • Matt

    Ryan, well said! I agree that the problem is with the individual’s lack of knowledge and/or effort. It was too overwhelming for me to run my business and manage my search marketing, so when I finally outsourced that my business took off and my sanity returned.

  • Vanessa

    Nice article Ryan. I take it you won’t be mouthing Google anytime soon.

  • The other options to get Google to optimize your campaigns are: 1-Do a poor job and spend a lot of money; 2-Ask Them (if you spend a lot of money).

    I have had both situations lead to a full account review for different clients. Google wants you to succeed so that you spend more money with them, so they are willing to help you out. Again, this usually only goes for companies who SPEND A LOT OF MONEY 😉

    In the case where we had a poorly converting account, Google’s restructuring of the account actually performed a little worse than what we were doing. Even the big G can’t always predict their users’ actions, so make sure to monitor the results closely if they do come in and optimize your campaign.

  • Google offer this service to anyone who requests it. Regardless if they mouth off or have a certain spend.

    You can request an optimization by the AdWords team here:

    We have a dedicated AdWords rep but have used this in the past for our clients. Not once did we get a better performing campaign as a result of the insiders optimization.

  • @Dave – I don’t think they’d fly out a team of people for anyone that fills out that form though. 😉

  • Ahhh:

    ” But after complained to industry analysts and reporters, Google saw the complaints, contacted Gniwisch and flew a team of analysts to Montreal to help the online jeweler build a better paid search and analytics program.”

    I didn’t read THAT correctly 🙂
    Thanks Andy, you always keep me on my toes.