Editorial note: This guest post is a finalist in our Hero Conf scholarship event. Raymond Smit is Co-Owner of Nico’s Kitchens in South Africa.

Many Adwords users are trapped inside a matrix they don’t yet know exists. They choose keywords, write their ads and pay Google. That’s the blue pill. Playing inside the Adwords interface and being unaware or blind to what is really going on.

Now it’s time to plug in to the game before the click and gain 3D like insight. Let us start simple:

The battle is won before it is engaged – Sun Tzu

Adwords is no exception. The profit you make starts long before you turn on Google Pay Per Click. Stated simply you probably want as many customers for as little cost as possible. We’ll get to that. But first think of Adwords as ‘the matrix’. The matrix you can see starts with a simple search. The searcher is either a:

  1. Browser
  2. Shopper or
  3. Buyer

Different types of searchers and industries means vastly different strategies. For new accounts, limited budgets or clients who need immediate results, I recommend you target the buyers.

Which keywords are buyers you say?

It is people who search for your products or services and cannot easily get it cheaper in retail. They buying keyword can be a hyper specific product search query. Or it can be a query where the search is really urgent and the customer needs a solution NOW.

[The motivation of the searcher is the key factor to a good conversion rate.]

Buying keywords are not informational queries – “How to, how can I, what to do if” etc. It’s not ROBO queries (research online, buy offline). It’s not shopping related queries (what’s the price of XYZ). In my experience, it is people searching for you & your business. For example:

  • Lawyer in Indiana
  • Kitchen Cupboards
  • Emergency plumber

Warning: Please do your own testing to see which types of keywords convert best for you. A buying keyword in my mind is any keyword which converts for profit.

And start with the obvious. Highest yield keywords first (profit minus cost). Much more importantly – good strategy first, tactics second (worrying about quality score, A/B testing etc is tactics, not strategy).

Start with the core search queries – what your business is.


Write an ad that blows the competition out of the water. There are many tricks of the trade (from using ampersands, numbers, specificity, exclamation points, capitalization and others) to boost clickthrough rate. However one of the most important factors in determining your CTR (in my personal opinion) is how the appeal of your ad is displayed in relation to your competition.

No point in having a good ad by your standards when competitors are saying the same thing. This dilutes the appeal of your PPC ad, because … everyone uses it – thereby distracting the attention of the consumer.

Burn this into your mind:

PPC does not have to be played inside the confines of the Adwords interface.

Fool! PPC falls under the umbrella of direct marketing and bows to its rules. Strong offers, guarantees, good web design, message to market match, value propositions and every other direct response marketing strategies works.

Speaking of which – if you are you using the ‘cheap appeal’ … STOP! Walmart, Amazon, any other retailer and now blue collar and white collar industries pound the ‘we have it cheaper’ marketing promise. That horn is tattered and the consumer like a smart virus has grown immune to it.

If you are struggling to find dozens of ways write ads try using the house of horrors technique.

Imagine everything that could go wrong with the service the consumer is looking for.

Screen Shot 2013-03-17 at 1.40.16 PM

Say a consumer is searching for a granite supplier. The granite could be chipped, cracked, dropped, not polished and so on. You could write an ad saying: No more unpolished granite. Or crack & chip free granite. I think you get the point. Oh and if you don’t know what the house of horrors is for the end consumer, go to any online complaint board (such as Hellopeter) and search for that particular company complaints. Voila!

You now have an endless array of ways to write your ads. Which flows to this:

The very fact that you are doing PPC (inhouse or otherwise) means that you have some of the best marketing intelligence in the business. You know by conversion rate and quick split testing which unique value proposition gets more attention and better actual response from customers.

[As a side note – just bear in mind that there is no correlation between conversion rate and CTR.]

You now can make a solid case for what messaging must be used in other media or direct response vehicles.

See now you are starting to actually play the game outside of the things that is given to you. And that’s the path to red pill. Take it, it’s yours!