AWQL is now GAQL

AWQL is now GAQL. What does that mean? Let’s start with an acronym check:

  • AWQL = AdWords Query Language
  • GAQL = Google Ads Query Language

This is a somewhat overdue rebranding of a proprietary scripting language available inside of Google Ads. Since they renamed AdWords to Google Ads in mid-2018, this has been off brand for quite some time. Regardless of the name, the embedded query language is a JavaScript-based SQL query-like language that allows for the automation of certain tasks within a Google Ads account.

To learn some ways I use this to automate Google Grants accounts check out AWQL Example: Pause One-Word Keywords and Using AdWords Query Language (AWQL) for Google Grants Compliance.

But there is just a little bit more to the upgrade than a simple renaming. The language itself has gotten an overhaul and some of the API calls and functions have been upgraded to be more user friendly and efficient. Each individual script must be migrated to the new platform – and in doing so you may find some code not working. The first thing to try is to copy and paste your code into a brand new object instead of upgrading an existing one. Almost all functionality should be backwards compatible and not require any rewrites, but if you find yourself in that situation, this Query Migration Tool from Google may be needed to update your data call requests.

Acronym Check! Helpful Marketing terms and descriptions

In digital marketing, as with any industry, a certain jargon gets entrenched in every day conversations. You may find yourself nodding along wishing there was a dictionary you could reference not only to know what the many, many acronyms stand for – but what they mean. Well look no further!

  • AWQL – Adwords Query Language – Within Google Ads (previously Adwords) there is a proprietary set of function calls riding on top of traditional SQL (Structured Query Language) that allows you to perform some pretty cool and powerful reporting actions.
  • CPC – Cost Per Click – this describes the amount of money you pay each time your advertisement is clicked on a search engine results page.
  • CSS – Cascading Style Sheet – this is a file format for setting styles on a website. Everything from the page layout to the font, sizes, and colors, can be controlled centrally from the CSS file. Different styles can “cascade” down to members and children of different classes or identifiers.
  • CTA – Call To Action – once someone arrives on your site either from an organic listing or a paid ad, there’s usually something you want them to do. Either purchase an item, make a donation, download a whitepaper. A call to action is typically a big, bold, brightly colored button with command language directing your visitor to perform the desired action.
  • CTR – Click Through Ratio – for search marketing ads, there are a lot of different metrics to consider, but how often that ad generates a click through to your website is one of the main ones to monitor. This ratio is typically reporting on clicks divided by impressions (or how many times your ad was seen).
  • DNS – Domain Name System – when you typed dijonmarketing.com into your websites address bar, it was a DNS server that returned the actual IP address of my website’s server. DNS translates human-friendly names into computer-friendly addresses. DNS can also host text records for things like verifying Google Search Console or Facebook page ownership.
  • PPC – Pay Per Click – This describes one specific advertising payment format, though sometimes industry professionals will refer to the entire practice of search engine paid advertising as PPC ads. Strictly speaking, this is only applicable if you pay per click and not per impression, for example.
  • SEO – Search Engine Optimization – this refers specifically to the best practices employed by website owners and marketers to indirectly influence your sites rank on search engines like Google or Bing. Ranking higher on the search results page means lots more clicks which can lead to more sales or conversions.
  • SERP – Search Engine Results Page – after you’ve entered your search query on Google or Bing, the list of top results is sometimes referred to as a SERP. The SERP can also contain ads, local results, images, videos, etc. Owning more of the SERP helps you get more eyeballs onto your site.
  • TLD – Top Level Domain – some discussion of domains and URL structure will refer to the Top Level Domain. Examples are .com, .org, .net. There are also country code TLDs called ccTLD like .fr (France), .co.uk (United Kingdom).
  • UI/UX – User Interface/User Experience – these are often used together but can also stand alone as separate practices. The User Interface typically describes how your website looks. The User Experience is how a visitor interacts. Creating an attractive and frictionless experience will greatly increase your conversion rates.

Google Ads Keyword Match Types Explained

Inside a Google Ads campaign, not all keywords are treated the same. There are multiple different match types to choose from. These choices have changed in recent years, so it may be time for a refresher. Understanding the pros and cons of each can help you get the most out of your ad campaign, while keeping things organized, simplified, and easy to maintain.

Broad Match

Broad match is the most lenient match type available. Basically anything even remotely close or related to your keywords is considered a match and include you in the ad auction. No special syntax or markup is required to use broad match keywords. Just type them in a list and you’re done.

The thing to be careful of is matching too broadly and running up a big tab or running out of budget dollars too early. It is best to have longer phrases in broad match to get the best intent matching. Something like hats alone might be too broad as it would match not just on hats, but caps, headgear, fascinators, etc.

The best thing about broad match is that you can do more with fewer keywords. Instead of a list of hundreds of keywords each with their own metrics and performance, you can consolidate it all into a single keyword. It’s easy to evaluate, pause, or edit. You do sacrifice a little bit of granularity but that’s often an acceptable trade-off. Typically broad match pairs with some negative keywords to narrow the focus enough to not be wasteful.

Phrase Match

Phrase match is pretty self explanatory. Any phrase surrounded by quotation marks is considered a single term. Rather than matching on each word independently, it will require the full intent of the phrase to match. Something like “women’s hats” may match “women’s fashion”, but not “men’s fedoras.”

These reduce the number of matches, but each match better aligns to your target audience’s intent. You can test using the same phrase with or without quotes to give you broad match and phrase match variants and see which one performs best. Even though the phrase element is more restrictive, it still does not require an exact match. But there is a syntax for that.

Exact Match

Exact match uses square brackets in the keyword syntax. [Dallas Golf Fundraiser] is an example. That requires the searcher included that exact phrase in their keywords keywords before it triggered the ad. This is a very restrictive form of ad and I typically only use it for brand terms, like [Dijon Marketing]. Typically when someone is using your brand they will type it exactly, and close matches may not be relevant. These typically appear sparingly in your account as they will have way fewer matches and may not ever match at all.

Negative Keywords

Last, you can create lists of negative keywords. If a user’s search contains these words, your ad will NOT show. If you are advertising for a construction company that sells triple-pane windows, you may need to add a negative keyword for Microsoft so you don’t waste your budget on users looking for office software. The best way to find terms you need to negate is to monitor your Searched Terms report. If you see any irrelevant or harmful searches in there, you can pop over to your negative keywords list and make sure that search never triggers your ad again.

The best mix of keywords includes a mix of match types. And every situation is different, but if you’ve only ever explored broad match, try out a few of the other match types and see if your ads perform better than before.

Google for Nonprofits 2020 year end message

It is a great privilege to be able to assist multiple nonprofits in how to navigate Google for Nonprofits. I help with everything from how to judge eligibility, enrollment, enabling products, and staying compliant with the many rules and regulations required once approved. It can be daunting for the uninitiated, but with a little help, the rewards are great.

Did you know that Google for Nonprofits is a full grant program that spans many of Google’s Business solutions? The entire GSuite line of products, which includes Gmail, Calendars, User admin, Google Meet, and more is a great way to establish a cloud-based email system. Google Ads also let you advertise for free on Google search results pages for certain key terms. There are also programs for YouTube and Google Maps.

These tools help nonprofits be more efficient and effective at solving problems at the local community level. I will add my gratitude to the video below from Google. Dijon Marketing connects good people to people doing good. But I couldn’t do that nearly as effectively without the generous tools provided by Google.

Your PPC bid is not what you pay

A common misconception of new pay-per-click (or PPC) advertisers is that high bids instantly zap the budget. Running out of budget early causes ads to go dark. But remember – what you bid is not what you pay.

Think about PPC advertising like any other auction. Whether it is a painting or a Pontiac, you enter into an auction knowing which items you want to bid on and how much you are willing to pay. In PPC, keywords are the items bid on. The highest you are willing to pay is known as the max bid. Just because you are willing to pay that much doesn’t mean you will. When the bidding starts, anyone vying for their ad to show go back and forth until the winner emerges. The high bid is $0.01 higher than the previous bid. This all happens in nanoseconds every time the Google search results page loads.

One other difference between PPC and real-life auctions is quality scores. If the content, ad copy, keywords, and landing page relate to a single topic, a higher quality score applies. That score multiplies your bid. With a high quality score, the winner outbids the competition without ever approaching the max bid.

The only way accurate, real-life data on competition and expense emerges is by running campaigns in a learning mode. Evaluate the costs-per-click experienced, percentage of impressions won, and decide whether the budget suffices. If not, the information is still valuable, because it informs your next step looking for new, lower cost/lower competition keywords to bid on.

AWQL Example: Pause One-Word Keywords

Automated scripts are the best and easiest way to comply with Google Ad Grants compliance requirements. Use this AWQL example to keep yourself from receiving unexpected non-compliance reports in your inbox. Especially if you aren’t the only one adding terms to campaigns, or have many different campaigns to monitor.

In Using AdWords Query Language (AWQL) for Google Grants Compliance, we detailed an AWQL script. That script finds any terms whose Quality Score falls below the required 3/10. Now we’ll look at another requirement of the Grants program – no one-word keywords. One-word keywords are too generic. Broad match (or broad match modified) amplifies this. Therefore, you are required to have at least two words in every term.

The AWQL example script below generates a list of non-compliant keywords. You can then pause the single-word keyword. By not automatically pausing them, you get an opportunity to brainstorm modifiers. Then replace the offending term.

function main(){
 	var singleWordKeywords = AdWordsApp.keywords()
	.withCondition("Text DOES_NOT_CONTAIN ' '")
	.withCondition("Status = ENABLED")
	.withCondition("CampaignStatus = ENABLED")
	.withCondition("AdGroupStatus = ENABLED")

	while (singleWordKeywords.hasNext()){
		var kw = singleWordKeywords.next();
		Logger.log(kw.getCampaign().getName() + " - " + kw.getAdGroup().getName() + ": \"" + kw.getText() + "\" " + kw.getQualityScore() + "/10");

This finds any keyword that does not contain a space, which signifies that it is just one word. It then ensures the keyword, ad group, and campaign are all enabled before adding it to the list. The console log will output a formatted list of keywords that need your attention.

To use this AWQL example:

  1. Navigate in the header to Tools and Settings > Bulk Actions > Scripts
  2. Hit the blue circle with a + sign in it to add a new script
  3. Authorize the script to run on your account
  4. Give it a name and paste the code above into the body. Save it.
  5. In the Frequency column, choose how often you’d like to run the script. Anywhere between once per day or once per week is sufficient.

If you’re running into any trouble getting the script to work contact us. A little bit of automation goes a long way.

Negative keywords list

Negative keywords in Google Ad Grants

Negative keywords are an important optimization to perform on any Google Ads program. They help you avoid unwanted and sometimes costly traffic that can strain your budgets and not bring anything in return. But what about in a Google Grants account, when there is no direct cost? Is it still worth the time and effort to add negative keywords?

There are a few reasons your time and effort are well spent creating both account-wide and campaign-specific negative keyword lists, based on your searched queries reports.

Benefits of Negative Keywords

  1. Avoid truly unwanted traffic. It’s important to monitor searched queries for any “bad apples.” You never know what someone may search in conjunction with one of your broad match keywords. Keep an “Adult Topics” negative keyword list across the entire account to filter out unscrupulous searchers from arriving on your website.
  2. Preserve your click-through-rate (CTR). Google Ad Grants require you to maintain at least a 5% CTR on all ads. If your ads are serving for unrelated or off-topic searches, your CTR can suffer. Then you run the risk of falling out of compliance.
  3. Control your messaging. Negative keywords can help you zero in on which ads serve for which keyword groups. Occasionally, your keyword sets can overlap and you’ll lose control over exactly which ad shows for a broad keyword. Negative keywords can restore the mutual exclusivity of your ad groups.
  4. Stay off of competitors branded keywords. Depending on your services or name, you may find other nonprofits nearby with similar names showing up in branded searches. It’s not necessarily a bad thing to show your ad when people are looking for closely related organizations. But, you can avoid missing out on some clicks by purposefully negating branded terms that are not your own.
  5. Avoid running out of budget early. Your daily budget of $329 should go pretty far. Unless you have a large geographical footprint, or a lot of highly sought after programs, budgets typically aren’t a limiting factor. However, if yours are, that’s a great problem to have! You can use negative keywords to make sure you aren’t wasting your grant dollars on terms that don’t produce a high conversion rate.

Negative keywords are an important part of any ad program. This is true whether your advertising dollars come from a grant or your own pocket. If you need to optimizing an existing account, or start from scratch, contact us today!

Geotarget Google Ads

Geotargeting Google Grant Ads

One key aspect of compliance with the Google Ads Grant is to properly geotarget your ads. According to Google’s Account management policy, your Ads account must contain “Specific geo-targeting to show ads in locations where users will find your nonprofit’s information and services useful.”

For the majority of non-profits, that will mean that people physically close to you will find your message most appealing. If you serve Thanksgiving dinner to homeless in your area, someone from another state or country is less likely to volunteer. They would (probably) like to find a charity closer to their hometown and support their initiatives.

It is rarely relevant to show ads to the entire globe. In fact, doing so presents two risks. First, Google flags your ads on the compliance report. Rectify the situation within the month or risk losing your grant. Secondly, because you are less relevant to searchers abroad, your click-through-rate (CTR) could suffer. Drop below 5% CTR on your ads, and you again, run the risk of being non-compliant with the grant.

Steps to add geotargeting

  1. Open your Campaign
  2. Choose Locations from the left-hand navigation
  3. Here you can choose between either:
    1. Location. For example, “Dallas-Fort Worth.” This will highlight the included regions and you can evaluate the potential total reach for that location.
    2. Radius. You can choose a radius of any size around a particular location, say, 50 miles around downtown Dallas.
  4. Any combination or these can be inclusions or exclusions.

In this example, the DFW area as defined by Nielsen DMA regions has been combined with an area of a 60 mile radius around Dallas. While most of the two areas are redundant, the inclusion of the radius adds a small area up near Sherman to include the best coverage for this example.

Google Ad Geotargeting Example
Conversion funnels

Knowing your Conversion Funnel

Knowing your AdWords marketing conversion funnel can help you forecast new volunteers or donations for your charitable organization. It can also help you identify if there are any issues along the funnel that you can focus on and fix. Doing so is a fairly simple equation, but first you need to know each step in your conversion funnel.

Conversion Funnel Stage Definitions

  1. Impressions – the number of times your ad showed to a user searching on Google
  2. Clicks – the number of times your ad the user clicked to arrive on your website (not exactly the same as a visit, but close enough for big picture)
  3. Engagements – the number of times a user completed a goal on the website. This depends on what you are tracking in your Google Analytics, but could be anything from visiting the donation page to clicking through to learn more.
  4. Conversions – the end goal. In this and many cases, that represents a successfully completed donation through the website.
Conversion Funnel

Here is an example of a real conversion funnel from a client last month. Obviously, your ads will not get clicked every time they are shown. Google AdWords will report this for your account, or for specific campaigns and ads – even down to the keyword level. Compliance regulations dictate that you must maintain at least a 5% click-through ratio (CTR) for participation in the Google Grants program. Likewise, every time as user clicks your ad, they won’t necessarily engage with the website. You can also monitor Bounce Rate in your Google Analytics to see what percentage of users leave the site immediately after the page loads. Finally, not every visitor who engages with your site will ultimately leave a donation. You can pull the numbers for each step from Adwords and/or Google Analytics and calculate the percentage of users that proceed through each level of the funnel.

How to use funnel data

You can use this information to estimate how many donations you are likely to receive based on the top of the funnel. With these conversion numbers, you would not mathematically expect a single donation until at least 3556 impressions had been earned. Even with 100,000 impressions, the number of donations would only calculate out to 14.

You can also monitor the conversion rates between each rung of the funnel.

  • Unusually low percentage of clicks – investigate your ad copy, keyword sets, and targeting options.
  • Very low level of engagement – redesign landing pages and evaluate body copy.
  • Low conversion rate – test your user experience to be sure there is no friction discouraging donations.

If everything looks healthy, you can put all of your efforts into growing your total number of impressions. The more you put into the top of the funnel, the more you can expect to get out! Need some your conversion funnel analyzed and optimized? Call us today!

Adwords Query Language AWQL for Google Grants

Using AdWords Query Language (AWQL) for Google Grants Compliance

The AdWords Query Language (AWQL) is an invaluable tool for managing an AdWords account at scale. Once your charity’s Google Grants program has matured it will include many different campaigns, ad groups, and ads. Keeping track of your compliance with the Grant terms can be a manual nightmare. Luckily, there are some very easy scripts you can use to monitor and correct any non-compliant keywords or ad groups.

One of the newest rules forbids ads on keywords with a quality score of 1 or 2. This means that your keyword, ad copy, and destination content don’t align well. A keyword quality score only appears after your ad has run a sufficient number of times. The click-through rate will also influenced the final score. The more people who find your ad relevant, the higher your quality score will be. Consequently, your bids don’t need to be as high either.

Find all keywords with a quality score below 3 using one get() request with a few defined parameters:

function main(){ 
  var lowQualityKeywords = AdWordsApp.keywords() 
  .withCondition("QualityScore < 3") 
  .withCondition("Status = ENABLED") 
  .withCondition("AdGroupStatus = ENABLED") 
  .withCondition("CampaignStatus = ENABLED")

  while (lowQualityKeywords.hasNext()){ 
    var kw = lowQualityKeywords.next();
    Logger.log(kw.getCampaign().getName() + 
    " - " + kw.getAdGroup().getName() + 
    ": \"" + kw.getText() + "\" " + 
    kw.getQualityScore() + "/10"); 

This script parses enabled Campaigns, Ad Groups, and Keywords (ignoring paused) and list any with a quality score below 3. It then outputs to the logger window a list in this format:

Campaign Name – Ad Group: “Keyword” 1/10

You have two options once you have a full list of all low-quality keywords. You can pause each one to regain compliance. Or, you can investigate each ad and landing page to attempt to improve the score to 3 or above.

Need help implementing some time saving scripts in your AdWords account? Contact us today!