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Compare your AdWords account to others–for free

Have you ever asked yourself whether your paid search program is all that it can be? Most of us suspect that we fall short in some areas, but who has the time to stay on top of every aspect of a Google AdWords account, on top of everything else we do all day? Or perhaps you want to check out what kind of job your agency is doing with all your paid search money. Well, WordStream has put together a scoring tool called AdWords Grader that tries to do exactly that–show you how your paid search campaign compares against everyone else who has scored their own campaigns. And best of all, it’s free.

Recently, WordStream CEO Larry Kim took me through the thought process behind AdWords Grader and shared with me two contrasting anonymized reports–one for a horrendous AdWords account and one for a great one, to show off what AdWords Grader can do. Check them out side by side–you can double click on them if you want to look closer:

WordStream AdWords Grader bad accountWordStream AdWords Grader good account

That’s a lot of data for a free tool, so Larry Kim and team should be commended for providing such value, and the tool is extremely simple to use, also. All you need to do is to put in your credentials for Google AdWords and the tool does the rest.

I asked Larry what his motivation was for the tool, and he told me that “PPC is hard for SMBs” and that “advertisers are struggling more than I previously thought.”

Larry told me that “the problem is that people have the wrong expectation–an instant success–but lack of time and education produces crappy campaigns get penalized by Google and starts a downward spiral that keeps raising your click costs.” He compared the start of most campaigns to “making a bad impression on your in-laws.”

And much of the data revealed by AdWords Grader truly can help search marketers see what they have been missing. Helping people understand Quality Scores, Clickthrough Rates, and their share of impressions can be extremely useful.

Having said that, some of the metrics shown seem dubious to me. As much as I hate to criticize a free tool–I laud WordStream for giving this away–I am not sure that merely looking at negative keywords truly identifies wasted spending or that flagging accounts for less activity means that they are somehow missing the boat. But these are minor quibbles with a tool that is valuable and–did I mention?–free.

It is valuable to know how you stack up against other Adwords accounts, not because you should sit back if you are scoring well or freak out if you’re not. But to the extent that it shows you important metrics that help you focus on where to take action, it’s a good thing.

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Mike Moran

Mike Moran is a Converseon, an AI powered consumer intelligence technology and consulting firm. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also served as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website, ibm.com, most recently as the Manager of ibm.com Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He was a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research and is now a Senior Fellow of The Conference Board. A Certified Speaking Professional, Mike regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide.

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