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Google AdWords

5+ B2B AdWords Strategies that will Generate More Leads for Less

AdWords in the B2B space can be brutal. We experience it first hand everyday. There’s low search volume, high competition, and thus extremely expensive CPCs. You’ll need some highly qualified leads and a killer sales funnel to keep customer acquisition costs (CPA) manageable.

Instead of burning your cash on expensive and ineffective ads, we’ve got to find another way to drive relevant traffic to your site. So here are seven AdWords best practices that any Services or B2B company can implement immediately.

1. Sprinkle In Negative Keywords

Always filter out keywords that aren’t relevant to your audience. Homonyms, movie titles, obscure singers, and brands that you’ve never heard about can intrude on the keywords you’re bidding on.

I mean, hey, people can be unpredictable sometimes.


People search weird things, and not all of it may be relevant to your brand. Negative keywords will minimize the risk of a wasted click. There are three negative keyword settings that allow you to filter out words that you don’t want to trigger your ad:

Negative Broad Match:

  • Your ads will not show if all your negative keywords are present in search query
  • Order does not matter

If your negative keywords are “Bubble Tea”:

✅  Ad will show: Tea in Taiwan
❌  Ad will not show: How is Bubble Tea made?

Negative Phrase Match:

  • Your ads will not show if all your negative keywords are present in search query
  • Order matters

If your negative keywords are “Mango Smoothie”

✅ Ad will show: Do smoothies with mangoes taste good?
❌ Ad will not show: Healthy mango smoothie recipe

Negative Exact Match:

  • Your ads will not show if all your negative keywords are present in search query
  • Order matters
  • No extra words

If your negative keywords are: “Peanut Butter”

✅  Ad will show: Peanut Butter Jelly Sandwich
❌  Ad will not show: Peanut Butter

Negative keyword best practices:

  1. Use the keyword planner tool and do simple Google searches to see what pops up. If there are patterns and popular terms that aren’t relevant to your business, start building that negative keyword list!
  2. Monitor the Search Terms report regularly – or use keyword management solutions to keep an eye on it for you.
  3. Automate the process. Once you’ve figured out all your negative keyword terms, add them in bulk to save you some time.
  4. Look for people searching using action words like “free” or “trial.” People using these search terms have a much higher intent of purchasing, thus increasing your chances of converting further down the funnel. Other popular and actionable keywords are “buy,” “purchase”, and “demo.”
  5. Make sure to bid on any glaring misspellings people may search for when looking for your company. If your company is called “Tomato,” and the #1 search query is “Tohmatoe,” bid on it! We bid on “ad hoc” when paired with industry terms like “ad hoc marketing” “ad hoc adwords.”

2. Strategic Remarketing

If people are clicking on your ads, but are falling through the cracks, use the power of remarketing to bring them back. Many companies fail to provide customization to make that coveted conversion as frictionless as possible.

Further Reads: 6-step guide to remarketing

Here are a few tactics to get you started:

Bid on conversion

Include unique messaging and value propositions based on where the users dropped off. If someone abandoned a shopping cart because they were too distracted catching the new episode of Game of Throne, retarget them using a coupon code or a discount.

This goes back to paying more for those further down the funnel. If you pay, they will come!

Time-delayed retargeting

Do you know what’s creepy and annoying? Being targeted the SAME ad for 60 days straight on Facebook, LinkedIn, Television, and all your mobile games. Avoid this by creating a time-delayed retargeting campaign, which significantly reduces ad fatigue, because you’ll be providing new messaging, designs, and ads in a meaningful sequence.

3. Effectively Challenge Competitor Keywords

One company that crushes this tactic is SEMrush, the ultimate keyword resource themselves. See what happens when I search “Wordstream alternative” on Google:

Paid search results of the term "wordstream alternative"

Hack Your Quality Score with Competitor-Specific Landing Pages

Competitor keywords have a low relevance score, since it’s clearly not your business people are searching for.

This hurts quality score and drives up the cost to run your ads. It may feel extra sweet to steal a click, but sweet doesn’t help those CPAs.

You can steal a few Quality score bumps by building landing pages for each major competitor. Advertise yourself as the alternative solution with information specific to the competitor and how you’re different or better.

Look where PandaDoc sends you when you search “HelloSign alternative”:

Hellosign Alternative marketing

PandaDoc uses WordPress to generate 33 carbon copies of this page, tweaking copy to speak directly to the value props of each competitor.

⚠ Be careful! ⚠

In order to avoid being flagged by Google, be sure to follow the standard AdWords rules. Your landing page can’t be misleading and the content must be relevant to the search term. If you pretend to be company X, when you’re actually company Y, your ad will be reported and removed.

If you’ve got a bigger budget and want to turn up the heat against your competitor’s products, use target outranking share to almost guarantee to rank higher than your competitors. Remember, the more specific the query and the more relevant your landing page, the higher the chances you’ll rank above your competitor.

The Ultimate AdWords Match Type Cheat Sheet

4. Win free real estate and click-throughs with extensions

Want more real estate, a 10-15% better CTR, and a higher Ad Quality score for free?

Ad(d)extensions (Punderdome 3000 here I come).

Extensions are snippets of information that you can tack on to your ad to create a more effective selling proposition. When we search “Brooklyn real estate agent,” the top position ad takes up nearly 40% of the real estate on mobile.

When you’ve completed step 3 and bid on your competitor’s keywords, use site link extensions that lead the user to a competitor comparison page. That way, the competitor’s brand keywords are on the site, which increases Quality Score. It’s also an easy way for customers to understand why you are better than X (that is if you believe in your product!).

As Google phases out Review Extensions, try out Price Extensions to attract more ready-to-buy searchers to click.

Want to learn more about how extensions work and how to set them up? Check our complete guide to Ad Extensions.

5. Qualify leads with content

After your ads drive a ton of leads and traffic, more questions arise:

  1. How can you get more information about your customer?
  2. Which visitors should you actively pursue?
  3. Am I spending money on driving relevant traffic?

Melding your content marketing efforts with your AdWords campaigns is the digital advertising equivalent of the iconic Samwise Gamgee and Mr. Frodo duo on their journey to destroy the Ring (aka your competition).

Whether it be a pretty cheat sheet or a kick-ass ebook, use free content to qualify your traffic by using a lead form on a relevant piece of content.

Depending on what your business is, you might have different qualifying factors. For a company like AdHawk, we qualify our traffic based on ad spend. For others, it may be something as simple as asking if a firm currently spends money on content marketing.

By asking for additional info in exchange for content, you may identify if a certain visitor is worth pursuing more aggressively than others. Even further, bucket them into separate personas so that you can tailor your messaging and marketing strategies to different customers.

Bonus! 😀 Experiment with Emojis 😀

In 2015, Google announced that emojis in search results were officially out. 12 months later, emojis in Search Ads were officially game. It’s still too early to tell with the results of using emojis, but they’re worth a shot. You can do this by using sites like Getmoji or Emoji Keyboard to copy and paste the most popular emojis into your AdWords ads. Don’t forget to test test test!

Now Go!

How’d it go? We want to hear from you! Drop your questions and comments below or tweet at us @AdHawk. We read every tweet!

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About the Author

Journeyman of the wild wild west of Digital Advertising. Also doubling as an unofficial Taco Bell ambassador. Tweet at me @JonJmPark