Originally released May 2012 - This remains relevant today!

Today I'm happy to showcase an interview about Google AdWords with my colleague and friend, Pauline Jakober, CEO of Group Twenty Seven, a search marketing agency that specializes in optimizing pay-per-click advertising programs. Pauline and I have a 7-year history together - from working together at High Rankings to co-founding New England's search marketing organization, SEMNE. I've watched Pauline find her calling in paid search marketing over the past few years, and couldn't be more proud of her and her accomplishments. If you're struggling with your Google AdWords accounts, you may find some helpful tips in this interview that will help you turn things around.

JW: Can you tell our readers what your background is and how you got into paid search marketing?

PJ: I started my advertising and marketing career in 1999 with a focus on traditional areas, but became more interested in learning how marketing on the web worked. My real focus within the search marketing industry began when I joined High Rankings in 2005. At first I focused on the organic side of things, and later realized PPC was something I was really passionate about. Two years ago, I decided to start Group Twenty Seven, which is focused on one thing: PPC. So, like many others, Jill, I have you to thank for getting me into the search world!

JW: What are some of the mistakes you see when reviewing AdWords accounts for the first time?

PJ: Inactivity within the account is the main thing I see. We often review accounts that haven't been touched in many, many months. Active management is important to the health of your AdWords account. For sure, in some instances, an account may require only minimal management, but it's not a good idea to let things coast for too long. All it takes is one runaway keyword to sidetrack your budget and cause wasteful spending. Furthermore, if you go months without actively managing your account, you'll miss out on the changes that Google constantly rolls out. For example, Google recently announced two new changes to ad rotation and matching options for phrase and exact keywords. Google will automatically reset these options in your account, which can really shake things up if you're not paying attention.

Another thing I see a lot is people thinking in absolutes. While there are some tactics that can be implemented almost all the time and provide good results, every account is different. It's much like SEO--laypeople may read an article or take the advice of a colleague and then implement something that may not be right for their account. Then they wonder why they didn't have the outcome they thought they would have. A simple example is the use of broad match (in which AdWords uses variations and misspellings of your keywords to bring in more traffic). Many articles paint it in an evil light, but when managed correctly it works brilliantly. Paid search is not black and white. If you don't get the expected outcome, think about how you can further develop things before completely abandoning it.

JW: I notice more and more image ads in Google's search results. It seems like those could really increase your clickthrough rate. Can anyone have them, and if so, how would one go about implementing them?

PJ: Those are Product Listings Ads and Product Extension Ads. If your site is an e-commerce site and you have a live Google Merchant Shopping Feed, you can link your merchant account to your AdWords account to enable this advertising option. Product Listing Ads should be created as a separate campaign in your AdWords account, and are driven by the feed, not keywords. Product Extension Ads are the ads that contain an expand (+) button so the user can get more details on the products. These ads are set at the campaign level via ad extensions appropriately called product extensions. And yes, they often do have a higher clickthrough rate. But, as with everything AdWords related, you need to test it and be sure that you are getting a positive return on your investment (ROI). I've seen some clients have a positive ROI and others where the ROI wasn't good.

JW: So...what's the PPC secret to success? 

PJ: Good question. There are so many elements that go into PPC, but our most successful accounts do have some elements in common. First, it's best to have someone (be it in-house or an agency) that is focused and committed to keeping up with everything Google is putting out there. Second, even if you have the most perfect AdWords account, it doesn't end there. You also have to think "beyond the click." Your website must be easy to navigate and use. If not, all the clickthroughs will be wasted. Also, your products or services must be the best in your industry – and it never hurts to have competitive pricing.

JW: Can you relate to us some of your greatest PPC success stories?

Almost always, there is some form of success that occurs upon actively and efficiently managing PPC programs. Some clients find that they no longer waste time on the phone with untargeted leads. Others may have the same number of leads, but will be paying significantly less on their ads. Some of our e-commerce clients have even doubled their revenue and AdWords ROI.

JW: Thanks, Pauline! It's clear from everything you've said that AdWords can be a lot of work to manage, but for many companies it's well worth it if they're willing to invest the necessary time.

NOTE: If you'd like to get in touch with Pauline, you can do it via her WEBSITE or connect with her on Twitter @GrpTwentySeven

Jill Whalen was an internationally respected and highly sought after SEO Consultant / Speaker, CEO of High Rankings, an SEO Consulting company in the Boston, MA area from 1995 - 2013.