Why AdWords Express is not the route to long term success

AdWords Express is Google’s simple, self-served advertising platform for small advertisers to take their first steps with online search advertising. The idea is good because the full AdWords platform is now so complex that agencies exist which specialise in sub-sets of AdWords (Video, Mobile, Shopping) and constant training is required to stay on top of new features– so it’s quite a challenge to start from scratch and get to grips with it as the owner of a small business.

Of course, having simplified the set up so much, Google have at the same time removed most of the controls that any experienced AdWords user would use to ‘optimise’ an account. Everything is system driven. 
As an example image you offer home care as a service –

•    You cannot control the keyword match types and add negative keywords to prevent your Ads from being shown on related searches  – for example your Ad could show when someone searches for a “care home” because Google views that as a similar search. It is similar, but "home care" is different to a "care home." and needs to be treated differently.

•    You can’t bid at keyword level – so cannot promote the higher converting keywords more than the lower converting ones. You bid a single value whatever the likely ROAS of that keyword.

•    You can’t split Ad Text out into different AdGroups– so cannot show Ads that are further targeted to the keyword search. In a full AdWords account you would split out terms like “Nursing Care” and “Home Care” – and show different Ads with the words to increase the click thru rate and the quality score.

•    You cannot add all Ad Extensions, so your Ads look less appealing than others.

•    Reporting is virtually non-existent leaving little to interpret and improve upon.


Although AdWords Express provides a nice ‘toe-in-the-water’ the limiations of the system soon become apparent and we’d always advise upgrading to the full system. Whether you invest in learning how to use it yourself or find someone else is up to you.

Gerard McHugh Posted by Gerard McHugh

Gerard McHugh - PPC Expert based in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire UK

Gerard has spent the best part of ten years working on Pay Per Click Marketing campaigns for companies operating in the UK and USA. He is AdWords Certified in Search, Display and Shopping and a Bing Certified Professional

View Gerard McHugh's profile on LinkedIn



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