An optimization can be as small as adding a few negative keywords or as large-scale as reorganizing your entire account in several phases. As you prepare to optimize, it helps to first take a step back and assess what kind of results you'd like to see, and how you will achieve and measure these results. The 'AdWords Optimization Tips' series will cover four major areas for optimizing any account: assessment, structure, keywords and ad text. Today, we're covering the first half of assessment -- knowing your industry and audience. While you are probably already researching and analyzing your industry and audience, we wanted to provide a few questions that may help you think about your AdWords account in a new way. We'll also offer some tips on how to begin researching the answers to these questions.Know your industryWhether you are in retail or finance, an independent small business owner or a marketer for a large corporation, it helps to begin with a holistic perspective on the products and services you offer and how they fit into a broader industry landscape. For example, one factor to consider is the scope of your product range -- do you offer a wide variety of products or a very specific type of product? What makes your business different from others in your market? The strategy you take when entering a competitive market like high-end jewelry may be very different from the way you might advertise a niche product only a handful of specialists offer. You may also take into account elements like seasonality (holidays, fiscal years) or industry trends.To keep up with the latest competitive dynamics and industry trends that affect your online business goals, you may want to:Try searching for your product/service on Google and look at both the natural search listings and sponsored links. Pay attention to what types of strategies, ad text, and promotions other similar businesses may be using in their ads, and try to think of ways to differentiate yourself.Join a trade association, subscribe to industry magazines, and possibly even attend trade shows to learn about the latest competitive dynamics in your industry and what trends may be impacting your sales at any given time.Keep up with the latest news that affect your industry through the Internet by subscribing to specific RSS feeds, reading wikis, online forums and product reviews to keep up with the concerns of your customer base and other businesses like yours.Staying up to date with industry trends can help you better organize your campaigns, allocate your advertising budget across different products, time your campaign launches, manage CPC bids, and make your ads stand out.Know your audienceUnderstanding your customer base and learning more about the audience you would like to reach in your advertising can often influence the way you structure an account, the keywords you choose to include, and especially the ad text variations you test. Targeting an upscale clientele focused on luxury items is very different from attracting bargain hunters. Try to think beyond age and gender, though these may still factor into your strategy. Is your product or service something everyone uses on a daily basis or something only a small subset of people, such as chemical engineers, can understand or describe? You may want to sell the same product to both Internet-savvy teens and their more technology-shy parents, but may need to have different advertising strategies to reach the two different audiences. Also, users in different regions (cities, states or countries) may respond differently to your products and services.To really think like your customer, you may want to:Use the Keyword Tool to help understand how potential customers could be searching for your product or service. A florist in Vancouver might look up 'Vancouver flowers' or 'flower delivery' to see what synonyms and keyword variations exist for these terms. You may discover that the term you use to describe your product/service may differ from the way your customers would describe it.Use Google Analytics to gain a wealth of information and knowledge about your audience, from their geographic location to their referring links.Familiarize yourself with the unique buying cycle of your industry by thinking about user searches, so you can adjust your keywords, ad text, or budget accordingly. For example, someone searching for 'hybrid cars' may not be as close to buying an automobile as someone searching for the specific make, model, and year of a vehicle.Be open to the idea that your true audience may not be exactly who you think they are. Some video games, for instance, have a surprising number of female fans, often mothers who originally bought the games for their children!Keeping an accurate profile of your target audience(s) in mind will help you choose the right keywords and ad text to reach that audience, and also help you filter out users who are unlikely to click through or convert for you.