I have been managing Google Ads campaigns for over 10 years. While this makes me feel old, it also makes me feel like I have accumulated the kind of insights and best practices that ensure my clients get the most out of their advertising budgets.
Over 10 years, I have explored my successes in an effort to develop and refine a set of guidelines to ensure all of my accounts perform at the highest level.
If your expectations for advertising on Google Ads are as lofty as mine, then you will want to adhere to these 10 tips for guaranteed Google Ads success:
Tip #1 - Group keywords into two term ad groups. I strive for simplicity in account setup. Without going into a detailed history and explanation of recent changes to match types, let’s just say that there are only two main match types available for advertisers running focused, budget-efficient campaigns: phrase and exact match. Every keyword in your account should be represented as a phrase and exact match version, and both keywords should be contained in the same ad group. For example, the phrase match version of "pay per click advertising services" and the exact match version of [pay per click advertising services] would be one two term ad group in my own Google Ads account.
Tip #2 - Group ad groups into service or product themed campaigns. Organization in Google Ads is all about budget control: where do you want to focus your money? Products and services have different profit margins, different sales cycles. I find that by grouping keywords into service or product themes, I am able to nurture profitability using business data over strictly account-based data, which can be a false positive without referencing actual business data.
Tip #3 - Create 3 expanded text ads and 1 responsive search ad for every ad group. Google’s responsive search ads make it possible for advertisers to input various headlines and descriptions to enable Google to create dynamic combinations of these inputs based on performance. I think responsive ads are great, but I still like to maintain some sort of control and try my hand at my own combinations. That’s why I also launch 3 expanded text ads alongside 1 responsive search ad. This way, I can test my own combinations while allowing Google to try its own. Another thing about responsive ads: not all description and headline options will show, so if you’re tied to certain text, include it in your own ad.
Tip #4 - Proactively search for and add negative keywords to ad groups and campaigns. One of the not-so-favorable changes Google has made to its advertising platform was hiding search terms from the search terms report. Before, you were able to see all terms driving all clicks to your account. Now, you see a fraction of the terms driving clicks to your account. Before, you used to be able to wait for the data to show. Now, the data is not there. I hate spending money on irrelevant traffic. This change makes proactively searching for and adding negative keywords vital to account success.
Tip #5 - Strive to achieve 80-90% search impression share. I want to maximize the reach of my campaigns. If I’m only seeing 30% of my target audience, I’m only catching a sliver of potential customers. I want to increase search impression share so I can learn more about the total addressable market behind a group of keywords so I can either increase spend or reallocate that spend to another set of keywords.
Tip #6 - When campaign budget is limited, lower bids. When a campaign is limited by budget, the higher your max CPC, the less clicks you’ll receive. The lower your max CPC is, the more clicks you’ll receive. While the goal is to maximize your daily budget so that your ads are never limited and never stop showing during any given day of the week, there are circumstances that dictate lower bids and less search impression share, and this is one of those circumstances.
Tip #7 - When campaign budget is limited, segment campaigns appropriately. You’ve lowered your bids to your maximum CPC limits, but campaigns are still limited by budget. Now it’s time to segment the campaign into two campaigns (or three, or four, depending on your criteria). Sometimes, it’s appropriate to segment by top performing ad groups. Sometimes, it’s appropriate to segment by top performing states. Regardless of your segmentation criteria, try to segment in order to maximize your budget. Channel a portion of your budget into top performing areas while using the remainder to explore other areas of opportunity.
Tip #8 - Keep your eyes on the Auction Insights report. Sometimes campaign metrics skew wacky and I am unable to pinpoint why. In this instance, I am reminded to review historical changes in the Auction Insights report. Changes in the competitive landscape can contribute to a loss of impression share, clicks, and conversions. Not all advertisers run Google Ads consistently. Some run standalone campaigns with hefty budgets and this can really shake up campaign consistency. These advertisers will go away and campaign metrics will return to normal, but it always helps to know that outside influences are impacting your performance and not something within the account itself.
Tip #9 - Keep Google Analytics and Google Ads tightly synced. I use Google Analytics as my default website analytics platform. I create goals in Google Analytics and pull them into Google Ads. I create audiences in Google Analytics and publish them to Google Ads. This helps me to measure performance across all channels using the same performance metrics. I also use the multi-channel performance report to keep track of assisted conversions from the Paid Search channel. This synchronization is invaluable for understanding the total impact of your efforts in the Paid Search channel.
Tip #10 - Create audience lists by website page (or product/service area) as early as possible. No one likes broad advertising: not advertisers, not marketers, not potential customers. If you’re in eCommerce, dynamic retargeting is made easier by the functionality of your eCommerce site and its integration with Google Analytics and Google Ads. For B2B businesses, we have to create audience lists manually. By creating segmented audience lists according to sections of your website, you can set up specific retargeting ads based on services. Setting these lists up as early as possible in the life of your account will ensure these lists have a healthy base of members when you’re ready to launch a segmented retargeting campaign.
These may not be the only tips you need to succeed at Google Ads, but they will create the foundation for successful Google Ads campaigns.