If you’re just starting out in the world of digital marketing, how to use and advertise on Google Ads may seem a bit intimidating.
However, you don’t need a background in marketing to tackle Google Ads. We have done everything for you in this guide.
Bonus Material: FREE Google Ads Training Guide
In this guide, you’ll discover what Google Ads is and what you need to know to begin advertising on Google.
This guide will educate you on how to create successful Google Ad campaigns, how to use negative keywords, do competitor research, set up Ads extensions, Ads bidding and pricing strategies, and so much more.
Are you ready to expand your current digital marketing efforts?
Google's search engine receives an average of 40,000 searches per second. This means it processes over 3.5 billion searches daily! Search engines like Google can be your key to a powerful and effective digital marketing strategy.
Both paid advertising and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) can help you take advantage of the online audiences out there and increase your digital reach.
Google Ads offers business owners a great means of paid online advertising. In fact, Google makes over $90 billion annually on ads alone!
What are Google Ads?
Google Ads has become increasingly popular among businesses across all industries since they provide stronger and more focused paid campaigns that lead to a higher chance of getting more customers.
Google Ads is a paid advertising platform that falls under a marketing channel known as pay-per-click (PPC), where you (the advertiser) pays per click or per impression (CPM) on an ad.
It is an effective way to drive qualified traffic, or the right customers, to your business while they're searching for products and services like the ones you offer. With Google Ads, you can boost your website traffic, receive more phone calls, and increase your in-store visits.
Google Ads allows you to create and share well-timed ads (via both mobile and desktop) among your target audience. This means your business will show up on the search engine results page (SERP) while your ideal customers are looking for products and services like yours via Google Search or Google Maps.
Note: Ads from the platform can span across other channels too, including YouTube, Blogger, and the Google Display Network.
Additionally, no matter the size of your business or your available resources, you can tailor your ads to suit your budget. The Google Ads tool gives you the opportunity to stay within your monthly cap and even pause or stop your ad spending at any point in time.
Now, onto another important question: Is Google Ads effective?
Do Google Ads work?
To answer this, let’s consider a few statistics.
- Google Ads have a click-through rate of nearly 8 percent.
- Display ads yield 180 million impressions each month.
- For users who are ready to buy, paid ads on Google get 65% of the clicks.
- 43% of customers buy something they’ve seen on a YouTube Ad.
So, yes, Google Ads works. With an optimized ad campaign and lead flow, you can create a high-ROI marketing campaign.
Why advertise on Google?
Google is the most used search engine, receiving 3.5 billion search queries a day. Not to mention, the Google Ads platform has been around for nearly two decades, giving it some seniority in the area of paid advertising.
Google is a resource used by people around the world to ask questions that are answered with a combination of paid advertisements and organic results.
And, according to Google, advertisers make $8 for every $1 they spend on Google Ads. So, there are a few reasons why you’d want to consider advertising on Google.
Need another reason?
Your competitors are using Google Ads (and they might even be bidding on your branded terms). Thousands of companies use Google Ads to promote their businesses, which means even if you’re ranking organically for a search term, your results are being pushed down the page, beneath your competitors.
Common Google Ads Terms you should Know
- Campaign Type
- Click-Through Rate
- Conversion Rate
- Display Network
- Ad Extensions
- Quality Score
These common terms will help you set up, manage, and optimize your Google Ads. Some of these are specific to Google Ads, while others are related to PPC in general. Either way, you’ll need to know these to run an effective ad campaign.
Your AdRank determines your ad placement. The higher the value, the better you’ll rank, the more eyes will fall on your ad, and the higher the probability that users will click your ad. Your AdRank is determined by your maximum bid multiplied by your Quality Score.
Google Ads is based on a bidding system, where you as the advertiser selects a maximum bid amount you’re willing to pay for a click on your ad. The higher your bid, the better your placement. You have three options for bidding: CPC, CPM, or CPE.
- CPC, or cost-per-click, is the amount you pay for each click on your ad.
- CPM, or cost per mille, is the amount you pay for one thousand ad impressions, that is when your ad is shown to a thousand people.
- CPE, or cost per engagement, is the amount you pay when someone takes a predetermined action with your ad.
Before you begin a paid campaign on Google Ads, you’ll select between one of three campaign types: search, display, or video.
- Search ads are text ads that are displayed among search results on a Google results page.
- Display ads are typically image-based and are shown on web pages within the Google Display Network.
- Video ads are between six and 15 seconds and appear on YouTube.
Click-Through Rate (CTR)
Your CTR is the number of clicks you get on your ad as a proportion of the number of views your ad gets. A higher CTR indicates a quality ad that matches search intent and targets relevant keywords.
Conversion Rate (CVR)
CVR is a measure of form submissions as a proportion of total visits to your landing page. Simplistically speaking, a high CVR means your landing page presents a seamless user experience that matches the promise of the ad.
Google ads can be displayed on either search results pages or a web page within Google’s Display Network (GDN). GDN is a network of websites that allow space on their webpages for Google Ads — these ads can be text-based or image ads and are displayed alongside content relevant to your target keywords. The most popular Display Ad options are Google Shopping and app campaigns.
Ad Extensions allow you to supplement your ad with additional information at no additional cost. These extensions fall under one of five categories: Sitelink, Call, Location, Offer, or App.
When a Google user types a query into the search field, Google returns a range of results that match the searcher’s intent. Keywords are words or phrases that align with what a searcher wants and will satisfy their query.
You select keywords based on which queries you want to display your ad alongside. For example, a searcher that types “how to clean gum off shoes” will see results for advertisers that targeted keywords like “gum on shoes” and “clean shoes.”
- Negative Keywords are a list of keyword terms that you do not want to rank for. Google will pull you from the bid on these keywords. Typically, these are semi-related to your intended search terms but fall outside of the realm of what you offer or want to rank for.
Pay-per-click, or PPC, is a type of advertising where the advertiser pays per click on an ad. PPC is not specific to Google Ads, but it is the most common type of paid campaign. It’s important to understand the ins and outs of PPC before launching your first Google Ads campaign.
Quality Score (QS)
Your Quality Score measures the quality of your ad by your click-through rate (CTR), the relevance of your keywords, the quality of your landing page, and your past performance on the SERP. QS is a determining factor in your AdRank.
How does Google Ads work?
Google Ads displays your ad to potential leads or customers who are interested in your product or service. Advertisers bid on search terms, or keywords, and the winners of that bid are placed at the top of search results pages, on YouTube videos, or on relevant websites, depending on the type of ad campaign selected.
Start Your Campaign
Given its reach and authority, Google Ads should be a part of your paid strategy. There’s no such thing as a Google Ads campaign that doesn’t work — there are only ones that need a bit more work. Using the strategy and information provided above, you have what you need to create a successful Google Ad campaign that drives clicks and converts leads.
Latest Trends in Google Ads
Trend #1: Google Ads Smart Bidding
In recent years, Google has invested heavily in artificial intelligence (AI), and Smart Bidding is one of the many results of that investment.
Google's definition is: Smart Bidding is a subset of automated bid strategies that use machine learning to optimize for conversions or conversion value in each auction — a feature known as ‘auction-time bidding.’
Google’s AI system uses machine learning to automatically optimize for conversions in each auction. You tell Google what your advertising goal is and Smart Bidding figures out how to get it done within your budget.
Bonus Material: FREE Google Ads Training Guide
Smart Bidding works for a few PPC goals, including:
- Target CPA: Generate new leads and customers for your desired cost per acquisition.
- Target ROAS: Get the best return on investment (ROI) on your spend.
- Maximize Conversions: Increase your conversion rate.
Smart Bidding allows you to use many different signals for your bid optimization, some of which are unique to the system and unavailable with manual bidding.
Here are just a few of the signals you can choose from:
- Location intent: Where a user intends to go versus their physical location. For example, if someone is researching travel.
- Weekday and time of day: Local businesses can target customers during certain times with relevant information or offers.
- Remarketing list: Ads can be optimized based on when users last interacted with products and what those interactions were.
- Ad characteristics: If you have multiple versions of an ad, Google can bid on the ones that are most likely to convert.
- Interface language: Bids can be adjusted for the language with which a user is searching.
Machine learning enables Smart Bidding to manage several signals at once in order to tailor bids to each user’s context. So, if a user is more likely to click on your ad while they are on a bus on the way home from work, Google can raise your bids for mobile ads between 5 and 6 p.m. on weekdays.
Smart Bidding is a great option for businesses just getting started with Google Ads or for those who don’t have a ton of time to devote to managing a campaign. The main downside to using it is not having control over which third-party sites your ads display on — you have to choose all of them or none of them.
Trend #2: Google Discovery Ads
Google rolled out Discover, its personalized mobile newsfeed, in late 2018. The goal of the feed is to surface relevant content to users even when they’re not searching:
Discover’s content is arranged as cards under topics to explore and, depending on a user’s interests, includes different types like video, recipes, news articles, and blog posts. Because the focus of the content is relevancy, it doesn’t always give you the newest content — typically quality evergreen content is featured.
Google Discover is available via the Google mobile app and by visiting Google.com on a mobile browser. Users can control what shows up in the feed, which leads to a more personalized experience.
Earlier this year, Google introduced Discovery Ads, which are native ads that show up in multiple Google feed environments.
Similar to Display Ads or YouTube ads, Discovery Ads must be visually engaging and mobile-friendly so that they feel native to the feeds they are displayed on.
Google uses machine learning to optimize ad placement based on users’ search history, feed engagement, and other factors to deliver them to the most interested potential customers:
With Discovery Ads, you can showcase more than one image, like Facebook’s Carousel Ads:
Google's new Discovery Ads allow marketers to reach potential customers not just in the Discover feed, but also in the YouTube home feed and Gmail as well.
Trend #3: Google Gallery Ads
In the summer of 2019, Google launched the beta version of Gallery Ads. Like Facebook’s Carousel Ads, they feature images that mobile users can scroll through to get more visual information about a brand, product, or service.
Gallery Ads work: Early reports show that ad groups including one or more Gallery Ad have up to 25% more interactions.
Gallery Ads will appear at the top of mobile search results and feature 4-8 images. Each image will have its own text, along with a static headline and URL, and advertisers pay when a user clicks or swipes an image.
Gallery Ads may not have as many applications for B2B or service-oriented brands, but businesses with offerings that lend themselves well to rich visuals should take advantage of them when they are widely released.
As Google increasingly moves away from the text-only search ads, advertisers will have more opportunities to present their products and services in a way that makes the most sense for their business — and their customers.
Trend #4: Expanded Audience Segments
We talked a bit about audience signals above and growing them is something that Google is devoting a lot of time and resources to. Giving businesses more ways to target the right customer is a win-win proposition for Google because it benefits both the business and the user (not to mention Google’s bottom line).
In October 2019, Google announced two expanded audience segments:
- Affinity Audiences: These audiences are built around interests and identified based on browsing behavior. Some examples of Affinity Audiences are beauty mavens, convenience store shoppers and cloud services power users.
According to Google, Volkswagen used affinity audiences to achieve a 250% increase in conversion rates.
- In-market Audiences: These audiences are actively researching or comparing products and services. Google recently rolled out new seasonal event segments for these audiences so that advertisers could reach consumers on search and YouTube with timely offers.
According to Google, Toyota saw a 67% increase in conversion rate and a 34% reduction in cost per conversion when they used the Black Friday and Christmas segments to focus on shoppers actively looking for a car.
With more than 700 in-market audiences identified, many companies will have the chance to interact with customers who are ready to make a purchase.
Find these new audiences in the Ads UI:
Neither of these signals is brand new, but they have been expanded to allow businesses to hone in on their ideal customers at the right time. You can layer these audiences on top of your other parameters when setting up a new campaign.
Trend #5: Integrated Ad Campaigns with Google Lens
Google Lens is a visual search engine by Google, which recognizes objects and landmarks through a native app.
It’s also integrated with Google Photos and, on some Android phones, with Google Assistant and the Google app.
Here's what you can do when you take a photo of the following items:
- Apparel and home goods: find similar products and where to buy them.
- Barcodes: use a barcode to find info about a product, like where to buy it.
- Business card: save the phone number or address to a contact.
- Book: get a summary and read reviews.
- Event flyer or billboard: add the event to your calendar.
- Landmark or building: see historical facts, hours of operation, and more.
- Painting in a museum: read about the artist and learn more.
- Plant or animal: learn about species and breeds.
Currently, you won’t see ads in Google Lens results, but Google is doing some interesting things with integrated ad campaigns.
Google will likely roll out more innovative ways for marketers to advertise on Google Lens, either within the app or in conjunction with the AR technology. It’s a fantastic option for companies who want to try something a little bit different.
Trend #5: Google Ads and Voice Search
As more and more people buy smart speakers and search Google on mobile, text-based search is going to continue to decline. And that will mean big trouble for advertisers.
Consider these stats:
- 55% of all-American homes will own a smart speaker by 2022
- 72% of people who own voice-activated speakers say that their devices are used as part of their daily routines
- Voice shopping is set to jump to $40 billion in 2022, up from $2 billion today
- 2 out of 5 adults use voice search once daily
As of right now, voice searches that use screens — such as using Google voice search on a desktop or on a phone — will display ads. But smart speakers like Google Home and Amazon Alexa devices don’t. That’s the bad news.
The good news? That will change. In fact, Google is already testing ads on Google Home. As users move away from text-based search, the tech giant will surely find ways to monetize voice search.
The only constant at Google is that it’s always evolving to better meet the needs of customers. These are going to be the big trends to look for in 2020, but we’re sure some others are going to pop up throughout the year.
In the meantime, get creative with all these new Ad types!
How to set up a Google Ads campaign
1. Create a Goal for Advertising
Before you get started on your Ads campaign, it's important to have a strategy in mind. Most marketing strategies begin with identifying a goal or desired outcome.
Your goal at this stage in the game may be simple. Perhaps you're a service business seeking any kind of digital visibility.
However, do your best to choose concrete and achievable goals when developing a digital marketing strategy of any kind. This is particularly important when setting up an Ad campaign.
Bonus Material: FREE Google Ads Training Guide
The words you incorporate into one of these ads are more likely to resonate with viewers if they are backed by an actionable goal!
2. Create Interesting Online Content to Capture Attention
When it comes to how to set up a Google Ads campaign, spending some time honing your digital content before launching any ads is critical. A successful ad does more than capture initial interest, after all.
An effective digital ad should send users to a page that will continue to capture their interest and (hopefully) spur conversions.
Don't send users away with poor or uninspiring content!
3. Include Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Note that “AdWords” is now “Google Ads”.
This portion of your Google Ads tutorial is essential. You may be thinking, “We're already on step 3 and we haven't even started our Google ads?!”
In fact, the more “pre-work” you can do for your Ads campaign, the more likely you are to find success. This applies to any digital marketing campaign.
If you've already implemented SEO, check out the integrity of your keywords. If you are new to SEO, use Google's Keyword Planner to brainstorm trending keywords. This tool also integrates neatly with any Google Ads campaign.
Make sure to optimize individual pages on your website for different keywords. This is more likely to result in a higher Google ranking, which can leverage your Ads campaign further.
4. Gather a few local citations
If you are a local business of any kind, it's essential to gather a few local citations prior to launching an Ads campaign. This means claiming a Google listing so that you can appear on Google Maps and in local searches.
It also means setting up accounts on local review portals, such as Yelp, Angie's List, Yellow Pages, and/or TripAdvisor. Establishing a powerful local presence online can increase your digital visibility and leverage a paid advertising campaign.
5. Craft Individual Campaigns
Now that your online content is in prime condition for digital marketing, it's time to learn more about how to set up a Google Ads campaign itself.
In general, we recommend starting out with several different campaigns. For example, if you own an online clothing store, one of your campaigns may focus on advertising for “Women's Clothing.”
Break these individual campaigns into ad groups themselves, which may include “Women's tops,” “Women's professional attire,” and “Women's pants.” These Ad groups will then be broken down into itemized Ads.
A consulting business, for example, may choose a campaign for “Digital Marketing Consulting.” Ad groups for this campaign might include “SEO Consulting,” “Content Strategy,” and “Social Media Campaigns.” When you set up your Ads account, you'll be able to organize your campaigns in this way.
6. Determine an Overall Budget
Most marketers designate a daily advertising budget and a bid amount. We recommend choosing a specific budget per campaign, particularly if you want to boost the visibility of a certain product over another. When making this decision, do keep a long-term vision of your advertising budget in mind.
Whenever someone clicks on your Google ad, you will have to pay a “bid” price for that click. Thus, when setting up your Google Ads campaigns, you will have to select a bid price for each campaign. This is the maximum amount you wish to pay per click.
The bid you select will obviously be determined by your overall budget. But do keep in mind that bids can also determine your ad ranking.
7. Keywords Selection
Just like your online content, Google ads are discoverable via popular keyword searches. As a result, any Ads campaign requires a careful selection of keywords. In general, the more competitive a keyword is, the higher its bid price is likely to be. In this sense, your keyword selection may be guided primarily by your daily budget.
Once you do select your keywords, you have further options for boosting your ad's visibility. You can select different match types, for example, that can help you hone your target audience further.
A broad match keyword will enable your ad to appear for any searches that contain parts of the keyword in any order. Exact matches, on the other hand, are exactly what they sound like: your ad will appear only when the exact keyword is searched.
8. Create a Perfect Landing Page
It's important to decide where you want to send users once they click on your Google Ad. This is called your landing page. A lot of marketers will send users to the homepage of their websites, if applicable.
Others send clicks to more tailored content, such as a product information page or blog post. In general, it's important to send users to the most relevant page given your ad's content.
In most cases, this is a page with more specific content than a homepage.
9. Write Your Ad Content
Keep your keywords and landing page information at hand as you craft your ad content. Don't forget about your campaign goals, either. Solid keywords can help make the writing of your ad content easier and grammar checker tools will help you avoid mistakes. In general, successful ads are concise, free of grammatical or spelling errors, and somewhat urgent.
The best ads will have some sort of call for action in them. A call to action (CTA) can be as simple as a “learn more!” or “shop sale items today.” Such phrases can compel a click easily.
10. Keep Tabs on Performance
Make sure that your Google Ads account is linked to Google Analytics, a free tool that enables you to track your advertising performance through valuable metrics.
These metrics can help you hone your campaign further to generate the results you need. They may help you modify your keyword selection or give you insight into the type of ad content you need to write. Metrics can also help you make the right financial decisions within the scope of your marketing budget.
Doing Competitor Research Analysis for Key Insights
To be successful in any type of advertising, whether it be digital, radio, or out-of-home, you must keep tabs on your competitors and their tactics. If they are advertising on the subway, chances are you should be too. Likewise, if they are targeting a specific keyword in PPC, so should you.
There are a lot of free benchmarks for data available to all Google Ads users (formerly known as Google AdWords).
Bonus Material: FREE Google Ads Training Guide
Here are some great tools for analyzing your Google Ads competition:
- Auction Insights
The Auction Insights report allows you to look at who else is bidding on your keywords. You can see impression shares, overlap rate, position above rate, and top of page rate that each competitor has on a keyword. With this information, you can better manage your own bids in comparison to whoever you deem your highest competition.
- Keyword Planner
Typically, when people use the Google Ads Keyword Planner, they think of using it to find keyword ideas from their own site and landing pages. Conversely, try plugging a few of your competitor’s URL’s into the search bar. The results may display keyword ideas you never thought of using. Because these keyword ideas came from the competitor’s site, they are likely already being utilized by your competitors.
There are also many tools that you can pay for if your budget allows for a little wiggle room like SEMRush etc.
- Competitive Campaigns
Once your Google Ads account is well structured, you can think about optimizing it further with direct competitive advertising. How can you do this? Let us use possibly the most competitive rivalry in the world as a high-level example.
Let’s say we are Coca-Cola. We might consider bidding on the keyword Pepsi. We can gain more brand awareness and potentially convert a Pepsi drinker into a Coke drinker.
Best practice is to not utilize attack tactics. Coca-Cola would not want to launch an ad that directly puts down Pepsi. This could potentially cheapen the Coca-Cola brand. Also, remember that businesses must keep in accordance with Google policies, meaning that in Coke’s competitive ad, they could not use the trademarked term Pepsi in their ad text.
Another point is that Quality Score is going to be lower for competitive campaigns, and it is unlikely that your competitive campaign’s ads will show up in the first position. After all, Google’s focus is to make sure the searcher finds what they are looking for. However, it is important to keep in mind that there is no solid data to prove that a higher position translates into a higher ROI.
As a side note, be aware that when a business launches a competitive campaign on another brand, it is only a matter of time until the competitor is likely to launch their own competitive campaigns in return.
Competitive campaigns are effective and worthwhile if your budget allows for it. Obviously, it is most important to make sure all the bases are covered around all branded and non-branded terms. If after these campaigns are launched and optimized and there is still leftover paid search budget, then a competitive campaign might be the right direction to steer.
Google Ads Dimensions Tab for Scheduling
If you’ve been running your Google Ads account a few months or more, it’s time to dive into the Dimensions tab and see what times and days provide the most value to your business. In Google Ads, this is known as dayparting (not to be mistaken with day partying) or ad scheduling.
Often people bring up common objections: But why is this necessary? Isn’t it best to distribute your ads evenly? Doesn’t the time of day (or day of week) someone could potentially convert often fluctuate? What if I miss out on potential business by excluding certain hours of the day?
All these objections are understandable, and indeed dayparting is not for everyone, but if implemented and monitored correctly it can work wonders on your account.
Bonus Material: FREE Google Ads Training Guide
Think about it: Maybe you operate a ski & snowboard rental shop. You might find that desktop and tablet searches spike on Thursday and Friday nights between the hours of 8:00PM and 12:00PM when skiers are researching in preparation for their ski weekend. You might also see mobile searches increase during weekends and weekday vacation mornings from 6:00AM to 10:00AM.
In these scenarios, you’ll likely want to re-allocate your budget in order to get more visibility during peak hours. This will lead to more rentals and money for your business.
The scenario above might not be as clear for your business. Perhaps you operate a SaaS company, in which case the hours and days of the week that are most profitable are harder to predict.
Luckily, the Google Ads Dimensions tab was invented to solve these problems. So let’s put an end to advertising during unprofitable times and start spending your money in a wiser manner.
5 Steps to Setting Up Google Ads Scheduling
Follow these five easy steps to scheduling your Google ads.
Before creating an ad schedule or excluding days of the week, jump into the Dimensions tab within the campaign you want to focus on (you can also look across the entire account, for example, if your account only has one or two campaigns of similar focus).
Once in the Dimensions tab navigate over to the “View” drop-down and scroll down to “Time.” Here you’ll be able to select from the following seven options available, but it is recommended keeping your focus on “Day of the week” and “Hour of the day.”
Analyze what days and times of the day are most profitable or performing most optimally in terms of your PPC goals. Make sure the amount of time you are looking over is statistically significant. Creating an ad schedule based off a random pattern that isn’t likely to repeat can be detrimental to your account.
Now that you have done some analysis it is time to create a unique ad schedule for your campaign. To do so, navigate to the “Settings” tab within the campaign you’re adjusting, then select “Ad Schedule.”
Scroll down and select the red “+ AD SCHEDULE” button to choose the days of the weeks, hours of the day, etc. you would like to show your ads. Once you’ve created your ad schedule you can also use the “Set bid adjustments” to bid higher or lower on certain hours or days of the week which are higher or lower in value.
With ad scheduling always start with a trial period. Don’t just set it and forget it. Keep track of when you made the adjustments, let your account run on the new schedule, and check in on a monthly basis to compare to past performance, keeping in mind monthly and seasonal fluctuations.
Ad Scheduling Trends
Usually, some common trends have been observed for certain industries when it comes to peak performance in regard to CPA (cost-per-acquisition).
For example, DIY and home improvement industries tend to do well on weekends. In contrast, B2B companies tend to do well Monday through Friday between 9:00AM to 5:00PM, with very poor performance outside of these business hours.
Of course, there are industries that are less likely to find dayparting valuable. For example, consumer shopping clients typically experience symmetrical performance during all hours of the day.
Ad scheduling is not for everyone, but for those who see strong data trends during certain hours or days of the week. Using dayparting can add significant value to your Google Ads performance and lead to a much higher ROI on your Google Ads spend.
Now that we’ve reviewed the basics of dayparting, take the following steps on your Google Ads account:
- Reflect – Ask yourself if you have noticed any trends in performance. For example, do you tend to get a lot more form fill-outs or phone calls to your business during peak hours, workdays, or weekends?
- Research – Dig into the Google Ads Dimensions tab starting with your most profitable campaign. Segment by the time of day and day of week, making sure to look over a statistically significant period.
- Re-adjust – If (and only if) a common trend is made very clear through your research (for example if you’re seeing a much lower CPA from 3PM to 11PM on weekends) then create an ad schedule to focus on your top performing times and/or days of the week.
- Revisit – Take note of when your ad schedule was implemented and revisit your campaign performance in terms of your most important metrics to see how results have changed (and hopefully improved).
Google Ads Pricing and Bidding Strategies
On Google Ads, there are currently twelve different types of bidding that you can use for a variety of goals. In this section, we will break down the use of each one and what its best case scenario is.
- Target CPA (Cost Per Acquisition)
- Target ROAS (Return On Ad Spend)
- Maximize Conversions
- Enhanced Cost Per Click (ECPC)
- Maximize Clicks
- Manual CPC Bidding
- Target Search Page Location
- Target Outranking Share
- CPM Bidding (Cost Per Thousand Impressions)
- vCPM Bidding (Cost Per Viewable Thousand Impressions)
- CPV Bidding (Cost Per View)
- Target Impression Share Bidding
Let’s give each a closer look.
Option #1: Target Cost Per Acquisition (CPA)
Target CPA bidding is a bidding strategy you can use if you want to optimize conversions. If driving conversions are your primary goal for the campaign, selecting Target CPA bidding will focus on trying to convert users at a specific acquisition cost.
Bonus Material: FREE Google Ads Training Guide
With this method, Google Ads will automatically set your bids on each campaign based on your CPA. While some conversions may cost more, others may cost less to even out and align with your acquisition costs.
Your Cost per Acquisition is simply the amount of money you can afford to spend on acquiring one customer. For example, if you sell a product for $50, you don’t want to set your target CPA at $50. That would be breaking even when the goal is to profit.
When selecting this bidding method, you can enter your target CPA, and you’re good to go!
Option #2: Target Return on Ad Spend (ROAS)
Target Return on Ad Spend is a bidding strategy that throws most for a loop. Because it requires some math. Yes, math, the dreaded, awful subject most marketers run from.
Unfortunately, math is important on this one.
Target ROAS is the bidding strategy where Google Ads will set your bids to maximize conversion value based on the return you want from your ad spend. This number is percentage based.
Let me give you a basic example:
On your next Google Ads campaign, you want to generate $10 for every $2 spent. To do the math, you follow this formula:
Sales ÷ ad spend x 100% = Target ROAS
Doing the math for my example above, here is what the Target ROAS would look like:
$10 in sales from campaign ÷ $2 ad spend (clicks) x 100% = 500% target ROAS
Easy enough, right?
Here is what the Target ROAS bidding strategy looks like when creating a new campaign:
If you still aren’t sure what to set as your percentage, you can navigate to a previous campaign on Google Ads and modify your columns.
Add the following metric to your columns:
Use the number from your top performing campaigns as your new Target ROAS.
Option #3: Maximize Conversions
Maximize Conversions is one of the simplest bidding strategies Google Ads offers. Using the maximum daily budget that you set, Google will automatically run your bidding for you to get you the most conversions for your money.
For example, if your daily budget is $50, Google will spend it wisely to find the most conversions. If a single conversion costs $50, Google won’t bid on it for you.
Before selecting this bidding method, be sure to check that you set your daily budget amount at a reasonable level you are willing to spend. At the end of a campaign, check your return on investment to see if maximizing conversions lead to profitable sales.
Option #4: Enhanced Cost Per Click (ECPC)
Enhanced CPC bidding is one of my favorite strategies on Google Ads. In a few words, using Smart Bidding, Google has the right to increase or decrease your bid amount based on the likelihood of driving the sale. Bids will try to be averaged out at your max cost per click settings.
If a search is too competitive and CPCs are outrageously high, Google can lower your bid to cost less due to decreased chances of converting. If it’s an easy steal by increasing bids, Google will make the call. This type of bidding is restricted to the Search and Display networks.
Option #5: Maximize Clicks
Maximize Clicks is an automatic bidding strategy based on your maximum daily budget. Google Ads will attempt to drive the most clicks possible with your daily budget.
Option #6: Manual CPC Bidding
Manual CPC Bidding gives you more control over your bidding strategy. But more control means more time spent monitoring costs and adjusting on your own. If you aren’t well versed in Google Ads yet, this strategy isn’t your best bet.
Manual CPC is where you set bids for different ad groups or placements on your own. If specific campaigns are more profitable than others, you can quickly adjust budgets to add money or remove them from other campaigns.
You can also combine Manual CPC bidding with ECPC bidding:
Option #7: Target Search Page Location
TSPL (Target Search Page Location) bidding is the strategy of letting Google automatically adjust your bids to always show your ads either:
- On the first page results of Google
- At the top of the first page of Google (1-4)
While Google has the disclaimer that this strategy “doesn’t guarantee placement,” you won’t have issues if your quality scores are solid.
Option #8: Target Outranking Share
Target Outranking Share is another automated bidding tactic that’s perfect for competitor targeting on Google Ads. You can choose a specific website or competitor that you want to outrank.
When your ads and your competitor’s ads are both displaying, Google will increase your bids to outrank their ads. Google also will show your ads when your competitor isn’t showing up to give you better brand awareness.
Here are your options when selecting this bid strategy:
Let’s break it down.
First, select the domain name you want to outrank. Focus on your biggest competitor, those that you notice more often on Google Ad results. Target to outrank is the percentage of times you want to bid to rank on top of them.
Option #9: Cost Per Thousand Impressions (CPM)
Cost per Thousand Impressions, otherwise known as CPM, is bidding solely based on impressions. This option is reserved for the Display Network and YouTube campaigns like TrueView and is not for use on the Search Network (for obvious reasons).
Option #10: Cost Per Thousand Viewable Impressions (vCPM)
vCPM bidding is a tactic of manual bidding best reserved for brand awareness campaigns. Again, like CPM bidding, it is reserved for the Display Network. This bidding type is setting your maximum costs on a viewable 1,000 impressions.
Option #11: Cost-Per-View Bidding (CPV)
Cost-per-view bidding is strictly reserved for video advertising on Google Ads, and can be used on the TrueView video platform. Using CPV bidding, you pay for video views or interactions. Interactions on the TrueView platform could be any of the following:
- Call to action clicks
- Overlay clicks
- Companion banners
A “view” is determined by how long someone watches your video ad for, otherwise known as the duration. In this case, with CPV bidding, a view is counted when someone watches 30 seconds of your ad, or whenever they decide to engage!
CPV is currently the default setting for bid type on TrueView advertising. Let me give you a quick example of how it works. For CPV bidding, you start by entering the highest bid you are willing to pay for a view or interaction. This is known as your maximum cost-per-view.
For instance, if you set your max CPV to $0.25, you would pay a maximum of 25 cents when a user watches your ad or engages with your call to action.
So, how do you know what to set as your CPV?
- Start low and adjust based on your results.
- Focus on first maxing out your quality scores and ad rank, these will drive down the cost-per-view on your ads, allowing you to pay less for better results.
- Slowly bump up your CPV to increase your audience reach.
Option #12: Target Impression Share Bidding
Target Impression Share is a new bidding strategy released in late 2018 by Google Ads. This smart bidding strategy is focused on brand awareness and helping you reach as many people as possible.
As an example, if you are looking to dominate impressions for specific keyword searches, like basketball shoes, you can ensure your ads show up 100% of the time on SERPs by selecting 100% as your target impression share:
Target Impression Share is great if you are looking to build brand awareness, but beware: The costs can really add up fast if you are selecting 100% on your targets.
This means you are always bidding to show your ads for a given term. Be sure to set a maximum limit and restrict your daily budget for this type of bidding.
If you select to showcase your ads at the top of the page, you will pay more, too.
Next step: Determine Your Google Ads Campaign Goals
Which bidding option is best for you? It all depends on your campaign goals. Every campaign you choose should carefully select a bidding strategy based on desired outcomes. Let’s break down a few common goals on Google Ads and the top bidding tactics you can use for each.
If your goal on a specific Google Ads campaign is conversions, or driving traffic to your website or store with the sole purpose of turning them into a sale, consider the following bid types:
- Maximize Conversions
- Target CPA
- Target ROAS
- Target Outranking Share (steal competitors’ sales!)
Goal: Website traffic.
If you want to concentrate on driving more traffic to your site with goals other than merely converting, here are a few great bid types to choose from.
- Maximize Clicks
- Target Search Page Location
- Manual CPC Bidding
Goal: Brand awareness.
While brand awareness alone is a less common goal on the search network, there are a few great bidding tactics to utilize for maximum branding.
- Target Impression Share Bidding
- Target Search Page Location
- Target Outranking Share
- CPM and vCPM for YouTube and Display Networks
To make sure you’re on the right path, follow these 4 Best Practices:
- Always be sure to select a bidding tactic based on your campaign goals instead of flying blind and selecting the default option.
- When push comes to shove, test out different bidding strategies for a few weeks and see how performance changes.
- Measure your key performance indicators like conversions, conversion rate, cost per conversion, and more.
- Stick with the one with better results!
Google Bidding Strategies: Conclusion
When launching a new campaign on Google Ads, choosing the perfect bidding format is complex. There are tons of options to pick from, and if you don’t have experience with each, the decision could make or break your campaign. Before selecting a bidding option, assess your goals.
How to Improve CTRs
If you don’t structure your Ads account well enough or manage it effectively, the click through rates of your ads could be low. This means that you won’t get the traffic, inquiries, or sales that you expected. So how do you improve Google Ads CTR or click through rates?
Here are 9 ways you can boost your Google Ads traffic and improve your Ads click through rates.
Bonus Material: FREE Google Ads Training Guide
1. Utilize all Ad extensions
There are many types of ad extensions that can make your advert stand out from the crowd. Using the full range of extensions increases the size of your ads and makes them appear more relevant, which you’ve guessed it, improves the click through rate.
There are many different types of Ad extensions but the best ones are Sitelink ad extensions, Call extensions, Structured snippet extensions, Callout extensions, and Review extensions.
There are many other extensions types including price extensions, message extensions, location extensions and app extensions. Depending on your advertising objectives, these will all help to increase the number of people clicking on your ads.
2. Write a persuasive Advert copy
It sounds simple, but unless you take the time to write engaging adverts that include strong calls to action your advert performance will be average at best.
Look at your competitors’ ads and try to write ad copy that stands out from the competition. Think about your businesses unique selling points and experiment by split testing at least two adverts in every Ad Group
3. Include your target keywords in your adverts
It sounds obvious, but if your adverts don’t include the keywords you are bidding on within your advert copy then your CTRs will be poor and you will potentially pay more than you need to. Include your target keyword in the headline and again within the ad copy and again in the display URL.
4. Create tightly themed keyword groups
All the options in the Google Ads interface are designed to encourage you to add multiple keywords into your account and into your Ad Groups. The problem with this is that having 20+ keywords in an Ad Group impacts on the relationship between advert text and keywords in each ad group.
When people search for a keyword in your Ad group containing 20+ keywords, the advert that appears will more than likely not contain the keyword they are searching for. The result is that the click through rates and quality scores of your keywords and adverts are adversely affected. The solution is tightly group themes or keywords into smaller groups and make sure the ad copy contains the keywords at least twice if possible.
5. Use title case in your ads!
Make your adverts stand out by using title case. It is proven to increase Google Ads CTR. Which advert stands out most from the selection below?
Example of two ads – one with title case in the headline and one without.
6. Use the ad display URL effectively
The display URL can be used to reinforce the keywords used in your Ad Groups. Rather than simply display your actual website address, you can create an address that might not actually exist on your website, but it looks highly relevant to the search query you want your advert to display for.
You have 30 characters to use in the display URL in expanded text ads and this breaks down into two parts of 15 characters. Use the display URL to your advantage and include your ad group keyword phrases in parts 1 and 2 of the display URL.
Customize your ads display URL to boost CTR. You have 30 characters to include your keyword phrase on expanded text ads.
7. Regularly adjust your bids
Bid too low on your keywords and your CTR’s will suffer. Make sure that you regularly review your bid prices to ensure that you are bidding enough to appear on page one and secondly that your bids place you high enough on the page to get a decent click through rate and ultimately cost effective conversion rate.
Experiment with your bid positions and increase your bid prices incrementally rather than make bid increases. It isn’t just about bidding to appear at the top of the page as this could just use your budget and lead to expensive costs for sales or inquiries. Use Bid Adjustments during times when you know people are more likely to purchase.
8. Include call to actions and symbols in your advert copy
Think about your unique selling points and include them in your advert copy. This will make your adverts stand out and get more clicks. If you have something to shout about such as an award or accreditation, then include it in your advert copy or add sitelink extensions.
Using exclamation marks, @ symbols and other characters can draw attention to your adverts and encourage clicks. Do be careful to stay within Google’s advertising guideline. You will generally only be able to use one symbol and exclamation mark per advert. Don’t worry if you do overdo it as Google will indicate what you have done wrong.
9. Check out the competition
If you are looking for ideas when writing new adverts, then why not start by looking at what your competitors are doing? How are they advertising? Do they focus on price or mention compelling unique selling points? Are they using strong calls to action or sitelinks and call extensions or review extensions? Take inspiration from the best bits to create new adverts that stand out in the search results.
Which Ads CTR improvement techniques work for you?
The above suggestions to improve Ads CTR should certainly help you to improve campaign performance. It is a good idea to experiment and see what works for your site. Once you’ve increased your traffic you need to focus on improving conversion rates.
Google Ad Extensions
Ad extensions are additional features you can add to your text ad. There is no additional cost to using extensions, but to have them show you must be in the top 3 spots. If you’re not, then they won’t display.
Some Ad extensions are just additional texts that show when someone sees your ad, while others are actual links that people can click on. When someone clicks on a sitelink, or click to call, the cost is the same as if they'd clicked on the Ad.
Why Google Ads Extensions Are So Important
The main benefit to Ad Extensions is they make your ads stand out. According to Google, the addition of a new Ad extension to your ad can result in a 10-15% increase in click through rate.
One advantage of extensions is you can take up more real estate on the page, making your ad stand out. Google will show up to 4 extensions. This means your Ad could be nearly double the size of the ads below it. Ad extensions allow you to provide more information about your business or the products or services you offer.
Bonus Material: FREE Google Ads Training Guide
Ad extensions have the potential to lower your costs by providing you with a better Quality Score. Google recently announced these are a factor in determining Quality Score. By having a higher Quality Score your cost per click can often be lower.
How Google Ad Extensions Work and Which to Use
Here is a breakdown of the ad extensions currently available. The first three are extensions all businesses can use, while the rest will often depend on your type of industry your in and your market.
Sitelinks are additional links to your site. Instead of having prospects go to one page all the time, you can send them to various pages depending on their needs or interest. This to me is one of the best features to use as they also give more information about your business.
You can schedule some site links
For example, a plumber can list emergency plumbing, sewer repair, grease trap cleaning, or other services. When they are looking for a plumber when they have an emergency they may have more than just a leaky faucet. It could be a backed-up sewer and they’ll click the ad of the plumber that lists that service and doesn’t just say 24-hour plumber.
According to Google, sitelinks can boosts click through rates by as much as 10-20% for ads and by as much as 20-50% for branded keyword terms.
When doing sitelinks, you have the option of including a more detailed description. They don't always appear in your ads, but when they do, they can make a difference. So, think of them as each having their own call to action and value proposition.
The title for each sitelink can be up to 25 characters, including spaces, while each description line can be up to 35 characters each. Surprisingly you can use third party sites as a sitelink, so you can one for your Facebook page and another for Twitter.
You can also send mobile visitors to a different page if you want. Simply click on Advanced options to find this option. Also under Advanced option is the ability to add a start and end date for a specific link or to have it only run during certain hours of the day or certain days of the week.
You can do sitelinks at the account, campaign or ad group level.
With callouts you can add additional information, but in a shorter form and with no link. These can be used to highlight something about your company or a sale.
You have just 25 characters total, including spaces so it can seem restrictive. Ideally you want at least 2 callouts, as they will rotate. One benefit, especially for sales, is that you can schedule them. You can also have separate callouts for mobile.
Callouts can add 10% to your click through rate. As you can see there is a significant increase in clicks by using extensions.
As with sitelinks you can schedule a callout to run a short period, meaning they are ideal for specific promotions or limited time offers. They can also be scheduled to run certain times of the day. Finally, they can be used only for mobile, meaning you can call have call to actions specific to a mobile device, such as Call Us Today.
- Structured Snippets
Structured snippets are like a summary of the services or types of products you offer. There is a drop-down with a list of headings you can use such as amenities, brands, courses, insurance coverage, and service catalog. After you make your choice you can then start creating a list for the category you've chosen. If you've chosen brands, you can then start listing each brand on a line.
You must have three listings for each snippet, and you can have up to 25 characters for each listing. Google recommends having at least four listings.
Structured snippets are like a list.
Despite the number of characters allowed try to keep your snippets short so that more appear. Don't get clever with the titles but use straightforward descriptions.
Think of this as being like your website's navigation. If you have categories for your products or services, then use these as the basis for your sitelink.
You can have more than one structured snippet in your campaign, although only one will ever show. So, if more than one of the categories applies to your business, use them. Then Google will choose which to display based on the prospects search.
Like callouts and sitelinks you have advanced options related to mobile and to scheduling.
- Call Extensions
In the past, you could put your telephone number in your ad, but with the introduction of call extensions, this was prohibited. The trade off, however, makes up for this. Now prospects have the option to click to call your business instead of going through your website to make contact.
Often phone calls have a higher conversion rate than visitors who go to your site. Especially if they’re in a hurry to speak to someone such as a home service provider when they have a problem at home.
You have the option of using your actual number or a forwarding number provided by Google. With this forwarding number, you can track the success of your ads.
You can also schedule call extensions, which is critical if you're phone is only answered certain times of the day. Something else to remember about call extensions is that by using the call forwarding number you can keep track of conversion that result from it being used.
- App Extensions
With the app extension you can either send interested prospects to your site for information on app or allow them to download it directly by having them go to google play. For this extension to work you have to have your app available to download in either Google Play or the Apple App Store.
You can have a number of apps in your account, but only one will show at a time. When setting up the link you choose your mobile apps platform, either IOS or Android.
Then you look for your app by entering its name, package name, or publisher. Then you decide what the text link will be. The default is download now, but you can make it anything, with up to 25 characters available.
- Location Extensions
Google locations work with Google My Business
Location extensions are great for businesses that have a physical location or that want to show they’re in the community they’re targeting.
To utilize locations extensions, you must have a verified Google My Business listing for each location you want to use and must have it verified in the same account as your Ads account. Or at least know the email address of the account the listing is verified in.
- Promotion Extension
With promotion extensions you can highlight a sale that is going on or special promotion going on with your business. One nice feature of these is that they are set to run specific days and highlight the dates of the promotion, the amount of the discount or savings and take them to a specific page on your site that has further information.
You can have a variation on the promotion specific to mobile. You can even have a special designation if it's for a holiday such as Valentine’s Day or Black Friday. If you are still using the old AdWords interface, this extension won’t be available. It’s only in the new interface.
You have four promotion types to choose from – Monetary discount, Percent discount, Up to monetary discount, and Up to percent discount. With this extension you have up to 20 characters to describe the promotion and a link to a page on your site about the campaign.
You also have the option of providing a promo code or having a set amount (on orders of) that people must spend to get the promotion. As with many of the other extensions, an advanced tab allows for special promotions on mobile and a start and end date, as well as scheduling.
- Price Extensions
Of all the extensions, this one probably takes the most work, but if you sell products or services that have a fixed price it’s worth it. Think of them as site links for your products or services.
You can use them to list some of your products and include the price of them, as well as a link to a page on your site where the product or service is available. For local businesses such as a hair salon you can list different services you offer and the cost.
You have 25 characters for the header of what you sell. Be careful, however, as they often shorten this, as you can see from the example below. Then you have the price and add a value behind it such as hourly or monthly.
You can add up to 8 products or services and then prospects can scroll through them. At a minimum you must use at least four. You can add them at the account, campaign or ad group level.
You also have the option of sending prospects to one page if they're on mobile and a different url if they're on desktop.
- Dynamic Extensions
In addition to the many extensions you can create, there are additional ones that Google can create on their own. These are usually for businesses that don’t currently use extensions. If you do create your own extensions, then those will be shown above dynamic extensions.
Since you have no control over these, we’ll only briefly mention the ones currently available.
- Call Extensions – These are used if you're not already using call extensions
- Message Extension – Allow for the texting of messages provided you are using a mobile number for your call extensions.
- Dynamic Site Links – Google may decide other pages might be more relevant to show underneath the ad.
- Structured Snippets – Again Google will create a category and listing for your ads.
- Automated Location Extensions – another one that appears more often if you're not utilizing it.
- Seller Ratings – This is reviews that people have left about your business on Google. With the ending of the reviews extension, this one should be close behind.
- Callout Extensions – Again Google creates something based on your current campaign and site.
Make Sure You Update Your Extensions Regularly
The best option is to incorporate information in your extensions that isn't already in the text of the ad. If you're not utilizing any Ad Extensions yet, then you should be. They can take some time to set up, particularly if you have a number that you can use. Yet, once done they can not only make your ad look more robust, but they can allow you to let prospects know what makes your business unique.
Determining your most profitable keywords and creating relevant ad groups, ads, and landing pages based on those keywords is crucial to succeeding in paid search. Doing so allows you to find potential customers who are searching for offerings just like yours. But unless you’ve got money to burn, it’s equally important to identify and eliminate keywords—and thus, searchers—who aren’t looking for the products or services you provide.
Bonus Material: FREE Google Ads Training Guide
Sadly, most Google Ads (formerly known as Google AdWords) campaigns cost far more than they need to because advertisers end up paying for clicks that never deliver a return on their often-substantial investment. For some, this can be frustrating enough to stop advertising on search networks entirely.
So how do you avoid the pitfall of wasted spend?
You use negative keywords, of course!
After reading what follows, you’ll understand:
- Exactly what negative keywords are
- How they can improve the value and relevance of your paid search marketing efforts
- The value of negative keyword lists
- How to find and add negative keywords at scale
Let’s get to it.
What Are Negative Keywords?
Negative keywords are a method of preventing your ad from showing to people who search for or browse content related to those words. Negative keywords give you the opportunity to do just that, ensuring that your ads only reach the best potential audience.
Just like with the keywords you bid on, negative keywords can be assigned at the account, campaign, or ad group level and come in multiple flavors: broad, phrase, and exact. Understanding how these match types work is imperative if you want to maximize the value of negative keywords in your Google Ads accounts.
Negative keyword match types
When using negative broad match, your keywords are matched to multiple variations of a phrase, not all of which will be logical extensions of the phrase you’re targeting, and not all of which will be pertinent to your business.
In the example below, the negative broad match keyword running shoes would negate queries that show the entire negative keyword, even in cases where the words aren’t in the same order.
This does not, however, mean that you will eliminate all relevant search queries; your ads will still be eligible to enter an auction if they contain some (but not all) of the terms present in your negative keyword. This is illustrated in the example above, where an ad would still be served for search queries like “blue tennis shoes” and “google running gear.”
Negative phrase match keywords are slightly less restrictive.
Using the same example as before, your ads would be eligible to show for any search query that doesn’t contain the phrase “running shoes.” That’s because this iteration only negates search queries that contain the exact phrase you specify. A search query could have more words than your negative phrase match keyword, but if it contains the exact phrase you’ve specified, your budget is safe.
Finally, negative exact match keywords exist solely for you to eliminate specific search queries. If you add negative exact match keywords to your Google Ads account, your ads won’t show only when a searcher enters exactly what you’ve added to your account. No extra words. Nothing.
Regardless of which network you’re advertising on, you should be aware that adding too many negative keywords can have an adverse impact on your ability to reach prospects; a carefully curated list, however, has the potential to save you a ton of money.
More advantages to adding negative keywords
Improve Click-Through Rate (CTR) — Ensuring that your ads aren’t running against irrelevant queries means exposing your account to fewer uninterested impressions, meaning that the percentage of people who click on your ad will be greater.
Create More Relevant Ad Groups — By weeding out keywords that aren’t related to your business, you tighten the relevance of your ad groups. Small, closely related ad groups allow you to craft a single message that speaks to the entire group of keywords.
Save Money (Again) — So nice it’s listed twice! By avoiding paying for useless clicks, you save a lot of money by weeding out searchers who aren’t a fit for your business. You can also avoid bidding against yourself, cannibalizing impressions, and watering down your keyword-level data.
Raise Your Conversion Rate — Negative keywords will ensure that your ads don’t show for particular terms that you know won’t convert, like the names of competitors or those that convey a total lack of commercial intent.
How to Add Negative Keywords
So, you want to implement broad and phrase match keywords in your account to capture more traffic, but you’re left with a burning question…
How do I combat irrelevant clicks and impressions and uncontrolled ad spend?
Discovering negative keywords has been a laborious process, involving sitting around and brainstorming (which only gets you so far) or poring through search query reports in Google Ads.
To do this, you need to navigate your way over to the “Keywords” tab in the Google Ads UI at the account, campaign, or ad group level.
The default interface here will allow you to look at the keywords you’re bidding on, but not the queries that triggered them. To see this information, click “Search Terms” at the top of the UI:
Here, you’ll notice columns that don’t exist on the keyword screen, including:
- Search Term: The query a searcher entered into Google (or said to a virtual assistant) that triggered a keyword you’re bidding on.
- Match Type: The degree to which a search query matched up with one of your keywords.
- Added/Excluded: Action you’ve taken with a search query (added it to your account or added it as a negative keyword)
…and any other columns you’d like to pull into the interface to make informed keyword-related decisions.
Let’s take a look at how to add a negative keyword to your account.
Adding a negative keyword to your Google Ads account
Let’s say you really don’t want your ads to serve for the search query Ads extensions.
Checking the box to the left of the search query (as depicted above) will generate a blue option bar:
Since we want to add this query as a negative keyword, select “Add as negative keyword” (shocking, I know). From here, you’ll be prompted to choose the level at which the negative keyword should be assigned and the match type you’d like to use.
From here, simply hit save, and your negative keyword will go live!
Now, in the event you decide to assign your negative keyword to a negative keyword list (and then apply said list to multiple areas within your account), there are some additional processes to follow. Let’s take a look at those.
Creating Lists of Negative Keywords
Let’s face it: a Google Ads account built solely on exact match keywords probably isn’t even effective if you’re Ford or BMW. As such, you need to rely on broad and phrase match keywords to ensure adequate search volume and uncover new opportunities. But there is, of course, a downside to this sort of fishing expedition: you’re probably competing for the same impressions across campaigns.
Let’s say you sell cat and dog clothes through your eCommerce website.
Without negating the word cat (and all cat-adjacent queries) in your dog clothes campaigns, you’ll inevitably run into the issue of Google deciding to match a broad match cat keyword to a dog-related search query. The results will clearly be irrelevant to the searcher. If they don’t click it, your CTR is watered down over time; if they do, the resulting landing page will have nothing to do with the search intent.
This is called a lose-lose.
The only way to explicitly avoid this unfortunately wasteful snafu is to add negative keywords. Doing so as queries come is terribly inefficient so, instead, it makes sense to proactively create lists of search queries you don’t want your ads to show for. In the scenario outlined above, the use of negative keyword lists would ensure that Google can’t serve a “dog clothes” ad to a “cat clothes” search query because the only ads eligible to serve are in your dog clothes campaign.
To create a negative keyword list, click the tool icon at the top of the Google Ads UI and select “Negative keyword lists” from the “Shared Library” column.
From here, hit the blue plus sign and name your new list of negative keywords. Add the terms you’d like to negate (ensuring match type accuracy) …
To add your new negative keyword list to existing campaigns, go to your campaign, jump over to the keywords tab, then the negative keywords interface.
Here, just select “use negative keyword list” then select the appropriate list, hit save, and you’re ready to rock! Add any ad poaching search queries that you find directly to your negative keyword lists
Now sit back and enjoy getting Google to serve the right ads for the right search queries. Of course, you can push this same concept to the ad group level for even tighter control.
Advanced (Negative) Search Query Mining
If you’re bidding on broad match keywords to maximize impression volume but ignoring your search queries, you’re wasting money. By not managing your negative keywords in tandem with new opportunities, you’ll inevitably overlook costly search queries that might be torpedoing your ability to convert valuable searchers into customers.
Keywords are not search queries. Keywords are assumptions. Search queries are actions. They are what you think your customer will look for when using a search engine; search queries are the reality.
This is fantastic for uncovering new, long-tail opportunities (hyper-relevant, low-volume keywords you should add to your account), but it also leads to inevitable wasted spend. Therefore, digging through what appear to be insurmountably long lists of search queries in an efficient manner is so important.
Effective negative keyword management keeps your keyword research clean and maximally relevant, so you’re better able to deliver a compelling, targeted message to the exact segment of searchers you most want to reach. And your budget will be spent on impressions and clicks that are highly likely to drive relevant traffic, qualified leads, and eventual sales.
Common Google Ads Mistakes
Want to avoid common mistakes and use Google Ads as one of the most powerful marketing tools in your company?
Let’s get started!
1. Not having a campaign strategy
A strategy is a key thing in all marketing projects, including Google Ads campaigns. At the very beginning, when you start to create an Ads campaign, answer a few questions, which are crucial for efficient campaign planning. At this stage, specify among others:
- Campaign objectives.
- Target group.
- Expected results.
- Campaign duration.
Knowing the answers, you can choose the most appropriate type of Ads campaign, determine the most effective way to target your ads, design, or select relevant landing pages. Finally, you’re able to measure your campaign effectiveness, indicating how good — or bad — the results are.
Bonus Material: FREE Google Ads Training Guide
2. Targeting Ad campaigns to everyone
You probably know who your potential customers are, and you can describe their common features well. However, brands often forget that not all people who can be considered as the brand’s target group must be the recipients of an Ads campaign.
When creating a campaign aimed to acquire new clients, you need to remember that at least a few different audience segments can be targeted. Those are people looking for different information, using other keywords to find the information in the search engine, or visiting diverse websites to find businesses in the area.
Thanks to the detailed segmentation of your target group, and the creation of various campaigns aimed to target diverse groups of recipients (distinguished by similar features), the appropriate structure of your campaign can be designed. That’s the only way to reach with the offer people who’re interested in it. Now you can be sure you’re running only the most relevant ads.
3. Not having a dedicated landing page
If you run an Ads campaign for the first time, you don’t want to allocate a massive budget and resources — including time and your business staff — without knowing what the results will be. So, you start a campaign that leads your customers to your company’s homepage.
It’s the lack of dedicated or appropriately optimized landing pages that is one of the main reasons for low-performing ads.
Whether the purpose of a given Ads campaign is to obtain registration for an industry conference or to sell products online before you start increasing the traffic on the website you need to be sure that this particular landing page is well optimized to achieve your business goal.
Often minor changes in website content and/or functionalities of the landing page result in a significant improvement in campaign performance and ROI.
4. Skipping A/B tests and avoiding optimization
To achieve the best possible results of your Ads efforts, you must systematically monitor your campaign performance, collect data, make conclusions, and implement changes.
At the beginning of the campaign, set out a hypothesis you want to validate and carry out A/B tests. A/B tests are one of the most effective optimization tools for every advertising campaign. When carrying out A/B tests, you can easily verify which of the two elements affect the target group in a better way so that you achieve the best possible results. Simple enough!
Keep an eye on what kind of content is most effective, which landing page gets the best traffic. Collect data, analyze all the insights, and use your knowledge to improve your advertising activities on a regular basis.
5. Focusing on conversion without analysing additional KPIs
For various industries or types of campaigns, a conversion can include events such as a visitor filling out a contact form, newsletter form, registration form, or product purchase form in the online store. For different products or services, the conversion path may vary in length, including the time of making a purchase decision.
If the conversion is a visit on a site, it’s relatively easy to measure the results of a given campaign. However, if your goal is to sell consumer electronics goods — e.g. new smartphone models — it’s crucial to remember that in this case purchasing decisions are rarely taken when the user sees the ad or visits the online store the first time.
The key is to understand the purchase path for a given product or service, its stages, and specificity, and on this basis, design a multi-channel sales funnel.
Therefore, in addition to the conversion results — and ads quality — evaluate the traffic quality on the landing page. Understanding users’ behavior and the purchasing process will allow measuring the results of the campaign in a proper way and design all the further stages of the sales funnel.
Google Ads is one of the most used marketing tools by small and large companies, regardless of the industry.
Google Ads campaigns are usually aimed at improving the overall brand’s visibility or the company’s image, and — most importantly — gaining new customers and increasing sales.
Ad campaigns can boost the overall performance of your business but if used incorrectly, not only will the results of your campaign not be good enough, but they can also affect your overall marketing effectiveness. Advertising budgets once spent cannot be easily replaced.
Simply follow the easy, detailed steps, tips, and tricks in this guide to familiarize yourself with the Google Ads platform and how to master the essentials for creating smart Ads.
Get ready to dominate Google Ads!