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You’ll get expert advice on topics to help grow your business today.
What are Google Paid Search Ads? Google Ads (formerly Google AdWords) is a platform where advertisers can advertise on Google Display (banner/video ads on websites), Product Listing Ads (Shopping ad promoting the purchase of products), Video Ads (YouTube), and Universal App ads.
Today we are focusing on the Search Network and you or your SEM agency can leverage it to the max. Google created ads based on search queries in 2000, and hasn’t looked back since.
Currently, this ad network brings in tens of billions for Google in revenue. Advertisements targeting search queries can be very beneficial for businesses because of the search intent of keywords with which advertisers can use to hyper-target their audience.
Google Ads has been a game-changer for marketers who didn’t have the kind of transparency on user intent, behavior, and interest before Google came along. Clearly, if you’re a business looking to increase sales and revenue, you need to at least consider Google Ads as a strategic platform.
In the following article, I’ll seek to draw the curtain on how to create campaigns to show up for certain search terms when people search on Google. When ads show up for specific search terms, businesses are trying to make money now (through taking the user to purchase a product), or to fill out a form to become a lead in their sales pipeline, or to bring awareness, which can be later converted into a sale (i.e. targeting users further up the sales funnel).
The Google Ad Platform works on a bidding auction system where your ad position is based on your maximum bid and your Quality Score. And this Quality Score is the first of 32 points we’ll address in our guide to best practices for Google Ads.
Quality Score is a metric that is a combination of your expected CTR, ad relevance score, and landing page relevance score.
While bidding the highest can get you the best chance at a high ad position – which can lead to a greater awareness of your business through clicks to your website – increasing the relevance of your ads and landing page can earn you a discount on how much you bid in order to attain a certain ad position (a penny saved is a penny earned!).
You see, Google, doesn’t want to just show users ads from businesses who can pay the most, they want ads to be relevant to user searches, so users continue searching on Google and clicking on ads (which makes Google lots of money).
All of that being said, make sure your keywords and ads align. In other words, include your keyword in the headline and try to include the keyword again in your ad if you can. When Google sees that your ad contains the keyword you are bidding on, they will be more likely to give you a higher score in ad relevance – which can increase your Quality Score.
Next, you want to optimize your landing page to match up with the user intent of the keywords you’re bidding for and the ad copy you created. Make sure the user is not surprised when they arrive to your landing page and that their search intent matches what you are offering on your landing page. Also, you want to make sure the keyword appears on the landing page at least once, if not more.
Again, it is these simple signals that indicate relevance. Even though relevance is more complicated, why not do it and save your marketing some money?
Having a good quality score discounts the price you have to pay to appear at a certain ad position. It is a way to increase your ad position without bidding higher.
As you can see, anything 6 or above is decent. For more specific keywords like your brand, you’ll want to rank in the 8-10 range.
Conversion tracking is a must in order to measure success and to make meaningful optimizations to your Google Ads campaigns. As a business, your goal is to have an ad attract a user in order to bring them to your landing page to perform an action that leads to money for you.
How can you know if your Google Ads campaign is successful unless you can track these actions? The short answer is you can’t. This is the best thing about Google Ads. You can track down to the ad or keyword where a sale, a form fill, or a newsletter signup came from.
By knowing which keywords or ads worked, you can optimize your campaigns to improve performance by increasing the number of actions or conversions or by acquiring conversions at a lower cost (i.e. getting the most bang for your buck)
Creating a Google Analytics account and linking it to your Google Ads account is the easiest and cheapest (it’s free!) way to track conversions. You’ll want to test that conversions are tracking accurately before you initiate any campaign, because if your conversions are not tracking accurately, your advertising decisions will be based on incomplete data, which won’t lead to optimal outcomes.
I recommend installing Google Tag Manager and using that to install all your tracking pixels (all platforms have their own unique tracking code and installing them manually and keeping track of all of them can be a pain).
Are you trying to get purchases of a product or products? Are you trying to get your users to fill out a form of their contact information? Are you trying to get emails for newsletter signups? Perhaps you are trying to get purchases, but only if you get a minimum return-on-investment (ROI)?
Maybe you’re trying to acquire leads, but only at a certain price (cost-per-acquisition, CPA)? Are you trying to get a certain number of website visitors? Maybe you’re trying to get website visitors that visited at least 3 pages on your website.
Or maybe you want website visitors, but they are only valuable if they spend more than 3 minutes on your site. Maybe you want visitors to watch a certain percentage of a demo video you have on your site. The possibilities are literally endless.
Knowing what actions or conversions are valuable to your business, and how much they are worth are crucial data points to successfully advertising them on Google Ads.
Now that you know what you want to advertise, you’ll want to set a budget. You’ll want to do some preliminary research on average CPC and conversion rate for different industries and create a baseline projection for how you want the AdWords campaign to perform. You don’t have to hit this mark off the bat; it is just a starting point. You could find that you’re wildly off base with your initial projections, but like everything, you have to start somewhere.
There is little that you can’t target for these days on Google ads. You want to know as much about your target audience as you can so you can target only those who fit your business’s customer profile. This is a never-ending pursuit, and the devil can be in the details.
Some attributes to start out with:
Check out your Google Analytics account for the data on your users. Yup, you have it already!
Facebook’s rise in the advertising world has caused Google to ramp up their user persona profile. You can target based on custom affinity based on URL, interests, place, or apps to narrow down audiences based on their interests, or things you know they would be interested in. You can also use custom intent audiences or in-market audiences where you can use a URL or products that your audience is actively searching for.
You can also target based on remarketing/retargeting. This is a big one, and a reason why it is a no-brainer to install Google Analytics.
You can target users visit based how they interacted with your website. The combinations are endless. One of the big remarketing audiences everyone uses is those that have been to your site, but haven’t converted. You can get quite granular with this audience.
Is there a certain action taken on the website that makes them ready to see a certain advertisement/offer. These actions, or events, that you can track on your website include, but are not limited to:
The key point here is you can not know too much about your audience. Who knows what combination of touchpoints lead to an eventual conversion (actually, you do, because if you installed Google Analytics, you have all the data, you just need to analyze it and discover the patterns!)
You can even hyper-target by combining search and layering it with RLSA (remarketing list for search ads). Indeed, you can apply any audience. You can bid higher confidently for keywords knowing how qualified each user is with an added layer of audience data.
If you just want to see how campaigns or ad groups would do with RLSA without actually applying it, you can put the settings in ‘observation’ mode only, so you can see how certain criteria might perform.
“Good marketers copy, great one’s steal” as they say. Research what your competitors are doing through searches within Google and see what their ads, offers, and landing pages look like and make yours better.
Get acquainted with Google’s Keyword Planner where you can enter phrases, topics, and even URLs for Google to come up with ideas on search queries to bid on. Once you understand your business model and goals, you will want to decide on the search queries that could be most valuable to your business and bid on them. Again, don’t forget to include keywords in your ads and on your landing page for relevance purposes to get your Quality Score as high as possible. You can always pause underperforming keywords, and bid up on keywords that work well.
Keyword match types and cascade bidding are important aspects of Google Search Ads management. Exact match type is the most easily understood keyword matchup. If someone searches the exact search query you are bidding on, your ad will appear. Google has added ‘close variations’ to this match type to include misspellings, singular and plural versions, and abbreviations.
A conservative PPC approach would be to use phrase and exact match, bidding phrase slightly lower than exact so that the exact match type gets triggered whenever applicable. Adding modified broad match can be appropriate if you have more budget to play with, or you’ve seen success with a particular search query.
You would want to bid modified broad match with a bid below phrase match type in line with cascade bidding, since modified broad match types are broader than phrase match.
Figure out what it is that you want your user to perform. This is related to your goal, so if your goal is a form fill, you are probably enticing them to give you your information with some kind of offer. You need to highlight the action in your ad, and follow up in making the CTA clear on the landing page.
For example, if you are offering a whitepaper download in order to get a user’s information, make that clear in the ad copy and the landing page. This can’t be repeated enough: Do not surprise your user. You got them to click on your ad with a promise, now follow through by making it easy for them to convert.
You will be creating hundreds, if not thousands, of campaigns over the life of your Google Ads career if you are successful and continually trying to improve. Knowing what you’ve tried and optimized for will be important as you build up a history of companies.
Naming conventions make campaigns easy to find and to understand the object of each campaign. Have you included all the relevant and possible offerings based on your website content? Good structuring helps to organize your Google Ads efforts – which can get disorganized fairly quickly!
You need to calculate your customer’s lifetime value so you can figure out the ideal CPA. It is amazing how many businesses do not know the lifetime value of their customers. How can you know what to bid for leads if you do not know what they are worth and you’re trying to make a profit?
If your business is just making a one-time sell, then the lifetime value is easy to calculate; it is just the value of the item being purchased. However, many businesses depend on repeat customers, upselling, and have different offerings.
The average value of what your customers will eventually buy from you represents their lifetime value, and this is a key metric to optimize for if you’re trying to achieve long-term and sustainable profits.
Which area of the funnel are you targeting with each campaign, and is it the appropriate offer (ebook, whitepaper, case study, demo video, free limited trial, live demo, consultation, purchase)? Is it the appropriate ad and landing page? Are the KWs you’re targeting aligned with the correct area of the funnel? Separate your keyword research into their intent category (awareness, consideration, interest, preference, and finally, purchase). The better targeted your campaigns, the higher the CTRs and conversion rates will be and the more money you’ll make.
Via Neil Patel
Tightly themed ad groups (5-10 related keywords or less per ad group) for ease of optimizations, high relevance for conversion rate optimization, and for high Quality Scores. We will talk about separating out keywords once they show sufficient volume and profit for you to take the time to optimize separately (aka SKAGS), but for now, you want to make sure you can include the keyword in the ad without deviating from the intent and content of any of the keywords in the ad group.
For general keyword campaigns, you’ll want to have your brand as a negative to divert all branded traffic to one campaign for ease of optimizations. Branded campaigns require less maintenance and serve a different purpose than general keyword campaigns.
You’ll then want to create campaigns just for branded terms. Branded searches are important to protect your piece of real estate for those searching your brand. You want to appear at the top when users search your brand. While you’re often paying just for someone to easily navigate to your site, it is better than having another brand steal a user while they’re on their way to your site!
When you bid on phrase and modified broad match types, you’ll appear for search queries that expand upon your initial exact match keyword. Some search queries will help you discover new keywords to bid on that are highly relevant to your business. You will want to analyze your search query report (above) to see what search queries you’re appearing for. If the search volume is significant and the keyword is successful, you’ll want to build out these keywords for new ad groups to monitor and optimize separately.
There will be other search queries that you’ll show up for that are irrelevant for your business. In this case, you would want to make a note of the keywords that are causing your keywords to show up for irrelevant search queries and add those words as negatives or exclusions. Continually analyzing your search query report and making these optimizations will refine, sharpen, and make your Google Ads campaigns more efficient.
Understand the ramifications of all bidding options and choose the correct bidding strategy based on your goals.
Manual CPC bidding might be appropriate if you want to generate website traffic through maximization of users clicking through to your ad. If you want Google to take over, you can choose the Maximize Clicks option.
You can use CPC or vCPM (cost per thousand viewable impressions) if you want to increase brand awareness.
There are a number of Smart Bidding options for those who want Google’s algorithms and machine learning capabilities to take over: Target CPA (cost-per-acquisition), target ROAS (return-on-ad-spend), maximize conversions, or enhanced CPC (used in combination with manual CPC to maximize conversions if you want more control).
Figure out what your winning strategy is!
Try to get off to a good start by appearing in 1st or 2nd position for keywords to start off in order to boost CTR and give your campaign the best chance at an initially high quality score.
Test bidding and positions to determine the ideal cost that yields your target CPA while maximizing conversions. You can quickly grow your campaigns if you’re producing a winning product and winning ads. Hang on tight!
Via Ad Espresso
While user’s don’t usually click on extensions, extensions improve real estate and make your ad more salient, leading to a higher CTR. Make sure you try to use as many ad extensions as you can.
Maybe the third time’s a charm, so let me say it again: Don’t surprise your user when they arrive on your site. Make it as easy as possible for the user to complete the CTA that he agreed to complete when he clicked on your ad.
If you believe perfection does not exist, then this is the way to continuously and incrementally improve your Google Ads performance. Keep your ads fresh by constantly running a new ad against the current champion, at minimum.
Make constant tweaks to your landing page once you have solid traffic coming to your site; small changes in the conversion rate of your landing page act as a rising tide that lift the performance of all the campaigns.
Via Hippo Marketing
If Google Ads and PPC in general were a city, they would be New York City, because they never sleep. Many first-time advertisers set up their campaigns, see good results, and think they can just auto-pilot their way to conversions. Well, let this be your wake-up call. Don’t be like all those other beginner PPC folks that forgot about their Google Ads campaigns and come back to a non-converting pile of mess. Don’t ever stop monitoring or trying to incrementally improve your campaigns. The competition for all search queries continues to rise, and ad copy can get stale.
Maybe you’re still too lazy to do testing. It’s actually okay, because of…
These are Google’s answer to those who want high performing, incrementally improving ads without the work. You literally submit a bunch of different ad types and Google figures out which one works the best. This is machine learning at its finest. Here are some tips:
Segmentation of high-performing keywords into single keyword ad groups (SKAGS) to hyper-target, lowering bids or pausing of poor-performing keywords to increase CTRs and QS. Some advertisers only use SKAG bidding for all of their campaigns. If you have the time and resources to manage an account like that, more power to you. You can’t argue against high specificity.
However, just like most things in life, it is not black and white. There is a median strategy of grouping similar keyword terms in an ad group (5-10) keywords, where the main root keyword is present in all the keywords. Whatever strategy you use, optimizations are the same – you just might have more ad groups to deal with.
Use the Multi-Funnel Channels report to map your digital marketing customer journey and use insights from the new found data points to optimize your remarketing, targeting, your offers, and landing page.
Sometimes users see a display ad, video ad, or search a general keyword without clicking on the ad, but later go to your website to convert. You can figure out where these interactions or touchpoints are occuring in your multi channel funnels report and increase traffic to these ads if they are providing value through new users that eventually convert.
Again, if you know your customer’s lifetime value, you can calculate the value and a budget that still allows you to make a profit and bring in these new users that are a few touchpoints away from converting.
If you haven’t heard, mobile search growth is growing. A lot. The experience on mobile can be a different experience altogether, requiring different techniques and messaging. Look into…
Try out call-only ads if phone calls are a valuable conversion for your business. This doves nicely with best practice #30, and again, mobile search is rising and fast.
Let’s face it, Google’s measurement tools for call tracking are not up to par, yet. Luckily there are many third-party vendors like Call Rail with a plethora of tracking and reporting options for your call only campaigns.
Google Ads is becoming more mainstream everyday, and another day not learning and optimizing and participating in the king of digital marketing is a day your business is losing ground.