From the outside looking in, Google advertising is a scary-looking platform. It’s big: it’s easy to get distracted by all the bells and whistles, and it’s continually changing. That being said, it does provide countless ways to grow businesses of any size. Although it may seem scary, it’s actually easy to create an account and start a campaign; what’s hard is managing and succeeding with Google Ads. After a lot of trial and error, we have learned a lot about what to do—and what not to do—when it comes to Google Ads. Here are nine do’s and don’ts for Google Ads that we wish we knew before we started using them.
First, let's take a look at what you should do:
One keyword can trigger many different types of searches on which your ad could appear . It is important to check in on your keywords’ search terms (actual searches people perform that trigger a keyword you are targeting) regularly so you are not wasting your ad spend on less valuable searches for your business. For example, the keyword “zoo in Buffalo” could be triggered by a higher-valued search such as “zoo in Buffalo, NY prices,” but can also trigger a lesser-valued search such as “Buffalo zoo pictures” or “Buffalo zoo food.” By checking your search terms regularly, you can add to your list so that your ad is less likely to appear in the search results when someone types one of your negative keywords. This will help make sure your budget is spent in a more meaningful way that provides more value to your business.
Google evolves and makes changes to its platform every day, it seems. If it wants to take away average position metrics, stop letting your industry advertise on the platform, or disapprove your ads, it can and it will. Google evolves fast, and your business needs to evolve with it if you want to succeed…and keep advertising with them.
Google Ads provides advertisers with a lot of metrics and data to look at. Although some may find it fun to scour through all the information, marketers must focus on metrics that move the businesses’ bottom lines. For most companies, the most important metrics should be a conversion or sale. By focusing on these essential metrics, advertisers can make the correct optimizations and spend more time on what matters.
“What gets measured, gets improved” — Peter Drucker
Measuring and tracking results is crucial for a business these days. Monitoring conversions is what positively impacts your company’s bottom line. A conversion, for example, may be a call lasting 60 seconds or longer, a submitted form, a sale, or someone signing up for your newsletter. Whatever the specific action is, tracking it will enable you to optimize your campaigns and better track how your advertising dollars are working for you.
Google is consistently adding new tools to help businesses advertise on its platform. Testing ad copy, tools, keywords, and bidding strategies is imperative to successful campaigns (if done correctly). Testing is a double-edged sword, however, because while it can result in better ROI, it can also be detrimental to those who try to test everything all at once. Setting up a controlled testing protocol will assure the best results and let your campaigns evolve as Google evolves.
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Searches are constantly being made on mobile devices, yet a lot of businesses are still not optimizing for mobile. The trend is clear and continues to grow; a marketing strategy that isn’t mobile is behind the times. Landing pages and ad copy must be constructed with a mobile-first mentality.
Google, among many other companies, is using and integrating AI and machine learning on its platforms. AI-based bidding strategies and ads, among other features, are creating exciting ways to maximize search campaigns. Google is all-in on AI, which means that if we do not test the new AI tools it gives us, our campaigns will fall behind.
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Competition comes and goes, but when it shows up, it can change your outcome in Google Ads. Additional competition raises your cost-per-click, as well as your cost-per-conversion metrics, which could affect your business’ lead generation strategy. Checking the auction insights tab in Google Ads for competition every month can help you stay ahead. This additional information can help you determine the maximum appropriate bids for your keywords, and further your budget.
Google’s keyword planner is an excellent free tool that lets you find new keywords, as well as expand and optimize your current keywords. This tool presents you with historical search metrics, forecasted performance, seasonal trends, and competition levels for keywords related to your business and services offered. This tool can help your campaign flourish by finding less competitive, yet valuable keywords to target for your business.
Now, let’s talk about what you should not do in Google Ads
“Sometimes it’s the things you don’t do that make the difference.”
With so many metrics to look at in a Google Ads campaign, it can be easy to get into the weeds and focus on statistics that don’t move the needle (known as “vanity metrics”). Although impressions, clicks, and click-through rate (CTR) are essential, they should not be the focus of your campaign. Focusing on these metrics distracts from your goals and can result in unneeded stress, wasted time, and poor strategic decisions. Focusing on data such as conversions and sales (as mentioned above) will ultimately help grow your business.
A campaign with a beautiful structure—laid out with well-thought-out ad groups, compelling ad copy and fine-tuned keywords with match types is just the start. As soon as your competition raises their bids, Google changes its algorithms, or viral content causes consumers to search for something similar to your keywords, the playing field shifts. So it’s important to always monitor your campaigns.
For example, let’s say you work for a voiceover company that has been doing very well with its Google Ads, but hasn’t checked-in on its campaign in months. You might notice a lot more clicks and impressions, but your conversions may have dropped significantly because your keywords are only getting picked up by people searching the television show, “The Voice.” Given the constant shifting of the consumer landscape, it is critical to keep a close eye on your campaigns to ensure they’re doing what you intend them to do.
Your competition may have been running paid search for as long as you can remember, but it does not mean their campaign is working well for them. Nor does it mean a similar campaign will work for you. Copying the keywords of your competition, or their ad copy, usually will not give you the results you’re looking for.
Google Ads evolves at rapid speeds, competition comes and goes, and consumer habits change faster than everat. A Google Ads campaign that has been delivering consistently can cause marketers to get comfortable and neglect the basics. By getting too comfortable, you can neglect easy optimizations to improve performance or miss minor changes in results that can have a meaningful impact to your overall marketing effort.
It is easy to forget that match types pick up similar keywords and phrases. Often, brands set up campaigns using every phrase and keyword possible, which results in a lot of wasted time. For example, the keyword “roofing company Buffalo, NY” will suffice; you do not need to add “roofing company in Buffalo, NY,” “roofing company in Buffalo, New York,” “roofing companies Buffalo, NY,” “roofing companies Bufalo, NY,” AND “roof company Buffalo, NY.” The original phrase match keyword will pick up on all of those alternatives; you do not need 131 keywords when 29 of them will trigger all searches.
There is always going to be a competitor with a bigger budget; trying to outbid your competitors will result in high cost-per-click, high cost-per-conversion, and wasted spend. You may not like that your competition is showing up above you in the search results, but it does not mean they are winning all of the business. In the short term, you may be happy to “stick it to them” by outbidding, but this only means that your budget will run out faster, ultimately leading your traffic and searches to that same competitor in the long-term.
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7. DON’T copy and paste your campaign from market to market
Every market is different when it comes to how people search, how they react, and how they buy. A campaign that is simply copied across your different markets isn’t one that will see much success. While you will likely have similarities across regions, things like prices, competition, keywords and how users find your business should—and will—be different.
8. DON’T dismiss your landing page’s mobile speed
One of the most significant changes Google is implementing for paid and organic traffic is mobile website load speed. If the platform determines your mobile site loads too slowly, it could result in higher costs-per-click and more limited keyword delivery than your competitors. Ensuring your mobile website loading is as efficient as possible will protect you from these negative implications.
9. DON’T stop testing
Almost all elements of your campaign, such as keywords, ad copy, bid adjustments, bidding strategies, landings pages, etc. should be tested. Setting up a testing protocol or schedule will help you get the most out of your Google Ads campaigns.
Paid search can be a double-edged sword. There is so much available at your fingertips to create a successful campaign, but all the options can quickly distract you from your ultimate goals. Keeping these common “do’s” and “don’ts” in mind will set the stage for a successful,ongoing Google Ads Campaign.
Are there any Google Ads do’s and don’ts that resonate with you? Is there something we missed? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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