The ultimate guide to Google Ads optimization

Google Ads

Google Ads is one of the most “user-friendly” platforms! It has many automated, smart options, so basically, even people with no experience can use it. But, yet again, there are many enhanced options that many people don’t quite understand, so they either leave them as default or completely ignore them. In this blog, we’ll go over some crucial optimization steps you should consider on your Google Ads Account.

1. CHECK YOUR CONVERSION TRACKING ATTRIBUTION MODEL

With the attribution model, you practically choose the way you want Google to attribute its conversions. This feature is usually set as last-click by default. Since users are navigating on more than one device–visiting websites in different stages of intent, surfing on the internet, scrolling through social media channels, their journey to purchase is a mix of touchpoints. 

With the last-click model, you only attribute conversions to ads users saw last. Here is one example:

  • A user might get on your site through social media in the first touchpoint 
  • Search for your brand and get through a paid ad
  • See your remarketing display ad afterward
  • Click on it and convert through the website
  • With last-click, Google Ads would contribute conversions only to that banner and won’t consider search ad at all.

We can track the purchases differently with the Google system and change this feature in our conversation action settings tab. 

Google Ads

We can track by the first interaction or last, or measure conversions linearly through their journey where every channel gets equal credits for one conversion. Data-driven is the most precise way to measure which ad is of utmost importance in finalizing the conversion since the user might click on several ads before the purchase. Unfortunately, this attribution model is unavailable until you get at least 300 conversions in 30 days.

2. CHECK YOUR LOCATION TARGETING OPTIONS

This feature targets people physically in some specific location or showing interest in a particular area by default.

Even if Google marks this option as recommended, usually for many businesses, this can generate an additional cost to show ads to people that aren’t physically in their shipping area. 

Google Ads - location targeting

So, for example, someone who is physically in Canada but constantly searches for products like “pet supplies California” will be listed as a person showing interest in California.

For some industries, this option might be good to stay as default. Still, it’s highly recommended for eCommerce businesses to set targets only for people who are physically in some location.

3. CHECK YOUR BIDDING STRATEGIES

The mentioned optimization steps are more like power switches that you can turn on/off to make some changes to the account. We’ll continue with some of the best strategy practices. No matter what the campaign type is, bidding strategy is one of the key factors affecting your campaign performance

What bidding strategy you’ll choose depends on how long your campaigns have been running and the number of conversions they’ve generated. When you have a new account with no data, it's usually good to start with Manual CPC with enhanced options turned on. 

Google Ads - bidding strategies

While using this bidding strategy, you can determine bids on keyword level for search or product level for shopping. With Keyword Planner, you can see historical data for the top of the page rate bid range and use it to determine your new bids.

When you get enough conversions and Google Algorithm catches the conversion flow, it will offer you smart bidding options (Target ROAS & Target CPA). It usually takes around 15 conversions in 30 days for most accounts to use these smart bidding options. 

With Target ROAS, you can define a target return on your ad spend, and your bids will automatically adapt to reach that target, while with Target CPA, you can define your cost-per-acquisition. 

A good practice is to start with Manual CPC and wait for sufficient conversion data to fill out and then switch to automated bidding options.

4. GO THROUGH THE SEARCH TERM REPORT & ADD NEGATIVE KEYWORDS

With the Search and Shopping campaigns, analyzing your search term report and harvesting keywords is the core of campaign success. However, it’s different when you start fresh with a new account and when your account is up and running for some time.

Keyword Planner is a tool that can help you when you are starting with no data. For example, it can show you the historical search volume for each keyword you enter per month to see which keywords to begin with. 

Besides the standard option where you enter the keyword itself, you can create your analysis with a website page. You can enter your landing page, for example, as a filter for keywords, and then the Keyword Planner will crawl through it and give you the keyword suggestions.

Google Ads - search term report

Same as you add keywords, you need to negate them for search terms that aren’t profitable. You can see what search terms were triggered by your keywords in the search term report.

You can add negative keywords one by one; that way, you can add keywords both on ad group and campaign level, or you can create negative keyword lists and then add them only on the campaign level.

You can find the Negative keyword lists option under Shared Library.

Google Ads - negative keywords

A good strategy is to pre-define your negative keyword list with phrases that contain “what,” “who,” “which” since those are informational search terms and people who enter those search terms are seeking some additional info and aren't likely to convert. Then, you can use them for separate campaigns and ads that give basic information to customers in the research phase.

Also, if you have a list of your competitors, it is good to put phrases with their brand names as negative keywords because you don’t want to spend money on users searching for a specific brand that isn’t yours.

5. USE AUDIENCE TARGETING

Google has a vast database of users segmented based on their interests, habits, etc. Therefore, you should always use this option, no matter the campaign type. 

Google Ads - audience targeting

You can browse your audience based on various parameters (user affinity, demographic, user interest), and you can also retarget the audience that already visited your website.

Google also gives an option to target those audiences or to “observe” them. The observation option is helpful for the Search and Shopping campaigns because they are triggered based on search terms. You don’t want to limit your audience target because anyone who performs a search relevant to your product could be a customer. The targeting option is more used for Video and Display ads.

A good practice is to segment your Video and Display ads based on users who already know your brand and new users. You can do that by segmenting your campaigns into those targeting website visitors and others targeting new users based on Google’s pre-defined audience database. But, of course, you also need to exclude website visitors in a campaign that targets new visitors. 

Google Ads

Google also gives you an option to create custom audiences based on search terms they’ve used. It’s pretty useful as an additional targeting option for Video and Display ads. 

Google Ads - Custom audience

It's also a good practice to use this targeting in a separate ad group.

CONCLUSION

Even if your Google Ads account is new and you are about to launch your first ads, there are a lot of options you can pre-define to avoid unnecessary costs. Google Ads account requires constant care, so it's crucial to perform analysis and check your reports regularly. In the end, there is testing. Not all brands and products are the same, so don’t be afraid to test what works for you! You should try different bidding options, keywords, campaign structures, and ad variations and scale on those that show promising results. If you wish to increase sales with Google Ads, we suggest you download our FREE E-book by clicking here! In addition, we offer you a FREE audit of your Google Ads account, so be sure to book yours today.

About the author

Igor Kecman is a PPC Specialist within Google Ads Team in Sellers Alley. He has three years of experience in the Digital Marketing Industry, working with clients from various industries. He specializes in Google PPC Advertising and Amazon DSP (Demand Side Platform), along with site analytics implementation and performance analysis. 

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