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The Ultimate Guide to Optimize Google Ads Search Campaigns

The Ultimate Guide to Optimize Google Ads Search Campaigns
July 23, 2019

The Ultimate Guide to Optimize Google Ads Search Campaigns

Jul 23, 2019
Padmaja Patil
Padmaja is a passionate digital marketer with content creation and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) skills.

Do you reckon that channelizing your digital marketing efforts towards either of the owned or paid or earned media alone isn’t sufficient enough to succeed? Firstly, What are these owned, paid or earned media? To explain in brief, these are the different mediums available for digital marketing. Earned media is about social sharing, reviews, mentions, reposts, etc. Owned media is about your website, blogs, etc that you own and is distinctive to your brand. Lastly, paid media is about advertising(PPC, display, etc), retargeting, paid content promotions, etc. You cannot just put 100% efforts on optimizing your website for SEO and think you have done enough to reach your goals. The same applies when you just concentrate on getting your Ads up and running, ignoring the other factors. You succeed and reach your goals only when you concentrate on the usage of appropriate channels available in each of the owned, paid and earned media for your website. 

Now, let's dig deeper into one of the channels of paid media which is advertising, advertisement of your products and services. Can there be a better platform than the Google search engine itself to advertise your products and services? Definitely not. You can assess by yourself how big of a platform is this, by going through these facts about the Google search engine. Being the most popular search engine, as per SEO Tribunal, on any given day, Google receives over 63000 searches per second. Also, the average person performs 3-4 searches every single day. Hubspot mentions that 85% of mobile traffic is captured by Google. I hope you are now getting a picture of how huge this opportunity is. The opportunity to present your business in front of your target audience at the right time and to convert them as valuable customers.

As you know, Google Ads is where it all starts but is it just enough to create the Ads here, keep your fingers crossed and expect business growth? No, not enough. This is where optimization comes into the picture. For effective utilization of the marketing budget, optimization of Google Ads search campaign is crucial for higher Clickthrough Rates(CTR), lower Cost Per Click(CPC) and a higher Return On Investment(ROI). Here’s an ultimate guide to optimize Google Ads search campaigns. 

1. Keywords Optimization

Keywords are the key elements of your Ads. Knowing the right keywords can get you a higher CTR which is one of the factors considered for the Quality Score(QS). A poor Quality Score can cause damage to your CPC and the performance of your Ads. Until you put up relevant keywords in your Ads and run them you never know which of them are going to out-perform or under-perform. Once you Ads go live, here are a few things you can look for and take appropriate actions to optimize your keywords.

a. Add Negative Keywords

Consider a scenario, a baking products eCommerce company which is newly established and is trying to reach a larger set of audience by search Ad campaigns. They are using a broad match keywords for maximum audience reach. After their Ads start running, they see that they are paying for the clicks that aren’t adding any value to their business. For example, they used keywords like “baking”, “online baking” “baking products”. Since its a broad match, the Ads kept showing when people searched for keywords like “online baking classes”, “baking recipes”, etc. Google Ads provide a way to ignore these keywords by adding them to the negative keywords list. This is a great way to enhance the relevancy, in turn, the quality score and at the same time reach large audiences.

To add negative keywords, login to Google Adwords account. Click on the campaign you want to edit. On the left-hand side panel, click on the “Keywords” link. Switch the tab to “Negative Keywords”.  The sample screen is as shown below


b. Research and Add New Keywords

Keywords are ever-evolving with a variety of people searching online. A person looking to buy flowers can search “flower shop nearby” whereas another person with the same intent can search for something like this “buy flowers online”. If you are a florist with a brick and mortar as well as offer online service. Both of these are researches are prospective customers to your business. There may be hundreds and thousands of such customers looking for the same thing on special days. Constantly keep researching on what exact phrases are users using and try and incorporate the relevant ones into your search Ad campaign keywords list. 

c. Remove Under-Performing Keywords

Reviewing keywords frequently does more good than harm. You can look for keywords that are not performing up to the expectations. Reason can be anything, either the keyword is considered irrelevant or there is a  shift in the trend or it may be simply users are not using the word anymore. It is vital to remove such keywords as they impact the Quality Score. Go to the keywords list of your search Ad Campaign and delete them. 

2. Display URL Optimization

A display URL is a URL that your target audience will see when your search Ad is displayed. Display URL gives the prospective customers an idea of what they will be offered when they visit the landing page. So optimizing it is very important. 
The inclusion of keywords in the display URL is a good approach as the keyword gets bolden by the search engine if it matches the search phrase highlighting the relevancy. An example display URL is as below

https://www.domainname.com/path1/path2

In the above URL, path1 and path2 can be used to include the keywords. 

Another way of optimizing the display URL is to make the URL more readable by including hyphens between the words. Display URLs can also be optimized to include a call to action. This encourages or compels the target audience to take action. You can add a call to action words like BookNow, JoinNow, RegisterNow, etc. A screenshot below shows the same.

3. Campaign/Ad Group Structure Optimization

You can optimize the campaign or the Ad group structure by grouping similarly-themed Ads together. By doing this you can research and add the most relevant keywords to the corresponding Ad groups rather than mixing up all the keywords together affecting the relevancy and the performance of the Ads. Consider you offer digital marketing services and you are running search ads often, it may happen that you might miss out on the keywords that users are using to look for a specific service. If the user is looking for SEO services, even though you offer the service since your keyword list is missing the phrase, your Ad won't be pulled up when the query runs, missing out on a lot of business. If you plan your campaign properly and create separate Ad Groups for each service offering the chances of missing out are reduced considerably. For example, One Ad Group focusing on Advertisement services, other on SEO services, the 3rd group on the Content Marketing services, etc

4. Optimize Ads for Ad Extensions

Ad Extensions are a great addition to the Ads. On inclusion, these Ad Extensions not only maximize the performance of search Ads by providing useful information but also help with the improvement of the Quality Score by increasing the CTR. Also, the addition of these Ad Extensions doesn’t cost you anything extra. You will still be paying for the “Click”. When it's a win-win situation then why not go for it. However, the addition of Ad Extensions doesn’t guarantee that they will be shown along with the Ads always. It depends on factors like the Ad Rank and Ad position.  Here are some of the major Ad Extensions.

Call Extensions

By adding this Ad Extension, you are giving your prospective customers an option to call you by displaying your business contact number along with the text Ad. You can schedule this particular extension to appear during your business hours. You can also get a detailed report of the number of calls your Ad campaign has generated helping you to evaluate ROI. An example of Call Extension is as shown below:

Google Ads - Search Ads - Call Extension

Callout Extensions

Callout Extensions allow you to add more information in the form of text. This additional space to add more text can be used to highlight the unique features that the business offers and can be thought of as bullet points. An example of Callout Extension is as shown below:

Google Ads - Search Ads - Callouts Extension

Sitelink Extensions

Using this Extension, the user can be provided with multiple links that take them to the other important pages on your website. This Extension also helps to understand which pages are the customers most interested in. An example of Sitelink Extension is as shown below:

Google Ads - Search Ads - Site Links Extension

Structured Snippet Extensions

This Extension allows you to specify the various aspects of your services. The snippet has two parts, a header and a list of comma-separated values. An example of Structured Snippet Extension is as shown below:

Google Ads - Search Ads - Structured Snippet Extension

Review Extensions

This particular Extension allows you to incorporate your business reviews in your Search Ad. By looking at the reviews, customers get an idea of how good your service offerings are and increase the chances of conversion drastically. An example of Review Extension is as shown below:

Google Ads - Search Ads - Review Extension

Location Extensions

This Extension displays the address to your business location by linking your Ad to Google My Business Page. This information helps customers to belong to the same location and have the intent to visit the store/office. So in order to use this extension you need to register your business to Google My Business Page. An example of Location Extension is as shown below:

Google Ads - Search Ads - Location Extensions

5. Bid Optimization

To start with bid optimization, you need to have an understanding of which keywords are getting you conversions and how much can you bid on each keyword. There is a bit of math involved here but there is no need to be intimidated. 

If you are new to Adwords and you don't have reports to analyze and to optimize bid. You can start by bidding aggressively. This increases your opportunity to get the prime spots and hence grab you more clicks and conversions. Once you start getting the conversion data. You can then continue with the process as mentioned below.

Firstly, you have to have a goal that describes the conversion. The goal can be either a phone call, filling a subscription form, purchasing a product, etc. A conversion tracking system should be in place to understand which of the keywords are causing conversions. For example, you decide to invest $10 for conversion as a conversion gets you a profit of 100$(seems fair enough to spend 10% of the profit for marketing). And you have analyzed that your keyword has a conversion rate of 10%. To calculate the CPC, multiply the conversion rate and the amount you have decided to invest. In our case, the CPC would be 1$ (10*10/100).  Depending on the keywords, the conversion rates vary and so does the CPC for each keyword. Calculate the CPC for high-performing keywords and use them accordingly for maximum ROI and conversion rate optimization

This helps you to understand how much money you can spend per click to reach your goal considering your budget. You should constantly keep monitoring the performance and analyze the data to help you come up with the most effective bids. This is an attention-seeking and time-consuming process but who wouldn’t want to spend the money wisely and get optimal results out of it. 

6. Optimize Website and Landing Pages

If an Ad is doing well in getting clicks and the corresponding landing page in getting conversions, don’t just sit back and relax. You should be consistent and keep exploring new ideas to increase your ROI and not be satisfied if your Ad is just doing fine. Follow best practices for landing pages to design more than one landing page and assign them to different Ad groups. Compare between them and work towards the one which is getting you more conversions. When the visitors land on the page, make sure you have all the information that the visitor is looking for on the page. Relevancy is very important. Keep more images to make it more attractive and add videos that explain your services. If you are asking the user to fill out a form, don’t keep it too long and complex, you can miss out on a conversion. Also, show visitors the offers that they were promised in the Ad if any. 

7. Optimize Ads for Geographics & Demographics

Google Ads provides you with options for choosing the target locations and target audiences for your business. What is the point of spending money on Ads if they are not reaching the right places and the right audiences? When we talk about location targeting, you have the liberty to choose countries, states, cities, location groups, a radius around a location, etc. Think of a real estate business, which is all about, locations!! What’s the point in showing an Ad to the people who don’t belong to the location of your business. Picking up the right areas will help you reach the right audience hence increasing your ROI.  To add locations, you have to log in to your account. Click on the campaign you want to add a location to. On the left-hand side panel, click on the “Locations” link. Below is a sample screenshot.

Google Ads - Geographic Optimization   

Similar to geographic, demographic is also an important aspect while targeting the audience. You can choose the age range, gender, parental status, household income, etc. The inclusion of demographics guarantees that your paid search Ad is shown to only those visitors who fall in the demographic settings you have chosen for your Ads.

Consider a dance training academy exclusively for women, running a search Ad campaign. In this scenario, showing up the Ad to women makes more sense than showing it up to everyone. To add demographics to your Ads, log in to your account. Click on the Campaign, choose the Ad group. On the left-hand side panel, click on demographics. You can choose the options that best describe the target audiences for your business. The sample screenshot is as shown below. 

Google Ads - Demographics Optimization

8. Schedule Search Ad Campaigns

Scheduling the Search Ad Campaigns is making sure that your Ad shows up when the target audiences are most likely to visit the website. Scheduling increases the CTR as well as reduces the wastage of money by not displaying the Ads post business hours. For example, at-home beauty services company, need not show up their Ad for a call for booking post business hours. Also, once your Ads start running, you can analyze the report to understand what days of the week or what time of the day are the maximum conversions happening. If you are able to find a pattern, you can go ahead and increase the bids for those schedules for the best results. 

To schedule your Ad campaign, log in to your Google Adwords account. Click on the campaign you want to schedule. On the left-hand side panel, click on the “Ad schedule” link as shown below. 

Google Ads - Add Scheduling

Also post scheduling, below is a screenshot of bid adjustment of the “10%” increase on bid on Monday. You have to click on the “Bid adj” column beside the day where you want to increase or decrease the bid based on the report analysis. 

Google Ads - Bid Adjustments

9. Increase Quality Score

Quality Score is Google’s way of informing the quality and relevance of the search Ads and keywords. Quality Score is used to determine the CPC and the Ad rank. Quality Score is reported between 1-10, 1 being the lowest score and 10 being the highest. 
Having a thorough understanding of the factors that affect the Quality Score is important because it directly influences the cost and the position of the Ad which are both critical for a search Ad Campaign. These factors include CTR, relevant keywords and Ad text in the Ad group, the relevance of the landing page.  Work towards optimizing each of these factors to improve the Quality Score. To increase the CTR, write a unique, creative and compelling text. Make use of the Ad Extensions, make sure that the use of characters in the Ad adheres to Google’s guidelines. Likewise, optimize your keywords. Keep researching, revising the keywords list. Show relevancy between your Ad content and the landing pages content by using the relevant keywords. Handling these factors appropriately will automatically show a positive effect on the Quality Score. 

10. Customize Ads to Include Countdown Timer 

Customizing the search Ads to include a countdown timer is another great way to optimize the search Ads. The thought of missing out on good offers compels the users to click the Ads and buy the products or services, it’s a common human behavior.  That’s the whole point of running the paid search campaigns to generate business. You can create this sense of urgency by adding a countdown timer using Google Ads. Once you are done adding the Title and description to your Ad, you can insert the “{” symbol to include the timer. Once you type “{”, you will see an option to include the countdown timer as shown below.

Google Ads - Count Down Timer

You need to also make sure that when the user clicks on the countdown Ad, the landing page should also talk about the same. This will increase the chances of conversion as you are giving the user what he was promised. If the Ad and the landing pages show no relation between them than that might cut down on the CTR significantly impacting the Quality Score badly. 

Conclusion

When you come across the word optimization in Ad Campaigns, you need to keep in mind that this is an ongoing process. There will always be new stuff emerging every now and then be it new keywords, new strategies, new algorithms, and whatnot. You cannot put a period to your optimization efforts. Having an understanding of the above points will give you an idea of how frequently each of them needs attention and optimization. To maximize the Return On Investment(ROI), you need to make sure that you put constant efforts to work towards the optimization of the search Ad Campaigns. 

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