There’s a reason ‘Google it’ has become integrated into language across the world. Google has morphed from search engine to fount of all knowledge. With over 4 billion searches per day, users flock to the site looking for products, services, answers to questions, and so much more, making it a necessary channel for advertisers around the world.
You probably found us there too. So, welcome to the Ultimate Google Ads Guide 2020, an inside look at Google Ads (previously known as AdWords) and how to make the most of them.
Getting started with Google Ads
Setting up your Google Ads account is easy and user friendly, so let’s skip to the fun bit: campaign creation.
There are a lot of decisions to be made during the initial stages of a campaign, including objective, budget, and bid strategy. Plus, with Google’s extensive user data, you can use creative and in-depth targeting to reach the most valuable audience to you.
Simply give your account a name (this won’t be visible to anyone but you), add billing and payment method along with your time zone and you have your account created.
What’s my campaign objective?
The campaign objective for any campaign should always be to generate a return on ad spend (ROAS), whether that is directly from an e-commerce shop on your website, through converted leads or phone calls generated from your content, or indirectly by increasing brand awareness to lead to later business (usually via YouTube Ads and Display).
How much should I spend?
Our best advice to any new advertiser is to start with a smaller daily budget in the first month, something like £5-£20 per day depending on how competitive the industry is. This will provide initial data to enable you to optimise the account whilst it’s infancy but not too much that you’re overwhelmed and don’t know where to start!
Campaign structure and best practices for Google Ads
Ingredients for success with search advertising
- 1 x campaign (minimum) – Group services into campaigns. For example, a law firm might want a campaign for each sector such as family law, wills, personal injury, etc. Budgets, locations, and extensions are all set at campaign levels so you wouldn’t want everything in one campaign as it would hinder relevancy and lessen the control you have over sectors and budgets.
- 2-5 (minimum) ad groups – These should be grouped into themes. For example, high heels, trainers, and wedding shoes.
- 1-5 relevant keywords - Don’t overcomplicate keywords. Simply research what your customers are searching in Google’s keyword planner, Google search bar, or tools like SEMrush are helpful too. Use ‘phrase match’ or 'exact match’ types initially until you know the terms that are generating business.
- 2-3 text ads and one responsive ad – Text ads are made up of 3 headlines and 2 descriptions, whereas responsive search ads are made up of 5-15 distinct headlines and up to four descriptions. These are automatically optimised by Google to ensure the best ad impact and performance. The trick with RSA (responsive search ads) is to ensure sure you are including the keywords that the user is searching for in the ad copy, along with a call to actions, selling points, promotional discounts, and your brand name. Also, be sure to check all headlines and descriptions make sense individually and in a combination.
Top tip from Gemma - “Ad extensions such as sitelinks, callouts and structured snippers are NOT optional if you want to run a successful search campaign and are key to higher CTRs, lower CPC and good quality scores.
Top tip from the team at Bigwave - "Always untick the two checkboxes for ‘Display Networks’ and ‘Search Partners’ at the campaign level. Leaving these ticked with hinder your click-through rates (CTR) and lessen the results you receive as ads will show on display and in other search engines."
What is search advertising? (Traditionally called PPC)
We’re only covering Google, but Microsoft Ads (formerly Bing Ads) is a similar a type of Search advertising that puts text ads at the top of the search engine when an individual is looking for a service or product. This can be a broad keyword, such as ‘letting agents’ or it can be very specific 'long-tail' keyword such as ‘letting agents in London with fixed fees’. Then, by showing relevant and strategically placed ads in one of the top or bottom 3 ad positions, the individual can see you and they can click through to your website. It vital that businesses are visible when researching products and services. Let’s face it, if you’re not using any PPC or SEO then even Liam Neeson (from Taken) won’t be able to find you.
The definition of a text ad
A text ad is a form of digital advertisement pushed from Google’s Ads interface that is written by an advertiser and usually shows after a search query is inputted. This would be to promote a product or service. The advertiser pays for each click on the ad and this CPC depends are various factors such as competition, quality score and ad rank.
How can I write clickable, high-quality, and relevant Google Ad copy?
The main tricks for writing compelling ad copy for Google is to include what the user has searched for in the headlines and descriptions, tell them who you are, why they should visit your site, and add trust that you’re right for them. Imagine it’s a dating app for your ideal customer. You are paying to sell yourself on search so ensure that every click counts. Below are examples of search ads. Which one would you click? P.S – It killed me writing the bad one and to clarify we would NEVER let an ad like this go out for a client.
There is nothing good about this search ad above! It has limited relevance to the user searching for ‘PPC Agency Exeter’, is not prominent due to the lack of capitalisation, the limited amount of extensions, short descriptions, no callouts or phone number, no selling point, and no incentive to click through. Not to mention the spelling mistakes and bad choice of vocabulary!
Google gives every advertiser the same amount of space to talk about their business and services. A normal text ad will give you three headlines at 30 characters each and two long descriptions of 90 character each, plus the display URL which means you have 270-300 characters to ensure the perfect user comes through to your website (even without ad extensions). So, if your ad is not perfect then you will have to pay…literally. You can find more information on Google’s editorial policy here
Google Ads keyword and match types options explained
We know that having four different types of keyword targeting makes Google Ads daunting and confusing, so we’re going to explain these keyword match types simply to enable you to pick the right one for you.
- Broad Match – Is the broadest way of targeting which is usually where new Google advertisers go wrong. An example is one of our previous clients' Google Ads accounts promoting car body repairs. They were showing for terms that included anything related to repairs or body (doesn’t need to be car specific). So, if someone searched “dead body repairs,” the ads would also show. Hopefully, no one would search for this, but it just shows how this can affect CTR and give a poor experience. Another example is the broad keyword is ‘gym shorts’ and the ads for show up for ladies’ gym shorts, men’s gym shorts, children’s gymnastics shorts, and even weightlifting gym shorts.
- “Phrase Match” – If you were to use the keyword “torquay pubs” the ad would still show for “cosy torquay pubs” and “local torquay pubs,” but wouldn’t show “nice pubs in torquay”. You see how “torquay pubs” needs to be included in that order, and additional words could be added at the start or end. This makes phrase match much more targeted than broad but more flexible than exact match.
- [Exact Match] – If you use keywords that are an exact match, then your ads will only show to people searching that exact keyword PLUS misspellings, singular or plural forms, close variants such as adding of the word ‘for’, abbreviations, accents, or reordered words. For example, if you used [ladies shoes] as an exact match, the ad would still show for someone searching ‘shoes ladies’, “shoes for ladies,” or [lady’s shoes].
- +Broad +Match +Modifier - The broad match modifier match type gives you more control than standard broad match. This option ensures that your ads only show in searches that include the words that you’ve marked with a plus sign, such as +vegan +restaurant, or close variants of these terms. For example, if you did use +vegan +restaurant as your keyword then you would be serving ads to people searching for 'vegan café', 'vegan eateries near me', or 'vegan food'.
More information on keywords types from Google themselves.
What are negative keywords and how do they improve performance?
Think of a negative keyword as being a protective barrier to wasted spend and a way to naturally increase CTR over time. The amount of time we see advertisers managing their own account with lots of broad keywords and they see poor CTR and little to no results. Without negative keywords, you are potentially wasting hundreds if not thousands of pounds each month. You are throwing out a wide net with big holes and you may bring in a few big fish but it’s a strategy that needs a lot of care and attention.
Example of what a negative keyword does
You run a small women's formal footwear store in Manchester, and you do not sell casual shoes. Therefore, you could add broad single negative keywords such as trainers, sneakers, football, socks, laces, sports, running, casual, and more to the account. This way, if your keyword ‘formal shoes’ is broad, your ads won’t show to anyone who includes these words from your negative list but may show for things like ‘smart shoes’ or ‘heeled shoes’. However, we would advise using broad match modifier for keyword types such as +formal +shoes. As the campaign is new, it ensures the ad is only served to users searching for products like your keyword and reduces wasted spend without as much management time needed.
Creating a simple negative keyword list takes 5 minutes and should be an ongoing daily part of the management for the first month then this can be changed to weekly after month one. Find Google’s advice on creating negative keyword lists here.
Google Ad bidding strategies? Confused? You’re not the only one
With so many options to choose from such as manual, enhanced, maximise conversion, and target CPA, it’s easy to be overwhelmed and just go with what Google’s recommendations suggest. Our advice is to start with manual CPC in the first month to allow your account to build enough valuable conversion data and give you confidence in performance before opting for one of Google’s ‘preferred’ SMART bidding strategies.
We know that maximise conversions does work for some clients, as it allows Google’s algorithm to show your ads to users most likely to convert for your business. Unfortunately, this can be more expensive as the cost per click will go up as you fight over the most valuable customers, the most popular time of day, and the top of page bid.
It’s best to seek advice from a PPC expert on bid strategies if you’re unsure before accepting Google’s recommendation as this won’t always be the best option for you.
Below are the five Smart Bidding strategies you can use.
- Target cost per action (CPA): If you want to optimize for conversions, you can use Target CPA to help increase conversions while targeting a specific cost per action (CPA).
- Target return on ad spend (ROAS): If you want to optimize for conversion value, you can use Target ROAS to help increase conversion value while targeting a specific return on ad spend (ROAS).
- Maximize Conversions: If you want to optimize for conversions, but just want to spend your entire budget instead of targeting a specific CPA, you can use Maximize Conversions.
- Maximize Conversion Value: If you want to optimize for conversion value, but just want to spend your entire budget instead of targeting a specific ROAS, you can use Maximize Conversion Value.
- Enhanced cost per click (ECPC): If you want to automatically adjust your manual bids to try to maximize conversions, you can use ECPC. It’s an optional feature you can use with Manual CPC bidding.
Information taken from Google Ads help section which was up to date on the 15th April 2020.
What are quality scores and ad rank and how do they affect my ad position?
Believe it or not, paying more CPC doesn’t give you a golden ticket to the top of paid search results. In Google’s efforts to ensure the user receives the most relevant and valuable experience after clicking on an ad, they have made quality, CTR, and relevance the main metric in ranking advertisers and deciding who gets one of the top spots and who acquires the lowest CPC.
The below example chart shows how Bob’s Chip Shop has the lowest maximum CPC bid, but due to his quality score being 10 out of 10 he has achieved top of the page majority of the time.
Quality scores are made up of various signals, such as landing page quality and experience, keyword relevancy, ad relevancy, CTRs (click-through rates), and historical campaign performance. So, if you’re working on an old campaign and its CTR is under 3%, then we would recommend it’s best to start all again. Trying to improve a campaign with poor historical performance will be quite difficult.
Bigwave PPC fact! - Did you know that you can only view quality scores at keywords level, and this is a score between 1 and 10? Also, you may also be shocked to know that if you’re quality score is 1 out of 10, you could be paying up to 400% more than someone with an average score of 5 out of 10. Likewise, if you’re quality score is 10 out of 10 then your CPC is discounted by 50%! Imagine the amount of traffic you could get with your budget if you worked at improving quality.
Landing page experience. It’s important so don’t ignore it
Google will measure the performance of the page that the users have visited from Google Ads based on automated systems and human evaluation. The experience you offer affects your ad rank and therefore your CPC and ad position in the auction process. Your ads could show less often or not at all if your ads point to a website that offers a poor user experience.
Things to think about before launching your campaign:
- Does your landing page have relevant, useful, and informative content that matches what the user has searched for? If they have searched for ‘party venues in London’, then it would be wise not to link your ad to a contact page about your wedding venue or a restaurant menu page. It’s common sense.
- Be specific when the user wants something specific and general if they’re unsure about what they are looking for. For example, if someone’s searching for a model of car then send them to the model page, but if they are looking for the brand then send them to the manufacturer page to inform their decision-making process.
- Be transparent and trustworthy, explain your business, explain what the product or service is, and make it easy for visitors to find your contact information.
- Ensure mobile and desktop navigation is easy. Try and avoid pop-ups and organise your page so they can find what they’re looking for without navigating through the website too much.
- Speed is everything. Ensure your pages load quickly on all devices. Google’s test my site is a useful tool and it will even predict loss of income based on average load times.
Ongoing management and maintenance
Managing a Google Ads account is like having a new-born baby in the first few weeks and months. You put hours of work into making it beautiful and worry throughout the night about whether it’s healthy and well. At times it will be frustrating, you will learn about all the nuances of the interface and it can take months to find your feet as a novice PPC manager. You will need to learn how to read the signs of good and bad performance and this comes with time and experience.
Daily optimisation schedule for the first month
- Pause the lowest CTR ad in each ad group and create a new version of the best performing ad in the group with better ad copy.
- Review the best performing keywords and check search terms for any random irrelevant words that do not relate to your business. Aim to add 5-10 negative broad negative keywords each day.
- Check that you don’t have any ad groups eating into your daily budget that have not converted into a sale/lead. If so, evaluate and pause.
- At campaign level view the search terms and see if you have any converting queries that need adding as an exact match or phrase match keyword types into the ad groups.
- Review quality scores at keyword level and see if there are opportunities to improve ad relevance or landing page experience.
Remember that depending on how well you’ve structured the Google Ads account, it can take 1-3 months for an account to generate the desired return on investment, which is why you should always start with a smaller budget and then increase your budget each month.
What is a conversion?
We get asked all the time what exactly a ‘conversion’ is! Simply put, a conversion is an action that a business deems valuable and is always the objective of a campaign.
This could be a form submission on a contact page, a click on a telephone number, a view of a key page, a purchase confirmation page, or anything else. Tracking conversions is made easy if a website has Google Tag Manager and Google Analytics code added by their website developers. We’re not going in-depth on conversion tracking in this article, but watch this space for our new article. There are plenty of videos on YouTube about tracking conversions in Google ads.
Let’s talk display advertising!
What are display ads?
Google’s display ads were formally given a bad reputation by the early internet decades. Remember, the flashy, dodgy boxes that would pop up to try and get you to click on them? Now, there are strict guidelines to follow and with a network of over 2 million websites, apps, and video content options, you can place your ads in a variety of places and display is now a low cost, valuable tool.
Rather than using the old-school method of creating a set of 10 images based remarketing ads, you should use Google’s powerful responsive display ads. Rolled out in the summer of 2018, these are allowing the advertiser to create ads that fit in most ad spaces on the display network. They are asset-based and automatically adjust their size, appearance, and format to fit any space and device. Simply provide Google with your logo, images, videos, headlines, and descriptions and the algorithm with automatically optimise for the best performance.
Here's an example. One of our clients had this as a recent responsive display ad: Pink Moon restaurant in Exeter.
Benefits of responsive display ads (RDA) include them being optimised automatically, they save time, reach more a wider audience, and they can be used as part of your remarketing strategy.
Top tips on Google’s responsive display ads
When creating the ad itself, you can click ‘MORE OPTIONS’ and this will allow you to customise further. You can change the CTA (call-to-action) button and change the primary and secondary colours to match your branding. Alternately, leave this blank and Google with change the CTA button based on performance and change the colours to match the tone and colour of the image in the ad.
More information on how to set up responsive display ads can be found here.
We hope you found this article useful and if you ever have any questions about PPC or would rather leave it to the experts at Bigwave then get in touch.
Good luck in the world of search advertising!
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