July 15, 2021
We usually employ these 10 Google Ads optimizations as soon as we start cooperating with a new client. By providing quick wins for a new client, not only do we improve the overall ROI, but also it buys us credit and time to employ more advanced tactics and optimizations. Those might take longer to produce effective results, so it’s better to use them when a trustworthy relationship is already established.
Google Ads campaigns are dynamic and the performance varies over time, what produces results today might not work at all tomorrow. The optimizations described below are also added to our weekly or monthly account optimizations schedule. You may benefit from them too.
It’s arguable if you can call Conversion Tracking account optimization, but we decided to include it here. For us, it’s one of the most important things to be defined in Google Ads, if not the most important, as it unlocks countless possibilities to optimizations the account.
So, what is Conversion Tracking? It’s the way to tell your Google Ads account that the goals are being met and results are being produced. It could be Purchases for E-commerce, Leads for a B2B business, Free-Trial requests for SaaS, and so on. You can even define several types of Conversion Actions per account based on the funnel stage. Furthermore, you could define different objectives for your campaigns. For example, Conversion A can be Newsletter subscriptions and Conversion B Purchases for a typical e-commerce account.
You can set up your Conversion Actions in ‘Tools and Settings’ > ‘Measurement’ > ‘Conversions’.
We strongly recommend using Google Tag Manager to track the events and conversions on your website. You may need the help of your developer to complete a proper GTM set up and tracking Conversion events.
The most important settings to define are:
“Count”: shows how your conversions are counted for each conversion action. “Every” means every conversion after an ad interaction (such as a click) is counted. “One” means only one conversion per ad interaction is added. Typically “Every” is used for e-commerce conversions as one ad click can produce multiple purchases. “One” is used for lead generation. When the same user submits more than one contact form, it should only be counted as one conversion.
“Conversion window”: this is how long a conversion can be recorded after an ad interaction.
For example, let’s say your conversion window is 30 days. When someone clicks your ad and makes a purchase 29 days later, then it’s counted as a conversion. If they make the purchase 31 days after the ad click, then it’s not counted as a conversion. The default setting is 30 days, but if you have a complex user journey, then you should use a longer period (45 or 60 days). On the other hand, if you’d like to measure conversions for a weeklong promotion, you should adjust your conversion window to 7 days. By doing this, you have a better sense of your advertising’s value within that shorter time frame.
“Conversion value”: as the name says, it’s the monetary value for your conversion. If your conversion action is a purchase, the conversion value should be set as the purchase value. For lead generation conversions, if you know how much profit a lead represents to your business, then define it or don’t attribute any if you haven’t done this calculation.
Now that you know how to configure your Conversion Actions in the Google Ads account don’t forget to include metrics such as ‘Conversions’, ‘Conv. value’ and ‘Cost per Conversion’. They are handy when analyzing the performance of your campaigns (use the ‘Modify Columns’ button on the campaign performance table).
You would be surprised if we told you how many accounts spending at least five-digit figures per month are out there without tracking their conversions. Do you have Conversion Tracking properly set up in your account?
More than an optimizations itself, to have a proper account structure is an optimizations enabler. That’s why we decided to include it here as well.
Typically, you want to have your account divided into campaigns according to the search intent of the keywords you’re targeting, as you’ll be able to set up your budgets, bidding strategies, and conversion actions for each campaign separately.
Think about a group of keywords that relate to your brand name, and the other group refers to your competitor’s name. You might want to bid more aggressively for your competitor keywords than your brand. The only way to achieve it is by having those two groups of keywords in different campaigns.
Typically, our Search campaigns follow this structure:
Within each campaign, we aggregate similar themed keywords in the same Ad Group to always show relevant Ads according to the search that triggered that keyword. If, for example, you sell shoes and t-shirts, you want to have one Shoes Ad Group with all shoe-related keywords and a Shoe themed Ad Copy and, similarly, a second T-shirt Ad Group.
Note: Current AI algorithm trends have a greater influence on paid marketing, so it’s advisable to have enough spending power (we recommend min. spend of $1,500 per month) in each campaign to optimizations the results. Thus, break down campaigns only as long as it makes sense from a manual optimizations perspective.
One of the old sayings in trading is “let your profits run” and “cut your losses”. The same principle should be applied when managing your campaigns’ budgets, since most likely you are running your Paid Advertising on a limited budget as 99,9% of marketers are.
Go to your Campaign view in Google Ads and analyze the performance of all campaigns in the same table. If your conversion action is the same for all campaigns we strongly recommend to calculate the maximum Cost per Conversion you can afford:
Maximum Cost per Conversion = Revenue – Cost of Goods
So, if you’re selling sneakers online for $150 and they cost you $80, the maximum cost per conversion you can afford is $150 – $80 = $70. If to acquire one customer you spend more than $70, you’re running your ads in a loss unless you can make a profit on subsequent sales. Thus, retention is as vital to your business as is optimizing the acquisition process.
Having done that, double down on the campaigns that are bringing you more profit. This will have a positive impact on your profitability and ROI. On the other hand, for underperforming campaigns, run the optimizations described in this article that might result in a decrease of your Cost per Conversion. Decrease the budget to avoid spending in underperforming campaigns.
Note: when analyzing the performance of your account, always use at least 30 days. If possible even 90 days of data and exclude the last 5 days as it might not be accurate – for example, because of conversion lag.
One of the most important benefits of tracking your conversions is the possibility of using Google’s Smart Bid Strategies, such as ‘Maximize Conversions’ or ‘Target CPA’.
Our favorite Bid Strategy is ‘Target CPA’. As we feed the AI algorithm with the information of the maximum acceptable value for Cost per Conversion that our business can afford, it optimizes the bids towards our target using millions of data points. We observed multiple times 100+% ROI increases when changing from a manual bid strategy to tCPA.
The employment of Google’s AI is a game-changer in campaign performance and we couldn’t advise you any stronger to use it as much as you can.
Sometimes we face a situation where the keywords which we consider to have the best search intent are not performing well (for example, “online guitar lessons” for an online guitar lessons website). The main causes can be broken down into following categories:
Image Source: https://timezmarketing.com/keyword-match-types
As most of the factors that influence the performance of keywords are beyond our control, you should analyze its performance by Cost per Conversion and pause the ones which have a value above the limit you set for your business.
Even if it’s counterintuitive, in our opinion you shouldn’t optimize your keywords based on CPC per se. What often happens is that keywords with high CPC result in an acceptable and profitable Cost per Conversion.
For more advanced Keyword optimization, see the next section dedicated to Search Terms.
The Search term is the actual search text that triggered your keyword and Ad in Google’s search results page, depending on the Match Type you have defined. Here you are going to find out which terms triggered your keywords and choose the ones that are bringing positive results.
Go to your ‘Search Terms Report’ under ‘Keywords’ and analyze the performance by Cost per Conversion. Here you see exactly which searches trigger your keywords and the associated Match Type.
The Search Terms which don’t bring positive results due to the lack of conversions or high cost per conversion, should be added as Negative Keywords, so that in the future those searches won’t trigger your Ads.
Ad Copy is one of the most important items when running Google Ads campaigns. To achieve good results, you need to employ an effective Copy to persuade the user to click on your Ad and visit your website.
When optimizing Ad Copy, our guidelines are:
When you manage to optimize your Ad Copy following these steps, you will see an increase in CTR and consequently a higher Ad Rank will be calculated every time your Ad is eligible to appear. So even if your competition has higher bids than yours, you can still win a higher position at a lower price by using highly relevant keywords and ads.
We recommend testing different landing pages as it’s usual to have substantial differences in performance, depending on the landing page where the user lands after having clicked on your Ad.
Not all accounts are suitable for landing page testing as they might have low volume (we suggest a minimum of 200 clicks per month per landing page) and it will be hard to get statistical significance, or for other business reasons won’t be possible to develop new landing pages. However, you can and shall test different landing pages of your website (for example the homepage, pricing page, and testimonials), as often we get positive surprises on the Conversion rate.
Head to your Landing Page report on a specific campaign and analyze the performance of the different landing pages you have set on your Ads. You should not only analyze the Cost per Conversion that each page has but also on the Conversion Rate itself. It’s the best metric to analyze the effectiveness of landing pages.
Google Ads provides us with very useful insights and detailed information of the users who click on Ads. Normally there are big opportunities for optimization on the Location, Device, and Demographic Report as every account has its performance patterns.
Assuming you’re working on a limited budget, you should limit the spend on the user segments that are more likely to click on your Ads and Convert at a lower Cost. When analyzing those reports, you’ll see huge differences between the user Location, Age, Gender and the Device where the Ad click was performed.
Typically you’ll see a big difference between Mobile and Desktop and between different Age Groups. You can either disable or decrease the bids on the segments that show a higher Cost per Conversion. However, beware that it might sometimes bring you unexpected results depending on the typical User Journey of your business (the user can click the Ad on Mobile but then Convert on the Desktop, masking the role that Mobile had on that Conversion).
Tip: If you’re running your Ads in the USA, you should set up your location targeting so States are separated instead of the United States as a Country. You’ll be able to easily compare the performance of your campaigns state by state and disable the ones that don’t bring good results. Granular data always gives more possibility for analysis and comparison.
You achieved the most difficult step , since the user clicked on your Ad and browsed through your website. Unfortunately, for some reason they left without converting. The bad news is that you spent your money on an ad that didn’t produce a conversion. The good news is that we might have another chance to convince that user to come back and convert.
By defining Remarketing Audiences (click on ‘Tools and settings’ > ‘Audience manager’ > ‘Remarketing’) we will be able to show ads to the users which previously visited your website (all pages or selected pages by you) and “remind” them to come back to your website.
From our experience, the campaign types that provide better results for Remarketing are YouTube with Skippable in-stream Ads or, if you don’t have a suitable video, Display Campaigns.
Both types are very easy to set up, you just need to target the Remarketing Audience(s) you previously set up in the Audience Manager. Your Audience targeting is defined in the ‘Audiences’ tab in your Campaign.
Tip: If you offer a discount on your product or service for your Remarketing Audience, you might expect even better results and more conversions.
The optimization ideas we shared in this article when correctly executed should produce immediate results on the profitability of your Google Ads account. As mentioned in the beginning, add them to your regular optimization plan (weekly or monthly) to make sure your account is properly set up and there are no leaks where the money flows without a return.
We tried not to be too technical in this approach so that even beginner-level users of Google Ads can improve their results. If you are able to master these techniques, there are countless possibilities in which you can optimize your account.
To close, the final advice for you is to not be afraid to explore the data your account has gathered, find meaningful and actionable insights and act on them by selecting the winners from the underperformers. And remember, take action first on things which are more likely to produce bigger results and leave the minor optimizations for later.
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