To get Google AdWords certification you need to pass two exams. One is a general exam (Fundamentals) covering all Google advertising products, the other is on an advertising specialty such as Search.
Certification is only valid for one year. After that you have to rewrite the exams to maintain your certified status.
I believe this certification is important because customers know I have proven my knowledge and I am applying the latest best practices to their account.
This year, while preparing for the Fundamentals and Search exams I went through Google’s training materials. I thought I’d share some of the new things I learned and some of the things I’d forgotten about.
Paid & Organic Report
This report shows you how often pages from your website show up in Google search results and which queries triggered those results. This helps you understand how Paid Search (AdWords) and Organic Search (SEO) are working together to help you reach customers who are searching for target keywords.
This report can help you:
- Discover additional keywords to use in advertising – look at queries where you only appear in organic search.
- Optimize your presence on high-value queries – monitor high value queries for organic results.
- Measure changes holistically – monitor changes to your website, budgets or keywords across paid, organic and combined traffic.
To access this report you have to first link
your AdWords Account to your Google Search Console account. To learn more about how the Paid & Organic Report works take a look at Google’s training materials.
A Forgotten Gem: Top Movers Report
The Top Movers Report shows the campaigns with the biggest increases and decreases in:
Immediately after reading the Top Movers Report training materials I pulled it for a customer. It clearly showed that the new keywords I had added the week before were working.
More Insight: Bid Modifiers / Adjustments
You can now add bid modifiers / adjustments to move your bid up or down based on the origin of the search criteria:
- Mobile – if the searcher is using a mobile device
- Location – if the searcher is in a location where they’re more likely to convert
- Day of week – some websites have higher conversions on specific days of the week. Day of week adjustments lets you bid up / down on specific days.
- Hour of the day – Conversions may be more likely to occur during certain hours, you can make adjustments for those hours.
Example of Bid Adjustments:
Let’s suppose your default bid is $1.00 per click. However you know that mobile users from Chicago are more likely to purchase, so you might have your $1.00 bid adjusted as follows:
- Mobile +50% (your bid has risen to $1.50 maximum on mobile devices)
- Location Chicago +10% (when the searcher is from Chicago, your bid can increase 10%)
Generally bid adjustments can range from -90% to +900%. The exception is for mobile devices (campaign and ad group-level), which have a maximum of +300%. However, for call-only ads on mobile devices, the +300% does not apply.
You’d use negative percentages when you wanted to be less aggressive or excluded from specific auctions.
Here’s more on bid adjustments / modifiers.
Deeper Knowledge: How First Page Bid Estimate is Calculated
The first page bid estimate approximates what cost per click (CPC – amount you are willing to pay for a click) you’ll need to bid to appear on the first page when the search query exactly matches your target keyword.
I knew about the first page bid estimate, but not so much about how it’s calculated.
I learned that AdWords uses the keyword’s quality score and current advertiser competition. If the first page bid estimate is very high, it may mean your keyword’s quality score is poor and could be improved.
When I was on-boarding a new customer recently I discovered they had a very low quality score on a keyword they were targeting. No matter how much they bid, they were not appearing on the first page. After we fixed the quality score, they not only appeared on the first page, they were in position one or two!
Overlooked for Last Year’s Certification: IP Address Exclusions
Unwanted clicks can cost you a lot of money. For example, company employees clicking your advertisement are unlikely to purchase, yet they’re generating ad impressions and clicks that inflate your click through rate.
You can now exclude unwanted IP addresses in the “Settings” tab at the campaign level.
Quality Score with New Keywords
A keyword’s quality score is basically Google’s opinion (scored from 1 – 10) of how good an experience a user will have, based on your ad and landing page. The higher the quality score, the better the experience you’re creating.
When you add a new keyword to an ad group, Google AdWords assigns a default score of “6”. That’s average. It takes time for data about relevance, impact of extensions, and expected click through rates (CTR) to gather before Google can assign a more accurate quality score. This makes sense because there’s no historical performance data until at least 24 hours have passed.
Quality score is important because it helps improving your ad position versus other advertisers’ and more importantly affects the price you actually pay for a click. By improving quality score I’ve lowered several customers’ cost per click by several percentage points and at the same time improved their average position.
New: Call Only Ads
This new feature was added in the last year. I’ve used call only ads with a couple of my customers and both of whom generated a lot of leads.
Call only ads work the same way as text ads and follow the same rules, but instead of clicking to a businesses’ website, the click triggers a phone call. AdWords records a conversion if the call is one minute or longer, which is plenty of time to qualify a customer.