Google Ads settings can give your campaigns a lot of power and significantly improve performance—or they can completely derail your campaign and get very expensive very quick.
Some of these settings are ‘set and forget,’ so we tend not to think about them unless there’s a problem.
Here are a few examples I’ve seen where incorrect settings sucked daily budgets into oblivion:
- Spending $200 in an hour on clicks from Albania when the target geography was Ottawa, Canada.
- Exhausting your daily budget during the day, when your target market shops in evenings and nights.
- Not knowing if your advertising is getting any results at all.
- Showing your ads on the wrong network.
It’s easy to take these settings for granted; they’re not things we look at every day in our busy lives. We often assume they’re correct and working until we notice something wrong.
Occasionally, it’s a good idea to give your Google Ads settings a check, if for no other reason than to make sure they’re not sucking money out of your daily budget.
Locations where your ads are showing
You could have an incredibly compelling ad, but if it’s showing in the wrong location, it’s useless. One of my customers couldn’t understand why their daily budget was consistently exhausted before noon. It turned our their ads were running in Albania. They were spending about $50/day (for 50 days!) on ads that weren’t even reaching their target market!
The fix was simple: Go into ‘Campaign Settings’ and set location to the customer’s targeted geography—in this case, Ontario, Canada. Once this was done, their budget lasted all day, and they were getting lots more sales.
How to check your locations:
Go to the campaign you want to check.
On the right menu, click ‘Settings.’
Click locations. If there are corrections to be made, click the pencil and follow the prompts.
Days and Hours Your Ads Can Run
Running ads 24 hours a day can get expensive, especially if most of your clicks come in the evening and your budget is exhausted during the day.
One E-commerce customer was getting very few sales, until we changed the hours of their ads to evening and middle of the night—that’s when their target market liked to shop. Run your ads when your customers most likely to be looking for you.
How to set your Days and Hours
Select your Campaign.
On the side menu, click ‘Ad Schedule.’ The days of the week and the times your ads are showing will appear.
Select the pencil below that chart and then pick your days and times to your ads to appear.
Networks Where Your Ads are Showing
Google offers lots of networks: Search, display, video, Gmail, etc. Make sure you are on the network you want. I’ve seen many accounts showing ads on the display network because the account owners inadvertently clicked Search Network with Display Select. Make sure the network(s) of your choice are what you have turned on.
How to set up your networks
Select your campaign.
On the right menu, select ‘Settings.’
Google Ads Conversion Tracking
Make sure you have Conversion Tracking set up. Conversions are what you want people to do on your website: Buy something, complete a form, sign up for your email list, etc. If you don’t have conversion tracking properly implemented, it’s like driving without a rear view mirror. You simply don’t know if your advertising is working, or at least which half of your advertising is working.
Here’s an article to help you set up your conversion tracking.
It’s easy to take Google Ads settings for granted, but a quick check can save you a lot of money and significantly improve performance.
Google Ads Quality Score measures your relevance on a one to ten scale. Ignoring it can be a costly mistake. Andrew, one of my customers learned that the hard way.
More Money but No Relevance
The first time Andrew called me; he was frustrated with his Google Ads Account. There were few clicks, and no sales. Every time he did a search, he found his ad near the bottom of the Google listings.
Andrew claimed he had raised his click bid to from $2 to $5, but never got near the top of the listings. Then his real frustration came out. “I don’t know what’s wrong with Google, I’m offering $5 bucks a click and my competitor (a friend of Andrew’s) is only offering $3 a click.” Exacerbated, he added, “He’s always at the top of the page, and I’m at the bottom. I’m willing to pay more!”
By now I was knowingly nodding my head; Andrew had forgotten about Relevancy—one of the most important components of Google Ads.
The Real Value of Relevance
Relevance is the usefulness of your ad relative to the user’s search. Andrew’s ad was very general, while his competitor’s ad mentioned the product users were searching for and provided key differentiating features and a call to action.
When it comes to relevance, remember that Google only gets paid when your ad is clicked. So, if 100 people see your ad but no one clicks, Google won’t make a cent.
Simply put, the competitor’s ad was more relevant than Andrew’s ad, so Google believed it would get more clicks if it were higher in the listings. More relevant ads will often find themselves above higher paying competitive ads because more clicks mean more money for Google.
Google Ads Quality Score
To help guide us toward more relevant ads, Google provides us with a ‘Quality Score’ for each of our keywords. The Quality Score is Google’s opinion on how well your keyword matches what’s in your ad and what’s on your landing page. You’re given a one to ten rating, 1 meaning poor quality and 10 meaning very high quality.
Andrew had a Quality Score of two, poor. By working on his quality score components Andrew’s reached scores between 7 and 10, reduced his cost per click 20%, rose to higher ad listing positions, and received a lot more sales.
Quality Score has three components:
- Ad Relevance—How closely the keyword relates to your advertisement.
- Landing Page Experience—How useful your landing page is relative to the keyword.
- Expected CTR (Click Through Rate)—How likely users are to click on your ad when shown with the keyword.
All three components, especially ‘Expected CTR,’ use historical data. This means that as your clicks increase, your quality score will likely begin to improve too.
How to Keep Ads Relevant to Your Keywords
The best way to maintain relevance is to keep your keywords grouped by specific themes. If you have a group of keywords that have a common theme, put them together in an Ad Group. For example, a home renovation company might group keywords by type of renovation: basement, kitchen, bathroom, etc. All the basement related keywords go in basement, kitchen related keywords go in kitchen, etc.
All the ads for the basement ad group will contain the word ‘basement,’ kitchen ad group ads will contain the word ‘kitchen,’ etc.
By using the ad group name in the ad, the ad becomes relevant to user searches.
Each ad group sends the user to pages related to the keyword in the ad group. The basements ad group goes to a basement landing page, kitchens to a kitchens page, etc.
This is the trickiest Quality Score component because it relies heavily on how many clicks your ad is getting. It uses Click History.
Troubleshooting A Low Quality Score
If your quality score is below five, it’s a good idea to look deeper at relevance. Each Quality Score component consists of three ratings: Below Average, Average, and Above Average. A low quality score probably means one or two of these components is ‘Below Average.’
Here’s how to improve a below average rating in each component:
Ad Relevance: Make sure the keyword is in the first or second headline of the ad.
Landing Page Experience: See how well the promise made in the ad is fulfilled on the landing page.
Expected CTR: This is the toughest one because Google is pretty vague on what it means. It’s been my experience that if I can get the Landing Page Experience and Ad Relevance to Average or Above Average, the Expected CTR slowly follows.
If your keywords are grouped by theme, and you use the theme name in your ads, you will increase your ad relevance. Check your landing page for the keyword or variations of it. These simple tactics will help keep your ads relevant and higher in the listings.
You would know more about your business if you listened to your website
Have you ever felt like you know if you are missing marketing opportunities? It’s kind of like, ’I don’t know what I don’t know.’
Marketing gives many of us that feeling, because we often cannot see direct outcomes of our investments and effort.
When done correctly, marketing gets customers through your door or to your website. Whether it’s through social media, speaking, networking, or paid advertising, businesses need marketing to grow.
But how do you know if your marketing strategy is working? This is a question business people have been asking since marketing and advertising were invented. Back in the 1920s, department store magnate John Wanamaker famously said, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half.”
Thankfully, we live in a digital age where everything can be tracked, so you can easily see which half of your marketing is working. This means you can spot marketing opportunities and do more of what works, and less of what doesn’t.
Unfortunately, I see too many businesses that are missing key marketing opportunities because the owners have misconceptions about online tracking. Not taking the time to fully understand how to track your online marketing puts you in the same boat as John Wanamaker.
Here are the top six misconceptions about tracking online marketing—and why they may be holding you back:
1. Believing Tracking Marketing Results is Difficult
Web tracking is different, but not difficult. There’s a lot of data packed into charts and graphs, with terminology like users, sessions, and conversions. Google Analytics (free web tracking software) gives the definitions in the charts and graphs, so you always know what you are looking at.
2. Believing They Don’t Have Marketing Tracking Technology
Google Analytics is a free web tracking software that tells you where website visitors came from (including which marketing program), what pages they visited, which buttons they clicked, and a lot more. Google Analytics is free, and when your website was created, your developer probably loaded it onto your site. You would be amazed how many times I tell customers they already have in installed.
3. Not Using the Full Power of Google Analytics
Many businesses that know Google Analytics is installed on their website have not done any setup or configuration. In just a few minutes, Google Analytics can be configured so it presents data that is useful to you.
For example, how nice would it be to know at a glance:
- How many lead forms were completed on each of your marketing programs?
- How many sales were made in each of your marketing programs?
- How many people signed up for your email list through your various marketing programs?
- And so much more.
By configuring Google Analytics, your data is organized to answer just about any important marketing questions you have.
4. Believing Marketing Tracking is Too Expensive
A basic web tracking set up for most businesses is generally done in a few hours, for under $500. Almost all the work is done at the beginning, with setting up goals, filters, etc. This is the ‘set and forget’ stuff—once it’s done, you don’t have to go back to it for a long time.
Web tracking is not expensive…. It just needs a little TLC to get started.
5. Not using tracking codes for email newsletters, Social Media, and other Campaigns
Tracking codes are added to the links that go back to your website from your email blast, social media, advertisements, etc. You need a unique tracking code for each marketing campaign you run.
For example, suppose you have a ‘Spring blowout sale’ that you promote on Facebook, email blasts and an advertisement on another website. All have links back to the ‘spring blowout sale’ landing page on your website. Each of those links should contain a different:
- Facebook (you can see how many sales came from Facebook); and
- Email blast
6. Not Looking at Marketing Tracking Frequently Enough
It’s easy to forget. We’re all busy and have tons of things to do, and besides, it’s not always fun looking at charts and graphs.
Use automated reports
Being busy is business reality. Automated reports send a snapshot of your marketing performance to your inbox once a week, once a month, or once a day—whatever frequency you choose. If you see an issue, click on the report and investigate. Really, it’s that easy!
Google Ads extensions help push your ads to the top of the listings. Here’s a guide to using them to get more clicks.
Getting your ad to appear at the top of a Google search can be very competitive. Making sure you get enough of your message in the ad to attract potential customers can be tricky. Using Google Ads Extensions can help on both fronts—at no extra cost.
Extensions provide enhanced ad content about your business, which in turn garners more clicks than ads without extensions.
What are Google Ads Extensions?
Extensions are additional information about your business that appear with your ads. Ads using extensions are usually larger because there is more content, and more content means more visibility.
Benefits of using extensions
All businesses advertising on the Google Search Network should be taking advantage of extensions because:
- There is no extra cost—Extension clicks are charged the same as ad clicks;
- They are easy to set up;
- They have an improved ad rank, which helps push your ad higher on the page listings; and
- They tend to get higher click-through rates—there are more click opportunities.
When Extensions Show
Google doesn’t guarantee extensions will show, but they show when:
- Your ad is showing at the top of the page;
- Your ad is considered relevant to the search term (a good Ad Rank); and
- The extension is predicted to improve performance.
Google provides many extension types that help get more people to your website.
- Get people to buy at your location / store:
- Affiliate location extension
- Call out
- Get people to contact you:
- Get people to go on your website and convert:
- Site link
- Call out
- Structured snippet
- App extensions can even encourage downloads
Let’s take a closer look at some of the most popular extension types.
The Big Four Extensions
These four extensions are among the easiest and most important, because they get people to either visit your website or contact your business directly.
If your business attracts any kind of walk-in traffic, you need a location extension. This helps people find you by showing:
- your address;
- a map to your location, or the distance a user is from your location; and
- a clickable call button
- your hours
To create you Location Extension, you need a verified Google My Business listing, which you should have anyway. Simply link your GMB listing with your Google Ads account, and your location and phone information is automatically pulled into your location extension.
Call extensions allow mobile users to tap the phone number in your ad and call your business. You’re talking to a potential customer just like that!
The best part of Call Extensions is that it won’t disrupt your sleep! You can set the hours they appear so the extension only works when you are available to take calls.
Site Link Extensions
These are additional links to specific pages on your website. Users can search your ad with precision and go directly to your ‘contact’ page, a product page, the ‘about’ page, or any other pages on your site you think are useful.
If you’re have a sale or offering something seasonal, you can even set the start and end dates for some extensions.
Call Out Extensions
These are text extensions that provide detailed information about your business, products and services. These are not clickable links, so you can only input text, such as 24-hour service, warranty information, etc.
Other extensions available for your Google Ads
Structure Snippet Extensions
These are specific pieces of information you provide about your business, such as product names and prices, brands, and much more.
These extensions provide links to mobile ads.
These extensions allow users to send a text message to your business. They are designed to be shown only to users on phones capable of sending and receiving text messages.
These extensions provide a direct link to your website. They can be used to:
- Surface your offerings: Price extensions showcase your business’ offerings in an interactive format users can scroll through.
- Make shortcuts to conversions: When people click or tap a specific item on your price menu, they go directly to it on your site.
- Increase your impact—with minimal work: You won’t need to make new text ads or edit your old ones.
These extensions are for special promotions, such as Mother’s Day, Back to School, etc. They include two lines of text for promotional details and take users directly to your special offers page.
All of the above mentioned extensions are manual, meaning they need to be configured by the advertiser. However, Google also offers a suite of automated extensions.
These are extensions Google creates for you. There is no set up required.
These are the automated extensions and when they will show:
- Automated Call Extensions: When you indicate your goal is to have people call your business
- Automated Message Extensions: When you indicate your goal is to have people message your business
- Dynamic Site Link Extensions: When you indicate your goal is to get people to your website.
- Seller Rating Extensions: This is a combination of information and reviews next to your AdWords ads, letting people know which advertisers are highly rated for quality service. Here’s how it works:
- Google gathers seller ratings from reputable sources that aggregate business reviews.
- A business has 150 unique reviews and a composite rating of 3.5 stars or higher.
- For most advertisers, you can check if you have a seller rating by following these steps:
- Go to https://www.google.com/shopping/seller?q=example.com.
- Replace “example.com” with your domain (without the www. prefix).
- Uses Google Customer Reviews, and rating services data.
Google Ads Extensions Are Worth The Effort
As you can see, there a many different Google Ads extensions available. They are worth setting up because they make your ads larger and increase the likelihood of getting people to click through to your website. For a little extra time and no extra cost, you’re getting a lot more bang for your buck.
When it comes to Google Ads bidding, there are a lot of decisions to make. The first one is whether to manage your account manually or choose from a multitude of automated bidding options.
While automated bidding is designed to make your life easier, it’s important to select the option that will work best for you—that is, the one that will best meet your goals and objectives.
The chart below provides a summary how to direct your bidding according to your business goal:
(Users buy, complete form, etc.)
(Bring people to your site)
(Show Your ads, but traffic & conversions are secondary)
||Target CPA (A)
Average pay for conversion
||Target Search Page Location (A)
|Target ROAS (A)
||Maximize Clicks (A)
||Target Outranking Share (A)
|Maximize Conversions (A)
(A) Identifies an automated bidding type
I have tried all these, and my favourite by far is the manual option (Manual Cost Per Click). Although time consuming, it gives you full control over your bidding and it’s easy to make changes without major disruptions. There’s more about manual bidding further down this post under ‘CPC Bidding’
Now let’s have a look at the automated options.
Google Ads Automated Bidding
With automated bidding, you don’t have to set your individual keyword or ad group bids. But you also surrender various degrees of control in terms of how much you bid, at what times, and even how much you spend. That said, when done properly, this option works well for most.
How Automated Bidding Works
It’s said that the best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour. That’s the premise that drives automated bidding. Google Ads uses ‘Machine Learning’ to track statistical models of past performance to predict future performance, and automates your bids based on this data. For example, users from some locations using mobile devices might be more likely to click on ads at a certain time of day.
Google uses something called auction time signals to predict the likelihood of someone clicking your ad. Machine Learning allows Google to assimilate a lot of variables very quickly to determine when you should bid high, low or not at all. These variables include:
- Time of Day
- Operating System
- Remarketing lists
Why I don’t use automated bidding all the time
Automated bidding relies on historical performance. If you don’t have any history (as with a new account) it probably won’t work very well at first. It can take some time for Machine Learning to gather enough data to perform well.
Define Your Objectives
For automated bidding to work well for you, you need to know what you want it to do. What is most important? Conversions? Increased website traffic? Impressions?
You need to define your objectives in specific terms. For example:
- I want X sales lead per month and my budget is Y
- My budget is A and I need 25 sales
- I want 10,000 people to see my message each week
- I want an ROI of 200%
The key here is to choose which objective is most important for your business. That’s right, you can only select one. And while this is a struggle for many business owners, the automated bidding process won’t work with more than one objective.
Smart Bidding Strategy
This is Google’s name for a group of bidding types that encourage users to take an action on a website. For example:
- Making a purchase
- Completing a form
- Sending an email (click email link)
- Clicking on a phone number
- Signing up for an email list
Conversion Tracking required
To make any bidding work, you will need to have Google Ads ‘Conversion Tracking’ established. To set up conversion tracking, follow these instructions: https://birdseyemarketing.com/2019/04/google-ads-conversion-tracking/.
Choosing your automated bidding type
Here’s a summary of the different bidding types available:
Smart Bidding Strategies – When You Users to Take Action
(Cost per Acquisition)
(Return on Ad Spend)
||Achieve your desired cost per acquisition
||Achieve your desired return on ad spend
||Spend your budget to gain as many conversions as possible.
||Automatically adjusts manual bids based on likelihood of user clicking
Target CPA (Cost Per Acquisition)
This bidding type tries to get as many conversions within your CPA as possible. Be careful not to set bid limits too low, because it could exclude you from auctions. It’s best to allow Google to set your bids.
Target ROAS (Return On Ad Spend)
This option automatically sets bids based on your target return on ad spend; it will try to get as many conversions as possible within that ROAS.
There are two important requirements associated with this option:
- Your campaign must have a minimum of 15 conversions in the past 30 days; and
- You must set values for the conversions you want.
This option will get the most conversions within your budget as possible, and it tries to spend your entire budget. This campaign can’t be part of a shared budget.
If you have a target ROI (such as 2%), you’re best to use Target CPA or Target ROAS.
This option works with manual bidding to raise or lower your bids for clicks that seem ‘likely’ to convert.
Bids are constrained by your max CPC (CPA bidding is not constrained by max CPC).
CPC (Cost Per Click) Bidding Strategies — Driving traffic to your website
CPC strategies seek out ways to drive traffic to your website. You will get a lot of visitors, but not all of them will take an action.
There are two types of CPC strategies: Manual CPC and Maximize Clicks. Let’s have a look at each.
You set the maximum amount you will spend for a click. There are tools available to help with this, including:
- Bid simulator – Explores ‘what if’ scenarios (for example: how many more impressions or clicks can you expect by setting your bid ten cents higher)
- Keyword Planner – Estimates traffic and bids
- First Page Bid Estimates – Determines what you need to bid to make first page
This is a good bid type for those who consistently spend their daily budget. Maximize clicks will take a more discerning approach using auction time signals to move bids up or down based on the likelihood of the user clicking your ad. This is also a good bid type for those who don’t have time to monitor their bids and are willing to let Google update automatically.
DO NOT USE MAXIMIZE CLICKS WHEN:
- You need to maintain a specific position or cost per conversion, or
- You can’t set individual bids.
Impression Bidding – Focusing on Your Message.
Impression Bidding types are for businesses that want to reach a lot people quickly. They are most beneficial on Google’s Display Network where image ads do very well.
|Target Search Page Location
||Target outranking Share
||Cost per thousand impressions (CPM)
||Cost per thousand Viewable Impressions (M)
|Gets ads to top of page
||Choose a domain you want to outrank
||YouTube & Display
Pay per 1,000 impressions
|Awareness, not necessarily click traffic.
Summary: When To use Automated Bidding
In summary, there are three things you need to determine before diving into automated bidding:
- Decide which advertising goal is most important to you: Action, Traffic, or Visibility.
- Track your advertising performance by setting up conversion tracking.
- Determine how much time you can dedicate to Google Ads. If you have the time, start with manual bidding to build up historical performance statistics before trying automated bidding.