How to Optimize Your Google Ads Account: Follow the Money

How to Optimize Your Google Ads Account: Follow the Money

By David Bird

There’s a famous line in the movie ‘All the President’s Men’ where Deep Throat (Hal Holbrook) tells the reporter (Robert Redford) ‘to follow the money’ to find the answer. I use this same line anytime a Google Ads tutoring customer asks me how to optimize their Google Ads account without getting overwhelmed by the data.

Of course, my customers aren’t trying to uncover a government conspiracy, but sifting through the mountains of data Google Ads gives you to try to figure what’s working and what isn’t can be daunting. By advising them to follow the money, I’m telling them to follow their costs, starting with the highest ones.

Follow the money: Costs and conversions

To identify your highest cost Google Ads’ campaigns, sort your campaigns by the cost column, then double click the top of the cost column to have Google Ads sort from highest to lowest cost.

Next, look at the number of conversions in each campaign. If you have high costs with few to no conversions, you have a problem worth investigating. To give more context, I’ll often look at the cost per conversion (total cost / number of conversions) column as well. If that dollar value is within an acceptable range, there might not be an issue at all.

When there are no conversions or the cost per conversion is too high

This is where you need to begin troubleshooting to determine the root cause of the high cost versus low/no conversions.

It’s time to go into the campaign’s ad groups. To do this, click into the ad groups and do the same thing we just did in the Google Ads’ campaigns. Sort ad groups from highest to lowest cost, and look at the number of conversions and cost per conversion.

Click on the high cost and low conversion (or unacceptably high cost per conversion) ad group and look at the keywords. Find the high cost, low (or no) conversion keywords. Try to determine why this keyword isn’t converting. Is it too general? Is it a single keyword instead o a group or phrase? Single keywords draw poor quality traffic. Check the search terms report to see what precise terms are triggering your ads to show. If you see terms you don’t want your ads showing for, move those to ‘negative keywords.’

While cost and conversions are a good start for Google Ads novices, there are other metrics mixes you can use to investigate optimization, including impressions and impression shares, clicks and CPC, and many more.

For beginners, Google Ads optimization is easier when we pair down the data to a couple of metrics and then follow those through. The problems start to show, especially when you follow the money.