How to Optimize Google Ads Search Campaign

Do you wish to optimize Google Ads campaign but aren’t sure how to do it in a data-driven way? 

You’re not alone.

Over the years, Google has updated its interface, added new metrics, removed others, and made a strong move in the direction of automation. 

All these changes can leave ad managers feeling a bit confused when it comes to steps that should be taken when making account changes and optimizations.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through five different strategies you can start using to analyze your Google Ads data and make changes that improve your core metrics.

An overview of what we’ll cover: 

So let’s jump in.

1. Monitor your Main “Conversion” Metrics

Arguably one of the most important metric groups to track inside Google Ads are your conversions and all the metrics surrounding this value. 

Conversions

You’d be surprised how many accounts flat out don’t track conversions or track it, but not well enough. 

These metrics are the foundation that you’ll build on for a lot of your analysis later on, so if you haven’t already, make sure this is set up and tested!

Main Conversion Metrics in Google Ads

🚨 Note: Make sure the conversions that you’re tracking under this metric are all of similar value (yes, you can define that). You don’t want to inflate this value with “Blog visitors” or other low value actions if what you really care about are “Leads” or “Sales”.

Cost / Conversion

So you’re tracking Conversions now.

But how do we find out if a campaign is worth it or not? 

Queue Cost / Conversion.

This metric allows you to assess how effective the campaign is at driving conversions based on the amount you’re actually spending to acquire them.

Analyzing the cost per conversion value of an ad campaign on Google Ads

There may be other useful conversion metrics to look at like ROAS, CAC & LTV, but for the purpose of this post, we will mainly be looking at Cost / Conversion as our main optimization metric.

2. PPC Targeting

Now the fun part – optimization.

The goal of optimizing any ad account involves analyzing your data and making decisions that maximize positive outcomes. 

This could be improving your targeting, capturing more conversions, and much more. 

Let’s start!

Analyzing the budget per day of an ad campaign on Google Ads

This way, when you increase your budget, the conversion rate will also increase. 

But if the conversion cost is exactly what you want, you’re actually increasing your speed at no extra cost. 

The first thing for you to analyze is whether your current Cost / Conversion amount is at a threshold or not. If that’s not your goal for the company’s budget trends, you can try to minimize it. 

Are you in scale mode or efficiency mode? 

If you’re happy with your Cost / Conversion figures, you may want to start scaling your campaigns. 

If you think this figure could be better, then the best place to start is with your targeting.

Adding Negative Keywords

Easily one of the best reports to start at to optimize your Cost / Conversion is the Search Term Report.

Open this report by clicking on the ad campaign you want to optimize.

Accessing an ad campaign on Google Ads account

You can find the keywords from the Keyword section on your Google Ads homepage. 

For example, our search keywords here are facebook retargeting or retargeting

Analyzing search keywords for the ad campaigns to optimize the campaigns on Google Ads

Now, did you know that the keyword you bid on in your account and the phrase that a user searches just before they click your ad is actually different? 

I know right…shock.

Keywords and Search Terms are defined as: 

Keywords: The word/s that you choose to bid on that end up determining when and where your ad can appear.

Search Terms: The word/s that a user actually types into a search engine to make your ad appear.

The way that these keywords trigger for different phrases is constantly being changed by Google (not helpful, I know) and controlled by a thing called Match Types. But that’s besides the point. 

By now, you may be wondering what glorious phrases your ads have been appearing for this whole time.

And how you can potentially weed out all of the noise and just focus on the good stuff.

Let’s start by clicking on Keywords Search terms on the left sidebar.

In our report, we saw that 30 people searched for the term “how to retarget on facebook”

Analyzing search terms for ad campaigns on the Google Ads platform

We also have the term “retargeting solutions” which doesn’t really make sense for us to trigger for.

So, how do we ensure that our ads don’t show up for this term, and more importantly that we don’t pay for the click? 

We do it with something called Negative keywords.

These block certain terms from triggering our ads. Handy!

So let’s go ahead and add “solutions” as a negative keyword so that we don’t trigger for it in the future. 

Copy the keyword, and open Negative keywords in the left sidebar. 

Click on the + sign to add a new keyword. 

Configuring negative keywords to the ad campaigns on Google Ads

Under Add to, choose Campaign. This is because we want to add this keyword to all the ad groups on our campaign level. 

Paste the keyword under Negative keywords → click Save. Don’t add any syntax to it. 

Configuring negative keywords to a campaign on Google Ads

Let’s go back to Search terms and refresh the page. 

Once done, you’ll see that the particular keyword will be excluded from our campaigns going forward. 

Verifying the excluded negative keywords from the Google Ad campaigns

Let’s search more to find any other negative keywords that aren’t related to our campaign. 

Another term that doesn’t fit with our offering is “fbx”

We can add that as another negative keyword and continue this process to develop a comprehensive list that grows over time and slowly improves our account targeting. 

Downloading the search keywords to create a list of negative keywords from Google Ads search campaigns

🚨Note: I recommend setting up a little process for this in your team by exporting these terms to a spreadsheet and going through them all regularly to add them as negatives in bulk later.

Keyword Match Types

There can be some combinations of the keywords that you might want to add to the ads of your campaign. 

For example, we think that facebook retargeting pixel might be a good fit for our campaign. 

Analyzing keywords to create focused ads in Google Ads search campaigns

We can use this keyword in an ad that describes our website’s facilities for the training regarding installing the pixel or where to find pixel code. 

Hence, we need to establish a link between the terms and the ads that we can use for marketing purposes and the destination of those ads. 

As we already mentioned, adding and removing keywords is one of the methods to increase campaign effectiveness. 

Another method would be to optimize the ads themselves. 

3. Ad Click Through Rate (CTR)

Click-through rate, CTR, is an important parameter of our ads. We need to find a way to improve this rate. 

Examining the click-through rate of keywords from the search campaigns

This method involves analyzing the search term report to optimize parts of ads like headlines and content. 

For example, in our reports, we have two ads for a retargeting challenge. 

However, only one of the ads is performing better. The success of an ad is determined by the Clicks vs Impressions ratio.

So it might be the correct time to pause the second ad for the time being. 

Studying the clicks vs impressions ratio for the ads on search campaigns

Additionally, we can create another ad and create a split test by adapting the elements of the better-performing ad. 

So, these are the three modifications you can do to your campaigns to increase your effectiveness. 

However, the next method is a little different. 

4. Optimize Quality Score

Quality Score is the most important part of an ad campaign. 

🚨 Note: Quality Score comprises of three factors: Expected Click-Through Rate (CTR), Ad Relevance, and Landing Page Experience.

Let’s open an ad group from one of our campaigns. You may notice some keywords suggesting a low Quality Score

Verifying the ads with a low-quality score from an ad campaign on Google Ads

A low quality score suggests that you’ll pay a higher amount for the cost per click. Similarly, if you have a high quality score, you’ll pay less for the cost per click. 

Your quality score will determine the amount you pay for each click. However, the internal processors of Google work in a complicated manner. 

Quality score will determine your ad rank on Google even if you pay the highest amount of cost per click. 

Hence, it’s imperative to keep the quality score high by categorizing the correct keywords according to their ads. 

Generally, we recommend you remove the keywords from an ad group where they don’t match and add them to a relevant ad group where you can create similar ads. 

This will significantly increase your quality score. 

In some cases, simply using correct keywords won’t work. You might need to create a more compelling ad for the quality score to improve. 

So, that’s how you use the quality score to decrease your overall cost. 

Finally, our last strategy depends on the amount we bid for each keyword. 

5. Bid Competitively

According to this strategy, we need to identify the keywords that are below the first page bid. 

Let’s understand this with the help of an example. 

To bid competitively identify the keywords that are below the first-page bid. 

For training purposes, we bid $0.60 for the keyword ‘retargeting’. However, Google suggests that this price is Below first page bid ($1.66)

This means we need to bid an amount of $1.66 to land our ad on the first page. 

Examining the below first page bid price of keywords from the search keywords in the Google Ads campaign

Similarly, some keywords may even have their prices up to $10-15, because different keywords will have different bid amounts. 

So you’ll need to decide the amount you’re willing to pay for each keyword. 

There is another simple way to do it. We can use Google’s automated bidding. 

But before we start using up our budget, we first need to remove all the negative keywords from our campaign so that we don’t spend more on those keywords. 

In our campaign, we strategically used below first page bidding for the initial stages of our campaign, and then switched to Google’s automated bidding. 

We marked a period in our campaign post that we decided to switch to maximize conversions

Setting goals on Google Ads to use automated bidding for creating maximum conversions

After using Google’s automated bidding, our clicks increased and we started getting sales. 

Our strategy of executing automated bidding was to use the strategy of maximize conversions temporarily. 

Gradually, we transferred it to target CPA bidding. 

Automated bidding is comparatively easy because Google bids on our behalf for each cost per click and uses the investment wisely. 

When to Use Automated Bidding?

We’ll use automated bidding at a campaign level. So, open the Settings section of the campaign. 

Navigate to Bidding → Change bid strategy

Creating a bidding strategy from the settings section of the Google Ads campaigns

Select Maximize conversions

Additionally, you can also choose the option to Set a target cost per action

Suppose you set the target cost to $50. There is always a risk of Google not giving you impressions, and you won’t have any clicks. 

So for the initial stages, we recommend starting with Maximize conversions to populate some data on your campaigns. 

Gradually you can also try to decrease the cost per conversion. 

Click on Save once done. 

Creating a bidding strategy of maximizing conversions on Google Ads campaigns

Once done, we’ll verify if the process works correctly. 

Open the ad group for which we modified the bidding strategy. 

You’ll notice that you no longer have the option to change the bid amount when you switch to this conversion type, as Google will take control of that. 

Verifying the maximize conversions strategy for search campaigns on Google Ads

You can also monitor which Bid strategy type you’re using by adding it to your column set. 

💡Tip: Consider adding notes to your account when making bidding and other large setting changes to help you understand the effect of these changes weeks or months down the line.

Summary

So there you go, those were the five steps we use to optimize Google Ads search campaigns.

Remember, as long as you’re using data to make your decisions you should be all set!

Have you already tried one of these steps to optimize your Google Ads campaign?

Which of these five optimization steps are you going to be using from now on? Let us know in the comments below!

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