Why Google Ads Advertising?
Google advertising, specifically Google Ads advertising. Every entrepreneur has probably heard of it, and many have tried it. However, few companies have a clear understanding of how effective Google Ads advertising has actually been for them. Or perhaps the disappointment has been great when a trial – or even a larger campaign – has not generated new leads, let alone sales. You may know the amount spent on advertising your business on Google, but not the returns. Unfortunately, after this, it's easy for the company to dismiss online advertising, or at least search engine advertising, as ineffective.
Google itself markets Ads as an easily accessible and effective platform that anyone can learn to use on their own, and where advertising a business is possible for anyone. To some extent, this is true. For example, another product in the Google Ads product family, Ads Express, is a simplified Ads tool created by Google, through which a new advertiser can easily get their ads visible. However, in reality, Ads is a complex system where you can easily spend your money if you blindly follow Google's instructions, but the results are likely to be meager. When used correctly, Google Ads marketing is a truly effective lead generator and revenue booster for any business, but achieving good and measurable results at a reasonable cost requires a lot of work, cleverness, and expertise.
These guidelines and tips are written to support Google's own guidance. I do not provide step-by-step instructions for things like navigating the interface, because Google's own instructions are good and sufficient in that regard. Instead, the purpose of this article is to support Google's instructions and provide entrepreneurs and businesses with tips and advice on creating effective campaigns from a professional perspective. This writing is not aimed at complete beginners; it is advisable to have some basic knowledge of Ads marketing.
Google Ads Marketing vs. Social Media Advertising
Google Ads is one advertising platform among many, and it may not necessarily be the best one for your business. Advertising your business through social media may be much more effective if the goal is to reach a new, consumer-driven cold audience. Google Ads prices are often higher as well. On the other hand, it may be that your company's products are, for example, highly processed industrial components, and the buyers know exactly what they want. In this case, you want to be on the front page of Google when potential customers are searching for suppliers of that particular product.
For most businesses, the best approach is to combine search engine advertising (mostly Google) and paid advertising on social media (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.). Social media aims to reach an audience that is still unaware of your company, creating needs and awareness. Meanwhile, through Google Ads marketing, you target customers who are considering a purchase or are in the research phase. In other words, both social media advertising and search engine advertising are marketing techniques that influence the customer on their buying journey.
Google Ads Advertising and the Customer Buying Journey
So, what is the role of Google Ads search engine marketing in the customer's buying journey? It is not at the beginning of the buying journey where awareness is created (because Google Ads advertising is too expensive for that, as is often claimed). It is advisable to advertise through Ads only in the next step, where the customer has decided that they have a new need and is in either the consideration phase ("Hmmm... a robot vacuum would speed up cleaning, but could I still manage with the old one?") or the comparison phase ("Okay, let's buy a robot vacuum, but which model would be best for me?"). Of course, depending on the ad budget, Ads marketing can also be used for creating awareness (which is probably still the most popular approach for businesses in Finland), but it comes with a cost. And it can be quite costly. That's why sometimes it makes sense to even avoid unnecessary clicks.
Case: Maximizing CTR, or Maybe Not?
For many competitive keywords, the cost per click (CPC) may be over 10 euros. If the Ads ad group is built very broadly (using, for example, broad match type), you can be sure that your bounce rate (bounce rate = the number of single page visits / number of entrances) will be over 90% and the ad will generate very little leads. At first, you may think that the solution is to maximize the CTR (Click Through Rate) by making the ad text as appealing as possible. But be careful with this. If the ad's Click-Through Rate (CTR) is, say, 15%, it means that 85% of the clicks will not convert.
So, do we aim for a lower CTR, or even a lower Quality Score to get more clicks? It depends on the business and the industry. It is a good idea to at least test the ad's Click-Through Rate (CTR) by creating multiple ad versions. Even if the clicks do not convert, they are cheaper. However, we do not necessarily want to aim for a lower Quality Score in order to get more clicks. A lower Quality Score can lead to a higher cost per click (CPC), as Google's ad auction system, the Google Ads system, rewards relevance and quality.
What if the ads are at the bottom? Isn't a high CTR good?
How Does the Google Ads System Work?
Google's advertising system is based on a simple principle: the advertiser is willing to pay the most for the ad click. However, the highest bidder does not always get the best ad placement. The Ads system is designed to serve the end consumer, and therefore the ad's Click Through Rate (CTR) and landing page relevance are equally important. Therefore, it is possible for an ad with a lower bid to be placed higher if it is deemed more relevant to the user. As a result, Google Ads marketing is a true meritocracy: the highest bidder does not always get the best placement, but the best and most relevant ad does.
So, what happens after someone clicks the ad? They go to a landing page. Google's guidelines state that the landing page should be relevant to the ad and provide a good user experience. In practice, this means that the landing page should be clearly relevant to what the user was searching for. There should be a clear call to action, such as "Buy now," or "Request a quote." The page should load quickly and be mobile-friendly. In addition, the page should have a clear path for the user to follow, with no distractions or confusing elements.
The Holy Trinity: Google - Advertiser - Consumer
In the Ads marketing system, there are three main parties involved: Google, the advertiser, and the consumer. Google's goal is to provide a positive user experience by showing relevant ads. This way, users are more likely to use Google's search engine again in the future. The advertiser's goal is to get potential customers to visit their website and take a specific action, such as making a purchase or filling out a contact form. The consumer's goal is to find relevant information or products quickly and easily. When all three parties are satisfied, the system works well.
The Ads Auction
The Google Ads system is based on an auction. Advertisers bid on keywords that are relevant to their business. When a user enters a search query, Google's algorithm determines which ads are eligible to appear based on the keywords, ad quality, and bid amount. The order of ads is determined by a combination of bid and Quality Score, which is a measure of ad relevance and user experience. This means that even if an advertiser is willing to pay a high bid for a keyword, their ad may not appear if it is not deemed relevant or if the landing page is of poor quality.
A Word About Google Ads Quality Score
The Quality Score is a metric that Google uses to measure the relevance and quality of an ad. It is based on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest score. The Quality Score takes into account factors such as click-through rate (CTR), ad relevance, and landing page experience. A higher Quality Score can lead to a higher ad placement and lower cost per click (CPC). Therefore, it is important for advertisers to focus on creating high-quality, relevant ads that provide a good user experience.
Creating an Ads Campaign – How to Create an Effective Google Ad
Creating an effective Google Ads campaign requires careful planning and execution. Here are some steps to follow:
Define Your Goals: Start by clarifying what you want to achieve with your Ads campaign. Are you looking to increase website traffic, generate leads, or drive sales? Clearly defined goals will help you measure the success of your campaign.
Know Your Target Audience: Understanding your target audience is crucial for creating relevant and effective ads. Consider factors like demographics, interests, and online behavior to tailor your messaging.
Keyword Research: Conduct thorough keyword research to identify the terms and phrases that potential customers are using to search for products or services similar to yours. Use tools like Google Keyword Planner to find relevant keywords.
Write Compelling Ad Copy: Craft ad copy that is clear, concise, and compelling. Highlight the unique selling points of your product or service and include a strong call to action.
Create Relevant Landing Pages: Ensure that the landing page you direct users to is highly relevant to the ad they clicked on. The landing page should provide a seamless and user-friendly experience.
Set a Realistic Budget: Determine how much you are willing to spend on your Ads campaign. Google offers various bidding options, including manual bidding and automated bidding strategies.
Monitor and Optimize: Regularly monitor the performance of your ads and make adjustments as needed. Test different ad variations, keywords, and targeting options to find what works best.
How Should You Structure Your Ads Campaign?
The structure of your Ads campaign plays a crucial role in its success. Here are some tips for structuring your campaign effectively:
Organize by Product or Service: If your business offers multiple products or services, consider creating separate campaigns or ad groups for each one. This allows for more targeted messaging and better tracking of performance.
Use Ad Groups to Group Similar Keywords: Within each campaign, use ad groups to group together keywords that are closely related. This helps ensure that your ads are highly relevant to the user's search query.
Utilize Ad Extensions: Take advantage of ad extensions to provide additional information to users, such as location, phone number, or links to specific pages on your website. This can improve ad visibility and click-through rates.
Test Different Ad Variations: Create multiple ad variations within each ad group to see which ones perform best. Experiment with different headlines, descriptions, and calls to action.
Implement Negative Keywords: Use negative keywords to exclude irrelevant search terms and prevent your ads from appearing for unrelated queries. This helps improve the overall relevance of your campaign.
Search Network vs. Display Network
When should you use search advertising and when display advertising? Display advertising has one absolute use case: retargeting. That is, when a customer has visited your site - a graphic ad reminding them, for example, of an interrupted purchasing process - works very well through Google's Display Network. Display Network generally works reasonably well for reaching a cold audience as well, because the cost of Display Network advertising is lower than search advertising. Search advertising, as we discussed at the beginning of the article, is better suited for a warmer audience.
Budget, Keywords, and Price – Let Google Decide?
I would guess that many entrepreneurs let their Google Ads marketing campaigns run the way Google wants, meaning Google optimizes the bids for maximum clicks. In practice, this means that Google uses the highest bids possible, and the daily budget may be spent in just a few clicks. If the budget allows, then go ahead. However, I usually aim for the lowest possible CPA (Cost-per-acquisition), trying to minimize the cost per purchase/lead by aiming for:
More keywords with lower bids, which may not place us above other advertisers, but we stand out with better ads and get cheaper clicks.
Sacrifice CTR and thereby quality scores slightly by trying to filter out low-quality clicks through ad text.
In other words, I use manual bids. However, there is one exception to the rule. When you let the campaign run for a couple of days with auto-optimized maximum clicks, you get a good overview of click prices and can set manual bids reasonably accurately with their help.
What About Keywords?
There are different keyword match types:
Broad match modifier
Using broad match gives Google almost free rein to show your ads for almost any search terms, which means your ads may appear for very irrelevant searches where the searcher has no intention of buying your product or service. Google can use synonyms, loosely related searches (sometimes very loosely), and "other variations" if it wishes. I recommend at least using broad match modifier, where you can mark a word appearing in the search as mandatory with a plus sign. However, this also gives Google the right to use "close variations". The best optimization is achieved by using exact match. This way, you keep the most control and know almost 100% for sure that your ad won't be shown for irrelevant searches.
Insider Tip for Using Keyword Match Types
Don't forget negative match! If you use anything other than exact match, you can check a couple of times a week which search terms your ad has been shown for and exclude irrelevant searches with negative match. Negative match is an excellent tool for improving conversion rates and CPA, as it allows you to limit your audience to those who are assumed to convert better, while also lowering the cost of your company's Google advertising.
One Rule of Thumb for an Effective Google Ad
So, how do you create a Google ad that collects only relevant clicks? Copy is its own art form, but technically, one basic rule for regular ads is as follows:
Include the keyword in the headline (improves quality scores).
In the ad, display your company's website address. Just the URL of your pages is enough (clarifies the ad).
Include the keyword in the ad text, which will then appear in bold in the search results and slightly better catch the searcher's attention.
In addition, be sure to create ad extensions that are well-suited for your ad. Google displays slightly different extensions depending on the placement of your ad.
Retargeting in Google Ads Advertising
You can implement retargeting and the audience to be used in Ads either with Analytics code or Ads' own code. Often, using Ads' own code is completely sufficient. The easiest way to put the code is through Google Tag Manager.
What's the Most Cost-Effective Way to Retarget?
Did you know that retargeting is one of the most effective forms of marketing for businesses today? (As long as the future GDPR, the EU's data protection regulation, doesn't kill it) What do you say about the fact that retargeting alone, compared to just search advertising, increased example company's brand searches (company name or product name) by 1046 percent within 4 weeks of starting retargeting? (source: RKMA Market Research Handbook 2017-2018) And about the most cost-effective and at the same time the best way for Google Ads advertising. Display advertising. Keep the exposure time moderate though. You want a potential customer to see your retargeting several times, but bombardment lasting for six months will surely turn negative :)
Campaign Tracking – Convert or Die
The article has already expanded like a yeast dough, but let's talk about one very important thing in Google Ads advertising, which many companies neglect to do, i.e., conversion tracking. The most important metric you want to track is CPA, cost-per-acquisition, i.e., how much it has cost to achieve one conversion. Setting budgets and bids also becomes easier when you know the maximum price you can pay for one conversion. For pages where a customer makes a purchase, reservation, etc., through your website, this is easy. You can get the code directly from Ads' Conversion actions menu, which is then placed on the order/thank you page. This way, you can easily find out how many potential customers specifically coming from Google Ads advertising bought or ordered something.
Conversion tracking is slightly more complicated, for example, in the case where you're trying to get people to call you. You don't know (unless you ask) how they found you. One way to solve this problem is to use dynamically changing phone numbers on your site. That is, whenever someone comes by clicking the ad, a different phone number is displayed than for others.
However, often it is sufficient to track conversions for, for example, the aforementioned orders/reservations or getting contact information like an email address. However, the most important thing is to try to track conversions as far as possible so that the effectiveness of your Google Ads marketing campaign can be monitored to some extent.
Summary of Smart Google Ads Advertising for Businesses
Finally, here's a checklist for Google advertising that, if followed, will likely lead to success:
Target potential customers who are in the consideration phase of their buying journey.
Make sure your quality scores are not below 5/10. Try to get them as high as possible, but be content with scores of 7-8/10.
Use a pre-optimized pricing strategy for maximum clicks, and use broad match only if you have deep pockets. Otherwise, don't always aim for the first position in search results. Use manual bidding and use exact match and negative match as keyword types.
Keep retargeting as long as you can. GDPR will affect retargeting, but it remains to be seen what the effectiveness of retargeting will be in the post-GDPR world.
Conversion tracking! One of the biggest advantages of digital marketing is the ability to assign a monetary value to marketing efforts. Don't leave it unused.