Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is a digital marketing strategy too many people assume will automatically generate leads as soon as they launch their campaign, among other assumptions such as:
- If I pay for advertising on Google, I’ll come up first in the search results.
- I’m advertising in a small town, by comparison, so my cost-per-click will be more affordable.
- Everyone will see my ads when they search.
- I’m going to make millions and take over the world.
Once you get into the thick of it, however, you realize the account is lacking a cohesive strategy and have no idea how to stay on top of all the variables. AND WHY ARE THERE SO MANY NUMBERS?
If you’re trying to manage your Google Ads account and despise those articles simply suggesting you “start small” and “be creative with your copy,” then here are six straightforward tips to help a true PPC novice— minus the BS.
Tip #1: Add negative keywords
Try to make a habit of adding negative keywords to your ad groups and campaigns every week. (Every week? Yes, every week!) To help keep you focused on identifying only those keywords producing irrelevant clicks, set the date range to “past 7 days” so you’re getting a narrower scope of terminology to review at one time.
For example, local contractors who offer deck remodeling and repair might want to bid on the term “deck builder” locally, but wouldn’t think to take users searching for Magic: The Gathering card decks into consideration. It’s doubtful the contractor wants to pay $6 per click for someone looking to advance their card deck building strategies accidentally clicking their ad. Instead, it should be added as a negative keyword in context to the user’s search term in order to prevent those unnecessary clicks in the future.
Tip #2: Customize your columns
You can add other columns of information to provide additional insight, especially if it’s lower than expected despite decent quality scores. To see which columns are available at the campaign, ad group, ad or keyword level, click the icon with three thick, vertical bars to the top right just above your data set, then choose Modify Columns from the menu. There are a lot of different options available, so stay focused on which metrics you’re investigating to specifically help you understand performance.
When reviewing keyword performance, for example, use “est. first-page bid” and “est. first position bid” under the Attributes section to see what your bid should be in order to be competitive and drive more impressions and clicks. If your bids are far below the estimated “first-page bid” then it would explain one reason why your ads aren’t seen.
Tip #3: Compare timelines
This tip comes directly from Cyndi Lauper in suggesting that you compare time after time, rather than looking at a narrow, static view of performance. Of course, it’s disappointing to see click-through-rates plummet after a significant increase during the week prior, even if ad impressions remain steady. (Refer to tip #2 to take the guesswork out of explaining why?) But don’t keep your sights set on the short-term! You can expand your data set to gauge performance week-over-week, month-over-month, and even year-over-year to better evaluate account performance. By doing so you may discover that “disappointing click-through rate” statistic is actually 10% higher than it was at the same time last year because you added a new ad group with a different type of keyword focus which proved more successful!
To compare timelines, click on the calendar dates along the very top right of your account view (just under the dark grey toolbar). Then along the bottom left side of the flyout menu turn on the Compare feature, scroll down if necessary, and select the timeline for comparison.
Tip #4: Use labels for context
You know how they say, “Organization is key?” Good news: the same concept you love to ignore applies to Google Ads as well!
Adding labels to campaigns, ad groups, keywords and the advertisements themselves helps to provide additional context as you manage your account. Let’s say you’re reviewing keyword performance over the past 30 days (see tip #3 above!) and notice two specific keywords have lower than average impressions and clicks. Until you see your clearly defined label notating that you just added these keywords a month ago compared to the other ten keywords, which have been running successfully for six months!
Tip #5: Don’t blindly apply Google’s suggestions
Google Ads notifications will pop-up on occasion with recommendations on how its computerized algorithm thinks you should make changes to your account to improve performance. Do not blindly apply every single suggestion just because it’s coming from Google!
While many of the suggestions are worth looking into (e.g. notifications your credit card on file expired and needs to be updated is 100% valid!), automatically applying them does not guarantee results. Sometimes what Google Ads sees as redundant keywords are important variations in the terminology used by your customers. Or Google Ads may be recommending new ad copy based on the same headline structure as your landing page. However, these proposed ads do not carry any emotional benefit and sound just as robotic as the computer which created them. Suggestion dismissed.
Last and most definitely the least favorite.
Tip #6: Make Google Ads management part of your weekly routine
Yes, this is indeed just another administrative task to add to your to-do list. But similar to every other admin item you manage to squeeze into your weekly routine (e.g. email replies, payroll, invoicing and inventory), managing your Google Ads is equally important and the only way you can improve your account’s performance. For some, it’s easiest to add this as a Tuesday morning task, which keeps Monday mornings reserved for immediate follow-ups. Plus, allocating time in your morning ensures you don’t push it back to do later in the day until suddenly it’s quittin’ time and you’re having to add it to Wednesday’s list. (But let’s be real here, you probably won’t touch it again until next week.)
Try incorporating any one of these six tips in your Google Ads management to see if they’re actually beneficial for you. Or if you still feel completely lost trying to maintain something you have no desire managing, then contact a certified Google Ads consultant to help instead!