I’ll take a guess and say that you’re not running paid search activity for a laugh. With performance targets to hit, you want to ensure your paid search activity runs smoothly from the get go.
With this in mind, I’ve put together a fool proof checklist that will help you avoid mistakes during campaign set up. As the saying goes, its best to check yourself before you wreck yourself.
First things first, it is usually easier to set up new campaigns using Google Ads Editor rather than the Google Ads interface as you can bulk upload as well as check over everything before making it live.
A campaign is what keywords, ad groups and ads are organised within. There are several campaign-level settings that you’ll want to consider:
1) Daily budget – decide how much you want your campaign to spend each day. This is particularly important if you are working to a strict budget for a predetermined period of time.
2) Bid strategy – there are a few types of both manual and smart bidding methods available in Google. Your goals should determine which strategy you choose. For example if the main goal of your campaign is to drive awareness, then Maximise Clicks may be the best strategy, but if you have a fairly limited budget and your goal is to drive leads then Target CPA or Manual CPC may be better. To find out more on bid strategy types, check out our Ultimate Guide to Google Smart Bidding for Display Campaigns.
3) Search Partners – decide whether you would like your ads to be seen on Search Partner sites. These include sites like Google Maps, YouTube and other Google-owned sites. If you are working to a fairly tight budget, we would recommend disabling Search Partners. These ads tend to have a slightly lower cost-per-click (CPC), but generally have a lower conversion rate.
4) Display Network – we would always recommend disabling the Display Network for search campaigns as a text ad will likely have a much lower engagement rate when appearing at the side of a site page compared to when an active searcher triggers your ad on the SERP. Display ads should be set up in separate campaigns so that their budgets can be controlled separately.
Keywords are usually the first port of call when setting up a campaign. You can get a feel for the size of your market, changing search trends and consumer demand through the keyword research.
1) Find keywords – Use Keyword Planner in Google Ads to get an estimate of the search volume, level of competitiveness and average CPC of keywords you’d like to bid on. The tool can also uncover new keywords which may also work well. You can also use Google Search Trends to see whether search queries are growing or diminishing in popularity. It will also show any seasonal peaks and troughs which can give a steer on how to allocate budget throughout the year.
2) Match types – once you’ve got your potential keyword set, you’ll need to decide which match types to assign the keywords. There are four variants; Broad Match, Broad Match Modifier, Phrase Match and Exact Match. These tell Google how aggressively or restrictively to match your ads to keyword searches. Broad Match is the most aggressive as it can match against any query that contains any keyword in your key phrase, in any order. We wouldn’t recommend using this match type initially as it has the potential to trigger for a lot of unrelated topics. Exact Match is the most specific match type because, as the name indicates, your ad is only shown when the search query exactly matches or is a very close variant of your keyword. More details about each match type and when to use them can be found here.
3) Keyword bids – you’ll then need to decide the amount that you’re willing to bid on each keyword. A major influence on the keyword bid level that is decided is the average CPC of the keyword. This metric is obtained from Keyword Planner and is based on the average price that is paid when an ad triggering from that keyword is clicked on. If the bid is set at £1.05 but the average CPC is at £8.90, you’re share of impressions will be minuscule. As a rule, you’ll want to bid more for keywords that have stronger intent (e.g. Exact Match keywords) or those that are further down the marketing funnel as these searchers are more likely to make a purchase.
Ad groups are used to organise the keywords within the campaign into even tighter themes.
1) Group the keywords – tight keyword groupings mean that ads can be closely tailored to the keywords. This helps boost CTR as the ads are more relevant to the search query. Usually more than 10 keywords per ad group is a sign that your keyword groups need splitting out further, unless they are deliberate misspellings/ slight variations of the same word (for example ‘black shoe’, ‘black shoes’ & ‘black sho’).
2) Naming convention – ad group name should reflect the keywords it contains. A clear and methodical naming structure will be of benefit later on when it comes to analysing performance. If you’re unsure, a good basic structure to follow would be Campaign Name | Keyword Theme | Match Type, for example Nike Trainers | Air Force 1 | BMM.
3) Ad group bid – before the campaign can go live, you’ll need set an ad group bid, which is used if bids at the keyword level are not set. You’ll need to specify this bid, but you should bid at keyword level to optimise granularly.
Ads are the one element of your campaign that are actually seen by a potential customer, so its important to get them right.
1) Ad copy – aim to write in a way that makes your business stand out above the other ads its surrounded by. Consider your brands USPs – is there an element of the offering that is exclusive to your business? Take a look at competitor’s ads and their offering. Which offerings can you match, or even better, beat? Try to make your Headline 1 as closely related to your keywords as possible.
2) Number of ads – You should be testing at least three expanded text ads at one time and have one responsive search ad (link) per ad group. This number leaves you with room to pause any ads that are under performing, and gives you a sense of what copy is effective. You should be regularly culling ads with the lowest CTR and replacing them with new ones to test. A higher CTR will contribute to a better Quality Score (link) which will result in a lower CPC. The second ad type worth including in the account are responsive search ads, as these typically drive a higher CTR than expanded text ads.
3) Ad Landing page (Final URL) – it’s all very well getting searchers to click on an ad, but what page are you directing traffic to? There may be an obvious appropriate page, but you may be torn between a few pages. In the latter situation, an A/B test can be set up to see which page drives the highest conversion rate.
The following types of ad extension show beneath a text ad. There is a range of ad extensions available, but the below are among the most popular. Ads with some form of ad extension on average have a 10-15% uplift in CTR (Google Ads Help)
1) Sitelinks – a type of ad extension that take people to specific pages of your site. Sitelinks can be added either at ad group, campaign or account level. Adding sitelinks at account level make management quick and easy if there are site page that are relevant to all your campaigns like a Contact Us page or generic category pages.
2) Callout extensions – this type of ad extension allows you to promote up to 10 unique offers to searchers, for example ‘Free Delivery’ or ‘24/7 Phone Support’. Again, these can be done at ad group, campaign or account level so the callout extensions can be as specific as you like.
3) Structured snippets – these extensions exist in the form of a header (e.g. Models) and a series of values (e.g. Nissan Micra, Ford Mondeo, VW Polo). They can be an extremely valuable asset to your ad – giving visitors a preview of the nature and range of your products and services, before they even click your ad.
4) Price extensions – these extensions give more space to detail pricing information of specific products. Price extensions are displayed as a set of up to 8 cards that people can view to see different options and prices.
5) Location extensions – particularly useful if you have physical stores or service locations. The ad extension shows details like business address, location on map and distance to your business. Very handy for users searching on Mobile!
There’s no point carefully selecting keywords and crafting beautiful ad copy if your targeting setting aren’t set up correctly. Its unlikely that a campaign set up to promote vegan leather footwear will produce good results when targeting all of Europe when delivery is only available within the UK. Well it might, but it wont end up with happy customers. Goodbye 5-star reviews.
There are several settings you’ll need to consider:
1) Location – As just mentioned, think carefully about which locations it will be valuable for your ads to be visible in. In Google Ads, location targeting can be as wide as the whole earth, or as narrow as a tiny village in the French Pyrenees. Multiple locations can be added to a single campaign, and a radius distance around each location an also be added.
2) Language – pretty self-explanatory, you need to select the language of the users you’re targeting.
3) Demographic – who is your businesses target audience? Characteristics that fall under this category are Age, Gender, Parental Status and Household Income. You can alter the settings in a way so that the audience is very specific, or quite broad.
4) Device – is there a particular device that you’d like to target users on (Mobile, Computer, Tablet)? This may not be important to most campaigns, but an App Install campaign for example would be best suited to Mobile and Tablet.
5) Ad Schedule – you may want your ads to be running all the time, or perhaps only on certain days or times of day. If you’re a B2B company with a fairly small budget, you may want to only be live Monday – Friday as this is likely when you’ll get the best results.
6) Audiences – you can choose to serve your ads to specific audiences based on how they’ve interacted with your site (Website Visitor Audiences), their interests and habits (In-market Audiences, Affinity Audiences), life events, and more granular demographics such as education and employment. You can even create Similar audiences which show your ads to people who share similar traits to users within your existing remarketing lists.
These let you show your ads more or less frequently depending on where, when and how people search. If you have historical data in your account that clearly shows a difference in conversion rate between any the targeting options mentioned above (excluding Language), then you may want to consider implementing bid adjustments on campaign launch.
More information on these can be found here.
If this is your first campaign, then its best to skip this step until you have enough data to inform your decisions.
Last but not least, tracking. Its important to set this up correctly as without it you’ll be blind to the value that your activity is driving.
Step 1 – create a conversion action in your Google Ads account
Step 2 – set up a conversion tracking tag (this can be done either by installing the tag directly onto the pages of your site, or by using Google Tag Manager (we’d recommend the second option as its much quicker and easier to manage). More information on how to do this can be found here.
If you have a Google Analytics account, you can link this to your Google Ads account to also view conversion data in Analytics and easily compare paid search performance against other channels. You’ll also need to link Google Analytics if you want to utilise Website Visitor audiences. Details on how to do this are here.
And it’s as simple as that! …
Once you’ve thought about all these elements, you’re finally ready to go live!
If you’re in the process of creating paid search campaigns, and you’d like to discuss anything to do with Google Ads and how to get the most out of it, then please feel free to get in touch.