The 2017 Guide to Google Ads
Produced by Hanapin Marketing
Whether you are brand new or a seasoned professional in pay per click marketing, there is always more to learn and changes to be aware of as platforms update their dashboards and continuously roll out new features. This paper will clarify the many uses and choices you can make as you maintain peak PPC campaign performance. In the guide, we focus mainly on Google Ads, the largest PPC platform. By the end, we hope you feel comfortable with common terminology and concepts, display features, remarketing campaign setup, click and conversion tracking, reports, automated rules and more!
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Guide to Google Ads Beginner Edition
How PPC Works
PPC stands for Pay Per Click. You may also see it referred to as cost per click (CPC) or more broadly search engine marketing (SEM.) This advertising model only charges the advertiser when the ad is clicked, whether the click comes from a search or a banner ad on the Google Display Network (GDN.)
If a user sees an ad but does not click on it, the advertiser is made aware of the impression but no charges are made. This allows advertisers to optimize ads around actual site visits, app downloads, and other user actions rather than buying advertising impressions for building awareness as is done on certain Facebook, YouTube, and CPM (cost per thousand views) campaigns.
Google Ads uses an auction system to decide which ads show in the SERP (search engine results page.) The Google Ads algorithm also decides what position one’s ad will take on the SERP. Each competitor sets bids for certain search terms. Google runs an auction for each query and displays the ads of the winners in order of their standing (based on the bids, bid adjustments, and relevance.)
In terms of relevancy, quality score is a metric that Google uses to rate ads and decide if they provide a good user experience. The most important elements of your campaign that drive relevancy are keyword, ad, and landing page. It’s best practice to ensure that your user has a consistent experience from the query they type (keyword) to the ad they click (ad copy) to the landing page they visit. The greater your relevancy and cohesion of these three elements, the more favor Google grants you and with that lower CPCs and more views for less money. You can win the ad auction with a cheaper bid, if relevancy is secured, as many advertisers see in their brand campaigns where relevancy and quality scores naturally tend to be extremely high.
PPC is a data heavy field and built around optimization. The ad platforms collect data on the associated metrics and allow one to optimize your account as needed to increase your sales or leads, decrease your non-converting spend, and get more bang for your buck.
Pieces of a Google Ads Account
There are only a few primary pieces to a Google Ads account. Each piece is pretty simple and the biggest learning curve will come with organizing and putting the components together.
The highest-level grouping is the campaign. Each campaign has its own settings, budget, and organization. Note that almost all ad network, delivery, ad scheduling, frequency capping, and bid type settings are set at the campaign level. You can devote certain campaigns to specific themes such as brand, products, geographic or language targeting, ad types, or device targeting. Typically, you want to avoid over-segmenting your campaigns but if you do, you can use shared budgets among campaigns to allow your money to be spread semi-evenly. Groupings should come naturally and be organized by how you would like to spend your budget or different product or service types you would like to target.
Under the umbrella of campaigns are the ad groups, which contain less settings and are designed primarily for keyword or audience segmentation. An example of grouping ad groups could entail a campaign for basketball shoes, another for baseball cleats, and a third campaign for casual shoes. This eases the burden on your ad manager, as will be able to quickly find and access the relevant parts of their account with greater clarity.
Ad Groups are the smaller containers that exist within each campaign. They are called ad groups because they contain a group of keywords that trigger the same group of ads.
The ad group structure can sometimes be more important than campaign structure. Ad groups should be more tightly tailored to themes in keywords and ads. This not only will help raise your relevancy score (quality score) in the eyes of Google, but it will also ensure that your ad copy is targeted towards the correct searchers, and that those searchers have a positive, predictable ad experience. You wouldn’t want to show the same ad to users who search for basketball shoes as you do for users searching for dress shoes.
As with campaign segmentation, you aren’t limited by the number of ad groups, so there is no need to overfill ad groups with keywords. If you think a large ad group could be split into two more specific ad groups, do not hesitate to proceed. It’ll only make the account easier to manage in the long run. One popular tactic of the past was to plug a single keyword into each ad group. This type of targeting is outdated. Again, beware of over-segmentation and think about how you will manage the campaigns and ad groups in the long term while plotting out your structure. Take time to map out your segmentation to ensure relevancy as well as ease of use.
Keywords are the phrases and words used to target searchers queries. They come in three match types: broad (though many advertisers use modified broad to avoid Google over-expanding to non-relevant searches) phrase, and exact. You may see these with the match type notation as well. Broad match keywords have no punctuation, modified broad keywords use the “+” modifier to tell Google that the keyword must be used within the targeted query in any order, phrase match keywords are enclosed in “ ”, and exact match keywords are enclosed in [ ].
Broad: red shoes
Modified Broad: +red +shoes
Phrase: “red shoes”
Exact: [red shoes]
So what is the difference between the types?
Broad match can match any query containing those terms or their synonyms in any order. Google takes a lot of liberties with broad match and can really extend your ads to a wide variety of queries. For example, if you were to target the broad match keyword kitchen cupboards, Google may allow searchers for kitchen cabinets or stove cupboards to see your ads. Broad match keywords in their purest sense allow for a maximum variety of queries, which can be useful for new tests if used with great caution.
Broad match modified is similar to broad but requires that the terms with + are included, eliminating the synonyms. All words within the query can, like regular broad, be used in any word order.
Phrase requires the query to contain those terms in that specific order, but anything could appear before or after the phrase.
Exact is the most specific, and triggers ads when that specific query or one very similar to it has been entered. Google does expand upon exact match targeting, but not as widely as broad match keywords. Also Google will stay within the confines of the phrasing of the exact match query.
Choosing keywords requires a balance. Broad will bring in the most traffic but may bring irrelevant searches, while exact will bring qualified traffic at lower volumes for a higher cost per click. As stated above, broad match keywords present some danger of driving a lot of spend for only a little gain. What if you need to block certain segments of traffic to control this flow?
Thankfully, you can control incoming traffic with negative keywords. Negative keywords can have the same match types but work in reverse, keeping ads from showing for any queries containing those terms. Negative keywords can be added on the ad group, campaign, or account level in the shared library.
For example red shoes could trigger an ad for a searcher looking for red heels. In this example, your business only stocks athletic shoes. You can then apply red heels as a negative to prevent these searches from triggering your ads.
You can view the searches that triggered your ads from the search query report. This report can be reached from the keyword tab in your account. You can view search queries for the entire account down to specific keywords.
As you review your search queries over time, make a note of those queries that are bringing in the most conversion at the lowest cost. You may want to add specific phrases that your broad or modified broad match keywords attract. And if those phrases or exact match terms continue to perform well, it is best practice to create phrase match or exact match only ad groups to better control those best performers.
Ads themselves are specific to their containing ad group. They are subject to certain limitations. Headline 1 and 2 can be up to 30 characters, and the description line can be up to 80 characters (but note that Google may automatically cut off your description line much earlier than that,) The Final URL is required for all ads, and you can use specific paths to give the user a better idea of the type of page they will be sent to on your site. URL display paths can be up to 15 characters.
The ads themselves are fairly short. While this means they can be quick to write, the limitations also add to the challenge. Due to a limited amount of characters, you’ll often have to stretch your creativity to include the desired message and meet the length requirements.
The headlines are what you see at the top of the ad, in blue. These should be tailored to the ad group theme and keywords. Note that between each headline is a “-” hash mark, so the message of each headline must be separate and not a continuous sentence.
The description lines should describe the benefits, any selling points, and a call to action. The final URL needs to target your landing page and may contain any tags you have, if you aren’t applying tags on the account level in the shared library. The final URL is not seen on the surface, but is the address the searcher is sent to when clicking the ad.
You can have as many ads as you want in an ad group. Despite this, it is often best to run two to three ads in each ad group, depending on your search volume. This allows you to easily test different variations against one another. After a period of time, you can go back to your ad group and replace the poorest performing ad with a new ad and restart the testing cycle. The data will guide you in making the best choices for your campaign. When running ad tests, you can set your campaign to rotate the ads evenly or you can choose the setting that allows Google to favor the best performing ad. The former is best if you will be reviewing your ads frequently. The latter is a great option when you know you won’t be getting back into the testing cycle anytime soon and you’d like the best performer to pull in more traffic and conversions.
The Common Metrics
The common search metrics you need to know right off the bat are:
- Revenue (maybe, depending on the business)
These form the foundation for almost all of the other metrics you need to optimize performance.
Impressions are how many times your ad is shown. Each time a user sees your ad during a search, an impression is tallied. If a user clicks on the ad you gain a click. These metrics are collected at both the keyword and ad level, as well as aggregated at the ad group, campaign, and account level. This granular detail allows you to optimize each part of the account independently. This be a factor that will help you figure out which part of the campaign is successful, in addition to evaluating the revenue or lead quality that the ads produce.
Clicks and impressions are also used to calculate click through rate, or CTR, which is simply clicks divided by impressions. This ratio tells you how often your ads are clicked, allowing you to troubleshoot components that just aren’t working. That said, there is no “good CTR.” It is relative and you’ll have to learn over time where your account’s baseline is. Don’t fret too much over this metric, but you generally want it to be higher.
Conversions are goal completions. This can be imported through Google Analytics but are also commonly used with a Google Ads tracking code. The most common scenario is to place a conversion code on the checkout confirmation or form submissions page. Each time a user clicks the ad and then goes on to reach the final page, a conversion is totaled. This gives you an accurate count of how often PPC ads drive direct sales or leads. This metric also lets you calculate the cost/conversion or cost per acquisition or cost per lead (CPA/CPL), how much are you spending for each sale or lead.
Working in The Account
One of the first tests of managing an account is getting used to the interface. Get comfortable flipping through your account and adjusting the date ranges, graphs, and metrics. This is going to be your first line of defense in monitoring account performance. Anytime you see significant changes or even a long running trend, go ahead and examine the change history. This page keeps a record of all the changes in your account whether they were new ads, keywords, adjusted bids or budgets, as well as when you paused and enabled certain elements.
You’ll find that you can make any adjustment needed through the interface. This brings up two problems, however. The first problem you’ll face is that anything done through the interface is instantly applied. What if you want to double-check your changes before finalizing them?
The second problem you’ll have is making large-scale changes. Thankfully, there are tools to address this. Excel and Google Ads Editor will become your best friends soon enough.
Google Ads Editor is a software provided, free of charge, by Google. It allows you to download a copy of your account into the program interface. You can then tweak and apply changes to the account without them going live, or make changes when you are not connected to the Internet. This also makes it easy to revert changes if you change your mind. When you are ready to implement your changes, simply click the button and the editor will post the changes in your account. You can post account-wide changes or updates that are specific to certain campaigns only. Also when you use Google Ads Editor you can draft new campaigns without fear of them going live by accident.
When it comes to analyzing your account, it’s easiest to do it in Excel. You can download just about anything from Google Ads in an Excel useable format like .csv or .xlsx. You can then use Excel to apply custom formulas for bid changes or to build completely new ad groups and keywords. Once you’ve finished your work in Excel, you can directly insert your spreadsheet into Google Ads Editor and load the changes, or upload through the shared library.
Working in Excel also offers you the flexibility to manipulate the data as needed. The most common techniques you can use are functions and pivot tables. Functions allow you to use logic to manipulate and analyze data. For example, you can bid down by 10% on all keywords over CPA and bid up by 10% for any keyword under your CPA goal. This would be a long task through the editor, but takes just minutes in Excel.
Pivot tables can and have provided papers worth of information in their own right. They are worth mentioning, as they will be a crucial tool in your account work and professional tasks. Pivot tables simply allow you to create custom tables using your own parameters.
This is Only the Beginning…
So there you have it, common terms and concepts to get you started in PPC. We’ve only just scratched the surface in Google Ads; next up in this guide are more details on advertising for specific conversion goals, remarketing, advanced segmentation, extensions, experiments, display network campaigns, and more.
Remember, if you need help, there are plenty of resources available out there. Just Google it or better yet, start your search on the PPC Hero blog or address Google Ads support directly on Twitter.
A Quick Recap
The Seven Account Management Tasks You Need to Succeed Early in PPC
- Make bid changes in bulk through the Google Ads Editor
- Monitor and understand performance through the Google Ads interface
- Perform search query reports to find new keywords and eliminate poor quality traffic
- Write creative ads and test, test, test!
- Establish goals and guidelines for performance
- Be flexible with adjusting your spend
- Never stop learning – new techniques and tips are always being discussed in the industry, and the search interfaces are always making changes.
Guide to Google Ads Intermediate Edition
Beyond the Basics
Thanks to our previous section, you’re likely well-versed in the basic practices of PPC and Google Ads. With this in mind, it’s time to explore more technical details like campaign types, campaigns settings, ad extensions, and how to start optimizing your account. Each of these elements will become a critical aspect of developing a comprehensive and uniquely tailored strategy.
By the end of our intermediate section, you should be comfortable adjusting campaign settings, navigating the tabs in the Google Ads interface, and using data from Google Ads to make basic optimizations.
Here’s what you’ll learn:
1) How to select the appropriate campaign type
2) Understanding campaign settings and adjusting them to fit your business needs
3) Understanding the basics of targeting on the Google Display Network
4) Knowing the ad extensions available to use in your account
5) Basic optimizations – search query reports, bid changes, and budget allocation
6) How to access audience insights such as location, time of day behavior, age, and gender.
Search Network only:
- Your ads will only appear on the Google search results page and search partner sites (if you’re opted in)
- Ad formats: expanded text ads, product listing ads, dynamic search ads, App / digital content ads
Display Network only:
- Your ads will appear on the Google Display Network
- Ad formats: Text ads, responsive ads, image ads, video ads
Search Network with Display Select:
- Your ads will appear on the Google search results page, search partner sites, and the Google Display Network sites. For most users, it is recommended to avoid using this campaign type. Budgeting and targeting control is improved when each campaign is designed specifically for it’s intended network.
- Ad formats: Text ads, image ads
- Shopping campaigns are used to advertise the products in your Google Merchant Center account
- Your ads will appear on the Google search results page
- Ad formats: Product Listing Ads (includes a photo and price)
- Reach your audience through the world’s second largest search engine, Youtube.
- Ad formats: in-stream ads, discovery ads, and bumper ads.
Universal App Campaigns:
- Drive app installs across Google’s networks.
- Ad formats: Google pulls ad text ideas and assets from your app’s store listing to design a variety of ads across several formats and networks
Network: For search campaigns, you have the option of opting into the Google Search Partner Network. This means that your ads will show on non-Google sites related to the user’s search, as well as Google Maps, Google Video, and other Google properties. Campaigns are opted into search partners by default, so if you want to opt out you’ll have to uncheck the box that says “Include search partners.” Often times search partners can yield productive, supplementary inventory. To access this information, simply segment by Network (with search partners).
Devices: Google segments performance by three device categories: computers, mobile phones, and tablets. You can now set different bid adjustments for mobile, tablet, and desktop devices. You can view all the usual performance statistics segmented by these devices and make an adjustment if necessary. Modifiers can go from -100% to +900% and utilize existing keyword and ad group level bids.
Locations: This is where you specify where you want your ads to show (or not show). You can set bid adjustments for certain cities, states, or countries or exclude them altogether. You can select how Google will dictate a user’s location in the advanced location options.
The default setting drives a larger reach and is the first listed option: people in, searching for, or viewing pages about my targeted location. Select “People in your targeted locations” if the immediate location of your audience is relevant to your product or service.
Languages: Here you specify what language you want to target. To determine a user’s language, Google looks at a user’s Google language setting or the language of the search query, currently viewed page, or recently viewed pages on the display network.
Bid Strategy: Beyond manual bidding, Google Ads offers a series automated bidding options that continue to become more robust and effective as the technologically develops. The current options are as follows:
- Target CPA: Sets bids to get the most conversions possible while reaching your average cost-per-acquisition (CPA) goal.
- Target ROAS: Sets bids to help you get the most conversion value while maintaining your target return on ad spend (ROAS).
- Maximize clicks: Sets bids to help you get the most clicks within your budget.
- Maximize conversions: Sets bids to help you get the most conversions within your budget.
- Target search page location: Sets bids to help you get your ads to the top of the page or on the first page of search results.
- Target outranking share: Sets bids to help you outrank another domain’s ads.
- Enhanced CPC: Adjusts your manual bids up or down to help you increase conversions.
While each of these bid strategies can be executed at the the campaign level, keep in mind that bid strategies can be run across campaigns.
Delivery Method: There are two options for delivery method:
- Standard: Show ads evenly over time
- Accelerated: Show ads as quickly as reasonably possible
The default setting for new campaigns is Standard, but with this setting you may be missing out on traffic. Google will pace your ads throughout the day for your budget. If you have a lot of budget to spend, you might as well go to accelerated and not let Google potentially leave you out of auctions.
Ad rotation dictates which ad Google will show at any particular time. With optimizing for clicks or conversions, Google will choose the best performing ad for your chosen metric in each ad group. If you are conducting ad tests, be sure to set it to Rotate Indefinitely so that you can get an accurate picture of how your ads perform. If you don’t use this setting for ad testing, Google will likely send a disproportionate amount of traffic to each ad leaving you with limited data for the new ads you’re testing.
Display campaigns offer an excellent opportunity to engage with top of the funnel traffic at an efficient price. In order to reach this traffic, you’ll need to incorporate at least one of the following methods:
Display Keywords: Google uses keywords as contextual targeting to display your ads on sites with relevant content.
Placements: Here you can view the websites that Google has automatically displayed your ads on, or you can create managed placements (websites that you specify).
Topics: Topics refer to the theme of a website. You choose which topics you want to target, and Google does the rest.
Interests & Remarketing: Interest categories refer to the user. Google looks at the pages a person has visited before to decide what a user is interested in and generate what is known as “in-market segments”. Remarketing allows you to target users who have already been to your site and had a cookie placed in their browser.
When looking to engage with a new audience via display, it is often best to layer a handful of these targeting opportunities in each ad group. A new option within this network is Smart Display Campaigns. These campaigns offer a simple, yet advanced solution to broaden your reach while maintaining relevant traffic. Smart display campaigns automate and optimize targeting, bidding, and ads through machine learning.
Ad Extensions will show with your ad depending on position, ad rank, and what other ad extensions you’ve enabled. Extensions are valuable because they take up more real estate on the search results page, and give the user easy ways to get the information they want about your site.
Sitelinks: Sitelinks allow you to show additional links to your site below your ad. Consider this a chance to move your audience farther down the funnel with additional landing page options and ad copy that further develops your message.
Callouts: Callouts quickly relay major benefits or features of your service.
Structured Snippets: Structured snippets give advertisers the chance to describe features of a specific product or share the range of products or services their business offers.
Call extensions: These allow your users to click-to-call from their mobile phones.
Message extensions: Allows your audience to click an icon within your ad to directly text message your business.
Location Extensions: If your business has a physical location or storefront, the address will show here, so users can easily get directions. Location extensions are displayed to users who are near or are searching about the location of your business. If you have multiple locations, you can easily add multiple location extensions, which will show to users depending on their locations.
Affiliate Location Extensions: For business that sell through retail chains, affiliate location extensions help you reach consumers when they are deciding what and where to buy.
App Extensions: Link to your mobile or tablet app from your text ads.
Review extensions: With review extensions you can showcase positive, third-party reviews from reputable sources. If you’re unsure about what kinds of sites Google allows, check out Google support.
Promotion Extensions: Show details regarding special sales and offers within your ads.
Price Extensions: Price extensions showcase your business’s offerings in detail, so people can find what they want more quickly through your ad.
Optimizations – The Basics
So now that we’ve gone through some of the basic settings and features of Google Ads, you’ve got to know what to do with all of it. Here are some basic Google Ads optimizations that you’ll be making in your accounts.
The Search Query Report
Search query reports are used to analyze what search terms are triggering your ads. This can be useful in a few ways:
- To ensure that only relevant traffic is coming in by adding negative keywords
- To identify new keywords to add to your account
Once you download your search query report into an Excel file, simply add some filters and sort by cost, conversions, and impressions to get a feel for what traffic is coming through your account.
Bid & Budget Optimizations
Bids and budgets are usually adjusted on a weekly basis. Campaign budgets are used to allocate overall monthly budgets, and bids are used to efficiently spend your budget on the keyword level.
Bid Adjustments – Basic Strategy
There are many different approaches you can take to bid adjustments, whether you are bidding for a certain position or you have a CPA goal in mind. The idea behind changing bids is that you want to reduce the bid on keywords that are not performing well, while increasing bids on keywords that are performing well or have a low average position.
First, download your keyword report from the Google Ads interface. Once your data is in Excel, sort your keywords by cost. This allows you to easily pinpoint which keywords are spending significant amounts without converting. Give these keywords a negative adjustment, maybe 10% or 15%, depending on the cost.
Next, filter by cost per conversion. Any keyword with a CPA over your goal should receive a negative adjustment as well.
Finally, you’ll want to increase the bid on your top performers (if they need a boost). If a keyword is bringing in conversions at a good CPA, but the average position is a bit low or has been dropping, it typically gets an adjustment to keep the position from falling.
If you’re using automated methods such as Target CPA or Target ROAS, adjust the goal KPI accordingly as performance fluctuates. Keep in mind that these methods rely heavily on historical data, so too much tinkering will hinder their ability to optimize.
A lot of information can be gathered directly in Google Ads to further dissect which audiences you’re resonating with most.
One of the most valuable items available is location targeting. Accessing this information can reveal anything from seasonality to market share. From here, bid modifiers can be implemented to increase reach in top performers and limit exposure in areas of inefficiency.
Another key aspect of audience behavior pertains to ad scheduling. Search intent varies by both day of week and time of a day, a crucial variable to incorporate when optimizing budgets and bidding.
Beyond location and time of day, factors such as age, gender, and household income are likely to be defining characteristics of your target audience. Each of these items are accessible via the demographics report within Google Ads.
A Quick Recap
Google Ads is a dynamic, comprehensive ad platform that allows users to connect with an audience at the exact moment in which they are making pivotal purchase decisions. If you achieve a strong grasp of the following list, you’ll be well on your way to developing a comprehensive and cohesive targeting strategy:
1) Leverage the proper campaign type for your goal
2) Understand campaign settings and adjust them to fit your business needs
3) Learn the basics of targeting on the Display Network to connect with higher funnel traffic
4) Incorporate all relevant ad extensions for increased ad real estate
5) Execute typical account optimization through search query report, bid management, and budget allocation.
6) Explore Audience Insights via location targeting, ad scheduling, and demographic reports.
Guide to Google Ads Advanced Edition
Becoming the Expert
After successfully navigating the setup of a Google Ads account and the initial round of
settings, optimizations, and expansions, the time has come to not only manage your account according to general best practices, but to really identify how your account will flourish. By the end of this section you’ll learn:
1) The distinctions between Ecommerce and lead generation PPC
2) How to create the most value from your Remarketing lists
3) Advanced segmentation opportunities for your account
4) Cross-device attribution for a broader look at how users engage with you
5) How to use automation for simpler and more efficient account management
Ecommerce vs Lead Generation
Businesses across the world take advantage of PPC to improve brand exposure, their customer base, and ultimately the return on their marketing investment. Although they may have many things in common, there is a critical distinction between the world of ecommerce and lead generation pay-per-click marketing. In the table below, these differences are outlined for simple assessment of the strategies and tactics that are affected.
As these points are considered, these distinctions should be visibly acknowledged in your account. The metrics used for gauging regular performance will vary based on these principles and overall success may be felt in differing timelines. Additionally, the way in which new and converted visitors are targeted depends on the nature of your PPC, such as seasonal effect on shoppers or the transition of free trial users to paying clients.
Remarketing How To
The concept of remarketing or retargeting allows businesses to continually engage with a
demographic who has already been to their website. This means that the individual is not only
more familiar with the online experience, but they have also begun the process of identifying if your product or service is meeting their needs.
Due to the specificity of your targeting – with a quantity of online browsers whom have been to your site – remarketing efforts tend to yield lower costs-per-clicks as well as higher conversion rates. Those who click through a remarketing ad are often individuals who know what to expect by landing on your site and thus are further into the conversion process or buying cycle.
Before you can succeed in remarketing, you must create a unique remarketing campaign. Since you will need a list of previous visitors, the initial step is to create and place your remarketing code.
You will need to add a specific Google code that will be placed on all pages of your website that will then tag or “cookie” any person that visits one of your pages. This cookie can last for any period of time, ranging from just a few days to as many as 540 days for a Display campaign and 180 for a Search campaign.
Your remarketing code is found in the Shared Library of your Google Ads account, under “Audiences.” Once there, you will encounter clear steps for placing the code, including the option to email it to your developer if necessary.
Once you’ve properly placed your code, you can verify its status on the Audience page of your Shared Library.
Once you have completed this step, you’ll need to create your remarketing lists. Commonly, an “All Visitors” list is created, which simply tags all users who’ve been to your site.
In addition to this general list, your next step will be to identify your converting traffic and assess your interest in re-engaging with them. For lead generation PPC, as mentioned previously, often an individual who has completed a lead form will have little additional value for further conversions.
Unless you’re operating from an e-mail list or free trial, converted users in lead gen should be a remarketing list that is excluded from your targeting.
In order to set this audience up, you’ll return to your Shared Library» Audiences tab and choose:
This list will then be added to your targeting as an exclusion, while your All Visitors would be included. There are many levels of visitors to include and exclude depending on the intention behind your remarketing efforts. You may want to target those visitors who have gone through a certain stage in the purchase process or who have completed a certain step in your form signup.
Remarketing exists similarly in Google Analytics, where your standard Analytics tag will need just a slight adjustment. It can be useful to create your remarketing lists through Analytics when you want your lists to revolve around particular behavior, such as number of pages viewed, referral source and more. It is through the construction of these lists and combining them for highly refined targeting that you can put the bid and budget emphasis where it is most likely to convert well.
ADDITIONAL REMARKETING CAMPAIGNS
- Dynamic Remarketing
Mostly used in ecommerce campaigns, Dynamic Remarketing allows you to show previous
visitors the products they viewed. For example, if searchers viewed a blue widget, a green widget, and a red widget, they have the potential to see these products as they move across Google’s Display Network. Dynamic Remarketing can also be used in verticals like education and travel to dynamically list courses and flights.
Although traditional Google Remarketing was based in the Display Network, it has grown to the
Search Network as well. Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA) offer targeted ads for those
searching through Google. You use the same type of remarketing lists as with your Display
campaigns, but here you would include keywords, just like any other Search campaign.
To create your RLSA campaign, you’ll go through the same process of creating a Search campaign with ad groups and keywords. However, you’ll also include targeting for your desired audience.
When it comes to keyword targeting, you can be a little more flexible with your choices. Since you know the window of time this group has engaged with your site, you have a bit more confidence that a search for one of your broader keywords (and even in broad match) can be conducted with a greater understanding of what is needed. This means that when your ad appears, the individual not only knows more clearly what they’re investigating, but also recognizes you and the experience they had on your site.
For this reason, RLSA campaigns often have lower volume, but a higher conversion rate than traditional Search campaigns, and even traditional remarketing campaigns on the Display Network.
A third development in remarketing is through the construction of what are considered RDSA
campaigns. This campaign type combines your Remarketing Search campaigns with another feature called Dynamic Search Ads (DSA).
These text ads are created based on the user’s search term and what Google deems to be the most relevant headline. You provide the description lines, but the headline and final URL are both inserted dynamically based on Google’s perception of what will yield the most positive user experience. The concept behind RDSA is to take the DSA campaign and add remarketing lists to the targeting so that the ads are highly relevant. In addition, remarketing lists for Search need 1,000 visitors before they start showing. By targeting all users who come to your site, RDSA shows a relevant, dynamic ad based upon the query and intended landing page.
- Customer Match
Google’s platform offers the ability to upload a file of email addresses in order to target users based on data customers share with the engine. This method of remarketing is available on select platforms including:
- Search Network and Google Shopping
To take advantage of this method you simply create or update a campaign to targeting using Customer Match. When users are signed into the applicable accounts your ads will be served. Member duration within customer lists is unlimited. It is recommended to refresh your lists frequently.
An additional way you can leverage your customer match list is to create similar audiences. In order to create this list your customer match list must meet requirements set by Google. If your list meets those requirements the audience size will display on the Audiences tab within the Google Ads interface. To take advantage of these lists simply set up a target by adding it to an ad group within a campaign.
Remarketing for video campaigns can be compared to the set up involved in the Search and Display Network. In order to take advantage of this method advertisers will need to connect the Google Ads account with YouTube. Once connected remarketing lists can be created from one channel or by a group of videos within one channel to create custom audiences. These audiences can be used to run standard text ads or images ads on the search and display network.
- Remarketing for Mobile Apps
If you have a mobile app the ability to remarket to users is offered through Google and allows you to reach back out to these users in a few different ways. The most common way is to show ads to customers who have installed your app while they use other apps through the display network.
An advanced use of this targeting is to leverage deep links and actions within your app to encourage users to finish a task. For example if a customer has downloaded your app, but failed to launch you could remarket to that individual with benefit messaging to try to promote an open.
To get started you will need to determine the appropriate method to link your app. Once established you will need to tag events within your apps that will trigger the remarketing list. These tags will them be used to create audiences within the shared library. To finalize a campaign launch simply add the new remarketing lists to a campaign leveraging the Display network only – Mobile app.
Once you’ve successfully begun running your remarketing campaign, you’ll want to start optimizing it. Because the nature of this campaign is fundamentally different from standard Display or Search campaigns, we also utilize additional methods for improving performance.
As is the commonly accepted practice, conducting placement reports will allow you to identify
sites on which your ad shows. From these reports, you can identify what placements are sources of inefficient spend and exclude them. Conversely, those that have brought in strong conversion volume should remain in the running, potentially to even be set as a managed placement in a separate Display campaign, so that you can control the bidding for these sites.
To identify the effectiveness of the ads you are showing to known visitors, the first optimization will be through the examination of the Reach & Frequency report, as seen in the Google Ads Dimensions tab.
From this report, you can segment the number of times per day, week, or month that a user was shown your remarketing ads. This data can be folded into a pivot table where the frequency is aggregated over a time period. The data shows that the conversion rate is strongest for those who have seen the ad 2-3 times in a single day. The conversion rate then declines a bit before resuming to a higher rate after 7 impressions.
From this table, you can take advantage of the frequency capping option within your settings tab. You can segment by the quantity of impressions per day/week/month as well as by ad group/campaign/ad.
At this point, your account should be divided into a structure that allows for best achievement of your overarching PPC goals. While such segmentation is imperative for successful account management, additional parameters can allow for a more efficient use of your spend. These segmentations include the use of more in-depth reports, such as click type, extension performance, and geographic.
When evaluating the success of your targeting or seeking new opportunities for geotargeting, the Geographic report can provide detailed information about performance. As a report in the Dimensions tab, it pulls data for users based on their location as well as their areas of interest. When a campaign is created, the default setting is to target those in, searching for, and viewing pages about the targeted location.
A geographic report provides a clearer view of how this targeting has manifested.
Of the 4,000 total clicks in this account, the location of interest occupies approximately 20% of the traffic volume, with only 17% contributing to the conversions. While this is not an outrageous discrepancy, it gives some opportunities for reducing inefficiencies when excluding the location of interest.
The data from this report can also have Region columns added, which break down the type of location by, in this case, state.
This data can be further reviewed for overall contribution by location, as well as segmented by location type.
These additional reports can provide you with continued opportunities to improve your accounts’ traffic coverage, engagement, and overall cost efficiency.
Sitelinks have many areas of segmented reporting, all of which are available within the Ad Extensions tab, under “Segmentation.” Two reports that can provide extremely actionable takeaways are Click Type and This Extension vs. Another.
Upon selecting your Click Type segmented report, you’ll see your active sitelinks, with details as follows:
Although you may not have a large variety of ad extensions, this report allows you to identify what component prompted the initial click. In this chart, a sitelink highlighting a New Arrivals page is shown to have 55,474 clicks with 406 conversions. Yet when the segmented report is opened, the link itself only had 1572 clicks and 8 conversions. While sitelinks may have contributed to a larger performance increase, the sitelinks may not have carried as much weight as at first glance.
THIS EXTENSION VS. OTHER
Similarly, when the This Extension vs. Other report is pulled, we can distinguish how the New Arrivals sitelink performed compared to other sitelinks that were present in the same ad group as well as other ad extensions. This report is invaluable when seeking to adjust your sitelink messaging or targeting. In this case, the New Arrivals sitelink contributed to a mere 1% of clicks.
The outcome of this reporting shows a better understanding of the value of each specific extension utilized in an account, to identify room for optimization and expansion.
In a world where mobile & tablet traffic now occupies over 60% of online traffic (comScore report), the acknowledgement of multi-device and multi-channel interactions is crucial. Cross-device attribution refers to the way in which Google is able to track users’ interaction with your site across multiple devices and avenues of exposure, such as emails, direct, paid, and organic searches.
In the Google Ads interface, it is most common to associate your conversions with the last click a user made before converting. Google does its best to use back end data to give us estimates on what they think the actual conversion volume is for our accounts, taking into consideration the use of multiple devices including desktop computers, tablets, and smartphones.
All conversions is a metric that Google has begun providing to do just this. It calculates when a conversion was made on one device while the initial click was made on a different device. Although there is limited transparency on the accuracy of these calculations, it certainly provides an idea of the contribution multiple devices may be making to your conversion volume.
In order to gauge your multi-device presence, two simple reports can assist in this process. Segmenting by device will give you a clear picture of the performance occurring in your account based on desktop, tablets, and mobile devices. This report is found in the segmentation tab and can be used on a campaign-by-campaign basis or pivoted across the entire account.
The value of this particular report is to identify what portion of your traffic is coming through each device. If you are at a neutral 0% bid modifier for your campaign, and yet mobile users are consuming 75% of your budget, you can clearly assess that you have a strong mobile presence.
Similarly, if you have no bid modifier, or even a positive mobile bid adjustment, but see minimal mobile traffic, you can deduce that there is little interest in researching or acquiring your product or service on mobile devices.
Here the mobile presence is consuming 35% of the budget over the course of 30 days, and yet only returning 18% of the sales.
If you are unsure of your mobile presence due to a -100% bid adjustment, Google Analytics provides insights through the organic and direct traffic you have received over time.
Using Google Analytics segmentation of Non CPC, we can see traffic unassociated with paid search.
In the Audience tab of the GA interface, a mobile report overview can supply us with a better picture of what happens outside of the PPC realm.
Below is a report for non-paid traffic that is segmented by device.
From this data we see that we are actually pulling in a larger segment of mobile traffic through our ads that may have not necessarily arrived organically or through other means.
Additionally, examining your search funnels may also give way to further insights to the path your users are taking pre-conversion. Google Analytics provides many views of this type of traffic, including the Multi-Channel Funnels, as seen in Conversions section. The overview of this report allows you to select the traffic sources to consider and demonstrates the interaction seen in the pre-conversion process.
In an account where you see quite a bit of overlap, such as the Paid Search and Direct overlap of 5.49% as seen here, a deeper look is required.
In the Top Conversion Path report you can see these specific interactions but with greater segmentation.
Even greater segmentation can be achieved with the Secondary Dimension tab of thereport, in which campaign or even keyword level is available.
This option yields a report such as this:
Identifying the relationship between your PPC efforts and non-PPC interactions not only impacts the value of PPC, but also the deeper understanding of what brings users to your site and returning to ultimately convert.
Automating Your Rules And Reports
When working on accounts with hundreds of thousands of moving parts, efficiency is of the utmost importance. As you become more familiar with the workings of your PPC account, you may begin to identify processes or optimizations that don’t need the human touch and could be just as successfully implemented through automation.
Google understands this need and has provided a thorough list of rules that may be used in your account. While this list is impressive, there are a few examples that are most frequently implemented and most easily applied across the boards of varying industries.
Automated reports can be useful in receiving updates on performance when you can’t necessarily be in the account every day. While it’s strongly recommended that you are in your accounts each day, the automated report can provide you with a snapshot that tells you what you need to know, as often as you need to know it.
Automated reports are extremely simple to pull; in fact, they’re just like pulling a report!
You can do this for any downloadable report, for whichever date range you need, and at the frequency you determine.
If you find yourself making the same optimizations to your account on a regular basis, it may be time to create a rule to do it for you.
- Bid Rules
In order to create rules, you’ll want to click the Automate dropdown option.
As an example we’ll choose “Change max. CPC bids when…” which allows you to pinpoint the circumstances that would incur a shift in your bids.
Note! If you are conducting bid changes on a regular basis, and each of these changes is conducted in the same mathematical way, this is the type of automation that can free up your time while still achieving the same goals.
Upon selecting your option, you’ll encounter several choices. One scenario may be as follows:
- a) If you conduct weekly bid changes, you would pull a keyword report and identify areas of inefficient spend. You always select keywords that have spent over a $15 CPL goal and reduce those bids by 10%, keeping your bids above $3.00 which you’ve experienced to be associated with an eventual drop in exposure. A useful rule would be to sift through your keywords and make the adjustments for you when they flare up. In this case, your rule would be set for a weekly review, using the previous week’s data. If the keyword had an average CPL over your designated $15, the rule would reduce the bid by 10% with a minimum bid of $3.00. Because these are small changes, you do not request a confirmation email that the rule has run, but simply a notification if there are any changes made or if errors occur.
- b) Another opportunity for automation is in regards to your competition and the effect it has on your account. For this scenario, let’s say you are in a fairly competitive market and from time to time, your Search Impression Share slips beyond a percentage that yields consistent performance. Since traffic varies slightly from day to day, running this rule daily isn’t necessary. It would be useful to run it weekly, however, so that when the average generally decreases over several days, the drop does not go unnoticed. Here you may create a weekly rule that increases your bids by 10% for any keyword that has a Search Impression Share below 70%. In this case, the previous week’s performance is taken into consideration before the bid is adjusted. Additionally the results would be emailed to you on a weekly basis, regardless of change status, so that you can quickly review how Impression Share is looking for these keywords.
Ad Management rules
If you are a business that continually changes ad copy, there are some simple options that can assist in enabling and pausing your ads.
In one scenario, you may offer promotions at certain times, such as holidays. In this example, the ads selected have been given Google Ads labels that indicate that they are promotional ads for Father’s Day. These ads were uploaded to run for the 2 weeks preceding the holiday and need to be set live in coordination with the promotion going live on your site.
In this circumstance, the rule may look like this:
This one-time rule will ensure that your ads are set live at the desired date and time, with a confirmation email requested when the change occurs.
Campaign management rules
Lastly, one rule that exists within Google Ads can assist with campaign performance. If you have an account that utilizes the Total Conversion Value metric, and has a goal Conv. value/Cost (Google Ads’ version of ROAS), you can set yourself a campaign budget rule. This rule would allow the daily budget to be increased by a certain amount or percentage as the estimated Conv.value/cost remains above a certain threshold.
Of course, this rule could apply similarly if your goal is a CPL threshold. This type automation allows your campaigns to spend more if they are justifying it with profitable performance.
Upon creating this rule, you may set another rule for later in the day. In this example, the rule is executed at 1pm. A follow up rule may apply at 5pm, where, if the Conv value/cost slips, the budget would then be reduced, and so on.
The overall advantage to using automated rules in your Google Ads account is to take the daily, weekly, or monthly tasks you routinely run, and allow the interface to do them for you. This frees up your time while still generating the same outcome.
This method of automated bidding makes use of machine learning to help optimize campaigns based on specific goals including:
- Maximize clicks
- Target search page locations
- Target outranking share
- Target CPA
- Target ROAS
- Maximize Conversions
The most commonly used among these rules is Maximizing for conversions. Prior to implementing this bid strategy conversion tracking must be set up within Google Ads. This method of smart bidding uses historical information about your campaign to set the best cost per click to get the most conversions.
To get started click on the campaign tab and visit the settings tab. Under bid strategy the option to select from the list above appears.
There are a few key areas to note prior to implementing smart bidding. First, your campaign can not use a shared budget. Second, these settings can potentially increase spend to your maximum threshold. Be sure to set a realistic daily budget so you don’t overspend. Third, if you have strict ROAS or CPA goals this method of smart bidding might not be ideal. A better recommended strategy would be to target a CPA or ROAS. This will allow for Google Ads to maximize conversions to your target CPA or ROAS.
A Quick Recap
HERE IS WHAT YOU SHOULD BE FAMILIAR WITH NOW:
1) The distinctions between Ecommerce and lead generation PPC.
2) Understanding how to create the most value from your Remarketing lists.
3) Advanced segmentation opportunities for your account.
4) Cross-device attribution for a broader look at how users engage with you.
5) Utilizing automation for a simpler and more efficient account management.
BONUS! Conversion Tracking & Attribution Models
We knew you were sitting there wishing there was an extra section diving deep into conversion tracking and attribution! Within Google Ads assuring proper tracking is in place in order to properly report is extremely important. If you go to Tools -> Conversions -> +Conversion – then you will get a code and you can begin placing tags on proper thank you pages to assure proper conversion tracking and reporting:
The conversion value can be an arbitrary value that you assign to each time a conversion occurs or a value tied to a numerical value on the backend of your site based on the price of items purchased.
Assuring the count on each conversion value is set up properly is extremely important. Essentially, if you are in eCommerce you typically want to value each sale, so you would set to count “Every” conversion. For most Lead Gen accounts, you do not want to count users multiple times if they signed up multiple times, so you’d set the count to “One” conversion.
The conversion window is typically set to 30 days, but for products that typically have a longer decision-making process from the user, it is not uncommon to use 60- or 90-day windows.
View-through conversions typically have a 1 day setting but also can be adjusted. This is normally used as a secondary metrics to visualize how many converters saw your ad and if value is being brought in differently than just direct conversion volume.
The categories are fairly self explanatory, but more important is the fact that you can set up to track multiple things, but when it comes to the actual conversion count decide not to count certain categories.
Include in “Conversions”
This is where the previous note comes into play. Here you select the main goals to include as conversions and assure that secondary goals are not included in the total conversions (ie: typically sales or leads are included and other goals are not).
Let’s get down to the meat of reporting and tracking success – choosing an attribution model.
All marketers are pushing for data-driven attribution to be the king of attribution models. There are different platforms being used as attribution model, and Google is now dipping their toe into the waters of data-driven attribution.
Data-Driven Attribution Model
So, what are data-driven attribution models? These models take into consideration all historical data to show the importance of all the players in the advertising funnel as it visualizes how different users act when they reach certain steps. The way another Data Driven attribution program – called C3 – looks at this, is it puts value toward Originators, Roster generators, assisters and converters and from there assigns credit to each point users hit before getting to the ultimate goal (a sale or lead for example). Based on data of past users, credit is divided up among the different touch points accordingly.
Last Click Model
The rest of the models are much simpler than data-driven. Last click attribution is as simple as the last click gets all the credit for the conversion. This is probably the most used today, and this heavily favors bottom of the funnel advertising efforts in terms of aligning credit.
First Click Model
In a first click attribution model – surprise – the first click gets all the credit. Depending on your conversion window, this can benefit different phases of the funnel. Typically, this benefits the top of the funnel, but not always. This model seems to be rarely used in accounts, but if getting customers to see your brand is a huge part of getting them to purchase this may be a good model for your company.
Linear Attribution Model
The linear attribution model gives equal credit to each touch point in the advertising process. This would be saying that not one touch point was more important than another. If people put faith in data-driven models it will more than likely eliminate the need of the Linear model, but at this point this model is still a good one to use if you aren’t completely understanding which parts of the advertising process are most beneficial to driving results.
Time Decay Model
The time decay model is similar to last click in that it benefits the bottom of the funnel. However, time decay does not credit ONLY the bottom of the funnel like last click models do. When convincing clients to move away from last click modeling, time decay modeling may be that next step for them to test out.
Position-Based models ignore all the middle steps and give credit to the first and last touch points. This is another rarely used model, but one that businesses use who are very interested in what engaged a new prospect and what closed the deal without feeling the need to analyze what occurred in the middle.
There you have it! The 2017 complete guide to Google Ads. Of course, this is not a comprehensive list of everything you could know in Google Ads, but it’s a good start. As the world of PPC constantly changes, there’s always something new to learn. So keep reading, keep experimenting, and make sure you are actively taking part in PPC communities, events, and resources. You’ll be the expert you strive for before you know it!