Over the past 20 years, Google Ads has become more and more complicated. With so many different settings, ad variations and targeting options, it is easy to miss out on some key elements. These elements can and will affect your results and ad ranking. Therefore, after you finish creating a new campaign, always go through this checklist to ensure that you didn’t screw up some of they key aspects of your Google Ads campaigns.
1. Location settings.
Seems quite straightforward, doesn’t it? However, when you set up your campaign, Google will automatically fill out this option for you. This is true especially when you have already created a number of campaigns under the same account. When you have 10-15 campaigns, and you are creating campaign number 16, it’s easy to subconsciously assume that the location is set correctly.
You wouldn’t want to run a campaign targeting good citizens of Berlin, only to find out later that you were actually advertising your product to half of Europe.
Always double-check your location setting when you finish setting up your campaign.
2. Not refining your keywords’ lists
You have researched your keywords.
You compiled them into lists and then into ad sets.
You started running ads.
You started getting results.
Two months in, your results are starting to get worse.
You increase your budget, then your bid, then you try to change ad creatives. Nothing is helping.
As a rule of thumb, when you just start with Google Ads, you need to be checking your keywords’ performance at least twice a day. If you are doing it right, then you should really have the Google Ads window open in the background 24/7, refreshing it whenever you get a chance.
If you are setting rather high bids and budgets for specific keyword campaigns, Google tends to “encourage” you to continue bidding, by providing high results for the first week or two. It can do so by spending quite a large proportion of your budget (unless you set a very strict daily budget, and even then it can exceed it by 200%!) or showing your results to users most likely to convert first out of the whole “potential bunch” of users who would be typing those keywords into their search bar.
(Advanced algorithms these days mean that Google can quite accurately predict most frequent online buyers in different industries and fields, so this comes as no surprise).
The above is not something that Google would admit, but from hundreds of campaigns that we have seen, it certainly seems to be the case.
For this reason, it is paramount that you check which keywords are giving you the best ROI over an x period of time. After 3-4 days, it is good to check conversions on your keywords. Just because keyword “bicycle” is bringing in sales, doesn’t mean that you should necessarily continue to bid on it. If you are on a budget, and it’s costing you 4x your sale price to bid on that word, perhaps you should consider more narrow targeting, and pausing that keyword.
Remember as well that you need to continue tailoring negative keywords. Easy tell is when you start getting hundreds of clicks on some keywords, but no conversions, and the bounce rate is ridiculously high. This often means that your product is not actually what the customers searched for, but that keyword they clicked on was for some reason in your campaign. GET RID OF IT.
Over time, you will optimize your list well enough, so you won’t have to check it on a daily basis. However, you need to continue trying to find new niches, where longer-tailored keywords could be the key to success for you. Don’t be afraid to try new lists – set your budget, and test them for 3-4 days. If results fail to impress – switch them off and try something new.
3. Smart Display Campaign and “Free Clicks”
Don’t even get me started on this. Smart Display Campaigns have a delay when it comes to showing the real budget spend over the past few days. This lag can prove very costly. You might see 1000 clicks in one day, but your “budget spent” would be showing $0. That is not true. After a few days, it will show you the real cost, and considering that Google can spend your monthly budget in those few days, make sure that you keep an eye on how many conversions/clicks you are getting from those campaigns.
There are no miracles. From our own case study (to be published soon), we saw a smart display campaign, where there were hundreds of clicks over the period of 4-5 days, and the budget remained at $0. It was thought at the time, that we found a gap in Google’s machine learning. Not the case. Five days later the budget was showing our monthly budget, whereby half of the team came close to a heart attack, and it resulted in long and tedious dispute with Google to no avail.
If there are clicks – you paid for them. Period.
4. Blindly applying recommendations
Every once in a while Google will try to be “helpful”. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t follow its recommendations. Quite often, Google’s recommendations serve as useful reminders in case you forgot to add new creatives to a new ad set, or if you are missing out on an extension that could help convert more customers.
However, there are also recommendations that could prove to be very costly. Google’s goal here (as with any marketing agency) is to get you to spend as much of your budget is possible. Therefore, occasionally, it would tell you that “your ad didn’t show to as many people as it could, increase your daily budget for the ad”! Thanks, Google. Except, the number of conversions does not increase proportionately to the increase in your budget size. For example, if you had 100 conversions from spending $100/day, raising that budget to $200 will not result in 200 conversions.
This is crucial. Calculate your ROI, and if you believe that you are still making money when increasing the daily budget – good, do so. Don’t do it, if it makes no sense, and only to please Mr. Google.
5. Not using extensions
Extensions can be a real gold mine. Using merely text and display ads can really hurt your results. There are different types of extensions that you could use, from “call extensions” to “sitelink extensions”. Google has plenty of material explaining different types of extensions that it offers, so we won’t go into too much detail on that here. Just remember – extensions can help with: a) providing more information about your service/product to the customer,
b) encouraging customer to go to different pages on your website, which in turn would help with SEO, segmenting customers based on the pages they visited and at the end of the day – getting more orders.
Extensions may not seem like much, but having the right call outs and information can mean the difference between getting an extra 5% of customers through the door, and loosing out on them
Google Ads campaigns can be tricky and as we always say: your goal as a marketer is “to test things”. Make sure that as you are experimenting, you don’t miss out on the above. Remember: Location and Keywords, no such thing as Free Clicks, be careful with Smart Display Campaigns, Google isn’t always right and Extensions are not to be forgotten.