Google Ads, formerly known as AdWords, are the biggest source of revenue for Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc and is such a large platform that it makes in excess of $150billion every year! Placing paid-for adverts in both the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) and on non-search websites, videos and mobile apps, Google Ads operates under a PPC (Pay Per Click) model that encourages users to click through to a business’ online presence. Combined with Google Analytics, users’ journey through the site can be mapped and measured for proper comprehension and workable business intelligence.
It’s clear that Google Ads is an important and advantageous platform for organisations of all shapes, sizes and types but setting up on the system can be a complex process that requires professional involvement. But as you embark on working with the experts, what do you need to consider? Let us share the knowledge wealth…
Why advertise with Google?
Google remains the most heavily used search engine in the world, so chances are that its where customers are looking for the products, services or experiences that your business offers – and if you’re not listed, they can’t find you. As of December 2021, Google had a market share of 86.19% of searches made online with over 40,000 queries made every second; equating to over 3.5 billion a day and 1.2 trillion a year.
No matter where a business is located in the world, provided there is any chance that consumers could benefit from finding information on them online, Google Ads should be implemented. There are some countries and territories where Google has a lesser market share (China, Japan, Mexico) and in these regions Google Ads should be run alongside advertising options on competing search engines (most commonly Baidu, Yahoo and Bing).
Google Ads is an efficient way to drive qualified traffic to a brand’s online presence and can be hyper-targeted as well as optimised to result in users completing a specified call to action.
Know Your Audience
Every business needs to understand their target audience in order to best tailor their products and services to them and to communicate effectively with those who will actually make a purchase. Creating a buyer persona and understanding those who are more likely to interact with a brand will give intelligence on what digital channels they use, what they’re likely to search for, which devices they access the internet from, what times they tend to search, what reinforcement information they require to make a purchase decision and in what language they use search engines. All of this can be utilised to hype-target Google Ads to ensure the right people see the ads and understand their relevance.
Google collects so much analysis on its users that the targeting of adverts to particular demographics can be done very simply – provided, of course, the appropriate demographics for targeting are understood. As the PPC model will only charge you when users do click through on to the relevant webpage, there’s little risk of unqualified leads (ie. uninterested users) costing you money and not converting into any desired action.
Although most businesses will require a presence on Google Ads in order to remotely compete with others in the sector, it’s not enough to just ‘be’ there. Setting goals and objectives for a Google Ads presence will help measure progress in reach as well as a tangible conversion rate.
It’s worth noting that a common misconception toward all online advertising (including Google Ads) is that it must result in a purchase being made to be a success. While this may be the case, there are a whole host of actions that a user online could take to benefit the business – and most are measurable. These include visiting a particular landing page, completing a contact form with details, making contact with the business in a different communication form (email, phone, etc), or the download of specific materials. While the completion of an online purchase is certainly a desirable action, it is not the only one possible.
The premise of Google Ads is that businesses ‘bid’ for their ads to appear when users search for a certain keyword or term; presumably one that is relevant for their audience, products and/or services. However, a common mistake is for organisations to pitch too widely and so buy ads that appear next to search terms that their target audience may not be looking up (or at least, not in reference to anything the given business could present). This makes the analysis of appropriate keywords a crucial part of Google Ads targeting – although it is often best left in the hands of specialists.
Generally speaking, keywords can be split into four different types: Brand, Generic, Related and Competitor. For example, where Deichmann Shoes choose to use Google Ads they could use ‘Deichmann Shoes’ as a brand term, ‘women’s shoes’ as a generic term, ‘socks’ as a related term and ‘Schuh Shoes’ as a competitor’s term. All of these hold some relevance to Deichmann’s business and so may be searched for by their target audience. Of these four types of key phrase, competitor’s terms are the most expensive – and in some industries, very much considered a social no-no (so businesses are best to consult with Google Ads specialists to best understand whether or not he usage of such terms is pertinent). Related terms are also not considered the most niche or relevant, but can still be helpful in driving traffic to an organisation’s online presence.
Once the desired keywords and terms have been identified through proper analysis, it is worth exploring the given list through a keyword research system. These work as a final examination tool to determine their suitability and increasingly conjure up longer-form queries; a reflection of the increasing amount of voice control methods being used for search.
There are three types of Google Ads: search, display and video. The former are text ads displayed amongst search results on Google SERPs that are only differentiated from organic search results by a slightly differently coloured backdrop. These are the most common form of Google Ads as they present very well and allow for businesses to (fairly) simply appear at the top of related search results. Display ads are usually image-based and are shown on web pages with the Google Display Network; often along the side of or above other website content. Such adverts can also be presented as a result of ‘re-targeting’ or against relevant or chosen websites but must be created to appear particularly striking in order to grab the attention of users. Finally, video adverts appear in YouTube videos – either at the beginning or in designated ‘ad breaks’ during – and are of video or presentation content between 6-15 seconds long. These are the least popular form of Google Ads and are not appropriate for all organisations but can be beneficial for those with a relevant product, service or target audience.
Stay on Budget
Keywords and terms are categorised by Google based on their search volume and competition, and price the bidding on targeting these phrases through Google Ads as such. High-volume low-competition keywords are the best possible investment; as they cost little but are searched often. However, these aren’t the easiest to determine – particularly in crowded, competitive industries.
The process of ‘bidding’ for a keyword or term involves the advertiser selecting the maximum amount they’re willing to pay for a click on their ad, with the higher the amount, the higher or better the ad placement. Bids can be placed in three different ways: CPC (Cost Per Click), CPM (Cost Per Mille, better understood as Cost Per Thousand Impressions, no matter the clicks) and CPE (Cost Per Engagement, where the user takes a predetermined action from the advert). The most common, likely because it is the easiest to understand, is CPC.
Once the options and amounts are laid out, it’s easy for businesses to get carried away with bidding and quickly find that they spend more than intended. It’s imperative, therefore, for a set budget to be in place from the off – keywords and terms can be later played around with to refine and test.
Even before Google Ads are placed, there is comprehensive work that can be completed on behalf of any business in order to demonstrate to the search engine what a genuine organisation are as well as what audience their content is relevant for. This is done through the continuous process of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), which works to optimise a website for processing by the Google algorithm. The better the automated programming behind the search engine understands the website, the higher its pages will rank on SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). This provides organic competitive advantage that can then be built upon with a presence on Google Ads. However, SEO is an ongoing process and must be managed regularly (if not continuously) to ensure it remains relevant and successful.
To optimise the ads themselves, the Quality Score assigned by Google must be as high as possible. This score combines the quality and relevance of both the keywords targeted by the business and their PPC (Pay Per Click) ads. This score determines the CPC (Cost Per Click) and is multiplied by the maximum bid to determine the ad rank in the ad auction process.
Exactly how the Quality Score is determined is only truly known by Google’s staff; and it’s likely that, like everything else in the Google algorithm, it changes frequently. However, it is known that it’s based on factors including (but perhaps not limited to) the business’ CTR (Click Through Rate), the relevance of each keyword to its ad group, the quality and relevance of the landing page being targeted, the relevance of the text being used in the ad and the business’ historical performance of Google Ads if they have one, all accounting for relevancy and authenticity. When optimised and a high enough Quality Score is achieved, a business receives higher ad rankings at a lower cost.
In looking to optimise Google Ads, advertisers should look to reduce their CPC and improve their CTR. And how to do so? Through continuous monitoring and refining…
Monitor, Refine, Repeat
It is not enough to submit Google Ads and just leave them to run; or at least, not if a business is serious about their success. Instead, ads should be monitored and tweaked to optimise on their performance and drive as much valuable traffic to the website as possible.
A/B testing is one such way for advertisers to experiment with different copy, approaches, landing pages and/or ad placement to understand which is best responded to by their audience/s. This testing methodology does take some time and minor investment but involves the advertising being split between two different approaches, with ongoing monitoring evidencing which is the more successful. From these learnings, businesses can refine their Google Ads presence to better suit their audience’s behaviours and benefit further from them. A/B testing and other such refinement practices should be conducted long-term and on an ongoing basis in order to continually improve on performance.
The importance of continuous management, monitoring and refinement of Google Ads can not be understated. It is this approach to continual improvement that is imperative to sustainable and successful targeting for business. No one strategy will work forever and consistent testing allows organisation to stay abreast of audience appetites and attitudes, working with the present wants and needs of users to keep relevant and desirable.
Sound complicated? It is, really! Although Google Ads present many opportunities for creative testing and increased website traffic, the operations of such advertising strategies can be complex – and costly if not enacted accurately and efficiently.