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Rules to Better Google Ads and SEM - 19 Rules

Google Ads are a great way of generating leads for your business, but they can be totally overwhelming, and if not done well, can cost you a lot of money.

Below are some ways you can improve the effectiveness of your ads, while keeping the cost low.

  1. Do you know the Best Practices for Google Ads?

    Do you know what the best practices are for Google Ads?

    Here are the below are the best practices you should know:

    • Time and pricing – Ensure time zone and currency are set up correctly!
    • Define target location – choose a city, a region or a country according to your demographics. Try to avoid overlapping with the locations. Let's say you have two offices/stores in the same state, first, you will need to figure out what is the most relevant to define your targeted location. This will ensure better analytics for your campaigns
    • Campaign name – Choose a name that clearly describes the focus of your campaign so that you can easily find it in your account e.g. a keyword that you use for your product on your website or a special date like 'Valentine's day 2022'. Remember, your campaign name isn't visible to your customers. Keep your campaign names consistent so you follow the same structure for all of them
    • Budget – Set a budget for each campaign based on needs
    • Connect your account to Google Analytics. It’s important to check your customer journey (which is essential for remarketing actions!) to optimize your ads and your website/landing pages
    • Conversion – Take advantage of conversion tracking
    • Use ALL ad extensions available!
    • Match type ad group strategy – Use similar & segmented keywords! Build small, tightly focused ad groups with a few (5-10) keywords
    • Take advantage of audiences and exclusions choosing whoever is or is not your right audience
    • Make sure you use enough headlines and good descriptions to improve the strength of your ad
    • It's also a good idea to make an A/B test ad copy (split testing)
    • Focus on clicks and impressions with CPC bidding
    • Use high-quality optimised landing pages – make sure your website is mobile-friendly. Test your URL with this Google tool!
    • Test your ads at least every fortnight, if possible one day a week. Use the tool Ad Preview and Diagnosis Tool and try different keywords and locations, depending on your business.
    • Review the Search Terms Report

    ad strength
    Figure: Always check your Ad strength

    Additional resources

    Whilst this overview of Google Ads will provide you with enough detail to get a campaign started, there may be additional questions you need answered or information, and that's where these resources come in:

    • Google Ads Help – Google have created a help centre for all your Google Ads related questions, here you can search for questions, or submit questions to forums for help. This should be your first port of call for any issues!
    • WordStream – This WordStream article provides a basic overview of how to use Google Ads and features a handy helpful infographic. Word Stream have other articles on Google Ads which may be useful.
    • HubSpot – This free HubSpot eBook discusses all the ins and outs of PPC campaigns and is a great starting point to learn more about Google Ads. Like WordStream, HubSpot also have other helpful articles discussing Google Ads.
    • Neil Patel – Neil Patel is a popular digital marketer, with a strong focus on helping businesses grow. This post focuses on Google Ads and takes you through the process step by step, so it's a great starting point for some more information.
  2. SEM - Do you know the components of a Google Ads campaign?

    Google Ads are one of the leading online Pay Per Click (PPC) platforms, with Google searches in the billions daily, allowing for a wide potential reach and results.

    However with this potential reach, it’s important to ensure that your campaigns are set up correctly to allow you to reach your ideal audience, and you’re not wasting money.

    There are 3 main components of every Google Ad Campaign, they are:

    • Campaign – At this stage you can select targeting demographics, including geographic location, time of day shown, and budget.
    • Ad Set - During this stage is when you select your keywords, these can be optimised later and should be monitored regularly for negative keywords, check the rule on Google Ads optimisation at “Do you know how to optimise Google AdWords Campaigns
    • Ads – Ads are created at this stage and can be A/B tested, determining the most effective ad is shown the most frequently.
  3. Do you know how to use Audiences on Google Ads?

    Audiences, in general, will allow you to try pulling up your ads to different groups of people based on tons of different criteria!

    • Affinity Audience – Show your ads to unique audiences based on their lifestyles, buying habits, and long-term interests that you can pick.
    • Custom Affinity Audience – Show your ads to specific audiences based on the affinity selections that you can choose to create a custom audience.
    • In-Market Audience – Find customers who are researching and are actively looking into buying a service or product you sell.
    • Remarketing & Similar Audiences – Show your ads to people who have visited your website previously before (You can choose the period) or viewed your content somewhere online. This would include remarketing lists.

    audience 1
    Figure: Bad Example – No audiences were set up yet

    audience 2
    Figure: Good Example – Add specific audiences and increase the engagement on your campaigns with your target audience

    audience 3
    Figure: Find your excluded audience so you won't waste any money for useless clicks

    To be able to choose your audience and even create remarketing campaigns, you will have to use the tool “Audience Manager". Click on: Tools | Shared Library | Audience Manager

    You'll find: Audience lists, Audience insights and sources.

    On Sources, you can link Google Analytics, YouTube (if you use this social media), Google Play and App Analytics (if you sell apps). All of this will bring information that will help you build your custom audience.

    To build your In-Market and Affinity audiences, you can select from some options that Google will give you like below:

    audience 4
    Figure: In-Market audiences that might be your right target

    audience 5
    Figure: Affinity audiences suggestions from Google

    audience 6

  4. Do you know how to use Ad Extensions on Google Ads?

    Ad extensions are additional pieces of information about your business, like a phone number or a link to a specific page on your website, that we can add to your ads . Keep in mind that ad extensions can improve the visibility of your ads, which can lead to more clicks and improve your ROI. It’ll give the ad greater visibility/prominence, so you tend to get more value from your ad. These are the possibilities:

    • App extensions – downloading an app (when appropriate to your business)
    • Price extensions – price transparency on a showcase.
    • Location extensions – promoting locations (Google my Business)
    • Message extensions – offers a possibility of the viewer sending the company a Text/SMS (Although is not possible to track this conversion)
    • Call Extensions – provides the ad a phone number to make calls through mobiles.
    • Structured Snippets – provide advertisers 3 additional headlines of text to highlight key aspects of our business.
    • Promotion – coupons, deals, sales offerings.
    • Call out – Additional detail/an invitation to a call-to-action.
    • Sitelinks – Promoting links from your website you want to advertise!

    google ad no ad extension
    Figure: Bad Example – Ad doesn't have a clear message about either product or service, there’s no call extension even though it mentions "Call Now"

    google ad extension
    Figure: Good Example - Sitelinks and Call extensions on one of our mobile ads

  5. Do you know how to do Keyword Planning?

    Selecting the right keywords can be hard when you're completing your campaigns. Google have thankfully taken some of the guesswork out of the equation with the Keyword Planner tool.

    The Keyword Planner allows you to get keyword ideas that can help you reach people interested in your product or service. You can also see roughly how much keywords will cost you per click, as well as the frequency each keyword is searched. Simply enter words, phrases or the URL related to your campaign and the planner will come back with additional keyword suggestions and data on each keyword.

    keyword planning
    Figure: Keyword planner in action!

  6. Do you have a Bid Strategy for your Google Ads?

    There are different bid strategies available depending on your business advertising goals. You have 3 options to choose from:

    1 – Focusing on conversions with Smart Bidding

    If you want to call your client to complete an action on your website this is the strategy for you.

    But first, you'll have to set up your conversions properly, otherwise you won't be able to analyse your data:

    • Target CPA (cost per acquisition)  – In this one, you can set up the average amount you'd like to pay for a conversion.
    • Target ROAS (return on ad spend)  – Your bid is based on a target return on ad spend you set. Please note that you must have had a minimum of 15 conversions in the past 30 days to use this strategy.
    • Maximize for Conversions  – This is an automated bidding strategy that uses historical data from your campaign at auction time to find an optimal CPC (Cost-Per-Click) bid to help maximize conversion.

    When using this, make sure your Campaign is NOT part of a shared budget. Max conversions will try fully to spend your daily budget and if you're sharing the budget with other campaigns you will quickly deplete them of funds.

    • Enhanced Cost Per Click (eCPC)  – This is a combination of manual & smart bidding. Essentially Google will raise your manual bid for situations that seem more likely to lead to a conversion.

    2 – Focusing on clicks with CPC Bidding

    Would you like to get more traffic on your website? So here are the two cost-per-click bid strategies you should think about:

    • Manual CPC Bidding  – Under this strategy, you are setting the actual price on the cost of a click on your ads. You will have 100% of control of your ad spend per keyword if you choose this option.
    • Maximize for Clicks  – If you want to increase clicks/traffic to your website, you should really consider using this automated bidding strategy. You'll need to specify a budget to each campaign, so this is good to keep the control of how much you want to spend on your Advertising. This can also help with finding best keywords for SEO strategy.

    3 – Focusing on impressions with CPC Bidding

    Want to increase the visibility of your website? Choose one from above and follow up to it:

    • Target Search Page Location  – This is an automated bidding strategy that automatically sets your bids to help increase the chances of your ad appearing at the top of the search page or at least on the first-page search results. If you are focusing on your branding, this is perfect for your business.
    • Target Outranking Share  – Another good bidding strategy for branding, this is also an automated bid strategy that lets you choose a domain you want to outrank.
    • Cost-per-thousand-impression (CPM)  – Using this strategy is perfect for YouTube or Google Display Network. You only pay based on the number of impressions your ad is shown in between the videos.
    • Cost-per-thousand viewable impression (vCPM)  – This is a manual bidding strategy where you set the highest amount you want to pay for each 1,000 viewable ad impressions take place.
  7. Do you have a Cheat Sheet for Google Ads?

    Here’s a little thing to keep in mind, as Google Ads has a limitation in characters. The Ads character limits are as follows:

    • Headline 1 – 30 Character Maximum
    • Headline 2 – 30 Character Maximum
    • Description Line – 90 Character Maximum
    • Display URL – 35 Character Maximum
    • Final URL – 1024 Character Maximum

    Main Key metrics to follow (depending on your strategy):

    • CPC
    • CPA
    • CTR
    • Average position
  8. Do you know how to Bid on Google Ads?

    Your focus when bidding is dependent on your campaign goal.

    Focus points to consider:

    • Clicks – if you want people to visit your website
    • Impressions – if you’re looking into increasing brand visibility
    • Conversions – if you’d like a specific action on your website (e.g sale!)
    • Views – consider it for videos only
    • Engagements – looking for interactions with your ad? Clicks or calls would be the right answer (general clicks, calls, ask for directions, etc)
  9. SEM - Do you know how to optimize Google Ads campaigns?

    Google Ads can be a useful and successful marketing platform when actively monitored and optimized. The biggest key to a successful Google Ads campaign is optimization. Optimizing your campaign will allow you to reach your target audience effectively and efficiently.

    This should be done daily, where possible, to ensure that ads are not running and spending money ineffectively. There are 3 important steps to do:

    Set a Maximum Cost per Click

    Ad s can be a costly method of advertising when used incorrectly. To prevent unknown and exorbitant costs you are able to set the Maximum Cost per Click (Max. CPC) for each of your ads.

    This means that you won't pay more than the amount you have set for your ad, although this helps prevent surprise bill shock it does, however, mean that you may be missing out on clicks and as a result leads due to a low Max CPC.

    If your Max CPC is too low compared to competitor ads you may be missing out on reaching the first page of the google search. Ads should be adjusted to ensure that they are able to be seen by the market, this can be accomplished by setting your Max CPC at a level that will ensure it is on the first page.

    2016 02 25 8 16 05
    Figure: Maximum Cost per Click can be set at the campaign, ad group or ad level

    Set Unrelated Search Terms into Negative Keywords

    When searching using Google there are often phrases and keywords that appear that are not related to what you are after. These keywords can cause your costs to rise if people are clicking on them and your ad does not provide the information they intended.

    Google Ads has a solution to prevent this in the form of 'Negative Keywords'.

    Negative Keywords are able to be added to your campaign or ad group and tell Google Ads that you don't want your ad to be shown in any search containing these terms. This will help to minimize both cost and bounce rate for your ads.

    2016 02 25 8 18 14
    Figure: Negative Keywords ensure your ad is not shown in unrelated searches

    Learn more on this rule:Do you have a negative keyword list on your campaigns?

    Split Testing Ads

    As with any advertisement, it is important to test multiple ads to determine which performs best. Once ads have been running for a period of time they should be assessed and those which are underperforming should be switched off, whilst the highest performers should be copied and then tweaked and continued to run. This can be continued over the lifetime of an ad, as each ad has a certain period of effectiveness.

    Although ideally this should be done and adjusted daily, this is not always possible. In this case, when there are multiple campaigns the main priority is to be focused, try not to spread yourself thin working on optimizing and adjusting multiple campaigns, rather select one or two campaigns and focus your attention on these. This will provide the best use of your time, and after this campaign has been adjusted you can focus your attention on the remaining.

  10. Do you have a negative keyword list on your campaigns?

    Before you look at negative keywords, make sure you cover the essential steps of optimising Google Adword campaigns.

    Any unrelated search terms that takes people to your website costs you money. Maintaining this regularly can save you a lot of $$$ in the long run and be used on essential keywords that bring in business.

    It's important to create specific negative keyword lists depending on your business. You can have different lists named “cheap" or “career" related. Or you can have a global list that would be applied to all of your campaigns (recommended)

    Get started by clicking on top right: Tools | Shared Library | Negative keyword lists. More info: Add negative keywords to campaigns .

    You'll create the title and add all the negative keywords you think might generate non-targeted clicks. This will help you to improve your results on getting only the the right audience.

    google ads organize negative keywords
    Figure: Include negative keywords lists to improve your results

    Once a week, check all Search Terms and review recommendations:

    Go to | Keywords | Search Terms, and add junk terms to the negative keyword list. Then go through all other recommendations.

  11. Do you bid on your own Brand keyword?

    You might ask yourself – Why should I bid on my own brand name when I am already ranking number 1 organically for my brand?It might make sense to say "no" naturally (because you’re already ranking on the first page!) but the real answer might surprise you....

    Here are 7 tips why you should Bid on your own Brand Name:

    1. Change your message whenever needed (SEO takes a while to implement)
    2. Provide users with more info (e.g.: Ad extensions with more info)
    3. Dominate your brand Search Result Page (e.g.: Stop close competitors from Brand Jacking you)
    4. Makes it hard for your competitors to Brand-Jack you
    5. Increase Your Google Overall Quality Score
    6. Cost-effectiveness (bidding on your own brand is cheap!)
    7. Send Users to a different landing page
  12. SEM - Do you use Microsoft Advertising? (Formerly known as Bing Ads)

    Did you know that you can import your Google Ad campaigns directly into Microsoft Advertising?

    If you already are using Google Ads to advertise on Google, you can import these campaigns into Microsoft Advertising so that you can run the same ads on Bing. This is an easy way to expand your online advertising reach. Microsoft Bing is the second most popular search engine in the world, and you could be missing out on valuable traffic by not utilising their ad platform.

    Why use Microsoft Audience Ads?

    • More volume
    • Boost impressions and traffic through brand-safe, native content placements.
    • More clicks
    • Increase conversions
    • Your ads can reach a much larger audience, increasing your chances for conversions.
    • Massive reach you can trust with premium, brand-safe placements
    • Reach millions of people on MSN, Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft Edge and our syndicated partner sites, with more to come.
    • Boosted performance, powered by artificial intelligence
    • AI and machine learning help guide ad selection and relevancy matching, along with pricing, click and conversion prediction to help deliver the best marketing ROI.
    • Performance tracking is easy
    • Use the same Microsoft Advertising tools, reports and analytics to monitor your campaign performance.

    How to Import Campaigns from Google Ads

    Follow these steps to import:

    1. In Microsoft Advertising, click Import Campaigns, and then click Import from Google Ads.
    2. If you have imported from Google Ads in the past 90 days, you will see a table that shows you the Date/Time and Google Ads account that was imported along with.
    3. Click Sign in to Google.
    4. Enter your Google Ads sign-in information, click on Sign in.
    5. Select the Google Ads campaigns you want to import, then click  Continue.
    6. Under  Choose Import Options, do the following: *Choose the appropriate options for  What to import, Bids and budgets, Landing page URLs, Tracking templates, Ad extensions, and Microsoft Merchant Centre.* Choose if you want to delete ad groups and campaigns from Microsoft Advertising that you have already deleted from Google Ads under Clean-up, once you remove these campaigns or ad groups, any associated ads or keywords will also be deleted.
    7. Optional: Under  Schedule Imports, click  When and then set the schedule you want, which can be Once, Daily, Weekly, or Monthly.
    8. Click Import or if you want to set a schedule, click  Schedule.
    9. Review the  Import summary to see what entities were newly added or updated, or couldn't be imported (skipped).
    10. If you want to review the details of the campaigns and make changes, click  View imported campaigns.
    11. If you want to sync multiple Google Ads accounts into the same Microsoft Advertising, treat each Ad Words account as a separate import. It is recommended that you wait at least a 2-hour time difference between each import to ensure their completion.

    Most items from Google Ads import seamlessly into Microsoft Advertising. However, there are items that we recommend you review after your import to make sure your campaigns are set up the way you want:

    • Bids and budgets
    • Targeting options
    • Negative keywords
  13. SEM - Do you regularly audit your Google Ads account?

    After learning about the $90M fraud case settlement by Google, we put in place redirect files to keep track of the amount of clicks obtained from our Ads. Up until April 2006, we were led to believe that the amount of clicks Google were specifying was the number of clicks we were receiving. How wrong we were! After implementing the redirect files, we quickly learnt that the number of clicks of one of our campaigns was incorrect and we were being overcharged.

    By implementing redirect files, you can keep track of exactly how many clicks are being generated by your Ads. Hence, you can see which campaigns are more effective and just as importantly, keeping track of exactly how much you should be charged for this.

  14. Do you know that you can quickly import your Google campaigns to your Microsoft Ads?

    If you use Google Ads to advertise on Google, and you would like to expand your advertising range, you might like to split your marketing budget to include other search engines like Microsoft Advertising (also known as Bing Ads). Fortunately, you don’t need to create new campaigns, they give you the option to import all of the campaigns from Google Ads into Microsoft Advertising so that you can run the same ads on both accounts. It’s an easy solution if you are looking for a wider reach.

    Most items from Google Ads can be imported to Microsoft Ads the same way, although they recommend you check it a few items before you import your campaigns to make sure they are running as you expected.

    If you are sure your campaigns are ready to go, you can also schedule Microsoft Ads to automatically import your changes from Google into their system on a certain day of the week.

    Tip: Remember to untick the boxes that automatically import the budget. This is particularly important if you have a different budget for each platform, and will stop you accidentally overspending your budget.

    Some important points to remember before using Microsoft Ads:

    • They charge in USD, not in AUD; so you might have to adjust your budget to the currency.
    • Remember to check your budget value right after importing your campaigns. They could have been transferred accidentally.

    If you need further instructions, you can find more at Microsoft Ads support:

    Msads Figure: Import Campaigns default selection will match your budget from Google

  15. SEM - Do you keep track of your PPC campaign spend?

    It's hard to keep track of your PPC spending in your head when constantly adjusting spends for multiple campaigns. For example, you might have multiple campaigns running on a weekly basis. You'll probably be adjusting campaign spending regularly to find what tactics work best - and this becomes a challenge to track.

    The best way to keep track of the monthly spend is to hold a monthly meeting where you review the important metrics.

    During the recording, add the following points to your content:

    1. The spend for the last month
    2. Clicks
    3. Impressions
    4. CTR (click through rate)
    5. CPC (cost per converstion)
  16. Do you monitor your budget on Google and track your spending consistently?

    Tracking your spending in Google Ads is essential. You can assign a daily budget to each individual campaign, or use shared budgets across multiple campaigns.

    A shared budget is ideal if you don’t want to time monitoring multiple individual campaigns but would still like to get the most clicks possible with your budget in mind.

    These are some steps to follow to ensure the budget is being spent effectively:

    1. Once a week, ensure campaigns are not overspending!
    2. Go to | Tools and Settings | Shared Library | Shared Budgets
      Once there, check to see which campaigns are limited by budget, underspending, or performing well

    Note: If campaigns are performing well, it’s a good idea to increase the budget and continue to measure results.

  17. Do you update your team on your PPC advertising results?

    To see how to create a campaign and to use it effectively, please read all Rules to Better Google Ads.

    At SSW we use Google Ads before known as Google Adwords, to advertise our company, products, training, and events. It is a paid advertising product that promotes your business whenever people are searching Google. You only need to pay when someone clicks on your ad, which is known as cost-per-click (CPC) advertising. It is a great tool for directing more traffic to your website and expanding your brand awareness.

    On the first business day of every month, it is recommended that you should send out a Google ads report to the relevant stakeholders with screenshots of your Marketing Dashboard (we use Power BI).

    Make sure to cover:

    • Number of opportunities vs. number of conversions that came through our Google ads.
    • Compare results for the month in the current and previous year: clicks, impressions, the average cost per click, and cost. Explain why it increased or dropped.
    • Add information about best campaigns and keywords, if any of them had a special improvement or was on 'the spotlight' during that month.
    • Mention in percentage where sessions on our website came from. They could come from: Direct, organic, referral, paid ads, social media, and emails (newsletter). You can find at Google Analytics | Acquisition | Overview
    • Add graphics to illustrate your report. Use Google ads or Power BI for cool screenshots.
    • If you feel like you should add more relevant information, feel free to do it.
  18. Do you use Single keyword Ad Groups (SKAGS)?

    Single Keyword Ad Groups (SKAGS) are ad groups with just one keyword in them.

    How you structure your Google Ads account is vital to your PPC success. Keeping that in mind, the SKAGS approach is a critical and great way to elevate your CTR (Click through rates), quality scores, and most importantly make use of the money you are making. SKAGs are a way for you to gain more control and achieve higher performance from your Google Ads account.

    Here’s why it works

    When you pair keywords into their own unique ad group, you can ensure that the keywords you are bidding on matching the search terms that you PAY for. 

    How to set-it up?

    Even though SKAGS are just one keyword per ad group, you can & should include multiple match types of that keyword into the specific keyword ad-group, for example: 

    At SSW we offer website development in Sydney, here’s what one some of the keywords look like following the SKAGS approach:

    • +Website +companies +Sydney
    • “Website Development Sydney”
    • [Website Development Sydney]

    You should call this SKAGs ad group “Website Development” – with the same name as the keywords in the ad-group and it will act as a great basis for the ad-group targetting those specific search terms. 

    **What if your search terms have a longer tail than the keywords in that SKAG group? **You would simply take those search terms and create a new SKAG ad-group under the same campaign using the same formula – this is keyword refinement. 

    E.g: Say the new SKAG (“App development in Sydney”) is found in the search term report from the original SKAGS group, you want to create a new SKAGS group for that term then on the original “Website development” SKAG, you will want to ensure that ‘app’ is an ad group level negative keyword to your original “Website development” SKAG. 

    The benefit of this is that your shorter tail keywords don’t steal much-needed impressions from your more specific and tailored long-tail keywords.

  19. SEM - Do you use both conventional and American spelling for your Google Ads?

    Did you know that all pilots around the world must speak English? Back then the decision of what language to use was made as English, since the US invented the first plane. Like the sky, in the web world, it is better to use one version of English. Since the US invented the web, let's go with that.

    If you are an Australian or British this rule is controversial, but it is worth it for the following reasons:

    • Cater for the majority. Most web traffic is from American users and they expect American (most probably will assume it is an error)
    • On the practical side, more web searches are going to be returned for US spelling of words.

    At SSW we have a Google Ads account that allows us to reach a targeted audience based on the keywords they use to search the Internet. While testing the effectiveness of the keywords in our Ads account, we realised that if we use Australian spelling a lot of our US customers won't find us, and vice versa.

    Thus if you are using Ads or a similar system, it's a good idea to include all variations on the spelling of a word to ensure you don't miss out on any potential customers. The beauty of the system is that if nobody searches on a word it doesn't cost you a cent, so it makes sense to include as many as possible!

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