How to Optimize a Google Ads Campaign

You are currently viewing How to Optimize a Google Ads Campaign
How to optimize a Google Ads campaign
  • Post author:
  • Post comments:0 Comments
  • Reading time:10 mins read
  • Post last modified:March 7, 2023

Optimizing a Google Ads campaign takes a lot of trial and error work. As an entrepreneur or a digital marketer, when you start working with Google Ads, you have plenty to learn. These can be fundamental things, like when you create a new ad group or which keywords you group.

There are also Google Ads-specific things: where can you make a specific change or where to find a helpful report? And their ever-changing interface doesn’t make this any easier.

But if you spend time setting up a campaign, learning to change certain things is not hard.

What is more challenging is knowing what to change. How can you make improvements to your campaigns that move the needle?

I’ve been running Google Ads campaigns for the last five years, making me pretty good at spotting what’s wrong and knowing how to turn things around.

I’ll share what I change and its reason to give you a better idea when working on your Google Ads campaigns.

1. Initial results of the Google Ads campaign

1.5 months after I had set up his PPC campaign, the results looked like this:

  • Clicks: 660
  • Impressions: 133,813
  • CTR: 0,49%
  • Average CPC: $0.75
  • Average position: 2.9
  • Total cost: $497.76
  • Orders: 4
  • Cost per order: $125
  • Conversion rate: 0.61%

This campaign aimed to reduce the cost per order to $20-30.

So the results weren’t looking good.

The first thing that caught my attention was the meager click-through rate. When starting, you should aim for a 2-5% CTR. And with the right tweaks, you can take that up to 30%!

A low CTR indicates a mismatch between the keywords people search for and the ads we are showing for these searches.

Let’s say people are looking for new garden furniture, but if all our ads are about our excellent dining table chairs, few people will click on them.

But with Google Ads, you only pay per click, so if people don’t click, you don’t pay.

That’s 100% correct.

But like its organic search results, Google wants to show the most relevant ads.

To do this, they created a thing called Quality Score. This a score from 1-10, and it’s Google’s judgment of how relevant your ad is for a specific keyword.

If only a few people click on your ad, Google uses that as a signal that your ad isn’t perfect for that search query.

They use this quality score to determine your position and the price you’ll pay for the click. The better your quality score, the bigger the discount you’ll get.

In summary, a low CTR leads to a low-quality score, leading to a higher CPC and lower position.

You can fix the CTR in two ways: making sure your ads don’t show for irrelevant searches or improving your advertisements.

Want to see your quality scores?

Go to the Keywords tab in your Google Ads account, hover over the little speech icon, and see the score.

2. Optimizing the campaign

As the initial results showed, our primary goal is to decrease the cost per order. One way to start with this is to look at the campaigns or ad groups with the highest price and see if we can reduce those spending.

How to optimize a Google Ads Campaign - Ad groups
How to optimize a Google Ads Campaign – Ad groups

In this campaign, three ad groups comprise almost 60% of the total cost. Let’s start with ad group 2 since there are no conversions, and it has the lowest CTR. I opened the Keywords tab to see which keywords significantly impact the total cost.

How to optimize a Google Ads Campaign - Keywords tab
How to optimize a Google Ads Campaign – Keywords tab

When starting, he thought these keywords would attract the right people to the store. But although our ads appear when people look for those keywords, people don’t find them exciting, and few click on them.

To figure out why we must know the phrases people searched for when our ad appeared.

2.1 Discovering actual search queries

We want to find that information in the Search Terms report. (Find that for yourself: Keywords > Details > Search Terms > All)

How to optimize a Google Ads Campaign - Search terms report
How to optimize a Google Ads Campaign – Search terms report

In this report, we are looking for two things:

  • Popular keywords that can be interesting to add to our campaign
  • Irrelevant searches that we want to avoid

In the search terms report, a couple of things look pretty clear:

  • The short tail (2 words) keywords attract a ton of searches
  • The ads are appearing for brands that he doesn’t sell
  • Ads appear for searches for competitor stores that also sell this product. There are big stores like Walmart and Amazon and very niche stores.

2.2 Adding negative keywords

We will add these as negative keywords to the campaigns for the irrelevant keywords.

If you’re in the Search Terms report, you can check the boxes of the keywords you want to exclude, then click Add as a negative keyword.

By default, Google Ads will add square brackets to your word. This is to limit its impact. If a search is like [amazon brand xyz], I remove the square brackets and the words brand XYZ. I do not want my ads to show for any search that includes the word amazon.

That’s how I run through all the ad groups and campaigns: looking at the keywords and deciding which to add and which to exclude.

To see all your negative keywords, scroll to the bottom of the keywords tab.

2.3 Writing better ads

As I said in the intro, low CTRs could also be caused by poor advertisements. So let’s look at an ad group’s advertisements focusing on one specific product. If the average position of your ad on the page is good (top 3), these ads can easily have CTRs from 5-20%.

But here was an ad group with a CTR of 0.31% and an average position of 1.2 that only contained exact match keywords.

That is hard to explain since the ads were alright. They contained relevant details about the product and used a couple of USPs to distinguish them from the other ads. Info on pricing, delivery, etc.

One possible explanation is that Google will also show Shopping results for these searches, reducing the attention and number of clicks on Search ads.

Adwords advertisement example

Example of an advertisement from Shabbir’s previous store

The ads in the account were similar to those above, one line of features about the product and the other line about the store’s USPs.

Besides tweaking the ad to be more appealing, there are a couple of extras that can give us an easy win when it comes to the CTR:

2.3.1. Dynamic keyword insertion

Instead of creating a specific ad for every keyword in your account, you can create a text that automatically fills in the keyword people sought.

We could change the headline for the example ad into: {KeyWord: Lowrance Elite-5 HDI}. If we have the keyword [lowrance elite 5] in our account and someone searches for it, that would produce the following ad:

Adwords dynamic keyword insertion in advertisement

Because the headline matches the search query that someone uses, they are likelier to click.

The text you put between the accolades is the default text that will appear if the search query is too long, so make sure the ad also makes sense with that headline.

2.3.2. Ad extensions

Ad extensions are extra features in Google Ads that give your ad more visibility and make it stand out more from your competitors.
The ad below heavily uses all the different types of these extensions.

Adwords ad extensions callout extensions and sitelinks

The most important are site links, the four links on the bottom of the ad & callout extensions, and the text above the address.

You can find all of these on the Ad extensions tab of your Google Ads account.

Further reading: How To Use PPC Ad extensions to improve your sales

3. What’s next

Typically it’s best to tweak the existing campaign. But we created a new campaign since we wanted to make any changes.

The focus of this new campaign was to increase the quality of the visitors we were attracted to the site.

From analyzing the campaign, it became clear that there are a ton of informational searches. These are people looking for general information about the category or what features they can expect.

We could write ads that attract these people, but we also need relevant content on our site. If someone is looking for more information, they may want a guide or comparison table. Trying to convert them straight away on our product page won’t work very well.

Since our budget is limited, we want to focus on the keywords most likely to lead to a conversion. So we’re not only excluding the negative keywords we found during the analysis above, but we’ll also exclude some generic terms.

If we put square brackets around those keywords, our ads won’t show to people looking for precisely those keywords, but we’ll still show up for more specific searches.

We’ll reduce the cost by reducing the number of clicks for general keywords. In return, we’ll raise the CPCs to be competitive on specific product searches.

The cost for a click might be higher, but the higher conversion rate outweighs these four.

Conclusion on How to optimize a Google Ads campaign

So there you go; those were the three main steps we use to optimize Google Ads search campaigns. Remember, as long as you’re using data to make your decisions, you should be all set!

Alternatively, you may contact a PPC agency like Todays that can take care of your PPC campaigns.

Questions? Or have some other tips you want to share with us? You can do it in the comments form below.

Daniel Stanica

Daniel is the founder of Digital Media Intelligence digital agency. For over 15 years he has helped hundreds of digital businesses to win the digital race through SEO, Marketing Strategy, Competitive Intelligence and Affiliate Marketing.

Leave a Reply