Google Ads is one of the most powerful and effective marketing platforms available. With various campaign types stretching across Search, Display, YouTube, and even Gmail, Google Ads provides an opportunity for nearly any business that is looking to get in front of their ideal customer with cost-effective, scalable ads.
However, despite Google’s consistent attempts at automating success with little ongoing management, Google Ads can quickly become an expensive platform with little return if you are not consistently and confidently optimizing your campaigns for better results.
In this blog, I’ve gathered up Tuff’s talented PPC team and asked for advice and proven tips on campaign optimizations that can be applied across a variety of campaign types. The following tips are all tried & tested favorites of our PPC team, and hopefully can provide you with additional insights into improving your Google Ads campaign performance to make it a profitable, scalable arm of your marketing toolbelt.
Improve Your Search Campaign Performance
Search ads are the most common and *debatably* the most effective Google Ads campaign type for most businesses. This is because search ads allow you to capture your ideal customer at the exact moment of search and when their intent is the most high. Unlike social or even YouTube ads which rely heavily on audience targeting and disruption tactics, search ads make it easy to deliver the right message at exactly the right time – the moment of search.
One downside of search ads can be high cost-per-clicks. This is moreso true in some industries vs. others, but the right campaign strategy and optimizations can work wonders in improving your search campaign performance, even in expensive industries, and this starts with ensuring that you are utilizing every weapon in Google’s search ad arsenal.
As Google moves to phase out expanded text ads by June 2022, it’s imperative that advertisers utilizing search ads begin the transition to Responsive Search Ads (RSA), Dynamic Keyword Insertion Ads and/or Dynamic Search Ads (DSA). In fact, we recommend you do this as soon as possible, if you haven’t already done so.
While Google’s shiniest, new features may not always perform the best when they’re first rolled out, RSA and DSA ads have been around for a while now, and they’re no longer just the new options on the block. In testing these more advanced ad formats, we’ve found great pockets of success in improving our ad relevance and ad rank scores, as Google is able to automatically apply the best performing, or most likely to be clicked, combination of headlines & descriptions at the time of search, leading to improved click-through rates.
In addition to testing out the various types of search ads available, including all of the relevant campaign extensions will ensure that you are given yourself the best opportunity to show up in search results.
As a rule of thumb, sitelink extensions, structured snippet extensions, and call out extensions are a must. These three extension types provide more context and clickable links to your ad, allowing your ad to take up more space in the auction results to enhance your CTRs.
Additionally, newly released image ad extensions have proven to be effective in our testing, increasing our CTRs over search ads that do not have an accompanying image ad extension. In fact, in one test, ads with image extensions for Tuff partner, Xendoo, averaged a 29% increase in CTRs vs. ads without image extensions.
Increase Shopping Revenue
If you’re in the business of selling products online, aka eCommerce, you probably already know that shopping campaigns on Google Ads provide an excellent opportunity to reach shoppers online at the moment of search. With intent as high as search ads, but with accompanying images and direct-to-product landing page links, shopping campaigns have the potential to be the top performing campaign type in your eCommerce marketing efforts.
However, just like search campaigns, it’s not as easy as ‘set it and forget it’ (not yet at least). There are areas of optimization that can help your ads stick out from the results list, as well as give you an edge against competitors.
First, it’s incredibly important that you have fully optimized your product feed. The product feed is the lifeblood of your shopping campaign, and structuring your product feed for success can be the make or break difference in your campaign testing, especially because shopping campaigns do not target specific keywords. Instead, Google matches your product feed with relevant searches at the time of search, deciding which products and sellers show up. Your product feed is the only way to provide Google with the relevant information and context needed to get your products showing up for desired searches.
To structure your product feed for success, ensure that all of your product data is up-to-date and relevant, and also ensure that you’re taking advantage of all of the available attributes for your product type. Furthermore, you should ensure that you are including relevant keywords in your product titles and product descriptions. This is where Google will get the context it needs to surface your product for the right searches. If you’re searching and searching but still not seeing your product show up for your desired keywords, double check to make sure that those keywords, and other relevant context, is included in the product titles and descriptions.
Once the product feed is properly configured and flush with target keywords in your titles and descriptions, you can still optimize your campaigns further. One optimization technique is to provide Google with product review ratings. These product ratings will provide a front-end star rating on your product’s results in shopping campaigns, indicating social proof and previous customer trust in your product and brand. Adding these product ratings to your shopping campaign ads will help increase your CTR, potentially lower your CPC, and increase on-site conversions.
Dial In Your Audience & Placement Targeting
When you expand outside of search and shopping campaigns, both of which show your ads on the Google search results page, it becomes even more important to ensure that you’ve tested and dialed in your ideal audience and placement targets.
This can happen in many ways, but ultimately it’s imperative to ensure that the audiences you are targeting, whether it be in a Discovery campaign or on YouTube, are relevant to your overall campaign goal.
A bad example of campaign audience structuring we see often at Tuff is a structure that includes both prospecting and retargeting audiences within the same campaign. Because prospecting and retargeting are two different beasts that deserve two different messages, segmenting these audiences into specified prospecting and retargeting campaigns will improve your performance and ensure that you can tie in messaging that is specific to where the user is in their own journey.
For example, a YouTube video ad designed to raise awareness to potential new customers should have a different message than a YouTube video ad served to an audience that is already familiar with your brand and further along the purchase funnel. Segmenting your campaigns by audience type will help you keep your messaging consistent to your audience.
Similarly, reviewing and optimizing your placement report to show your ads only on placements that are resulting in high quality traffic can push your Display & YouTube ads results to the next level.
One optimization tip we typically use at Tuff (not always, but in most cases), is to exclude Mobile App Placements from being targeted by your Display campaigns. If you’ve ever launched a Display campaign and see really poor results, chances are Mobile App placements are eating a lot of your budget. Google knows Mobile App placement inventory is plentiful and cheap, so naturally Display campaigns will optimize towards these placements. However, time and time again we see these placements performing poorly, delivering traffic that does not perform as well as site or even YouTube channel placements.
Google Ads can work wonders for most businesses looking to spend on advertising that is effective and scalable. However, the work doesn’t end once you launch the campaign – in fact, the majority of the work has just begun. Continuous optimization of your campaigns will improve your performance and drive better results.
If you’re looking for best-in-class PPC campaign management, schedule a call with our team and we’ll analyze your existing campaigns and help take your PPC campaigns to the next level.
Chris is a PPC Strategist based in Nashville, Tennessee. When he’s not scaling Google Ads & YouTube campaigns, he enjoys longboarding, tinkering with automation tools, and a little bit of gaming.