You’ve got your paid search campaigns up and running. Well done! It's been a few days or weeks or months—but now what? How do you know if they're working? In this post, we explore five questions that you can ask to help optimize your paid search campaigns.
1. Am I Wasting Money?
The first place to look for wasted spend is in Search Terms. Not to be confused with Search Keywords—the keywords you’ve specified in your campaign—Search Terms are what searchers are actually typing into the Google search bar. Google matches their search terms to your specified keywords to determine which ads to show them.
Let’s say the keyword is “green shoes.” When you look up the search terms in your Google Ads account, you see searches for things like “johnny green shoes” or “dr. green shoes.” These search terms match for the keywords you have, but do not serve your intended purpose of serving ads to people who are looking for shoes that are green.
If a quick look at the conversions for those terms confirms that viewers are not buying after clicking, ”johnny green shoes” and “dr. green shoes” could be added as negative keywords. Adding negative keywords to a campaign will prevent future searches for those terms to match your keywords.
2. Are People Completing the Actions I Want Them To Take?
If you asked yourself “what are conversions?” when reading that last paragraph, then listen up.
Clicks on your ads are great, but since you have to pay for each one, more is not necessarily better. What you really want are conversions: when the people who click on your ads also complete the actions you want them to take when they get there (subscribing, watching, buying, etc.).
Setting up conversion tracking on the most important actions on your website will allow you to see if the traffic you’re attracting is actually the kind of traffic worth paying for—the kind that converts! Conversion tracking can show you the difference between ads and keywords that get a lot of clicks and those that turn into sales or subscribers.
3. Am I Getting Traffic From the Geography I Want?
Google has a default setting that allows searchers who are “interested in” your targeted geographies to be served your ads, even if they are not physically in your targeted location. That means someone who is interested in Sioux Falls, but located in Uruguay, could be served your ads that target Sioux Falls. As you can imagine, in most cases, these clicks are just wasted spend.
To stop wasting money on these clicks, find your campaign settings, select Locations and expand Location Options. Under the Target setting, change from “People in, or who show interest in, your targeted locations” to “People in or regularly in your targeted locations.” Problem solved.
4. What Keywords Am I Missing?
If you’re not sure what keywords to use, Google can help you identify gaps with Dynamic Search Ads (DSAs). These ads look just like regular paid search ads, but have some unique differences. Instead of specifying keywords for these ads, you can target specific pages of your website and Google will determine which searches should match based on the content of your pages. Google will also write the headlines of the ads for you, based on the user’s search query and the content of the page. You’re not completely off the hook for writing ads, though—you do write the two description lines that Google uses to complete the ad.
If this sounds a lot like how organic search works, it is. But you’re still paying per click, so your ads can show up above organic search results.
If you choose to try DSAs, make sure to add negative keywords for your brand terms, as well as the keywords you are already using in other campaigns and ad groups. Otherwise, your DSAs will spend most of your budget on branded words and you won’t learn anything new.
5. How Can I Get More?
If your campaigns are giving you good results, you may be looking for ways to do more with paid search.
Using Google’s Campaign Budget Simulator, which can be found in the Budget column, Google can compare your current budget metrics with metrics for other recommended budget options, making it easier to see if you’re likely to get improved results from additional spend.
If Google identifies a significant opportunity to spend more budget on a regular basis, “Limited by Budget” may appear in your status column. If you see that, it means Google is showing your ads less because you don’t have enough budget to fill out the number of clicks your ads could get in a day—and it's happening often enough that Google wants you to know about it. If that status appears, you can click on it and Google will show you its recommendations for your budget.
The Campaign Budget Simulator and Limited by Budget status are dependent on having enough data collected to make recommendations, so they may not appear for all accounts.
Before expanding your budget, make sure that you’re considering points 1 through 3 above to help you get the most for your money.
There are endless options within Google Ads. The best way to get a feel for how your ads are doing is to check on them regularly—you’ll start to see patterns and get a feel for how your audience interacts with your ads and your site, and that can help guide your next digital marketing steps.