It's easy to underestimate how much work goes into making a single, humble little Google Ad. Each one has been precision-tooled to capture that front-page top spot and drive conversions from there.
It takes a lot to build a successful Google ad. You need to make sure your ad strikes a balance between being keyword-rich and being readable. You have to plan for tone and build landing pages. And you need to form a bidding strategy so that your ads have a shot at making it to the top of that front page, to begin with.
That's a lot of factors to keep track of—anyone would be wise to rely on a few Google Ads tips to see you through.
On top of that wide combination of requirements, post-COVID conditions are causing search habits to change. This is making it hard to plan Google Advertising for 2021 with any degree of certainty. That's why we've compiled the Google Ads Tips Review, featuring best and worst practices for your Google Ad strategy.
Optimizing Your Ads for Natural Language Search
Natural language search (NLS), which involves expressing search terms in everyday language, is getting more and more popular, and your Google Ads should aim to reflect that style.
The popularity of natural language search is partly due to the fact that voice search is now accounting for a greater share of overall search traffic. It's also thanks to Google BERT (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers), which gave Google a better means of parsing user intent when those users write search terms in natural language.
People using a natural language search style are often more prepared to convert. Long-tail keywords—typically written in natural language—have a lower search volume, but they convert up to three times more often than regular keywords.
What's more, Google is actively looking to prioritize ads written in natural language over keyword jumbles. Its expanded text ads policy is optimized for ads that don't repeat words and read naturally. Therefore, your best bet is to combine keywords with high potential for phrase match with natural language phrasing.
For example, Google is unlikely to show an ad with the copy, "Give your data team great data analysis with our data analytics solution." It repeats keywords, for one. It also is not solution-focused at all, and so will probably not lead to many click-throughs. Google would be much more likely to surface the same ad if its copy was something like "Bolster your business's bottom line by up to x% with our cutting edge machine learning solution." It's naturally phrased, it doesn't unduly repeat words, and it stands a good chance of solving a prospect's problems.
Given the solid growth forecast for semantic search in 2021, too, the natural language wave will continue to rise. There's never been a better time to optimize your Google Ads for natural language.
Embracing Automated Bidding
To get the top slot on Google Ads, you need a bidding strategy. You’ll put yourself in the best position if that bidding strategy involves some automation.
Managing a Google Ads bidding campaign manually is a huge task. The analyst or ad specialist in charge will have to continually evaluate your ads' response and adjust phrasing and keywords accordingly. This can easily result in data misinterpretation, exhaustion, and missed opportunities.
The manual approach does have its benefits: It can help you keep your campaign cost effective and is better for companies that are new to Google Ads. However, automated bidding with a sensible maximum spend gives you the best shot of a well-positioned ad, whatever your budget. Google offers a variety of smart automation types for you to use when bidding, which you can manage directly from Google Ads.
Forecasts for 2021 predict a continued increase in total ad spend across industry vectors. This increased spending is likely to result in more competition in bidding. For that reason, no company seriously looking at Google advertising can do without an optimized, automated bidding process.
Tweaking Your Ads for Native and Mobile
Given that 70% of all web browsing happens on mobile devices, it's vital to have a Google Ads strategy for mobile and native devices.
Along with superficial changes to how your ad appears on desktop and mobile devices, user behavior will also change depending on device type. Both desktop and mobile audiences can be very valuable. For example, desktop conversion value is around 55% higher than mobile conversions, but more than half of total ad clicks come from mobile devices.
You can roll that perspective into your keyword research, too. SpyFu's keyword metrics include a breakdown of mobile vs desktop searches so you can see how particular keywords lean.
For example, if you find keywords that people tend to search much more often on their mobile devices, consider using shorter extension copy for those ads.
When building a desktop ad, you will have around four sentences' worth of space to make use of. You might start with a snappy lead-in in the first sentence, articulate your USP in the second, and then go into detail in the remaining space. As mobile ads are more likely to be clipped than ads on desktops owing to the reduced space, make sure your mobile ad extension copy begins with your USP and any other key information.
Tailor ads to the time, context, and device by which a user encounters them using IF functions. After you set them, IF functions automatically tailor your ad messaging depending on the device your prospect is using, who they are, and when they're using it.
For example, you can set IF functions to alter your CTA to read “Order Now” or “Call Us” when presented to a mobile user on their commute home. It can alter your CTA again to read, for instance, “Subscribe Here” if the ad is presented to a prospect on their desktop in the afternoon, during work hours.
There's a lot to think about when it comes to tweaking your ads to work best on both native and mobile devices, but the potential rewards are considerable. Among Google Ads tips, native/mobile optimization is one of the most important.
Evoking Emotion in Your Ads
Next in our Google Ads tips is reviewing the emotional register of your ads. In digital advertising and beyond, it’s well-established that evoking an emotional response in your audience is effective.
A Google Ad doesn't give you a lot of room to let your company's personality shine through. You can still generate a solid impression of your brand and put them in the right frame of mind for conversion, though, through word choice and with your CTA.
For example, use phrasing that matches your branding. An AI solution aimed at giving sales teams better data to work with might go with the keyword “AI sales solution.” They can then use phrases and adjectives like “faster,” “cleaner,” “most effective,” and “sales advantage” in an ad. All of these are words a prospect might want to see paired with the keyword “AI sales solution.”
When you’re planning your CTA, keep your prospect's ideal outcome in mind. For example, a high-end product analytics service might use the CTA “Subscribe now to take your business to new heights” to produce that ideal emotional response.
Let's say you're placing a Google Ad for an email automation service. The prospects looking for this kind of service want an easy-to-implement solution. To that end, the company might roll with copy to the effect of “Your high-quality email automation problems: solved.” You could pair this copy with a CTA like “Sign Up Today.”
Using Negative Keywords for Your Ads
Natural language, bidding approach, tone, and device specialization—we have most of what we need for a great Google Ad. Now we need to curate our limits on who's likely to see our ad.
That's where negative keywords come in. Google won't show your ad for any search terms that you've set to negative match. Making use of negative keywords will help you refine your audience and save money.
For example, if you base your ad on the keyword "data management," you don't want your ad to surface for people searching for "data management job." The people who searched for this second term are much less likely to convert.
There are a handful of universal negative keywords that any campaign should use. Keywords like “free,” “samples,” “meaning of,” and “about,” when used in conjunction with your product keyword in a search, are unlikely to result in conversions. Negative keywords also vary depending on the nature and aims of your ad.
Let's say you're creating an ad for an online business management course for professionals. You may wish to add terms like “university business management course” and “on-campus” to your negative keywords list, as they'll probably appeal more to undergrads than to professionals. They're unlikely to attract searches that end up in conversions.
Trying a Tighter Campaign Structure
Our in-house PPC manager at SpyFu, Tree Fine, swears by an exact match campaign structure. This is a change you work toward, as it takes a bit of patience and detailed organization to make sure nothing falls through the cracks.
Tree explained his approach when he saw Google's evolution toward automation creep into their updates. They started adjusting fuzzy matches and playing with what phrase match meant. Most of these changes hint at Google wanting campaigns to run with less rigor; they claim to target efficiency on your campaign's behalf.
Another wrinkle is that Google is accommodating privacy concerns, taking potentially-revealing searches out of your keyword reports. While that affects the tail-end of your campaign, it's also part of your performance feedback cycle. You can't always tell which searches triggered your ads. An exact match campaign--that continues to grow with new descriptive searches--would give you a better grasp of what is really bringing people to your site.
The key to an exact match campaign structure is to create tight ad groups with specific ad copy for each one. The payoff comes in better conversions and stronger quality scores.
Building a Representative Landing Page
Google Ads tips shouldn’t just cover the ads themselves. They also need to address landing pages.
A well-designed landing page is a crucial component of your Google Ad. Your landing page should use the same keyword and CTA as your ad and create a similar emotional response.
There are multiple design approaches you can take when building your landing page. With that said, most effective landing pages will have large and clearly labeled buttons, effective color contrasts, and prominent CTAs to make next steps clear to your prospect. One offering or product and one CTA per landing page is optimal. Doing otherwise risks making your potential customer feel misled and driving up your bounce rate.
Data from across the board shows that well-optimized landing pages lead to more conversions and a more successful business. It also suggests that, like Google Ads themselves, the most successful landing pages are mobile optimized.
Keeping Track of Your Ad Strategy Results
Your Google Ad campaign is worthless if you can't measure the results. You need to know what's working to make improvements.
To track Google Ad performance, connect your ads to an analytics engine and create a tracking plan. Your tracking plan will enable you to make use of your Google Ads data and integrate that information into your larger data strategy. You can build one by creating a spreadsheet or other document that will be shared between all pertinent stakeholders.
This is a great way of not only synchronizing data awareness among your marketing team but around your entire product division, too. There’s a variety of data platforms out there that you can use to sync your data streams into one unified source of truth for your tracking platform.
Use UTM (Urchin Traffic Monitor) codes to follow your campaigns' performance across the web by adding simple code onto the ends of your URL. There are a few different types of UTM codes available, depending on your preferred campaign KPIs.
Being Agile and Dynamic with Your Keywords & Overall Google Ads Strategy
Let's say you followed our Google Ads tips to a T up until now. You not only have a great Google Ad campaign but a beautiful landing page and tracking plan to go with it. So far, so good . . . but we're not done yet.
However you approach your Google Ads strategy, you won't end up with a perfect campaign right off the bat. Some tactics, keywords, and tonal decisions will work well, while others won't. The best practice is to continually evaluate your strategy against results. Not being married to a single Google Ads strategy allows you to retool your approach when best practices change.
Review your keywords regularly and weed out ones that are not driving high conversion relative to cost. Don't assume that keywords that worked last quarter will work well in this quarter. Consumer sentiment and search habits are still in flux, thanks to COVID. However often you checked your Google Ads keywords in 2020, double it in 2021.
The only loyalty you have to keywords are to the ones that convert for you. Keep looking for keywords to add, usually from these strategic sources:
- Descriptive, long tail variants that people searched to trigger your ad
- Competitor PPC keywords--especially since they are targeting the same audience
Your use of keywords should become more specific and audience-tailored as you learn what's working and what isn't. Let's say you built an initial ad campaign around the keyword productivity tracker. It's bound to reach a wide-audience, but as you come to a surer understanding of the demographics most likely to convert, you can make your targeting more specific. You might, for example, amend the keyword to productivity tracker for students or productivity tracker for sales teams. The volume will be lower, but conversion potential will be considerably higher.
Make sure you revise your messaging frequently for seasonal peaks. Use holiday discount messaging and seasonal greetings during Christmas and New Year’s, for example.
The Value of a Few Google Ads Tips
Making an ad destined for first-page search results and a ton of conversions is no mean feat. Language register, bidding approach, tone, and keyword strategy can all make a big difference. Once that's all in the bag, you need a landing page capable of sealing the deal, a robust method of data collection, and a hawk-eye approach to improving your basic ad.
Prospects who find you through paid campaigns such as Google Ads are 50% more likely to make a purchase than those who find you by other means, including organically. For that reason alone, a strong Google Ad strategy is worth the time and effort it takes to get those best practices right.