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Nine effective Google Ads optimization tips

Published Mar 14 2023 7 minute read Last updated May 28 2024
google ads optimization
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  • Sean Dougherty
    Written by Sean Dougherty

    A copywriter at Funnel, Sean has more than 15 years of experience working in branding and advertising (both agency and client side). He's also a professional voice actor.

In today's uncertain economic climate, businesses of all sizes are looking for ways to cut costs and maximize ROI. As marketing budgets fall under increased scrutiny, it's more important than ever for marketers to make every dollar count.

One of the most effective ways to do that is by optimizing your Google Ads spend. In this blog post, we'll provide some valuable tips and strategies to optimize Google Ads campaigns while keeping your budget top of mind.

The takeaway: Focus on these nine strategies to not only optimize your Google ads but also create responsive search ads, PPC campaigns, search campaigns, and keyword research strategies without wasting money.

How to optimize Google Ads: Nine expert tips for your Google Ads

Here comes the tips: 

1. Consolidate your Google Ads account

Google Ads offers a wide range of automation tools to help you streamline your account management and optimize your Google Ads. For example, Google's automated bidding will adjust your bids in real time based on performance data, which takes the guesswork out of setting bids to meet your performance goals.

Even simply grouping your ads and ad groups together gives the algorithm more data to work with, which can lead to more effective bidding and bid adjustments, and ad delivery — all of which can work to improve your conversion rate and ROI.

Related reading: https://funnel.io/blog/performance-marketing-metrics

2. Match your landing page and ad copy with terms people are searching for

By matching your ad copy and landing page with users' search terms, you're creating a more personalized and relevant experience — which is important to 71 percent of consumers. This can also lead to higher click-through rates, lower bounce rates, and, ultimately, more conversions. It can also help build trust and credibility with your target audience, as they are more likely to engage with content that speaks directly to their needs and interests.

What's more, when your ad copy and landing page are highly relevant to the site that  visitors are searching for, it will improve your Quality Score. Your Quality Score measures how well your ad, keyword, and landing page are likely to satisfy the user's search query. A higher Quality Score can mean lower costs and better ad placement.

For help determining which keywords to include and whether you should use long tail keywords or short tail keywords, use Google's keyword planner.

3. Add negative keywords

Negative keywords are an important tool for optimizing your Google Ads campaigns. Negative keywords are phrases you want to be excluded from your Google Ads campaign. Negative keywords are vital to fine-tune your ad targeting and prevent your ads from showing up in irrelevant searches.

Negative keywords work to ensure your ads are only shown to the people using Google search who are the most likely to be interested in your products and/or services. This results in more relevant and effective ad campaigns.

There are two main ways to work with negative keywords.The first is using them to funnel your traffic into the most relevant campaigns. For instance, if you have a generic campaign and a competitor campaign, you want to prevent competitor names from coming up in the generic campaign so you add that as a negative to the generic campaigns.

The second benefit of negative keywords is that you can exclude search terms that are deemed irrelevant keywords or to safeguard your brand from appearing in searches that would be inappropriate. If you use Google Ads' best practice of broad match keywords instead of an exact match or phrase match strategy, negative keywords are even more important for you because they will help make sure your ad spend isn't wasted on showing your ads to irrelevant or low-intent audiences in a too-broad range of search queries.

Check your list of search terms every week to manage traffic and discover new negatives that should be added.

4. Experiment with other campaign types

Experimenting with different ad campaign types in Google Ads can help you extend your reach to new audiences. Each campaign type has its own unique targeting options, ad formats, and audiences. For example:

  • YouTube campaigns can help you reach users who are already watching videos of similar products and services to yours.
  • Display campaigns can help you reach users who are browsing websites related to your offerings.
  • Performance max campaigns can help you maximize your reach across Google's ad inventory, including Search, Display, YouTube, and more.

When you run multiple campaigns, you have a higher chance of connecting with several target audiences to supercharge your growth and reach and get more sales.

Test out a few different ad types, including display ad campaigns and performance max campaigns, to see which campaign performance is the best. Don't forget to set clear goals and track key performance metrics to gauge which are the best-performing ads. 

Although it can be challenging to quantify the impact of these top-of-funnel campaigns, they often positively impact other campaigns by boosting brand awareness and driving more traffic to your website. Taking a holistic view of your marketing efforts and measuring your business's overall impact will help you glean valuable insights into how successful your current marketing mix is. Then, you can test adjusting spend throughout different campaigns and discover the impact on overall performance..

Related reading: https://funnel.io/blog/performance-marketing-vs-branding

5. Focus on the right metrics

While more-popular metrics, such as click-through rate (CTR) and cost per click (CPC), can be helpful indicators of performance, they don't paint the full picture.

In addition to CTR and CPC, make sure you keep track of the following metrics in your quest to optimize Google Ads:

  • Conversion rate
  • Quality score
  • Return on ad spend (ROAS)
  • Cost per acquistition (CPA)

In order to fully measure the impact of your campaigns with Google, don't forget to tie your data to your source of truth, whether that's Google Analytics, HubSpot, Shopify, or something else. Doing so can help you make sure that Google Ads is contributing to dollars coming into your business.

You can pass these offline conversions back into Google Ads or you can aggregate your data in a marketing data hub like Funnel to measure results.


6. Look at the impression-to-conversion rate

Instead of looking at the CTR and the conversion rate separately, you can create a custom metric in Google Ads, known as the impression-to-conversion (ITC) rate. Google Ads does not provide a built-in metric for impression-to-conversion rate. But creating one yourself is pretty straightforward. Follow these steps to do so:

  1. Navigate to the Campaigns or Ad Groups tab in your Google Ads account.
  2. Click the Columns button.
  3. Select Modify Columns.
  4. Click on the + New custom column button in Custom Columns.
  5. Name the custom column "Impression to Conversion Rate."
  6. Choose the option for Formula.
  7. In the formula box, enter Conversions / Impressions * 100.
  8. Choose the appropriate data type and formatting options for your custom column.
  9. Save your custom column and use it to see the impression-to-conversion rate for your campaigns and ad groups.

Impression-to-conversion is a key metric in understanding how many impressions are needed to generate a conversion. There are several factors that can cause the ITC rate to fluctuate, such as:

  • Ad position
  • Targeting options
  • Ad copy

7. Test automated bid strategies

As we mentioned earlier, Google's automated bidding feature helps marketers get the most bang for their buck by setting bids that are tailored to each auction. The three main types of marketing strategies used in Google Ads are:

  • Maximize conversion value: This strategy helps deliver as much revenue as possible within the given budget.
  • Target ROAS (Return On Ad Spend): This strategy works to adjust bids to maximize revenue while achieving a specific target return on ad spend.
  • Maximize conversions: This strategy sets bids to get the most conversions within your budget.
  • Target CPA (cost per acquisition): This strategy uses bid adjustments to help advertisers get as many conversions as possible at a specific target cost per acquisition.

Marketers use one of Google's automated bidding algorithms to control and optimize bids, but the algorithm can't function properly without enough data. It needs sufficient data to make accurate predictions.

So how do you know if you have enough conversions/data in an ad group? Start by taking a look at the number of conversions generated by your campaign in the past 30 days. If there are fewer than 15 to 20 conversions per month, you may not be quite ready for automated bidding. 

Once you do have enough data, you can test automated bidding with a simple A/B test by dividing your campaign into two groups:

  1. One using manual bidding
  2. One using automated bidding

Run the test for at least one month to allow the algorithm to gather enough data and optimize your bids. Once the testing period is over, analyze and compare the results and decide which marketing strategy will work best for your Google Ads campaign.

As we talked about above, be sure you use a consolidated campaign structure when testing automated bid adjustment strategies.

Related reading: https://funnel.io/funnel-tips/unexpected-forms-of-ab-testing

8. Review and update site links

Site links and other ad extensions are essential elements of Google Ads. They allow you to provide more information to potential customers and direct them to specific pages on your website. However, it's important to regularly review and update your ad copy and assets to ensure that they stay relevant and effective over time.

Here are some steps you can take to review and update your site links:

  1. Review your website: Take a look at your website and identify any pages that share the most important details of your business and that you want to drive traffic to. This could include landing pages, product pages, or contact pages.
  2. Check your existing site links: Login to your Google Ads account and review your existing site links. Make sure they are still relevant and lead users to the correct pages on your website.
  3. Update site links as needed: If you notice that any of your site links are no longer relevant or lead users to outdated or expired pages, update them to direct potential customers to the correct pages on your website.
  4. Add new site links: If you've recently launched new product and/or service offerings, or you want to try highlighting a new page, consider adding new site links to these pages to optimize your Google ads.
  5. Test and monitor performance: After you make any necessary updates or tweaks to your site links, test and monitor their performance to see if they are driving more traffic to your website and improving your conversion rates.

9. Use data to fine-tune ad messages

Data is key to optimizing Google campaigns. By analyzing results and testing variations, you can identify which ad elements resonate most with your target audience and further optimize your campaigns. One way to do this is by running A/B tests on different ad variations, including headlines and descriptions. This can help you determine which ad messages are most effective and improve your campaign's performance over time.

There are several things you can do to fine-tune your ad messages using data, such as:

  • Test headline variations: Create different ad variations that include changes to headline copy and adding more headlines. Compare the performance of each variation until you find the one that resonates the most with your target audience.
  • Include popular keywords in your headlines: Include popular keywords in your headlines to improve the relevance of your ads and compel users to click on them.
  • Make your headlines and descriptions more unique: Create ad messages that stand out and differentiate your business from competitors. Use language and messaging that is unique to your brand to make your ads more memorable.
  • Experiment with pinning variants: When creating RSAs you can pin variants in different positions to gain more control over the ad copy. Sometimes pinning works well but other times the algorithm can find a better combination. Experiment with and without pinning to understand what works.

Final thoughts

When digital marketers focus on the right metrics, relevant keywords (the same keywords your target customer is searching for), optimized landing pages, ad relevance, and various bidding strategies, you can better your Google Ads optimization to increase your ad rank and boost your sales and ROI. Most importantly, you can reap all of those benefits without busting your budget.

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