7 Pro Tips To Boost Your Google Ads ROI
30 April 2019, Jonathan Saipe
With so many moving parts in an average Google Ads campaign, it’s not surprising that many campaigns are either running at a loss, or suffer significantly reduced their ROI, due to poor optimisation.
When it comes to campaign optimisation, whilst it’s important to get the basics right – i.e. creating a super-strong relationship between the target keyword/audience, ad copy/creative and landing page – there are still many other elements and Google Ads features that can be overlooked.
Certainly, Google’s Recommendations feature (below) is a good starting point for PPC account managers, but this feature doesn’t cover all opportunities. And, some more experienced PPC managers will raise an eyebrow at some of the recommendations, as they could be perceived as working in Google’s interest – shhhh I didn’t say that!
To help improve your Google Ads ROI, I’ve put together some often overlooked ways to optimise your Google Ads campaigns. Of course, this list isn’t exhaustive, but they should keep you busy, and you will hopefully see positive results in a short space of time. Do let me know!
Add IP exclusions to your campaigns
Remember that ad targeting isn’t just about audiences you want to reach; it’s also about audiences who offer no value to your campaign objectives. And given that Google Ads typically uses a cost-per-click model, more clicks from the wrong audiences equals reduced ROI.
Examples of audiences you DON’T want to target include, your own organisation’s employees, and of course your competitors. Particularly with competitors, you certainly don’t want their clicks, but equally, why expose them to your ads, giving away your value proposition, your offers, your A/B tests and your beautifully-written ad copy or creative.
To exclude the above audiences from specific campaigns, be sure to add the relevant IP addresses in the campaign settings “IP Exclusions” field.
To locate it, click on the relevant campaign settings, and you’ll find it under “additional settings” at the bottom.
Note: your competitor’s website IP address is not necessarily the IP address you want to add. Try to locate their office IP address by looking at one of the following sources:
- The header information from one of their emails
- Your web server’s log files
- Data from your analytics tool
- Data from real-time monitoring software, such as live chat
Optimise campaign location settings
When setting up a campaign, Google offers a few location targeting options. The default setting (which we don’t always recommend) is People in, or who show interest in, your targeted locations.
The potential problem with the default is that your ads will be eligible for people, not only based on where they’re physically located, but where they show an interest or have previously visited/shown an interest.
This option can often cause campaigns to underperform, as it broadens your targeting beyond your typical target audience, and your ad can get served to audiences who were at some point in your targeted location, or searched for it as some point in time.
Unless you specifically want to target an audience outside your location (in which case, choose People searching for your targeted locations – option 3), in most cases the second option People in your targeted locations produces better results.
Use location and device bid adjustments
You will more than likely see an improvement in campaign performance if you adjust bids based on the user’s location or device. The aim is to increase bids for audiences you want to reach, in order to consolidate a high ad position, and reduce bids for audiences who aren’t as likely to convert.
Scenario one: I’m a local retailer, and I want to increase bids for mobile users, as they consistently show better engagement and conversions than desktop users.
To adjust bids, navigate to campaign > devices and click on the Bid adj. column. You can then increase or decrease bids by a specific percentage.
Scenario two: I’m a London-based law firm. I’d like to target the whole of the UK to generate awareness, but I know that visitors in London are more like to engage with my content or call my office. I therefore want to increase bids for London users, as they always demonstrate higher conversion rates than users outside London.
Navigate to campaign > locations and click on the Bid adj. cell to increase or decrease bids for a particular location. If you can’t see a location there, add it in your campaign location settings.
Measure keyword funnels using search attribution
Nowadays it’s common for visitors to click on multiple instances of your ads before converting.
This is especially common for visitors at the top of the funnel, who carry out an initial search for a product or service, and eventually convert using your brand name after having carried out their research. That’s why brand campaigns often seem to convert well – it’s the last click in the customer journey, but not necessarily the first).
Using Google Ad’s Search Attribution reports will give you invaluable insight into the devices, campaigns or keywords that combine to result in a conversion. To find the report, click on tools > measurement > search attribution.
If you’re too focussed on the last click, rather than looking at assisted conversion data, there’s a chance you’ll put more weight on the campaigns or keywords at the bottom of the funnel, rather than ones near or at the top of funnel.
Adjust bids or exclude specific demographic groups
Once you’ve started running campaigns and collecting data, navigate to demographics in the campaign sub-menu. You will see performance data by gender, age groups and household income. I’m not a big fan of the household income data, as I question its accuracy (feel free to heckle me!), but gender and age groups are worth looking at.
Depending on who you’re targeting, you can either exclude audiences or modify bids to suit your targeting strategy.
First, analyse your conversion data (in Google Ads or in Google Analytics), and if certain demographic groups show poor conversion rates, consider excluding them. Equally, if certain audiences show strong conversions, consider increasing bids to maximise exposure.
As you can see in the example below, ages 55+ are excluded from the ad group targeting, and 25-34 year-olds, being the ideal target audience for this ad group, are targeted with 20% higher bids.
Whilst the data Google provides isn’t 100% watertight, if you’re looking for optimisation tactics, this could be one to consider.
Use negatives lists to scale campaigns
Whilst negative keywords probably are nothing new to many of you, negative keyword lists should get an honourary mention for their ability to scale campaigns quickly.
By bulk uploading keywords into your negative lists, you can quickly remove unwanted searches. And combining this tactic with using less restrictive keyword match types, such as broad match modifier, you resolve the conundrum of “going broad” for volume, whilst still maintaining a degree of precision.
Scenario: You’re a nationwide estate agent attracting a large number of location-based searches. Some location queries convert well, whereas others don’t. Rather than set up individual bids for thousands of locations, consider broader keyword bids so as not to restrict impression share, whilst maintaining a large negative keyword list of locations, that don’t convert well.
Of course, don’t forget to run regular search reports to add new negatives to your lists. This is especially important in new campaigns, where you may find irrelevant search queries that could reduce your ROI.
Choose landing pages based on the marketing funnel
The choice of landing page should, in theory, be an easy one. The philosophy is simple: send the user to a landing page that most strongly correlates to their search query. This should result in the best engagement and outcome. And, if you’re a Quality Score geek, you’ll know that a strong contextual relationship between keyword, ad copy and landing page, should also pay dividends in stronger QS over time.
However, there is an extra dimension to consider. The funnel.
Scenario: I’m looking to buy a blender for my new kitchen, but I know very little about blenders. A typical informational search will be either “kitchen blenders” or simply “blenders”.
When bidding on keywords, informational searches generally indicate that the user at the awareness or interest stage of the customer journey or funnel, and they probably want to either learn more about the product or service, or to be inspired by a video, visual guide or tool.
However, if the customer is carrying out navigational search e.g. “smoothie blenders”, they are now further down the funnel at the desire stage, and most likely want to see a range of choices from a category page.
In contrast, someone searching for “buy nutribullet blender” (which I recommend!), is clearly at the action stage of the funnel, and wants to have a frictionless buying experience. In this case, landing the user at your product or offers page would be ideal.
If you’re reading this with a B2B hat on, the same principles apply. And with B2B organisations, you have the option of gating content – where you ask the user for their details before they can access content – if that user is nearer the desire or action end of the funnel.
I hope these more advanced tactics help. Of course there are more, but these should keep you busy for now!