As the largest provider of search advertising, there’s a lot of competition on Google Ads for your business to overcome. In 2015, there were over 4 million advertisers on Google. In 2021, we know that Google Ads generated $147 billion from advertisers. That’s a lot of competition for your business!
As a Google Ads specialist, I’ve helped businesses generate astounding results with Google Ad campaigns, generating thousands of dollars in revenue every day. If you’re wondering if Google Ads is worth it because of all the competition, Google ads can be an amazing tool to grow your business with the right strategies.
\ Success with Google Ads comes down to knowing how to properly run Google Ads campaigns to produce results for your business. Here’s my top Google Ads tips and pointers to improve your campaigns:
1. Set Up Conversion Tracking Correctly
The first thing I do when I take on a new client is make sure they have conversion tracking set up correctly. There’s a reason why checking your conversion tracking is at the top of my Google Adwords tricks and techniques!
Conversion tracking is how you tell Google what you want from a campaign. With the wrong tracking set up, Google will help you achieve the wrong goals for your business. Without correct conversion tracking, you can’t optimize your campaigns for conversions either!
One client I worked with wanted to get more leads to their business through Google Ads and had been running campaigns spending $5,000 a month without very good results. When I audited their Google Ads account, I discovered they had set up a conversion tracking event for pageviews and set their bidding strategy to maximize conversions.
In other words, they were telling Google to send them people who were going to load the website page as the most important goal, instead of that they wanted people to contact them! Google was doing it’s job well—they were getting a ton of traffic but almost no leads.
One simple change of correctly setting up conversion tracking to leads instead of pageviews increased their lead rate immediately.
There are parts of running Google Ads campaigns where you have to work with Google’s system to get it to do what you want it to (though this isn’t always the case, keep reading!). Conversion tracking is one of those things.
Make sure you have conversion tracking set up properly and that you’re measuring the right conversions for your business goals. It can make a world of difference.
2. Try Exact Match On For Size
You’ll see a lot of outdated Adwords hacks that talk about using Broad Match keywords to get in front of as many people as possible. The idea is that Google is smart enough to know similar topics and search terms that fit into what you’re looking for and will put your ad in front of those people.
Problem is Google made changes in February 2021 to the way keyword matches work. Broad Match keywords are almost always way, way too broad. Phrase Match can be too broad sometimes too with these new changes.
Take a client I work with that provides HR administrative services as an example. When I started working with them, they had set all of their keywords to Broad Match, targeting searches like “payroll services” “outsource HR administration services” and similar terms. Yet every day, someone was contacting them looking for a W2 form from some random company they’d never done business with. Why were they getting leads from people who were 100% the wrong fit?
One problem: Broad Match. Google decided that people who were looking for the payroll department at different companies must be looking for my client’s company so their ads were showing up at the top of search results for people trying to get in touch with large companies’ HR & payroll departments. On top of that, Google was constantly telling them they needed to increase their budget because they weren’t spending enough. Simply put, their Google Ads campaigns just weren't working.
We changed their campaigns to Exact Match instead and immediately saw the irrelevant leads stop. Their Quality Scores increased and their campaign spend went much further to reach the right people without increasing costs.
If you’re struggling with poor quality or completely wrong leads, it may be time to review your match types to see what you’re really turning up for in Google search results.
3. Group Keywords By Searcher Intent
Adwords expert tips just love to talk about single-keyword ad groups. And frankly, I’ve never heard something so dumb in modern Google Ads management. Single-keyword ad groups cause redundancies and are time intensive to manage. While they used to improve performance, I’ve seen the effectiveness of SKAGs decrease over the last few years.
Instead, grouping your keywords by searcher intent is the best way to manage your keywords. Not only can you write better ads that directly respond to the reasons why someone is searching for better campaign performance, you can increase Quality Scores more easily (which is the key to really effective campaigns!).
\ Searcher intent is the intention behind why someone is using a search engine and what they want to achieve by using a search engine.
Most of the time, we think about searcher intent from the perspective of our businesses. For example, we think “ah, yes they’re searching to browse for products or services and find a business to give their money to, like us!” Couldn’t be more wrong to think about searcher intent that way.
People search because they have selfish motivations. They want to shop for something or hire a business to solve a problem they have. When you approach the reason why someone is going to search from your ideal customer’s perspective, you’ll do a whole lot better on managing your Google Ads campaigns and writing effective ad copy.
My top Google Ads tip for keyword grouping is to think about the keyword list you’ve developed. How can you group together similar search terms by the selfish intention behind that search term? How can you write ads that respond to that selfish intention better to convince searchers your solution is the best one?
When you group keywords based on searcher intentions, you’ll have a higher chance of showing the right message that gets you clicks, conversions, and leads!
4. Add Negative Keywords—But Not Too Many
Adding negative keywords is a common Google advertising tip you’ll see a lot. But before you go crazy adding negative keywords, having to add negative keywords routinely based on your search terms report of what your ads showed for can be a sign of a poorly managed account.
You should only have to add negative keywords for the first few weeks or so of running your Google Ads campaign. If you’re still adding negative keywords to a campaign you’ve been running for a year, you’re wasting a ton of money and time because your campaigns are set up wrong to begin with!
Remember the above example of the outsourced HR company that used Broad Match keywords? The solution my client had been using was playing whack-a-mole with adding hundreds of new negative keywords every week to try to stop their ads from showing, especially for long tail keyword searches for unrelated queries. It was time intensive, expensive, and very ineffective.
As soon as they’d add one term as a negative keyword to try to stop showing up, the next day their ads would show for something else that ate up their budget.
Checking your negative keywords should be part of routine management—but shouldn’t be a strategy you use on a daily or weekly basis to prevent your ads from showing on the wrong searches. Instead, you may need to change your campaign keywords.
5. Work on Improving Quality Score
Did you know that by improving your Quality Score, you can pay less per click? One of my more difficult Google ads tips is to improve your keyword QS so you can benefit from better placements, lower costs, and more effective campaigns.
How Google Ads works is that in auctions they use a combination of your bid and your Quality Score to determine what spot your ad will take on search results and how much you’ll pay if you get a click versus other ads in the same auction.
When your Quality Score is higher, your bid can be lower to get the same position—it’s a no-brainer that if you want to make your campaigns more efficient and make your ad dollars go further, you need to focus on getting those scores up.
Improving Quality Scores is not an easy task, however, and is one of the most mysterious parts of managing Google Ads campaigns. It can take months to get some pesky keywords to improve and it’s always a moving target.
After I work with clients to get all the basics covered in their accounts, I hone in on improving Quality Scores. Usually setting up campaigns correctly with searcher intent ad groups and ads that correspond to those searcher intents makes a huge difference straight out the gate when I rework existing campaigns.
Other times, it’s a more involved process that requires running experiments to improve click through rates and testing different landing pages for engagement.
It’s well worth it to invest the time in improving Quality Scores, however, because I’ve had clients be able to actually decrease what they were spending to get the same results when QS went up!
6. Use Customer Match Lists
One of the more overlooked tips for Google Adwords is customer list matching. Using customer match lists makes it easier to remarket to your past customers, cart abandoners, and more.
Why are customer lists so important? It’s not uncommon for PPC costs to be higher than the value of a single sale for certain products.
For example, take a clothing ecommerce brand I work with: their main product category is priced at $85 but the total advertising costs to acquire a new customer are easily $75 to sell a single product. While it may seem like Google Ads isn’t the right choice for their company at first glance, the important thing to understand is average customer lifetime value.
My client easily sells across all their categories to their customers using email marketing for a $300+ average customer lifetime value. Suddenly a $75 CPA doesn’t seem so ridiculous after all.
Customer lists are a way for your business to target people you’ve already engaged with and make sure you can effectively maintain customer loyalty, especially when your customers search for products in other categories.
My client that sells their main category product I mentioned above also sells a lot of other clothing items. Thanks to customer match lists we can target past customers who are searching for other categories and increase average customer lifetime value by building awareness with past customers that a brand they know and love sells what they’re looking for.
In addition to cross-selling products to increase sales with existing customers, you can also target people who abandoned their cart to encourage them to purchase across Search, Display, and even Youtube. Sometimes all someone needs is to see an ad educating them about your products to get them to finalize their purchase.
Customer match lists are a great way to remarket in a cookie-less era! Because cart abandoners put in information into the checkout, we can upload that info to Google to try to re-engage those cart abandoners, even if they have cookie-blockers.
It’s a win-win for the consumer and for my client.
7. Turn Off Automatic Recommendations & Targeting Expansion
One of the best Adwords hacks I can tell you is to make sure you’ve turned off automatic recommendations from applying without your approval and removing targeting expansion from your Adwords campaigns. Google has changed where to find these settings in their platform repeatedly since they were both implemented so it can be hard to find at first, but turning off these options is a good move.
That’s not to say that Google’s recommendations aren’t valuable—some of them are! I especially love recommendations on new keywords, budgets, and trends. But the problem comes from when Google applies these recommendations automatically.
Automatic recommendations apply all kinds of changes to your account after a certain time period after Google makes the recommendation, even if you don’t approve it. Unless you turn off this feature, Google will automatically make changes to your campaigns which can really mess with your optimizations.
While Google would love us to believe their AI is infallible, I’ve seen time and time again when it’s made the wrong choices for the clients’ goals. Turning off automatic recommendations is one of the first things I do when I get a new client account and I usually go back through and revert a lot of the automatic changes if the account wasn’t well maintained.
As well, if you have a Display remarketing campaign you want to show only to people who have previously visited your website, you need to make sure that targeting expansion is turned off. What this does is Google will show you add to people who are similar to the people in your remarketing list.
While targeting expansion is helpful for prospecting new audiences and people who have never been to your site before, leaving this enabled can seriously mess with your remarketing campaigns if you only want to target people who are aware of your brand already.
If you want to thoroughly optimize your Google Ads campaigns, my biggest Google Ads tip is to make sure you have full control over your account and know what it’s doing—automatic recommendations and targeting expansion make this pretty impossible.
8. Don’t Listen to Everything Google Recommends
One of my more advanced Adwords tips that also has to do with Google’s recommendations is not to listen to everything they tell you to do in your Google Ads account. Why? Because don’t forget, Google is incentivized to get you to spend more money on advertising with them—that’s the whole point, isn’t it?
Google posts an Optimization Score inside of your Google Ads account, based on the recommendations they make. But this Optimization Score doesn’t come without a lot of controversy in the Google Ads agency world.
There’s a lot of pushback from some Google Ads agencies about initial changes to the Google Partners program and the moral dilemma that agencies faced because Partners were going to be required to maintain a specific optimization score in client accounts. If we decided to reject recommendations, our clients’ optimization score would fall and our agencies could lose the ability to do the Partners program.
Some agencies also claim there are additional changes that incentivize agencies to spend client money less efficiently too.This gave rise to different client-focused certifications made by agencies to push back against these new requirements.
Google made changes in response to the pushback—but their recommendations and optimization score still stand.
The important thing to remember is that you should take Google’s optimization recommendations as a grain of salt. Some of them are helpful, like new keywords, budget issues, and account errors recommendations. But some of them may not align with your particular goals for your Google Ads campaign.
You need to be critical of Google’s recommendations and decide for yourself if they’re right for your goals or not. Don’t know? Hire someone to help. Recommendations are certainly not a replacement for an experienced Google Ads expert who knows what the recommendations mean, what effect they may have, and if those changes align with your business goals.
9. Dominate Paid And Organic Search
An uncommon suggestion in Google advertising tips is to prioritize balancing paid and organic strategies to get to the top of search results. There’s four reasons why you should do both Google Ads and SEO:
\ First, you can save a lot of money by not paying for clicks your competitors aren’t advertising for where you don’t need to compete for ad slots. After all, why pay for traffic if you can get it for free?
Second, not everyone clicks on ads. There’s a portion of searchers that just don’t like to click on ads because they feel organic search results are better. Without organic rankings, you’ll miss out on these people.
Third, Google won’t let you advertise on all searches. Google often will say that the traffic is too low and won’t let you run ads for long tail searches. However, I can tell you from experience that often something that ranks organically for those long tail keywords gets more than enough traffic to be worthwhile.
Finally, we all know that the more times your business is seen by a potential customer, the more consideration you get. Being at the top of Google Ads and the top of search results gets you two placements on the page—and that means more brand awareness and consideration.
There’s a lot of advantages to dominating both paid and organic search. You need to ensure your website is the first result for those searches, however, and that requires some SEO work to get your site to the top. Working with someone who knows how to do both can be a huge advantage for your business over your competitors.
10. Hire an Expert to Help
The best way to get all of my advanced Google Adwords tips and tricks? Work with me. It goes without saying that this list of my top ten recommendations is just that—a short list. Managing Google Ads campaigns can be a lot more involved than you initially thought and if you’ve read through this whole article, you’re probably looking for ways to improve your Google Ads performance and don’t know how to do that.
Save yourself a lot of headaches, time, and wasted money and hire a Google Ads specialist to help you. Folks like me that have managed thousands of dollars every day for years in Google Ads know the tricks to improve performance, how to hack research tools to discover new ideas, and what it takes to get more people to click on your ads.
Depending on your goals and budget, hiring a Google Ads expert may actually save you money in wasted ad spend and help you increase the effectiveness of your campaigns to get a higher return on your investment in help.
Get Personalized Advice for Your Google Ads Campaigns
If you want to supercharge your campaigns, stop reading lists to tips and tricks for Google Ads and get help. No list is ever going to give you the personalized advice you’re really looking for!
I offer free initial consultations to help you better understand how Google Ads could help your business achieve your business goals and how to improve the performance of your existing Google Ads campaigns.
Want to learn more about what you can do to improve your results with Google Ads? Apply for a free consultation and let me get under the hood!