Before launching your first campaign on Google Ads, you must have a well-written strategy in place. Why? Because a Google Ads strategy will help you come up with the right offers, keywords, ads, targeting, landing page, and more. Without getting these things right, you will end up losing your money.
So in this blog post I am going to explain what you should include in a Google Ads strategy, the different options provided by Google, and some best practices. Let’s start.
As basic as it sounds, start with your goal. What do you want from Google Ads? Are you looking to generate awareness, generate leads (for quote/consultation/demo), trial signups, webinar signups, orders (in case of ecommerce), content download (in return of user details), etc.?
Why it’s important? Because your keywords and targeting will be based on your goal. For example, if your goal is brand awareness, you should go with generic, top level keywords and also run display campaigns. But if your goal is leads (for quote/consultation/demo), you should start with the most specific keywords and only run search campaigns.
In addition to goal, you should also define your KPIs. Some common Google Ads KPIs are number of conversions, CPA, conversion rate, CTR, Quality Score, etc. Monitoring these KPIs will help you stay on track of your campaigns to achieve your goal.
2. Campaign Type
There are multiple types of campaigns and you can choose one based on your goal (see below image). You can also create a campaign without selecting any goal. All these campaign types use Google’s Search and Display networks to show your ads.
A search and display campaign is what most of the businesses should start with. It’s because these campaign types can be used for multiple goals including awareness, lead generation, signups, content downloads, and even to generate orders for ecommerce.
Shopping campaigns are useful for ecommerce businesses. You need to have Google Merchant Center account to run shopping campaigns.
Video campaigns are usually used to generate brand awareness.
Smart campaigns are fairly new in the game and should not be used if you are launching your first campaign. Simply because it doesn’t provide enough control to the advertiser and doesn’t provide enough visibility. I have personally found that smart campaigns usually generate bad quality leads for B2B businesses.
Discovery campaigns can be used to promote content like blog posts, videos, etc.
The next thing is getting your targeting right. The base of getting your targeting right is to have a good understanding of your audience i.e. age groups, seniority, their pain points, where do they spend their time online, their interests, etc.
In case of search network campaigns, targeting is defined primarily by keywords. In addition to this, demographics, audiences and remarketing lists can also be used to define your targeting.
If you are just starting with Google Ads, you should select only a handful of highly relevant keywords. It is especially important when you have a small budget and want to understand what will work and what will not.
In case of display network campaigns, there are multiple targeting options like keywords, demographics, audiences, placements, topics, and remarketing.
Targeting the right audience on display network can be a bit tricky. You really have to have a good understanding of the interests and behavior of your audience.
As a general rule, start with a small budget and scale your campaigns when you start getting good results. Another simple answer is start with an amount that you are comfortable with.
However, many people are clueless about what budget they should start with. For this, you can use Google’s keyword planner. It gives you an estimate of budget, clicks, conversions, CPA, etc. based on the keywords you select and the bid and conversion rate you set.
In case of display campaigns, Google doesn’t show budget forecasts until you run the campaign.
5. Landing Page
A landing page is a page designed specifically to convert visitors into leads and buyers. If you don’t get your landing page right, you will lose money.
A landing page must:
a. Be responsive
b. Have an offer relevant to the visitor
c. Have a clear message aligned with your ad copy and keyword
d. Have a lead gen form
e. Good quality images
f. Have some social proof
g. Ideally have only 1 offer
These days, it’s very easy to design landing pages with platforms like Unbounce, Instapage, Landingi, Elementor, etc.
6. Ads and Extensions
Your ad is the first thing that your audience see about your business. Hence, it is important to spend time on your ads. Compelling and well written ads result in higher click through rates, relevant visitors, and more conversions.
While coming up with ads, pay the most attention to user intent as it will improve the relevancy of your ads. Also, look at the ads of competitors and figure out how you can make your ads better than their ads.
In addition to this, follow the below practices while writing your ads:
a. Include target keyword in the headline (preferably headline 1)
b. Try different headlines
c. Include CTA in headline
d. Include your offer right in the headline
e. Avoid grammatical and spelling mistakes
f. Sell the solution and not just state the problem
f. Test multiple (2-3) ads in an ad group
g. Try responsive search ads
Finally, come up with ad extensions like callout, sitelink, structured snippets, call, location, etc. As the name suggests, ad extensions are used to provide additional information related to your offer. Extensions also help in improving CTR.
7. Negative Keywords and Exclusions
Negative keywords and exclusions are used to refine your targeting and remove people who would not buy from you. For example, if you run a rental property management business, you can add ‘buy’ and ‘sell’ as negatives. So people who would be searching buy a property or sell a property, will not be shown your ads.
Read this blog post to know how to find negative keywords.
Adding negative keywords reduces wasted spend, increases ad relevancy, and reduces cost per click and cost per conversion.
Exclusions also work similar to negative keywords and can be used to exclude irrelevant audiences, locations, demographics, placements, and topics.
8. Monitoring Schedule
PPC needs continuous monitoring and optimization especially when the campaigns are new. Generally, it takes a few months to understand what’s working and what’s not.
When campaigns are new, they need more attention and should be monitored daily. Some changes like keyword bid adjustments and adding negative keywords based on search terms are required more often in the starting stage of the campaigns.
You can change the monitoring schedule to once or twice a week as your campaigns reach a stable point. It is also important to keep a track of the changes that you are making so that you are always aware of what change improved or worsened the performance.