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Google Search Ads Guide – How To Use Google Search Advertising To Maximise ROI

In this resource, I share with you how to use Google Search Ads to maximise sales & ROI for your business.

Google Search remains the holy grail of all digital advertising channels.

Although Google doesn’t directly share its search volume data, multiple research sources estimate that Google has close 5.6 billion searches per day, equating to 2 trillion global searches a year.

According to Statista, in Feb 2021, Google’s market share of the search engine market was 86.6% vs. 6.7% for Bing, its closest rival.

Search Advertising is a critical part of digital advertising.

If you are not advertising on Google Search, you’re missing out on massive opportunities to grow your brand. If you run Google Search Ads, however, my bet is that there’s a lot of room for improvement.

Back in the day, the cost per click on Google Search Ads was very low. In fact, there was a time when the CPC was around 1 cent. Today, depending on the industry you’re in, an average CPC can go up to $20 and even higher. And so, creating the right Google Search Ad strategy and campaign is more important than ever.

Researching Search Queries

The first step to creating a winning Google Search Ad campaign is to understand the anatomy of the search queries relating to your product or service.

There are a few different types of search queries.

  1. Informational search queries

These are searches that indicate the user is looking to learn more about a specific topic. An example would be “how to create a business pitch deck. An informational search query does not mean the person is ready to make a purchase or in the market to buy something. They are more likely at the top of the marketing funnel.

  1. Navigational search queries

These searches indicate there’s a level of interest and consideration to buy something, but they are still in the research phase. An example would be “cost of renovating a 3-bedroom house”.

  1. Transactional search queries

This type of search query has the highest purchase intent. An example would be “best real estate agent in Melbourne”.

When researching search queries, it’s important to categorise and prioritise them by purchase intent. Generally speaking, the higher the search intent a keyword has, the more traffic and clicks you want to generate from it. However, search queries with lower purchase intent can be equally profitable – they just require a different strategy and a longer sales cycle because the person is far up in the sales funnel.

If you’re starting out, focusing on high purchase intent should be the number one priority.

However, if you are already dominating high purchase intent keywords, it’s time to expand into other territories and consider lower search intent keywords.

Next, you should determine the monthly search volume. There are several tools that can help you with that. Google has its own free tools that will give you a ton of insights. There are 3 main tools you can use: Performance Planner, Keyword Planner, and Reach Planner.

The Keyword Planner tool is quite useful. In your Google Ads account, you can click Tools > Keyword Planner and then choose “Discover New Keywords”.

Keyword Planner - Discover Keywords

Keyword Planner – Discover Keywords

Next, enter a keyword related to your business, for example, “real estate agent” and you can also put in your website URL to discover keywords based on the content of your website. You’ll get a list of all related keywords, search volume, range for Top-of-page CPC.

Keyword Planner Tool

Keyword Planner Tool

Another Keyword tool, and in fact is my favourite keyword tool is the Keyword Magic Tool developed by SEMRUSH. Similar to the Google Keyword Planner tool, you get a list of all related keywords, search volume, and keyword difficulty. But you also get classification and categories of these keywords.

SEMRush Keyword Magic Tool

SEMRush Keyword Magic Tool

For example, for “real estate agent”, there’s a category of keywords that contain “NSW”, “best”, “commercial”, etc. Categorisation of keywords helps you to quickly zoom in on the keywords that are most relevant to you.

Creating The Right Budget

Next, you’ll need to create the right advertising budget. Check out this resource to learn more about creating the right marketing budget.

To come up with the right advertising budget for your search ads, I recommend using a top-down approach.

  • Sales Goal
  • Sales Conversions
  • Leads
  • Lead Conversions
  • Traffic
  • CPC
  • Budget
How To Create An Advertising Budget

How To Create An Advertising Budget

The first thing you need to determine is your sales KPI. That could be a dollar figure, but I suggest converting that to a number of purchases or new customers.

Then, you want to forecast and estimate an average conversion rate. This should be specific to the channel you are focusing on. In this case, it’s Google Ads (or Search Ads). If you already run an Ad campaign, you should have an idea of the average conversion rate. To be more precise, you should look at conversions by the Ad Campaign and Ad Groups and even on a keyword level.

Then, you need to work out how much traffic you need to generate. It’s a simple math equation. Traffic (number of users) = Sales / Conversion Rate. If you’re not an e-commerce business, you’ll need to factor in sales conversion and leads conversion. For example, you need to generate 10 new customers, and the average conversion rate is 5%, required traffic is equal to 200, which is 10 / 0.05.

After that, you should grab the average CPC your keywords and campaigns require to generate that traffic. And finally, you come up with the budget based on the traffic and average CPC. Again, it’s a simple equation, Budget = Traffic X CPC. For example, the traffic required is 200, and the average CPC is $2; your budget is $400, which is $200 x 2.

Structuring The Ad Campaign

To structure a winning Google Search campaign, you need to think and plan several areas. There are a lot of areas to consider and optimise, but the main ones you need to focus on.

Ads & Product Groups

Every Ad Group in a Google Search Ads Campaign allows you to specify a list of keywords to target. When structuring your Google Ad Groups, it’s important to think about your products and offers as well as the keywords you are going to target. A general rule of thumb is to not add too many keywords for one Ad group. 2 – 8 keywords per ad group is an optimal number. If you find yourself adding too many keywords, you might be risking your ad budget and the performance of the campaign.

Ad Groups should be focused on a cluster of keywords and a specific product or service. Along with the right keyword match types, the Ad Group should be aligned with the Ad copy and the landing page.

Ad Types & Copy

There are currently two types of Google Search Ads, Responsive Search Ads, and Text Ads. Responsive Search Ads is a relatively new ad type that allows you to add multiple headlines and descriptions that rotate over time to allow the platform algorithm to determine the best combination and messaging. A Text ad has the same components but is static, meaning that no copy rotates; whatever you copy you create is what will show every time the ad is shown.

Both Ad types can yield the outcomes you are after. However, if you have a small budget and you’re confident about your ad copy, a Text Ad can be the right choice.

Another option to consider is creating Ad Variations which is essentially a variation in one or more components of an existing Ad. That could be a replacement to a word in the headline, several text changes, or swapping headlines.

Google Search Ad Variations

Google Search Ad Variations

When creating the Ad copy, it’s critical to ensure your copy not only reflects your tone of voice, but is also clear, demonstrates value, and explains your points of differentiation. This will help ensure your click-through rates are high and that you maximise your paid traffic.

Here are 3 Ads that popped up when I searched for “men’s shoes”.

Text Search Ad Example

Text Search Ad Example

Note that a couple of them are focused on discounts and promos, and one is not. The Iconic Ad is focused on “latest trends” and “Designer” versus the Ad from Oxford on “Discounts” and “Sale”. Also, note the use of Ad extension in the 1st Ad which gives the advertiser a bigger Ad real estate and helps maximise clicks.

Geographic Targeting

An important area that you need to optimise across your Google Search Ads is location targeting.

You can target searches by a city or a country, but you can also target them on the Google map by choosing a location and creating a radius around it. If your business is location-sensitive or serves a particular geographic location, radius location targeting is a great way to target people.

Another important option you need carefully choose is whether your location targeting setting. You have two options, who to include (target) and who to exclude.

Google Search - Geographic Targeting

Google Search – Geographic Targeting

By default, the target setting is set as “People in, regularly in, or who’ve shown interest in your targeted locations”. However, in many cases, that’s not the optimal setting. Consider choosing the other option, “People in or regularly in your targeted locations” which prevents your Ads showing to people outside your location targets.

Bidding Strategy

Your bidding strategy can have a significant impact on your campaign performance.

There are a few bidding strategies to consider.

Conversions – you set a target CPA (Cost per Action)

Conversion Value – you set a target return on ad spend (ROAS)

Clicks – helps you get maximum clicks for a maximum CPC you specify

Impression Share – help you get maximum impression share

  • Anywhere on the results page
  • Top of results page
  • Absolute top of results page

Campaign Budget

Contrary to Facebook Ads, Google Ads are specified at the campaign level and not the Ad group level. And so, if you need more control on how you spend across Ad groups, it’s best to create a separate campaign rather than an Ad group.

Keyword Match Types

There are three main types of keyword matching: Broad Match, Phrase Match, and Exact Match.

Broach Match – is, well, broad. Your Ads will match search queries that are similar to relevant to the keyword you specified. Depending on your ad campaign and especially if you don’t have a comprehensive negative keywords list, a broad match can be risky and waste your ad budget.

Phrase Match – serves your ads to search queries that have contain the keyword in the query. For example, if you have a phrase match keyword “real estate agent”, your ads can show for “real estate agent in Sydney”. A phrase match doesn’t limit your possibilities but can also potentially waste your ad budget.

Exact Match – serves your ads for queries that precisely match the keyword you specify. Whilst an exact match gives you the ultimate level of control, it can limit your potential reach.

Tip – for brands with relatively small budgets, I recommend starting with an exact match strategy or a phrase match with a thorough negative keywords list.

Negative Keywords

Negative keywords help you to minimise budget waste by simply telling the platform what not to bid for. If you use a broad match or phrase match keywords in your campaign, then you certainly need to use negative keywords. Just like keyword targeting, negative keywords can be set a broad match, phrase match, or exact match. You can set negative keywords on an Ad Group level or a Campaign level.

Whilst doing your keyword research, any unqualified search query you encounter that’s related to your business should go into your negative keyword list. In addition, after launching your campaign, you should frequently monitor the Search Terms section (a subset of the Keywords section) in your Ad campaign. The Search Terms section will show you a list of the actual search queries that your Ads served. If there are any terms that don’t qualify, add them to the negative keywords list.

Ad Extensions

The whole premise of Ad Extensions is to give you, as an advertiser, more ways to demonstrate value, interact with buyers, and generate more traffic and clicks.

For example, there’s a Call Ad Extension that allows you to display your phone number for people to click on and directly speak to you.

There are several Ad Extension types, and Google has been introducing new extension types over the last few years. It’s important to experiment with various extension types and measure their impact on the campaign performance.

Ad Schedule & Delivery Times

Another important aspect of your Ad campaign is the Ad schedule which determines when your ad will show. Why is this important? Because your prospects are more likely to be looking for you during certain times of the day and week. If your business is highly impacted by seasonality, I recommend specifying your Ad schedule at the start of the campaign.

Otherwise, a good alternative is to start the campaign, monitor your campaign performance across various times of the day, week, and month, and determine what optimisations you need to make. You might realise that there are certain times your competitors bid more or traffic drops. Once you see patterns, start making necessary bidding adjustments.

Landing Pages

Your landing pages are one of the most important assets in your Ad campaign. It directly impacts your campaign performance in multiple ways. If your landing pages are not optimised, your conversion rates will be lower, your CPC might increase, and you’ll get less traffic. A high landing page experience often means the following:

  • Lower Bounce Rate
  • Higher Conversions
  • Improved Ad Position
  • Improved Quality Score
  • Lower Cost Per Action
  • Higher Return on Ad Spend
  • More Organic Traffic

Google wants to ensure that its users have the best experience. And so, they have certain criteria and measurements that allow them to ascertain your landing page experience.

Here’s what Google says about the topic.

If you find that your customers aren’t moving past the first page, then it’s time to re-evaluate your landing page.

There are several factors that impact your landing page experience. To improve your landing page experience, here are 4 key areas to consider:

Relevance

Your landing page should be highly relevant and consistent with the keywords, search terms, and ad copy. In other words, the user should be able to find what they’re looking for when they visit your landing page.

Trustworthiness

There are several trust signals on a landing page/website, including the content and design. In Digital Marketing, a book is always judged by its cover. So, consider improving your designs and the content of the page. It’s always good to ask yourself, does my page/website have all the answers our prospects need?

Ease of use

Navigation is key. Your users shouldn’t have to click several times to find what they’re looking for. If your ad campaign visitors need to click more than once to find the information they need, consider optimising your navigation as well as the content on your landing page.

Reliability

How fast does your landing page load? If users have to wait more than 2 – 3 seconds for your page to load, not only are you wasting d budget, but your landing page experience and quality score are going to be greatly impacted.

Author avatar
Rani Arsanios
Founder and Director of SAVV Digital, Rani has spent over 15 years working and consulting brands and businesses globally on how to improve and optimise their sales and marketing capabilities.

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