There is no question about it – Google Ads is one of the most attractive, dominating advertising channels out there.
No matter what your business does, what your goals are, or whom you’re targeting, it has the potential to act as a launchpad for success.
Google Ads is a marketing unicorn.
Because a platform like this comes along so rarely, many of us have no idea what we're doing when we create accounts and start our first campaigns.
In fact, there are millions of Google Ads campaigns running worldwide at this very second, and 99% of them are misusing the beautiful, misunderstood beast.
If you compare Google Ads campaigns to traditional print, television, radio, or even digital media, one of the biggest reasons for the popularity of Google’s juggernaut advertising platform lies in the ability to make changes on the fly to things like budgets, ad copy, audience targeting, keywords, and more in less than 5 clicks from the dashboard.
That sort of power has never existed in traditional advertising. With Google Ads, you can read analytics and tweak campaigns a million different ways before finishing your first cup of coffee in the morning.
A gut reflex for many Google Ads users is to organize their campaigns in a Christmas tree shape with the campaign at the top, the ad groups in the middle, and the ads at the bottom.
The main problem with this approach is that you can only edit your budget at the “Campaign” level. When you set up one campaign with a ton of diverse ad groups under it, you are eliminating your ability to tinker with their respective budgets.
Consider this example:
Let’s say you’re a sporting goods store and your daily budget for your “Baseball” campaign is $100. Your ad groups are diverse and range from replica jerseys to bats, gloves and cleats. Your campaign starts and you’re finding limited success in all but one of the ad groups (Bats).
The other groups are just eating clicks and cannibalizing budget that could be better spent fed directly into your “Bats” ad group. Instead of using the tree, we break those would-be ad groups into multiple campaigns.
This allows for more focus and unique control over your groups and ads, as well as giving you the ability to edit your budget at any time for maximum flexibility.
Your campaigns are not trees; they are orchards. Long, linear and beautifully simple.
When every ad group is its own campaign, we can edit our budgets on the fly to maximize the performance of our campaigns.
I mentioned already that each ad group should be its own campaign, but the perfect campaign takes it a step further than that.
We believe in creating the most streamlined campaigns possible, and as a result, we created the simplest, most effective Google Ads strategy for businesses of all sizes to date.
Each group in our systemized approach is almost completely linear. As a result, each campaign has, at most, two ad groups (A/B testing purposes), each ad group contains a single ad, and each ad contains a single keyword operating in a modified broad search type that leads to its own unique landing page.
If you hadn't noticed, Google’s lifelong quest is to deliver the perfect content to its users.
Maybe you’ve heard the old “If a tree falls in the forest” adage…
Having the perfect solution to a problem that your target audience has, the perfect ads, and the perfect keywords, may not be enough if your landing page stinks.
Getting your ad to show to the right people is all about creating hyper-relevance in your campaigns, and one of the missing puzzle pieces is building the perfect landing page.
Beauty is not a big attributing factor for Google’s Big Mean Digital Machine when it’s deciding relevance, so you can quit the cold sweats right now if you’re a business owner that has been priced out of the award-winning web design market.
Think of this: My campaign was about baseball bats, and my ad group and ad copy were centered on Louisville Slugger baseballs bats, and my keyword was the same.
If they click my link and it doesn’t land them right on the doorstep of a page with “Louisville Slugger” up in lights, we have a problem.
Google sees it the same way, so neglecting to create custom landing pages that contain copy that contains the keyword string used in the ads the user has just clicked, will count against you when Google gives you a quality score.
One of your chief duties in developing Google Ads campaigns is to guide your users through the experience and directly to the content they’re seeking.
We've learned that the average user spends less than 3 clicks on any given website, so if we make them hunt for the content they came for, we’re going to lose them 9 times out of 10.
The other major “What’s in it for me” factor here is that the higher your ad relevance is, the less you pay for our clicks. If you take the time to do this, you can generate many more clicks per day within the same budget.
In the first section, we took steps toward developing perfectly organized campaigns.
In order to maximize the success of these campaigns and to guarantee the ads within them get served often, we need to maximize our ad relevance.
Doing this requires that we create keyword-centric campaigns, ad groups and ads that lead users to a page that matches the keyword in their search queries.
High ad-relevance means we spend less for every click.
When building a campaign, you may notice that the default match type is listed as “Broad Match.”
This is the Trojan horse responsible for a huge percentage of your daily budget disappearing.
The biggest secret in the world for new and even seasoned Google Ads users is that becoming an Google Ads rock star means using a lesser known, even secret, match type called “Modified-Broad Match.”
Let’s go back to the baseball bat campaign from earlier.
If you were to apply the first two lessons listed about organization and landing pages, and never read the third, your campaign may end up as an abject failure.
Here's why: If our campaign was all about Louisville Slugger bats – from the campaign level down to the ad level – and we chose to use the keyword string “Louisville Slugger Bat” (without quotes, as they would change the match type to exact match), Google would serve our ads only to people looking for those bats.
Unfortunately, broad match means that your Louisville Slugger Bat ad could be triggered by any search involving the words Louisville, slugger, or bat (and any variations on those words).
If you have done everything right up until now, but you’re still using broad match for your Louisville Slugger keyword string, here are some examples of queries your ad could be served to:
Obviously, these queries are not relevant to your ad, but that's what Google will bid on for your broad match keywords.
If you're using broad match, chances are your click-through rate is pretty low, because the broad audience will guarantee a lot of impressions, but the less targeted nature of broad match will mean less relevance.
So, how do we employ Modified Broad match to cut out the bad impressions, increase our click-through rates, and lower our cost-per-click in one keystroke?
The almighty “+.”
Really, the secret to becoming a Google Ads rock star, in all its complexity, is adding plus signs to your keyword strings.
This means that your previously much-maligned Louisville Slugger Bat string becomes “+Louisville+Slugger+Bat” (Again, without the quotation marks).
These plus signs tell Google to only serve your ads to users whose queries include all three words “Louisville”, “slugger”, and “bat” (Again, with some minor variations).
Here are some examples of queries that trigger your ad when using modified broad match for your Louisville Slugger string:
Now that our ads only serve to users searching for our very specific group of keywords, our chances of getting our ads clicked will skyrocket, while the number of total impressions decreases.
This improvement in our click-through rate drops our cost-per-click significantly, allowing us to multiply the number of clicks we receive within our daily budget without ever actually increasing the budget.
You CAN master Google Ads campaigns.
Adding “+” signs instead of spaces in your keywords eliminates bad clicks, reduces total impressions, and ensures that our ad is served to more of the right people.
When the right people see our ads we get more clicks, and we spend less.
Have you ever run an Google Ads campaign and wondered why it didn't succeed?
Guest post by Joe DeMaria (Flight Media's Google Ads Master-Nerd)