How To Check If Your Google Ads Are Performing, Or Not...
Google Ads has become an increasingly complex platform over the past few years. If you aren’t an experienced PPC professional, it can be almost impossible to be sure you are using it to its fullest potential and getting the best ROAS (Return on Ad Spend) for your budget.
Our PPC Manager Niel has laid out a few of the key elements you can use to temperature check the health and performance of your paid search.
How Effective Is Your Google Ads Investment?
When taking a look under the bonnet of your Google Ads account, there are a few things that you should look out for to give you an insight into its health, performance and potential opportunities for improvement.
No one metric or element can tell the whole story but piecing together the evidence helps you build a fuller picture of how your account is performing and what can be done to improve results.
Whether you are managing your account in-house or work with an external supplier, the points below have been designed to provide a useful checklist to allow you to accurately gauge the efficacy and health of your account and even identify where improvements can be made to improve performance.
Tips For Checking Your Google Ads Performance
The first thing to check is your conversion set-up. Ensuring that your conversions have been set up properly and are being counted correctly is key. Without reliable data it is impossible to make well-informed decisions about how best to use your Google Ads budget. It is common to see conversions counted twice, not at all, or ‘every’ selected instead of ‘one’ which is one indication of poorly set up conversion tracking. A high repeat rate could also indicate further investigation is needed.
Establishing clear conversion tracking that enables you to see where your revenue is coming from is critical.
Over-counting conversions artificially inflates performance, cutting your cost per acquisition (CPA). While the figures might look good, the truth could be that your campaigns aren’t performing as well as you think and that your CPA is actually much higher than it appears, meaning you could be encouraged to apportion additional budget to a campaign that is actually underperforming. In establishing what conversions to track it is well worth being clear and precise. For example, if you are tracking calls - what types of call count as conversions? Setting the conversion goal to a reasonable time frame, rather than 1 second (as we have frequently seen) ensures you are counting actual calls during which a conversation took place.
If you are working with an agency, why not ask for information on your conversions, how they were selected and what parameters are associated with each one.
Another issue that can give a false impression of inflated performance is brand campaigns. If you are running a brand campaign (Google Ads campaigns that focus on your brand name) and it has not been separated from your other campaigns, then your conversion data may be over optimistic, as brand usually converts at a much lower cost.
For example, campaign A below has brand and product X mixed together giving you an average CPA (Cost per Acquisition) of £106. This distorts the real CPA of both £70 and £250 respectively. If they were in separate campaigns, it would be easier to monitor the performance and make the necessary optimisations.
|Brand||Sales: 8||Cost: £560||CPA: (£56/8) £70|
|Product X||Sales: 2||Cost: £500||CPA: (£50/2) £250|
Average Campaign CPA (10/1060) £106
You can check changes made to your account by viewing your accounts change history. You can see the changes made in the past day, week, month or further back. No recent activity, if unexpected, should be a red flag.
Conversion Values & Data
Are conversion values being used? Not all leads or actions are created equal, and some are likely to be of more value to you than others. By giving your leads values, whether you are able to calculate an exact amount or enter different values for the different values your leads represent, you are giving smart bidding and machine learning data to optimise your account. This helps differentiate between higher and lower value leads and enables your account to be better optimised as a result.
If you have customer/ client data is this being used in your paid campaigns it makes sense to ensure that data is shared and updated regularly or facilitate a connection to your CRM. Again, this provides signals to the smart bidding algorithms to make your account more efficient.
Over-complication & Targeting
Is your campaign structure over complicated? It’s hard to tell if you aren’t a Paid Search expert but here are a couple of giveaways. The first is having too many ads per ad group. The optimal number of ads per group is currently around 3 per group and this is likely to decrease further in June 2022 when ETA (Expanded Text Ads) will be replaced by RSAs or (Responsive Search Ads).
Most ad groups will likely only use 1 or 2 RSAs per group. You could also look at how your keywords are organised. Too many keywords all thrown together without much logic is an indication of a poorly managed account. When adding keywords to a Google Ads account, we ensure that they are tightly themed and aligned with the relevant landing page and advert set.
Looking further at campaign structure is your account targeting the right areas geographically? Depending on your business you may want local and not national coverage or vice-versa. Are there any areas that should be excluded? For example, if you target the whole of the UK but do not deliver to Scotland then it should be excluded. Or you may wish to focus a specific campaign in a specific region. Are you also targeting people actually “in” the location or people “in” and “interested” in the location? This subtle difference often overlooked can impact the performance of you campaign. It’s well worth checking that the right settings are being used to deliver that targeting properly.
Also, are the ads running at the right times? A lot of B2B advertising is done Monday to Friday between office hours. If your ads running at the weekends, it might be wasting budget, but you have to make that decision based on when your ads are being interacted with by your target market. Use the data to check and adjust the times accordingly. It’s also worth checking whether you are running ads on all devices. You may well find that your target audience largely uses mobile, and you have very few tablet-based visits so, to optimise the value of your budget, you can make clever adjustments here too.
Attribution means identifying the ad or keyword that is responsible for a conversion via your paid search. Many accounts use a ‘last click’ attribution model to allocate credit for conversion. However, that means only that last touchpoint a user clicks before converting is counted. This model completely discounts the steps a user takes before that point to get to conversion. Depending on your business this may or may not be the right option. Fine for an emergency plumbing business - not good for a high-ticket value item where the sales cycles are longer and multi-touch.
The type of business you are in will determine which attribution model works best for you. Having the right attribution model is important because it determines how you allocate credit against each ad interaction gets for your conversions.
Keywords & Ads
It is well worth understanding whether you are you bidding on the right keywords for the goals you are trying to achieve. Look at your keywords, are there a lot being used in an ad group and are they tightly themed, accurate for your purpose and make sense to you? Remember, your potential customer will only ever see the end result - which is the advert, so it’s important that the most relevant ads are triggered by your keywords. Otherwise, the people who see your ads, won’t necessarily be looking for what you are offering.
It’s hard to know what ad content will work, but you know your business and your market. Read the ads, do they sound knowledgeable and helpful? Do they speak to the problems, pain points and challenges you know your customers are looking for help with? If not then they need to be reworked to engage with your specific customer personas, include compelling calls to action and demonstrate your company’s expertise in the area.
Check Your Search Terms
To see what terms you’re bidding on, check the search term report. Do the search terms match what you’d expect?
While keywords are critical, many Google Ads account managers forget about the value of negative keywords. By defining the negative keywords that you definitely don’t want to be found for, you can ensure that your budget isn’t wasted on searches that you can’t help with and aren’t targeting.
For example, a corporate law firm might not want to be found for family or criminal law searches and so terms related to those disciplines would be added to the negative keyword list.
The search terms report should tell you if you are managing to block out the right terms and if the list is effective.
Mature, well-managed, campaigns should have lists in place and there should be a good match between the search term and the keyword. New campaigns may initially need more attention to evolve the structure and content to stop wasted spend and increase productivity.
The Google ads score of your account isn’t the best reporting metric to focus on. That is because Google’s idea of what constitutes a perfect set up isn’t always going to be the one that works best for your business. While Google’s optimisation score offers great insights, no recommendation should be implemented without careful consideration in the light of the business budget, objectives and account performance etc.
Your ads simply can’t perform if they aren’t sending traffic to the right landing page. After all, the purpose of a paid ad is to deliver traffic to the place it will be engaged with, captured or converted. Check the ads are going to the right landing page, one that is congruent with the ad content and delivers the information promised by the ad. All too often the homepage of a business site is the landing page. This is usually not the best practice and dedicated landing pages which match the ad will almost always get you better results.
Ensuring the post-click experience is being focused on always helps too. Software such as Hotjar can help you understand what is happening on your site post-click and offers insight into how your traffic is behaving, where they might be encountering friction and the routes they take around your site after landing. Your Google Analytics data will also deliver useful insight into traffic behaviour and how you can improve your website to increase positive performance.
Another area to explore is experiments. Running tests and constantly striving to optimise and improve performance is the foundation of good digital marketing. Tests could be on ad copy, landing pages or bidding strategies. There are many ideas for testing and having them running in the background should form part of your overall strategy. No one strategy will work forever and without evolution and optimisation you will see performance decrease over time, so keeping your Google Ads account performing is an ongoing project that requires creativity, attention as well as trial and error.
If you have an ad in the search results you want to take up as much space as possible. This is what ad extensions can help you achieve. This is especially true on mobile where your ad can take up the whole screen, effectively nullifying the competition!
Ad extensions can vary from prices, call outs, images to site links and many more. They will also take valuable space away from your competitors when shown. If you have regional branches or locations ad extensions should match accordingly. You don’t want someone to contact the Manchester office via the extension for ads shown for your London office for example.
Making Sure Your Google Ads Are Performing Properly
The topics outlined in this article are just a few of the key areas that need regular, experienced attention in order to derive the best possible ROAS (Return on Ad Send) form your paid budget. It’s an ongoing task that requires time, experience and patience. Few businesses have the in-house resource to manage it properly.
If you’d like to see just how effective paid search could be for your business, why not work with a professional agency like Innovation Visual, who’s paid search teams can use their skill and know-how to increase ROI, improve efficiency and reduce wastage in your paid search investment; ultimately driving greater revenue and improving your customer acquisition costs.
Need Some Help?
To get in touch with us to discuss your paid search options why not get in touch today by calling +44 (0) 333 772 0509 or fill in the contact form on this page, we’d love to hear from you.