Google Ads Optimization Checklist: Four Ways to Monitor Your Search Ads

In the digital age, Google Ads are a must. Whether you are a new brand that needs to build brand awareness or an established brand expanding to new markets, Google Search Ads offer a measured way to reach audiences fast and efficiently. It’s one tool that you definitely want in your marketing toolbox.

If like most, you are a person with limited time and energy, you may be thinking, “Google Ads are great and all, but who has the time to monitor them?” For someone who isn’t certified or dedicated specifically to Google Ads, it can be overwhelming. A lot goes into monitoring and optimizing Google Search Ads. But you don’t have to keep your thumb on the pulse of all the metrics all the time in order to be successful.

What to Check on Search Ads

Google Ads allows you to monitor ads in a seemingly endless number of ways. You can check and control which sites and apps your ads appear on; you can check and control which devices your ads appear on; and you can even tell your ads which days and times to appear. In short, the best part about Google Ads is that there’s so much you can do, but the worst part about Google Ads is that there’s so much you can do. 

As an award-winning marketing agency with a Google Ads certified team, we get it. Below are four factors that you should focus on first.

1. Keyword Quality Score

Each keyword is assigned a quality score on a scale of 1 to 10 based on three factors: expected clickthrough rate, ad relevance, and landing page experience. In other words, per Google, a good keyword is actionable, targeted and relevant to the ad’s landing page content. 

To check your keywords’ quality score, make sure you’ve selected the campaign, ad group or ad you want to view and then click the Keywords tab. From there, choose the “Columns” button in the top-right corner of the chart and select “Modify columns.” Click the “Quality score” section and mark the Quality Score checkbox. I also recommend you check Landing Page Experience, Expected CTR and Ad Relevance so you can see the factors that contribute to the Quality Score.

If a keyword has a quality score of 1/10, which means all three factors are “below average,” I recommend you disable it. If you think there is a better way to reword it or you think you may have better results by changing up the keyword type (from broad match to exact match, for instance), try it for two weeks and see how it works. If the quality score doesn’t improve, then definitely disable it. 

If a keyword has a quality score of 2/10 to 5/10, evaluate the keyword on an individual basis. Are there a lot of impressions and no clicks? Disable it. Are there neither impressions nor clicks? Wait. Google is great, but it isn’t perfect or prophetic, so a keyword may have a terrible score but work well for your brand. Give it some time to draw in data to make that decision.

2. Negative Keywords

Negative keywords are words or phrases for which you do not want your ad to appear. For instance, I recommend most companies always add “cheap,” “free” and “jobs,” as well as expletives and other inappropriate terms to their negative keywords list. Thanks to Rule 34, you should also always add words such as “porn” or “nude.” You also have to think a bit more analytically about the negative keywords. If you’re a purveyor of backyard barbecues, for instance, “grill cleaner” may make a lot of sense for your brand. But don’t forget to add negative keywords such as “dental” or “fronts” to filter out the users who need to brush their mouth bling instead.

Use the Search Terms to see what keywords people are searching to find your ads. This is critical to your negative keyword strategy. If in the past two weeks, a lot of users have found your ad by searching “grill explosions,” you will definitely want to add “explosions” (and all of its synonyms) to your negative keyword list.

One of the most important and overlooked negative keyword strategies is to analyze who is actually responding to your ads. Is a large portion of your ad respondents made up of customers or clients you don’t want? As an example, are you getting a lot of calls from people who want info on pellet grills even though you don’t sell pellet grills? Add “pellet” to your negative keyword list.

3. Headlines & Descriptions

On Google Search Ads, a headline is a 30-character-maximum phrase that describes your business, brand, product or service. It appears at the top of the ad. Each expanded text ad can show up to three headlines. Responsive ads allow you to input a dozen or more headlines for Google’s algorithm to mix and match based on user behavior. 

A description is a 90-character-maximum sentence or paragraph where you can expand upon the headline(s). You’re allowed two descriptions in an expanded text ad but, as with the headlines, you can include even more in a responsive ad. 

The reason you want to review your headlines and descriptions when monitoring your Search ads is that one pair of text may perform better than another. Based on the calls or visits you receive from your ad, you can make informed decisions on what users want and need to hear. My #1 recommendation with headlines and descriptions is to focus on pain points. Why do customers or clients choose you over the competition, and how do you solve their specific challenges?

In addressing your audience’s challenges, use active language. “We sell the best barbecue grills” is stronger than “our barbecue grills are the best.” Also, consider popular keywords from your landing pages. Ideally, your ads shouldn’t have any words or phrases that don’t appear on your landing page(s), so if you update your pages, update your ads and keywords accordingly.

4. Cost Per Click & Conversion

Cost per click (CPC) is pretty self-explanatory; it tells you how much you are paying per interaction with your ad. Cost per conversion, or cost per action (CPA), tells you how much you are paying per goal completion. If your goal is to have users sign up to your newsletter and only five users sign up after $100 spent, your CPA is $20.

CPC and CPA are incredibly important because they measure the return on investment. It’s hard to measure the value of an ad in terms of brand awareness, but measuring the financial value of an ad is quite black and white. If your goal is the purchase of a grill, the math is simple. If the ROI on the sale of a grill is $500, and the CPA on said grill ad is $100, that’s a 500% ROI. Usually, the numbers aren’t so even and obvious, especially if you have multiple goals and multiple ads running simultaneously. That’s why it is critically important to check CPC and CPA often. In fact, if you aren’t yielding ROI after six months, you may want to reevaluate your ad strategy more holistically.

How We Can Elevate Your Ads

There are a multitude of factors that you should consider when monitoring and optimizing a Google Search ad. It can be overwhelming, especially to someone who isn’t certified or comfortable with Google Ads. But if you focus on the four factors above, you should be able to handle those ads on your own. And if not, no worries—that’s what we’re here for! Let’s chat about your Google Search Ads strategy today.

Cody H. Owens, Account Executive
Elevate My Brand

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