How Small Changes Can Make a Big Difference in Google Ads Results

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When starting work on optimizing a Google Ads account for a new client, one of our first actions is to figure out how they’ve been managing their online marketing to see what’s working and what’s not. 

This process can be difficult for people outside the marketing sphere to understand, so we thought it would be instructive to provide an example from one of our clients who recently engaged us to improve their online advertising results.  

Writing (and Rewriting) Ad Copy 

We started reviewing the Search campaign and noticed the ads and keywords had not been optimized. As a result, the campaign had very few conversions and the return on ad spend (ROAS) was lower than the advertiser liked to see. 

The ads within the Search campaign only utilized expanded text ads, which as of June 2022 will no longer be available to edit or create newer ones. Google recommends ads be set up as responsive search ads. These are Google’s replacement for the older and now outdated expanded text ads.  

The ad copy was old and badly in need of an update. There were two headlines and one description per ad (far too few), and the ad copy wasn’t snappy. We created responsive search ads instead: these have 15 headlines and 4 descriptions, which furnishes a lot more room for customization.  

However, before we began drafting new ads, we studied the questionnaire that our client had completed for us, as well as their website and accumulated data, focusing on not just what keywords they wanted but what made them unique: qualifiers like commercial/industrial applications (as opposed to retail) and selling points like environmentally friendly, easy to maintain, free shipping, not a reseller.  

Some of the better ads in the original account made the cut, but we added many new ones and updated the campaigns with the latest ad features that Google offers.  

Optimizing Keywords

After improving the ad copy, we dove into the keywords that the campaigns were sponsoring. Again, the focus was on sales and leads generated, not visibility or brand awareness. It’s important to clarify the goals of your campaign before optimizing to meet those goals.  

Some ad groups seemed redundant. There’s no point in implementing two ad groups where the terms are very similar.  

We generally don’t like broad matching: when we looked at all-time stats for broad match keywords, their ads had been served for so many irrelevant searches that it simply wasted too much of the budget.  

We also avoided using thousands of low search volume keywords. Instead, we focused on keywords that people were actually searching on, even if they had higher CPCs. If a keyword in the client’s account had many clicks and 0 sales, it was paused in favor of one with a higher conversion rate. 

It’s important not to use the same keywords in different ad groups; don’t make them compete with one another. For example, the brand ad group was serving ads for non-branded search terms because of broad match! The campaign received clicks and conversions from the wrong keywords, muddying the analytics. We added negative matched keywords at the ad group level to prevent this.  

Analyzing the Results 

We chose to use the Maximize Conversion Value bid strategy with a 500% target ROAS. As we mentioned earlier, the client’s objective (and therefore ours) was to increase sales.

Since we made the changes, there was a 13% increase in ROI (“return on investment,” conversion value divided by cost) for the Smart Shopping campaign, a 519% increase in ROI for the Brand campaign, and a 13.9% increase in ROI for the Cork Keywords Search campaign. Overall cost per conversion of all 3 campaigns was reduced 9%, conversion rate went from 3.63% to 4.64%, and sales increased by 15%

Because Google offers recommendations that we don’t always agree with, we get penalized on their “ad strength” metric, but we prefer to look at performance: CTR and ROAS.  Google would rather we put in 15 contextless headlines and let them mix & match everything, but we made sure to pin headlines we liked and wanted specific positions. For example, our third headlines often had calls to action that worked well. 

The bottom line is that our client’s ad costs are lower and results have improved. That’s what counts in the end. 

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