Google Ads have been one of the most effective, targeted ways to reach prospects since it was launched as AdWords nearly 20 years ago. The ability to target an ad according to a specific search term/keyword, and then customize the display of an ad to match the likely intent and urgency of the prospect is powerful.
Google Ads can also be a landmine for small companies that don’t have a clear strategy. Costs can rack up quickly. Although Google claims their ads convert 50% better than organic search results and offer a 200% return on investment (ROI) on campaign spending, it’s just as easy to fall down a rabbit hole of ballooning costs if you’re not careful. To help keep your overall cost-per-click (CPC) down, we’ve gathered several Google AdWords Tips.
Let’s jump into CPC first.
What is Cost-Per-Click?
Google offers several different ads and ways to pay for them, but the most common is the cost-per-click (CPC) search ad. These are the text-only ads that appear in search results, often above and below the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) positions. Advertisers will bid a maximum CPC for specific keyword terms so that their ads show. Depending on the competition, you’ll pay some amount equal to or below that bid for each time someone clicks on your ad.
Other factors can influence CPC that go beyond your bid. From the quality of your ads to the placement, frequency, and landing page's performance when someone clicks, Google will adjust the amount you must bid for each click.
Below are five Google AdWords Tips for reducing that maximum CPC and getting more clicks for the same budget.
1. Adding Long Tail Keywords
The more specific the term you bid on, the fewer people will be bidding on that term and the lower your competition. These highly specific terms are called “long-tail keywords” that are vital to a successful AdWords campaign.
Google doesn’t just want to make money with its advertising program. It intends to provide answers to user questions. If ads are not relevant or too many ads target the same terms, the user experience suffers. So Google assigns a quality score to almost every element of your campaign, including the keywords you target, the ads you run, and the landing pages you link to.
When you bid on generic keywords, it’s less likely that your ad matches the search intent of the user who types that phrase. Someone who searches for “Laptop,” for example, could be looking for laptop brands, prices, repairs, or other things. However, someone searching for “Laptop repairs in Chicago,” is far more likely to want a laptop service provider in a specific area. The competition for this keyword is lower, the quality score will be higher, and the CPC is likely lower.
2. Evaluate Current Bids for Keywords
Google Ads users make a common mistake to create a keyword list without evaluating the relative minimum bids for those keywords. Since Google Ads is a dynamic platform where the CPC is constantly changing according to search volume and advertiser demand, one term might be significantly more expensive than another.
When creating your long-tail keyword list, use the Google Keyword Planner tool, which is for free in AdWords, to evaluate the estimated minimum CPC to bid on each term. Google provides not only the bid but the estimated volume of searches for that term. If you can get the volume you need within your budget by targeting less expensive keywords, you can lower the overall CPC.
3. Improve Your Overall Quality Scores
As mentioned above, improving your quality score is one of the most important Google AdWords Tips we can offer. Sometimes, the vague numbers determine how Google charges its users.
The quality score determines the cost paid per click, but it also determines your ad rank, which is your ads' position on the page. There’s no hard science to higher quality scores, but some of the factors that have the biggest impact include:
- Targeting of Your Ads - Do your ads contain the terms your prospects are searching for and references to specific solutions?
- Landing Page Relevance and Performance - Does your landing page directly address your prospects' problems and questions? Is there a single, targeted call-to-action (CTA) that directs them to the solution?
- Keyword Granularity - How specific are your long-tail keywords? Are you running a single large ad group of 100 keywords or a dozen smaller ad groups of 30 to improve targeting?
With the right improvements to quality score, you’ll start to see higher click-through rates (CTRs), which means more people click on your ads when they see them. It makes Google more money, and they will reduce your maximum CPC to bid on those keywords.
4. Use Ad Groups Liberally
Google Ads uses Ad Groups to group like keywords together and show relevant ads to them. When you create a new ad, it is associated with the entire ad group. If you have a broad ad group with hundreds of keywords, your ads will likely not be specific enough, and the quality score will suffer.
A good ad group should aim to have between 20 to 40 keywords that are all specific to a group of terms. For example, a particular ad group can be created for each brand or type of MacBook Pro being repaired. This ensures the appropriate keywords can be included in the ad itself and that it is closely related to what they searched when someone sees one of your ads.
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5. Timing and Location
Another essential Google AdWords tip is targeting. While keywords do lots of the heavy lifting, you should also leverage scheduling and geotargeting to show your ads when and where they are relevant.
A business-to-business (B2B) firm that targets small companies on the west coast of the United States might only show those ads between 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., pacific standard time (PST), Monday through Friday. The firm can use the geotargeting features in Google Ads to narrow where the ads display to specific cities or states in that region.
Depending on how targeted you need to be, Google Ads also offers postal code or general region targeting to narrow things down.
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The Importance of a Targeted Approach to Online Advertising
Google Ads is a powerful resource that can help your business vastly increase the ROI for your advertising budget. Simply creating and running an ad isn’t enough. As the five Google AdWords Tips emphasize, you must create custom content highly targeted based on specific searches that your prospects make. By going through each of these steps, you should increase your quality scores and CTR while decreasing your overall CPC, leading to an across-the-board improvement in your campaigns.