Google Ads (formerly known as Google AdWords) is Google’s advertising platform created on October 23, 2000 in the United States, which today is a leader in online advertising. When you do a Google search and see the first results appear, they are not there by chance and many web advertising experts (like us) work hard to influence these results.
This article is intended for people who have just heard about Google Ads (and are simply wondering how it works) as well as those who want to start/optimize a Google Ads campaign. We are going to review the different elements to master if you want to optimize your advertising performance.
Keyword research on Google Ads
The purpose of using Google Ads is to make your website appear on specific keywords in order to generate traffic on your pages and prompt action from your visitors. As a first step, you should define a list of keywords that you want to appear on. You may already have a good idea of these terms, but you probably don’t know which ones have the most search volume and their level of competition. Luckily, Google provides a keyword planning tool to help you better choose the terms you will appear on.
As you can see in the image below, the tool allows you to either find new keyword ideas based on terms you have previously entered or view the search volume of the targeted keywords.
On Google Ads, there is no limit to the number of keywords you can bid on. However, you should make sure that all keywords are relevant and meet your goals because your budget will be spent based on the cost of the keywords you choose and the number of times your ads are clicked. Too many keywords can therefore overburden your budget or consume it quickly.
Bidding and cost per click in PPC
Contrary to what you might think, you don’t pay to display your ads in Google’s search results. You only pay when people click on the ads. This type of Marketing is called “Performance Marketing”, i.e. making sure that our budget is not spent to reach an audience that is not really interested in our offer. Therefore, you define a budget, or rather an “auction” that you want your ad to appear on for the chosen keywords. Bidding is defined for each keyword and will depend on its level of competition, its search volume and of course the quality of your campaign.
A low volume of competition means that the bid for the keyword will be lower than for terms that are more sought-after by your competitors. Here we have taken the example of a sports organization that is trying to attract traffic to its website for the keywords shown above, but it is important to specify your search terms carefully because the term “gym montreal” probably won’t bring you the same type of visitors as “karate schools”. If you only offer karate classes, although the related term has a lower search volume, traffic may be much more qualified than “gym montreal”, although “gym montreal” is an interesting term to target people who are looking for gyms with a range of sports to practice.
Advertisements on Google AdWords
Advertisements on Google Ads have to follow specific rules in order to comply with Google’s requirements. For example, you can display up to 3 lines of titles and each line must have no more than 30 characters. Descriptions (2 lines maximum) must not exceed 90 characters.
For this reason, it is important to be careful when writing the ad (beware of spelling mistakes) because not only do you have to insert your keywords so that Google understands the relationship between your search term and your ad, but you also have to stand out from your competitors to encourage potential customers to click on your ad instead of theirs. Terms like “free quote”, “get a quick answer”, “-10% on your first order” are all incentives that will help you attract your audience to your website.
Note that not everyone pays the same amount to appear on Google Ads for the same keyword. The maximum bid is of course directly chosen by you but there is also the quality of your PPC campaign to take into account. To determine the quality of your campaign and ad account management, Google has implemented a quality score that is recommended to optimize for the best possible performance. Google has everything to lose by offering its users ads that don’t match what they are looking for or promoting websites that don’t offer a good user experience. Let’s take a concrete example of two competitors who are trying to promote their ad for the keyword “chartered accountant montreal”.
The first result that emerged at the time we did this search was the Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton company, which is a leading Montreal-based company. We can see that Google has bolded the search terms that are found in the ads that appear. This indicates to the user the relevance of the results displayed based on his or her search. We can see that Raymond Chabot used all the space he could (title and description) and that he knew how to use catchy arguments such as “effective and rigorous management”, “leader in Quebec”, “certification”. This company has even used ad extensions to provide other links to its pages such as the contact page or its general services page.
If we now look at HEC Montreal’s ad, we see that only the term “accounting” appears on their ad and it does not necessarily match the Internet user’s search intention. Only one line of the description was filled in and no marketing arguments were used. This is not a bad ad, but it could explain why it is in second place while the first one did not necessarily pay more to take first place.
It is impossible to discuss how Google Ads works without mentioning the importance of the landing page. Indeed, you pay Google to bring you traffic to your site. What happens when you reach the target and get this traffic? Do you think Google just moves on and has no interest in what happens to the visitor it brought you? Quite the contrary! Google is very interested in the user experience you offer and this will not only determine your position in its search results but also the price you pay for the keywords you target.
Every detail matters, whether it is responsive design (adapting the display of your site according to screen resolution), the speed of the page display, the language of the landing page matching the language of the ad (not sending your French-speaking visitors to a result in English), or even the type of content displayed, all this will have an impact on your results.
One of the most common mistakes made is sending your visitors to your home page. If you set up a “general” Google Ads campaign and talk about your company in a broad way, it could be a good choice. On the other hand, if you talk about a particular service or product, we recommend that you direct your visitors to the corresponding page so that they do not have to look for the information once they arrive on your site.
You should also include “calls to action” on your landing page and make sure that people find the information they are looking for. A good practice to improve your quality score is to ensure that the keywords you are targeting are included in the text and titles of your page. This will reassure your visitors and encourage them to continue browsing your site.
This article has outlined the main elements that make up a Google Ads campaign, but remember that there are other factors to consider, including the geographical area where you want to advertise, the hours and days your ads are broadcast, the allocation of your budget based on keywords and objectives or the organization of your account based on the different campaigns you will create (brand campaign, retargeting/ remarketing campaign, competition campaign, language campaigns, etc.). We won’t conclude this article by claiming that Google Ads is a simple and affordable advertising platform because even if Google is making increasing efforts to simplify its tool, a certain level of learning is still required.
If you want our support in setting up or optimizing your Google Ads campaigns, you can contact us and we will be happy to answer your questions.