Google Ads can bring in big money for your company. But if your Google Ads aren’t performing, it can be hard to know where to start fixing things. Here are 5 ways you can get your Google Ads back on track.
- Use your data to break down performance by device type and time.
- Build your negative keyword list to cut wasted spend.
- Spilt test your adverts to get a new set of winners.
- Refine your ad groups and remove keywords that aren’t needed.
PPC ads can bring in paying customers for businesses of any size.
But when things aren’t working, paid advertising can quickly become an expensive waste of your resources.
If your Google Ads are underperforming, there seems to be a simple fix. Pause the ones that aren’t working. Then pump more money into keywords that are delivering the results you need.
Pausing things is simple. It’s quick and easy. But it’s not always the smart thing to do.
Here’s what you should do instead.
Get the information you need
Just like an astronaut exploring space, you must explore the vast expanse of data to improve your ads.
Google Analytics works alongside Google Ads to give you the information you need to make smart decisions. If they’re not hooked up, you need to fix that right now.
With Analytics connected, you get access to a dizzying level of insight. There’s tons of data to wade through. From a top-level view of your Google Ads account to the nitty-gritty of every single interaction.
And that’s half the problem.
Where do you start?
A good first step is to run a free analysis tool. The one we offer is the Google Ads Performance Score Report and there’s no reason you shouldn’t be using it to identify problems (or just to confirm you’ve set things up correctly.)
Whichever report you use, you’re looking for a full breakdown of your account performance that’s easy to understand. You want guidance on the best (and latest) industry practice. You want to be able to pinpoint where you can improve with actionable insights.
If you do one thing, do that.
Free reports are designed to give you a top-level overview rather than showing you why changes should be made. Here we’ll explain why.
Quick Fix #1 – break down by device type
It’s ridiculous how often this one turns a struggling campaign into a winner.
I had a client selling handmade jewellery. Someone had set up a Google Ads campaign competently, but it was performing well below expectations. I made one big change that helped more than any other.
And it was so simple.
See, digging into the data I found that conversions on desktop were almost five times better than on mobile and tablet. Traffic was less for desktop but the customers who were clicking through on those ads were converting like champions.
We could have been lazy and just paused this campaign altogether. Instead, we turned off mobile and tablet and improved the ROI of the campaign fivefold.
That said, it’s not a good idea to pause mobile and tablet traffic indefinitely. For example, let’s say a visitor to your site checks you out first on mobile at work and then later, at home, converts on desktop. Keeping mobile and tablet switched off permanently could hurt you in the long run.
Instead, you should take an underperforming mobile and tablet campaign on Google Ads as a symptom. Is your mobile experience poor? Do you need to optimise your PPC campaigns for mobile?
Pause them for an instant boost and then identify what’s causing the problem.
Quick Fix #2 – hours and days of the week
Normally, your account will throw up some interesting differences in performances across two different time segments.
First, hours of the day. Second, days of the week.
Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all strategy.
I’ve seen a Google Ads campaign pushing board games that was doing really well on Mondays and tailing off dramatically towards the end of the week. I’ve seen an account selling will writing services that did poorly in the mornings and great in the evenings. I’ve seen jewellery selling smashing it on Sundays (traditionally a bad day for e-commerce) and the midnight-8am “graveyard hour” slot for holiday villas performing through the roof.
Point is, you need to look at your own data and make informed decisions. Be careful turning anything off altogether, but with ad scheduling you can start to tweak when your ads are displaying for better results.
Focus on outliers. If Monday mornings are doing great, increase how much you’ll bid there. If Saturday and Sunday are doing badly, decrease your bid for those days.
Review your results after one week and see how your optimisations have paid off. Check the data. Review, rinse, repeat.
If you want a quick and easy way to review all your campaigns at once, the Adzooma platform offers account management all on one screen. This means you can get can an overview of how your ads are performing across Google, Facebook and Microsoft and easily keep track of your results.
Quick Fix #3 – being negative for the win
Always think about negative keywords when things aren’t working.
“Broken boiler” is a good example of a search term that can cause problems. What’s the intention of this searcher? Do they want someone to fix their boiler? Do they want to replace their boiler? Do they need someone to fit their new boiler?
If you’re selling new boilers but you aren’t fitting them yourself, you aren’t going to want all of these people clicking your ads and heading over to your landing page.
In fact, your Quality Score is likely to be hit pretty hard if you’re bidding on “broken boiler”.
This is why you use negative keywords. These are keywords that prevent your ad from being triggered by a certain word or phrase. Your ads will never be shown to someone searching for that phrase.
In the example above, we focused on keywords like “buy new boilers” and set up negative keywords for “install” and “fix”.
This is why thinking about the intention of your searchers is very important. Think of the searchers you want; think of the searchers you don’t want. Bid on the appropriate keywords only using the keyword planner. Think carefully about negative keywords and set them up correctly. Most PPC managers I know use a negative keyword tool like Kparser.
Quick Fix #4 – winning and losing ads from split tests
You should always be testing different ad copy. Why?
Because if you just pause all your ads on a keyword that are underperforming, you’re hand-waving away the potential for big money.
Once, I was looking into some paid ads for holiday villas. A campaign had been paused because it wasn’t delivering. But, digging into the data, there were some ads that were performing way better than rival ads in the same group.
In fact, the cost per acquisition for one ad was ten times smaller than the majority of its rivals.
You see, great copy sells. In that campaign, we removed the failing ads and made new variations of the winner to test. Sorted.
Quick Fix #5 – too many keywords per Ad Group
This is a big one. Relevancy is gigantic for your Google Ads Quality Score. More importantly, it’s what matters most to your potential customers. Ads that are irrelevant to people who see them will always hurt you.
A good rule of thumb is this: check out any ad group that has more than 13 keywords. I call this fix Lucky Thirteen. Without fail, with thirteen keywords or over, you’ll find some that shouldn’t be in the same Ad Group.
Let’s say we’re selling blinds. There’s no good reason you should have keywords for vertical blinds, roller blinds and Venetian blinds in the same ad group.
This is because people are more likely to buy from ads that target them as specifically as possible. If you’re looking for Venetian blinds, the following ad is likely to perform better:
Than this one:
I once looked after a used car salesman’s Google Ads account. Initially, he had one ad group for all the vans he sold. There were sixty keywords in there. Ouch! We sorted that out and his ROI skyrocketed.
Look at your ad groups and identify two or more groups of words that will be better suited to a new ad group. For the car salesman, we started by grouping his vans by manufacturer – Ford, Mercedes, Fiat.
It worked a treat.
Remember, the golden rule with Google Ads is that we’re trying to target in on potential customers with laser-focus. We want to be scalpel-sharp, not smashing around with a mallet.
Just getting started
Getting the best out of Google Ads is hard work – but simple, faster, more effective Google Ads management is what we do. We do it for Facebook and Microsoft ads too, so wherever you’re advertising, you can ensure you’re getting the best ROI.
Our software is bursting with intelligent features: with an industry-leading Opportunity Engine, an automation tool that saves time and white-label, custom reporting that will knock your socks off, there’s lots to like.
Specifically, the Opportunity Engine will identify problems with your Google Ads account that include the above quick fixes and the analysis of over 240 other metrics too.
Get started with a free trial of the platform and see how our software can transform your results.