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Google Ads is one of the most powerful advertising platforms on earth, a position it’s held for over two decades since it first launched in October 2000. Today, Google Ads boasts over $200 million in ad revenue and — perhaps without even knowing — a whopping 63% of all internet users have clicked on a Google Ad in their lifetime.
With its reach and targeting capabilities, Google Ads can drive significant traffic and conversions. Personally, I’ve run Google Ads for each of my income-generating web properties, and I’ve helped hundreds of clients over the years make the most of their Google Ads experience.
As with any tool, the difference between amateur and expert usage can be vast. To help make Google Ads work for you, I’ve decided to put together a list of some of my top “hacks” to elevate the results of your Google Ads pay-per-click (PPC) ad campaigns.
1. Master the art of SKAGs (Single Keyword Ad Groups)
SKAGs are a powerful way to increase the relevance of your ad copy and landing page to the user’s search query. By focusing on one keyword per ad group, you can tailor your message more specifically, which often leads to higher click-through rates (CTR) and conversion rates.
Here’s an excellent resource for learning more about SKAGs and how they tend to drive higher CTRs than bidding on multiple keywords within ad groups.
2. Employ ad extensions wherever possible
Ad extensions provide additional information about your business, like location, phone number and site links. These not only make your ads more prominent but also provide additional avenues for users to interact with your business and can boost local SEO ranking factors as well for cross-channel marketing success.
3. Optimize and adjust bids by device
Users behave differently on mobile devices versus desktops. Maybe mobile users convert better for your business, or perhaps desktop users do. Adjusting your bids based on device performance can help allocate your budget more efficiently.
Fortunately, Google makes it easy to add device targeting to your Google Ads campaigns. Adding these parameters to your campaigns can help you avoid sending ads to users on devices that have a lower probability of opening your ads.
4. Schedule your ads for peak performance
Depending on your target audience, there may be specific days or hours when they’re more active. Using ad scheduling, you can increase your bids during these high-performance times and reduce them during low-performance periods.
In the Google Ads dashboard, navigate to the “Dimensions” tab and then “Time” to view the days of the week and time of day when your ads perform the best. Once you’ve identified your best-performing times, consider adding an “Ad schedule” to concentrate or limit your ads to these specified times.
4. Refine your ad’s location targeting
If you’re a local business or find that certain regions drive better results, utilize advanced location targeting. This way, you can bid more aggressively for high-performing locations and exclude areas that don’t align with your business goals.
If you operate a physical business, make sure you set your ad radius to at least 100 kilometers to cater to customers in neighboring communities.
6. Use dynamic keyword insertion at every opportunity
This feature allows Google to dynamically replace text in your ad with one of your keywords, making the ad more relevant to the searcher’s query. However, use this with caution to avoid creating nonsensical ad copies.
7. Implement remarketing lists for search ads (RLSA)
RLSA lets you tailor your search campaigns based on whether users have previously visited your site and how they interacted with it. This means you can bid more aggressively for high-value users who have shown interest in your offerings.
(Here’s an awesome tutorial on how to set up RLSAs in just a few minutes!)
8. Experiment with different match types
While a broad match can offer extensive reach, it may also bring irrelevant traffic. Experiment with phrase match, modified broad match and exact match settings to hone in on the most effective keywords for your campaign.
Personally, I usually opt for phrase match as this tends to generate my ads for viewers who specifically search for the keywords that I’m targeting. However, your mileage may vary, so play around with different match types to see what works.
9. Use negative keywords, not only positive
By continually adding negative keywords to your campaign, you prevent your ads from showing up for irrelevant searches, saving your budget and maintaining a higher CTR. This is your best tool for weeding out disinterested ad viewers.
10. Test, test, and then test some more
Whether it’s A/B testing your ad copy, landing pages or trying out different bidding strategies, testing is crucial. Google Ads provides a lot of data. Use it to your advantage to continuously refine your campaigns.
In-depth A/B testing can be a highly technical and resource-intensive endeavor, and PPC marketing agencies often offer this as an add-on Google Ads optimization service.
11. Stay in-the-know about Google’s new features
Google’s core algorithm frequently releases new features and updates — in fact, there have been 18 total overhauls in recent memory. By staying updated and incorporating these changes into your strategy, you can maintain a competitive edge.
Mastering Google Ads requires a combination of technical know-how, continuous optimization and a deep understanding of your target audience. By employing these “hacks” and best practices, you can set your campaigns up for greater success.
Take it from me, I’ve been using Google Ads since it was first released (back in the “Adwords” days), and I’ve seen firsthand what this platform can do. When used correctly, Google Ads can generate a higher return than months’ worth of SEO campaigns — it all depends on whether you can utilize its features to the fullest.
If you find you can’t do it yourself (although I think you probably can!), consider hiring a PPC marketing agency to do the footwork for you.