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Google Ads Optimization: Checklist & 7 Actionable Tips

Every company wants to receive organic traffic because it’s one of the most cost-efficient traffic channels. But every company also has to run pay-per-click ads on Google because it’s the fastest way to get the phone ringing.

For many businesses, Google Ads is the first lead generation tool and one that remains in their arsenal of tools forever. Not all companies can use this tool effectively, though.

With Google Ads, it’s really easy to overspend on a campaign only to see mediocre results. Don’t want to join the businesses that do? This guide will walk you through everything you need to know to optimize your Google Ads campaigns and provide a checklist you can use before launching any campaign.

What is Google Ads optimization

You have probably seen the optimization score metric in your Google Ads account? It’s a neat score calculated by Google that should reflect how effective your campaigns are and show suggestions for improvements.

1 google ads

It does provide interesting ideas you could try, but reaching 100% doesn’t guarantee the effectiveness of your campaigns. This score is only an estimate of how well your campaign can perform based on the settings, not a measure of how well it actually performs.

That’s why Google Ads optimization involves much more than maximizing the optimization score. It’s a long process full of experimentation and analysis that is aimed at keeping the balance between the cost of your campaigns and the number of leads you receive at an optimal level.

Why do you need to optimize your Google Ads

You can probably do without optimizing Google Ads, but only if you have plenty of budget funds to spare and you don’t care about return on investment and cost per acquisition.

Very few businesses fall into that category, though, so the odds are Google Ads optimization is on your bucket list. But even if you do have a budget to spare, wouldn’t it be great to produce the same results with PPC but for much less money?

This is where Google Ads optimization comes in. Analyzing your ad campaigns and optimizing them helps improve two major factors every campaign is based on: overall cost and number of conversions.

There are multiple ways to optimize a Google Ads campaign, from picking the right keywords to reach your desired audience to adjusting bidding to spend less money on the same number of leads.

You could do this analysis from your Google Analytics panel, or build a custom ads analytics dashboard by exporting Google Ads to Excel. The latter provides more options for customization.

Working on multiple paid ads campaigns can be tiring. You don’t want a human error to creep up on a marketing channel that’s in need of optimization.

Run through these three handy checklists every time you relaunch a campaign.

Ad Copy optimization checklist

  • Headline includes target keyword or a variation of it
  • Headline appeals to emotion or intrigues interest
  • Headline is clear and understandable
  • Headline reflects the landing page content
  • Site links reflect the pages they lead to
  • Copy includes a call to action
  • Copy doesn’t have grammar mistakes
  • Copy reflects search intent
  • Copy with high CTR but low conversion is adjusted to reflect search intent
  • Copy describes your services clearly
  • Copy covers a customer pain point

Bid optimization in Google Ads

  • The monthly and daily spending limits are set correctly
  • The correct goal is set for each bid
  • Highly converting ads are given priority for sales goals
  • CPM bidding is given priority for brand awareness goals
  • Bid adjustments are set up for high-CTR, high converting copy
  • Automatic bid decrease set up for low-CTR or low-traffic copy

  • Multiple types of conversion trackings are set up
  • Ad performance data is funneled to an analytics solution 
  • Historical data analytics is used to find best-performing targeting factors
  • Bid adjustments support best-performing ads
  • Keyword opportunities are researched with multiple tools
  • Historical data analytics is used to find search terms
  • Ads that can be highly targeted are served on a phrase or exact match basis
  • Negative keywords are added based on poor performing search terms
  • Individual ads are tailored to the search intent and target audience
  • A/B testing is set up to create better-converting copy

These checklists are just a quick way to make sure you don’t forget to implement all optimization best practices in your campaign. But if you want to implement them effectively, you’ll need to learn specific optimization tactics.

You’ll pick up more and more tactics that work for your company specifically as you progress through the Google Ads learning curve. It’s always good to have a starting point, though. Here are the best practices that can work well with any business.

Do deep research

The most important thing you could do to optimize your Google Ads campaign is analyze its performance data. Without this important step, you can’t know what areas of a campaign you should focus on.

The first step towards analyzing ad campaign performance reliably is setting up conversion tracking. Some campaigns lack multiple conversion tracking capabilities, and you end up not seeing the full picture.

You can add tracking of multiple user actions, not only making a purchase directly after clicking on the ad. Google Ads account allows you to create up to 15 trackable user actions like signing up for the newsletter, downloading an eBook, or leaving their contact information.

Once you have conversion tracking set up and run your ad campaigns for a sufficient time, you have to make sense of all that data. You can do it yourself by connecting Google Ads to Google Analytics. 

However, browsing through all the data sets manually takes too much time. If you want to optimize your Google Ads spending fast, it’s better to hire a data analytics agency.

Coupler.io provides expert services in data management for Google Ads and other PPC campaigns. Data management experts can take the incoming steam of data from your paid ad campaigns, analyze it, and present you with concise data visualizations.

Access to reporting is given to you by exporting Google Ads to Google Sheets. The end result is a neat and intuitive dashboard that you can filter to see any campaign metric.

2 performance by ad group dashboard

Of course, to do all that, Coupler.io’s data management team does all the heavy lifting by exporting Google Ads to BigQuery and doing the necessary preparation. This includes making sure the data is in a uniform format, and doesn’t have duplicates or errors in the dataset, as well as merging multiple datasets.

Instead of having to configure a data management solution yourself, you’re left with the most important data in an approachable format. All you have to do is make decisions based on them.

Pick the right keywords

One of the most important things you can optimize in your ad campaign is the keywords you’re targeting. Start with discovering what keywords bring you the most leads and the best ROI. Limiting spending on the worst-performing keywords and focusing on the ones that perform best is a quick optimization fix.

Going deeper on search term reports helps improve the list of keywords you’re using. Check what search terms convert the least and consider adding them to the negative keyword list.

Among those that convert best may be search terms you don’t intend to show ads on — users could be seeing your ads thanks to Google displaying them on a different search term. If you see keywords you don’t target yet, you could try including them in the list and tailoring the message closer to that search intent.

While most campaigns start with exact or phrase-match keywords, it’s always a good idea to expand into a broad match to find new keyword opportunities. Finding keywords that convert well allows you to focus more resources on them and tailor the ad copy to increase conversions.

Research your competitors

There are multiple ways of getting inspiration for optimizing your paid ad campaigns. One of them is spying on your competitors.

With a keyword research tool, you can gather keywords that your competition is running ads on. Granted, it can’t give you access to their Google Ads panel, but these tools provide quite an accurate estimate of where their ads show.

This can be a great way to discover new keywords to add to your campaign.

Know your target demographics

One way to curate what kind of audience sees your ads is by niching down on the keywords you use. Another is choosing the right demographic.

Most businesses have a general idea of who their target audience is and set up their campaigns to compel their specific demographics into buying. It’s always a good idea to tailor a campaign’s demographic targeting based on real performance data instead of your assumptions, though.

Run a report on what types of demographics convert best on different campaigns and consider targeting them specifically.

Match the search intent

Every keyword has an intent behind it — something the user wants to find on Google.

Some keywords are pretty straightforward, like “buy dishwasher Tampa, FL.” This user clearly wants to make a purchase and do it in a specific location.

Others may have more than one search intent. For instance, people entering the keyword “Google Ads” in the search bar may want to learn what Google Ads are, find basic information about running Google Ads, or get to the Google Ads website.

To optimize the CTR rate on your ads, you have to tailor the ad copy to the search intent behind the keyword. The best way to do this effectively is to come up with several educated guesses as to what people with this intent want to see, and A/B test your ads.

In case you’re going for broad match keywords, it’s impossible to cover all possible search intents. Focus on the type of intent your target audience would have. This way, you’re saving money on clicks and increasing the conversion rate.

Make use of ad extensions

Google Ads campaign optimization improves two things: who sees your ads and what exactly they see. Writing a good, A/B tested copy is one part of what users see. Google also lets you add ad extensions to give users more options of converting. You can add:

  • Call button
  • Download app button
  • Pricing
  • Promotions
  • Images
  • Business hours & location
  • Lead forms
  • Structured snippets
  • Navigational site links
3 google ad extensions

All of these may improve CTR or conversion rate. Experiment with adding different assets to see which tends to perform better across campaigns.

Focus on what performs best

The main idea behind google ads campaign optimization is attracting more leads for less ad spend. One of the major ways to do this is to cut down spending on campaigns that don’t perform well and focus your efforts and spending on those that excel.

You can optimize your worst-performing ads as well, but it’s better to focus on your best performers. Since these ad campaigns provide the least benefit at the moment, you can potentially increase it with a bit of optimization.

While you do that, you can limit your spending on other campaigns by either limiting the daily spend or introducing bid adjustments.

Bid adjustments are the percentage change in your bids that you can configure to increase or decrease depending on the type of keyword, time of day, location of the user, and plenty of other factors.

Develop a Constant Optimization Mindset

Google Ads optimization isn’t a one-and-done process. Even with professional help from Coupler.io’s data management team, it could take some time before you start seeing decent results on your campaigns.

The best thing you could do for the long-term success of your PPC efforts is to be comfortable with this fact. Develop an attitude of experimentation and continuous improvement.

This way, failures become challenges instead of frustrations.

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