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Got 10 Minutes? Do These 7 Quick Things to Instantly Optimise Your Google Ads Campaign

Because it doesn’t have to be an impossible taskd


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Sophie Lorford

a year ago | 5 min read

If you’re a small business owner running your own Google Ads, the chances are that you’re probably not entirely qualified to be creating campaigns that give you the best possible outcomes: whether that means a low cost-per-click (CPC), a high click-through rate (CTR), or simply driving conversions.

But, I get it! Experts (the ones that consistently drive results) can be expensive and perhaps it feels like another cost that you’re not quite ready for…yet.

So, as a certified Google Ads specialist with nearly five years of experience in managing PPC campaigns, I’ve put together some tips to help you manage your own campaigns properly and on an ongoing basis.

1. The Crucial First Step

When creating a brand new ads account, Google usually encourages you to create a ‘Smart’ campaign, where you create a campaign by adding your URL, create an ad, apply a budget, and away you go! This sounds (and is) simple, but it gives you virtually no control over your keywords and only gives you the option to create one version of ad copy.

If you’re running a smart campaign, you won’t be able to make many changes. This is because Google keeps much of the data about your keyword and ad performance hidden from you. But, if you are running a SMART campaign, be sure to check the keywords that they’re using regularly anyway because you are able to remove irrelevant words and phrases — keeping your campaigns as clear and effective as possible.

If you’re not running SMART campaigns, move to step two, below.

2. Is There a Notification Bell? Click It.

If you’ve got any notifications, it’s really important that you check these. This will cover things like disapproved ads, issues with payments (which will switch your ads off), or urgent campaign amends. Make a habit of quickly checking your notifications whenever you log in to your account — they’re available on the top-right of your screen.

3. Prioritise Optimisations Based on the Overall Data

If you’ve only got a few minutes to optimise your account, prioritise making the following amends to the one or two campaigns that are spending the most each day and month. (And then leave yourself a note to apply the rest of this to your remaining campaigns as soon as you can!)

If all of your campaigns are spending a similar amount, start with the campaign with the lowest CTR. With 3% as a good benchmark, the lower the number, the bigger the priority; so anything lower than 3% should be double-checked. CTR is a good gauge of the relevance of your keywords, ad copy, and website, and you may be missing out on a huge volume of website visits if you’re not turning your impressions into clicks.

4. Check Google’s Suggestions

Although imperfect, Google will assign an ‘optimisation score’ to each of your campaigns. They’ll give you a list of suggested updates to add to each of your campaigns, but don’t blindly accept them all!

Source: Author. Optimisation scores on Google Ads, broken down by campaign.
Source: Author. Optimisation scores on Google Ads, broken down by campaign.

However, some of their suggestions are useful and very easy to accept. They’ll usually encourage you to add new keywords, ad variations, remove redundant keywords, tweak budgets, and create ad extensions. Review all of these suggestions and apply the ones that make sense. If there’s anything you don’t understand, leave well alone!

5. Check Your Location Settings

One of the main issues I face when auditing small business Google Ads accounts is with location settings. If you can only do one thing on this list of seven, please double-check this setting.

The first step is to check that you’ve set your location settings where you want them: your local area, the radius around your shop, your county, or country. The next critical step is to go to your Campaigns and make sure that the following setting is selected:

Source: Author. Click ‘People in or regularly in your targeted locations’.
Source: Author. Click ‘People in or regularly in your targeted locations’.

(You can find this by clicking on your campaign in the tab on the left, click ‘Settings’ in the bar to the right, click ‘Locations,’ ‘Location Options,’ tweak as needed, and then click ‘Save.’)

Again, Google can be cheeky. Just because you’ve told Google, ‘hey, please only show my ads to this area,’ they also show your ads to people interested in your area. This is indicated by search history — so a user that recently searched for The Eiffel Tower would, unfortunately, see ads meant only for people in Paris with the wrong location settings applied.

6. Take a Peek at Your Keywords

Another fundamental factor that decides the success of your campaign is the choice of keywords. When optimising, look for the following keyword statuses:

  • ‘Below first page bid’
  • ‘Below top of page bid’

I could do an entire article on keyword statuses, but the main thing is to make sure that you’re bidding enough for your keywords so that they’re all being shown as often as possible and that you’re able to outbid the competition.

If you have more time on your side, there are two more places you can check to gain keyword intel. Check the ‘Search Terms’ report to understand which terms people are using to find you online. Your ‘Campaign Overview’ will show you the same, and you can add new keywords, negative keywords, or tweak your match types to keep your campaign as relevant as possible.

7. Review Your Ads

Another crucial factor in the success of your campaign is your ads. Each of your ad groups should have two text ads and one responsive ad.

If your ad groups don’t have this yet, create and add the ad variations now. You need to give Google several variations of ad copy to test, and having different ads allows you to more closely match your visitor’s search queries more often.

Remember: The ‘Headline One’ position is the best place for your keywords in your ad copy. Create a few versions addressing several of your most popular keywords in the headline positions.

Responsive search ads use several variations of headlines and descriptions to show the best combination of ad copy more often. If you’re already set up with several ad versions, check the CTR of each ad. At a minimum, you’ll want two text ads and one responsive search ad live. If you need to trim the fat, start to pause or make changes to the ads with the lowest CTR.

Managing your Google Ads campaigns doesn’t have to be a headache, and there are plenty of things that you can do quickly to transform your account. Try making the above updates to the majority of your campaigns on a weekly basis — particularly in the early stages of a brand-new campaign. Then, you can cut down afterward to fortnightly or monthly optimisations only.

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Sophie Lorford

PPC + Paid Media Consultant

Exuberant + passionate PPC consultant working with some incredible brands: specialist in search engine + social media marketing.


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