5 tips to optimize your Google paid search campaigns

Vincent Ninh
April 25, 2023
min read

For many businesses, search ads (those that appear at the top of a search results page) can bring in loads of leads. In fact, according to Google, advertisers get $2 back in revenue for every dollar they spend on search ads, so it’s no surprise that it is a top advertising option for many in-person businesses. 

But mastering the game of paid search is a tall task. Some people make an entire career out of deciphering the latest Google algorithms and making hourly tweaks to their ads.

Obviously, you don’t have time to spend all day working on your ads, but you still want to make sure they’re being optimized — especially if you’re spending a pretty penny on them.

Let us show you five ways you can boost the effectiveness of your Google search ads. Some of these require going beyond Google’s automated smart campaigns but are easy enough they won’t detract you from doing your actual job.

Outsourcing the work?

Before we get into anything, we know that some of you may be outsourcing your paid search efforts to a freelancer or an agency. Even if that's the case, you should still keep reading. Knowledge is power, and by understanding the fundamentals of Google paid ads, you'll be able to ensure that your campaigns are being run efficiently — and ultimately, that you are spending your money wisely.

Post-click experience

Surprise, surprise: our first tip doesn’t even have to do with the ads themselves. Instead, it deals with what a prospect goes through after they click on your ad — or their post-click experience. 

The specific pages your ads link to are called landing pages, and optimizing those has proven to boost conversion rates. To do that, put yourself in your prospect’s shoes. Is your landing page meeting the expectation they had when they clicked on the ad? 

For instance, if your ad mentions estimates, they’ll most likely expect a contact form. And although you probably already have one, you should make sure it adheres to best practices — it needs to be prominent and easy to fill out for customers. 

Also, make sure the rest of the content on your landing page is presented clearly and in a hierarchy that makes sense: the things that make your services special should be promoted front and forward. 

Lastly, ensure the technical elements of your landing page are on point too. This means it should load fast, and be easy to navigate on mobile as well as desktop.

Choose the right keywords

Keyword-targeting is a bit of an art, but like with our previous tip, it all starts with understanding your prospects’ intent behind their actions. For example, let’s compare the searches “water heater,” “water heater installation,” and “water heater installation near me.” 

The first query is broad and could be related to a purchase, an install or simply someone looking to learn more about water heaters. In other words, they might not be the best prospect.  The second query is clearly install-related, but it’s not 100% clear whether the searcher is looking to DIY or hire a contractor. The intent behind the last one, however, is unmistakable: someone conducting that search definitely wants a plumber’s help.

So just search high-intent keywords like that last one, right? Not exactly — this is where things get tricky. You also need to consider search volume. Although longer keyword phrases (also known as “long-tailed) have higher intent behind them, they are also usually searched less often, limiting the number of clicks and leads you can get from them.

Ultimately, your best keywords will have both relevant search intent and high search volume, and your overall strategy should strike a good balance between those two factors. Use Google Adwords’ Keyword Planner to find your initial batch of keywords, and periodically update them based on performance and cost.

Increase your odds to be seen with ad extensions

As you’ve probably already figured out, the world of search ads is highly competitive: everyone is directly jostling for the prospect’s attention. That is why you want to make your ads as big as possible (without fluff, of course).

A commonly overlooked way to add volume to your ads is to ensure you are maximizing your extensions, which, as their name suggests, serve to give you a little more real estate. In fact, Google themselves suggest to use as many as are relevant to your business and ad.

Potentially useful extensions include:

  • Location extensions, which can be used to list an address on its own line
  • Seller ratings extensions, which show your business’s Google rating
  • Callout extensions, which are 25-character snippets that allow you to add additional differentiators or selling points 
  • Call extensions, which feature your phone number and allow prospects to call you directly from the ad
  • Sitelink extensions, which allow you to link to other relevant pages on your site

Stick with it

And we don’t just mean it in the motivational, you-got-this kind of way (although we do mean it that way too). 

Search ads — and any type of paid media as a matter of fact — take some time to optimize. When you first start your campaign, you are only armed with the research you conducted — like the keyword research we mentioned earlier. And while that is valuable, the most valuable insights you can get will come from the data of your actual campaign.

In the first month of your campaign, you should allow Google to learn more about your ads — avoid making too many changes. After that, you can start refining your keywords, bids, and ad copy. But always remember to make small changes, and to give them some time to take effect.

Ultimately, Google search ads usually produce immediate results, but can take about three months to mature and become more cost-effective. Is it worth it? Most likely. There’s a reason over 80% of businesses run search ads. As mentioned earlier, Google estimates businesses average 100% return on ad spend (ROAS) — and keep in mind your return could be even higher if you apply some of the tips we mentioned in this article.

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