What is Google Ads, formerly known as Google AdWords?
Google Ads is a pay-per-click (PPC) advertising platform that enables businesses to run ad campaigns on Google properties.
The most popular Google Ads campaign type is paid search ads, where users pay to have their ad appear at the top of the search engine results page (SERP) for queries relevant to their offer.
How does Google Ads work?
- Google Ads works like an auction, where advertisers bid on keywords, the terms their potential customers are typing into Google. However, winners aren’t determined by bid alone, which levels the playing field for businesses big and small.
- This is due to Quality Score, which Google assigns to ads based on their relevance to the targeted keyword, landing page experience, and expected click-through rate.
- Relevance and Quality Score also play a role in Display campaigns, where AdSense technologies are used to figure out what ads to show on what pages throughout the Google Display network.
How does the Google Ads Performance Grader work?
The Google Ads Performance Grader is a free tool to help Google advertisers better understand how well their campaigns are performing compared to PPC best practices. Using a proprietary grading algorithm, the Google Ads Performance Grader generates a free, easy-to-read report that includes an overall grade as well as individual grades in four key areas of pay-per-click marketing:
- Wasted spend – Are you making proper use of negative keywords? Or are you wasting hundreds, even thousands of dollars per month on irrelevant keywords that never convert?
- Quality Score – Are your campaigns Google-approved? High Quality Scores have a major impact on your ROI, improving your rankings and lowering your costs.
- Impression share – How often do your ads appear for relevant search queries? Increased impression share can improve exposure and multiply your lead generation results.
- Account activity – To maintain performance, you need to spend active time in your account. How often are you checking under the hood?
- You’ll learn how well you’re really doing in each of these important areas, as well as how you can improve your performance, driving more leads and sales at lower costs.
What improvements have been made to the Google Ads Performance Grader?
In 2011, we created the Google Ads Performance Grader to help advertisers audit and analyze their Google Ads accounts. We recently passed a pretty big milestone: The Performance Grader has been used to audit Google Ads accounts representing over $3 billion in collective advertising spend. That’s an incredible amount of insight and analysis that we’ve offered to advertisers around the world, all for free. Now, we’ve taken all that rich data and used it to improve the Grader. The newly relaunched Google Ads Grader includes new features and functionality that make it even more valuable to busy marketers and small businesses. The improvements include:
- Performance Tracker: Automatically track and analyze your account every 30 days, so you can see how your overall performance and key metrics are trending over time. For example, advertisers can use Performance Tracker to easily monitor and act on changes in Quality Score, something Google just doesn’t offer.
- Mobile Readiness Score: Assess your mobile PPC preparedness and optimization, including an evaluation of your account’s adherence to mobile best practices.
- New and Improved Benchmarks: We’ve revisited our competitive benchmarks for PPC, so all of the KPIs in your performance report (including Quality Score, click-through rate, account activity, and wasted spend) are more current based on the thousands of accounts we’ve analyzed.
What are some Google Ads best practices?
In addition to a full breakdown of your current Google Ads account performance, your report will include actionable tips on how you can improve your score specifically. But here are some overall best practices for Google Ads account management:
- Filter out wasteful, irrelevant clicks and non-converting traffic with negative keywords.
- Maximize relevance across your campaigns for higher Quality Scores.
- Raise click-through rates with strong keyword, text ad, and ad group targeting and organization.
- Practice regular, active account management and optimization.
You can also stay up to date on the latest tips and best practices with The WordStream Blog.
What are some other reasons to use the Google Ads Performance Grader & get free Google Ads help?
Ask yourself these questions:
- Do you have a sneaking suspicion that your Google Ads (AdWords) campaigns could be doing better?
- Need to justify greater investment in PPC to your management?
- Just curious if all your hard work in PPC has paid off?
- Want to show off to your coworkers what a PPC rock star you are?
Any and all of these are great reasons to use the Google Ads Performance Grader to get a free, instant report on your account and see how your PPC metrics stack up against best practices.
Need one more great reason to use the Google Ads Performance Grader? It’s an award-winning tool that was recognized in the 2012 Massachusetts Innovation & Technology (MITX) Innovation Awards for Best Customer Engagement Driver.
MITX 2012 Innovation Awards Winner
How do I use the Google Ads Performance Grader?
To use the Google Ads Performance Grader, enter your email, pick your account type, and sign in with Google. Once you allow us to access your account, you can provide more optional business information or just get right to the report.
The Performance Grader is used in different ways:
- New advertisers – Learn where to focus your efforts for a profitable and efficient campaign.
- Experienced advertisers – Get a thorough and comprehensive report on where you can improve results and save money.
- Agencies – Use the reports to explain your work to clients in a format they can easily understand.
Try out our free Google Ads Performance Grader and let us unlock the secrets of Google Ads for you.
How can I improve my Google Ads Performance Grader Score?
Your performance report will give you specific action items to improve your score, but here are some general suggestions to boost your Google Ads performance.
- Prioritize relevance. Make sure that whatever you’re offering in your ad matches the intent of the keyword you’re targeting.
- Test your ad copy. Have 2-4 active ad variants in each ad group so you can test and achieve optimal click-through rates.
- Follow landing page best practices. Have clear copy, make sure it’s an extension of the ad, keep form fields to a minimum, optimize for mobile, and more.
- Keep a clean account structure. No more than 7-10 ad groups per campaign, no more than 2-3 ads per ad group, and no more than 20 keywords per ad group.
- Bid high enough. So you can get on the SERP and gather sufficient data to make optimizations.
- Have a local PPC strategy. Google offers plenty of features in the way of location targeting.
- Proactively manage your account. Check in and make adjustments to keyword lists, bids, campaign settings, ad groups, and more.
You’ll also find tips and strategic advice in WordStream’s PPC University.
I work at a digital marketing agency. How Can I improve my client’s Google Ads Performance Grader score?
Consider the advice of Stefan van Vliet, co-owner of Dutch agency Compass Online Marketing, who completed the second interview in our second series of ongoing interviews with those who received high scores with the Google Ads Performance Grader.
In our full interview with Stefan, he explains some of the mistakes he made early on when first beginning his campaigns:
“I chose to set the budget to virtually limitless and tried to optimize our campaign while running, but just couldn’t keep up (and honestly didn’t know what I was doing). So only 1 week and almost €10k in losses later I pulled the plug. So for an extensive lesson in AdWords management: always test before you allocate serious budgets.”
Stefan explains his company’s successful Google Ads strategy:
- Get sufficient data by bidding high and getting in spot #2-3 (above organic results).
- Keep track of conversionsKeep track of conversions, cost per conversion and value per conversion (using conversion tracking with dynamic value tracking).
- Adjust bidding to meet a cost per conversion which is roughly 50% of the value per conversion.
- Optimize ads and try to improve conversion rates.
When asked for his advice for low-scoring marketers, Stefan suggests to:
- Leverage negative keyword lists
- Split campaigns on a low level
- Leverage advanced CPC bidding in Google Ads Editor
- Use the comments function within Google Ads Editor to make notes of what you do
For more detailed information about Stefan’s winning techniques and suggestions, read the full interview on our blog.
Can I manage Google Ads by myself?
Anyone with a website and credit card can do pay per click advertising on Google Ads. However, we’ve found that most advertisers are not well-informed on how to create an effective advertising campaign to drive paid clicks to real business leads. That’s why we created the Google Ads Performance Grader — a free tool that breaks down the technical aspects of PPC so you know which parts of your Google Ads account to improve.
What is Google Ads Quality Score?
Quality Score is a score between 1 and 10 that Google assigns to your ads, that measures how helpful it is to the users it’s targeting. Because Google strives to serve the most relevant and helpful ads possible, the higher your Quality Score, the higher your chances are of winning a top ad position. Even better, a high Quality Score leads to:
- Lower costs – Google rewards advertisers with high Quality Scores by lowering their cost per click (CPC), which can subsequently lower your cost per conversion.
- More exposure – When you have high Quality Scores, your ads will display more often and in better positions. You can get more exposure, more clicks, and more conversions without having to raise your bids.
What is a good Quality Score in Google Ads?
Quality Score is a keyword-level metric, meaning there is no such thing as a Quality Score for your campaign or entire account. But you can calculate the average Quality Score across all the keywords in your Google Ads account (which the Google Ads Grader takes care of).
A good Quality Score depends on the type of keyword you’re targeting. For example:
- Branded keywords: 8-10
- High-intent commercial keywords: 7-9
- Low-intent keywords: 7
- Competitor keywords: 3+
How do I improve my Google Ads quality score?
Your Quality Score is determined by several factors, including relevance of the ad to the keyword and its corresponding landing page, the ad’s click-through rate, your historical account performance, and more. But the main idea is to create ads that make for the best search experience possible by improving your:
- Keyword relevance: Write ads that closely match the intent behind the keywords they’re targeting and build tight ad groups to make this easy for you. If you’re targeting a keyword with intent to learn rather than purchase, your ad should be for a guide or resource and describe it as such.
- Landing page relevance: Make sure the copy matches that of the ad and makes it easy for your prospects to do what they need to do.
- Click-through rate: Think carefully about what your prospects are trying to accomplish and shape your offers and ad copy to match their goals.
It can be difficult to manage the varying factors that contribute to Quality Score single handedly. We offer a set of award-winning software and service solutions specifically designed to improve your Google Quality Score.
What Is a good click-through rate (CTR) in Google Ads?
Click-through rate (CTR) measures the percentage of clicks advertisers receive on their ads per the number of impressions (views). If your ad has a lot of impressions but no clicks, you will have a low CTR, which reduces the effectiveness of your campaigns.
The higher your click-through rate, the better your Quality Score and ad position and the lower your costs.
Learn more in our guide to PPC metrics.
What are negative keywords in Google Ads?
Adding a negative keyword to your Google Ads ad group or campaign ensures that your ad will not appear for search queries containing, closely related, and/or having the same meaning as that term. Negative keywords in your Google Ads campaign are essential because they ensure your ads appear for the most qualified audience and that you don’t waste money on unwanted impressions and non-converting clicks.
Digging through Google’s search query reports to find negative keywords can be a tedious process, and Google Ads limits how much query data is visible to advertisers. You can use our Free Keyword Tool to find negative keywords easily.
How do I discover negativekeywords?
Finding negative keywords and adding them to your account can be a difficult and tedious process. Digging through Google’s search query reports is a slow, redundant process, and Google Ads limits how much query data is visible to advertisers.
WordStream offers an innovative negative keyword tool that makes finding negative keywords easy. It’s also a proactive method of negative keyword discovery, enabling you to weed irrelevant keywords out of your campaigns before they can cost you a cent.
To learn more about how to use negative keywords, read our free white paper on negative keywords.
What makes a good landing page for Google Ads?
High-quality landing pages are a necessary part of a good Google Quality Score. Everything should be tailored to helping the user obtain what they clicked the ad for (i.e., complete a conversion!).
There are a number of landing page best practices, but here are a few key elements to improve your Quality Score and conversion rates.
- Keyword segmentation – Different types of keywords should take visitors to different landing pages that match intent.
- Clean, attractive design – Organize your information and make sure it’s trustworthy, professional, and consistent with your brand.
- Clear copy – A strong headline relevant to your keyword and compelling features and benefits.
- Easy experience – Short forms, intuitive navigation, and an eye-catching, prominent, and clear call to action.
Note that a “good” conversion rate depends on what the conversion is and your industry. While conversions can range from 0-50%, 2% is quite common. See how you stack up with our conversion rate benchmarks.
Why aren’t my Google ads showing up?
There are a number of reasons for Google Ads not showing, but here are a few:
- Your ads weren’t getting clicked. It’s possible they were initially showing up, but if those impressions weren’t turning into clicks, that would signify to Google that your ads weren’t resonating with the users who saw them.
- Your keywords and ads don’t closely match. When determining which ads to show for a particular search query, Google Ads looks closely at keyword relevance—a measure of how closely your ads match the keywords they’re tied to.
- Your ads and landing pages don’t closely match. When picking the winners of a particular ad auction, Google Ads doesn’t only look at the relationship between your target keywords and your ads; you’re also judged on the relationship between your ads and your landing pages. Simply put, you need to deliver a seamless, cohesive user experience across your ads and landing pages.
WordStream By LOCALiQ is requesting to manage my Google Ads account – what does that mean?