Search Marketing

Why Google Hiding Keywords is Great for Marketers

It seems everyone is whining and in a tizzy about Google not providing organic keyword data in Analytics. While I believe it diminishes the value of analytics somewhat, I would argue that it’s a great move that will help content Marketers. I’ve written in the past that SEO is Dead and I’ve watched as the industry has slowly gone away. This may be the last nail in the coffin.

If I sound happy about it, it’s because I am. I wrote this in an interview with our marketing automation clients, Right On Interactive:

Google’s move to block the tracking of all keywords makes marketers’ lives more difficult, but not impossible. Marketers will still be able to monitor click-through rates using Webmaster data to understand how organic traffic is impacting their overall inbound marketing efforts. If anything, this continues to make us better marketers. We should be focused on writing content that’s valuable to our audience and listening to our audience – not chasing keywords, manipulating sites, and seeking out links to artificially grow our search rankings.

This is especially good news for the average business that doesn’t have the budget to invest in SEO strategies to generate keyword-rich content throughout the web to artificially inflate the ranking of their content. Most of us can’t compete with large companies and an industry that has grown to billions of dollars. Where there’s a financial benefit to cheat, companies will cheat. And the industry has been cheating (and cheating and cheating). Many of the players are delusional about their strategies but it’s clear that Google is not. Google wants organic traffic to be organic, not driven by wealthy SEO companies that have million-dollar sandboxes to uncover ways to cheat and get their clients ranked. Google’s change is hurting those folks – not you.

And, while you won’t be able to attribute a specific keyword to a specific prospect, you will be able to know that person arrived organically and from what page they did. Knowing the topic of the entry page your prospect arrived on your site on will help you to better understand the content that’s providing value. And doing keyword research and competitive research can still uncover opportunities for finding and writing additional content that will be found and be of value. Search optimization is a foundation for any content strategy, but writing and sharing better content (written, spoken and visual) will always outperform tweaking page titles or keyword density in a page.

The gap provided between Webmaster data, Content data, and Analytics data should help you sharpen your ability to develop great content. Instead of jumping to the keywords section of analytics, you should be diving into the traffic by page title to understand which articles are providing the most traffic to your company. Keywords were distracting and made many marketers lazy. They just kept writing crap to drive more traffic based on keywords instead of focusing on the overall content that was attracting the most attention.

There’s really no data that’s leaving a hole in your ability to develop a fantastic content strategy. You can still review Webmaster data to understand the keywords that are driving the most content – but you can apply it to the content that’s driving the most views and conversions. Understanding the context around the keywords you were writing about can provide a ton more insight into what’s popular or not popular.

As an example, focusing on ‘google keywords not provided’ could lead me to a few blog posts about the trend and alternate solutions. Instead, I’m focused here on how it’s going to help marketers. That context should ultimately prove more valuable to my content strategy than just tossing a keyword combination around! The context around your keywords should be a focus of your attention as well!

Featured Search Marketing

Microsoft Announces Private Search, New Ad Units, Paid & Organic Social Integrations & More

Microsoft has unveiled a number of new features and technologies including private search, new ad units & more. Here are the highlights!

Microsoft unveiled several new features and technologies at Microsoft Advertising Elevate. In addition to new ad units, the announcement included new tools and technologies that are noteworthy even for businesses that aren’t currently advertising with Microsoft, such as private search technology and an upcoming small business hub with paid and organic social integrations.

Private Search For Microsoft Bing API

Microsoft is now empowering publishers to give consumers more options for privacy-first experiences. This feature is specifically designed for their search partner network, and is currently being used by Duck Duck Go.

Private Search is hosted on Azure with a setup that incorporates a private search proxy between the private search site or app and Microsoft Bing’s private search API. This would allow Bing to deliver results without ever receiving the search term.

The search partner will send the search request to the private proxy. Fraud detection would happen through the private search proxy and then the private search proxy would pass through an anonymized user agent and anonymized IP through to Bing’s Private Search API. The API would return search results and ads.

This would prevent personal data from being shared with other Microsoft services, including Bing, by anonymizing the user agent and IP, and by withholding the search query.

The search partner will be responsible for anonymizing the user agent and IP and they must comply with Microsoft’s policy in order to be eligible to use Private Search.

New Price Comparison Beta

Microsoft’s Edge browser has a feature that delivers discount codes in a flyout panel format. They’ve now announced a beta that would allow folks using Microsoft’s shopping features will be eligible to show up in that panel as a price comparison.

The ads will be delivered in the flyout within the toolbar when browsing product pages on Edge or through Collection by saving a product and manually clicking to view price comparisons.

This unit would enable businesses to deliver product listings to relevant consumers while they’re browsing the sites of other retailers.

These listings will pull from existing Merchant Center feeds so no further work is required for businesses that already have shopping campaigns created.

Best of all, since it is in an experimental phase, these placements are currently free – businesses will not be charged for the clicks on these ads.

The price comparison feature in Edge is a great example of where Microsoft is trying to provide a great experience for users (find the best deal!) and gain additional exposure for the products in advertisers’ feeds. Consumer research shows that most folks comparison shop at some level and price comparison surfaces this information automatically. It’s a win/win. – John Lee, Microsoft Evangelist

The metrics will be reported under the “O&O other” traffic segment within Microsoft Ads.

This is currently in beta within the US and the listings will only show on desktop, within the Edge browser. To request access to any of the Microsoft Ads’ betas, reach out to your Microsoft Ads account team or support.

New Video Extension Beta

Microsoft has announced a new beta that would allow advertisers to include multimedia extensions to their ads. The extensions are eligible to show alongside other ad extensions and, as with other ad extensions, advertisers will be charged when prospects click the ad unit.

Video extensions is an inflection point in the evolution of the SERP. Searchers are hungry for more information and we know that video is one of the most consumed forms of media for research (and more, of course!). This extension surfaces video at the point of search to improve and enrich the user experience. – John Lee, Microsoft Evangelist

Clicking the ad unit will result in the video expanding on the page with a CTA in the lower left-hand side.

If a prospect clicks the video extension and then clicks the ad unit in the same session, the advertiser will only be charged once.

The extensions currently only deliver on desktop but mobile is coming soon.

Videos must be uploaded and can either be uploaded from a local directory on the computer or a publicly accessible filer server location, such as OneDrive, FTP, Dropbox, etc.)

This is currently an open pilot within the US, CA, DE and AU with FR and IN coming soon.

New Ad Units for Property Promotion and Tours & Activities

Similar to the new automotive ad units that Microsoft recently announced, these new units are feed-based units that will promote vacation rentals (Property Promotion Ads) as well as tours and attractions (Tours & Activity Ads).

Property Promotion Ads

Property Promotion ads show in the top two slots on the hotel grid on Bing Maps, when someone delivers for hotels, or properties with certain amenities, in a specific location. The ads will deliver on desktop.

The first click on a Property Promotion ad will expand the listing to allow the user to select dates and proceed to booking. Advertisers will only be charged for the second click when users visit the site.

In order to run Property Promotion ads, advertisers will need to have Hotel Price Ads set up. To be considered for Property Promotion Ads, advertisers must provide at least five images and the star rating (which is currently optional in the feed for Hotel Price Ads but required for Property Promotion Ads).

Advertisers will have the option to add bid multipliers for Property Promotion Ads within Site Type.

Property Promotion ads are currently being piloted within the US only.

Tour & Activities Ads

Tour and Activities Ads will be triggered for travel intent and travel experiences intent queries to help advertisers promote their local experiences.

The ads will deliver on the Bing SERP when a user is searching for things to do in a specific location. When delivered on the SERP, advertisers are eligible for up to three ad placements.

The ads can also be delivered on Bing Maps when the user searches for a destination or is looking for things to do in a particular area or when they hover over Maps landmark pins.

Tours and activities in Bing MapsA Potential Placement for Tours and Activities Ads

Bing maps tours and activities adAds Can Show When Searchers Search for a Destination

Last but not least, ads can deliver in the Bing Travel Guide as a carousel under the header image and destination description.

Microsoft travel guide tours and activities ads Tour & Activities Ads Can Deliver Within Microsoft Travel Guides

These ads could be a good fit for single-day or multi-day tours, theme parks and attractions, museums, cultural experiences, adventure and outdoor activities, food and dining, and educational experiences and classes.

These ads will show on desktop. To run Tour & Activities Ads, advertisers should visit Tools > Business Data > Dynamic Fields within the Microsoft Ads UI to set up their feed.

Tour & Activities Ads are in an open beta within the US and the UK. To request access to any of the Microsoft Ads betas, reach out to your Microsoft Ads account team or support.

New Audience Network Features: Facebook Import, Video Ads, & Geographic Expansion

Microsoft also unveiled new Audience Network announcements including a new Facebook Import option for native campaigns, video ads on the audience network, and expansion into New Zealand, Australia, and Canada.

Check out this post to learn more about these new Audience Network announcements and features, which also includes clips from Marketing O’Clock as Microsoft’s Evangelist, John Lee, discusses each of these new features.

Expanding Auto-Bidding Options

Microsoft plans to expand its auto-bidding options. Target Impression Share is currently in pilot and Portfolio Bid Strategies are coming soon.

Coming Soon: Unified Smart – an SMB Hub for Multi-Channel Campaigns & Social Media Management

Microsoft announced that. Businesses will be able to create “Smart Pages”, which allows businesses to set up a website for their advertisements to use as a landing page. The website is intended to be used as their webpage for all sources; meaning, they could also use this site as a destination for ads run on other networks.

Coming soon: Unified Smart campaigns, which will enable advertisers to set up campaigns in a simple interface where advertisers choose their goals, input their URL (which could be their  Smart Page but does not have to be).

For search campaigns, advertisers will be able to choose keyword themes. Unified Smart goes beyond search, though. Advertisers would be able to target audiences on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter with ads. Linkedin is planned as a later addition.

The current plan is for advertisers to have one budget which is shared across all channels.

Unified Smart’s audience targeting is AI-based, using data points from setup inputs, business type, the URL, and other information shared.

Businesses will also be able to post to their social channels and respond to comments all from the Unified Smart interface.

Unified Smart will track calls and/or conversions, visits, time on site, visits to specific pages, and more so that businesses can monitor the performance of their efforts.

Expanding into New Geographies

In addition to all of the new releases that Microsoft has announced, they’re also continuing to expand into additional geographies. Microsoft plans to expand into 29 new countries in 2021. They haven’t yet announced which countries will be part of the expansion.

Requesting Access to the New Betas

To request access to any of the Microsoft Ads betas, reach out to your Microsoft Ads account team or support.

Search Marketing

Four Google Ads Trends to Watch

There are a couple of trends within the Google Ads world that keep cropping up and catching our attention. While no one can make any promises, these four trends are good indicators of the direction PPC marketing will be headed in 2021. Check it out:


1. Hello, Trend Lines in Digital Advertising Spend

At first blush, the numbers don’t look great (see: Airlines). Back in Q2 2020, especially, at the outset of lockdown and quarantine, things looked downright grim. We mentioned the travel industry, in which paid search ad spend on Google declined by 47 percent.

Even though traditional advertising spend is going through some things, some people are still forecasting growth in 2021 digital ad budgets. This, despite the relative flux affecting so many ad budgets. According to the latest research from IAB, “buyers with at least ballpark budgets project +5.3 percent ad spend for FY2021 vs FY2020.” That’s a start! In its Global Digital Ad Spending Update Q2 2020, eMarketer predicts a 17 percent increase in digital ad spend for 2021.

This might be why so many Google Ads people are predicting that any lulls in spend, cost, and competition will be short-lived—a “v-shaped recovery,” if you will. Indeed, many marketing teams already have their sights set on a 2021 bounce back, in which digital ads promise to play a prominent role.

After all, businesses still get a $2 return for every $1 they spend on Google Ads (according to Google Economic Impact). It remains an effective way to reach targeted audiences with highly targeted and timely ads, even while the global pandemic continues to grip the world.

2. Hello, Responsive Search Ads (RSAs)

A reduction in manual tinkering ought to be welcome news to the ears of any Google Ads professional. Which is exactly the idea behind responsive search ads (RSAs). Powered by Google AI, RSAs automatically optimize your headlines, ad copy, and CTA variations based on audience and search terms. All you have to do is supply the content (time to hire some copywriters).

Since their introduction in 2019, RSAs have proven quite effective. Here are a few data points to support that claim:

Not bad right? Sometimes, machines, algorithms, and AI really are more efficient than their human counterparts. In fact, RSAs have proven so effective that Google is pushing to make RSAs the default option. The search engine behemoth might be phasing out expanded text ads altogether, so keep that in mind.

3. Speaking of Google Ads Optimization …

More broadly, the applications of artificial intelligence (AI) within the Google Ads space are becoming far more sophisticated. This should be welcome news for marketers looking to squeeze every ounce of return they can out of their digital advertising budgets in 2021.

First and foremost, AI has been shown to more accurately target audiences and reach them when they’re most ready to buy. New automation technologies can predict click-through rate (CTR) and conversions, giving marketing brass more time to guide strategy and shape messaging. Today, most of that magic is built right into your Google Ads platform, often without much fanfare.

One of the central developments that many PPC marketers are using to make their campaigns more effective is Google Smart Bidding. Essentially, Smart Bidding is Google’s way of helping marketers get more out of their ad spend through automated “bid strategies” powered by machine learning.

Now, does Google Smart Bidding do it all for you? Not quite. At a high level, though, Smart Bidding was developed to “set more precise bids tailored to each and every auction.” Where you take it is up to you, but there’s real potential to identify and act on trends, behavior patterns, and even seasonal changes much faster than a human might be capable of.

4. Behold, the Rise of Video Ads

Much the same way you can target topics, keywords, and demographics with traditional Google Ads, you can launch Google Ads video campaigns to surface timely ads while people consume their favorite YouTube videos. It’s yet another effective way to reach what has become a wide and deep pool of viewers.

Don’t forget, after all, YouTube is the world’s second-largest search engine. An estimated 60 billion U.S. users access YouTube daily. In the United States, YouTube has achieved a market reach of around 90 percent, with two billion logged-in users as of 2019. And engagement and views are at historic records, with YouTubers seeing 20-30 percent more views.

For brands trying to break in and expand their reach, YouTube is kind of like advertising at the Super Bowl.

Video ads are effective for a simple reason: you have a captive audience. Video ads are displayed while people are already looking at the screen watching their favorite videos, inherently driving more impressions and, potentially, engagement. With Google Ads, you currently have five options for video ads:

  • Skippable in-stream
  • Bumper
  • Non-skippable in-stream
  • Outstream
  • Ad sequence
  • We recommend you take a look at the create a video campaign section in Google Ads Help for more detail on how to take advantage of these different video ad types. Frankly, you could devote an entire role to this aspect of your PPC mix, depending on how far down the rabbit hole you want to go.

Updates and Changes You Should be Aware of

Trends are one thing, but there are some recent changes to the Google Ads platform itself that will have a bearing on your 2021 strategy. We’ve earmarked the five changes we think will be most impactful, and that we’re advising our own clients to consider.

1. Privacy Concerns Prompt Google to Limit Data Availability

The ability to derive intelligence around keywords, target audiences, and demographics is essential for PPC marketers. It’s how we strategize, optimize spend, and build out campaign creative. Unfortunately, at least for us, the pool of available data is going to get a bit smaller in 2021 and beyond.

In response to increased scrutiny around data privacy, including new legislation such as General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), access to keyword and search query data will be even more limited in 2021. Google now limits the availability of search data, including query information in its widely used Search Terms Report. You’ll only be able to see data for terms “searched for by a significant number of users,” a change that has generated a fair amount of hubbub on the PPC forums.

Maybe this is a win for protecting user data, maybe not. Obviously, Google and other software giants see the impetus to respond to data privacy concerns. In fact, Gartner predicts that 80 percent of marketers will “abandon personalization” by 2025 due to worries about data and privacy blowback. And Search Engine Journal estimates that 91 percent of people are concerned about what data companies like Google are getting from them.

The debate rages on. For advertisers, the implications of this more limited data set are multifold. At a high level, filtering negative keywords, optimization tasks, and keeping campaigns as efficient as possible will all become more difficult. Just think about it: what good is knowing that someone clicked a PPC campaign target keyword without knowing the term that the user clicked? It makes allocating ad spend far more difficult.

2. Google Makes Shopping Ads Free, Worldwide

Of course, it’s not all restrictions and limitations. You’ve probably noticed the expansion of certain search engine results page (SERP) experiences on Google to include a shopping tab. This is where companies can display product listings for certain keyword searches and, potentially, drive traffic to their marketplaces (and capture more sales).

It’s now free for all businesses to sell on Google, which means paid campaigns can now be augmented with free listings.

In the past, merchants would have to pay to put listings on Google. Now, Google is opening the floodgates: the company recently announced that it’s free for all businesses to sell on Google. For a search engine that gets “hundreds of millions of shopping searches” every day, this is a big leveling of the playing field—and a tremendous opportunity for businesses to get their slice of the pie.

Shopping ads are sort of a big deal. According to data from Smart Insights, shopping ads drive more than 76 percent of retail search ad spend, while generating more than 85 percent of all clicks on Google Ads or Google Shopping campaign ads. There’s just a whole heck of a lot of people who come to Google looking to shop.

Here’s Bill Ready, President of Commerce at Google:

“For advertisers, this means paid campaigns can now be augmented with free listings. If you’re an existing user of Merchant Center and Shopping ads, you don’t have to do anything to take advantage of the free listings, and for new users of Merchant Center, we’ll continue working to streamline the onboarding process over the coming weeks and months.”

At a basic level, advertisers have an opportunity to surface their product listings in unpaid Google search experiences. So for the eCommerce folks, we recommend getting set up with Merchant Center and checking out the prerequisites needed to take advantage of free shopping ads. As Ready points out, advertisers already using Shopping ads will be able to augment their campaigns with free listings, providing more ways to reach target audiences and drive conversions.

3. New Custom Audience Tools for Better Segmentation and Targeting

Remember when you used to have to configure custom intent and custom affinity separately? Google just combined both into a single “custom audiences” tool available in Audience Manager. Essentially, Google has streamlined your ability to target people through YouTube, Gmail, Display, and Discovery ads, while making this form of personalization a bit more transparent for the end user.

This is Google’s way of automatically choosing the right audiences for your ad campaigns based on all of the information you specify. In terms of keyword targeting, you can now target based on “People with any of these interests or purchase intentions” and/or “People who searched for any of these terms on Google properties (such as and YouTube)”.

Again, this is yet another development in the move toward intent-based targeting and personalization, which Google is getting really, really good at. From a strategic standpoint, now is probably the time to revisit your Google Ads audiences through the lens of interest, intent, and keyword searches.

We recommend that you see About audience targeting for more information directly from the source.

4. YouTube and Discover Lead Capture

We mentioned the impact of video in the first section. Assuming YouTube and Discover are part of your Google Ads mix, you’ll want to tune into this update to Google Ads. Now, using extensions, you can capture leads directly from Google Ads campaigns on YouTube and Discover. This assumes, of course, you meet Google’s eligibility requirements (USD 50,000 total ad spend in Google Ads being the biggy among them).

Embedding a lead capture form in an ad that displays after a user expresses interest is just a better journey, when you think about it. Rather than sending someone off to a landing page, which requires more effort on their part and yours, why not give them the form directly? All you have to do is put together the ad creative, tell Google Ads whether you want more leads or more high-intent leads, and configure the field you want to be included in your forms.

5. Start the Countdown and Unleash Your Image Extensions

While it’s not quite as splashy as RSAs or the ability to capture leads from Google Ads, “countdowns” are an exciting new twist to Google Ads (see: Highlight upcoming events with countdowns). Essentially, you can now add countdowns to your ad text, alerting users to special events or offers that are coming to a close at a certain time.

Countdowns are yet another way to capture attention and build urgency with your ads. The most obvious use case is within the eCommerce space, where apparel vendors, for example, can compel people to click through and shop for seasonal sales that are closing soon.

That’s not all! As noted in Search Engine Land, you can now add image extensions to certain Google Ads as well, a “single right justified image alongside your ad.” Honestly, we think it looks great and gives advertisers yet another way to spice up their ads and win eyes on what have become rather crowded pages. Between image extensions and countdowns, vendors have plenty of tactics to get more people clicking through to their pages from ads.

Big Takeaway: Targeting and Timeliness Matter

There’s just no getting around it: PPC advertisers—or any marketers, really—need to roll up their sleeves and do the hard work of closely defining their audiences. Of getting to know who their target market is, when their time of need occurs, and what they need to hear in that time of need to take action.

Looking back at the Google Ads trends and updates that we’ve earmarked for 2021, this timeliness and audience targeting emerges as a common theme throughout. Matt Gove, Chief Consumer Officer of Piedmont Healthcare, put it nicely in a recent interview with Cardinal Digital Marketing:

“We still use digital as much or more than any other channel. Specifically search, we spend a great deal, like a shocking amount of money, on trying to own search. Because we know healthcare is one of those disciplines where people do a great deal of searching at the time of need. So we’ve got to be able to capture people’s attention while they’re there, but we’re also doing more and more these days.”

“Searching at the time of need” should be plastered on the wall, cubicle, and window of PPC marketers, shouldn’t it? Chryssa Rich, Director of Marketing for Primary Health Medical Group, echoes this sentiment in another interview with Cardinal:

“We run lots and lots of Google ads. They all have outstanding click-through rates. Our best performing ads have about a 14 percent to a 15 percent click-through rate because we get really specific and really focused on when and where those ads are delivered and what the people are searching for.

Again, what Chryssa and Matt are telling us is that they find the most success when they can get really specific about the when, where, and who of their Google Ads campaigns. To us, this remains the fundamental underpinning that will guide PPC marketers in 2021 and beyond, no matter how the tools and tactics themselves evolve.

Search Marketing

10 Common Mistakes In Google Ads

Staying on top of Google Ads features and potential problems can be challenging. Here are 10 common issues in accounts to watch out for.

Despite every Google Ads account having its own quirks and challenges, there are many commonalities that emerge.

After auditing hundreds of them over the past 13 years, I’ve noticed that many of the issues or mistakes found tend to fall into one of a few categories.

These can be things ranging from messy data output to wasting thousands of dollars because of a sneaky Google Ads setting.

While on their own they may not be account killers, frequently there’s more than one happening at a time.

These issues often pile on top of each other, creating results that are ultimately nowhere near what they could or should be!

In no particular order, here are the top 10 most common mistakes found repeatedly in Google Ad accounts.

1. Outdated Conversions

Once upon a time, you would place a Google Ads conversion tag on the conversion page, and that was that. It fed in pixel fires from that page.

Such a simplistic measurement also meant a lot less room for error.

Nowadays, advertisers use conversion tags on any number of pages, import conversions from CRMs like Salesforce, use call tracking, and import conversion events from Google Analytics.

This additional view of the conversion journey is invaluable, but it also means there can be a lot of noise. It’s harder to realize when conversions are double-counted, or if old ones are still populating.

If all of those old conversions are part of CPA calculations or bidding algorithms, it messes with bidding decision-making.

The Conversions area in Google Ads should be checked at least quarterly. Scan to check for anything outdated or old that should be removed.

Answer the following questions:

  • What are we tracking?
  • Should all of those factors be counted as a conversion in all calculations, or only a few?
  • Where does the tracking come from – the Google tag, a Goal imported from Analytics, an imported file?
  • Is there anything left that is a dead conversion that we should delete to keep the conversion interface clean?

2. Geotargeting Options

This is a sneaky one by Google.

When setting up a new campaign, you choose your geotarget.

There’s a sneaky expansion menu a lot of people forget about under Location options.

Opening this reveals the default way Google will show your ads, and here is the culprit:’

This means your ads will show outside your geographic target based on Google’s definition of a user “showing interest” in the locations you’ve chosen.

To see if this is affecting your results, you can dig down into Reporting and see it split by users physically in the location, versus when it’s just an “interest.”

In the Reports area, add a column for Location type. You can then filter by Physical Location or Location of interest:

If the interest-based location is dragging down your results, go back to your Locations setting, and choose the second radio button for Presence.

This will only show it to people physically located in your desired area.

3. Regional Trends

Speaking of location-driven decisions, there’s frequently a lack of location-based bid modifiers or decision-making.

It’s easy to overlook this when many managers rely on automated bidding.

However, when using manual bidding, eCPC, or maximizing clicks, this can make a big difference.

Many accounts run nationwide and at times, you see accounts set up to target the U.S. with nothing more granular.

It’s very likely you’ll see patterns of cities or states that have better or worse performance.

This can be handled through bid modifiers, but that doesn’t address other major issues: device modifiers, budget allocation, and ad copy, to name a few.

Large cities tend to eat budget, which can be OK if the metrics work in their favor.

But sometimes they don’t.

Occasionally, there are differences in device usage among different geographical areas.

For example, with cities that have a lot of commuters, you will sometimes see better conversion rates on mobile devices since they’re browsing and shopping while they sit on public transportation.

Check the Locations section in your Campaigns, and drill into the city levels for opportunities to tighten up your bidding.

4. Revisiting Ad Schedule Modifiers

As with a lot of bid modifiers, there’s a trend of setting up ad schedule bid modifiers and forgetting about it.

Performance during the time of day can change seasonally.

Revisit it at designated intervals with good data samples to make sure you stay relevant during the prime times of the day.

5. Messy Keyword Matching

With broad match types, Google picks the keyword a search term is matched to but doesn’t always choose the same one consistently.

You wind up having one search term matching to multiple different ad groups, usually with varying levels of performance.

The easiest way to see this is by exporting your search terms and using a quick pivot table.

Drop your search terms in, and then pick count of Ad Groups.

It’ll show you the number of ad groups a term is matched to.

You can also drop the Ad Group in as a sub-field to the search term, which will then list under each search term which specific Ad Group it popped into.

This used to be something to focus on for broad match only, but I now recommend doing it for all match types. Since Google relaxed its match rules around Exact Match, you will probably find more surprises here than you used to!

Obviously, we want it to match the best-performing one.

This means setting it as an exact match negative to the Ad Groups or Campaigns where we want it to stop matching.

This forces Google to match it the way you want.

6. Not Utilizing Experiments for Testing

To be fair, the platform doesn’t make this easy to figure out, which is a shame.

The Experiments feature is a great way to run a more controlled test once you get past the odd way you have to set it up.

You can test all kinds of elements, like the bidding mechanism or even landing pages.

In accounts where I’ve struggled to get an even distribution for a landing page test, the Experiments setup has come in handy.

I simply duplicate the Campaign and change the URLs in the ads.

Because I can specify the percentage of traffic I want to receive in the experiment, I can create a more controlled setup vs. leaving it to the meager Google Ads rotation options.

To get started on creating an Experiment, choose the Campaign you want to create a test for and hit the “Drafts” button in the upper right.

From there, you can create a non-running version of the Campaign, change the parts you want to test, and then choose to launch it as an Experiment for a pre-determined length of time.

A more recent addition here is that option for Ad Variations. You can launch a split test on copy way faster than having to manually upload a bunch of ads like you used to!

7. Lack of Bidding Strategy

There are many reasons accounts may still use manual bidding.

Often, there are more complex business metrics that determine the relative worth of a click – metrics that Google can’t see, or take into account.

These situations make human error a factor, and a strong bidding strategy can be left behind.

Keywords with a $1,006 cost per conversion should not have the same bids as those generating leads at $96.98.

Read up on bidding options and test different methods to find the one that yields the best results.

8. Adding Audiences for Observation

It’s easy to forget that searches happen across a wide range of potential customer types.

Google has a lot of information on users at this stage of the game.

Frequently, they will behave very differently, but it’s nothing you’d see in the search data because they search the same terms.

Adding Audiences and observing their results is a basic Marketing 101 function that is easily skipped over out of habit.

However, the data here is great not only for discovering new bid adjustments but also in finding audiences to target on other platforms like YouTube.

9. Missing or Disapproved Ad Extensions

So many accounts are missing Ad Extensions and/or have some that are disapproved.

I commonly see the missing Structured Snippet extensions, disapproved phone numbers (ack!), and disapproved Review Extensions.

Beyond the enhanced real estate these extensions give advertisers on the SERP, they can also help to pre-qualify clicks better (using things like “starting at” pricing, as an example). They may also give more information to encourage a click from a user.

10. Watching Partner Performance

By default, a new search campaign will have Google Search Partners checked as a placement.

This isn’t always a bad thing!

Sometimes partner sites generate some nice, low CPAs.

Make sure if you launch with it, you take a look as data accrues to see how it’s doing.

You can do this by choosing the Segment option in the top right, and picking Network (with search partners).

Of note here is that this is an “all or nothing” setting.

‘Include Google search partners’ is either running or it’s not, and advertisers cannot refine it any further than that.