As a top 3% Google Ads agency, we’ve interviewed thousands (and hired hundreds) of Google Ads specialists. Use this guide to leverage our learnings on how to hire the best.
Here, you’ll find:
- What a Google Ads specialist is
- Average Google Ads specialist salaries
- A Google Ads specialist’s responsibilities
- What to consider before hiring a Google Ads specialist
- Why a PPC agency might be your best bet for this service
Is your Google Ads campaign taking a toll on your budget? Then hiring a Google Ads specialist might seem like even more of a financial burden.
But that’s actually not the case.
Your PPC campaigns (aka PPC or paid search) will perform better (and cost less in the long run) with a Google Ads expert’s support.
Let’s face it: Your marketing team might be preoccupied with PPC campaigns on Facebook, LinkedIn, and elsewhere — on top of your Google Ads.
To get the lowdown on what to look for in a Google Ads specialist, we chatted with our Senior Talent Acquisition Specialist, Angela Cuadros.
She has more than five years of experience in the recruitment space for marketing professionals. She shared some distinguishing factors between Google Ads specialists and PPC specialists, skills and responsibilities, and how to assess a candidate’s experience to see if they’re right fit.
What is a Google Ads specialist?
A Google Ads specialist is a marketing expert with specialized knowledge of the ins and outs of Google Ads PPC campaigns. They research, prepare, launch, and manage Google Ads campaigns for a brand in-house, or outsource their services to multiple brands.
But what makes Google different from other PPC platforms? Cuadros says it’s a matter of customer journey stages.
“Google is the best online space to find customers who are already searching for similar products or services,” she explains.
But to reach them, Google Ads specialists have to be knowledgeable about search engine marketing (SEM) trends and search engine optimization (SEO).
On top of that, they need to have in-depth experience with Google Ads bidding strategies, campaign structures, and staying on top of the search engine’s latest updates.
According to Cuadros, “Someone who specializes in Google Ads will be able to fully optimize the platform’s different ad formats and capabilities so that the brand consistently shows up in front of its desired audiences.”
So, what does a Google Ads specialist do that regular PPC specialists can’t necessarily offer?
“A PPC specialist with Google Ads experience is more likely to know basic ad types and bid strategies,” she says. “A Google Ads specialist will know how to use different and enhanced ad types, bidding strategies, and targeting abilities to produce the best results and return for a brand’s investment into Google advertising.”
Next, let’s walk through everything a Google Ads specialist does to produce those impressive returns.
What are Google Ads specialists’ average salaries?
Ultimately, the salary will depend on the extent of the professional’s industry expertise, location, and work experience, which means it can vary broadly. In the U.S., average Google Ads specialist salaries break down to three categories:
- Entry level: $24,000
- National average: $52,000
- Expert (certified, proven success, decades of experience): $98,500
The level of skill you’re looking for will have a strong influence on your budget for hiring a Google Ads specialist. So, it’s smart to know these averages so you can prep your budget accordingly.
What are a Google Ads specialist’s responsibilities?
Today’s top Google Ads specialists are able to identify key info from industry and competitor analysis, keyword research, performance metrics, and ad copywriting to maximize reach and conversions for your Google PPC campaigns.
Bottom line? A Google Ads specialist leverages their in-depth expertise in Google’s PPC platform to generate the highest possible ROI for your ad campaigns.
Here’s a quick list of common Google Ads specialist roles and responsibilities:
- Conduct Google Ads campaign audits*
- Launch, manage, and monitor Google Ads campaigns to meet various marketing objectives*
- Create retargeting strategies to boost conversions
- Analyze PPC performance metrics to maximize ROI*
- Merge Google Ads strategies with other PPC platforms for cross-channel marketing*
- Maintain awareness of Google’s latest updates
- Liaise with other departments and marketing professionals, including specialists for other PPC platforms, web developers, and customer service and marketing managers
*The items include more extensive subtasks and expertise, which we’ll expand on below.
Conduct Google Ads audits
Have you noticed high ad spend with minimal ROAS (return on ad spend)? You might scour Google Analytics to see what’s amiss with your bidding strategies and keywords, but can’t pinpoint the culprit.
That’s how you know it’s time for a Google Ads audit — which will be your specialist’s first order of business. An audit will help them understand what’s working and what isn’t in your Google Ads campaigns.
Here’s what they’ll assess:
- Your campaign objectives: These are the results you hope to accomplish with your Google Ads campaigns.
- Campaign structure: A Google Ads specialist will browse through every element of your campaign structure, including ad groups, ad and landing page copy, device targeting, and location settings.
- Bid strategy: Relying on Google’s bid strategy recommendations? Your Google Ad specialist will take note and see if there’s room for experimentation. Oftentimes, they’ll find a strategy left on autopilot that needs tweaking for timing and location.
- Keywords: Your Google Ads specialist will check out your keyword rankings and identify those that are too competitive, as well as crucial missing ones. They’ll also look at your negative keyword list to see if any might be costing you leads.
- Ad performance: Who do your ads reach? Are they your target audience? What are your traffic and conversion numbers like? Any low-performing ads will get the ax, unless there’s an underlying technical issue—in this case, your Google Ads specialist might conduct some A/B testing to make sure.
But they’ll have to create new ads before testing them against the old ones.
Create and launch Google Ads campaigns
Armed with the knowledge gleaned from a Google Ads audit, a specialist will set up new campaigns and optimize existing ones. They’ll also use insights from competitive analysis and audience research to determine the best Google Ads types to use, including Google display ads, shopping ads, video ads, and text-only ads.
This is where A/B testing comes in — a vital component of a campaign launch. Specialists will compare performance metrics across different ad types, ad copy, keywords, and bids to determine which ads drive the most ROI.
After that, they’ll monitor campaigns down to the tiniest detail and report on the findings to their clients. Then, it’s time to double down on lead nurturing with retargeting.
Use retargeting strategies to boost conversions
Almost every brand has at least one target audience on Google, in addition to a few other PPC platforms. But something special about Google Ads audiences is their position in the customer journey.
In other words, they might have already seen your brand’s blog articles and relied on your content for informational support.
Cuadros says these potential customers are in the buying stage, also known as bottom-funnel customers:
“A Google Ads specialist can help brands drive more consumers through the sales funnel, from brand awareness to action, with a special focus on the bottom of the funnel due to Google Ads’ ability to target a brand’s ideal customers.”
So, how do Google Ads experts convert these audiences? Easily.
“A Google Ads specialist will not only target users who are ready for a brand’s product or service, but they are also very capable of retargeting users who are still in awareness or consideration stages, as well as remarketing to existing customers to drive repeat sales,” she adds.
Here are some retargeting strategies Cuadros shares for ecommerce businesses and any brand looking to drive sales:
- Target buyers through ad formats like Google Shopping campaigns
- Strategically use text and image ads to drive website traffic and form fills on landing pages
- Retarget across social media and other search engines
Effectively leverage other PPC platforms in a Google Ads marketing strategy
Hang on, aren’t we focusing on Google Ads? Yes, but your Google Ads expert can still take advantage of other PPC platforms.
Every brand is unique in their niche and business goals, so they might benefit from one or more additional PPC platform campaigns. For example, ecommerce brands can see stellar PPC returns on Amazon Ads and Instagram Ads, while SaaS brands do great on LinkedIn.
Cuadros also points out TikTok’s new online shop and predicts more Google Ads specialists will make use of TikTok ads if they have ecommerce clients.
“As social media networks evolve to include PPC advertising, I see more Google Ads specialists add Facebook and Instagram (Meta), and LinkedIn Ads to their toolbox. Any platform that has sales or lead-generating capabilities can be complementary and useful for different brands with different business needs.”
Another platform worth a Google Ads specialist’s time? Microsoft Advertising (FKA Bing Ads), the second-largest search engine.
Now, what if a Google Ads specialist comes to you promising the world with campaigns on every single PPC platform? Cuadros cautions that a jack of all trades is usually a master of none:
“Someone who specializes in all PPC platforms may not have the time to learn all the nuances of every PPC platform. There are just too many! Google Ads alone has a near-endless amount of levers that can be pulled and requires continuous learning of the platform’s frequent changes.”
So, what does this mean for a cross-channel strategy?
Just be wary of any Google Ads manager that declares themselves an expert in every other PPC platform, too.
Monitor and analyze performance metrics
But what about those conversions?
Google Ads specialists are the monarchs of data analysis. They know which actionable PPC metrics to assess and optimize, like:
- Clickthrough rate (CTR)
- Conversion rate
- Cost per conversion
- Page visits
- Time on-site
- Quality Score
- Cost per click (CPC)
“Return on ad spend is a particularly meaningful metric that I look out for in a Google Ads specialist‘s work history,” Cuadros says. “It can typically be found with access to the account’s Google Analytics dashboard.”
What to consider before hiring a Google Ads specialist
Whether you’re looking to hire an in-house specialist, freelancer, or agency of Google Ads specialists, here are some criteria to evaluate during your search:
Education and credentials
Most Google Ads specialists have a business or digital marketing degree. They might also hold more specialized certificates and may have completed online courses in PPC management and SEO.
But the most relevant credentials for a Google Ads specialist come from Google itself. The search engine giant currently has 11 certifications that you can look for in a candidate’s resume or portfolio:
- Search Certification
- Display Certification
- Video Certification
- Google Shopping Ads Certification
- Apps Certification
- Measurement Certification
- Search Professional
- Display Professional
- Video Professional
- Grow Offline Sales
While all these certifications are strong indicators of expertise, the first three are the most critical. Others on the list speak to incredibly valuable expertise for certain types of businesses. For example, the shopping ads certification is a strong credential if your brand is in the retail or ecommerce space.
“Google Ads is an ever-changing platform and requires a desire for continuous learning,” says Cuadros. “Successful Google Ads specialists stay up to date with industry shifts, like the rise of social media advertising, and are adaptable to changes in platform capabilities, like when Broad Match Modifier was removed.”
Soft skills keep your team human in an automated world. While Google Analytics might give a specialist a ton of insights, you’ll always need that human element to communicate results, leverage other departments’ efforts, and speak to the pain points of your audience.
Here are some soft skill fundamentals to look for in your candidates’ experience and interviews:
- Communication skills: Google Ads lingo isn’t intuitive for every marketer. A Google Ads specialist should have solid written and oral communication skills to share what’s most important out of the sea of data. Cuadros also highlights “high-touch” communication to build trust with clients. Google Ads performance can fluctuate, so a specialist should simultaneously explain the changes and comfort clients in the process.
- Honesty and tact: It’s easy for some PPC agencies to get clients excited about results. Only problem? They gloss over the minimum three months it will take to get their Google Ads campaigns running. Being honest and tactful helps PPC specialists maintain their reputation with clients and avoid misunderstandings. Cuadros says “expectation setting” is paramount for a client-facing specialist.
- Analytical skills: Simply accessing Google Analytics won’t cut it. Google Ads specialists need impeccable analytical skills to prioritize bids, keywords, and ad campaigns from performance data and avoid tactics that waste your ad spend.
But the biggest green flag for a Google Ads specialist?
Gone are the days when experience could be proven on a resume. Why? Because you’re on the hunt for results and impact. One way to demonstrate this is through case studies. Most Google Ads specialists have a few on their websites.
You want the numbers — juicy ROAS stats, appealing web traffic numbers, and conversion counts over a set timeline.
But most vital? You want to know how it impacted the client. How did the Google Ads specialist improve their client’s bottom line? What audiences did they reach? What products did they sell, and how did that support the brand’s goals?
“Case studies are certainly helpful when the results reported are quantitative and meaningful,” says Cuadros. “I see a lot of results that we consider ‘vanity metrics’ since they don’t tell me much about an account’s overall performance. For example, website traffic could be really high, but the number of website visitors being converted to leads is very low.”
If a case study feels too techy, feel free to ask more questions about the specialist’s experience.
And if you’re still in doubt? Cuadros has you covered:
“Internally, we’ve found the best way to truly verify a Google Ads specialist‘s abilities is through a skills assessment in which we ask them to audit a specific Google Ads account and look for them to utilize best practices.”
Keep in mind that you can take all this advice on education, credentials, experience, and soft skills and apply it to an agency search, too.
Google Partner – The highest recognition for Google Ads specialists
Is there a top-dog title for Google Ads certified professionals?
Sure is. Look for specialists with Premier Partner status.
Google awards this recognition to professionals who demonstrate relevant certification completions, performance, and minimum ad budgets of $10,000 across search campaigns.
By the way, HawkSEM is an industry-leading Google Ads agency, and we’re proud to report that we’re a Google Premier Partner. Our 15 years in business — and decades of combined experience — also earned us recognition as a Microsoft Ads Partner and Meta Business Partner.
Why will a PPC agency deliver more ROI than a Google Ads specialist?
Remember how we mentioned a jack of all trades is a master of none? Imagine having a master of every PPC platform at your service.
This is the power of a PPC agency. Cuadros says agencies eliminate the risk of a specialist spreading themselves thin with too many platforms:
“An agency that has people specializing in different platforms will encourage an individual’s expertise in their chosen platform while also providing opportunities for collaboration and learning across different specialties.”
Your brand’s Google Ads campaign will get the TLC it deserves from a Google Ads specialist, plus:
- Specialized expertise on every other PPC platform to maximize cross-channel strategies
- Multiple Google Ads experts to manage, monitor, and scale your campaigns
- A diverse set of experiences in different niches and verticals
And if you choose HawkSEM to take care of your PPC needs? You can tack on:
- A dedicated account manager to oversee all your SEO and PPC marketing efforts
- Peace of mind from countless success stories and case studies with crazy high ROI and improved metrics for clients across different niches
- Full-time digital marketing specialists with years of experience to infuse into your campaigns
- Opportunities for collaboration and learning across diverse skill sets and expertise of different PPC platforms
And the grand finale? An average 4.5X ROI.
Google Ads campaigns aren’t for the faint of heart, nor are they for PPC generalists. If we could sum up our advice for picking a Google Ads specialist? We’d have three tips.
First, go for a full-service PPC and SEO marketing agency (like us!). You’ll benefit from decades of combined experience in Google PPC campaigns, along with multiple marketing professionals well-versed in all the other PPC platforms to complement your Google Ads strategy.
Plus, our proprietary tech, ConversionIQ™, helps us link specific campaign elements to results and leads — insights that help us improve your ROI even more.
Second, if you’re still gunning to hire an in-house Google Ads specialist, make sure you pick a candidate who demonstrates the right soft skills and education.
And, most lastly and perhaps most importantly, your choice candidate, whether in-house, freelance, or an agency, should have relevant experience producing campaign results and ROI for brands similar to yours.
1. What does a Google Ads specialist do?
A Google Ads specialist helps clients and companies launch, manage, monitor, and optimize their Google Ads campaigns with expert knowledge of the Google landscape, bidding strategies, audience research, and competitive analysis.
2. What should companies look for when hiring a Google Ads specialist?
We recommend assessing candidates first and foremost on their relevant experience in improving Google Ads campaign performance for clients similar to your brand. Look for impactful case studies and Google certifications, too.
3. What is the average salary of a Google Ads specialist?
Entry-level Google Ads specialists in the U.S. make an average salary of about $24,000. The national average for this profession is $52,000. But an outlying, specialist salary backed by years of experience, certifications, and demonstrated results can reach $100,000.