Tag Archives: google ads

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Written by Caroline Cox on Nov 7 , 2022

Ready to hand off your paid search efforts to the pros? Check out these Google Ads agencies for help with better campaigns, higher ROI & more.

Here, you’ll find:

  • A list of the top Google Ads agencies worth exploring
  • Highlights from each of these digital marketing agencies
  • Advantages of hiring an agency to manage your Google Ads
  • Various services that an agency like this might offer

Let’s cut to the chase — I know why you’re here.

It’s in the title, after all. You’re ISO (in search of) an experienced, capable Google Ads (formerly Google Adwords) agency to boost your paid search ROI. 

From 2020 to 2021, advertising revenue from Google reportedly grew by more than 142%. Businesses are investing in Google Ads — and they’re investing now more than ever.

This article will offer expert insight into why brands should invest in Google Ads and provide a deep dive into eight of the best agencies to help you ensure your pay-per-click (also called PPC or paid search) campaigns are targeted, optimized, and achieving the maximum return on ad spend. 

But first, let’s get to the list:

Top 8 Google Ads Agencies

  • HawkSEM
  • Jellyfish
  • 3Q/DEPT
  • Wpromote
  • Tinuiti
  • MuteSix
  • Rise Interactive
  • Spinx Digital

Why invest in Google Ads?

“Google Ads are a massive opportunity for […] brands looking to diversify their marketing spend in 2022 and beyond,” says Alexa Kilroy, head of brand at e-commerce operating system Triple Whale.

“With the decreased efficacy of on-platform retargeting, many brands are leveraging Google’s brand search and display advertising in order to capture folks outside of the paid social platforms” 

Kilroy adds that even creating a dedicated retargeting funnel for brand search terms can show a killer return on ad spend (ROAS), with some brands seeing 12 times their ROAS with these ads. This is just one great example of why investing in Google Ads is more relevant now than ever. 

Top 8 Google Ad agencies to consider in 2022

Once you’ve decided to partner with an agency, the journey is just beginning. Now, you’ve got to research your roster of Google Ads agencies to see which one aligns with your goals, communication style, budget, industry, and more. 

Luckily, we’ve done a lot of the heavy lifting for you. We’ve taken our years of paid search knowledge and gathered some of the best names in the biz. Below is a rundown of eight outstanding Google Ads agencies worth considering. 

Read on to find out who these agencies are, what they specialize in, what customers are saying about them, clients they have, and their impressive results.

hawksem homepage

1. HawkSEM

HawkSEM (yes, that’d be us) is a full-service digital marketing agency based in Los Angeles that specializes in providing high-value conversions through Google Ads, LinkedIn Ads, Facebook Ads, Microsoft Ads, and Amazon Ads. 

Along with paid search, we also offer a handful of other digital marketing services, such as display ads, email marketing, paid social, conversion rate optimization (CRO), content strategy and creation, search engine optimization (SEO), and more. 

Not only is HawkSEM a top 3% Google Premier Partner, but we’re also a Microsoft Advertising Partner, and a Meta Business Partner. And since we love data so much around here, we’ll let the numbers speak for themselves. HawkSEM has a:

  • 98% client retention rate
  • 4.5x average return on investment
  • 5-star rating on Google Business Profile

As a Google Ads agency, we’ve served clients like Nike, Sierra Nevada University, DirecTV, Verizon Digital Media, and Avatier. But what results can this agency offer with Google Ads, you ask? Let’s quickly zoom in on a real use case.

Enterprise-class software company Peer Software wanted to grow brand awareness, increase sales, and drive leads through ad campaigns on an international scale.

We worked with Peer Software to create ad campaigns for Google Ads and Microsoft Advertising platforms that were hyper-targeted and addressed their audience’s pain points. As a result, they were able to increase conversions by 128%, increase clicks to the website by 126%, and see a more than 46% decrease in cost per conversion.

With HawkSEM’s senior-level marketing scientists working hands-on with you to perfect your Google Ads account and campaigns (not to mention, our unique ConversionIQ system that helps scale campaigns, optimize creative assets and focus on more profitable customers), you can be confident you’re set up for success. 

2. Jellyfish

Jellyfish wants to help brands create a platform for themselves via digital strategy, conversion optimization, paid media, video production, and email marketing. 

This agency has worked with impressive clients such as eBay, Disney, Spotify, Slack, Samsung, Uber, and Booking.com. They also boast an impressive rating of 4.7 out of 5 on Featured Customers. 

Jellyfish worked with Sunfoil Sunflower Oil (South Africa’s title sponsor for cricket competitions), a company that was associated more with sports than with the kitchen. Sunfoil Sunflower Oil wanted to change this.

They’ve employed multiple strategies on social media, website, GDN, YouTube, and email. Jellyfish also leveraged Google Ads as part of the client’s website rebrand to get over 5 million impressions. 

Lastly, Jellyfish partners include Google, Meta, Salesforce, and Amazon. Along with Google Ads services, they offer clients strategy building, market intelligence, data gathering, training and development opportunities, and more.

3. 3Q/DEPT

3Q/DEPT, formerly known as 3Q Digital, is the self-proclaimed largest independent growth marketing agency in the world. While providing a broad list of services such as SEO, content marketing, paid search, business strategy, and creative help, the company essentially segments its expertise within two domains: full-service digital and strategic advisory

The agency has clients like Pandora, Skechers, Turbotax, Square, and Nextdoor as part of its portfolio. 

Here’s a closer look at a time when 3Q/DEPT was able to leverage Google Ads to create excellent results for their client, Blurb.

Blurb is a DIY book-making platform allowing people to create, publish, and sell books, magazines, and art. The company had heavy competition with paid search ads since their competitors kept bidding on the necessary keywords. 

To mitigate this, Blurb partnered with 3Q/DEPT, which optimized Blurb’s Google Ads account, changed the way customers were tracked, and created non-brand campaigns that resulted in stronger cost-per-click (CPC) and cost-per-rating (CPR). Despite Blurb reducing its budget by 17%, the end result was better return on ad spend (ROAS) and bookings. 

Along with paid search, 3Q/DEPT offers customers services such as paid social, SEO, CRO, and e-commerce campaign management. 

4. Wpromote

With an impressive list of clients such as Adobe, Transunion, Whirlpool, Zenni, and Frontier Airlines, Wpromote has quickly become one of the most sought-after service providers in the digital marketing space. 

In its own words, the company builds solutions to tackle the “gnarliest digital marketing challenges.” Paid search, content marketing, search engine optimization, digital experience, and performance creative are just some of the services Wpromote provides. 

Wpromote has received awards and accolades from Adweek, Campaign US, US Agency Awards, and The Drum. 

Wpromote’s POLYWOOD case study is just one example of how the company leverages Google Ads. The agency analyzed competitor trends and employed conversion-focused strategies to reach Pollywood’s target demographic. They were able to help the outdoor furniture purveyor see a 985% increase in quarterly sales year over year (YoY), a 51% lower cost per order (CPO), and 2% higher average order value YoY. 

Along with PPC, Wpromote offers clients services in the realms of paid social, influencer marketing, content marketing, SEO, and performance creative.

5. Tinuiti

As a performance-focused, audience-centric marketing agency, Tinuiti wants to provide each customer with a personalized experience while keeping their privacy in mind. To wit, they’ve garnered a long list of partners who believe in Tinuiti’s vision, leading them to manage media funds of $3 billion for their clients. 

One of the reasons  Tinuiti has been so successful is because of its program Mobius, which provides smart insights and optimized marketing strategies for clients. 

Presently, the company provides a host of services such as paid search, paid social, lifetime marketing, SEO, and Amazon Ads. Here’s how Tinuiti stands with respect to Google Ads and paid search in general:

Jerome Furniture wanted to target past customers through search marketing, so it implemented strategies on Google and Microsoft (the brand also explored channels like Hulu, Pinterest, Meta, YouTube, and TikTok). Through its partnership with Tinuiti, Jerome Furniture was able to increase ROAS by 54% and the AOV skyrocketed by 121%. 

Along with the usual digital marketing services mentioned above, Tinuiti offers affiliate marketing, shoppable media, performance creative, mobile app marketing, streaming, and more.

6. MuteSix

MuteSix is an online advertising agency specializing in direct-to-consumer (DTC) digital marketing. The agency offers services such as Amazon Ads, Google Ads, paid search, content creation, copywriting, and graphic designing. 

Actions speak louder than words, so let’s get to the results – MuteSix: 

  • Delivered 40 billion impressions for clients in 2021
  • Generated over $1.5 billion in direct revenue from ads for clients
  • Helps clients’ revenue increase by an average of 50% after a year
  • Has helped more than 30 clients receive venture capitalist (VC) funding after partnering with their agency

Who are these clients, you may be wondering? Butter Cloth, Pluto, Burst, Ring, and Ministry of Supply are just a few of the names you’ll see on their roster. 

GreenPan wanted to scale using Meta Ads and paid search. So, MuteSix helped the cookware brand achieve its business goals by using Google search ads, display ads, shopping, and discovery. 

The agency segmented shopping campaigns, researched insights on their target demographic, and promoted GreenPan’s products on-site. Through these efforts, Green Pan saw CTR increase by 3%, ROAS grow by 5%, and conversion rates increase by more than 14% month over month. 

7. Rise Interactive

Rise Interactive is an award-winning agency that operates in the domain of performance marketing, digital marketing, customer experience, and analytics. 

Much like many other agencies in this list, Rise Interactive provides services such as:

  • paid search
  • SEO
  • Amazon ads
  • affiliate marketing
  • social media marketing
  • mail marketing

Rise Interactive knows what it’s doing, and its client list is proof. On it, you’ll see brand names like COUNTRY Financial, Navistar International, Ulta Beauty, Reynolds Consumer Products, and ColourPop Cosmetics. The company has also been granted accolades from the Global Agency Awards, DotCOMM Awards, Hermes Creative Awards, and Global Social Media Awards.

Let’s zoom in on one of their satisfied customers. NorthShore University Health System wanted to market its healthcare solutions without spending too much on resources. So, the agency leveraged targeted PPC campaigns and developed an SEO strategy to achieve the organization’s goals.

Rise Interactive also analyzed data and metrics from paid search campaigns, used short-tail keywords to their advantage, and restructured the client’s entire paid search account. The efforts resulted in a 490% increase in appointments and a 27% increase in organic traffic. 

As far as services go, Rise offers paid search, Amazon, marketplaces, email, social media, affiliate marketing, and more.

8. Spinx Digital

Spinx Digital is a marketing agency specializing in web design and development, along with paid search. Their client roster covers an array of industries, from beauty, law, hospitality, and automotive to entertainment, fashion, and food producers.

Aside from the aforementioned services, Spinx provides solutions such as SEO, graphic design, e-commerce solution, social media marketing, and CMS management. 

Spinx takes every client through its signature “connect, create, and evolve” process to: 

  • Help your target audience form an emotional connection with your brand
  • Create solutions for you using technology and creative strategies to 
  • Help you grow as a brand by evolving strategies and solutions

Bega, Spexster, BSM Consulting, the Los Angeles Police Department, Willkie Insurtech, and Paul Hasting are just some of the names on Spinx’s client roster. 

The agency works to set itself apart through its expert offerings that include:

  • enterprise CMS solutions
  • strategy and planning
  • website solutions
  • traditional digital marketing services

What are the advantages of hiring a Google Ads agency?

Now that you’ve got your handy list of agencies, let’s look at the advantages of hiring a PPC agency.

1. Agencies know how to reach the right customers

Setting up a Google Ads account is one thing. Creating effective paid search ads on this platform that reach your target audience, beat your competitors, deliver on their intent, and answer their questions? That’s quite another. 

To understand the intent, nuances, and characteristics of your target demographic, effective digital marketing agencies take a deep dive into your data and conduct independent research. 

Once an agency has your data, it uses your unique Google Ads account to target (and retarget) your ideal audience.

Great Google Ads agencies will take the time to dig into existing Google Analytics and other demographic metrics to see who you think your audience is, which audience segments you might be overlooking (if any), and help you brainstorm new keywords and campaigns to connect with them.

2. Agencies know which keywords are worth bidding on

Keyword research is an integral part of any Google Ads campaign. However, instead of bidding on the keywords Google auto-suggests, the right digital marketing agency should be able to take things a step further by using search query reports (SQRs) to understand which keywords in your industry gather the most traffic and conversions. 

Agencies can then analyze these keywords to ensure your ads see the best CTRs, then conduct A/B tests to see how your audience interacts with each keyword. They can then rework your Google Ads strategy to get you the best results possible. 

3. Agencies know how to optimize your ads and campaigns

Keyword research and A/B tests are just one of the many ways to optimize your campaigns for better PPC management.

Aside from that, Google Ads agencies can also make data-driven decisions to improve the quality of your ad copy (thus reducing the price you pay per bid). They should also prioritize aligning your landing pages with your paid search ads to ensure a consistent message and streamlined process to turn a clicker into a qualified lead.

The takeaway

Hiring one of these Google Ads agencies to help you with paid search campaign management is almost always going to be a worthwhile investment if you want to scale your business, increase your ad spend, and capture more clients.

If you’re on the hunt for a digital ad agency that goes the extra mile, delivers results, and works as a partner (not a service provider), you’re in the right place.

To see what all HawkSEM can do for your Google Ads program and your overall digital marketing strategy, get in touch with us today. 

Caroline Cox

Caroline Cox

Caroline is HawkSEM's content marketing manager. She uses her more than 10 years of professional writing and editing experience to create SEO-friendly articles, educational thought leadership pieces, and savvy social media content to help market leaders create successful digital marketing strategies. She's a fan of seltzer water, print magazines, and huskies.

Questions or comments? Join the conversation here!

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Written by Sam Yadegar on Nov 1 , 2022

Discover how Google Ads Expert Mode can help you create the best PPC advertising for your budget.

Here, you’ll find:

  • What Google Ads Smart Mode is
  • What Google Ads Expert Mode is
  • The benefits of these modes for your campaigns
  • When it’s time to switch to Google Ads Expert Mode

Managing Google Ads is a lot like riding a bike. You don’t just start off riding the Tour de France. You start with training wheels and work toward independence. Think of Google Ads Smart Mode as training wheels and Google Ads Expert Mode as the Tour de France.

When you open your Google Ads account and create a new campaign, you’ll have two options: Smart Mode and Expert. These two versions of Google Ads offer different experiences to manage and optimize your campaigns.

Google Ads Smart Mode

According to Google Ads, Smart Mode is the simplified version of Google Ads. But it is, indeed, limited. (Image: Unsplash)

What is Google Ads Smart Mode?

First, let’s talk about Google Ads (formerly Google AdWords) Smart Mode. Smart means you have a limited amount of control over bids, targeting, goals, and even where your ads show. Instead, when you begin setting up your campaign, you put in the goals and basic info, and the AI does the work for you.

According to Google, “Smart Mode is the simplified version of Google Ads. It was designed to simplify the advertising experience, so businesses can drive real results and save time setting up and managing campaigns.”

Using this mode, you’ll enjoy an easy step-by-step setup and management. You’ll retain control of your ad copy, landing page, keyword themes, and goals, but you won’t need to do the day-to-day management and optimization that an expert campaign requires.

What is the purpose of Smart Mode?

You may be wondering why Google Ads has two different modes. The Google Ads team knows that not everyone is a digital marketing pro. They understand all businesses need to create brand awareness, generate phone calls, increase foot traffic, or complete another business goal. With this in mind, they created Smart Campaigns.

Goals

In the eyes of Google, less data means less levers to pull, therefore better performance. (Image: Unsplash)

What goals can I set?

In this mode, you can set several goals. These goals are:

  • Receive more calls
  • Attract more visits to your physical location
  • Get more sales or website sign-ups
  • Get more brand awareness with video views

Receive more calls

When you use this goal, Google uses machine learning and your settings to drive more calls to your business. Your ads will have a call button that users can click and be connected to your business.

Attract more visits to your physical location

This goal helps brick-and-mortar businesses get more customers to their physical locations. The platform will optimize your campaign to drive more foot traffic to your store or business. You’ll see how many people interacted with your business profile on Google Maps.

Get more sales or website sign-ups

If you own a service-based business, you’ll use this goal to generate more leads, newsletter signups, or similar actions via your website. Or, if you sell products, you can create a Google Ads campaign with the objective of selling your products. Google Ads will help you accomplish this by optimizing for trackable actions. It will also help you set up Google Analytics to track these actions on your site.

Get more brand awareness with video views

If your business isn’t well-known, then you may want to increase your brand awareness. A video views campaign can also be helpful for creators and influencers who need more views. 

What data will I get?

When you spend money on ads, you want to know what you’re getting. In Smart Mode, you’ll be provided with limited data. In the eyes of Google, less data means less levers to pull, therefore better performance. The data you do have access to includes:

  • Map actions (local actions) – These are interactions with your Google My Business listing, like getting directions, viewing a menu, clicks to call, and sharing locations.
  • Reported calls – The number of calls your campaigns generated.
  • Clicks and impressions – The number of times your ad was seen and clicked. 
  • Connect Google Analytics – You can also connect your Google Analytics to see more data, including actions on your website.

Should I use Smart Mode?

New Google Ads users usually benefit most from this mode since it provides a guided, easy-to-manage interface. You won’t have to do keyword research or write lots of ad copy. You can set up a campaign and get started in just a few minutes without any prior training. 

Small business owners who aren’t yet ready to hire a professional to manage their ads often use Smart Mode to create more awareness of their business.

“…Smart Mode was designed by Google as [an] autonomic on-ramp to Google Ads,” says VP of Growth and Strategy at HawkSEM, Steven Dang, “…in an ideal world, no one should be using [it].” 

But for companies in a hurry to get campaigns up and running, with zero marketing support or resources, or unbounded by traditional metrics of success like return on investment (ROI) or return on ad spend (ROAS) — Smart Mode might be an option.

But, ideally? Everyone should use Expert Mode. 

Furthermore, Expert Mode is a bit of a misnomer because it has one believing that only “experts” should be using Expert Mode. In reality, “Expert Mode” should probably be styled as “Normal Mode,” because so many of the features and capabilities found in Expert Mode should come standard, or be implemented by, your average, run-of-the-mill account.

What is Google Ads Expert Mode?

In this interface, you’ll find many more options and the ability to adjust every part of your campaigns, such as a wealth of affinity and in-market audiences for targeting and a diverse set of campaign types to reach potential clients on all of Google’s networks. 

You can also create custom conversion tracking, which allows you track both conversions and micro-conversions to move users down your marketing funnel. Professional marketers can help businesses achieve their goals through various campaign types, including Search, Display, and Video.

“Expert Mode offers the full range of Google Ads features and campaign types,” states Google Help. “While it gives advertisers more complete control over their bidding strategies, it also requires more complex management. This is why we recommend it for advanced marketers and advertisers.”

Goals

In Smart Mode, you’re limited to just one goal per campaign, and they must be one of Google Ad’s predefined goals. (Image: Rawpixel)

What is the purpose of Expert Mode?

Unlike the Smart Mode option, Expert Mode is created for the professional advertiser. The purpose is to let professionals tailor every aspect of their campaigns to their marketing goals. It allows for advanced audience creation and customized tracking. 

When should I switch to Expert Mode?

For some small businesses, Smart Mode might be all you need. However, if you want to grow and scale, you’ll soon find yourself limited by the Smart Mode features. There is limited analytics and the features are sparse. With Expert Mode, you’ll only be limited by your creativity. 

“You should switch to Expert Mode if you want any semblance of control over your account, whether it’s setting your own bids, writing your ads, selecting your own targets or keywords, or choosing your own settings” Dang adds.

What’s the difference between Smart Mode and Expert Mode?

As you learn your way around Google Ads, you’ll find Smart Mode tends to be limiting. You’ll want to test new strategies as you get more advanced, but that’s only possible if you switch to Expert Mode. 

Once you make the switch, you’ll find a highly dynamic platform with a variety of levers to pull, empowering you to create highly customized campaigns capable of achieving business goals. While it takes an expert to take advantage of this mode properly, you’ll find that Google Ads offers many benefits for brands.

Goals

In Smart Mode, you’re limited to just one goal per campaign, and they must be one of Google Ad’s predefined goals. When you switch to Expert Mode, you can customize your goals. If you are able to track your ads with the Google Ads tag or Google Analytics, then you can add it as a goal. Some possibilities are:

  • Abandoned carts
  • Product views
  • Completed forms
  • Page views
  • Button clicks 

This level of customization assists you in creating campaigns for every stage of your funnel.

Audiences and demographics

You won’t be limited to just keyword themes. There are several types of audiences you can use:

  • In-market
  • Affinity
  • Detailed demographics
  • Life events
  • Your data segments
  • Similar segments

In-market audiences contain people who are actively researching and thinking about buying a product or service like yours. Google uses up-to-date buying intent data to reach users in the audience you select. Affinity audiences are users with an “affinity” for particular hobbies and interests. 

Not only can you use audiences to create highly targeted campaigns with contextual targeting, but you can also utilize demographics. Adjustments and exclusions can be made to age, gender, parental status, and income bracket. There are also select detailed demographics like homeowner status, education, and marital status.

Life events are exactly what they sound like. These would be milestones like people who are moving soon.

By contrast, your data segments are the data you collect on your website or landing page. These data segments can be anything you can track (for example, people who viewed a product on your website).

Last but not least are similar segments. These similar segments are created within the Google Ads system when it identifies an eligible data segment. There are some standard eligibility requirements. You need to own the seed list, and there must be at least 100 users in the list. The recency of membership and the types of sites the users visited. 

Keyword match types

Keyword match types are a powerful way to control search queries your ads appear on. There are three match types, broad match, exact match, and phrase match. These differ from Smart Mode’s keyword themes in two ways. First, it’s a keyword you’d like your ads to be matched with rather than an idea. 

Second, you are able to do more than make a guess at which keywords will be ideal to use.  Instead, you can use the Keyword Planner to do extensive research. It reveals keyword volumes, projected keyword bids, level of competition, as well as forecasted data. You can make educated decisions and plan out thematically-based campaigns to structure your account for success.

Negative keywords

Negative keywords prevent your ads from being shown on specific words or phrases. If your keyword was “storage container,” and you added a negative keyword, “careers,” then your ad wouldn’t show for the query storage container careers. As you can see, negative keywords are vital to ensuring your ads appear for the correct audience. The control this gives you is yet another reason you’ll benefit from using Expert Mode.

Assets (formerly ad extensions)

These are a variety of informational add-ons that can be shown with your ads when you’re eligible. The Assets you can use to enhance your ads are:

  • Callouts
  • Structured Snippets
  • Price
  • Call
  • Sitelink
  • Lead form
  • App
  • Promotion
  • Image
  • Location

Callouts

These are non-clickable assets that allow you to highlight your business and what it has to offer.

Structured snippets

You can give more details about your products or services using Structured Snippets. First, you choose a category like “service catalog” or “amenities.” Then, you add a relevant list to the asset to showcase relevant information.

Price extensions 

Price extensions allow you to show prices for your products and services directly within your ads. Up to eight prices will show at one time.

Call

If you’d like people to call your business, you can add a call extension to your ad. People can dial the number or click to call directly from their device.

Sitelinks

Sitelinks are a great way to include more links for your site. You can create sitelinks for your about page, services, contact, or any pages you’d like to showcase.

Lead form

If you are running lead generation campaigns, then lead forms can help. You can direct users to a lead form, so they don’t have to leave the platform to submit their information.

App

Only select accounts are eligible for these extensions. App extensions let you link your tablet or mobile app to your ads. This is helpful if your goal is app installs.

Promotion

Are you running a special promotion? Promotion assets give you the ability to show special promotions alongside your ads. You can list dates and give promo codes. You specify the URL so you can send potential customers to special landing pages too.

Image

Image assets are only available to accounts that are at least 90 days old. According to Google, this extension increases the click-through rate by 10% (on average) when they show on mobile search ads.

Location

Location assets use your Google My Business profile to show your location in your ad.

Variety of campaign types

Google Ads Smart Mode

You’ll be able to choose from several types of campaigns in this mode. You can reach potential customers via Google Search and image ads on the Google Display Network, partners’ sites, Gmail, and YouTube. 

  • Search – reach users when they type queries into the Google Search bar
  • Display – users will see your ads on YouTube, Google Play, Google Finance, and Gmail, as well as Partner sites (which can vary)
  • YouTube – these appear within streaming videos, over videos, and before or after videos 
  • Performance Max – The most dynamic campaign type allows your ads on all of Google’s channels.
  • Shopping – Created for e-commerce, these ads appear on Google Display, YouTube, the Shopping Tab, Search Partner sites, and Shopping Service and Apps.
  • Discovery – Ads are displayed on Gmail Promotions and Social tabs, YouTube Home, Watch Next feeds, and Discover.

Learn more in our post about campaign types.

Ability to retarget users

Yet another feature missing from Smart Mode is remarketing (also known as retargeting). That’s when you use an advertising platform, in this case Google Ads, to show ads to people who’ve visited your site or completed a specific goal.

The goal is to turn website traffic into conversions. If they expressed interest in your product or service, then it’s worth trying to get them back to the site. Remarketing ads allow you to give special offers, new details, and discounts to people who have been to your site. Some popular remarketing audiences are:

  • Cart abandoners
  • Product viewers
  • Visitors to specific pages (like a service page)
  • All site visitors

When you use remarketing, you get a second chance to engage users. Research proves more touchpoints produce more conversions.

How to switch to Expert Mode in Google Ads

Making the switch between modes is easy! Sign into your account and navigate your way to the wrench icon (Settings) in the top right corner. Then choose “Switch to Expert Mode.” You’re done!

The takeaway

Using Google Ads Smart Mode? You’re missing out on features and opportunities.

As Dang points out:

“Some of the most important features someone is missing out on if they don’t use Expert Mode include the ability to set your own bids and bidding strategy, the ability to choose and refine both positive and negative keywords, the ability to get granular with settings and campaign segments and making adjustments to them as necessary, the ability to write your own ads, and the ability to choose your own targets.”

The bottom line? Doing Google Ads badly in Expert Mode is probably still more beneficial than doing it well in Smart Mode. Do you need help with your ads or marketing strategy? Learn how HawkSEM can help!

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar is the co-founder and CEO of HawkSEM. Starting out as a software engineer, his penchant for solving problems quickly led him to the digital marketing world, where he has been helping clients for over 12 years. He loves doing everything he can to help brands "crush it" through ROI-driven digital marketing programs. He's also a fan of basketball and spending time with his family.

Questions or comments? Join the conversation here!

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Written by Sam Yadegar on Oct 24 , 2022

When it comes to PPC advertising, Google Ads reigns supreme. And while the platform is complex, this guide makes it easy to get your ads up and running.

Here, you’ll find:

  • What to know to get your first ads live on Google
  • Common mistakes to avoid
  • How to optimize PPC ads as they run
  • Plenty of links for further reading

Want to run pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns? Google should be your go-to.

As one of the most powerful marketing platforms on the planet, Google not only has a massive reach, but they also have some of the most advanced targeting capabilities on this side of Facebook. 

But with great power comes great responsibility — and complexity.

While building Google Ads’ PPC campaigns can seem intimidating at first, it’s not impossible for a business owner or marketing manager to tackle campaign management on their own. All it takes is a solid foundation, understanding what the heck you’re getting into, and learning how to read the results (oh, and what to do with them). 

Looking for a primer on what pay-per-click advertising is? You can read all about PPC in our guide here.

Step 1: Determine your advertising goals

Easy, tiger! Before you even login to Google Ads, let’s put some thought into what you want to get out of your PPC advertising. 

Common goals might be to: 

  • Build brand awareness 
  • Increase website traffic
  • Generate new leads and potential customers
  • Remarket to an existing audience
  • Increase conversions 

Determine Your Advertising Goals

Different goals will guide your campaigns along the way and help measure your success. Ad goals are crucial to determining which kinds of ad campaigns you run, what ad copy you use, and what landing pages you create. Here, you can read more about choosing ad goals (and other ROI-driven pro tips).

Step 2: Create a Google Ads account

If you don’t have a Google Ads account, you’ll need to create one. But chances are you already have one if your business used Google AdWords (now dubbed Google Ads), AdSense, or YouTube Advertising (which Google owns) in the past.

Google’s disparate ad systems and name changes mean you may need to recover an account rather than create one.  

Create a Google Ads Account

Either way, visit ads.google.com to get started. As a bonus for new accounts, Google will give you $500 in ad credits once you spend $500 to help get you started. Free money is free money — why would you turn that down?

Step 3: Create a campaign

Creating a campaign is simple.  

Google has a guided ad creation experience you can use. However, we’ve found this to be a bit inefficient, plus it hides most of the Google Ads’ essential features. 

Instead, we suggest you switch to Expert Mode. 

Choose Google Ads Goal

When Google asks your main online advertising goal, scroll down, look for “Switch to Expert Mode,” and click with confidence.

Next, you can choose a campaign goal or “create a campaign without a goal’s guidance.” 

Create a Campaign

Choosing a goal allows Google to preferentially show your paid search ads to people they think are most likely to convert and help you achieve your goal. 

Is Google always right? Nope. That’s why it’s often better to choose a goalless campaign for more control to specify your targeting and monitor conversions yourself.

Step 4: Pick a campaign type

Now you’ll need to pick one of the various campaign types. 

  • Search Network: Text ads on the Google search engine results page and related Google apps
  • Display Network: Image-centric ads on Google’s immense publisher network
  • Video Ads: Ads using video that primarily appear on YouTube
  • Shopping: Ads in Google Shopping for e-commerce businesses (new accounts can’t create these right away)
  • App: Ads focusing on app downloads through Google Play, displayed in many channels
  • Local: Ads meant to promote in-person, physical locations, and storefronts
  • Smart: Automated campaigns that allow Google more optimization control
  • Performance Max: A goal-based campaign that automatically displays as any of the above ad types to find highly targeted audiences using machine learning

Google recently introduced “Performance Max” and is automatically upgrading Shopping and Local ads throughout their system. You can read more about that process here.

Pro tip: Not sure which kind of campaign type to run? Google’s rundown on how to choose the right  campaign type is a great starting point.

Pick Campaign Type

Step 5: Configure targeting options

First things first: Name your campaign. We recommend something descriptive of the goal, campaign type, and offer you’re presenting. 

Now, Google provides a lot of choices when it comes to audience targeting. Choosing the wrong targeting options is one of the most common mistakes businesses make with Google Ads.

Configure Targeting Options

A general rule of thumb is to make your target audience as narrow and focused on your goal as possible. The more specific you are with your targeting settings, the better Google is at presenting your ads to the most relevant audiences. 

For example:

  • Location targeting can be focused on targeted locations and even exclude people who aren’t in that location.
  • You can use language targeting if your audience is bilingual or you have alternatives you can show them.
  • Keyword targeting, which is most important for search campaigns, will center your audience around people who search for your key phrases. More on this later.
  • Audience targeting is an advanced option that allows you, for example, to connect your Google Analytics to Google Ads and run ads targeting people who have already visited your site before.

If you want a more detailed rundown of targeting options, Search Engine Journal has you covered. Or, if this is where you start to get overwhelmed and you’d prefer to skip the learning and time-wasting stage and hire experts to do it for you, we know just the right people.

Step 6: Configure budget and bidding options

Another mistake newbies often make with Google Ads is inefficient bidding.

Google will happily take as much money as you throw at them, and while they’ll make an effort to spend that money positively, they won’t complain if you don’t optimize  your ad spend. 

Configure Budget

To save money, set your budget caps first. 

You can set a daily budget cap, which is extrapolated into monthly spending limits. However, Google uses somewhat fuzzy math to enable them to draw on tomorrow’s budget if your ads are performing exceptionally well today.

Budget and Spending Limits

Next, set a bidding strategy. 

You can let Google optimize your strategy according to your goals and ad settings, but this is a recipe for wasted money (without realizing you’re wasting money). 

Instead, select a bidding strategy directly. Then, pick one of the appropriate options. Google has Smart Bidding strategies to optimize for specific campaign goals like return on ad spend, cost per action, or conversion value. 

You can also choose manual CPC bidding to assign a specific bid to specific keywords. This step is where the best possible optimizations come in, but it also requires a lot of manual fiddling, so it’s best left for advanced users.

Step 7: Set extra features

There are some bonus features provided by Google that you may want to take advantage of, including ad scheduling and ad extensions.

1. Ad scheduling

Ad scheduling allows you to choose specific days of the week and times of the day your ads should (and shouldn’t) display. This option can be helpful for time-sensitive offers or products where ads shown at the right time perform much better. 

Ad Scheduling Feature

For example, a restaurant might advertise their lunch specials anytime between 8am and 1pm only. Alternatively, you might find that your ads perform better during a specific time in the day, and you may decide you only want to show your ads during that window.

2. Ad extensions

Ad extensions are additional features or links that display below your ad copy. These include:

  • sitelinks to specific subpages
  • callouts of helpful information relevant to a query
  • a visible phone number a user can call
  • location and hour information on display
  • app install buttons
  • pricing information pulled from your site directly
  • and a range of other options

Ad Extensions

If they’re relevant to your ads, add them — they’re free and enhance your ads significantly. They increase your click-through rate (CTR), help your ads stand out from competitors, take up more real estate, and often positively impact your conversion rate.

Step 8: Choose keywords and configure Ad Groups

The core of any ad on Google comes down to your keywords and copy.  Preliminary and ongoing keyword research is essential.

Psst: Our Keyword Research 101 guide can help you with your PPC and SEO strategies along the way. 

Choose Keywords and Ad Groups

Generally, you want:

  • A core focus keyword as your main search term for your PPC campaign
  • Sets of focused keywords for individual ads
  • Groups of longer-tail keywords to use for individual ad groups
  • Negative keywords you want to exclude due to irrelevance to your offer 

Keyword lists will change and develop over time, but you gotta do the legwork to get started.

Step 9: Create your ads

At this point, you’re finally ready to create your ads.

Create Individual Ads

Ads need a few components to be complete.

  • A destination URL is the landing page for your ad. You should tightly focus this link on the offer as much as possible; you want maximum congruence between the ad and the landing page for Quality Score purposes.  
  • The display URL is what your URL looks like in the SERPs. The display URL might be different from the destination URL. If your landing page URL is longer or “uglier” with UTM tags and tracking data, you can trim it down here and make it look nicer. 
  • Headlines. You can choose up to three headlines per ad, up to 30 characters each. Each variation should be aligned with your offer, but testing variations of keywords.
  • Descriptions. You can specify up to two different descriptions, up to 90 characters each, as the primary copy for your ads.
  • Media. You can add your images or videos here if you’re using display ads.

As you choose a format and build out your ads, Google generates a preview of what your ad will look like. Make sure to double-check for typos and other issues before you submit your ad for review.

Step 10: Run ads, monitor results, and optimize

Now that you’ve put your ads together, it’s time to go live. 

If you haven’t already added your billing information, Google will prompt you for it before submitting your ad for review. Google will generally review and approve (or deny) your ads within a day, though your first ads might take a bit longer.  

Run Ads Monitor Results and Optimize

Run your ads for a while — anywhere from a few weeks to a few months.

It can be tempting to watch performance like a Hawk (see what we did there) and modify underperforming campaigns right away. But you need enough data to make decisions about your ads’ true performance.

This requires enough time, money, and audience to gather those metrics. Once you’ve collected that information, you can audit your ads to get an idea of what’s working and what’s not. 

Make changes to your targeting settings, ad copy, and keywords to test further variations and optimize your ads. This marketing strategy is an ongoing process, so be prepared to return regularly to keep your ads working at peak performance and under budget. 

If you want a shortcut to actionable insights that can dramatically improve your ad performance, check out ConversionIQ. This is our exclusive tech platform that syncs your important campaign data, helps you pinpoint more qualified leads, pulls the plug on wasted ad spend, and more.

The takeaway

It can take time to get the hang of a PPC platform, but it’s well worth your time. After all, Google wants as many businesses to use their ad system as possible. 

The Takeaway

Unfortunately, catering to the needs of everyone from the smallest local shop to enormous Fortune 100 companies means the ads system is a big ask.

The good news: you’re not alone. Our blog is packed with helpful information to help you along the way — and if you want the experts to do the heavy lifting for you, we’re here

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar is the co-founder and CEO of HawkSEM. Starting out as a software engineer, his penchant for solving problems quickly led him to the digital marketing world, where he has been helping clients for over 12 years. He loves doing everything he can to help brands "crush it" through ROI-driven digital marketing programs. He's also a fan of basketball and spending time with his family.

Questions or comments? Join the conversation here!

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Written by Sam Yadegar on Oct 20 , 2022

From audience targeting and A/B testing to keyword research and bidding, a lot goes into optimizing Google Ads.

Here, you’ll find:

  • Why you should optimize your Google Ads campaigns
  • Which campaign parts are most important to optimize
  • Steps to optimize your Google Ads account
  • Why your bids might be holding you back

Google Ads is the bread and butter of most companies’ search marketing strategies. But, man, is it time-consuming. 

We all know the effort is well worth the reward: Getting smack-dab in front of potential customers who scour the internet for your product or service. What other marketing platform allows you to tailor your messaging to the customer’s intent and show up when they need you most? 

But in case you haven’t done it lately, here’s your friendly reminder: It’s time to update and optimize your campaigns. 

Google Ads

In its simplest form, Google Ads starts with a keyword. (Image: Unsplash)

Why Google Ads optimization matters

As a business owner or a marketing manager with a million and one things on your plate, it’s easy to let your Google Ads campaigns run wild and free. 

But let’s think back to the incredible AI power of Google Ads to put into perspective how important it is to reel in those campaigns to maximize your budget:

Audiences and interests

In the past, keywords were the most important part of PPC campaigns. But, as we all know, that’s not necessarily true anymore. 

Search ads still utilize keywords, sure, but they also use in-market and affinity audiences and advanced demographics. We use people’s interests, details about who they are, and what they’re researching to help target our ads in new ways. 

That last part is important. Because if you’re letting your campaigns run with the same old settings and assets…how will Google find new markets and audiences that are ready to convert?

Audience and interests

Use people’s interests to help target your ads in new ways. (Image: Unsplash).

Campaign types

You know the deal — Google is all about ad options: Search, Display, YouTube, Discovery, Remarketing, Shopping, Performance Max. 

Now might be a good time to ask if you’re using all the campaign types that can connect you to your audience? Not only that, but have your goals changed? When’s the last time you considered a new campaign type?

Search Campaigns

Search relies on keywords to match with a Google user’s search queries. When your ad is chosen for auction, a text ad is generated from the ad copy you’ve entered into the Google Ads UI. These ads are intent-driven and directly help you reach your goals.

Performance Max

Performance Max campaigns rely on contextual data, audiences, your data, and custom segments to find people looking for your product or service. Your ad displays as text or multimedia, depending on its location.

These ads can show on Search, YouTube, Gmail, Discover, Maps, and Display channels. These campaigns work for both e-commerce and lead generation and tend to be high-converting for many advertisers.

Display Campaigns

Display campaigns are image and video ads. You choose the audiences, placements, and topics these ads target. These ads are usually more focused on brand awareness than conversion.

Remarketing ads are actually a type of Display campaign created by adding your website visitors and other audiences you’ve created.

YouTube Ads

YouTube ads are shown across the YouTube network, both in-stream and on the watch pages. They consist of both text and video. They focus on both conversion and brand awareness. There are many powerful ways to target these ads.

Shopping Ads

If you run e-commerce ads, then you’ll benefit from Shopping ads, which are optimized to drive purchases. You can target your website visitors, customer lists, audiences, and more with these ads.

Discovery Ads

Discovery Ads cover the Display and YouTube networks. They help you connect with people who are ready to engage with your brand. They are called “Discovery” because they help you to be discovered by potential customers. Your ads will show to people who don’t yet know your brand so that you can be discovered.

Optimize campaigns like your bottom line depends on it

Because it does! 

We know it’s tedious, but without reviewing search term reports or keeping your negative keywords list updated, your ads are at risk of showing up where they don’t belong. And without adjusting keyword bids, your ads may not show at all. And when you don’t pause non-converting keywords? Consider your money wasted.

Top Google Ads campaign optimization tips for marketing managers and business owners alike

We know two things:

  1. Optimizing your Google Ads campaigns is critical
  2. You don’t have much time.

Even if you can’t dedicate the time your campaigns truly deserve, this basic checklist will still save your budget and keep your ads relevant. 

Optimizations

Start with the keywords, and work your way up. (Image: Unsplash)

#1 Start with keywords and work your way up 

We get it, you’re busy! So let’s just start with the low-hanging fruit: 

Are your keyword bids so low that they won’t show up on the first page? Consider raising them so your audience will actually see your ads. Check the estimated bids for top of page and first position recommendations. If you’re not getting enough clicks, you may want to raise your bid to one of these.

Next, analyze your Search Query report. Are there irrelevant queries being pulled in? Add those as negative keywordsDo you have queries that convert but aren’t keywords? Try adding those to your ad groups to increase clicks.

Now, take a look at your keyword performance. We suggest using 60 to 90 days of data to make informed decisions. Are there keywords that don’t have clicks? Pause them! They’re not doing anything for you. 

Do you see keywords with clicks but no conversions? Start pausing the ones that have spent the most. This will focus your budget on what works. Eventually, you’ll only want to keep keywords that convert. 

Why pay for keywords that don’t contribute to your goal?

#2 Negative keyword list: When did you update it last?

Often, PPC managers create a “universal” list that excludes words like “careers,” “salary,” and “YouTube.” They are added to the list as broad match to exclude people searching for jobs and how-to videos.

You already know that negative keyword lists help you avoid wasted ad spend and clicks without conversions. So if you haven’t updated yours in a while, it’s time to do a quick check. High-performing campaigns have a robust set of negative keywords, which keeps ad relevance high and spend focused on converting terms.

Pro tip: Given the recent changes to “loosened up” match types, our marketing experts suggest running ad groups that have exact match-only keywords and ad groups that have phrase-match only. From there, you can add exact-match negatives to the phrase-match ad group, creating strong defense and tighter control on the ads being served. Feeling lost? Click below and we’ll help you out.

#3 Bad ad copy = zero clicks

Are you using the best ad copy possible? Is it:

  • Relevant to your audience? 
  • Appealing to people who are likely to benefit from what you’re offering? Not just anyone who happens across them while surfing the internet.
  • Using action words so people know what to do when they click on your ads? (E.g., “Learn More” instead of just “Click Here”).
  • Humorous when appropriate?

A low click-through rate (CTR) indicates you’re not resonating with your audience. Test different headlines and descriptions to see what gets more people to your landing page. Make sure each headline adds more useful information. Your business goals will thank you.

#4 Improve ad strength for more a tailored experience

Ad strength is crazy important. 

And if you run RSAs (responsive search ads), you should be reviewing your ad score regularly. Getting as close to excellent as possible will give Google more ad combinations to create and tailor to the specific user. 

You should also take a look at the headline performance. Does Google say it’s low? If so, change it out with another headline. Keeping all of these at excellent will ensure you’re putting out the best ads possible. 

Here are a couple of tips to help you create clickable ads:

  • Use popular keywords in your headlines
  • Make sure your headlines and description lines aren’t just variations of the same idea
  • Add a call to action to your description lines
  • For Performance Max campaigns, add as many images and videos as you can
  • Include key benefits and features of your product or service — what makes you stand out?

#5 Ad extensions (ahem, assets) make you stand out

Site extensions

Are you using as many ad extensions (now known as assets) as possible? 

You may not need to use every single one, but it allows you to stand out from other ads. And, we can now create and edit assets in the same tab as Responsive Search Ads.

Every time you have a new promotion, you should be optimizing your ad extensions. But also check in on all the other extension options available to you, like special links on your site, pricing, your phone number, and more.

Sitelinks

Get your audience to the most valuable parts of your website faster. You might link to the Contact Us page or store hours to help give users more information.

Structured snippets

This ad extension allows you to tell potential customers more about services, products, amenities, and brands. They aren’t clickable but do add important details to your ads.

Location extensions

Coupled with high-performing ad copy, location extensions increase the odds of your ad being clicked. Aside from detailing your address, it informs users how close you are to them or their destination, which helps with the decision-making process.

Image extensions

You might have noticed Google Search ads now include images. These are added through the UI and catch the eye as someone scrolls down the page.

Call extensions

Are you looking for calls? Call extensions add your phone number to your ads so that searchers can dial your number or click to call.

Price extensions

Tell potential customers how much your products cost with price extensions.

Promo extensions

You can get the word out with this extension type if you’re running a sale or special offer.

Callouts

Add extra information about your experience, warranties, or just about anything else you want to tell users.

Lead form extensions

If your goal is generating leads, you don’t need to get people to the website to make this happen. Use lead form extensions to get more leads with your ads.

Affiliate location extensions

This type of asset is only applicable to businesses with affiliate retail locations. However, you can add these locations.

#6 Increase Quality Score

This is a big one.

Quality Score is the combination of several metrics, including expected CTR, ad relevance, and landing page experience. If you have a low Quality Score (five or less), you should prioritize improving it. This will result in a lower keyword CPC and you’ll be eligible to show in more auctions. 

The two things to focus on here are improving the relevance between your keywords and ads and optimizing the landing page. Both should have your keyword or a variation of it somewhere. 

The landing page should speak to the target audience, have a good call to action (CTA), and state the key benefits of your offer. Ads should also have a CTA along with key information about your business and your product or service features.

#7 Take control of your bids

When’s the last time you used bid adjustments to increase or decrease your bids? Based on a user’s location, device, gender, income, and age, you can also adjust audiences, days, hours, locations, and the day of the week. 

The idea is to raise or lower the bid based on conversions, CTR, and cost per click (CPC). Doing this will allow you to bid more competitively in auctions where you statistically do well and reduce your bids in auctions where you don’t do well. As a result, you should see an improvement in your conversions.

#8 Speaking of bids, check in on your bid strategies

Google offers several bid strategies, also known as Smart Bidding, depending on your goals. They use machine learning to read real-time signals and make changes to your bids. 

This allows you to do something you can’t do: Read the available information to make auction-time bids. Machine learning evaluates a rich set of contextual signals and query-level performance data — they can improve your conversion rate, lower your CPA, and help you reach your business goals — and there are several to choose from:

Maximize conversions

If your goal is to gain more conversions, you can try this Smart Bidding strategy. You can also add a target CPA to this strategy if you have a CPA goal you need to work with. If your campaigns are limited by budget, Maximize Conversions can help you get more conversions.

This strategy is available on Search, Display, Performance Max, and video campaigns.

Target ROAS

Target ROAS is generally used for Shopping campaigns, but if you’re uploading conversion value data, you can theoretically use it on any campaign. If you know your target ROAS, you can take advantage of the Target ROAS strategy. Just remember, you’ll need 15 conversions with conversion value tracked before you can use it effectively.

You can use Target ROAS on Performance Max, Display, Search, and Shopping campaigns.

Maximize clicks

If your current goal is to get more traffic (clicks) to your website, then Maximize Clicks will help you do this. It comes in handy for new campaigns, brand awareness, or if you have a robust funnel you’d like to fill. Using this strategy means you won’t have to worry about whether or not your bids are at first page. You may want to add a maximum CPC, though, as you may find the CPC getting too high over time.

Use this bidding strategy on Display and Search campaigns.

Target impression share

If your competition is high, or you want to increase brand awareness, you might use this type of strategy to ensure you capture a specific part of the impression share. This strategy ensures that a percentage of your eligible traffic will see your ad. While it won’t guarantee clicks, it will improve brand recognition.

Target Impression Share is available on Search campaigns.

Maximize conversion value

If you’re running an e-commerce account or have assigned values to your conversion goals, then you can use Maximize Conversion Value to increase your conversion value. In turn, you’ll benefit by increasing your overall conversion value, making your ads more valuable, and hopefully improving your ROAS.

Maximize Conversion Value will also allow you to set a target ROAS or target CPA if you’d like to give it more constraints to work with.

Use this Smart Bidding strategy with Search or Performance Max.

Keep in mind this is not an exhaustive list of all Smart Bidding strategies (Youtube has some of its own) but is a list of the most commonly used ones.

ConversionIQ

Does managing your digital marketing campaigns take too much time out of your day? Struggling with data analysis? You may want to try a management tool like ConversionIQ. 

This full-funnel solution makes your conversion tracking more reliable and works across a ton of platforms. It can even be used for search engine optimization (SEO)! You’ll get help with budget pacing, improving qualified leads, and stopping wasted ad spend.

The takeaway

We know you have a lot on your plate. And, admittedly, tweaking your campaigns necessitates a high level of competence in Google Ads management. 

But to save money and reach the right searchers, you need to keep up with your optimizations — even if you can only manage the suggestions listed here today.

If managing all of this sounds like too much, maybe it’s time to hire some help. Reach out to HawkSEM to see how we can help you today!

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar is the co-founder and CEO of HawkSEM. Starting out as a software engineer, his penchant for solving problems quickly led him to the digital marketing world, where he has been helping clients for over 12 years. He loves doing everything he can to help brands "crush it" through ROI-driven digital marketing programs. He's also a fan of basketball and spending time with his family.

Questions or comments? Join the conversation here!

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Written by Caroline Cox on Aug 1 , 2022

Let’s look back at the last 20 years of Google Shopping.

Here, you’ll find:

  • The 411 on new Google Shopping developments
  • Ways the platform has evolved since it began
  • How Froogle evolved into Google Shopping
  • How the latest changes can affect your brand

In the past few years, the pandemic ignited a boom of online shopping (aka e-commerce). More brands than ever before moved operations online, and virtual shopping hit an all-time high, surpassing $4.2 trillion worldwide.

As more merchants continue to populate the e-commerce realm, the search engine has been working to keep up and optimize accordingly.

In April 2020, Google announced that they were bringing free listings to Google, giving stores free exposure to the millions of users who use Google for online shopping every day. The unpaid listings show up under the “Shopping” tab, not the actual search engine results page (SERP).

More recently, Google introduced a new “swipeable” shopping feed on search in May 2022. According to Search Engine Land, “organic results will be joined by shopping ads in one larger swipeable visual feed.”

This year marks two decades of Google Shopping. Let’s look back at how far the platform has come.

Online shopping package received from the mail

Even though it was free to list products on Froogle, merchants had to pay to display sponsored links. (Image: Unsplash)

How Google Shopping began

Google Shopping first launched under a completely different name: Froogle. Craig Nevill-Manning founded the platform in 2002.

Froogle started out as a service that helped people search for products online and compare their features and prices. Back then, listing products was free of charge. 

Google Shopping was highly convenient for buyers and monetized through Google Ads (Google AdWords at the time) by sellers.

The platform’s initial goal was to help buyers compare products. The idea quickly gained popularity since it allowed customers to explore different brands without switching to other websites. Even though it was free to list products on Froogle, merchants had to pay to display sponsored links.

From Froogle to Google Products

In 2007, Froogle evolved from a comparison service to a place where customers could also make purchases. That’s when higher ups changed the name to Google Product Searches.

The reasoning was simple: A witty pun that tied Google and “frugal” together was lost on many international users. Eventually, Google Product Searches was shortened to the more concise Google Products.

The same year, the service went through a major change. The site formerly known as Froogle was integrated with Google Search. This meant products could appear on the SERP right next to other results of the same search query.

Want to learn more about optimizing your product listings for SEO? Let us know.

Google Products becomes Google Shopping

Another major change came about in 2012, when Google Products stopped being a free service and turned into Google Shopping. Now, merchants had to pay to get their products listed.

Google explained that the move was sparked by the brand’s desire to improve user experience and help connect searchers with the right sellers. At that time, Google also launched a Google Express feature. This allowed shoppers to put products from different merchants into the same cart on the platform and make an instant purchase.

Pro tip: The Google Merchant Center dashboard is where retailers can manage Shopping campaigns and listings. Search Engine Land highlighted some new changes to this dashboard: a ‘pause’ attribute to temporarily halt ads, availability dates for backorder and preorder products, and an updated “unsupported Shopping content policy” regarding motor-powered bicycles.

Person adding clothes psd to cart closeup for virtual shopping campaign

The ability to purchase directly from Google simplified the buying process and drove sales as a result. (Image: Rawpixel)

Google Shopping grows into a major e-commerce platform

In 2019, the platform took a huge step toward becoming a serious e-commerce platform. The new update rolled out in France, then became available in the U.S.

This update focused on customer personalization and made the checkout process easier with a few new features:

  • Recommendations – Google started offering product recommendations based on the user’s browser history and the products they viewed or purchased — the users also got a personalized homepage
  • Price tracking – users could track the price on their favorite products so Google could notify them whenever prices dropped
  • Local searches – allowed users to search for certain products and retailers in their local area
  • Instant purchase – the ability to purchase products directly (the Google Express feature was fully integrated into Google Shopping)

With these added features, Google Shopping became an even more convenient selling tool for retailers. The ability to purchase directly from Google simplified the buying process and drove sales as a result.

If that sounds familiar, it’s because Google Shopping was becoming more and more like Amazon. The new update stirred even more competition between the two platforms.

Pro tip: The ability to list products for free on Google Shopping may require adjustments to your search engine optimization (SEO) campaigns. The quality and optimization of the product feed is crucial to the likelihood of it appearing as a response to the search query.

The takeaway

In 2002, Google Shopping started as a user-friendly product comparison service. Fast-forward 20 years to today, and it has evolved into a serious e-commerce platform continuing to give Amazon a run for its money.

Google continues to update its Shopping platform to benefit both sellers and buyers. Each new step of this evolution drives marketers to monitor and potentially improve their SEO campaigns as it continues to emphasize the importance of title, image, and product description optimization.

This evolution is a great example of a brand working steadfast to please users while remaining competitive and current with ever-changing technology.

This article has been updated and was originally published in August 2020.

Caroline Cox

Caroline Cox

Caroline is HawkSEM's content marketing manager. She uses her more than 10 years of professional writing and editing experience to create SEO-friendly articles, educational thought leadership pieces, and savvy social media content to help market leaders create successful digital marketing strategies. She's a fan of seltzer water, print magazines, and huskies.

Questions or comments? Join the conversation here!

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[DISPLAY_ULTIMATE_SOCIAL_ICONS]
Written by Sam Yadegar on Jul 22 , 2022

Make sure the Google Ads expert you work with checks these boxes.

Here, you’ll find:

  • The benefits Google Ads offers brands
  • Expert advice on optimizing Google Ads campaigns
  • What your Google Ads expert should know
  • Tips for successfully partnering with your expert

Like putting out forest fires, building rockets, and hitting the high notes in “I Will Always Love You,” some things are best left to the professionals. 

The same goes for paid search marketing. 

Nearly half of all search engine results page (SERP) clicks go to the top three paid ads. Of course, scoring one of the coveted prime spots is no easy feat. 

There are a number of moving parts when it comes to running a successful Google Ads campaign. For an ad to appear in the top spot of the SERP, it’s got to have a level of quality and relevance that the search engine deems worthy enough. 

Google has a massive reach, making it possible for you to reach a global audience. The platform also allows for a range of targeting, lets you harness intent, and allows you to see results in an easy-to-understand format.

Whether you’re looking to brush up on your own skills or partner with a pro to help take your campaigns to the next level, here are 8 things someone who deems themselves a “Google Ads expert” should know.

1. How to create effective ads

Since Google is the most popular search platform for most demographics, it makes sense that competition for ads is high. When you choose Google Ads, you’re competing with a host of other businesses that bid on the same keywords

Developing quality, relevant ads will help to improve your Quality Score. This is one of the metrics Google uses to assess the quality of your ads, as well as keywords and landing pages. 

It can save you money, too: Higher quality scores mean you can snag lower prices and higher ad placements. A Google Ads expert should know why Quality Score matters and how to find yours. 

2. Ways to make the most of bidding strategies

Google Ads offers several bidding strategies that advertisers can use to maximize ROI. Cost-per-click (CPC) bidding is recommended when the goal is to drive website traffic, while cost-per-thousand impressions (CPM) bidding works great for building brand awareness. 

CPA bidding is mainly for advertisers whose focus is on conversions like sign-ups and purchases. Your Google Ads expert should understand that testing different bidding models offers insight into campaign success and be able to help identify the one that drives better results. They should also be adept at managing your ads budget accordingly.

hawksem: google ads expert

Optimizing PPC landing page content can be the ticket to turning prospects into real buyers. (Image: Unsplash)

3. Content tips that inspire clicks

Once your ads have surfaced for your target audience, you want as many of them as possible to click on them — no-brainer, right? 

An experienced Google Ads expert should be able to harness attention-grabbing power words in your ad copy as an effective way to incite people to engage with you. 

Ideally, the expert you work with will understand how important it is to get your message across clearly and concisely in the parameters allotted for your ads.

After all, what good are impeccable landing pages if no one sees them? First, they’ve got to want to click.

4. How to optimize the ad-to-landing page UX

Speaking of landing pages: When guiding customers through your sales funnel, you want to offer them an experience that feels tailored to their specific needs. This increases the chances of prospects taking the desired action when they reach your landing page. 

Optimizing PPC landing page content can be the ticket to turning prospects into real buyers.

There are various ways to optimize your landing pages, such as:

  • Having a strong call to action (CTA)
  • Making sure the ad and landing page are consistent
  • Ensuring the page looks good on both mobile and desktop
  • Having a form that’s not too lengthy

Additionally, an effective landing page is scannable, free from too many distracting graphics and images, and features badges, testimonials, or other helpful proof points.

Need more Google Ads help? Let’s chat.

5. The ins and outs of device targeting 

Device targeting can mean the difference between PPC success and failure.

With two-thirds of Google paid search clicks happening on mobile devices, it’s crucial to provide a great user experience, no matter the platform. 

To that end, your ads expert should make sure landing pages are mobile-friendly, responsive, and have a great layout regardless of the device they’re viewed on. Bonus: A website that’s optimized for mobile will also be good for your overall SEO.

6. Why producing top-notch content is key

Google pros know that, when running a paid search campaign, your aim is usually to generate leads and sales. But, rather than pushing products by being overly sales-forward, many of the most successful ads focus on providing value. 

Producing content that your audience wants to read and promoting your brand as one that offers value will help build traffic. Value can help do the selling for you, getting more customers to use your products or services by viewing you as a trustworthy authority.

After all, you don’t want visitors feeling skeptical that you’re simply trying to close a deal by any means necessary.

hawksem: google ads expert blog

Running a high-performing Google Ads campaign requires the account manager to be proactive and consistent. (Image: Unsplash)

7. The latest ad settings updates & features

Understanding the search audience’s settings will help a Google ads expert run a successful campaign. Choosing the type of campaign you want to run will affect the settings available to you. 

Ask your expert how comfortable they feel going through the setting menu to make the most of what’s on offer from the platform, including any new updates. 

Location settings allow you to choose who gets directed to your website, for example, effectively saving you money by ensuring only those in your target location visit your site.     

8. How to properly manage (and optimize) a Google Ads account

Running a high-performing Google Ads campaign requires the account manager to be proactive and consistent. Proper and active campaign management involves regularly assessing how the ads are performing, conducting A/B tests, and running Google Ads audits every quarter or so. 

When you invest time and money into campaign strategy, the last thing you want to do is simply set it and forget it. 

By having a plan for setting up proper tracking, continuing to assess the data, and optimizing accordingly, Google Ads experts can better determine where to invest more, where strengths and weaknesses lie, and where to make the necessary improvements.

The takeaway

Every Google Ads expert needs to have an in-depth understanding of Google Ads basics and how this form of advertising works. 

The experts will also need to develop effective strategies that will deliver the desired results. These tips can help you find the right search engine pro to partner with, so you can feel confident this aspect of your digital marketing program is in good hands.

This article has been updated and was originally published in June 2020.

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar is the co-founder and CEO of HawkSEM. Starting out as a software engineer, his penchant for solving problems quickly led him to the digital marketing world, where he has been helping clients for over 12 years. He loves doing everything he can to help brands "crush it" through ROI-driven digital marketing programs. He's also a fan of basketball and spending time with his family.

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Written by Sam Yadegar on Jun 17 , 2022

Google Ads campaigns can be a serious ROI driver — if your program is optimized, that is. 

Here you’ll find:

  • How to audit your Google Ads
  • When you should conduct a paid search audit
  • PPC audit mistakes to avoid
  • Next steps after your Google Ads audit is complete

Letting your Google Ads campaign run on autopilot without much thought might be alright… for a little while

But think of your campaigns like a car: Without regular tune-ups and gas refills, you’re bound to end up on the side of the road, watching others (like your competitors) pass you by.

Too many businesses launch a digital ads program and then simply let it run without any changes, optimization, or even further testing. Your PPC ROI inevitably drops over time, but inertia can keep a campaign running long after its expiration date.

Google Ads campaigns are no exception. No matter how well your ads are set up in the first place, it’s vital to run a periodic Google Ads audit — along with a complete paid search audit across ad platforms. 

This can help you establish whether your account is still performing as it should be, and what changes could be made to improve it. A PPC audit can also help you spot mistakes that may be buried under iterative changes.

hawksem blog - google ads audit

Much like a content or overall PPC audit, a Google Ads audit reviews every aspect of your account. (Image: Unsplash)

When to conduct a Google Ads audit

If you’ve never conducted a Google Ads audit before, now is a great time to start! 

After the initial audit, performing a new one on a quarterly basis should be sufficient. 

On the other hand, resist the temptation to audit your ads program too often so you have time to gather a good amount of data. 

Pro tip: Stay up-to-date with the latest Google Ads updates. They often add useful features, capabilities, and analytics to make your ads and/or Google paid search audit more effective.  

4 steps to a Google Ads audit

Much like a content or overall PPC audit, a Google Ads audit reviews every aspect of your account. It’s a time when you assess the strength of your Google Ads program as a whole to ensure your efforts are cohesive and well-aligned, not working against one another.

Let’s break down the steps.

1. Check your goals and account structure

You need to go into your audits with an action plan. That means making sure you have solid goals in terms of traffic and conversions, so you can see how you’re currently measuring up. (Of course, your goals may change as your business grows.) 

Next, you want to check the structure of your account, ensuring that your campaigns and ad groups are organized correctly and that your reporting is accurate. 

Location settings and device targeting also need to be correctly configured.

2. Nail down your bid strategy

Make sure you’re using the right bid strategy, budget, and delivery methods. This part of the audit will show you if there are high-performing campaigns worth allocating more of your budget towards. 

Perhaps you’re spending too little on certain ads or using a bid strategy that made sense at an earlier point in your company’s growth. Make sure you have the right budget in terms of cost per click (CPC) and that you’re spending the right amount on each group.

Bid adjustments are also helpful. They help you target conditions under which your ads perform best. For example, if your audience is teens and their parents, then your ads are likely to perform better in the evenings when they aren’t at work or school. 

If your business only has locations in one geographic area, you can adjust your bids to show more ads to people in that location.  

Pro Tip: Confused about the types of bid strategies available? Google will make recommendations based on your campaign performance to guide you in the right direction. (As with everything else, though, be sure to monitor performance and avoid leaving the campaigns on autopilot.)

3. Examine your keywords

Ten or fewer relevant keywords per ad group is ideal. It’s also wise to make sure you’re leveraging negative keywords. This will help better qualify your clicks, reduce irrelevance, and will keep queries from triggering ads in multiple groups. 

After all, your ad groups should complement, not compete with, each other. An effective way to measure this is by checking search term cross-pollination. Few queries should trigger multiple groups.

And don’t forget about match-type keywords as well. Too often, companies will stick to just running broad match keywords, which can result in high ad spend on unqualified queries.

Need more Google Ads guidance? We’d love to help.

4. Dig into campaign and ad performance

Check for underperforming or low-quality ads to evaluate, change, or potentially remove. This is also the time to make sure there aren’t technical issues interfering with poor-performing ads. 

It’s a good idea to have two ad variations in each group for A/B testing and rotate frequently to avoid audience fatigue. 

Responsive search ads (RSAs) can help you identify ad elements that are served most often. This way,  you can determine which ones are seen the most. 

One way to figure out what strategy is working best is to compare the highest and lowest performing ads. Barring technical causes, see what differences in your creative, copy, keywords, or structure might be making them resonate less with your audience.

Also, ensure all calls to action (CTAs) are direct and relevant. You can experiment with different wording to see what gets your audience to click.

This stage is a good time to ask questions like:

  • What happens when somebody clicks on your ad? 
  • Is your landing page clear with a good headline and call to action? 
  • Do you have the right number of landing pages? 
  • Do your forms work and provide a “thank you” message? 
  • Does the conversion page properly track views? 
  • Are conversions tracking correctly?  
  • Do you have a solid mobile strategy? 

Pro tip: During your audit, make sure you’re not double-counting conversions. It happens more than you’d think.

hawksem: google ads audit article

Audits are an effective way to be confident that your ad campaign isn’t stagnant or lagging. (Image: Rawpixel)

What to avoid during a Google Ads audit

There are a few don’ts when it comes to any audit, most of which have to do with what happens once the audit is complete.

Audits aren’t a one-and-done project (if only!). While your first one will provide helpful insights, planning regular repeat audits will not only ensure you’re optimizing your program, but it’ll be easier once the first one is done.

Also, don’t feel like you need to fix things during the audit. Unless you uncover some kind of critical issue — such as somebody uploading the wrong set of keywords for an ad group — you don’t want to stop the audit until it’s complete. 

The finished report is likely to show you a more efficient way of doing so as different parts of your account and campaigns reference each other.

Pro tip: If you have high account or ad volume, audits can be more challenging. Google’s new disapproved ads auditor can help. It was released in early 2022 to help advertisers view disapproved ads across all accounts at once. The destination requirements policy changed a few months later to clarify the disapproval reasons and make necessary changes easier.

What to do after a Google Ads audit

After the Google audit is complete, you can go through the report and develop an action plan to address any issues that were uncovered. 

It can be helpful to create a doc of key takeaways and performance metrics, along with the strengths and weaknesses of your current Google Ads campaigns. 

From there, you can plan a virtual meeting (if you work with a team) to discuss the key points and determine what actions to take and when.

Obviously, crucial issues discovered during your PPC audit should be dealt with right away, so your action plan should include prioritization to ensure that you deal with things in an optimal manner. 

The takeaway

Leaving your Google Ads account to run on automation and algorithms can result in leaving money on the table. Periodic audits are an effective way to be confident that your ad campaign isn’t stagnant or lagging.  

Audits can help you move to the next level of marketing, keep your advertising strategy evolving with your needs and budget, and greatly improve your sales and conversions.

It takes time and effort, but it’s worth it to know your paid search ads are the best they can be. 

This article has been updated and was originally published in June 2020.

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar is the co-founder and CEO of HawkSEM. Starting out as a software engineer, his penchant for solving problems quickly led him to the digital marketing world, where he has been helping clients for over 12 years. He loves doing everything he can to help brands "crush it" through ROI-driven digital marketing programs. He's also a fan of basketball and spending time with his family.

Questions or comments? Join the conversation here!

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Written by Sam Yadegar on May 19 , 2022

If Display Ads aren’t part of your digital marketing strategy, you could be missing out.

Here, you’ll find:

  • What custom segments and in-market audiences are
  • Ways to capitalize on competitors’ marketing efforts
  • How to implement event targeting 
  • Common Display Ad mistakes to avoid

*Stefon voice* Digital marketing’s hottest club is Google. 

stefon snl

(Image: GIPHY)

This place has everything: organic links, paid search opportunities, and its own Display Network to boot.

But seriously, when it comes to digital ads, the Google Display Network shouldn’t be overlooked. These campaigns reportedly reach more than 90% of people on the internet across websites, mobile apps, and videos. 

Google Ads allows you to capitalize on the astounding number of daily searches and quickly earn the attention you need to build brand awareness. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better way to promote your business, generate leads, and increase ROI.

Google Display Network Ads (also called Display Ads) are an excellent tool for discovering leads with a high conversion probability and targeting them in the right place and at the right time. Here’s how to make them work for you.

new york times homepage - display ad

A Display Ad on the New York Times homepage. (Image: nytimes.com)

Why you should consider Google Display Ads

Google provides online advertising through two channels: the Google Search Network and the Google Display Network (GDN). Ads delivered via the Search Network allow companies to buy real estate in Google’s search results through keyword optimization. 

Alternatively, the Display Network delivers those visual-based ads you come across while reading a blog article, watching a video on YouTube, or using a mobile app. 

The GDN consists of more than 2 million websites, videos, and apps where your ads can appear. 

Google Display Network benefits

With the Google Display Network, you can capture someone’s attention early in the buying process, reaching them before they start searching for what you offer. 

This allows you to influence your prospect before your competition does, which can be instrumental in your overall advertising strategy. 

What’s more, Display Ads are affordable, with a cost per click (CPC) of $1 or less on average. Whether you’re a small business with limited advertising dollars or a larger company looking to invest in multiple campaigns, Google ads are a budget-friendly option.

Additionally, through the power of visual imagery, digital ads enable you to better establish your brand and keep your company top of mind.

You can appeal to users through a variety of vibrant, engaging ad designs, including:

  • Responsive Display Ads: Allow Google to automatically test different combinations of headlines, images, descriptions, and logos, and then display the best-performing combination 
  • Uploaded ads: Created outside of Google and can be uploaded via multiple file types into Google
  • App engagement ads: Use the same flexible targeting options as normal display campaigns
  • Discovery ads: Show up on YouTube, the Google Discover page, and in the Promotions and Social tabs of your Gmail inbox that, when opened, may expand like a regular email

Of all the benefits Display Ads offer, the ability to target an audience with great specificity may be the most helpful in increasing ROI. Companies that target a niche market by topic, interest, demographic, and even location can see a boost in lead generation and sales.

Pro tip: In 2021, Google made some changes to audience reporting, including moving everything to one “Audiences” tab. Some of the terminology used to refer to audiences and related topics was updated as well. Learn more about that on its dedicated page for the changes.

marketing conference talking about display ads

While specifying your target audience through qualifiers like topics or interests does narrow your focus, it also causes Google to guess which sites would be a good fit. (Image: Unsplash)

Important Google Display Network lead generation tools

When you take advantage of Display Ads, you can narrow down the target audience according to their interests, search intent, and behavior. These tools are specifically designed to help you do it. 

1. Affinity audiences

You can choose to show your ads to consumers who have a specific area of interest. Google algorithms determine which network users have a lasting interest in a certain category.

In other words, if a person keeps visiting websites and forums related to flowers while searching for related terms, Google marks “flowers” as an area of interest.

On the business side, if you’re a flower shop and choose “flowers” as something your target audience is interested in, Google will show your ads to the above users. 

2. Custom segments

Targeting users based solely on their area of interest may not always generate leads with high potential. That’s why Google offers you an opportunity to narrow down the search with custom segments.

With this tool, you can target users based on their areas of interest, behaviors, and the terms they use when searching the web using keywords. 

You can also add websites and apps that your target customers like. Users who visit and use similar sites and apps will also be targeted.

Let’s say you’re a high-end flower shop that sells rare flowers. With custom segments, you can narrow down flower fans to those who search for specific flower types.

From there, you can add rare flower blogs and websites they might visit and specialized flower care or plant finder/identifier apps they might use.

Pro tip: Google’s custom intent and custom affinity segments have been integrated into custom segments. If you already had these segments set up, it will be migrated for you, and Google insists this change won’t impact performance or functionality for these pre-existing segments.

3. In-market audiences

In-market audiences also allow you to target users based on the interests they demonstrate when browsing the web.

 The main difference is that in-market audiences can help you target consumers in the middle of the sales funnel.

They focus on potential customers who are actively searching for certain products or services. When targeting, Google considers the following factors:

  • The topics and content of the pages visited by the user
  • How often the user visits pages with certain content
  • How many times the user converts during those visits
  • The user’s reaction to related ads

If someone is searching for “fresh carnation bouquets” and visits different flower shop websites to compare prices or even puts something in a cart, Google can put them into the “flower bouquets” in-market audience. 

similar audience on the google display network

A look at choosing “similar audiences” on the Google Display Network (Image: Semrush)

How to use Google Display Network Ads for lead generation

Here are a few tactics to consider when implementing Display Ads into your lead gen strategy:

1. Take advantage of the competition

Custom affinity audiences offer an opportunity to target your competitors’ prospects. 

When setting up a custom audience, you can use the competition’s website URLs and keywords as interests. In short, you’re advertising your products and services to the visitors your competition is trying hard to attract.

When using this lead gen method, make sure to provide the best offer you have. Since these people don’t convert for the competition, they may be harder to please.

It’s also worth keeping in mind that the competition may not have been extremely precise with their marketing strategies. Make sure to use negative keywords and geo-targeting to prevent their low-quality leads from catching your bait.

2. Avoid overly specific selections

While narrowing down the audience can be helpful, it could also backfire. If your goal is to generate more leads, you may want to avoid getting overly specific and unintentionally bypassing relevant audience segments.

Using too many parameters could leave potential buyers out of the marketing loop. Meanwhile, the CPC could go up. 

With many companies using the same in-market audiences, the competition can be high, thus increasing campaign costs and leading to performance declines.

A/B test your ads and landing pages across different targeting options to see which one works best for your business. It’s also wise to conduct Google Ads audits and more general, all-encompassing PPC audits quarterly, if you can.

3. Employ event marketing

Since custom segments allow you to target users who visit specific websites, consider serving your ads up to event attendees.

For example, if there’s a flower show in town next month, you can target users who visit the show’s website. These people aren’t just interested in flowers, they’re ready to spend their free time at an event. This turns them into prospects with high conversion potential!

You can layer this audience with flower-related keywords and potentially gain access to the customers of your dreams. By coupling such targeting efforts with top-notch ad copy, you can create a campaign with an impressive ROI.

4. Reach similar audiences

Google Ads offers a “similar segments” targeting option. This lets you increase the reach of existing remarketing campaigns (now called your data segments) by driving new users with similar browsing habits to your site.

Google will set up similar segments targeting automatically. You just have to have one or more eligible lists in the Google Ads Audience Center library. To qualify, your data segments have to have a minimum of 100 visitors listed.

This list also cannot be shared with another account. Most of the other factors will be out of your control and taken care of by Google Ads. 

This may be affected in the future by the ongoing changes surrounding third-party cookies. However, Google seems to be on top of this and doesn’t appear to be giving up on these segment types.  

5. Pay attention to exclusions

Google offers advanced content settings to prevent your ads from appearing on websites you don’t want them on. 

Some websites may feature content that isn’t appropriate for your brand, for instance, and placing your ads on them could hurt your reputation.

When setting up Display Ads for lead gen purposes, pay special attention to the exclusion boxes, since Google doesn’t check them off automatically.

6. Apply managed placement targeting 

You can also control where your ads are being delivered through managed placements. Specifying your target audience through qualifiers like topics or interests narrows your focus. 

It also causes Google to guess which sites would be a good fit. This means your ads could be posted to websites that won’t yield results. 

With placement targeting, you can select specific sites you’d like your ads to appear on. A more focused target audience means more lead generation.

Need more help mastering Google for your advertising efforts? Let’s make it happen.

7. Stay on top of Google Ads updates and rollouts

Google Ads is almost constantly updating, evolving, and rolling out new features. 

The improvements often save time, provide greater detail for more accurate targeting, improve conversions, and increase ROI, among many other benefits.

Being quick to adopt new features will give you an edge over the competition and help you supercharge your lead gen efforts. 

However, not knowing about recent updates could shape campaigns based on an inaccurate system understanding, make terms confusing, or make necessary data hard to find under new categorization rules.

Some recent Google Display Ads changes include:

  • Pivot tables added to Report Builder: Pivot tables provide the ability to summarize, segment, and precisely analyze massive data sets, create custom formulas and groups for granular insights, and see behind data for a clearer more complete picture.
  • Custom bidding algorithms: These allow you to generate tailored, goal-based bidding algorithms to increase ROAS and performance view accuracy.
  • Upgraded TrueView for YouTube action campaigns: With this update, you’ll be set up for more conversions, better ROI, and a broader reach.
  • Campaign and workflow updates: With improved campaigns and workflows, you can access better order overviews, new combined views, pinned views, insights, more efficient workflows, and greater inline control.
  • YouTube & partners video line-item category names: These category names have been updated and the new names are meant to be more intuitive and easier to work with.

The takeaway 

Google’s first page is an exclusive club that can be hard to break into.

Luckily, the Google Display Network makes creating successful Display Ads as seamless as possible. 

Google’s algorithms help you identify and reach your prospective customers, often before they even know they need you. 

Setting up a Display Ad campaign requires an excellent understanding of your target audience as well as professional use of keywords, and Google Display Ads are a great way to generate leads, boost sales, and increase your ROI.

This article has been updated and was originally published in December 2020.

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar is the co-founder and CEO of HawkSEM. Starting out as a software engineer, his penchant for solving problems quickly led him to the digital marketing world, where he has been helping clients for over 12 years. He loves doing everything he can to help brands "crush it" through ROI-driven digital marketing programs. He's also a fan of basketball and spending time with his family.

Questions or comments? Join the conversation here!

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[DISPLAY_ULTIMATE_SOCIAL_ICONS]
Written by Sam Yadegar on Apr 1 , 2022

It’s vital to spend your hard-earned digital marketing budget on channels that bring you the best ROI. That’s why knowing the latest Google Ads updates is key.

Here, you’ll find:

  • Reasons to invest in Google Ads
  • How the paid search platform works
  • The latest Google Ads updates
  • Expert tips for leveraging the platform successfully

No April Fool’s joking here: The best place to launch your digital marketing efforts is where your campaign attracts a massive audience.

According to a 2021 report, Google led the list of the most popular search engines, commanding more than 88% of the American market share. 

Paid advertisements often come hyperlinked at the top of search engine result pages (SERPs). Sure, you can work to rank organically for a given search term through SEO strategies — and you should. 

But not only can Google Ads get you higher up in search results more quickly via pay-per-click (PPC) ads, but it can also help you stay competitive in your industry. 

The benefits of Google Ads

You probably know how Google Ads works: It shows your online advertisement to prospective customers who may be interested in your business. 

You place bids on keywords and search terms and secure the top slots of SERPs if you win.

As part of a PPC marketing strategy, you choose the maximum bid amount you wish to pay for each click on your ad. Your placement improves with your bid amount.

Since its inception in 2000 as Google AdWords, Google Ads has undergone many iterations and changes. Here are a few of the latest Google Ads updates that marketers should know about in 2022.

neon google logo in the dark

Google Trends allows you to view the topics people are searching online, as well as trending topics and trends over time. (Image: Unsplash)

1.  Privacy-minded updates

Privacy has been a hot topic for marketers in the past few years. That’s thanks in part to changes like Apple’s latest iOS update and Google’s Topic’s API, which they introduced to replace the soon-to-be sunset third-party cookies. 

With third-party tracking cookies on their way out, enhanced conversion aims to use consented (opt-in) and first-party data to fill in users’ insight gaps, particularly across multiple devices.

Pro tip: Google will be shutting down Universal Analytics (the version before Google Analytics 4) in July 2023, reportedly due to its inability to deliver insights across platforms. Universal Analytics 360 will process data for an additional three months, ending in October 2023.  

2.  Changes to phrase match and broad match modifier

In early 2021, Google announced that it was “making it easier to reach the right customers on Search” through updates to its phrase match and broad match modifier keyword types. 

Now, “broad match modifier” traffic instead falls under the “phrase match” umbrella.

The search engine notes that these changes won’t impact exact match, broad match, and negative keyword match types. They also recommend only using exact, phrase, or broad match when adding new keywords moving forward. 

3.  The smart-bidding process

Google’s smart bidding aims to make marketing more manageable. The advertiser provides Google Ads with a budget, and Google algorithms get the best conversion value out of it. The intention is to maximize the total ROI of the campaigns.

Google algorithms find the opportunities that you might never spot, even if it’s promoting a low-priced product on your list. This approach is excellent for well-funded PPC campaigns that are already converting at a high rate.

Google’s new smart bidding features aim to help marketers better manage bid strategies and drive more performance, according to experts

The new features also include top signals for target ROAS and max conversions, new opportunities on the Recommendations page, target impression share simulators, and manager account level seasonality adjustments.

Pro tip: Automation is great, but keep in mind that a “set it and forget it” mindset can only take you so far. The most effective paid search campaigns involve consistent analyzing, testing, and optimizing that can only come from experienced digital marketing pros.

one piece swimsuit on google trends

A look at the Google Trends results for “one-piece swimsuit” over a 90-day period. (Image: Google Trends)

4.  Google Trends for a dynamic environment

The digital marketing landscape changes rapidly and often, which can affect your business. Google Trends is a fascinating feature that allows you to view the topics people are searching online, as well as trending topics, trends over time, and more.

Need more help with your Google Ads campaigns? That’s what we’re here for.

Google Trends can provide insights into what is popular with your audience, so you can modify your marketing efforts to match their expectations. If they’re searching for a business that offers home delivery, for instance, you can consider adding this service or something similar, like a curbside pickup option.

5.  Driving more leads via search ads

With the rise of mobile shopping or m-commerce and more brands moving their operations online than ever before because of the pandemic, the vast majority of shopping happens online.

With that in mind, Google has made it easier for businesses to capture leads through their search ads. Rather than sending users to a landing page, you can serve up a lead form as soon as someone taps the headline of your ad.

To activate this feature, simply go into your campaign and select the setting option. Once the form is submitted, the person can then decide if they want to head to your site or go back to the search engine results page (SERP). 

Pro tip: Search Engine Roundtable regularly catalogs the most recent Google algorithm updates. So far in 2022, they’ve highlighted updates on page experience update for desktop, product reviews, and more.

6. Enhanced holiday updates

During the last holiday season, many businesses were able to benefit from a range of e-commerce updates.

Google added the ability to highlight things like fulfillment options and return policies for customers to see right on the SERP. You can also have products appear in free listings that you can easily use by syncing your Shopify, WooCommerce, or GoDaddy store right to Google.

Plus, brands can now use their YouTube videos as a virtual storefront and connect easier with local customers. Social Media Today suggests keeping your Google Business Profile updated to sync properly with these new features.  

7. Destination requirement updates

To make it easier for advertisers to understand why they receive disapproval messages on their ads, Google has made some changes to their policy language and notifications.

There are three relevant disapproval messages subject to changes:

  • “Insufficient original content,” which covers web addresses with “coming soon” or “under construction” notifications
  • “Destination not accessible,” for addresses the target audience can’t reach based on their location and other limitations
  • “Destination not working,” which will appear if your address is “HTTP” or returns an error
google ads mobile app dark mode

You can use dark mode in the Google Ads app for a more comfortable, low-light visual experience. (Image: Google Ads Help)

8. Updates to the Google Ads app

There have been some exciting recent additions made to the Google Ads app. Specifically, the Google Ads mobile app for both Android and iOS offer three new features:

  • More detailed performance insights – They’ve added more context and explanations for insights to illuminate the influences behind each metric. Advertisers can now see better performance insights to get a deeper understanding of how searchers are reacting to campaigns and view how changes affect performance.
  • Advanced real-time search trends – There’s a new search trends report that will be kept updated to reflect real-time changes in search trends and consumer interests. You can click on search trends relevant to your business to get further details about what exactly users were looking for. Common queries and specific terms will give you an idea of what they hope to find. Then, you can modify your ads to better reach them.
  • In-app campaign creation – Now, you can create entire search ad campaigns right from your phone. In the Google Ads mobile app, simply touch the “+” sign in the bottom right to add a new campaign. From there, the app will walk you through the typical campaign settings like ad type and location. After your campaign is set up, you’ll be able to manage it right from your phone as well.

The takeaway

Google processes about 40,000 searches per second, making it a prime marketing ground for paid ads. 

The beauty (and sometimes frustration) of Google Ads is that it keeps on evolving. It also gives you new and innovative ways to capture the attention of searchers. 

Considering the authority of the search engine, staying on top of the latest Google Ads updates can only mean good things for your PPC program.

This article has been updated and was originally published in May 2020.

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar is the co-founder and CEO of HawkSEM. Starting out as a software engineer, his penchant for solving problems quickly led him to the digital marketing world, where he has been helping clients for over 12 years. He loves doing everything he can to help brands "crush it" through ROI-driven digital marketing programs. He's also a fan of basketball and spending time with his family.

Questions or comments? Join the conversation here!

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Written by Sam Yadegar on Mar 17 , 2022

When done correctly, remarketing lets you tastefully follow your audience and create valuable touchpoints to turn visitors into customers.

Here, you’ll find:

  • What remarketing is
  • How to leverage this ad strategy the right way
  • Ways remarketing benefits your business
  • How it can save you money

Picture this: you’re walking around a shopping mall (OK, so maybe think a few years — or decades — back).

In the window, you see a nice sweater that catches your eye. You check out the price tag. You feel the fabric. But you’re not sure you’re ready to lay your credit card down.

You decide to keep walking around. As you’re heading towards the exit, you pass by the sweater again. You’ve had some time to think about it, and you decide to buy. 

That’s essentially how remarketing works, except online.

What is remarketing?

Remarketing (often used interchangeably with “retargeting”) is a method for connecting your product or service with people who have already visited your site or mobile app. 

While the terms can be used interchangeably, they have slightly different meanings. As Search Engine Journal explains, remarketing is more often about re-engaging customers via marketing emails, while retargeting generally refers to third-party online ads targeting users who have interacted with your site.

Put another way, remarketing is typically based on email lists and CRM data. Retargeting, on the other hand, is based on pixel data, most often from unknown potential customers.

Remarketing can be done using many platforms, from Google Ads and Microsoft Advertising to Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Google and Microsoft also offer remarketing lists for search ads, or RLSAs.

These vary from traditional remarketing, since they require users to be actively searching Google with the campaign keywords you’re bidding on.

How remarketing has changed

Recently, big-name tech brands have made some changes affecting user privacy — and remarketing and retargeting as a result. 

Between Google’s plan to phase out third-party cookies soon and recent data tracking updates from Apple and Android (more on the AppleTracking transparency framework changes here),  marketers may have a harder time pinpointing who to target with retargeting efforts.

The good news: There are things advertisers can do to mitigate these changes.

These include verifying your domain and leveraging Facebook’s aggregated event measurement tool, implementing the Facebook Conversions API and server-side tracking solutions, and pivoting your strategies by reviewing placement data and comparing attributions in Google Analytics.

Still, remarketing can be a highly effective tool for multiple industries and verticals — not just e-commerce. 

It’s a way to remind people about you, which is especially crucial since studies report that as much as 98% of consumers don’t make a purchase during their initial visit to a brand website, and more than 76% of people abandon online shopping carts. 

As Mailchimp explains, your audience often needs to feel like they know you first. With that in mind, here are just a few ways remarketing can benefit your business.

aerial shot of people walking around a crowded indoor mall

With the magic of remarketing, you can stay top of mind. (Image: Unsplash)

1. It keeps you top of mind

There are plenty of reasons why people navigate to your website without converting. Maybe they got distracted, were just casually browsing their options, or wanted to take their time before making a decision.

With the magic of remarketing, you can remind people about their past interest through these targeted ads — particularly if they’re searching for similar offerings again.

2. It ups your chances of converting a lead

If someone found their way to your site or app and was exposed to your brand, you’ve already overcome the big business hurdle of connecting with your audience. 

Through remarketing, you can increase your chances of turning that warm lead into a closed deal. It offers that nudge they need to further pursue what they were looking for from you in the first place.

Not only do these ad types remind users about you, but they can be programmed to take the user directly back to the page they bounced from. If they last visited your pricing page, for example, then the remarketing ad can route them back there once they click.

The result: a seamless experience that tees them up to convert.

3. It allows you to hyper-focus your ads

One big benefit of remarketing ads is how they directly target those who have taken various actions to express interest in your product or service. 

According to Google, you can create various remarketing lists that apply to specific cases, such as those who added something to their cart but didn’t check out.

After all, who doesn’t love scoring a good old-fashioned deal? You can create remarketing ads that offer a special discount to a segment of users who have completed certain interactions with you. This way, the prospect has even more incentive to return to your site.

person walking in front of a large sale sign in a store window

You can use videos, text, and images in your remarketing ads themselves on the Google Display Network. (Image: Unsplash)

4. It lets you leverage mobile and video

Another thing that sets remarketing apart: reach. With these ads types, you’re not just limited to the web. You can reach people browsing more than 2 million websites and apps via multiple devices. 

Consider targeting past website visitors on YouTube (or people who have watched your videos on YouTube) with video or display ads as they watch other videos or browse other sites.

You can also use things like text and images in your remarketing ads themselves on the Google Display Network. You can implement these strategies across Facebook, too.

5. It can save you money

Cha-ching! That’s the sound of saving money with remarketing ads.

Retargeting audiences are cost-effective because they are often more likely to convert. As a result, they provide a lot higher return on ad spend (ROAS) when compared to prospecting audiences.

That said, because the audience pools are way smaller, it can drive up the CPM (cost per mille, where you pay a certain price for every 1,000 impressions), which can make them a more expensive audience. 

For example, cost per click (PCP) rates when retargeting on Facebook are usually higher. However, it’s usually worth the extra cost per click because conversion rates are so strong.

It makes sense: By targeting people who have already shown interest in what you have to offer (making them more qualified), you spend less than you would if you were starting from scratch and casting a wider net.

See how HawkSEM can put remarketing to work for your company by requesting a consultation.

Get started with remarketing

Now that you know all the advantages of using remarketing, you can start making this digital marketing tactic work for you. To remarket on Google, you first need to create a remarketing audience and then choose a support campaign type: display or search. 

For display remarketing, you need to choose a marketing objective or goal (if you have one). From there, you can create an ad group. Expand the “Audiences” areas of “People: who you want to reach.” Then, select the remarketing lists you want to target under the “Remarketing” audience.  

For search campaigns, the process is similar. You manage the audience of your ad by selecting your campaign, then adding your remarketing audience list to the ad groups you choose. From there, you can choose your audience targeting setting for the selected ad groups. 

Pro tip: If you don’t have a remarketing list created, you can use the retargeting audiences Google Ads automatically creates for you.

For paid search remarketing on Microsoft Advertising’s Bing search engine, you start by placing a Universal Event Tracking (UET) tag across your site. You can then create remarketing lists, based on user activity and visited pages. 

Similarly to Google, you associate your remarketing lists to ads groups, then optimize to fit your Bing audience accordingly.

The takeaway

People understand that ads are just part of the package when it comes to being online.

By meeting interested users where they are, you can turn that reminder into a click. That can lead to a conversion, which will, ideally, become a happy customer and brand evangelist down the line.

This article has been updated and was originally published in October 2019.

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar is the co-founder and CEO of HawkSEM. Starting out as a software engineer, his penchant for solving problems quickly led him to the digital marketing world, where he has been helping clients for over 12 years. He loves doing everything he can to help brands "crush it" through ROI-driven digital marketing programs. He's also a fan of basketball and spending time with his family.

Questions or comments? Join the conversation here!

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