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Written by Sam Yadegar on Jun 23 , 2020

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

Here, you’ll find:

  • The benefits Google Ads offers advertisers
  • Expert advice on optimizing Google Ads campaigns
  • What your Google Ads expert should know
  • Tips for measuring marketing effectiveness

Like putting out 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 skills or partner with a pro to help take your campaigns to the next level, here are eight things 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, which is one of the ways Google assesses 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. 

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 will offer insight into the success of the campaign and help identify the one that drives better results. They should also be able to manage your ads budget accordingly.

hawksem: google ads expert

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

3. Why power words can entice users to click

Once your ads have been displayed in front of your target audience, you want as many of them as possible to click on them — no-brainer, right? A proper Google Ads expert should be able to harness power words in your ad copy as a clever way of convincing users to engage with your business. 

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. Ways to optimize the ad-to-landing page experience

Speaking of landing pages: When guiding customers through your sales funnel, you should aim to provide them with 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 copy and design 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 more than half of 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 from viewed on. Bonus: A website that’s optimized for mobile will also be good for your overall SEO.

6. Why producing content that delivers value is key

Google pros know that, when running a paid search campaign, your aim will be to generate leads and sales. But rather than pushing products by being overtly sales-forward, the most successful ads often 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 trusting what you’re saying. Plus, 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 via Unsplash)

7. The 411 on all things ad settings

Understanding the search audiences’ 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. 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 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, doing an A/B testing, and conducting regular 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 continuing to assess the data and optimize accordingly, your Google Ads expert 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.

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 Jun 9 , 2020

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

Letting your Google Ads campaign run on autopilot without much thought might be alright… for a while. But think of your campaigns like a car. Without regular tuneups 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 or further testing. 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. This can help you establish whether your account is still performing as it should be, and what changes could be made to improve it. It 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 via Unsplash)

When should you conduct a Google Ads audit?

If you’ve never conducted a Google ads audit before, now is a great time to start! Afterwards, performing audits every three months or on a quarterly basis should be sufficient. 

You want a good amount of data, so resist the temptation to audit your ads program too often. 

What are the Google Ads audit steps?

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 overall Google Ads program 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. Make sure your campaigns have a point, whether it’s geotargeting, demographics, or something else. 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 costs per click (CPCs) and that you’re spending the right amount on each group.

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 spend on unqualified queries.

4. Dig into campaign and ad performance

Check for underperforming or low-quality ads. These should be flagged for extra attention or potential removal. It’s a good idea to have two ad variations in each group for A/B testing and rotate ads frequently to avoid audience fatigue. Next, check that all calls to action (CTAs) are direct and relevant.

This 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: This is also the time when you want to make sure you’re not double-counting conversions. Trust us: it happens more often than you might think.

hawksem: google ads audit article

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

What should you avoid when it comes to a Google Ads audit?

There are a few don’ts when it comes to auditing your ads, 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.

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 aspects of your account and campaigns reference each other.

What should you do after a Google Ads audit?

After the audit is complete, it’s time to go through the report and develop an action plan to address the issues. 

It might be helpful to create a doc of key takeaways and performance metrics, along with strengths and weaknesses of your current Google Ads campaigns. Plan a virtual meeting (if you work with a team) to discuss all of these key points and determine what actions need to be taken when.

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

Pro tip: It’s a good idea to make sure your plan doesn’t involve leaving anything on autopilot for an extended period of time.

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. 

Need more Google Ads help? Let’s talk.

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 May 21 , 2020

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

The best place to launch your digital marketing efforts is where your campaign attracts a massive audience — no surprise there. And, according to a 2019 report, Google led the list of the most popular search engines, commanding more than 62% 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 help you get higher up in search results more quickly in the form of PPC ads, but it helps you stay competitive against others in your industry. 

hawksem: google ads updates 2020

In March 2020, Google introduced more optimization score features to give marketers a better experience. (Image via Unsplash)

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.

Being a pay-per-click (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 2020.

1.  Improved features in the mobile app

The Google Ads mobile app allows users to review their marketing campaigns in real-time, evaluate recommendations, and take prompt action to optimize performance. In March 2020, Google introduced more optimization score features to give marketers a better experience.

Optimization score allows you to prioritize recommendations so you can identify the most impactful ones and put them into motion. You can view your Google Ads account and optimization scores at a glance on the overview page. To give priority to the actions that best drive performance, campaigns with high-impact recommendations come first on the screen.

HawkSEM: Google Ads 2020

You can view your Google Ads optimization score from your mobile device. (via Google)

You can also create and edit ads right on your smartphone. Choose to receive notifications about changes in optimization scores by opting in on the Settings page. The app notifies you in real-time whenever your scores fall. Once you open the message, the system leads you to the recommendations page where you get guidance on how to raise your optimization score and improve performance.

You may have seen dark-mode options cropping up in your phone updates and your social media profiles. The new Google Ads app also has this option, which you can turn on in the settings page for more visual comfort. It’s an excellent addition when you’re working in a dark or low-light environment.

2.  Website link in call ads

Call volume management can be challenging for businesses with limited personnel. Another feature that Google has added to call ads (formerly call-only-ads) is an optional link to your website.

google call ads

How call ads look on the SERP. (via Google)

The verification URL you add to your call ads only verifies your business details and phone number. Clicking the headline on your call ads initiates calls to your business. If you want ads that allow prospects to call and open your site, you can provide a Final URL. This URL is a secondary web address on your call ad that takes your audience to the webpage you choose.

Call ads increase your online visibility by making it easier for users to open your website. If a customer doesn’t want to call your business but wants to learn more about it online, all they need to do is click the ‘Visit website’ link in your call ad.

hawksem blog: google ads updates 2020

Google Trends is a fascinating feature that allows you to view the topics people are searching online, as well trending topics, trends over time, and more. (Image via Rawpixel)

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.

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.

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 trending topics, trends over time, and more.

For example, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to an influx of millions of office workers now working from home. For some, this has made it harder to keep up with the needs of consumers.

hawksem: google trends 2020

A look at the Google Trends results for “at home yoga” in the past 90 days. (via Google Trends)

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 pickup option.

5.  Seamless interactions on YouTube

Currently, YouTube has more than two billion users, making it a priceless video platform for marketing. Google (which owns YouTube) has launched a feature that allows viewers to interact with businesses without having to exit the platform.

Here’s how it works: A potential customer views your ad and clicks on the call to action (CTA). Then, a drop-down menu with actionable items appears. It could be telling the audience more about your business, like the physical location, contact information, and so on.

hawksem article: google on mobile

Google processes about 40,000 searches per second, making it a prime marketing ground for paid ads. (Image via Rawpixel)

6.  Lead form extensions

When it comes to marketing priorities, lead generation is usually at the top of the list. As part of your Google Ads campaign, you can include a new or existing lead form to generate more leads for your business. 

Lead forms have three primary benefits — they:

  • generate leads and boost sales
  • attract and engage visitors to help you create new remarketing lists
  • direct prospects into the marketing funnel via the form, leading to more conversions

When a Google user clicks the CTA of a Google ad, a lead form that carries their Google account details pops out. They can then submit the form, bridging the gap between your business and potential customers.

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, giving 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.

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

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 Caroline Cox on Mar 17 , 2020

This ad extension could be the key to boosting your CTR & more

Here, you’ll find:

  • Why ratings and reviews matter 
  • How to garner more reviews for your brand
  • Steps to add reviews to your paid search ads
  • Common missteps to avoid

Across industries, it seems like new brands and products crop up every day. Because of this, ratings and reviews have quickly become one of the top ways customers determine which offering might be right for them.

Data from the Content Marketing Institute and SmartBrief show that one-to-one peer recommendations, original research, and product reviews are the most influential content in affecting purchase decisions. 

Looking to amp up your paid search performance? Adding reviews and ratings to your ads might be just the ticket.

Using reviews and rating in ads can help your business gain trust and credibility with your target audience.

Using reviews and rating in ads can help your business gain trust and credibility with your target audience. (Image via Unsplash)

What are the benefits of using reviews and rating in ads?

Using reviews and ratings in your ads can be a highly effective way to make your brand stand out from competitors. Think about it: You’re searching for a particular product or service. There are ads that explain what each brand offers, then there’s an ad with 5 out of 5 stars and a glowing customer testimonial. Which one is likely to catch your eye?

Another benefit of using reviews and rating in ads is how it can help your business gain trust and credibility with your target audience. Nearly 95% of shoppers read online reviews before making a purchase, according to Spiegel Research Center. They also report that displaying reviews can increase your conversion rates by a whopping 270%. 

Pro tip: Ads with extensions are charged just like normal ads clicks, so don’t worry about paying extra.

How do I add seller reviews and ratings to ads?

Google allows you to collect feedback from customers who have purchased a product or service from your site through their free Google Customer Reviews service. Alternatively, Google explains seller ratings as an automated extension type showcasing advertisers with high ratings.

While the Google Customer Reviews service takes reviews customers leave on Google, they work with other reputable review sites like Trustpilot and G2 to aggregate those reviews for inclusion as well. And, since different sites use different metrics, Google rescales the ratings on a scale of 1-5 to compare reviews from different sources more easily, according to Trustpilot.

HawkSEM: Using Ratings & Reviews in Google Ads

Pro tip: You don’t need to have a Google Merchant Center account or Google Shopping ads running to use seller ratings extensions on Google’s Search Network. And if you no longer want seller ratings to show with your ads? Simply remove the extension.

Since this service is automated, you don’t need to do anything special to set it up after activating the extension. You do, however, need to meet certain qualifications before your reviews will show up, which brings us to…

What are the guidelines when it comes to reviews and rating in ads?

For ratings to show up in your Google Ads text ads, you must have an average composite rating of at least 3.5 (though Google Shopping can show seller ratings of less than that). Also, the ad’s visible URL domain must match the domain connected to the respective ratings. 

For seller ratings to show up in paid search ads on Google, they must meet one of these Google requirements in each country the ad is to be shown in:

  • At least 100 unique reviews for the country submitted within the last 12 months via Google Customer Reviews or a third party review partner
  • Google or one of its partners has completed a research evaluation of your site
  • Google has evaluated of your site via Google Consumer Surveys

Things that could keep your seller ratings from being visible, along with there being no guarantee your ads show at all, include not meeting the minimum seller requirements, not having enough information for your business online, and having invalid or incorrect URLs as they relate to your reviews.

How do I get more ratings and reviews for my business?

It’s no secret that more reviews can result in increased sales, better rankings, and more revenue for your business. The trick is getting them! 

There are a handful of different ways you can attract more ratings and reviews for your brand online. For starters, you can look into creating an email campaign. This campaign can be sent out to all of your clients, or can be segmented by those who meet a certain requirement, like a high average Net Promoter Score (NPS), which is a management tool that helps companies gauge the loyalty and happiness of a customer.

Request for these recipients to leave you a rating on Google or the review site of your choice. You can also bake these requests into your phone calls with customers, or include the ask in your email signature. Just make sure you link to the actual place for the person to leave the review to increase the likelihood that they’ll actually follow through.

Pro tip: While asking for reviews is perfectly acceptable, make sure not to fall into “bribery” territory by asking for or offering an incentive in exchange for a positive review. You can, of course, engage with those who leave bad reviews and request they update them once their issue (if there is one) has been solved. Just don’t badger, demean, or attempt to bribe them to do so.

HawkSEM: Using Ratings & Reviews in Google Ads

Experiment with creative ad copy, consistent testing, and other relevant extensions like those for location, price, and promotion. (Image via Unsplash)

When should I not use ratings and reviews in ads?

Reviews and ratings can be a great way to stand out against your competitors — unless theirs are higher. If you’re hovering around 3.75 stars while your competition is displaying 5 out of 5, you might want to remove the extension until you’ve increased your score.

This doesn’t mean your ads won’t stand a chance. While you aim to amp up your reviews, you can still work on beating out or similar brands in other ways. For instance, experiment with things like creative ad copy, consistent testing, and other relevant extensions like those for location, price, and promotion.

Pro tip: You can check out your company’s seller rating profile (if applicable) by going to: https://www.google.com/shopping/ratings/account/lookup?q={yourwebsite}.

The takeaway

Including your company’s ratings and reviews in your PPC ads can be just the boost you need to up your clickthrough rate (CTR) and performance. It’s a simple way to make your paid search ads eye-catching, while showing your target audience that your brand is credible and trustworthy.

By meeting the proper requirements, staying on top of customer service, and ensuring your offering is high quality, you’ll garner reviews worthy of showing off.

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 Mar 3 , 2020

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

Here, you’ll find:

  • An introduction to the Google Display Network (GDN)
  • The benefits of display ads vs. paid search ads
  • Different types of ads available via the GDN 
  • Targeting best practices for generating leads and increasing ROI

When it comes to online marketing, Google is the place to be. They field more than 2 trillion searches a year — that’s 5 billion a day. Generally, people in the market for a specific good or service are the ones making these searches.

Google Ads allows you to capitalize on this astounding amount 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.

HawkSEM: The Best Google Display Network Ads for Lead Generation

A Display Ad on the homepage of the New York Times.

Why you should consider 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. With ads on these sites, you can potentially reach more than 90% of Internet users worldwide. 

The GDN’s benefits

The GDN is designed to help you reach the right audience at the right time. 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. It’s a move that can be instrumental in your overall advertising strategy. 

Display ads are affordable, as each cost per click (CPC) is typically less than $1. 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 front 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 image ads: Created outside of Google and can be uploaded via multiple file types into Google
  • Engagement ads: Use the same flexible targeting options as normal display campaigns
  • Gmail ads: Show up in the Promotions and Social tabs of your inbox and, when opened, may expand just like an 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 who target a niche market by topic, interest, demographic, and even location can see a boost in lead generation and sales.

HawkSEM: The Best Google Display Network Ads for Lead Generation

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 via Unsplash)

4 targeting tactics to optimize your Display Ads

The best GDN ads for lead generation are those that take advantage of the targeting capabilities display ads offer. When creating your display ad campaign, follow these targeting best practices to help maximize your ROI.

1. Leverage remarketing campaigns  

By depositing cookies (soon to be replaced with new Artificial Intelligence technology) via the browser of your online visitors, you’re able to show ads targeting those visitors whenever they view other sites on the GDN. 

People seeing your ads are already familiar with your brand and will be more likely to visit you again. Remarketing (also called retargeting) has been shown to deliver lower cost per action (CPA), so it’s a budget-friendly advertising option.

HawkSEM: The Best Google Display Network Ads for Lead Generation

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

2. Reach similar audiences

Google Ads offers a “Similar Audiences” targeting option. This enables you to increase the reach of existing remarketing campaigns by driving new users with similar browsing habits to your site. Create a new display campaign and choose “Similar to remarketing lists” in the target settings. From there, you’ll select the audience(s) you’d like to reach. It’s that easy!

3. 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. More focused target audience means more lead generation.

4. Reach in-market audiences 

Google uses browsing trends and history to select potential customers for your offers. These are in-market audiences, and they’re comprised of users who are looking for goods and services that match your offerings. 

Consider creating a campaign under “Interests and remarketing.” You’ll choose In-Market Audiences before selecting the audience type you’d like to reach. 

The takeaway

Navigating the digital marketing world is no simple task. Luckily, the Google Display Network makes creating 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. 

Affordable, eye-catching, and completely targetable, display ads are a great way to generate leads, boost sales, and increase your ROI.

Ready to take your display ad campaign to the next level? Let’s chat.

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 Jane Serra on Feb 12 , 2020

Get ahead of the competition by optimizing your Google Shopping Ads campaign

Here you’ll find:

  • How Google Shopping Ads works
  • How to target the right keywords
  • The reasons why adding negative keywords is crucial
  • Best practices for optimizing ad images
  • How Showcase Shopping ads can help your brand 

The Google Shopping Ads feature is one of the best ways to get your products noticed. You upload your featured products to the Google Merchant Center, splash in some keywords, and images of your products will start to pop up on a Google search along with their prices.

It may sound simple, but there are a handful of key things you need to know to bring in serious sales using this service. If you want to take your marketing game to the next level, consider these six must-know tips to make Google Shopping Ads work for you.

HawkSEM: 6 Must-Know Tips to Make Google Shopping Ads Work for You

Optimizing the information you submit to Google is the key to getting the best return on investment. (Image via Rawpixel)

How does Google Shopping Ads work?

Before we dive into the tips, Google Shopping Ads – formerly known as AdWords – is a paid search advertising service that is available for e-commerce businesses to use to attract new clients.

This service lets brands set up campaigns based on their budget. Your ad will appear in the search results page with your product, cost information, and product photo when a relevant keyword is used in a search.

This will give you a marketing edge because consumers will see your products at the top of the page. It can also benefit you by pushing competitors farther down the search results page. 

What do I need to know about Google Shopping Ads?

Optimizing the information you submit to Google is the key to getting the best return on investment. Let’s go over these 6 tips.

1. Optimize your data feed

When you log in to your Google Merchant account, you’ll want to ensure that your data feed has the necessary information for your product titles. Descriptions in the product title should include:

  • Brand name
  • Material type
  • Sizes
  • Color
  • Model number

Do some keyword research to make sure you’re using the best keywords in your title descriptions. You can use Google’s keyword tracking tools such as Google Search Console and AdWords Keyword Planner to help with this.

2. Target the right keywords

You’ll want to leverage the same keywords a consumer would type into the Google search bar. For example, if your company sells coconut oil, “coconut oil” as a keyword would be too broad to use. 

Instead, imagine the searcher is looking for more specific information about “coconut oil.” It’s best to use long-tail keywords like “best all-natural coconut oil” or “coconut oil for cooking.” Implementing long-tail keywords gives your product a better chance to reach the right audience.

Being specific is important because you don’t want to waste money serving ads to people who aren’t looking for your exact product. Your coconut oil could be used for cooking, for example, while someone is looking for coconut oil body lotion.

3. Add negative keywords

Adding negative keywords tells the search engine platform that you don’t want your ad to end up in a specific search. Let’s go back to the coconut oil example. 

Refined coconut oil goes through a lot of processing and can be used to make soaps, bath oils, or body moisturizers, while unrefined coconut oil is best for cooking. If you’re selling unrefined coconut oil for cooking, excellent negative keywords you’ll want to add would be “refined coconut oil” or “processed coconut oil.” 

4. Optimize your images

To grab a consumer’s attention, make sure you’re uploading high-quality images to associate with your products. Keep in mind that, per Google, your images need to be under 1024 kilobytes

To get the best images possible, consider using a DSLR camera. These are cameras that provide the most detail and are used by professionals.

 Also, make sure your products are clear with no distractions or busy backgrounds. The most popular look is the product with a white background. Use good lighting and make sure the product is the main focus. 

HawkSEM: 6 Must-Know Tips to Make Google Shopping Ads Work for You

If your products aren’t converting, you may want to consider moving them to a different ad group and lowering your bids. (Image via Unsplash)

5. Focus on your top-selling products

Putting your top-selling products in their own ad group will give you the best chance at finding the right audience. You can track your top-selling products by using Google Analytics. Make your bids are on the higher side for these items for maximum exposure.  

If your products aren’t converting, you may want to consider moving them to a different ad group and lowering your bids. This can help ensure you’re maximizing your marketing budget and not overspending.

6. Use Showcase Shopping ads

The standard option that most businesses use is Product Shopping ads. These are the ads that show up on the top of a search results page. They have a product photo, price, and star reviews all nicely packaged in a small box that consumers can easily click on. 

Another option is Showcase Shopping ads. Showcase Shopping ads give your audience a preview of what your brand is all about. This option lets you feature more than one product. It’s also ideal for broader keyword searches. For example, if you sell summer dresses, you can feature multiple dresses you sell in one ad for that keyword.

The takeaway

The tips we’ve mentioned above are crucial for making your Google Shopping Ads campaign successful. Paid search advertising like Google Shopping Ads help your audience find your products. By following the strategies of keyword targeting, using negative keywords, and image optimization, you’ll be on the right track of making your ads pay off.   

Want to find out how you can optimize your PPC campaigns even further? Let’s talk!

Jane Serra

Jane Serra

Jane Serra is the VP of Marketing at HawkSEM. She's an accomplished marketing executive with more than 12 years of experience leading digital marketing teams across demand generation, branding, events, content, and communications. When she's not strategizing, networking, and honing her craft, she enjoys traveling and scrolling Yelp for new restaurants to try.

Questions or comments? Join the conversation here!

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Written by Sam Yadegar on Oct 1 , 2019

Major announcements and integrated tools filled this year’s Google Marketing Live, an annual event highlighting the best of what’s next when it comes to marketing and the search engine platform.

Here, you’ll find:

  • the latest changes Google has made to their ad platforms
  • how to maximize the ROI of Google Ads
  • a breakdown of the newest Google Ads tools
  • benefits of video bumper ads

Not only was privacy front and center, but Google Ads news included several features that will allow advertisers to increase conversions and run campaigns across multiple channels faster and easier — two words marketers love to hear.

Whether you’re neck-deep in advertising on a daily basis, just getting started, or working with an agency, these 5 new Google Ads tools and updates can remove a lot of the guesswork, jumpstart your productivity, and help campaigns better address your business goals.

1. Gallery Ads

Visual content entices users, increases engagement, and drives conversions. Interactive Gallery Ads, located at the top of mobile search engine results pages (SERPs), feature swipeable image carousels and a display URL.

Gallery ads feature 4 to 8 images, a headline, a tagline, and a landing page link. With the option of up to three different headlines, you can test several combinations of value propositions and CTAs.

Research shows that images are more memorable than text. Travel agencies, restaurants, car dealerships, hotels, and virtually any retail business can drive traffic to their website by adding high-quality visual content and inspiration to targeted keywords in ads.

HawkSEM blog: Google Ads Tools

Google Ads news revealed three new Smart Bid tools that allow advertisers to improve the overall performance of Smart Campaigns. (Image via Unsplash)

2. Smart Bid Controls

Smart Bid strategies take advantage of machine learning to automatically set bids based on the high and low seasons in your industry.

To have more control when using Target Return on Ad Spend, Target Cost Per Action, Enhanced CPC, and Max Conversion, you can apply specific adjustments for Display and Search campaigns.

A few Google-touted benefits to Smart Bidding include:

  • The ability to personalize bids based on context such as browser, language, remarketing lists, device, day, and location.
  • Flexibility to direct bidding performance and set targets on particular goals.
  • Reporting and status updates that tell you which ads perform the best, and tips that can help you improve.

While Smart Campaigns are often faster to set up than manual campaigns, letting Google take the reins may not be beneficial for everyone, particularly for small businesses or those with a highly specific target audience.

Customizations are needed to maximize conversions, such as defining exclusions, budgets, and conflicts of interest. Human interaction takes a campaign from generic to laser-focused on the right specialty or industry niche.

Recent Google Ads news revealed three new Smart Bid tools that allow advertisers to improve the overall performance of Smart Campaigns by manually adding data that enables them to refine the targeting.

  • Seasonality Adjustments: Google’s AI claims to save advertisers time by applying seasonal trends to bids, which also maximizes the budget. However, your business goals will determine if this is the right avenue for you. You can now apply your own expected conversion rate to the Smart Bid, essentially overriding Google’s automated seasonality trends. Use this tool when you run a promotion, similar to one you’ve run in the past, that boosted regular conversion rates. Simply enter a date range, the adjustments, and campaign specifics — Smart Bidding takes it from there.
  • Data Exclusions: You can now select past time frames to exclude from Google’s algorithm when you set up a new ad. You may want to do this if you had previous promotions that boosted conversions. By removing them from consideration, you can achieve a more realistic conversion rate.
  • Campaign Level Conversions: When bidding manually, Google Ads count every type of conversion. However, you may want to optimize for a specific conversion, such as CPA, ROAS, or enhanced CPC. If you have an online store, for example, you track whenever a customer puts items in their cart and also when they purchase. When optimizing your bids, you want to focus on purchases, not the shopping cart action. Campaign level conversions now let you do this.

3. Google Shopping, Reinvented

From the beginning, Google was a way for searchers to find the products they wanted and for businesses to attract new customers. Now, Google has upped the ante by merging Google Express into Google Shopping, creating a unique browsing and purchasing experience.

Consumers now have a customized homepage with personal recommendations and ads for products they may like. With these updates, shoppers can find new products and purchase directly on Google.

With smart shopping campaigns, ad placement and bids are set automatically at a general baseline, dependent on your chosen bid strategy. (However, to get the most out of your ads, they’ll likely need to be tweaked.)

While it’s faster and easier to set up than in the past, campaigns still require tuning based on your budget and specific products. Not only must you meet Google’s requirements for Shopping campaigns, but conversion tracking and a variety of other setup tasks must be completed.

Once set up, Google’s machine learning is combined with your assets and product feed and shown across networks. It tests different combinations of text and images, then displays the most effective options. Your ads can be shown on the Google Display Network, Search network, Gmail, and YouTube.

HawkSEM blog - Google Ads Tools

Discovery ads are targeted based on audience data such as affinity and interest, not search intent. (Image via Unsplash)

 

4. Discovery Campaigns

Google’s Discover was previously known as Google Feed and originally as Google Now. It’s a highly visual, curated feed that mobile users can see when they open the Google app on their Android or iOS device, or when visiting the Google.com homepage.

Users can customize the content seen on their Discover page by selecting topics that interest them. Otherwise, it’ll serve up content it thinks is relevant based on “power of intent,” which they glean from things like your past sites visited, apps downloaded, map searches, and more.

Discovery ads also display in this feed. They’re targeted based on audience data such as affinity and interest, not search intent.

The way users see ads depends on their account settings, including:

  • Location history
  • Home location
  • App and web activity
  • Device

Discovery campaigns let users reach consumers with the right content at the right time. You can create rich, relevant ads and reach millions of consumers across channels, from YouTube and Gmail Promotions to Social tabs.

HawkSEM blog - Google Ads Tools

Bumper Machine takes an existing video ad and generates a short-form, unskippable video. (Image via Unsplash)

5. Video Bumper Ads

Bumper ads are short video add-ons to the standard Google Preferred or TrueView campaigns. They’re not skippable and they extend the reach of campaigns.

Google launched a Bumper Machine tool that makes these ads faster and easier to create. It takes an existing 90-second or shorter video ad, identifies the most critical pieces (such as human faces, logos, and motion or contrast) to generate a short-form video. Bumper Machine is flexible, easy-to-use, and lets advertisers get more mileage from existing content.

The Takeaway

With increased transparency and the power to stay relevant across channels, Google’s new tools give advertisers the opportunity to change the way they see their target audience. The increased interaction and focus provide the personalization searchers want.

For advertisers, access to machine learning can change the way you see your target audience, how you market your brand and the way you engage the consumer at every stage.

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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