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Written by Caroline Cox on Feb 9 , 2021

The Google Seller Ratings 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, new brands and products seem to 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 affecting purchase decisions. 

Looking to amp up your paid search performance? Adding reviews and ratings to your Google 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 great way to make your brand stand out. Think about it: You’re searching for a particular product or service. You see ads highlighting what each brand offers. Then there’s an ad with 5 out of 5 stars and a glowing customer testimonial. Which one is most likely to catch your eye?

Another benefit of using reviews and rating in ads: it can help your business gain trust and credibility. 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 up to 270%. 

While e-commerce businesses may be the first that come to mind when thinking about what industries benefit from reviews and ratings in ads, it’s certainly not the only one. As long as brands meet the guidelines below and have the ad extension active, they too could see an increased clickthrough rate (CTR) by adding Google Seller Ratings. 

Other industries who have seen success after including reviews and ratings into their ad campaigns include:

  • SaaS startups
  • Marketing and PR agencies 
  • Repair and other service-centered companies 
  • Healthcare facilities 
  • Financial brands

Using ratings and reviews is an effective way to sway customers’ final purchase decisions. A 2020 BrightLocal survey found that positive reviews make 94% of consumers more likely to use a business. Not only that, but 79% of consumers trust online reviews as much as recommendations by friends or family members. 

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 collects feedback from customers who have purchased a product or service from your site through their free Google Customer Reviews service. From there, the search engine allows you to include seller ratings as an automated extension type showcasing advertisers with high ratings.

The Google Customer Reviews service takes reviews customers leave on Google. They also work with other reputable review sites like Trustpilot and G2 to aggregate those reviews for inclusion. 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

Simplesa’s paid search ads include ratings.

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
  • Having invalid or incorrect URLs as they relate to your reviews

How does Google obtain ratings?

Internally, Google incorporates data from Google Customer Reviews, Google Consumer Survey ratings, and shopping reviews for our store domain. They also pull reviews from other sites including:

  • Bizrate Insights 
  • Feedback Company 
  • PowerReviews 
  • ResellerRatings
  • Reviews.io
  • Shopper Approved
  • Trusted Shops
  • TrustPilot
  • Verified Reviews

Google calibrates the ratings from all these sources to ensure consistent ratings across the board.

FYI: While Google states that it doesn’t modify existing ratings, it does work to filter out untrustworthy or questionable ratings during the calibration stage. 

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. 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 current clients or can be segmented by those who meet a certain requirement, like a high average Net Promoter Score (NPS). This is a management tool that helps companies gauge the loyalty and happiness of a customer.

Even when emailing multiple people, personalization should be priority. Using templates can be a timesaver when creating email campaigns, but you don’t want your message to come off as impersonal or too automated. (After all, you’re essentially asking for a favor.) A token that pulls in each person’s name can make recipients feel like the message was tailored to them. 

Other ways to increase the amount of feedback or ratings for your business include baking these requests into customer phone call scripts or talk tracks. For service industries that rely heavily on building relationships, such as real estate, asking for a review after the transaction is common. 

Another way to increase ratings is by asking via your email signature. This is a non-intrusive way to request comments and ratings about your offerings. Be sure to include a link that goes directly to the place where the person can leave the review. This may increase the likelihood they’ll actually follow through.

Pro tip: While asking for reviews is perfectly acceptable, make sure not to fall into “bribery” territory by offering an incentive in exchange for a positive review. 

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 similar brands in other ways. 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 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.

This article has been updated and was originally published in March 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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Written by Caroline Cox on Feb 2 , 2021

New to the Google Ads platform? You’ve come to the right place.

Here, you’ll find:

  • What Google Ads is
  • How to create your own Google Ads account
  • How these ads can fit into your marketing strategy
  • Expert tips on creating effective Google Ads campaigns

Few companies can say they’re so well-known that their brand name has become an official verb in the dictionary. Google can.

So it makes sense that, when it comes to your digital marketing budget, Google is one of the best places to invest your ad spend. But if you’re just starting out with the advertising platform, it can feel overwhelming.

Below, our SEM Manager Nina Breece walks us through a look at the Google Ads platform, why it deserves a place in your digital marketing plan, and how to start creating your own Google Ads in a snap.

Google Ads homepage

 

What is Google Ads?

Simply put, Google Ads is the platform used to set-up and launch marketing campaigns across Google, the world’s most popular search engine. These campaign types include:

  • Pay-per-click (also called PPC or paid search)
  • Shopping
  • App
  • Local
  • Display
  • Video

How is Google Ads different from other paid search platforms?

Google Ads often leads the charge when it comes to new technology and adaptations within the search, video, and programmatic display landscape. With more than 3.5 billion searches each day, it’s safe to say the search engine also dominates the digital advertising space. 

If you’re looking to get ads out to the masses and have useful audience segments and targeting information at your fingertips, Google is the place to advertise. Plus, since Google owns YouTube, they have a monopoly for any ads on the video platform as well. 

How does Google Ads fit into a well-rounded digital marketing strategy?

Google Ads provides critical components of a complete digital marketing strategy poised for success. Being able to put paid search and Shopping ads directly in front of a searcher when they’re looking for a product, service, solution, or answer is one of the most successful ways to convert someone — or at least get them to engage with your brand. 

Not only that, but the ability to support multiple ad types, from PPC to video, through one platform means your users’ journeys can be even more connected. This also allows you to tap into additional opportunities and data you may not have access to otherwise.  

Google Ads advertising goals

During setup, select Expert Mode if you’re experienced with Google Ads or are working with a digital marketing agency. (Image via Google Ads)

How do I set up a Google Ads account? 

Unsurprisingly, Google has made it easy to set up a Google Ads account and create your first ad. To start, all you need is an email address and company name. (Ideally, you also have a website for your business, but if you don’t, you can still advertise via the platform’s Smart campaigns.) 

Once you enter this info, you can tell Google what your advertising goals are. From there, you’ll set up billing. Next, you’ll be able to start your first campaign.

Pro tip: During setup, select Expert Mode if you’re experienced with Google Ads or are working with a digital marketing agency. 

How do I create a Google Ads campaign?

After your account setup is complete, you can hit the ground running to create your first campaign. Google recommends starting out with a PPC search ad (aka text ad), which is their simplest ad type.

Before you start building the campaign itself, there are a few questions you need to ask yourself. These include:

  • How much, on average, am I willing to spend per day on this campaign?
  • Who is my audience for this campaign?
  • In what locations do I want my ad to show?
  • What keywords do I want to tie to this campaign?

Once you’ve determined these parameters, you can move forward with setting your bid. This, as Google describes, is “the highest price you’re willing to pay when a potential customer clicks your ad.” Lastly, you can get to work on the copy for the text ad itself. 

Audience targeting setup

What elements make up an effective Google Ads campaign?

Your campaigns’ effectiveness will depend on factors like your budget, timeline, goals, and bandwidth, along with your site’s quality and speed.

With that in mind, these are a few factors that generally make up a successful Google Ads campaign:

  • Launch initial campaigns strategically, with a solid structure in place that can be carried on as the account expands
  • Research driven keywords and targeting
  • Set up location targeting and negative keywords (negate irrelevant search terms that your ads could match to)
  • Create thematic ad groups within PPC campaigns
  • Leverage audience information being used in observation or targeting mode, based on campaign type and goal
  • Set up competitive bids
  • Create concise and compelling copy
  • Conduct frequent account reviews and optimizations based on accrued data

Need more help with Google Ads? Let’s chat. 

What are the different Google Ads campaign and ad types?

As mentioned above, there are a variety of ad and campaign options you can leverage in Google’s advertising platform. Here’s a quick-and-dirty breakdown.

a look at Google Shopping ads for headphones

A look at Google Shopping ads on the search engine results page. (Image via Google)

PPC ads

Where they show: On the Google search engine results page (SERP) and across partner networks, if enabled. (These text ads look similar to organic search results.)

Payment model: Advertisers only pay when someone clicks on your ad.

How they work: PPC ads are run based on keywords you set in your account. If someone searches something relevant to your keywords, your ad might be eligible to show. A key component of PPC ads is Quality Score, which is made up of ad relevance, expected clickthrough rate (CTR), and landing page relevance.

Shopping ads

Where they show: On the Google SERP, the Shopping tab, and across partner networks, if enabled. These ads feature a product image and show at the top of the SERP.

Payment model: Advertisers only pay when someone clicks on your ad.

How they work: Shopping ads are exclusive for brands that are selling items. Unlike PPC ads, you don’t need keywords. Shopping ads are fueled from a feed (imagine a data spreadsheet) containing relevant info about each product including headlines and descriptions from which Google matches search terms. The feed, along with bids and budgets, will determine whether or not your products will show when someone searches. 

Pro tip: If you’re running Shopping ads, you’ll need a Google Merchant Center account. This is where your feed will be uploaded and monitored to ensure things are working correctly. 

Display ads

Where they show: Display ads serve across websites, YouTube, Gmail, and apps associated with the Google Display Network that your users are already visiting. 

Payment model: You can decide if you want to pay on a cost-per-click (CPC) basis or cost per 1,000 impressions model (CPM).

How they work: Using audience and placement targeting advertisers can narrow down where ads will appear, so that they show in relevant places to the right audiences. 

Video ads

Where they show: Video ads appear on YouTube and across the Google Video Partners networks.

Payment model: There are multiple payment and showing options — pay per view, click, interaction, or per thousand impressions. Other options include paying when someone watches at least 30 seconds, the full video, or interacts with the video. 

How they work: Using audience and placement targeting, advertisers can narrow down where ads will appear. A variety of Video Ad formats can help you find the right solution for your goals. 

Local ads

Where they show: Local campaigns show across the Google Search network, Google Maps, the Google Display Network, and YouTube.

Payment model: Depending on where the ad is shown, advertisers pay for clicks, views, or impressions.

How they work: Using a variety of ad assets, Google displays Local ads to searchers who are near or are planning to be near your brick-and-mortar locations. The purpose of these campaigns is to drive incremental foot traffic.

App campaigns

Where do they show: App campaigns can appear across the Google Search network, Google Play, YouTube, and the Google Display Network.

Payment model: Depending on where the ad is shown, advertisers pay for clicks, views, or impressions.

How they work: App campaigns encourage searchers to download your app seamlessly or focus on in-app actions for new or existing users. They are shown across a variety of places, but will deep-link to your app. 

What are the Google Ads targeting options?

Google knows as well as we do that proper, robust targeting can make or break an ad’s success and reach. That’s why they offer a handful of targeting options to ensure your ads are showing to the proper viewers.

  • Retargeting: Using audiences from Google Ads or Google Analytics, reach users who have interacted with your ads or business in some way. Google can retarget all users who have interacted with your website or mobile app
  • Customer match: Reach people directly from your CRM data and find lookalike audiences based on these lists
  • In-market: Reach people who are actively in the market for a product or service
  • Affinity: People who are interested in a specific theme, which could encompass habits, hobbies, and interests
  • Detailed demographics: Those who fall into certain age, gender, household income, homeownership, employment, parental status, marital status or education background breakdowns
  • Life events: People who are doing things like moving, buying a home, getting married, changing jobs, retiring, creating a new business, or graduating college
  • Similar audiences: Audiences who are similar to people that have interacted with your ads, site, or app
  • Custom audiences: Create a custom audience that targets multiple of the above aspects to hyper-focus your targeting

The takeaway

It’s clear that there are a ton of reasons to explore advertising on the Google Ads platform. As the leading search engine by far, it’s basically a sure-fire way to reach your target audience.

Once you know how the platform works and how to properly set up your account, you’ll be ready to launch your first campaign, start gathering data, optimize your ads, and grow your ROI. 

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.

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Written by Sam Yadegar on Dec 16 , 2020

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

Here, you’ll find:

  • What affinity, custom affinity, and in-market audiences are
  • Ways to capitalize on competitors’ marketing efforts
  • How to implement event targeting with Google Display Network ads
  • Common Display ad mistakes to avoid

It probably won’t surprise you that Google is the place to be for online marketing. And when it comes to the Google Display Network, 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 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.

Google Display Network 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.

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. 

The Google Display Network’s 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. 

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 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 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 that 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)

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 affinity audiences

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 affinity audiences.

With this tool, you can layer the existing affinity audiences with your focus keywords. This way you can target users based on their area of interest and the terms they use when searching the web.

Let’s say you’re a high-end flower shop that sells rare flowers. With custom affinity audiences, you can narrow down flower fans to those who search for specific flower types. You can also use demographic settings (such as age, gender, parental status, and household income) to specify your audience even further.

3. In-market audiences

Just like affinity audiences, in-market audiences 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. 

How to use Google Display Network Ads for lead generation

Here are a few tactics to consider when implementing Display ads into your lead generation strategy:

1. Explore seasonal event segments

In 2019, Google introduced an important subdivision of its in-market audiences designed specifically for holiday seasons. When you combine these audiences with product-based keywords, you can adjust your ads specifically for holiday shoppers.

  • Black Friday
  • Christmas
  • Back-to-school
  • Valentine’s Day

Before rolling out the new feature, Google and Toyota tested it for Black Friday and Christmas segments. The tactic resulted in a 67% increase in conversion rates.

This feature maximizes your chances of reaching the ideal customer with your ads by narrowing down the target audience.

2. 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 as URLs and their 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 method to generate leads, 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.

3. Be careful with specific selections

While narrowing down the audience can be extremely 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.

4. Employ event marketing

Since affinity audiences 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 (in post-pandemic times, of course), 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.

HawkSEM: The Best Google Display Network Ads for Lead Generation

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

5. Reach similar audiences

Google Ads offers a “similar audiences” targeting option. This lets you 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!

6. 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.

7. 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.

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. 

Google provides you a variety of highly efficient targeting options. Setting up a Display Ad campaign requires an excellent understanding of your target audience as well as professional use of keywords, and Display ads are a great way to generate leads, boost sales, and increase your ROI.

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

This article has been updated and was originally published in March 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 Caroline Cox on Dec 14 , 2020

Is a competitor showing up for your company name on the SERP? Here’s what to do.

Here, you’ll find:

  • What happens when you see a competitor using your name in a Google ad
  • Advice for dealing with competitors using your name
  • What to know about competitors bidding on your brand name
  • Expert insights on trying this tactic yourself

Seeing your competitor’s brand name on the search engine results page (SERP) is never a great feeling. But an even worse feeling? When they’re showing after someone searches for your company’s name.

So, are companies allowed to use other company’s names in their paid search ads? What about as keywords for bidding? Lisa McElwain, an SEM manager here at HawkSEM, helps answer these questions and more below.

Can a competitor use my brand name in their ad?

The rules around company names and trademarks can be confusing. Let’s break it down. 

The basic answer is: yes. Brands can use your brand name in their Google ads, as long as the name isn’t trademarked and the way they’re using it can’t be deemed “deceptive.” (Deception tactics include things like the company impersonating your brand.)

If your company’s name is trademarked, that may be a different story. Often, bigger companies trademark their names. If this is the case, then they’re the exclusive owners. Per Google guidelines, no other brands can use that name in their ad copy. 

An exception to this rule is if the company using it is a legitimate reseller, such as Zappos creating an ad for Nike sneakers. 

competitor brand name bidding on the SERP

An example of what it looks like when one brand bids on another’s name. (via Google)

What are the rules about competitors bidding on my brand name?

Competitors can buy your brand name as a keyword, even if it’s trademarked. By using your brand name as a keyword, their ad could potentially show up on the SERP when someone is searching for your specific company. 

Unfortunately, you can’t do much of anything about the competitor using your brand name or trademarks as a keyword. However, there are things you can do to remain competitive. For starters, ensure you’re bidding on your own brand name. This way, competitors aren’t stealing any extra traffic that should be going to you. This also allows you to take up more real estate in the SERPs if you’re showing a paid ad and appearing in the organic results. 

If a competitor is bidding on your brand name and you aren’t? Then their ad will show above your organic result, which isn’t what you want. You can also bid on their brand name — more on that below.

Pro tip: If you have an existing amicable relationship with a competitor, you could consider contacting them for a truce and agree to not bid on each other’s terms. There’s no guarantee they’ll agree, but if you’re worried about your budget, it’s worth a shot!

Why would a competitor bid on my company’s brand name?

The main reason companies bid on another’s brand name is to try to steal traffic away from the competition. They want to target those who are looking for a product or service like theirs. 

This is especially the case in areas where the product or service is not as well known, so people aren’t searching for the services as much. This leaves few options for keywords, so brands bid on their competitors. 

brand name bidding

Before you get heated, it’s important to realize that they might not actually be bidding on your brand. (Image via Rawpixel)

How do I choose which competitor brand names to bid on, if any?

If you’re going to try bidding on a competitor’s name, we advise making sure you’re picking the right competitors to bid on (or that your agency has picked the right ones, if you’re not doing your own marketing). 

There’s not much point in bidding on brands that aren’t stealing business away from you, such as big-name brands with significantly more offerings. 

You’ll also want to tailor the ad copy to differentiate your brand from that particular competitor. One way to do this is by highlighting your unique selling propositions. For instance, if that particular competitor brand has a similar but more expensive product or service, highlight your brand as being the more affordable option.

Have more questions about paid search or Google Ads? You’ve come to the right place.

What should I do if I think a competitor is bending or breaking the rules around leveraging my brand?

Before you get heated, it’s important to realize that they might not actually be bidding on your brand. If your brand is “Sunrise Senior Living,” for example, the company could simply be bidding on “senior living.” That’s what will match in Google’s algorithm — not necessarily the “Sunrise” part. 

Unfortunately, there’s not a lot you can do unless they’re using your trademarked term in their ad copy. If they are, you can submit a trademark complaint to Google. Aside from deciding to bid on their brand in return, another way to fight back would be to conduct keyword research (using tools like SpyFu or SEMrush) on what other keywords they’re using for search marketing efforts. 

In extreme cases, you could consider sending the company a cease and desist letter, though this will likely come at a cost and not guarantee the outcome you want.

semrush pricing SERP

Just because a competitor is bidding on certain keywords, that doesn’t mean they’re the “right” keywords. (Image via Google)

Should I bid on my competitor’s brand name?

There’s no hard-and-fast answer to this. However, experience tells us that bidding on a competitor’s brand name shouldn’t be a top priority in your paid search strategy. If you have other keywords that are working well, it’s a better use of your ad spend to allocate your marketing budget toward those. 

If you have an excess budget, then you could try bidding on their brand as a keyword. We don’t suggest using another brand in your ad copy.

How can I use competitors bidding on my brand to my advantage?

If your products or services are similar enough, this could give you ideas for things to try on your own search marketing efforts. 

It’s also worth noting that, just because a competitor is bidding on certain keywords, that doesn’t mean they’re the “right” keywords. If a keyword doesn’t seem right to bid on for your business, don’t do it! (And maybe even add them to your campaign as negative keywords.) 

Consider reviewing their ad copy or strategy and taking inventory of what you uncover. How does yours compare? This is a great time to reflect on your own advertising efforts. Are you  taking full advantage of Google’s ad offerings like ad extensions and sitelink extensions (if appropriate)? Ask yourself: If you were a consumer, would you click on your ad?

Pro tip: If you decide to bid on competitor terms, avoid using dynamic keyword insertion. This is a feature that involves the searched keyword auto-populating as an ad’s headline. This will cause your competitor’s name to show up in your ad. It could be deemed deceptive, even if it’s unintentional.

The takeaway

We find that, in general, bidding on your competitor’s brand is typically not a great idea. You could also get lower quality scores for those keywords. That’s because Google can see you’re not the brand whose name you’re bidding on. Plus, it’ll likely cost you more to bid on those branded keywords because the brand isn’t your own.

In the long run, it’ll be better for your marketing plan to focus on your unique products or services, make sure user experience is top-notch, and use ads to highlight your selling propositions that make you stand out.

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 20 , 2020

Google Ads and LinkedIn Ads have key similarities and differences. Here’s how to determine which one right for your business.

Here, you’ll find:

  • Similarities between Google Ads vs. LinkedIn Ads
  • How these platforms differ from one another
  • The pros and cons of each
  • How to determine which platform may be right for you

When it comes to paid search marketing platforms, Google Ads is often at the top of the list. And between its popularity, versatility, and simplicity, it’s a highly appealing choice. But when you put all of your pay-per-click (PPC) eggs in one proverbial basket, you could be missing out on potential leads.

That’s just one reason we’ve seen many businesses explore options outside of Google Ads. One growing trend we’ve noticed lately: more B2B companies turning to LinkedIn Ads.

Both Google Ads and LinkedIn Ads are efficient paid search advertising tools. However, each one comes with specific pros and cons that provide different benefits to different businesses and audiences. Let’s take a closer look at how they compare.

b2b companies audience segmentation

When users sign up for LinkedIn, they often share an impressive variety of details, including job title, education, experience, industry, interests, and much more. (Image via Rawpixel)

Target audience

To say that Google reaches a massive audience is an understatement. Because of this, it’s fair to assume that almost everyone’s target audience uses the search engine to some degree — a big advantage for companies when it comes to targeting.

On the other hand, businesses that need to narrow down their reach may struggle to get their settings just right on the platform. And a mistake made when segmenting audiences could negatively impact your digital ad campaign spend.

Of course, LinkedIn has a much narrower audience: businesses and business professionals. But this makes it an ideal destination for B2B marketing. LinkedIn allows marketers to target decision-makers and key audience members in a variety of effective ways.

  • Google Ad reach — 4 billion Google users
  • LinkedIn Ad reach — 500 million LinkedIn users

Bottom line: For B2B companies looking to connect with decision-makers, LinkedIn is an excellent digital ad platform. For B2C companies trying to widen their reach, Google Ads usually work best.  

Segmentation opportunities

When you’re targeting an audience through Google Ads, you have limited options to work with. They include location, demographics, affinity, technology, buyer behavior, and interactions with your website or app. No matter how well you know your buyer persona, it can be difficult to completely avoid clicks from unqualified leads.

When users sign up for LinkedIn, they often share an impressive variety of details, including job title, education, experience, industry, interests, and much more.

Additionally, LinkedIn users can join groups, spark conversations and even create followings. This data becomes priceless when you start targeting highly specific audiences and implementing account-based marketing. LinkedIn also offers a Matched Audience feature that helps marketers match their email lists and website visitors with LinkedIn users.

Bottom line: For B2C and B2B companies targeting a wide audience, Google Ads has sufficient targeting features. But for B2B companies that need to target highly specific potential clients, LinkedIn Ads provide up to 100 segmentation methods.

Lead generation and intent

When it comes to lead generation, Google Ads’ wider reach becomes an advantage. Firstly, you can bring in a big number of potential clients without exhausting your budget. The audience you target on Google comes to the search engine with an intent to find a product or a service. This makes lead generation much easier.

Generating leads on LinkedIn can be somewhat trickier. Platform users often sign in to learn industry news or chat with fellow group members. No matter how well you design or place your ad, viewers simply may not be susceptible to it.  

However, unlike Google Ads, LinkedIn has an option of targeting leads through messages (sponsored InMail), which can help with the lead generation process.

Bottom line: Lead generation is often more efficient through Google Ads. However, LinkedIn offers an opportunity to find valuable prospects with a variety of specific targeting tools.

google ads vs. linkedin ads b2b companies

Digital ad budgets for these two platforms depend on a handful of factors. (Image via Rawpixel)

Expenses

When it comes to pricing, LinkedIn’s ads are generally more expensive than Google’s. Just like in Google, you can choose cost-per-click (CPC) and cost per impression (CPM) options as well.

LinkedIn also offers a cost-per-send (CPS) model for its InMail advertising. On average, you could expect to pay about $5 per click (with a minimum bid of $2), $6 per 1,000 impressions, and $0.80 per send.

With Google, the average cost per click is about $1. But to take full advantage of the low cost, you’ll likely need to put in some serious audience segmentation efforts. Otherwise, your paid search marketing ROI can be less than satisfactory.

Bottom line: Digital ad budgets for these two platforms depend on a handful of factors. But on average, Google Ads are less expensive than LinkedIn Ads. A B2B company with a tight paid search marketing budget may benefit more from a limited number of LinkedIn Ads than from a wide variety of Google Ads.

Google Ads vs. LinkedIn Ads: Pros and cons

This quick comparison can help you make the right decision when choosing between the two paid search advertising options.

Google Ads pros:

  • Wider audience
  • Lower CPC
  • Audience with the intent to buy
  • Excellent documentation and support
  • Many ad types

Google Ads cons:

  • A high learning curve for advanced options if you’re running them yourself
  • Limited number of segmentation opportunities
  • A competitive market
  • Ad design and content limitations (characters, emojis, descriptions)

LinkedIn Ads pros:

  • A wide variety of targeting opportunities (better than on any other platform)
  • Easy to get started
  • High-value prospects
  • Opportunities for account-based marketing
  • Easy budget planning

LinkedIn Ads cons:

  • Narrow and specific audience
  • Audience without intent to buy products or use services
  • Higher CPC, impression, and send
  • Lack of robust reporting and analytics tools

The takeaway

So, Google Ads vs. LinkedIn Ads: which one is better? The answer, of course, isn’t one size fits all. 

The right choice of a paid ad platform will depend on factors including your budget, specific product or service, target audience, and marketing goals.

The good news? You don’t need to choose between Google Ads and LinkedIn ads. Many companies use both of them — along with Instagram, Facebook, and other avenues. If your budget allows, diversifying your paid search marketing effort is an excellent way to achieve a better marketing ROI.

Want to learn more about Google and LinkedIn advertising? 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 Caroline Cox on Sep 25 , 2020

When done correctly, remarketing lets you tastefully follow your audience and create valuable touchpoints to turn leads 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 a window, you see a nice sweater that catches your eye. You check out the price tag, 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 emails, while retargeting generally refers to third-party online ads that target users who have interacted with your site without purchasing.

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.

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, that’s because your audience needs to feel like they know you first. With that in mind, here are just a few ways remarketing can benefit your business.

HawkSEM blog: 5 Ways Remarketing Can Benefit Your Business

Through remarketing, you can increase your chances of turning that warm lead into a closed deal. (Image via Unsplash)

1. It keeps you top of mind

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

CMO by Adobe reports that 30% of consumers react positively or very positively to retargeted ads (vs. just 11% who react negatively — you can’t win ‘em all!). 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.

Consumer-packaged goods company Kimberly-Clark saw 50-60% conversion rates for consumers who were served retargeting ads, according to Digiday.

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.

HawkSEM blog: 5 Ways Remarketing Can Benefit Your Business

You can combine remarketing with contextual targeting to ensure you’re getting in front of relevant prospects at the right time. (Image via Unsplash)

4. It lets you leverage mobile and video

Another thing that sets remarketing apart: its 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. You can also use things like text and images in your remarketing ads themselves on the Google Display Network.

5. It saves you money

Cha-ching! That’s the sound of saving money with remarketing ads. These ads are some of the most cost-effective options out there. 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.

Though the total cost will depend on your overall marketing strategy, there are other ways to save as well. You can combine remarketing with contextual targeting, for example, to ensure you’re getting in front of relevant prospects at the right time.

Get started with remarketing

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

For display remarketing, you need to choose a marketing objective or goal (if you have one), then 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 ones 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, whether they’re shopping, reading, or being entertained. 

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.

We’re no strangers to remarketing at HawkSEM. See how we can put this service to work for your company by requesting a consultation.

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

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.

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Written by Sam Yadegar on Aug 17 , 2020

Saving time on your marketing campaigns is always a win. Luckily, there are Google Ads shortcuts that will streamline your process and boost campaign efficiency. 

Here, you’ll find:

  • Reasons for using Ads shortcuts
  • Helpful Google features to simplify your work
  • Ways to access and use these time-saving tools
  • Expert advice to stay ahead of the competition

Google Ads is one of the most effective and nuanced PPC platforms in the market. Its comprehensive approach means that there are hundreds of sections to work on. 

When it comes to ad upkeep, common tasks include text optimization, bid management, keyword research, and reporting. These alone — not to mention analysis and other formalities — can take up a good chunk of your time.

Of course, it’s crucial to put plenty of time and effort into your campaigns for optimized ads. But leveraging a few shortcuts that exist within the platform allows you to work smarter, not harder, to get the results you want to achieve. 

Here are some Google Ads shortcuts that’ll save you time without sacrificing quality. 

google shortcuts

Usually, accounts are managed by multiple people over their lifespans, particularly for accounts that have been around for years. (Image via Unsplash)

1. Delete keyword clutter

Keywords have always been an integral part of digital marketing. The strategy a few years ago was to come up for every keyword term and all their variations. Google’s Phrase and Exact policies at the time made aspects like plurals and misspellings necessary.

Since then, Google’s Phrase and Exact policies have changed. Nowadays, such variations in keyword phrases are achieved by matching close variants. This means that you no longer need thousands (or hundreds of thousands) of keywords to stay ahead of the competition. Google recommends doing away with these variations under the “Opportunities” section of your account. 

Keep up with the changes by removing duplicate keywords. Luckily, you don’t have to search for every keyword term. Simply use Google Ads Editor to define duplicate keywords and identify them in seconds. You’ll find this feature under the “Tools” category, and you have many options when it comes to how you define duplicate keywords.  

2. Customize your ads

In a way, repetition is necessary for successful marketing (see: the effectiveness of remarketing). The idea is to keep your brand and products in the spotlight perpetually so they stay top of mind with your target audience. 

Some types of ads require systemic repetition. For example, running a timed promotion with a limited number of days to go may require you to update your ads every day until the promotion runs out. While this is necessary, it’s also a bit of a time-waster.

Google’s Ad Customizer will save you effort and update your ads in real-time with impressive precision and quality. This feature requires you to specify standard attributes about your campaign, including factors such as:

  • Start and end dates
  • Target demographics
  • Schedules
  • And more

The Customizer will then use a refined code to implement these parameters at the set times.

3. Use notations

Maybe you have one single person who handles anything and everything pertaining to your Google Ads account. But, usually, organizations’ accounts are managed by multiple people over their lifespans, particularly for accounts that have been around for years.  

Depending on how experienced and organized your team (or the agency you’ve tasked to handle your ads) is, it can be difficult to keep everyone on the same page. This is especially true when you factor in employee turnover. Many account managers who have been in this situation often find themselves wishing for guidance from past account managers. Fortunately, this is possible using notation.

Google recommends you make notes as you manage your ad campaigns. This will help keep your ads organized, since you can visit your notes and track activity. It also makes it easier for account managers who come after to catch up and tailor their marketing campaigns to fit in with past parameters for continuity, including streamlining metrics and performance analysis.

You can add notes via the “Campaign” and “Ad Group View” tabs. Look for the link to performance metrics and click on the option to “Add Note.” Your notes will be stored and can be easily accessible on the reports by account managers who come after you.

hidden shortcut

Take some time to explore the features available to your marketing account and exploit ways of leveraging them. (Image via Unsplash)

4. Test faster using creative Ad Variation

Testing and streamlining ad creation is necessary for every marketing campaign’s organization and success. But doing it manually can be time-consuming. The quicker, easier, and more efficient way? Using Google’s Ad Variation feature.

The Ad Variation feature enables you to automatically streamline ad creation and test the subsequent ads based on your precise parameters. For example, you can split the percentage of your target audience whichever way you choose (this is not an option using Google’s auto-optimization). 

All you have to do is set and specify your desired parameters and fill in the details, including the type of ads you’re making and which campaigns they affect. The Ads Variation feature is available under the “Drafts & Experiments” section. Hover over this section until the “+” sign appears, and click on it to access this feature.

5. Take advantage of the right tools and automation

Google is consistently improving its marketing and advertising features. A huge chunk of these efforts involve automation and making the work easier using specialized tools. For example, Google’s updated scripts can automate the time-consuming task of reporting.

While automation can make life easier, it’s worth noting that you shouldn’t automate everything in your campaigns. After all, robots can’t compete with the expertise and experience of a human.

As far as Google Ads shortcuts go, take some time to explore the automated features available to your marketing account and the different ways of leveraging them. And if it all feels overwhelming? Consider consulting a professional for guidance.

The takeaway

It’s wise to keep up with Google’s updates, as they often include upgrades to its features that make the platform quicker and more efficient. 

Many marketers waste precious hours working on the technical aspects of their marketing campaigns. But with Google Ads shortcuts, you can explore easier and quicker ways to work on the technicalities and put your time to better use elsewhere.

Need more help with your Google Ads campaign? 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 Aug 5 , 2020

From mobile app updates to enhanced targeting, these are the latest Google Ads tools that should be on your radar.

Here, you’ll find:

  • The latest Google Ads tools worth looking into
  • How these tools can enhance your digital marketing efforts
  • Ways to make responsive search ads work for you
  • New updates to YouTube ads

In February 2020, Google made the decision to cancel one of its biggest annual gatherings, the Google I/O developer conference. The cancellation came amid the nascent (but, it turns out, lasting) pandemic that had begun sweeping the globe. 

But that doesn’t mean things have slowed down at the search engine giant. Google continues to churn out updates, news, and modifications to its search algorithm and ads platform. 

Whether you’re neck-deep in advertising on a daily basis, just getting started, or working with an agency, these five new Google Ads tools and updates can help make management more convenient, improve your targeting, boost your conversion rates, and more. 

google ads mobile app

The Google Ads app has gone through improvements to make managing your Google Ads account on the go easier than ever. (Image via Google)

1. Improved Google Ads mobile app

Overall consumer trends continue to favor mobile over desktop. Not only that, but Google itself has announced that it will launch mobile-first indexing in spring 2021. This means the search engine will crawl the mobile site of a web page before the desktop version to determine where it should rank in search results.

With all this in mind, it’s no surprise that the Google Ads app has recently gone through its own set of improvements to make managing your Google Ads account on the go easier than ever. Before, you could only use the app to turn on and pause ads. Now, you can also create and edit responsive search ads whether at home, in the office or on the go.

2. Enhanced targeting tools

While targeting tools are nothing new to the Google Ads platform, there are new audience segmentations that you can now put to use. Affinity audience targeting can help you attract more top-of-funnel leads, while in-market audience targeting can help connect you with more bottom-of-the-funnel searchers ready to make a decision.

Affinity audiences can expand your ad reach and help you snag those who could be in the market for your product or service by virtue of their interests. For example, if you’re targeting keywords like “chef’s knife,” an affinity audience could be “home cooks.” For in-market audiences, you can better target those who are ready to buy but that you might not otherwise be targeting. 

HawkSEM blog: Google Ads Tools

You can create these extensions in your Google Ads app by adding a CTA and extension text. (Image via Unsplash)

3. Responsive search ads 

Put simply, responsive search ads let your ads work smarter, not harder. By creating multiple headlines and descriptions for your responsive search ads, Google can try out various combinations and eventually determine which ones perform best together. 

These types of search ads also allow you to show more text in your ads, which provides helpful context for your customers and can potentially increase your conversion rate. Best practices for responsive search ads include:

  • Putting high-volume keywords in your headlines
  • Creating a minimum of five varied headlines that aren’t too similar to one another
  • Including at least two varied descriptions 
  • Adding additional headlines and descriptions that highlight other benefits of your product or service

4. Lead form ad extensions

Leads are at the heart of digital marketing. That’s because more leads mean more data, which means more information about your customers and prospects, which (ideally) means higher conversions and stellar ROI.

That’s where the lead form ad extension comes in. You can create these extensions in your Google Ads app by adding a call to action (CTA) and extension text. Once a user clicks the CTA button, a form will appear. Plus, just to make submission easy-breezy, the form can be pre-populated with the user’s contact info pulled from their own Google account. 

While optimized landing pages are still important, this ad extension allows you to experiment with a new form of information gathering and can pair well with your other efforts to get you as many leads as possible. 

google ads youtube ad lead extensions

The new ad extensions work similarly to lead form ad extensions in that the viewer can interact with your CTA without leaving the YouTube platform. (Image via Google)

5. New YouTube ad extensions

Nearly three-fourths of the U.S. population use YouTube. And with billions of monthly users across the globe, it makes sense that Google is consistently working to enhance and improve the popular video platform. The same goes for YouTube ads.

We talked before about the various types of YouTube ads and best practices when creating video ads of your own. The new ad extensions work similarly to lead form ad extensions in that the viewer can interact with your CTA without leaving the YouTube platform. 

Once someone clicks the CTA, they’ll see a drop-down menu with additional next steps, such as a special discount code, a limited-time offer, or more information about your brand.

The takeaway

Between the algorithm changes, policy updates, and app iterations, keeping up with Google can seem like a full-time job. And, of course, some updates will be more impactful than others. 

But staying in the loop is worth it. By knowing about all the latest and greatest Google Ads tools, you can be sure you’re taking advantage of all the features at your disposal and staying competitive in your industry. 

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

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 Aug 3 , 2020

As Google Shopping celebrates its 18th birthday, the founders are giving vendors a nice gift: welcoming unpaid organic listings back to search results.

Here you’ll learn:

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

The COVID-19 pandemic’s effects have been felt across the globe. As a result, many brick-and-mortar stores have closed, bringing online shopping to an all-time high.

As merchants migrated over to the e-commerce realm, some were met with unexpected obstacles like the need to pay for their product listings onto the Google platform.

In April 2020, Google announced that they were bringing free listings to the Google Shopping tab in the United States. Google’s reps said they’ve been planning to make the Shopping feature free for merchants for some time. The pandemic simply pushed them to implement changes earlier. The new development doesn’t mean that merchants can’t pay for advertising their products anymore. Paid campaigns will simply be augmented with free listings. 

Bill Ready, president of Google’s commerce division, explained that this change means stores can now get free exposure to the millions of users who use Google for their shopping needs every day. (The unpaid listings won’t show up on the search engine results page directly. Rather, they’ll be available under the “Shopping” tab.)

Online shopping package received from the mail

Google Shopping launched under a completely different name: Froogle. It was founded by Craig Nevill-Manning in 2002. (Image via Unsplash)

Google Shopping’s evolution

Google isn’t constantly evolving its shopping feature simply to please merchants and buyers. The service is fighting hard for its place in the online shopping world. In past years, reports say Google Shopping has been losing clients to its biggest competitor: Amazon.

By forcing merchants to pay for listings, Google inadvertently limited the number of products the service offered. With the new development, the service becomes more appealing to sellers, which should eventually bring more buyers to the platform.

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. The platform 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 search engine results page (SERP) right next to other results of the same search query.

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.

local business e-commerce

The ability to purchase directly from Google simplified the buying process, drove sales, and drove impulse buying. (Image via Unsplash)

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 United States. 

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 from Google Shopping (the Google Express feature was fully integrated into Google Shopping)

With these new features, Google Shopping became a highly convenient selling tool for retailers. The ability to purchase directly from Google simplified the buying process, drove sales, and drove impulse buying.

If that sounds familiar, it’s because it 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 to 2020, and it has evolved into a serious e-commerce platform poised to give Amazon a run for its money.

The latest Google Shopping update allows merchants to list their products free of charge. Each new step of this evolution drives marketers to monitor and potentially improve their SEO campaigns, since the latest development emphasizes 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.

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

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 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.

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