8 Best Practices for Maximizing Return on Ad Spend with Google Ads

What Are Google Ads?

Google Ads, formerly known as Google AdWords, is an online advertising platform developed by Google. It allows businesses to display ads on Google's search engine results pages (SERPs), websites, mobile apps, and videos.

Google Ads is a crucial marketing tool for many businesses, both online and offline. However, ineffective campaign management and subpar ad quality can lead to wasted advertising budget.

In this comprehensive guide, we outline the top best practices for Google Ads to help you maximize your return on investment and avoid common pitfalls.

1. Install Conversion Tracking

How will you know if your ad campaigns are turning a profit if you don’t track conversions?

Google Ads conversion tracking can provide valuable insights into your return on ad spend (ROAS) and enable you to optimize your campaigns more effectively.

To track conversions effectively in Google Ads, follow these steps:

Create a conversion action: Go to your Google Ads account and navigate to “Goals” > “Conversions” > “Summary.”

Click on the blue “New conversion action” button.

Choose conversion type: Select the “Website” option

And enter your website’s URL. Click “Scan”

And then “Add a conversion action manually.”

In this step, you’ll need to provide additional details and customize settings for your conversion tracking:

  1. Goal and Action Optimization: Select the goal category for your conversion action, such as purchase, add to cart, subscribe, or submit a lead form.
  2. Conversion Name: Enter a descriptive name for your conversion action.
  3. Value: Define the value of the conversion action. You can use a fixed value for each conversion or set up dynamic values.
  4. Count: Specify how many conversions Google Ads should track per click or interaction.
  5. Click-Through Conversion Window: Choose the maximum number of days after an interaction with your ad that Google Ads should attribute a conversion to the ad. This can vary based on your business and industry.
  6. Engaged-View Conversion Window: Set the number of days after a user interacts with your video ad that their conversion should be attributed to the ad.
  7. View-Through Conversion Window: Specify the maximum number of days after a user views your ad (without interacting) that their conversion should be counted as a view-through conversion.
  8. Attribution: Select the attribution model for conversion tracking, such as data-driven or last-click attribution.

After completing the previous steps, click “Done” at the bottom of the window. Then, click “Agree and continue” on the next screen.

Next, you’ll need to add a Google tag to start measuring conversions. Click “Set up” on the next screen.

You’ll receive a snippet of code that you’ll need to add to your website. If a Google tag is detected on your website, you may not need to make changes to your site’s code.

Once you’ve added the code to your website, return to Google Ads and click the “Test installation” button. If Google Ads detects the code on your website, you’ve successfully set up conversion tracking.

2. Arrange Your Google Ads Account

For efficient management and optimization of your ad campaigns, it’s essential to maintain a well-organized Google Ads account.

Follow these suggestions when structuring your account:

Campaigns: Organize your campaigns based on business objectives, product/service categories, or geographical locations. Use descriptive names for each campaign and maintain a consistent naming convention. Ad groups: Create ad groups that revolve around specific themes (e.g., keywords, audience segments, intent, promotions). Aim for no more than 10 ad groups per campaign to keep things organized. Ads: Include a minimum of three ads per ad group to test different ad copy variations. By structuring your account according to these guidelines, you’ll be able to quickly assess your Google Ads performance. It will also facilitate easy identification of specific ad groups and ads, allowing you to make quick modifications for enhanced performance.

3. Analyze the Competition

Analyzing your competitors’ ads and landing pages can provide valuable insights and inspiration for your own ad campaigns. Here’s a step-by-step guide to quickly analyze your competitors’ Google Ads:

Identify Competitors:

Start by listing your known competitors.

Enter a few main keywords into Google and check the ad sections to identify companies advertising in your space.

Type your domain into Semrush’s Advertising Research tool and click “Search.”

Click on the “Competitors” tab to view a list of your Google Ads competitors.

Scroll to the “Paid Competitors” section to see:

Websites you’re competing with for Google Ads placements.

Their paid ad spend.

The traffic they generate from paid advertising.

By analyzing your competitors’ Google Ads, you can gain valuable insights into successful strategies and adjust your own campaigns accordingly.

Find Out Which Keywords Your Competitors Are Bidding on

To determine which keywords your competitors are bidding on, follow these steps:

Use the Semrush Advertising Research Tool:

Select a competitor’s domain from the “Paid Competitors” section.

Scroll to the “Paid Search Positions” section and click on the “Positions” tab.

Here, you’ll see a list of keywords they’re bidding on, along with the average cost per click (CPC) for each keyword.

Click the “Export” button to download all the keywords for further analysis.

By analyzing your competitors’ bidding keywords, you can identify potentially profitable keywords for your own campaigns and optimize your ad strategy accordingly.

Review Ad Copy and Landing Pages

Analyzing your competitors’ ad copy and landing pages can provide valuable insights for improving your own campaigns. Here’s how you can do it using the Semrush Advertising Research Tool:

Ad Copy Analysis:

Click on a competitor’s domain from the “Paid Competitors” section.

Go to the “Ads Copies” tab to view the ad copy they use for their ads.

Note the number of keywords that trigger each ad.

Click the “Export” button to download the ad copy for further analysis.

Click on the “Pages” tab to view a list of all the landing pages your competitor uses for their ads.

Note the estimated traffic and the number of keywords each landing page ranks for in paid search results.

You can examine these landing pages individually or export them as a list of URLs for further analysis.

By reviewing your competitors’ ad copy and landing pages, you can gain insights into their messaging, design, and overall strategy. Use these insights to improve your own ads and landing pages for better performance.

4. Improve Your Ad Copy

Your  ad copy can have a huge impact on how your ads will perform. Follow these Google ad copy best practices to get better results from your ads:

Be Specific

To effectively target customers searching for specific products, such as summer dresses, your ad copy should be tailored to their search queries.

For instance, if you operate an online clothing store, your ad should highlight summer dresses explicitly. Avoid generic language mentioning your full range of women’s clothing or other products like accessories. By aligning your ad copy with the customer’s search intent, you increase the likelihood of them clicking on your ad.

Include Keywords

To improve the relevance of your ads and boost click-through rates, incorporate keywords that align with what searchers are likely using.

This strategy, illustrated in the Upwork ad targeting freelancers, can make your ads more appealing and increase the likelihood of clicks.

However, it’s crucial to avoid excessive keyword use. Limit yourself to one or two relevant keywords in your ad copy to maintain a natural flow. Keyword stuffing, which can make your ad seem unnatural, should be avoided.

Add a Clear Call to Action

Incorporate a clear call to action (CTA) in your ad copy to encourage users to take specific actions. Your CTA should prompt searchers to act after viewing your ad, such as making a purchase, starting a free trial, or booking a consultation.

Examples of effective CTAs include “Buy Now,” “Sign Up,” “Call Now,” “Learn More,” and “Get a Quote.” A well-crafted CTA can significantly increase the likelihood of users engaging with your ad.

Make Sure Your Ad Copy Is Error-Free

Ensure that your ad copy is error-free by thoroughly proofreading it for grammatical and spelling mistakes. While it may seem like a basic step, it’s essential to adhere to this fundamental Google Ads best practice.

Ads containing errors can come across as unprofessional and may deter users from clicking on them. Take the time to review your ad copy meticulously to maintain credibility and enhance the effectiveness of your campaigns.

5. Optimize Your Landing Pages

Having high-quality landing pages is crucial for converting users who click on your ads. A poor landing page experience not only reduces your chances of conversions but can also negatively impact your ad’s Quality Score, leading to higher costs and poorer ad performance.

Therefore, it’s essential to ensure that your landing pages are well-designed, relevant to your ad, and provide a seamless user experience to maximize your campaign’s success.

Here are a few tips you can use to optimize your landing pages for conversions:

Match Your Landing Pages to Your Ads

Ensuring that your landing pages align with your ads is crucial for campaign success. Consistency in messaging and offers between ads and landing pages is key.

If your ad promises a discount or special offer, for example, your landing page should deliver on that promise.

Failure to maintain this consistency can lead to high bounce rates and low conversion rates, as users may feel misled or confused.

Focus Your CTAs on a Single Goal

If your landing page has multiple calls to action (CTAs), ensure they all align with a single goal. Having various CTAs is okay, but they should all guide visitors toward the same action.

For instance, if you want visitors to make a purchase, sign up for a newsletter, or contact you, make sure all CTAs focus on these goals.

This consistency helps visitors understand what you want them to do, leading to better conversion rates.

Use Trust Signals

Building trust is crucial for converting visitors into customers. People are often hesitant to share personal information or make purchases online, especially if it’s their first time interacting with your brand. Including trust signals on your landing page can help alleviate these concerns and increase conversions.

Here are some effective trust signals you can incorporate:

  1. Reviews and Testimonials: Featuring reviews and testimonials from satisfied customers can significantly boost trust. Potential customers are more likely to convert when they see positive feedback from others who have had a good experience with your products or services.
  2. Guarantees: Offering a satisfaction guarantee or a money-back guarantee can reassure hesitant buyers. Knowing they can get their money back if they are not satisfied with their purchase can encourage them to take the plunge and make a purchase.
  3. Membership Logos: If your business is a member of reputable organizations or industry associations, displaying their logos on your landing page can help establish credibility. It shows visitors that your business is recognized and trusted within your industry.

Improve Page Speed

Page load speed is crucial for keeping visitors engaged and reducing bounce rates.

Here are some tips to speed up your landing pages:

  1. Upgrade your web hosting: Consider switching to a faster hosting provider or upgrading to a dedicated server if you’re currently on shared hosting.
  2. Use a CDN (Content Delivery Network): A CDN helps deliver your website content from servers that are closer to your visitors, reducing load times.
  3. Compress images: Use tools like WebP, Optimizilla, or Kraken to compress images and reduce their file size without sacrificing quality.
  4. Minify JavaScript and CSS files: Remove unnecessary spaces, comments, and line breaks from your code to reduce file sizes and improve load times.
  5. Remove unnecessary scripts: Eliminate any unused or unnecessary scripts on your landing page to reduce load times.

6. Maintain a Negative Keyword List

Google Ads provides a way to prevent your ads from displaying for irrelevant searches by using negative keywords. These are keywords you specify that you don’t want your ads to appear for.

If you’re running Google Ads campaigns, using negative keywords is essential.

By adding negative keywords to your campaign settings, you can improve your ads’ click-through rates and reduce your overall advertising costs.

To add negative keywords, navigate to “Campaigns” > “Audiences, keywords, and content” > “Search keywords.” Then, click on the “Negative search keywords” tab.

From here, click the “+ Negative keywords” button.

Choose whether you want the negative keywords to apply to an entire campaign or just a single ad group, and then enter or paste your negative keywords.

Click the “Save” button at the bottom once you’ve added all the keywords.

Not sure which keywords to exclude? Check out the “Search terms” report by going to “Campaigns” > “Insights and reports” > “Search terms.”

Here, look for keywords that aren’t relevant to your business or relevant keywords with a lot of clicks but no conversions. Add these to your negative keyword list to reduce wasted ad spend.

In addition to adding negative keywords to individual campaigns and ad groups, you can create an account-level negative keyword list that will apply across all your campaigns.

To do this, go to “Admin” > “Account settings” > “Negative keywords” from your Google Ads dashboard. Click the “+” button,

Add your negative keywords,And click “Save.”

7. Take Advantage of Ad Assets

Google Ads offers various ad assets (formerly known as ad extensions) that you can attach to your ads. These assets provide additional information about your offer or company, enhancing your ad’s visibility and relevance in search engine results pages (SERPs).

By using ad assets, you can take up more visual real estate in the SERPs, which can lead to higher click-through rates and lower costs per click.

Consider taking advantage of these types of Google Ads Assets

Location

The location asset allows you to display your business’s address on a separate line in search results, as shown below:

GoliniPainting.com ad on Google SERP with the address listed This asset is particularly beneficial for brick-and-mortar businesses that depend on in-person visits. It helps users locate your physical location more easily, as they can simply click on the address to get directions.

Sitelinks

The sitelink asset allows you to specify additional pages you want to direct users to, apart from your main landing page.

Cars.com’ ad on Google SERP with multiple sitelink assets Image Source: Google Ads Transparency Center

This feature provides an opportunity to link to category pages, an FAQ page, pages with reviews or testimonials, or any other page you want potential customers to visit.

Seller Ratings

The seller ratings asset allows you to display a rating for your business based on reviews gathered from various online sources by Google.

Amazon.com’ ad on Google SERP with a rating of 4.6 displayed

This feature is an excellent way to demonstrate to visitors that your business is trustworthy.

Callouts

Callout Extension The callout extension allows you to highlight key information such as best-selling products, free shipping offers, or unique selling points (USPs).

These callouts are displayed after your description text, providing a way to add important information that may not fit within the description character limit.

Here’s an example of an ad with a callout extension:

Calls

Calls Extension If your business relies on customers calling to book appointments or request quotes, you can use the calls extension to make it easy for them to contact you.

This allows potential customers to call your business directly from the ad, as shown below:

An ad on Google SERP with a “Call us” button link displayed

8. Test Location Targeting

If your business serves specific geographic areas, it’s crucial to target your ads accordingly. Use Google Ads’ location targeting feature to focus your ads on locations where your target audience is located. You can target by country, region, city, or even a radius around a specific location. Test different targeting options to see which ones generate the best results for your campaigns.

Location targeting can be particularly useful for various scenarios:

  1. Local Businesses: For physical businesses like hardware stores, restaurants, or local services, targeting people in the immediate area can increase foot traffic and local sales.
  2. E-commerce Stores: Online stores that ship to specific locations can target those areas to avoid wasting ad spend on users outside their shipping zones.
  3. Luxury Products/Services: Businesses offering high-end or luxury items may find it beneficial to target more affluent areas where there is a higher likelihood of finding interested and higher-spending customers.
  4. Event-based Marketing: For events or promotions limited to certain locations, targeting those areas can help drive attendance or participation.
  5. Seasonal Offers: Businesses with seasonal offers or products can target regions where those seasons are most relevant, such as advertising winter clothing in colder climates.
  6. Localized Services: Service-based businesses, like plumbers or electricians, can target specific service areas to maximize their reach to potential customers within their operational range.

Location targeting allows you to focus your Google Ads on specific geographic areas, ensuring your ads reach the right audience. This feature is particularly useful for businesses with physical locations or those targeting specific regions. To set up location targeting:

Access Campaign Settings: Go to the “Campaigns” section in your Google Ads dashboard and click on the campaign you want to edit.

Adjust Location Settings: In the campaign settings, locate the “Locations” drop-down menu. Here, you can enter the locations you want to target, such as countries, cities, regions, or ZIP/postal codes.

Refine Your Targeting: You can further refine your targeting by specifying the radius around a location or excluding certain locations where you don’t want your ads to appear.

Save Your Settings: Once you’ve set your location targeting preferences, click “Save” to apply the changes to your campaign.

By using location targeting, you can ensure that your ads are seen by users in the locations that matter most to your business, helping you reach your target audience more effectively.

Ad Scheduling

Ad Scheduling, also known as dayparting, can be a valuable tool for businesses with specific peak times or days of the week when they see higher conversion rates or engagement. Here’s how to set it up in Google Ads:

Identify Peak Times: Analyze your campaign data to determine when your ads perform best. Look for patterns in click-through rates and conversions.

Access Ad Scheduling: In your Google Ads account, navigate to “Campaigns” > “Audiences, keywords, and content” > “Ad schedule.”

Select Campaign: Choose the campaign you want to set up scheduling for.

Set Schedule: Specify the days and times you want your ads to run. You can also adjust bid adjustments for specific times if needed.

Save Changes: Click “Save” to apply your ad schedule.

By using ad scheduling, you can ensure that your ads are running when they’re most likely to be effective, potentially increasing your ROI and optimizing your ad spend.

Maximize Your Return on Ad Spend with These Google Ads Best Practices

When done right, Google Ads campaigns can consistently drive customers and revenue for your business. Follow the best practices for Google Ads we outlined above to ensure your campaigns are a success.

You can also use Semco’s tools to make things easier:

  1. Advertising Research: Helps you find out which keywords your competitors are bidding on and shows you the ad copy and landing pages they’re using for their campaigns.
  2. Keyword Magic Tool: Shows you keyword metrics like CPC and level of competition.
  3. EyeOn: Allows you to monitor your competitors’ ad activity.
  4. PPC Keyword Tool: Makes it easy to plan and organize your Google Ads campaigns.

You can access each of these tools and more with a free trial.