Google Ads

12 Google Ads Bidding Strategies For More Traffic

Pamela Obeid

Google Ad bids take place 40,000 times every second.In case it’s unclear - that’s a whole lot of bids.It’s hard to beat out competitors, especially when wins don’t happen by accident - but the truth is, there is so much more to Google Ads than just the bid itself.

Luckily for you, we’re always here to help.If you arm yourself with the right tips, tricks, and tools, you’ll let the Google Ads bidding monster run wild - in a good way, of course.

If you’re looking to put together the ultimate toolkit to maximize your campaign results, you’re in the right place.Let’s get going!

How does Google Ads bidding work?

Essentially, there are a number of ways you can bid for ads - all dependent on your end goals. Mostly, advertisers focus on clicks, impressions, conversions, or views.When Google has ad space available, it runs an auction, and this auction is the decider of which ads will show at what particular moment.Understanding all the nuances involved with this is the key to becoming a better bidder.There are a few ways you can decide how to bid for your ads - below, we’ve briefly broken down these different options, allowing you to select which strategy best aligns with your business strategy.

What are the three components of Google Ads auction rankings?

There are three elements of a Google Ads auction that are taken into account when deciding the rank of your ad:

  1. Your max cost-per-click (CPC) bid for the keyword
  2. Your quality score for the keyword
  3. Your ad extensions and their relevance to the ad and keyword

This auction happens both extremely fast and extremely often, so you need to know what’s out there to take advantage of it.With all that, it’s time to deep dive into the world of Google Ads bidding.

What are the best practices for Google Ads?

The Google Ads bid model - or really, any bidding model - centers around increasing bids.But obviously, we don’t want to do that - we want to pay less, whilst maximizing our profit.When setting goals for your PPC campaign, especially when we talk about average CPC in bidding, you need to make sure to factor in the balance between CPC and conversion volume.You can keep lowering your bid, for example, but this will also hurt your conversion volume.Increasing bids, however, can increase your conversion volume, but this would also eventually increase your CPC and burn through your budget much quicker.Here are some best practices to follow when planning your bidding strategies:

  • Keep on top of your conversion tracking - particularly auditing.
  • Make sure your attribution model is appropriate for your business goals.
  • Always A/B test your bidding strategies using the Google Draft & Experiments feature.
  • Research your goals, and focus on a bidding strategy that aligns best.
  • Patience is your best friend - wait for enough data to make the right choice with your bidding adjustments.
  • Make your account structure as simple as possible, and make changes to your bid strategies on an as-needed basis.

The link between bidding strategies and clear goals

Arguably the most important component is setting clear, realistic and achievable goals.Be mindful that all your metrics might not improve at the same time, but this isn’t an issue.You might need to sacrifice smaller metrics to hit bigger ones, and that’s okay!An example of a set of goals might be:

  • Increase conversion rate by 25%
  • Increase ROAS by 20%
  • Decrease CPA by 40%

Whilst you can attempt to go after all of these goals at the same time, it’s often better to focus on one or two at once - whichever ones are the most important.For now, let’s get into all the different types of bidding that you can conduct.

Should I bid manually or automatically?

We’ll get into it briefly - there are two main types of bidding - manual, and automatic. There is also smart bidding, which we’ll also get into below.

Manual bidding

Manual bidding is exactly what it sounds like - you manually adjust your bid at either the keyword or adgroup level.You can either place a blanket bid on the adgroup level over all the keywords, or you can distribute your bids out keyword by keyword.

Automated bidding

Automated bid strategies use machine learning to optimize your bids on your behalf, which are based on certain set campaign goals.The way that Google optimizes these bids is dependent on the set strategy and the goals that the specific strategy is pursuing.

Smart bidding

This is a subset of automated bidding strategies that use machine learning to specifically optimize for conversion value or conversions in every auction.This is known as ‘auction-time bidding’.Some smart bidding strategies include target ROAS, target CPA, maximize conversion value, maximize conversion, and enhance CPC (known as ECPC).

The 12 Google Ads bidding strategies for more traffic

Before we get into our 12 strategies to build traffic, keep one thing in mind - don’t ever have it set on autopilot.Keep tabs on your performance and fluctuations, and if your conversion rates improve using landing page testing, make sure to understand that bidding goals can both improve and change very quickly.

Target CPA

To get the most conversion possible, set a target CPA yourself. This is worth using if your main goal is to both increase leads and hit targets.


  • If your main goal is to get conversions (such as signups, mobile app downloads, or sales) with a designated CPA goal, then using Target CPA bidding will help you with automatic conversions associated with your budget.
  • By utilizing conversion tracking data, you can avoid unprofitable clicks and achieve more conversions at less of a cost.
  • Target CPA is an automatic generation of bidding to help meet your target CPA.


  • Your tCPA will require a health budget to perform adequately, i.e. your daily budget needs to be at least 2x your tCPA goal for that campaign, or even higher ideally.
  • You can’t set a maximum CPC bid cap when this is your strategy campaign by campaign.

Target ROAS

If you have a certain ROI you’re aiming for with your PPC spend, using return on ad spend (ROAS) might be the right strategy for you.ROAS is a metric that takes your conversion values or Google Analytics eCommerce revenue values into account instead.If you’re aiming for a ROI of 6, for example, that means you’d like a $6 return for every $1 you spend, with the bid strategy’s target ROAS being set to 600%.


  • Puts your ad in front of ‘buy-ready’ audiences.
  • Geared towards eCommerce platforms that hold multiple products, helping to take the headache out of determining the right balance between high-marin winners and volume sellers.


  • By optimizing for ROAS, you can sometimes reduce your ad spend.
  • Targeting ROAS means that you aren’t receiving the potential highest dollar amount in revenue, only the highest ROAS, which isn’t ideal for some.

Maximize clicks

By using a maximize clicks strategy, Google Ads automatically sets your bids to help you receive as many clicks as possible within your budget.This is ideal when you have a strong conversion performance, and are looking to increase volume.


  • A straightforward approach, using basic automated bidding.
  • Lowers CPCs and raises search impression share (SIS).
  • The most efficient strategy to generate traffic to your site.


  • Your clicks and conversions can be of lower quality.
  • This strategy doesn’t actively look for conversions, which might not be the best approach for conversion-focused goals.

Maximize conversions

If you’d like to increase sales, leads, or both, Google can automatically set your bids to receive the highest number of conversions within your budget.This is the ideal strategy for using your entire budget in one day.


  • Drives larger conversion volume goals
  • Automatically finds people who are likely to convert and gives them higher bids


  • With no limit on bid control, clicks can be costly and your daily budget can easily be exceeded
  • Google can aim to get you the most conversions, but this may cost more, raise your CPA, or lower your ROAS

Maximize conversion value

Google Ads automatically sets your bids to help you receive the most conversion value within a singular budget.Using the information gathered about device, time of day, location, and demographics, Google can find the optimal CPC bid for each auction.


  • This bid automatically drives the higher dollar value revenue possible from your ads
  • Google will search for people who are more likely to complete these purchases that hold more value to you


  • You might make more, but you risk spending more, which will worsen your ROAS
  • This strategy doesn’t focus on conversions for your budget, only conversions that are worth more

Target impression share

Target impression share bidding will automatically set bids to help you achieve your Impression Share goal across all of your campaigns.There are three options for this, depending on what you want your ads to demonstrate:

  • On the absolute top of the page
  • On the top of the page
  • Anywhere on the page of search results

This strategy will allow you to set a maximum CPC bid limit, capping the max amount that you’ll let the strategy bid.Setting the limit too low can result in you risking and restricting your bids, but setting no limit at all can cause your CPCs to skyrocket and a budget lasting shorter.


  • This strategy works well for brand keywords that you want to show up for as much as possible, with a target 95% impression share.
  • Helps to ensure that your search top impression share (IS) is in your ideal location.


  • Can be overly expensive with difficulty to reach impression share goals.
  • Don’t necessarily optimize for all conversions.

Manual cost-per-click (CPC)

Manual cost per click (CPC) is what allows you to set bids at either the keyword level, or the ad group.Setting individual bids at the keyword level allows for the highest level of control, whilst ad group level manual bids give the same bid to all keywords within that ad group.Typically, this is the best bidding strategy for new advertisers, campaigns, or accounts - you can keep an eye on performance and avoid overspending easily.


  • Provides the highest level of control on your bids.
  • Your Max CPC bid is the most you’ll be charged, but often - you’ll be charged less.


  • This strategy requires more time, experience, and work to keep results consistent.
  • Provides less detailed reports in comparison to automated bidding.
  • This strategy doesn’t leverage Google’s machine learning algorithm to find users that are more likely to convert.

Enhanced cost-per-click (ECPC)

Enhanced CPC (ECPC) is an advanced smart-bidding setting that you can apply to manual CPC, allowing Google the freedom to either increase or decrease your bids depending on a higher or lower chance of conversion.With so many options, it can feel overwhelming, so this strategy takes into account a lot of factors on your behalf such as:

  • Geographic location
  • Device
  • Time of day
  • Browsing behavior
  • Expected CTR of your ad
  • Intent

Even if you don’t have the largest budget, this strategy can help you reach your goals regardless.


  • Click-through rate (CTR) and conversion rate (CVR) are typically increased, especially in comparison to manual CPC bidding alone.
  • More people are reached in a broader audience.


  • Because of the lack of bid caps, an increase in CPC can be seen, which may not be profitable for your account.
  • A lack of bidding control can cause you to exceed your daily budget frequently.

Viewable CRM (cost per 1000 impressions)

NOTE: this strategy is only available for Google Display Network users.Viewable CPM bidding allows you to set target bids for every 1000 impressions where the display ad was considered viewable.Previously, target CPM bidding could be used on display campaigns, which essentially means that you would be paying for 1000 impressions regardless of whether or not your ad was actually visible.Using this strategy means that you’re not wasting money on impressions where ads were barely seen - instead, only when they’re being fully seen.


  • Predictable pricing
  • You only pay per 1000 times your ad was viewed
  • Can raise brand awareness significantly


  • Doesn’t actually drive conversions (nor is it intended to)
  • ROI on CPM can be significantly lower on low trafficked sites

Maximum CPM (cost-per-view)

If your aim is to raise brand awareness with a YouTubecampaign, this bid strategy is one of two different options.Using Maximum CPV allows you to set the highest bid that you’re willing to pay for either a video view, or an interaction with your ad.If someone interacts with your ad first, whether that be clicking overlays or similar, you’ll instead be charged your CPV vid.Essentially, you don’t pay for people who skip your ad, or people who close the ad before it is complete.


  • A solid way to drive actual views on your ads by not paying for anyone who skips
  • Allows you to be put front and center in front of more interested audiences, therefore raising your brand awareness
  • Tends to be cheap, as CPVs are usually below $1


  • More views doesn’t necessarily translate to more conversions.
  • It can be hard to get someone to watch a full 30 second ad, so our tip would be to go for a 15 second non-skippable ad instead if this is the case.

Target CPM (cost per 1000 impressions)

This strategy is the second you will be able to use associated specifically with YouTube campaigns.This strategy charges you above your specified target CPM - this isn’t the maximum, but rather, the average bid that you’re comfortable paying for every 1000 times your ad is shown.An important distinction to make here is that whether or not viewers finish the ad or skip it, the cost is based on the ad itself showing.


  • This will boost brand awareness by ensuring your ad appears in front of the most unique set of viewers possible.


  • You are charged for an impression regardless of whether someone skips your ad or not, which can be wasteful for your budget.

Portfolio bid strategies

Based on the above, we can now get into portfolio bid strategies.In a nutshell, portfolio bid strategies are when you create one bid strategy to be applied over multiple campaigns, rather than different strategies on a campaign-by-campaign level.These are housed in your shared library, including strategies like target CPA, maximize conversions, target ROAS, and target impression share.


  • The learning speed of this strategy is much quicker, thanks to being able to reference data across many campaigns.
  • Some strategies that usually don’t allow you to set a maximum CPC do allow you to when used as a portfolio bidding strategy.


  • Some campaigns might be favoured over others, so you might see some campaigns performing significantly better than others.
  • Campaigns need to have very similar tCPA goals in order to use this form of bidding.

What are your top tips to build Google Ads?

Oh, we thought you’d never ask!Now that you’re across the different ways you can bid, we thought we’d touch on how you can get the most out of your chosen strategy.

Adjust your bids

Fun fact - different days of the week, times of day, geographic locations, and devices all perform differently.Using Google Ads, you can run reports that are based on these metrics and see where you should be increasing or decreasing bids depending on performance.To check out your device performance, you can access the devices tab and segment campaigns or ad groups to view individual performance.You can find interesting insights through this, such as mobile devices driving conversions at a lower rate.This would mean that you would adjust your bid to give that specific campaign on mobile devices more volume.Keep in mind, however, that smart bidding strategies tend to be quite good at doing this themselves and adjusting bids accordingly.

Follow the bid rules

Google Ads will also allow you to set specific bidding rules that pause, enable, and change bids depending on chosen parameters.Depending on your tab view within Google Ads, you can set your rules at the campaign, ad, ad group, or keyword level.For example, you can create rules to raise bids by a specific percentage if the average CPC is below your target.

Use bid scripts

Essentially, Google Ads scripts are what allow you to automate Google Ads activity according to specific time intervals and other metrics.By using these scripts, there is greater customisation beyond typical Google Ads rules, allowing you to get creative with what you control.

Bid for sales, not for conversions

Many people will look at your Google Ads account and think that you should aim for more conversions just to build more conversions.This is false.Whether you’re trying to generate leads or acquire users for your SaaS business, it’s important to realize that not all keywords are created equal.If you don’t track the keywords that are actually generating sales, then all PPC traffic will be treated the same - this is definitely not the way to go.Fact is, some keywords will have a higher sales rate in comparison to others.This is normal - but it means that those keywords should be bid more aggressively.This will help you out with increasing your revenue, which is likely the overall ultimate goal.

Follow seasonal trends

Depending on the time of year, it’s possible that your Google Ads performance will differ, especially if you’re a seasonal business.Basically, what this means is that conversion rates can decrease, and your CPC can increase.If your conversion rates are higher than usual, there is definitely reasoning there to bid aggressively and maximize conversions as much as possible.Be sure to keep this in mind when looking at your account for yearly seasonal trends, and establishing how to best position your bids and meet these needs.

Use different keywords, offers, and margins

Just like average order values in eCommerce sites, differing keywords bring in differing margins and dollar values.Be sure to stay away from ‘blanket bid’ mentalities - especially as not all keywords will work with the same bidding goals.When testing new offers, be sure to keep a close eye on any changes after initial leads are captured.

Bump your bids

Most people tend to begin with conservative bids when launching a new campaign.You can do the opposite - known as bid bumping.This is a tactic that allows your keywords to maintain higher ranks, even after lowering your bids.This tactic works by temporarily paying a higher CPC and therefore receiving a higher click-through rate.You can then slowly lower your bids, which will show you maintained performance levels with a reduced CPC and conversion cost.

Look into RLSA competitor bidding

RLSA competitor bidding is a retargeting campaign that allows you to aggressively bid for searches by visitors who have previously visited your site.By using this remarketing audience on top of an existing competitor search campaign, you can then add a bid adjustment onto this remarketing audience - that’s RLSA bidding.You can be much more aggressive, meaning you’re more likely to convert a past visitor who is already familiar with your brand.

Bid on branded keywords

By bidding on branded keywords, it will accomplish more than if you just control your brand’s ad message.By sending branded visitors to a dedicated landing page, these branded keywords can lead to a large increase in account health and performance improvements for keywords across the board.You don’t have to change around bids at the branded keyword level, but it’s definitely worth considering, regardless of whether you feel your organic clicks are enough.

What should I do now?

Congratulations! Today’s article was a long one.At this stage, you now know how bidding works with Google Ads. You’ve familiarized yourself with different types of bidding strategies, and the pros and cons of each.At the end of the day, bidding is vital for Google Ads, but it isn’t all you need to consider when managing your Search Engine Marketing.Wins from landing page testing and conversion rate optimisation could mean your bid issues will completely disappear - but it’s not guaranteed.So, with our tips under your belt, get ready to enter the world of Google Ads with a bang - happy bidding!

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Pamela Obeid
Pamela is the Digital Marketing & Podcast Coordinator at Local Digital. A self-proclaimed nerd, she thrives off all things social media, podcast, and video, propelling the LD brand to brand new heights.

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