Google Ads Bidding Strategies Your Competitors Don’t Know

Dominic Sergi

February 20, 2020

Competition is everywhere, so you need to stay a step ahead with your digital marketing.

Google Ads Bidding Strategies can help you get an advantage over your competition while you move closer to your goals.

But, before we learn how to bid for the best results, let’s look at how Google Ads works.

When you’re advertising on Google, you’re getting in front of your ideal audience by bidding for specific keywords and terms. The winners in the bidding actions get their ads placed in specific areas, like on the search results page, banners on certain websites, and other highly visible areas that people are likely to see.

On Google, you can create different types of campaigns. These campaigns determine where your ads will appear and how you can structure your bidding. The variety of campaigns you can create include: 

  • Search campaigns
  • Responsive search campaigns
  • Display campaigns
  • Video campaigns

What can each of these campaigns do for your digital marketing strategy?

Source: Local Digital

Search Campaigns

Probably the most well-known type of campaign, the search campaign offers text-rich ads placed at the top and the bottom of the search engine pages. 

This type of ad is more efficient than image-based ads because they don’t look like ads, and they’re placed in high-traffic areas. 

Responsive Search Campaigns

Similar to the standard search campaign, the responsive search campaign implies testing of multiple versions of the same ads. This type of strategy lets you test ad variations to find which ones are the most effective for your business. 

Google automatically chooses the ads that work best based on how many clicks they get. You have the option to change the headline and the body copy.

Display Campaigns

Google is partnered with thousands of websites across different industries and niches. The display campaign helps you get your ads in front of appropriate audiences on sites in the same industry as your business. The website owners get paid for clicks and impressions, and that’s why they partner with Google.

Usually, ads in the display network are image-based to get as much attention as possible.

Video Campaigns

Video campaigns are based on ads that show before, during, or after videos on YouTube. The same keyword principles apply as for the other types of campaigns.

Video campaigns engage the audience by using multiple approaches. You have the visual, but by going beyond an image, your audience gets more value with less effort on their part.

What Else Should You Consider When Using Google Ads?

Ad Location

The location of your ads is critical. If you have a brick and mortar business in Sydney, you don’t want your ads to show in Melbourne because that’s wasted money. 

That’s why you need to select the location accordingly. The same thing applies if you’re doing e-commerce. Set the location to a city or country where you want to ship your products.

Keywords

Without knowing how to use keywords properly, you can't use ads to their fullest potential.

After all, that’s how Google matches your ads with your target audience. People search for specific keywords, and your ads need to use those keywords if you want them to get traffic.

Match Types

There are four match types you can use with your keywords. This helps you get in front of two different kinds of people – those who search for exact words and those who look for broader terms. It’s all about how deep you want to niche down with your targeting.

What match types can you use to drive traffic to your website?

  • Broad Match – A broad match uses any word you use in the keyword selection. That means “gym trainer Melbourne” will also match “gym trainer.” 
  • Modified Broad Match – You can select a particular word that you want your ad to show in every search. Do this by adding a “+” before the keyword you want to lock in. For example, if you’re using “+gym trainer Melbourne,” your ad will appear for other phrases as long as “gym” is the first word, as in “gym Melbourne.”
  • Phrase Match – You can select a specific keyword phrase that you want your ads to appear for. For example, if you’re using “gym trainer” as the keyword phrase, your ads will show for that and any other phrase with an extra word in front of or after it. That includes “personal gym trainer” or “gym trainer weight loss.”
  • Exact Match – Your ads will only appear for those that search for a specific keyword phrase. For example, if you’re using “gym trainer Melbourne,” your ads will only appear for that search term and not for any variations.

It's all about consistency

Headline and Description

Besides persuasiveness, when it comes to headlines and descriptions, it’s all about consistency. You want your description to match your headline. Otherwise, Google will mark your ad as not relevant, and your quality score and ad rank will drop.

Ad Extensions

Ad extensions are great for offering additional information to people searching the web. They’re free, and there’s nothing to lose if you’re using them. In fact, you’ll be getting more clicks and more interactions once you put them in play.

What types of Ad Extensions can you use?

Pay Per Click Extensions
Source: Local Digital

Sitelink Extensions – This type of extension gives you the ability to add links to your ads. These links can go to your site or any other place you like, improving click-through rate considerably. 

Call Extensions – With this type of extension, you can add a phone number to your ads. This way, people can get in touch with you faster, or even instantaneously. Before using this extension, make sure you have someone ready to answer the calls promptly.

Location Extensions – If you want people to find your business fast, this extension is your go-to. Adding a location extension to your ad will help your target audience travel your location with an exact map and instructions. Be sure to use this extension if you have a local store of any kind.

Offer Extensions – Add an offer to your ad. If you do this, you will increase the conversion rate. Make your offer is irresistible and differentiate yourself from the competition, so people want to take advantage of what you’re offering.

App Extensions – If you have an app, this extension allows you to add a direct link to your app in your ads. By using app extensions, you make things easier for the people who see your advertisement, and that will help boost your sales.

At this point, you know how Google Ads work, and you have an idea of what you need to consider when creating your ads. The next step involves learning about what kinds of bidding strategies you can use to get a leg up on your competition.

Target Cost Per Acquisition (CPA)

If making conversions is what you’re looking for (which it probably is since that’s the primary goal of many advertisers), Target Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) is the perfect strategy to use. This type of bidding is focused on converting traffic at an acquisition cost.

If you choose to use this strategy, your bids will be set automatically according to your CPA. That means you’ll have both low and high conversion costs to create a balance and maintain your average acquisition cost.

The cost per acquisition represents how much you pay for a new customer. That means you need to create your process in a way that the CPA is lower than what you’re selling your products or services for. 

Make sure you’re doing everything with profit in mind. Finding out you’re spending more on acquiring clients than how much your offer is worth is no fun when you see your money going down the drain. 

Don't forget to plan for the long term, either. Most companies make money at the back end, and they usually lose money or break even at the front end.

A CPA that allows you to break even and have a sound system in place for increasing the lifetime value of your customer is ideal. Think additional services, upsells, downsells, and so on.

Target Return on Ad Spend (ROAS)

When people look at this bidding strategy, they usually have no clue how it works. That’s understandable, considering its complexity, especially if you’re not a big fan of math.

Even Homer finds it difficult (Source: https://tenor.com/)

The Target Return on Ad Spend strategy is calculated in percentages. It’s a strategy that helps you maximise the conversions based on how much you want to make from your ad expenditure. 

Use this formula to calculate it: 

Sales Value / Ad spend x 100%

Target Search Page Location

The Target Search Page Location bidding strategy is suitable for getting your ads on the first page of Google or in the top three ads on the first page. Google does this automatically, and it sets your bids according to how the competition is doing.

Even if Google says that this bidding method doesn’t guarantee your ads will show on the first page if you have a good quality score, you can still make it there. If your ads are relevant, then you will get placed.

Cost Per Thousand Impressions (CPM)

The Cost Per Thousand Impressions (CPM) is a strategy used for impressions only. It shows you the cost per thousand impressions on a single page. CPM works on display campaigns and YouTube.

Cost Per Thousand Viewable Impressions (vCPM)

Very much like the CPM version, the Cost per Thousand Viewable Impressions strategy is used for offering content and creating value in the market. It is used solely in the Display Network. 

Your bid will be set according to the cost of 1,000 impressions for your ads.

Cost-Per-View Bidding (CPV)

The Cost-Per-View (CPV) bidding strategy is used for advertising using videos on YouTube. This bidding system allows you to pay only for views and interactions with your videos, such as overlay clicks, call to action clicks, and so on.

How are views counted? If someone watches only 2 seconds of your video, that’s not a view. The CPV bidding calculates each view as a minimum of 30 seconds. Anything below that doesn’t count. 

There is one case where a view of fewer than 30 seconds counts. That’s if the person watching the video stops before the 30-second mark to take action by clicking on your ad.

This is the basic bidding strategy used for videos, and it’s what most people rely on.

You set your maximum bid – how much you want to pay for a view or interaction – and choosing this can be tricky. Before jumping in with high bids, start with improving your quality score and ad rank. That will positively affect your cost per view, so you’ll pay less. 

Once you do that, bid a low amount and work your way up as you see progress and results with your ads. If you’re getting a lot of clicks, then you don’t need to increase the bid. However, if you see a difference in click numbers when you increase the bid bit by bit, keep doing that.

It’s all about testing and analysing the data Google gives you, so start slow and make changes as you go.

Target Impression Share Bidding

The Target Impression Share bidding strategy works best if you’re looking for more engagement.

You can get the most out of it if you’re targeting keywords relevant in specific niches. For example, you can bid on women’s sunglasses, and based on how much you set as the target, you can get your ads in front of everyone that searches for that keyword.

Make sure you consider how much you want to pay and what kind of results you’re looking for.

This bidding strategy is not the cheapest or the most efficient one, so use it with caution and do some in-depth research before you start.

Maximize Conversions

A well-known strategy, the Maximise Conversions bidding is the easiest to understand. Google automatically sets your bidding in a way that guarantees maximum conversions based on how much you set as your daily budget. 

All you need to do in this case is to set a reasonable amount for the maximum daily bidding budget. Don’t worry—Google isn’t going to steal your money. It will find the best way to use your designated budget to get as many conversions as possible. 

Don’t go wild with your budget, but don’t be scared of paying either, because this strategy can get you far with your ad campaign.

Besides setting your budget, there’s nothing for you to do when you’re using this bidding strategy. It’s the most straightforward strategy Google offers. Just set your daily budget and analyse the results as they come in.

Source: Local Digital

Maximise Clicks

Just like the Maximise Conversions bidding strategy, the Maximise Clicks strategy uses the same principle. Once you set a maximum daily budget for your ads, Google will spend the money as efficiently as possible for you to get plenty of clicks.

The same advice applies here. Be reasonable with your budget amount, and make sure you analyse the results to see if it’s profitable or not for you to keep using this strategy.

Target Outranking Share

The Target Outranking Share bidding strategy is used for competitor targeting – you choose which competitor or website you want to outrank, and Google does the rest. It’s automatic, so you don’t need to lift a finger. However, Google will keep increasing your bid to outrank your competition, so keep an eye on it.

Google chooses when to show your ads, even at hours when your competitors slack off. When doing the bidding, you can set a percentage that shows Google how many times you want to outrank your competitors’ bids. 

If you have a 30% rate for how often you outrank the competition, that’s equivalent to 3 out of 10 times, 50% with 5 out of 10, and so on. The higher the percentage, the more you’ll pay.

Manual CPC

The Manual CPC bidding strategy is popular among Google Advertisers. The bidding is done manually, at all levels of the advertising campaign. The bid represents how much you want to spend on a click.

This strategy works best if you’re starting from scratch with no data. It takes time and effort because you need to adjust everything manually. Still, it pays off in the long term since you have total control over how much you bid, compared to an automatic bidding strategy where Google has the overall control.

Enhanced CPC

Enhanced CPC is an automatic bidding strategy that uses algorithms to adjust your bid in a way that helps clicks and conversions. 

This bidding strategy works just as Manual CPC. The difference is in how your bids are set. More precisely, Google will adjust your bid, increasing it if there’s a chance for conversion, and decreasing it if there’s no chance for conversion.

Keep in mind that Enhanced CPC works only in the Search and Display networks, and there’s no limitation on how the bidding is set except your maximum daily budget.

With all of this information in mind, you’ve got several strategies to help your business pull ahead of the competition. No matter what ad campaign you use, if you know what you’re spending and how customers interact with your ads, you’ll have no problem putting all eyes on you.

About Dominic Sergi

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