While there’s a host of techniques you can employ to get yourself noticed and promoted by Google organically (SEO), most of them will take time and are difficult to control. Thanks to Google Ads, companies willing to pay for the top spots can be seen first. Even then, your ad only appears first based on how good your ad copy is and its alignment to the search term for the keyword you want to target. It also depends on how much you will bid to rank for the keyword. In this article, we highlight everything you need to know about keyword bidding on Google AdWords.
What do you do when you want to buy something, and you need to know where or find out more information?
You go to Google, right?
Check out these impressive Google search statistics from 2019:
Google was the most visited website, accounting for a massive 62.19B hits (Orbelo)
Google search dominates the search engine market – accounting for 92.18 percent market share (Orbelo)
84 percent of respondents in a Moz survey use Google 3 or more times every day
Most people (75 percent) do not look past the first few results on their Google queries, and very few will venture beyond the first page on SERPs. Therefore, it is critical for your site to show up in the first few results on Google SERPs.
What is Keyword Bidding?
A bid for a keyword on Google Ads represents the amount of money you’re willing to pay for a click-through. How much you bid dictates the location of your ads within the search results pages (SERPs).
Think of paid advertising like an auction, where the prize is high placement in Google search rankings for the specific search terms. When the user makes a search/query on Google, the search engine runs paid search results through its advanced algorithm and ranks them according to the bidders’ quality score for the term and how much their bid is.
The Google Ads platform is where you manage all your keyword bidding. This platform may seem overwhelming at first glance, particularly where you manage several campaigns simultaneously or you run large accounts. However, you can break down your strategy to smaller, more manageable chunks, as will be shown below. Your keywords, bids, and ads are placed together in an ad group, which belongs to a campaign. Campaigns may have one or multiple ad groups, with each group containing different sets of keywords and ads. The daily budget (how much you’re willing to pay total for every keyword) is also adjusted at the campaign level.
Related: Demystifying Off-Page SEO The Art of Link Building
How to Adjust Your Google Ads Bids
It is possible to edit your bids as often as you want on Google Ads so that you optimize your bids for the greatest reach. An essential point on bidding is that changing bids doesn’t change the budget you set on your total ad spend. When trying to determine the amount to be spent on each bid, Google gives you a low to high range typical for the keyword. Use this information to set your bid according to your budget and how essential the keyword is to your campaign. There are two methods to adjust your keyword bids: automated adjustment and manual adjustment.
Using automated adjustment leaves Google to maximize your reach for the strategy that you select without exceeding your total ad budget for the day. Automated bid strategies have the following goals: maximize conversions, maximize clicks, maximize conversion value, manual cost per click, target return on ad spend, cost per action, and target impression share. Google uses data from past ad performance to make changes to the bid strategy, but it won’t account for recent events/changes that may impact ad performance. However, experts recommend getting more hands-on with your bid control. If you’re just beginning, automated control can help you as you learn the ropes. As you go along, however, invest time in understanding the bidding system, as manual strategy creates a bigger potential for more impressive results.
Optimizing for Keyword Ranking
Your bid is just one of several variables that will determine where you rank on a SERP, even in paid search. Google will not simply give the top position to the business that spends the most money without validating its content or relevance. This is where your quality score comes in. All factors held constant, where two businesses bid the same amount for the same keyword, Google will rank higher the business whose quality score is higher. The quality score is calculated based on three factors: ad relevance, landing page experience, and expected click-through rate.
The ad relevance score measures how closely your keyword matches the messaging on your ads. For example, if an inbound marketing firm bids for the term “demand generation”, but the ad says “Click here for the Ultimate Guide to Successful Website Redesign” you will score low on relevance. These two terms have no close relation to each other.
Landing Page Experience
Similarly, the landing page experience is about how well the landing page is optimized and relevant to the people clicking on the ad. Google measures how well the messaging on the landing page aligns with the message on the ad the visitor clicked on. Following the above example, if the landing page had content about conducting a website audit when the term is demand generation, that page would attract a bad/low landing page experience score.
Expected Click-Through Rate (CTR)
The expected CTR measures the likelihood of your ad being shown according to CTR. This number is an estimate, therefore it will not match the actual CTR numbers you will see when checking your account metrics. Expected CTR is the most complex of the factors used to determine ad quality scores. It measures the likelihood of your ad getting clicked on when it is shown for a particular keyword or search term. It is calculated according to how your keyword performed vis-à-vis the position of the ad.
Quality Score Summary
Every one of these categories will attract one of three possible scores: below average, average, and above average. If you want to improve your quality score, the most effective approach is to evaluate how relevant your ad actually is for the keyword you wish to target. Looking at the expected CTR metric, you can determine which keywords to prioritize based on predicted performance, and which to drop. All three factors give your overall quality score, but Google displays your performance for each area so that you can adjust where needed to raise the overall score.
Related: What is Evergreen Content?
Paid search advertising works closely with other inbound digital marketing strategies, and it should not be considered a shortcut to getting high search rankings. When deciding which terms to bid for and how much to set as your budget, you will need to keep analyzing performance and adjusting as needed. Ensure that you go for relevant keywords according to your business, products, and services, and check performance regularly so that you can update your ads and bids to give better results.