Google Ads Best Practices

google ads best practices

I’ve been a freelancer managing numerous Google Ads accounts since 2013 and one of the questions I’m often asked is what are Google Ads best practices?

My answer is this – find every variable that you can and optimise it for return on ad spend.

But first the basic account settings need to be applied correctly, so what are they and how should we deal with them?

Google Ads Account Structure

The structure is:
Account
Campaigns
Ad Groups

1) Account

At the account level, you enter your business and billing information. This is also where you control users of the account and set their access levels.

It’s also where you set up account linking for Google Anlytics and Search Console, your Youtube channel, and a number of other applications.

You’ll also find account preferences here and one very important setting that you must check. Account level settings apply to all campaigns under the account, and hence to all ad groups in those campaigns.

Time Zone

When your Google Ads account was set up – you, or whoever set up the account will have selected a time zone.

There are two options for UK users:

GMT (+00:00) (no daylight saving) or GMT (+00:00) London

Which is somewhat confusing.

I’ve always used the second option, purely because the explict statement in the first option is that it will not adjust when the clocks change in March each year for Britich Summer Time (BST).

Why is this important?

One of the variables where you can alter bids is the schedule. Google allows up to 6 time slots a day and I often use a 24/7 bid modifier script that adjusts the bids every hour of every day.

So a standard and basic ad schedule example might be:

Midnight to 9am (out of office hours) -90%

9am – 11am +20%
11am – 1pm -15%
1pm – 3pm +25%
3pm – 5pm -35%
5pm to midnight -90%

If no allowance for BST is made, these time slots will be out by an hour for 7 months of the year (late March to late October)

And your ad schedule optimisation will be wrong. This applies particularly at the time changes.

If, as I do, you optimise bids hourly, that can have severe consequences for campaign performance when the clocks change. The bid differential from one hour to the next often exceeeds 100%. Given the effectiveness of 24/7 bid changes, it follows that getting it wrong will have a catastrophic effect on return on ad spend.

So take the second option.

What to do if it’s already set at the first option (no daylight saving)

Call google on their help line and ask them to change it. They allow you to do this once per account for the lifetime of the account.

Time Zone Settings in Google Analytics

You’ll want to check that you have the same time zone set in both your Google Ads account and your Google Analytics account, particularly if you import conversions from Analytics into Ads.

You’ll find the time zone settings in “view settings” in your Analytics account.

Occasionally, I’ve seen Analytics accounts set up for UK websites with the time zone set to the USA, so it’s worth checking your own setup.

Campaigns

Next level down from the account settings is campaigns.

It’s possibly an outdated analogy, but think of campaigns like a filing cabinet drawer. Or another way to visualise it is like a category page on your website. In other words it’s based on a higher level view of a section of your business.

That makes sense purely from an organisational point of view. For example, if you’r a dentist, you’d have campaigns for general dental work – checkups, hygeniest appointments etc. Then another campaign for cosmetic dentistry. One for Facial treatments. Maybe another for dentures and implants. If you’re smart, there will be another campaign for Invisalign.

The point being that underneath these campaigns, you can set up Ad Groups which allow you to advertise the range of products or services you provide in specific categories.

For an E-commerce store the campaign might be Running shoes.

Jumping ahead of ourselves into ad groups, they might be mens, running shoes, womens running shoes, childrends running shoes.

It’s just atypical tree structure you’d find anywhere.

If you’re in doubt about what your campaigns should be, just label them as the main navigation pages of your website. Your ad groups which sit under your campaigns, are any frop down menus that you have under those main category pages.

Campaign Settings:

There are a number of settings at campaign level that can be over-ridden at Ad Group level. There are also some settings that are only dealt with at campaign level.

Campaign Level Settings not adjustable at Ad Group Level:

Goal – You can select either:
Sales
Leads
Website Traffic
Product and Brand Consideration
Brand Awareness and Reach
App Promotion

as a goal and you’ll then find yourself guided down a path taking your selected goal into account. My preference is to select “create a campaign without goal.s guidance” so that the full range of options remain available to me as I adjust settings.

Campaign Type -select from:
Search
Display
Shopping
Video
App

When you make your selection, further options and setting may be available depending on the campaign type.