There’s a very big learning curve to using Google Ads properly. Here are 3 more principles and concepts that can help build your foundation of understanding.

Quality Score

The factor of quality is crucial to understand when using Google Ads. As you set up and run campaigns, the Google Ads system will evaluate your usage in a number of ways to determine if you should be rewarded (for good usage) or penalized (for bad usage). If you already understand that it’s an auction-based system, you might be wondering, “Why doesn’t the best exposure simply go to the highest bidder in the auction?” The answer is that if campaigns are set up poorly, there isn’t a win-win-win. There’s a lose-lose-lose. Poorly set up ads aren’t likely to help the advertiser much; Nor are they likely to help the viewers of those ads much; Nor are they profitable for Google since they are unlikely to get a click (in a pay-per-click scenario).

Quality scoring has become quite complex, and there are many variables and aspects to it. But to give an example, let’s say you are targeting the keyword “motorcycles for sale,” but the ad you created says “Frank’s Repair Shop” without mentioning motorcycles for sale. That would negatively affect your quality score because there is a relevance problem. Among the various factors involved in quality scoring, relevance is chief among them. One way the system examines the relevance between a targeted keyword and an ad is with the CTR (click-through-rate). The CTR is an indicator of relevance (or lack or it) in the advertiser’s approach. Google Ads also factors landing page relevance and experience into the quality score.

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Getting rewarded — or penalized

How does the system reward or punish you based on quality? Your quality score affects the number of times your ad runs, the ranking order in which ads appear, and the costs you’ll pay. Needless to say, these are all critical reasons to make sure you are using the system well.

When it’s auction time, the system determines which ads will appear and in which order. To do that, it uses a value called Ad Rank. This value is calculated by using inputs such as the bid amount, quality scoring, and the use of ad extensions (which increases the ad rank value).

To see how well you’re doing with quality scoring on a keyword-by-keyword basis, go to the keywords panel in Google Ads. Then add the columns related to quality, including Expected CTR, Ad Relevance, and Landing Page Experience. Each component is evaluated with a status of “Above average,” “Average,” or “Below average.” This evaluation is based on a comparison with other advertisers whose ads showed for the exact same keyword over the last 90 days.

Considering “Intent”

A hugely important concept for Google advertising is one of “intent.” Google’s dominance in the search engine business is due to its commitment to delivering the best results possible when someone searches. This sometimes means trying to guess what someone is looking for. For example, if someone searches the words “John Wayne,” that doesn’t explain what specific information they are seeking. It’s not as clear as the search “movies with John Wayne” would be.

When it comes to advertising, it’s essential to consider the idea of “commercial intent.” Commercial intent means that someone is interested in doing business. It means they are looking to buy something or hire somebody. The words “buy a bicycle” or “electrician for hire” have commercial intent. Most phrases that people search do not have commercial intent since most searches are for information only. If you own a bicycle store, would you target the keyword “bicycle” in your ad set? Keep in mind that this could trigger your ad for searches like “buy a bicycle” or “who invented the bicycle”, which are completely opposite on the scale of commercial intent.

There is an art and science to keyword targeting, and there are Google Ad features that allow you some control over what searches will trigger your ads. Keyword “match types” are important to become familiar with if you are going to spend money through Google Ads. They are a handy and clever part of the system that helps you become visible to the right people and stay invisible to the wrong ones.

Direct Response Advertising vs. Branding

Advertising strategies can be categorized in many ways, but one way is between branding and direct response. Both strategies can have great value to a businesses, but which should be chosen depends on what the goals are, and what the time frame is for those goals.

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Branding involves keeping a brand known and seen often, regardless of whether it results in a sale in the short term. The idea is that it helps a company/brand stay fresh in the mind of consumers. Then, when the consumer is in the market for their type of offering, they will hopefully think of that company/brand. Branding requires consistent and repetitive advertising. People have short attention spans and are usually bombarded with information. It normally takes many exposures of an ad for the company/brand to become familiar.

Direct response

Direct response involves advertising in hopes of driving an immediate action, such as a purchase, a phone call, or a form submission. The most “direct” of the direct response advertising options is to use search engine ads. People often use search engines to find products or services that they need at the moment. Showing an ad to the right person at the right time gives a business the best chance of getting a new customer. Another advertising vehicle that Google offers with direct response in mind is the YouTube TrueView CTA (call-to-action) ads. These are video ads that have prominent call-to-action buttons to encourage viewers of the ad to take immediate action.

While search engine and YouTube CTA ads are good examples of how to do direct response advertising through Google Ads, examples of branding would be in using Google Display Network ads and other types of YouTube video ads.