Getting found via Google Ads is all about amazing creative, great content, and a bit of blind luck, right? So your bidding strategy needs to be about readable prose and some rocking storytelling.
Wrong. Sorry. That’s a massive part of it (although don’t count too heavily on the luck element), but at its heart, Google Ads – and any form of pay-per-click marketing, for that matter – is all about numbers.
More specifically, it’s about the numbers and science behind bidding. Because that’s what you’re doing – bidding for positions within search results. It’s a game you’re playing against your competitors and, just like a used car auction, there can only be one winner for each spot.
It is a little bit more complex than that, though. But you needn’t worry. Whether you love or hate numbers, creating a bidding strategy for all of your ads is actually quite easy to kick off.
I’m going to help you do that today with the simplest of simple guides. I promise.
Always think page one
How often do you go beyond page one of Google search results?
Equally, how realistic do you think it is for your company or product to rank at position one?
This is why you should always think page one when creating your bidding strategy. In Google Ads, you can see the estimates for landing at position one or on the first page.
Try focusing on the latter, because it’s far more achievable than hitting that top spot. It’s also important to bear in mind that the cost for placing new keywords in top positions is likely to be costly.
Instead, look at each keyword’s estimated first page bid and increase it by around 30% to aim for the middle of the page. This is a tried-and-tested way to ensure your ads achieve decent visibility right off the bat without aiming too high.
Listen to Google’s bid recommendations
You’d be forgiven for assuming that anything Google recommends you do is purely to help guide more of your marketing budget into their back pocket.
And you’d be right. This is how they make their money, after all.
But that doesn’t make their suggestions completely useless. In fact, when it comes to creating bidding strategies, one of the best places to start is within the Google Ads Keyword Planner. This will help you identify keywords, but also provide a ‘suggested bid’ for each one.
To make this work for you, make sure you start by entering some custom targeting information into the keyword planner. If we take a simple example, that may be a few specific geographical areas in which you want to target people.
Google takes this information and tailors the bid suggestions based on what you’ve entered. They’re not trying to trick you into spending more here, either – if they say it’ll cost more to rank for a particular keyword in a certain town, they’re probably right.
Changing your bids
By following my first two pieces of advice, you can get started testing keywords and bidding on positions that are sensible and achievable.
You won’t get it right first time. In fact, you’ll almost certainly find yourself languishing on page nine. But this is to be expected – you’re just getting started, after all.
The success comes from monitoring and adjusting your bids as time progresses. And this is, arguably, the biggest challenge for any bidding strategy.
It all starts with your campaign goals. What are you expecting to achieve from your ads? Do you want to:
- grab more conversions;
- reduce your cost per action; or
- achieve position one or simply page one?
Depending on your goal, the way in which you adjust your bids over time will vary dramatically. However, there’s one metric which should probably drive most of your decisions – the CPA.
Finding your CPA
Your CPA (Cost Per Action) identifies how much you’re paying in order to score a conversion.
This is vital in PPC marketing because it illustrates exactly how much it’s costing you to get business that results from your Google Ads. And the resulting figure will either be incapable of driving ROI or capable of making you very profitable.
Aiming for a lower CPA should be something you continually strive for. To find out your CPA, you need to divide your total costs by the total number of conversions over a given period:
CPA = Cost / Conversions
- Cost: number of clicks multiplied by your cost-per-click (CPC)
- Conversions: number of clicks multiplied by your conversion rate
So, if you know your goal CPA and the current conversion rate you’re achieving on your Ad groups, you’ll know precisely what you want to pay for each click. Simple!
When to make your move
So, you’ve got your ads up and running and you’re satisfied that you’ve got a far better focus on your bidding strategy.
Cool. But how do you know when to up the ante and boost bids, and when to reduce?
It’s simple. Firstly, if a keyword’s CPA is lower than your goal and achieving poor positions, you should up the ante. Boost the bid and you should see better positioning and more clicks.
Secondly, if you have a keyword with a very high CPA and it’s always appearing in a top position, you can probably reduce the bid. This might sound dangerous, but while you’ll probably see its position drop a little, your CPA will be driven down considerably, making each conversion far more profitable.
I’ve focused primarily on Google Ads in this guide, but as alluded to from the outset, these strategies can be applied to pretty much any form of PPC marketing.
The best way to get started is to actually get started. So – what are you waiting for? Go forth and get your bid strategies underway! You can go more in-depth at any time, but your task, for now, is to get those baselines in place.