It sometimes feels like every time you log into the Google Ads dashboard that red alert icon is waiting for you to exclaim a round of changes that will transform your advertising results. The question is, can you trust what they’re telling you, should you simply press the button to auto apply their suggestions, or, should you be more selective? Here’s what we think.
How do Google make their recommendations?
The recommendations that Google makes almost always relate to their optimisation scoring system – the percentage they believe you have implemented everything they think you should have.
They’ll take a look at what you’re doing and what could help you get as close to a 100% score as possible. Obviously, this is on the assumption that having a 100% score will give you the best performing Ad campaign.
The recommendation categories
The types of recommendations Google will make can be quite varied, depending on the type of campaign you’re running but let’s take a look at some of the more common categories.
Every now and again Google will start suggesting new keywords that it believes will increase your impressions and results. While we certainly wouldn’t suggest you ignore these new phrases, we do believe you need to take time to review them and perhaps conduct your own research.
For example, we’ve seen a large number of suggestions across multiple industries where the phrases have little or no intent. “How to fix a roof” is clearly less valuable than “Roofers near me”
Negative & conflicting keywords
The negative keywords category can be extremely useful, especially if you’ve added any negative keywords that could potentially stop your Ads being shown for search phrases you’ve added.
In addition to conflicting phrases, Google will also occasionally suggest negative keywords that should be removed in order to increase impressions and whilst we’ve rarely found them to be correct, we have come across the odd suggestion where we didn’t realise the negative keywords was listed, or, it’s made us think about split testing a new Ad group with the phrases included.
Extensions are a good example of where they’re not always relevant to a business yet Google seems to use a blanket approach to these suggestions.
Naturally most businesses will benefit from things like sitelinks but when it comes to extensions like click to call, not all companies would welcome this traffic. Websites such as eCommerce stores will be much more focused on landing page and product visits than increasing calls.
This is a tricky area and while Google’s intentions may well be honourable, if you’re a PPC manager working to a client’s budget, you’ll rarely be able to take advantage of these recommendations.
That said, even if you don’t have the budget to increase the overall spend of the account, it’s worth looking deeper into the suggestions as you could be missing out on impressions for phrases that are more profitable than others.
This is the option most seasoned PPC managers will turn off at the point they create a campaign. Search partners means showing your Ads to third-party sites that are part of Google’s Ad network.
Unless you’re struggling to spend your budget on Google Search and you’ve exhausted other networks such as social media, you’ll probably just want to ignore these recommendations.
Improving Responsive Search Ads
Another tricky area which will probably need a lot of thought and manual implementation. Just because you’re not using all the available slots for headlines and descriptions, doesn’t mean you should be.
We’ve worked with many clients where the offering and message is very specific and therefore only a small range of headlines would be relevant or, as can be the case, there are a limited number of headlines.
We’d never dismiss RSA recommendations but take the time to consider if they’re relevant to your campaign.
But can you trust them?
The problem with Google recommendations is that not all businesses and certainly not all target audiences are the same.
Many sceptics will say that Google only ever recommends things that help you spend more money with them – like a wolf teaching you how to look after your chickens, but we’re not sure that’s actually the case.
A lot of what Google put forward as tips to improve your account are generated from their optimisation scoring algorithm and so our advice and the way we approach our client campaigns is to take everything into account, where you can, carry out your own research and, if possible, manually implement any changes so you get to really know and have control over any changes.