If you’re using Google Ads, you may have noticed that there are a number of bidding strategies available to you. So, the big question is…what one should you choose?
Well, your first choice is to choose either manual bidding or automated bidding.
If you decide to use manual bidding, what’s the best approach to get the most out of your campaigns?
If you use automated bidding, which of the seemingly endless list of automated bidding strategies will work best for your account?
Bidding can make or break your Google Ads Account, so it is important to get it right, but with all the different possibilities, it can seem like a bit of a minefield.
Firstly, let us start off on the differences between manual and automated bidding strategies.
The main advantage to using manual bidding is control. With manual bidding, you call all the shots.
You have the power to bid exactly what you like for every single keyword in your account. If you spot an opportunity to further exploit a winning keyword, manual bidding makes it a breeze!
If we assumed every conversion in your account had the same value, then a basic rule of thumb when it comes to manual bidding would be to drop bids on keywords with a high cost per conversion and increase bids on keywords with a low cost per conversion.
Now, of course, all conversions do not hold an equal value, so you make your tweaks accordingly. The point is, manual bidding makes it easy to tweak up or down, dependent on performance.
Having all the control that comes with manual bidding is brilliant, but you must, must, must stay on top of it!
I’ve seen countless accounts over the years where the advertiser has not been pro-active with their bid optimisations. As a result, the majority of their budget gets eaten up each and every day by underperforming keywords, whilst the top-performing keywords are wasting away on the second page of Google’s results, hardly picking up any traffic.
Mastering bid optimisations comes down to experience. Particularly when you factor in all the different modifiers you can put in place (device, demographics, time of day) and how they affect the final keyword bid. That’s before you even consider competition and quality scores.
Just stay vigilant and be pro-active with your account management. Whatever you do, don’t leave your account for weeks on end, without checking-in.
Now, let’s start venturing into some Automated Bidding and why you would use it.
A great automated bidding baby step is the ‘Enhanced CPC’ functionality on manual bidding. This grants some control to Google, allowing them to increase bids, if they feel that a particular user is likely to convert.
If you’re looking to go all-in with Automated bidding there are many different options available, such as Target CPA (cost per action), Target ROAS (return on ad spend) , Maximise Clicks, Maximise Conversions, Maximise Conversion Value and Target Impression Share.
Conversion Based Bidding Strategies
Now, you will need a healthy level of conversions in your account before you should consider using Target CPA, Target ROAS, Maximise Conversions or Maximise Conversion Value.
Without a good level of existing conversions, Google will not know what it’s looking for, or what a converting visitor ‘looks like’. Once you have some conversion data then you may want to experiment, but do a campaign at a time, don’t switch over all your campaigns in one go.
For Target CPA it’s important to analyse your data in order to set a realistic CPA Target for your level of spend, before using it.
If you set your Target CPA too high you could be paying excessive amounts for those conversions, if you set it too low it may struggle to spend your budget.
Target ROAS and Maximise Conversion Value will require a value to be assigned to each conversion goal or for ecommerce tracking to be in place, so Google knows these all-important end values.
Clicks and Impression Share Strategies
‘Maximise Clicks’ does what it says on the tin, but you do need to be careful here. If you’re not discerning about the quality of your clicks, then fill your boots – Google will happily collect your money all day long for worthless clicks!
If you want to experiment with this bidding strategy, do it within a campaign that houses your ‘proven converters’ i.e. the keywords that are tried and tested and proven to perform.
‘Target Impression Share’ will allow you to gain more visibility within selected campaigns.
Impression Share is the impressions (the amount of times you’re seen) divided by the estimated number of impressions you could have received.
So, let's say there were 2000 searches for one of your keywords, but your ad was only seen 1500 times, this means you have a 75% Impression Share and you could be seen in the other 25% of searches.
This strategy could be used to deter competitors from bidding on your brand, for maximising visibility in certain locations or to push top-performing keywords but as ever, always monitor performance very carefully.
When you use Automated Bidding strategies, you are trusting in Google to line your pockets, as well as their own. Don’t ‘set it and forget it’ as you can quickly find yourself in a big, expensive hole and you will need to dig yourself out very quickly.
If you find an Automated Bidding strategy that outperforms manual bidding then great, more time and focus can be put into the countless other optimisations you can run within your account. Just keep monitoring performance and you’re good to go!
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