As part of my work on the Google Ads Community Forum I get to see a lot of people who have been sucked into advertising on the Google Ads platform, and who have given up because it was either too hard to get a response, or because the response they did get simply didn’t generate a return on investment that made sense economically and they reached the point where they were throwing good money after bad.
Here are 6 home truths about Google Ads which are going to be very hard reading for some:
1. Google doesn’t care if it works for you or not.
Google is a huge machine. It runs 24/7 and churns out search results and display ads at a rate that would blow your mind if you could get your mind around it.
If you have a credit card and a website you can join in the fun. And you have to play by the rules – which is fine, because everyone has to play by the rules, right?
Just like a casino, Google doesn’t care if this is your first time. They don’t care if you understand the rules or not. And they don’t care if you win or lose – after all, the money you spend is money they make.
And, just like a casino, it’s really easy to spend money once you start.
Of course, Google would prefer if you did well – it’s a win win for them if you do well because you will continue to spend money – but if you don’t, they happily take your $500 or $1,000 – or however much you are prepared to spend before you give up.
2. There’s no magic sauce
Like almost anything, the better you understand how something works, the better you will be able to use it. Someone who has never driven a car struggles the first time.
Juggling? Not easy.
Ever tried to moonwalk – I have – it was a complete failure.
Google Ads is something I have become very good at over the years. Through a lot of study and a lot of hand on experience.
And there isn’t anything special that is revealed to the inner circle of Google Ad Managers…. there is just a very (VERY) complex set of settings and configurations that can either work for a campaign or not.
So forget the videos you see on YouTube about how to master Google Ads in an afternoon and take your business to the next level – all they are going to do it try and sell you a course on Google Ads basics, which in all likelihood is cobbled together from a bunch of other courses freely available online.
So no – there is no magic sauce. Instead there are processes and techniques which are more likely to generate a decent return on investment, coupled with a number of pitfalls which can be avoided. And you learn about most of those the hard way.
3. Most of what you need to run a successful campaign is hidden.
Google uses language to bring customers to their platform by using language which is enticing. Boost your traffic. Generate a positive ROI. Attain a healthy ROAS. They talk about goals and conversions, click through rates and engagement.
All of this can be condensed down to how much traffic you can get for your money, and how much business you can get from them.
But to condense this down is a mammoth task. There are layers upon layers of tweaks and settings which need to be considered if a campaign is to be successful. For example, one of the most important numbers you will need to consider in your campaigns is the Quality Score – or QS – of your chosen keywords. Since this is so important, you’d expect this to be front and centre of your keyword report page, right?
Wrong. You have to manually edit your report columns to activate the QS column.
So many people try to manage their campaigns will one hand tied behind their back simply because they don’t know that certain important settings need to be configured. There are certain things that an experienced account manager will immediately check when taking over an account. Are search partners included? What are the advanced location settings? What match type are my keywords? What is the ad schedule? And the time zone – is that correct?
All these things are outside of the “regular” campaign set up that Google will walk the new advertiser through as they set up their automated campaigns. Like lambs to the slaughter they trust Google to set up the best campaign for them. And Google will, but it will be from within their “one size fits all” range.
4. Google’s Machine Learning is a form of Lowest Common Denominator management
Let me explain this. Over the past few years Google has introduced more and more automation into the platform. You can automate the ads – where Google will essentially scan your website text and write and ad to attract visitors to the most appropriate page. you can automate your bidding where Google will adjust your bids “on the fly” and get the optimal position for the optimal price. Google will schedule the ads – or at least adjust bids for different day parts.
So what happens when you and your immediate competitor both hand over the reigns to your campaigns? A potential customer who is equally attractive to the two of you? How does Google decide which ad to serve first? Assuming the websites are similarly vanilla, it would have to come down to some kind of favouritism – and the budget would seem a logical place to make distinctions.
When we are at the point where Google is writing the ad copy, the calls to action and the automated extensions how do they differentiate between businesses?
The answer is they will try, but the end result will be ads that become increasingly similar and campaigns without distinction.
5. It’s expensive
That is, perhaps, unfair.
Ads that work are cheap – ands that don’t work are expensive, irrespective of cost. A campaign that cost $10,000 but generated $20,000 in profit is cheap whereas a campaign that spends only $100 but generates zip is expensive.
When Google Ads first launched and only a few people were using the platform, businesses were getting clicks for pennies. If you spent $500 and got 10,000 website visits, you could probably justify the cost.
In some verticals today a click can cost over $50. Take a look at this infographic from Wordstream on the most expensive Google keywords
If you are paying $50 for a click, then your website has to be extremely good at converting visitors into paying customers – because $1,000 is going to get you 20 website visits!
I’ll let that sink in for a moment.
6. Google Ads will not compensate for a poor website
If your website doesn’t convert the traffic you’re already getting, then paying to send more traffic to it is not the solution.
Before you spend any money on Google Ads you should ensure that you have every hook on your website baited and ready for visitors.
You need to give yourself every chance of capturing a potential customer when they land on your site.
As internet users we are becoming ever more savvy about how websites work and how marketers think. We subconsciously know that if we enter our email address on a form to get the Ultimate Guide to Everything – then there is going to be some follow up. Users will regularly put something in their cart and then leave a site to wait for the inevitable ad offering them a 20% discount.
And if your website doesn’t work, Google Ads is not a fix.
Traffic is not the answer – conversions are the answer.
Traffic is easy… just throw money at it.
Conversions are hard. You need to bring qualified visitors to the site and then you need them to engage with your site if you are going to have a chance of converting them.
To be fair, through QS Google does give solid indications of low site quality – but in reality that simply means you will pay more for your traffic than a competitor with a good quality website – Google wont stop you giving them your money.
Which conveniently brings us full circle – Google doesn’t care if it works for you or not.
We do care. We work closely with clients to ensure that they get the best possible return on their investment, and in many cases have strongly advised against running any advertising until website issues are addressed.
If any of these truths resonate with you and your online marketing experience, we can help. Why not book a free consultation and find out?