Understanding Google Search Ads

understanding google search ads

With Google being the most popular search engine (by far), accounting for nearly 2/3 of searches (over 3.5 billion globally per day), chances are you would consider yourself to be familiar with it. Yet, there is so much more going on than meets the eye.

Behind every search are real-time auctions for search result positioning that determine where ads will appear on search pages. These auctions take multiple variables into account and help rank ads and their corresponding landing pages to give the user access to exactly what they are looking for, whether it be goods, services, or just information.

The positioning of these ads and website links is extremely important to companies and plays a significant role in site traffic and conversions. The ability to get your site to the top of the search results pages will separate you from other competitors. This all falls under the vast network that is Google Ads.

How do Google Search Ads work?

From a company’s perspective, Google Ads is an online advertising tool that helps businesses connect with potential customers. Companies create their campaigns, and Google’s algorithms do the rest.

You can control who will see your ad based on numerous factors, such as:

  • Time of day
  • Geographical location
  • Bid price — Google charges manually or automatically. Automatic bill payments are accrued every 30 days.

Another benefit is that you can easily track performance.

After you have placed together your ads, they will appear on the Google Network, which is just the network that shows your ads. They will appear on all Google-run sites, Google partner sites (if wanted), and mobile phone apps.

Display Network vs. Search Network

The Google Network is comprised of multiple networks or campaign types: the display network and the search network are what we’ll be focusing on.

The search network uses keywords to display ads across numerous sites and platforms:

  • Google Search
  • Google Maps
  • Google Shopping
  • Google Play Store
  • Google Partner Sites

This creates enormous potential exposure for your company’s advertisements and allows you to reach a large audience.

The display network uses display ads with various targeting measures to show ads across platforms such as:

  • YouTube
  • Blogger
  • Partnering websites across the internet

Display ads are typically more image-oriented instead of text-oriented, like search ads. They’re meant to be visually appealing and thought-provoking to lead someone to a specific call to action (CTA).

Ad Formats

There are also multiple formats for ads you can select. They are all slightly different and serve different purposes, but for the sake of this blog, we’ll focus on search ads.

  1. Text ads. The most popular ad format is text ads — search ads with a headline, URL, and descriptive text that usually includes a call to action (“Talk to a specialist today!”). These are typically the first three links that appear when you search for something on Google. Common parts of ads are extensions. These provide additional information, such as a location for a business or a phone number where you can be reached.
  2. Dynamic search ads. This variation of text ads uses dynamic targets to trigger dynamic search ads. These ads can have auto-generated headlines and destination URLs that will be created to help your ads become highly targeted.
  3. Call Only ads. These link directly to a business contact. This is good for getting direct engagement with customers.
  4. Shopping ads. Shopping ads display products that you’re selling. You’ll notice these by their label of “Sponsored” or “Ad.” They can also be displayed on partner sites titled “Ads by Google.” These can be created with CTAs that can lead directly to the product on your page.
  5. Image and Video Ads. Search partners can host image and video ads, but these are different from Google display ads.

These and other ad formats are all catered to achieving specific goals.

How To Choose the Right Ad Format

The first thing you need to do is define your goal. From there, identify the desired demographics you want to focus on, then narrow down the keywords that will be used to target potential customers.

If your goal is to increase business in a specific location, you would want to use a location extension to encourage more people to visit the desired location.

If you aim to have more conversions, you could use a promotion or a price extension to offer sales promotions or highlight lower prices than usual.

If you’re looking to increase customer awareness or site visits as a whole, you could use a site link extension to link users directly to your site.

Regardless of your goal, there are specific ad formats or extensions that will help you achieve it.

Ad Rankings

Numerous variables factor into an advertisement’s “Ad Rank.” This feature grades your ad’s quality and gives it a score from 1 to 10, determining how much each specific ad must pay for positioning and where it will ultimately be placed.

A quality score is determined by:

  • Usage of relevant keywords
  • Landing page quality
  • Ad relevance
  • User experience
  • The likelihood of getting clicked

Once Google determines your quality score, your ad is given an Ad Rank. This determines how much you will have to pay for certain positions.

If you have a good Ad Ranking, Google will charge you less for top positioning. This is because Google would rather have good relevant websites be the top choices for customers. On the other hand, if your ad gets a poor ranking, you will be charged much more to get good positioning.

Since all this happens in real-time, your ad can fluctuate positioning, as some ads may hit their budget caps and no longer be paying for ads, or other ads increase budgets and bids so they can spend more for better positioning. For example, a site with a quality score of 9 may offer $1 per click, and another site with a quality score of 3 may offer $2 per click. The first company would get a higher position than the second company even though they are offering to pay half of what the second site is offering. Google does this to incentivize companies to ensure that they have good sites ready for users before they worry about advertisements.

Why Grammar Matters in Search Ads

Google has a policy to provide users with the best ads available. This means they will not show ads if they have grammar or spelling mistakes. They also consider unnecessary symbols or punctuation (“Buy Now!!!!”). Additionally, they do not want ads that spam the user (“Click here”). They would rather have those calls to action appear in the form of call extensions, not in the ads’ text.

Google does all of this regulating, sorting, and formatting to ensure its users get the best experience possible from both the side of the consumer and from the vendor.

This all makes sense. Now, where do I start?

All of this information can seem daunting, but the best way to get better at optimizing and improving your search campaigns is to create a guideline and format your campaign accordingly. At Allegrow, we like to create a chart for our search campaigns that follows a format similar to below:

    • Campaign
      • Ad Group
        • Keywords
        • Ads

The goal is to create a strategy that correlates with your campaign goals from the beginning to the end. For example, if you’re trying to get new patients for your dental clinic, you’ll want a campaign targeting people searching for dentists, an ad group that guidelines the services you offer, keywords relating to each service, and riveting ads that mirror the text in your landing page.

Eventually, you’ll start building up enough data to allow you to optimize your campaign and increase your understanding of your target audience.

In a nutshell, do your homework. Digital marketing is an art form, and you want to ensure you’re doing your best when promoting your business.