Adjusting Campaign Settings Like A Pro: Google (part 2)

Last week, we started our series on how to most effectively adjust pay per click campaign settings in the major PPC providers by examining how to optimize campaign settings in Google. This post picks up where we left off.

Bidding and Budget

Making a wrong decision here could cost you a lot of money, so be sure you’re paying attention to what you’re doing. First off, you’ll need to choose a bidding option. The default is manual bidding, which is fine for most accounts. You’ll just need to keep adjusting bids yourself, based on performance. Automatic bidding might sound like a good idea, but keep one thing in mind: Google will only maximize your clicks with this setting, not conversions. This opens you up to getting a lot of junk traffic that doesn’t convert. Stay away from this one.

For more advanced users, setting your bids to focus on conversions might be a viable option. This uses Google’s Conversion Optimizer functionality. You set a target CPA, and Google’s algorithms try their best to maximize conversions while staying under your target CPA. In my experience, performance has been hit or miss, but the system tends to improve the longer you leave it active. It might be an interesting experiment to try Conversion Optimizer bidding for a month or so with an established campaign for a month or so, but if you don’t see good results in about 30 days you should probably just stick with manual bidding.

You’ll need to choose your budget wisely. Here’s how I do it: take the amount of money you’re willing to spend per month, and divide it by 30. That’s your daily budget. You might go a little over on months with 31 days, but it should only be a small percentage of your total advertising budget. It’s possible to err either too high or low on this, so be careful. If you set your budget too high, you could overspend if your search terms are more popular than you anticipated. If you set your budget too low, you won’t get much ad impression share, and you’ll lose out on impressions, clicks, and conversions. Make a conservative estimate of what your budget should be, and if you top out at this amount every day, you should think about either scaling your keyword selection back or raising the budget.

You have two more options in this section: Position Preference and Delivery Method. You should almost always leave Position Preference off. It may seem like a good idea to target certain positions, but keep in mind that your ads will never show in any other position. This could be disastrous unless your keyword bids are dead-on accurate and consistent. For Delivery Method, it’s usually best to keep it on Standard so that your ads show evenly throughout the day. Setting it to Accelerated usually leads to your account blowing all its budget early in the day, leaving no coverage for the afternoon and evening. If your budget is high enough where you’re not depleting it every day, accelerated ad serving probably won’t affect you. But, I usually leave it set to Standard as a best practice.

Ad Extensions

These can be really useful for businesses who want a little something extra in their text ads. There are three types:

  1. Locations: If you’re a local advertiser, it’s a great idea to put a map and address in your ad. Google makes this easy by allowing you to import your addresses from a Google Places (formerly Google Business Center) account. If you don’t want to go through the hassle of setting up a Places account, you can just add your address manually in this setting.
  2. Products: If you’re into e-commerce, you can use this extension to import images and information from your Google Merchant Center account.
  3. Phone extensions: If you tend to get a lot of conversions offline (or you want to), adding a phone number to your ad might help you appeal to users who don’t like completing transactions on a website, or just want to talk to a real person. Even better, your numbers become click-to-call on mobile devices with full internet browsers.

Advanced Settings

You can’t change your start date, but you can adjust your end date if you like. By default, it’s set so far into the future that you’ll probably never have to worry about it. But, if you have a highly seasonal campaign, you may want to determine an earlier end date so you don’t have to remind yourself to shut it off.

Ad Scheduling is really handy if you’re on a limited budget and want to target your ads to your most profitable hours of the day. If you deal exclusively with B2B customers, you can schedule your ads to only show during work hours, and cease showing during the weekend.

Ad rotation is a tricky subject that I’ve touched on before – you’re probably better off reading my older post to get the full story.

Frequency capping can be handy if you use content network campaigns (it only affects content network distribution). This limits how many times an individual user can see your ad. It could be useful for power users of the content network, but for most folks it’s okay to leave no cap on impressions.

Demographic bidding is another content-network-only feature. It lets you adjust your bids for specific genders, ages, and other user demographics. I’m still not sold on the reliability of web advertising demographics. Most of this information is self-reported or pulled from third-party sources, so I doubt it could be that accurate. Use this at your own risk.

Now, you should be all set to change your Google AdWords campaign settings like a pro. Next week, we’ll take a look at Yahoo.

Previously: Adjusting Campaign Settings Like A Pro: Google (part 1)

About Shawn Livengood

Shawn Livengood is a search engine marketing professional based in Austin, Texas. He has extensive experience managing pay-per-click ad campaigns for clients in various industries, from small home-based businesses to large international companies. You can connect with Shawn on Google+.
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