Attorney PPC Tips: Do You Need to Follow Google’s Recommendations for Paid Ads?

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When running or managing a Google Ads account, Google will have a number of recommendations that they show in the Google Ads dashboard, as well as in a specific tab for recommendations. While these recommendations can have a positive effect on your campaigns, they will, more often than not, result in more money going into Google’s pockets than your own.

Applying some of these recommendations without a full understanding of what they mean and what they actually do can have severe repercussions on both the quality of the traffic being driven to your website and the overall cost of your ads. Here are a few of the actions Google frequently recommends, and how to proceed with each:

Recommendation: Upgrade your existing keywords to broad match

  • Google’s Reasoning: Get more conversions at a similar or better ROI by expanding the reach of your Smart Bidding campaigns.
  • Google’s Explanation: Recommended because using broad match version of your keywords in these campaigns can help efficiently grow your conversions within your performance targets.
  • What It Actually Does: Broad match keywords open the floodgates to all kinds of searches that may or may not actually be relevant. While this will likely reduce cost-per-click and maybe even result in more leads, it also typically greatly reduces the quality of those leads since many of the search terms that trigger ads under broad match are not related at all to the keyword being targeted.
  • How to Handle: If traffic is lagging, using a very limited number of very targeted and specific broad match keywords can help. Switching all keywords to broad match, however, is not advised. With any use of broad match, it is highly recommended to do routine (daily or at least semiweekly) search term reviews and add negative keywords for irrelevant searches.

Recommendation: Add new keywords

  • Google’s Reasoning: Show your ads more often to people searching for what your business offers.
  • Google’s Explanation: Recommended because you’re not targeting searches that could be relevant to your business.
  • What It Actually Does: This one is straightforward. It will add new keywords that Google has suggested.
  • How to Handle: Carefully review the suggestions, making sure that they are relevant to your goals and also to the campaign and ad groups that Google has identified. Avoid broad match suggestions, opting to add them as phrase or exact match instead. Also check to see if the keywords are already present in another campaign or ad group, since you would not want them competing against one another.

Recommendation: Expand your reach with Google search partners

  • Google’s Reasoning: Reach additional customers on partner sites.
  • Google’s Explanation: Recommended because your Search Network ads can drive additional traffic with Google search partners.
  • What It Actually Does: Opens up your ads to show on other search engines beside Google, often resulting in cheaper clicks and more traffic but also poorer quality traffic. Often, the search partners spend will take over the account and cause ads to show less frequently on Google.
  • How to Handle: At PaperStreet, we never recommend adding search partners to any standard Google search campaign. If more, cheaper traffic is needed and you want to try search partners, it is possible through targeting to create a campaign that only targets search partners. Doing this gives the benefit of the search partners network while also allowing you to control how much it spends.

Recommendation: Use Display Expansion

  • Google’s Reasoning: Get more conversions at a similar CPA using unspent budget with the revamped Google Display Network Expansion feature.
  • Google’s Explanation: Recommended because some of your Search campaigns have unspent budget that can benefit from Display Expansion.
  • What It Actually Does: Spends your money. Similar to the search partners network, opting into display expansion allows your ads to show on Google’s display network of websites that are (allegedly) related to the topic of your keywords. Results with this are also cheaper clicks and more traffic with a great sacrifice to quality, also putting your spend at risk to go more toward display than actual Google searches.
  • How to Handle: Like search partners, the recommendation here is just to make a separate display campaign. Display campaigns can get traffic at minimal spend budgets, so there is no real benefit to opting your search campaign into display.

Recommendation: Remove non-serving keywords

  • Google’s Reasoning: Make your account easier to manage by removing non-serving keywords.
  • Google’s Explanation: Recommended because some of your keywords haven’t received any traffic for the past year or more.
  • What It Actually Does: Removes keywords from keyword list that don’t get a lot of search volume. Also, removes potentially relevant, high-value keywords from your keyword list.
  • How to Handle: This Google recommendation will typically target longer-tail, very specific keywords that would be higher value when searched. Unless you are self-managing a campaign and finding difficulty in handling an unwieldly number of keywords, there is no good reason to remove relevant keywords from your campaigns.

Recommendation: Raise your budgets

  • Google’s Reasoning: Your ads stopped running on your busiest days. Fixing your limited budget can help.
  • Google’s Explanation: Recommended because you missed out on X% or more of your potential traffic last week.
  • What It Actually Does: Spends more money, though not necessarily bringing in more results.
  • How to Handle: Review your impression share and auction insights metrics. These are good indicators of whether or not your campaigns actually need more budget. If the impression share lost due to budget is high or the auction insights show your campaigns lagging behind the competition, then more budget may be warranted.

Bonus PPC Tips

  • Some Google Recommendations can be helpful. Notices about ad disapprovals, negative keyword conflicts, missing extensions, and conversion tracking issues can be critical in identifying actual problems with the campaigns that require attention.
  • Google added an auto apply function for recommendations. With the lone exception of negative keyword conflicts, it is not advised to auto apply any recommendations. Even the negative keyword conflict might require a spot check to see why it was added in the first place.
  • On occasion, you may be contacted by a representative from Google identifying themselves as the assigned Google Ads Strategist. While these outreaches are typically legit (do check to make sure it comes from a google.com email), these reps are outsourced from companies outside of Google, who are trained to espouse the items from the Google Recommendations. While we don’t necessarily discourage interacting with these individuals, it is important to note who they are and what their end goal is. If you work with an agency, always make sure to pass the Google rep on to your account manager so they can decide whether it is worth engaging.
  • Also, if working with an agency, check with your account manager before applying any recommendations. They are likely keenly aware of the recommendations and may have a reason for not opting into an item that is not readily apparent.

Seek Help Before You Listen to Google

Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of Google Ads Recommendations, what they are and what they mean. Effectively managing a Google Ads account can be difficult enough without being given less-than-stellar advice. If you are spending too much time managing your account or just not seeing the results you were hoping for, the best recommendation would be to find and contact an experienced agency, like PaperStreet, that has the expertise to help you reach your goals.

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