Prepping for your first Google Ads campaign

Prepping for your first Google Ads campaign
Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

If you’re ready to start your first Google Ads campaign, below are some key items to have in place first. This is relevant whether you are managing your account or have an agency do it for you.

Have ownership of your accounts. Make sure that you, as the person paying for the account, have administrative access to your Google Ads and Google Analytics. I’ve had too many clients in my 10+ years of doing this who parted ways with their previous agency and no longer have access to their Google Ads account because the agency never made them an administrator. As a result, they’re starting from scratch with no historical data. If someone is not going to let you own your account, I discourage you from working with them. 

Decide on administrative access to both Google ads and Google analytics. If you don’t trust the person managing your Ads and don’t want to provide access, you may need to hire somebody else. I think it’s important to establish trust with people who work with you. But if you’re just not comfortable doing this or the higher-ups won’t let you, take time to learn how to connect these and ensure the data flow is going back and forth between the products.

Select or create a landing page. Not everyone has the time or resources to create a custom landing page, even though that’s recommended for PPC campaigns. If you’re not able to do this, at least select a page from your site that only has one message. Don’t send people to a page with multiple products and services.

Be realistic about your budget. If you are running a small campaign, don’t create campaigns for everything you offer. Pick one product or service to begin with, see how it’s doing, learn from the campaign, and then add to it if budget allows.

Set up a conversion/goal. Don’t start your campaign until you have an action step in place to measure. You can set up a Google Ads conversion or create it through Google Tag Manager. For many,the easiest method is through Google Analytics. If your goal is a form completion, a measure of success is when they get to the /thank-you.html page (or a similar page). You set that up as an event in your Google Analytics account and import that into Google Analytics. If this makes zero sense, talk to someone who knows Google Analytics or is familiar with Ads conversions.

Do some keyword research, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. There are paid third-party tools that are helpful, and a free Keyword Planner tool directly within Google Ads. Also, look at the content of your landing pages to get ideas for important keywords. But remember that all the keyword research in the world doesn’t guarantee results if you have a tiny budget, lots of competitors, a crummy landing page, etc.   

Consider negative keywords. I have a list of general negative keywords, but add ones that are specific to your business. If you’re a B2B business, you might exclude the terms house or home to prevent B2C clicks. Also, think about prospects you’ve heard from who aren’t clear about your offerings. Use the words from those conversions in your negative keyword list.

Let the agency write your ads. I write the ads for my direct clients. When I work through a partner agency, sometimes those ads have to go through an approval process or the client insists on writing the ads, which I don’t love. This doesn’t mean that they’re bad writers, it’s that they don’t know how to write an ad for Google. I suggest letting the agency at least do a first draft of ads, but feel comfortable asking to review them before a campaign is enabled.

Check the campaign regularly. Another thing I’ve discovered with campaigns that I took over is that they were never managed. You can look at the change history in your account and see when someone’s making changes to it. It doesn’t have to be every day or even every week, but when I see accounts that haven’t had any modifications for months, it’s clear it was not managed well.

Review Google recommendations. I don’t accept all of Google’s recommendations, and I don’t use the option to auto-apply everything. Get familiar with these so you know what makes sense for your specific campaign. Maybe someday I’ll trust everything Google recommends, but at the moment I don’t.

For some of you reading this, I know this hurts your brain. Google makes you want to cry and you have other things to do. Fortunately, you don’t have to understand every single detail, especially if you’re working with a consultant. But at least know that these are important elements to have in place to have any chance of success with Google Ads.

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