Taking the Mystery out of Google Ads

Guide

by Keri Jadrovski

You (or your marketing team) are running your first Google Ad campaign. Congratulations! Google Ads can be a successful strategy for your business when your campaigns and ads are set up, monitored, and adjusted properly for the best results. But Google Ads, and the platform used to run them, can be daunting and confusing if you’re a Google Ad newbie or if you’ve come back to the platform after a hiatus and you’re unfamiliar with all of the changes Google has implemented recently. We’d like to share some simple tips to help you understand what to look for when running and/or monitoring your Google Ad campaigns.

Google Ad Search Bar

What metrics should you pay attention to?

We recommend monitoring your campaigns’ performance by considering several metrics together. The specific goals of your campaign (sales, web traffic, phone calls, etc.) will determine which metrics are the most important to pay attention to, but here are some general recommendations that can be applied to most campaigns:

 

Impressions

This number tells you how often your ad was shown in search results. You aren’t paying for impressions, but you are bidding on that right to be seen. This is why your budget is important. Your budget determines how much Google bids against your competition so that your ad will show up in the search results for a particular keyword. But if you aren’t paying for impressions, what ARE you paying for? Clicks. Google Ads is considered a PPC campaign (or a Pay Per Click campaign). Google isn’t the only option for PPC. When you run a Facebook ad, for instance, that is also a PPC campaign.

 

Click Through RateClick-Through Rate

Your Click-Through Rate (also referred to as CTR and sometimes called Interaction Rate) is the percentage of people who saw your ad and clicked through to your website. It’s the clicks (or calls, depending on the actions a user can take with your ad) that you actually get charged for. Don’t expect your click-through rate to be a high percentage number. Though it varies from business to business and campaign to campaign, a good click-through rate can be as low as 1 – 2%. Some businesses will experience higher CTR, such as 5% – 10%.

 

Bounce Rate

Your bounce rate is something you may also be paying attention to if you are monitoring your Google Analytics (which you should also be doing!). The bounce rate is the percentage of people who clicked through to your website but left without visiting any other pages on your site. Unless you are running a campaign that directs to a landing page, with no other outlet, this is a number that you want to be low. A 50% bounce rate is a good bounce rate.

 

Pages/Session

The pages per session analytic is the average number of pages on your site that were viewed per session. How you analyze this number will be relative to the size of your website. A small website (with maybe 5 pages and a short path to conversion) will likely have a lower pages/session ratio. A larger site, perhaps an eCommerce site with many products, will likely have a higher pages/session ratio.

These are, by no means, the only important metrics to pay attention to, but in combination, they can give you an idea of how many people saw your ad, clicked on it, and either left your website right away or explored other pages on your site. This information may help you identify if your ads are performing well or if adjustments need to be made.

 

What else should I pay attention to other than the metrics?

 

magnifying glass and lettersSearch Terms

Pay close attention to the search terms. This shows you exactly what people typed into Google that resulted in them being served your ad. These are insights you can use to adjust your keyword selection.

 

People are searching for a term that has nothing to do with your business

Is your ad being served to people who aren’t really looking for you? For instance, you have a pottery shop where you sell your custom pottery, but people who are searching for Pottery Barn are being served your ad. Worse than that, people are clicking on your ad when they’re looking for Pottery Barn, and then, of course, immediately bouncing away when they realize they didn’t get to the website they intended. That’s costing you money and hurting your bounce rate at the same time.

 

Negative Keywords

The above scenario is an opportunity to add negative keywords. Negative keywords are words or phrases that you do not want your ad to be found for. You can control Google Ads so that your ad won’t appear for specific keyphrases and exact matches, like “Pottery Barn,” but will still show up when someone is searching for something like “Pottery Gifts Near Me.”

 

Keywords vs. Search Terms

Keywords are the whole point of Google Ads. You identify the keywords you want to be found for and your ad appears if your bid wins the right to show up. Keywords are what YOU specify; search terms are what people are actually typing into Google when they search. Through Google Ads, you can see which keywords and separately, which search terms, are performing best for your campaign. Which keywords or search terms have the best click-through rate? Which keywords or search terms cost the most? You may even find that some of your keywords aren’t popular enough to even rank or that some keywords are simply not delivering your ad. These are all important data points to pay attention to.

Keep in mind that low-performing keywords may not be costing you much, but pausing them can shift the daily budget towards more competitive bidding for the high-performing keywords.


Don’t let all the digital marketing lingo, like CTRs and impressions, scare you away from stepping into Google Ads. When done well, including monitoring regularly and adjusting as needed, running PPC campaigns can help your business reach its goals quickly and efficiently. Hopefully, we’ve taken some of the mystery out of your Google Ad reports.


Keri Jadrovski is the Communications Coordinator at Katy Dwyer Design, a full-service marketing firm based in the Hudson Valley, NY. She enjoys writing relatable, engaging content and helping businesses and organizations tell their stories. Connect with Keri on LinkedIn.