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To help us see where we actually sit compared to the competition, we can use a tool in Google Ads called a Bit Simulator. It collects and analyzes data from ad auctions on Google all the time. And so it looks back broadly about seven days, and it considers information looking like the quality score of your ads, your competitors’ bids, your product data, and it will tell you how many clicks you might receive for a certain bid, how many conversions you might receive for a certain bid, the traffic. There’s different metrics it will give back to you based on different bid levels over time.
The bid tool is quite useful because it’s automated, and it takes a bit of the guesswork out of where you need to be bidding to drive the results you want. It gives helpful insights at how bid changes could potentially affect your results.
So, if you reduce bids, what would that look like? If you increased bids, what would that look like? Rather than just taking a shot in the dark, it gives you an estimation. It’s again a forecasting tool to see where and what might happen if you changed your bids. And it’s a good predictor of what could potentially happen with an increased budget.
Bear in mind that not all keywords have the Bid Simulator available. It appears over time when there’s enough historical data. There’s a little graph just to the right of the keyword and you’re able to click on it. That will open the Bid Simulator, and that’s where you’ll see the screen. It’ll show you the different options available to you, and the different levels, and the outcomes.
Now, some best practices on deciding on bid levels.
There’s a number metrics that we can use to decide on bids.
An important one here is impression share. Impression share is the number of times that your ad shows up when someone searches. So, for example, if you have 100% of impression share, you show up 100% of the time when someone looks for that keyword. If you have 50% you only show up half of the time. Ideally you want, for any keywords that convert, you want them to be showing up in the high 90s in terms of impression share. You do want your high conversion, low cost per conversion keywords showing up as often as possible, and we’ll go into it a little bit of that in the optimization piece.
The other way you can decide on bids is using the estimated metrics. There are two metrics available to us in Google Ads:
One is at the top of the page and one is just to be on the first page. And this will just give you an idea of what ideally you need to be bidding to be in those positions. Now even if you are bidding, you still won’t spend any higher than 20% of your daily budget, so there is that flexibility built in there. And you know what that means is that like any kind of bidding strategy does have an openness to the amount you can actually spend. Also, there are other bid strategies available to us, so we do have target CPA, we do have manual bidding, optimize for traffic, optimize for conversions, and different things like that. Testing each against your KPI is essential to understand how best to set your bid, bidding strategy, not just your levels.
Don’t rush into making your decision. The first few hours of launching a campaign or even a test can give very different results than if you run over a longer period of time. So, ideally you want a minimum of 1,000 impressions, and a statistically significant level of clicks. Don’t run a test for shorter than three weeks. You need to test for at least three weeks and drive well over 1,000 impressions for low volume campaigns.
For high volume campaigns, you need hundreds of thousands of impressions. But a good three-week period gives you almost a month’s cycle. If you can test for a month, do a test for a month, because then you have the natural monthly cycle of getting paid, moving through the purchase process, maybe people are light on conversion once in the middle of the month because funds are running dry, and then coming towards the end of the month they start researching again. So you do get the full cycle of consumer thought process around a monthly test.
There are several automated bid options available to us.
There are more automated bidding options, and these are getting quite advanced at this point. There’s a lot of artificial intelligence being built into Google Ads.
The last two are less effective bid strategies. Ideally Maximize Conversions, Target CPA, Target ROAS, and manual bidding are the standard, top performing bid strategies within Google Ads.
Linked very closely to your bidding strategy is your quality score. You always want to have a high-quality score because it just makes your bidding strategy more effective.
Here are some tips for improving your quality score:
Increase your bids by a couple of cents for a few days or reduce by a couple of cents for a few days, up and down, and just test those bid thresholds to see what your impression share looks like over time.Back to Top
Cathal Melinn is a digital strategist, lecturer, and trainer. He has over 15 years’ experience in eCommerce, social media, affiliate marketing, data analytics, and all things digital. He worked at Yahoo! Search in 2005 as a Senior Search Strategist for the UK Financial Services vertical. He moved to the world of agency in 2010 as Head of Search and Online Media. Cathal’s previous clients include Apple, Vodafone, Expedia, Virgin, Universal Music Group, Amazon, Compare the Market, and HSBC.
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ABOUT THIS DIGITAL MARKETING MODULE
This module begins with the key concepts of paid search and demonstrates how to set up a Google Ads account and create a paid search campaign. It explains how to manage a paid search campaign budget effectively and outlines the different methods that can be used to optimize your paid search campaign. It also covers how to measure and report on the success of a paid search campaign.