(originally published on September 11, 2012)
I can’t remember the last time I looked at a new PPC account that ticked all the boxes when it comes to the settings available within Google AdWords. Some of the settings are very easy to understand and set up, whilst others can be a little more confusing.
The aim of this post is to talk you through all of the settings available for a Google Search campaign and how to use and implement them. Some of these may seem very obvious to you, but you would be surprised to know how many campaigns are purely opted into the standard settings only. Advertisers can be wasting so much money on their campaigns if they are not targeted correctly and following the advice in this post should help you to get the most out of your PPC advertising.
There are a lot of other settings for campaigns targeting the Display Network but I will leave this for a follow up post.
General – Type
When creating a campaign, you will automatically be opted in to All Features, which in my opinion is the best type to have. It allows you to reach your customers on Google Search using:
- Standard and mobile settings
- Various types of ads
- Different ad delivery methods
- All ad extensions
If you decide to go with the Standard campaign type, you would have access to all of the above, except for the various types of ads. You would only be able to create campaigns using the standard text ads.
You should only chose the Product Listing campaign type if you are looking to reach customers on Google Search to promote specific products alongside other advertisers’ products. You will need to have the products added to the Google Merchant Centre to use this. When using this campaign type, you can include information such as:
- An image of your product
- A descriptive product little
- Your business or shop name
Once you have selected the campaign type, you will need to decide which network you want your campaign featured on. There are three options available to you here:
- Search and Display Networks
- Search Network Only
- Display Network Only
If you want to run campaigns on the Search and Display Networks, they should always be set up as different campaigns. It is not best practice to have both networks being targeted from one campaign. Based on this, I would always avoid the top option ‘Search & Display Networks’ and select either the ‘Search Network Only’ or ‘Display Network Only’.
Once you have selected your campaign type and network, you can move onto the Networks setting. As we are only looking at settings for the Search Network, the only option that you will see here is to decide whether you want your ads to show purely on Google Search, or whether you want to be included on the Search Partners network.
Depending on budget constraints, I would always recommend that you start a campaign on both the Google Search Network and the Search Partners network. Once the campaign is live and collecting data, you can then decide at a later date whether or not to switch off the Search Partners network.
Note: You cannot opt out of the Google Search Network
Desktops & Laptops, Mobile Devices and Tablets
One of the most common mistakes I see with campaigns is that they are set up to target all types of devices. If you want to do PPC right, you need to have separate campaigns set up to target each device in its own right.
People search differently on mobiles compared to desktops. The search query tends to be a lot shorter on a mobile, so your keywords need to reflect this. Additionally, you only have two ad places shown at the top of the device, so your campaigns need to be highly targeted with a great Quality Score to rank in one of those spots, otherwise yours ads will not be featured.
Take a look at all the different targeting options available for a campaign. Google don’t put these in for no reason, so make use of them and start creating highly targeted campaigns. Trust me, the results will speak for themselves.
This is where you decide which devices to show your ads on and also select only one per campaign. The default option from Google is to have all three ticked, so you will need to manually choose otherwise.
If you are creating a mobile targeted campaign, you can select which Operating Systems you want to include. Nine times out of ten, I would select ‘all available’, although you may have a product or service that is specific to one of the operating systems, making this really useful.
Next up, you can drill down to specific device models, which are broken down by Android and iOS. If you are running a campaign for a mobile phone provider who wants to promote a new piece of kit for a specific phone, you could use this feature to ensure the only people seeing your ads are those that are relevant to your campaign.
Most of the time, I would recommend showing your ads across all devices unless you have a very specific campaign that is being created.
Operators and Wi-Fi
Using this setting you can target specific operators and Wi-Fi providers so that your ads only show on mobile phones connected to a particular network. By leaving the default option selected, your ads will also show on phones when the user is connected to a Wi-Fi network.
The default setting here will be based on your top level account settings in AdWords and will automatically set the campaign to target the country you are located in.
If you are a small business that only offers a product or service in a certain location, you may not want to target the entire country and you can use this option to reduce the reach of your campaign to city, region or postcode level.
Targeting an entire country can be done using the standard location setting as shown below, but if you want to be more specific, you will need to select the Advanced Search option.
In the example below, I have chosen to show my ads in London and the surrounding areas. This should give me an ad reach of 14,400,000.
You can target your ads to multiple locations by simply adding them in the highlighted box below.
If you are opting to show your ads in a certain location, the advanced location options will be of interest to you.
From within here, you can decide exactly who sees your ads:
- People in, searching for, or viewing pages about your target location
- People in your target location only
- People searching for, or viewing pages about your target location
The first option is the best as you will show ads to anyone that is searching for your product or service plus your location name.
Let’s say for example that you are targeting searchers located in the UK. If you limit your ads to only show on Google to people who have selected English as their language, you will be limiting your reach. The reason being that you will exclude people who live in the UK but don’t have their language set as English.
How you use this setting will depend on what your campaign objectives are and who you are looking to target.
Bidding and Budget
There are four bidding options available to you for campaigns on the Search Network and you should be aware of the pros and cons for each.
Depending on the objectives and goals for your campaign, you may wish to try out these different bidding options as each of them can drive very different results.
The only setting that I would avoid using is the second on the list, which is where AdWords sets your bids to help maximise clicks within your target budget. I’d avoid using this setting as you could end up spending money on traffic that does not convert.
This is the area where you set the daily budget for your campaign. AdWords can recommend a daily budget based on the types of keywords you have in your campaign, but I would recommend going with a budget you are comfortable with, rather than allowing AdWords to determine this for you.
There are two options available to advertisers with regards to how your daily budget is utilised – Standard or Accelerated.
Standard Delivery: AdWords will show your ads evenly throughout the course of a day to avoid reaching your budget to early.
Accelerated Delivery: AdWords will show your ads as much as possible from the start of the day. If you have a low daily budget, you will find that it is spent very early on, meaning that your ads will not be shown during the latter part of the day.
I would recommend using Standard Delivery for most campaigns to help you show your ads to your audience throughout the day, rather than just in the morning.
Schedule: Start Date and End Date
This is a very useful setting if you are creating a time sensitive campaign that you only want to run for a period of time. If you do not change the setting then the campaign will start on the day you activate it and will continue to run until you pause or end it.
Certain businesses may want to show ads during certain times of the day and on certain days of the week. Standard ad scheduling will allow you to do this.
By clicking ‘Running all day’ on a certain day, you will be able to tell AdWords what times you want your ads to run. Likewise, if you don’t want them to run on a certain day, you can choose to pause the campaign using this setting.
If you are unsure on what times to run the campaign, I would suggest running 24/7 and then letting the data tell you what times perform best for you once the campaigns have been running for a couple of weeks/months.
Ad Delivery: Ad Rotation
It’s best practice to have at least two adverts running per ad group so that you can see which one performs best and optimise the campaign moving forwards based on that data. There are three options available to you within the ad rotation setting:
If you are looking to manually optimise your ads, then I would recommend going with the third option, Rotate Evenly, so that you have full control over this. Please note that if you do not update your ad text within 90 days, AdWords will automatically switch to showing the ad that has received the most traffic.
Keyword Matching Options
This is a recent addition to the AdWords settings which should definitely not be missed. If you are setting up highly targeted campaigns with keywords on Exact and Phrase match, you will most probably only want your ads to show for those keywords.
With this setting, you can tell Google whether or not you want your Exact and Phrase match keywords to show for plurals, misspellings and other close variants.
If you leave this to the default setting, AdWords will automatically opt you in to show your ads for the above options.
This setting is still in BETA, but it can be great to use if you want to try something out on a campaign and you are not entirely sure what results you will gain. I’m not going to go into detail on how you should be using this feature as it warrants its own post.
If you want to find out more about setting up an experiment, you can visit the AdWords blog – http://adwords.blogspot.co.uk/2010/06/adwords-campaign-experiments-beta-split.html
IP Address Exclusion
This is a setting that is usually forgotten and can save you many wasted impressions and spend. If you have a large organisation, it is always best to exclude your own IP address so that when you are searching for any of your keywords, you will not see one of your ads and therefore your CTR will be higher.
You should also use this option to exclude any IP addresses which you know of that would not want to see your adverts.
Tracking URLs for Dynamic Links
This setting should be used if you have campaigns running with Product Listing ads or Product Extensions that are using dynamic tracking URLs. It allows you to track the clicks on the dynamically generated URLs that are used within your adverts. By using this, you will be able to monitor and track your ads more efficiently.
To start using this setting, you need to create a dynamic URL template with one of the following ValueTrack parameters:
When using these parameters, AdWords will bring in the URL that you have added to your product feed in the Google Merchant Center within the “adwords_redirect” attribute.