Google Ads has nearly unlimited amounts of tweaks, hacks, and customizations you can run.
But, these shiny, flashy add-ons tend to overshadow the most important factors of Google Ads;
The basics. The fundamentals. The easy wins that every single advertiser should be doing to improve results.
Skipping these fundamentals is all too common in favor of fancy growth hacks.
But more often than not, those fancy growth hacks ain’t gonna work unless you’ve nailed the fundamentals.
And that’s what I am here to show you.
Here are five skipped Google Ads fundamentals that are sabotaging your cost per lead and ability to sustain growth.
Ready? Let’s do it.
1. Researching Long-Tail and Lower Volume Keywords
Keywords on the Google Ads search network are your lifeblood. Pick the wrong keywords and you will be paying way too much money. Pick the right ones and you can rank in the top positions without paying a fortune.
The problem is, most people will do some basic keyword research on the Google Ads keyword planner, find the biggest volume keyword, and call it a day.
The problem is, high volume keywords with thousands of searches per month are expensive:
Unless your average customer lifetime value is hundreds to thousands of dollars, paying almost 20 bucks per click is going to be tough to sustain.
If your conversion rates are just a few percents, it’s going to take a bunch of $18 clicks to convert a single user.
And that conversion is likely just a phone call or filling out a form. They haven’t given you money just yet.
You see the point, right?
By the time a prospect actually converts, you’ve racked up hundreds of dollars in clicks. So, if you fail to get them to stick around, you’re draining your budget fast and pillaging your bottom line.
On top of that, high volume keywords are almost always very broad. SEO tool, for example. What kind of tool? That’s pretty broad. SEO touches countless different spaces from super technical to on-page editing.
Instead of sticking to high volume keywords, look for cheaper alternatives that are more niche and specific.
For instance, check out this SEO Crawler keyphrase. Instead of being $18+ per click, it’s $7 per click. And the competition for the phrase is .25 compared to .74. That means you’ll be doing less work and paying less money to rank in the top page position for this term.
Now that’s smart keyword targeting, and this phrase isn’t even long-tail yet.
Dive further into keyword research variations and you can likely bring that cost down to just a few bucks per click, sinking your cost per lead to something actually affordable.
Using tools like SEMRush, Ahrefs, Google Keyword Tool, etc, you can find a great mix of keywords and their average costs.
It might take multiple hours or even days researching better keywords for your campaign.
Once you start paying $5 per click instead of $20, you’ll see that it’s worth it.
This will reduce your average CPC and therefore cost per lead, but it will also bring in more targeted traffic that sticks around, improving your conversion rates in the long run.
How? If someone searches SEO tool, they probably don’t know what they want yet. It’s broad, generic. Someone looking for a technical SEO crawling plugin knows what they want. The odds they bounce from your landing page decrease, helping you save money.
2. Using Simple Ad Groups to Improve Your Quality Score
Quality score is a big determining factor in ad rank, conversion potential, and cost per lead.
If your quality score is poor, you will pay more for clicks than your competition for the same keyword.
And your chances of ranking top page become slim.
The quality score contains three elements that you have to hit:
- Ad relevance
- Expected CTR
- Landing page experience
Let’s break down each to understand why simple ad groups can improve your quality score and drop cost per lead.
How specific is your ad in relation to the keyword you are targeting? Are you using the exact keyword in your ad text? Title? Description?
This is one of the biggest problems I see when managing Google Ad accounts.
They will often be structured like this:
Notice how these keywords are vastly different from each other? Trying to write ads that encompass all of these keywords is going to give you a migraine because it’s simply not possible without losing specificity.
And specificity is key on Google Ads.
Having too many keywords in your ad groups forces you to write generic ads.
If someone searches for mice extermination, they want mice extermination. So, write an ad that specifically says that:
To do this, you’ll need to create ad groups with a single keyword focus (SKAGs) or small ad groups with slight keyword variations, like so:
Option 1: SKAGs:
Option 2: Slight variations:
Next up, we have expected CTR, which ties directly into the points above.
It is the average clickthrough rate of a given ad for the keyword you are targeting.
If your CTR is lower, Google takes that as a sign that your ad isn’t matching searcher intent. That’s a big no-no and can cost you extra money per click and poor rankings.
Expected CTR can be directly combated by simple ad groups, because as I said, simple ad groups allow you to focus your ad text on the exact keyword (or slight variations), increasing the relevance and likelihood of getting good clicks.
And finally, we’ve got the third quality score factor, landing page experience…
Landing Page experience
Landing pages are arguably the most important factor in your quality score equation.
One study found landing page experience to be tied with expected CTR in terms of importance.
But in reality, they are all important and expected CTR can’t be high without good ad relevance.
Landing pages tell Google a few key things:
- The percent of people who convert and therefore found the offer fair and relevant
- The percent of people who bounced in under 10 seconds, signaling a mismatch in intent
As you could guess, you don’t want to be in the second grouping.
This is a signal to Google to lower your quality score as landing page experiences were not up to par.
3. Perfecting Your Landing Page
An example of a bad landing page experience would be something like this. First, you click on an ad for a highly specific product, like these shoes:
Mens brown dress shoes. A highly specific inquiry. But, then you get sent to this landing page:
Come. on. It’s 2019. We can’t still be doing this.
If your ad text is targeting a keyword that clearly shows intent to purchase a specific product, why are you showing the opposite of it?
That’s a recipe for instant bounces and low conversion rates, increasing your cost per lead.
Landing page experiences don’t have to be magical, thousand dollar projects. They just have to give the user what they expect to get.
You don’t need fancy video content on your landing page. You don’t need a $10k redesign with fancy page elements.
Can some of this increase conversions? Yes. But these aren’t fundamentals, these are extras after you have nailed the basics.
The basics are promising something in your ad copy:
And then delivering on that EXACT promise on the landing page:
Match your landing pages to the ad text you promised and you will see dramatic increases in conversion rates and decreases in your acquisition costs.
Only then should you start experimenting with additional features.
4. Using Minimal Yet Targeted Ad Extensions
Ad extensions are what you see on most search network ads these days:
They can include any of the following extension types:
- Location Extensions
- Affiliate Location Extensions
- Callout Extensions
- Sitelink Extensions
- Call Extensions
- Structured Snippets
- Message Extensions
- Price Extensions
- App Extensions
- Promotion Extensions
All of these ad extensions can provide amazing ways to improve your ad relevance to searchers, thereby improving quality score and dropping the cost per lead.
But, they can produce the opposite impact if you choose the wrong extensions for your goal.
For example, check out this ad I came across a while back on the search network:
The main call to action or offer being used is getting $50 off when you call to schedule with the business.
Looking at the ad extensions, there isn’t a call extension option. Instead, they are using sitelink extensions and callouts.
This is a major issue and prime example of using the wrong ad extensions for the sake of providing more information.
Rule of Thumb
If you want someone to call your business, use a call extension.
If you want someone to click to pages on your site, use sitelinks.
Ad extensions are great and help you expand beyond character limits. But they can detract from your main goals if you aren’t carefully analyzing which extensions are used on each ad.
Always tailor searcher intent (what the searcher is expecting to do and get) with your call to action and therefore ad extension options.
Here is a great example of proper ad extension usage tailored to both intent and CTA:
Since they are targeting a more broad keyword (SEO Tool), they provide sitelink extensions for different segments of their tool that might interest that searcher.
5. Doing Your Negative Keyword Lists
Negative keyword lists are lists that you create in Google Ads to tell Google which search terms you don’t want to pay for.
When you bid on keywords, you aren’t just bidding on that exact keyword. You are bidding on a multitude of keyword variations based on match types:
Now, this can be a major issue in terms of ad spend.
First off, what if you don’t sell skinny jeans for women? Then you are paying a bunch of money in clicks for people looking for skinny jeans who won’t find them on your site. That means they will leave without buying, costing you money.
Search queries can be diverse based on your match types, so it’s important to constantly check and refine your negative keyword lists.
I recommend running through the search terms report every few weeks based on the amount of traffic you get.
If you are spending big dollars on Google Ads and generating thousands of searches and clicks a month, weekly or even twice weekly negative keyword work is essential.
If you are generating a few hundred a week in searches, once a week is plenty.
Negative keyword lists can be made and edited in the keywords tab of a given campaign.
Here you should start to add negative keywords based on your search terms report. If you notice keywords that you don’t want to pay for, like “Free” or other brands, add them to your negative keyword list.
This ensures you aren’t paying for junk keywords that have zero chance of converting on your site.
Traffic isn’t worth a dime if they have no chance of buying what you sell.
Negative keywords will help you cut down on ad spend dramatically, boosting your budget and sinking cost per lead.
Want cheaper leads? Start doing the tedious work of negative keyword lists.
Google Ads is one of the best platforms for testing and experimenting with cool hacks and tools.
But that doesn’t give you the excuse to ignore the basics.
Without the fundamentals, these fancy hacks probably won’t produce the results you are looking for.
And without them, you are going to be paying way too much per lead.
Before you run any advanced tactics, make sure you have hit the following:
- Research long-tail phrases for cheaper CPCs
- Use SKAGs to rank higher and pay less
- Perfect your landing pages to improve quality scores
- Use only the most relevant ad extensions
- And for the love of everything holy, don’t neglect those negative keywords!
Want your cost per lead to significantly decrease? Hit these basics first.