Spring clean your Google Ads account

Time for a bit of spring cleaning. Here are a few hints and tips to help give your Google Ads account a sprucing up.

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Spring has finally sprung. The sun is shining, birds are chirping, and I’ve been skipping under blossom-filled trees. Bliss.

Traditionally, spring is a time to have a good old clean out and de-clutter, and while it might not be the most fun way to spend a weekend, the end result is well worth it. With this in mind, here are a few hints and tips to help give your Google Ads account a sprucing up.

Clean up those keywords

Adding new keywords is a great way to grow an account and reach new people. But sometimes, keywords that you think are super relevant to your business are just not performing as well as you’d anticipated. It’s tempting to cling on to them, hoping that one day, they might convert, but if they are not getting any impressions, or are getting clicks but are not converting, it’s time to take a deep dive into historical performance to see if impression share and budget would be better spent elsewhere.

One thing that has made this more difficult to manage is Google removing the ability to use broad modified match keywords, which ensured that ads would only be shown if ALL of the keywords were searched in ANY order. 

In its place, Google now shows ads for ‘close variants’ on both phrase and exact match keywords, but this often causes more issues when it comes to reigning in spend. In the past, you might have had a phrase or exact match keyword that was performing great, but if you take a look at the actual search term report, it’s highly likely that Google will now be showing ads for what it deems to be a ‘close variant’ of that keyword.

This means you have to spend a lot of time trawling through the actual search terms report and adding irrelevant keywords as negatives. Yes, you would have had to do this anyway, but now, for me at least, it feels like I have to do this far more frequently than I did in the good old days when phrase meant phrase, and exact meant exact.

If you haven’t delved into the actual search term report for a while, now is the time to do so to improve impression share and cut back on spend. 

Another ‘fun’ thing I’ve noticed is that despite having a keyword in an ad group, with a tailored ad copy and landing page, is that Google is deciding to show an ad from a different campaign or ad group using the ‘phrase match (close variant)’ rule. So it’s worth building out massive negative keyword lists of the keywords you’re targeting already in other campaigns and ad groups to prevent this from happening whenever possible. 

Refresh your landing pages

For keywords that get a decent number of clicks but zero conversions, there might be an underlying issue that’s preventing people from converting. Does the keyword match with the offering on your landing page? If not, why are you even bidding on the keyword? If you’re not meeting a user’s expectation, they’ll bail. 

If it is relevant and you’re still not seeing good results, then it’s time to take a closer look at the landing page itself. 

Is the call to action strong enough? Is the page missing crucial information, like delivery and contact details? Does your form suck? Do you need to build a more targeted landing page from scratch?

Not sure what’s turning people off? If you get enough traffic from a specific campaign, you can set up an experiment to test the control vs a new landing page to see which performs best.

Suggested spruce ups

You may have noticed Google Ads rather aggressive (and constant) reminders to look at the Recommendations tab.

Within Recommendations, the account is given an ‘Optimisation score’. Each time you complete one of the recommendations, the score increases.

Some of the recommendations have very minimal benefits, and won’t even increase your score by 1%. And some of the recommendations are just plain bonkers, or completely irrelevant.

One example from this week on one of my accounts is a +0.7% improvement in optimisation score, which recommends adjusting a CPA target. The additional cost is a mere £237 increase per week, for a projected 2 conversions. Which clearly, my client would NOT be happy with.

Google Ads is also really pushing for advertisers to use broad match keywords and dynamic search ads, which may be fine for massive ecommerce sites or those with huge budgets, but not for many others. 

More alarmingly, Google Ads has introduced an ‘auto apply’ feature, which basically means that you can tick a few boxes, sit back, and let Google do all of the hard work for you.

So, would I recommend implementing these suggested spruce ups?

In short, no. I’d review every single one of them thoroughly to assess the impact on the account, and fortunately, Google Ads does give you the option to dismiss recommendations and provide a reason, although I see them pop up again only to be dismissed again before long. And I most certainly won’t be ticking the ‘auto apply’ options either!

While a Spring clean presents a good opportunity to put time aside to review and fix issues, analysing and cleaning up your Google Ads account on a regular basis is best practice – and should not be neglected in favour of a big every-once-and-a-while blitz. When performing your Spring clean, be mindful not to fiddle about with too many things at once, or it might be impossible to work out what impact a specific change has had.

For more advice and tips on managing PPC accounts, as well as the latest news from the world of paid search, check out our other posts right here.

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