5 Steps to a Successful Search Campaign

 In Digital Marketing

Search ads are a great way to reach potential customers, clients, donors, voters, or whoever your audience is. Best of all, you find folks in the moments when they’re most likely to be interested in what you have to offer. It’s in these need-to-know and want-to-buy moments that people search online for must-know information, and you want to be at the top of the results list when they do!

Because they operate based on key phrases and words, search ads are often more likely than display ads to be relevant to people at the moment they see them. If your keywords and ads are doing their jobs correctly, you’ll likely reach better qualified leadspeople who are more willing to read your information, spend time on your website, or even make contact and buy from youwith search ads than with display. And because your ads are only triggered when individuals search for relevant keywords and phrases, they’re very affordable and scaleable to fit any budget because you pay per click.

However, search ads can be difficult and confusing to set up, especially if you’ve never set up a search campaign before (and even if you have!). Between ads, audiences, keywords, and bidding, there are a lot of moving parts to keep track of. Keep reading to see our Search Ad Checklist and make sure you set up your search campaign right!

1. Set Your Budget & Bid

Make sure to set your daily budgetthe maximum amount of money you’ll spend per day on your search campaignand your bid, which is the maximum amount you’ll spend on a single impression for each keyword. Keep in mind that you won’t necessarily hit your daily budget or your bid, because these ads are limited to delivering only when people search for your keywords or phrases. Google will also only charge you the amount per impression that you need to win over the next highest bidder. However, you don’t want to set either too high and risk spending more than you want to.

Our advice is to set the daily budget and bid at what you’re comfortable with spending when you set up your campaign; then continue to analyze your results and adjust your bid and budget after seeing how your ads perform. Don’t be afraid to treat your search campaign as a learn-as-you-go project. Each campaign performs differently, and it’s always necessary with search to make adjustments as needed. Plus, AdWords will give helpful suggestions on how to optimize your spending along the way.

2. Think Like Your Customer & Add Keywords

Keywords are, of course, the most obvious part of this process. The important part of keywords and phrases is to make them as relevant to both your products or information and your target audience’s interests as possible. When you’re coming up with keywords, try to think from the perspective of a consumer, voter, or whoever you’re trying to target. If you were in their shoes, what would you search to find your content or products?

3. Create & Test Multiple Ads

The next step in this process is to create the actual ads you want to deliver. Search ads are small, but they are often difficult to create and require a lot of thought because they include only text (no images) and enforce strict character limitswhich means you need to create ads that catch attention in only a few words.

Google does take the quality of your ads into account when deciding which ads to deliver, so it’s important to make sure you create ads that follow AdWords best practices and monitor them for opportunities to optimize. Here are a few of the best practices to be aware of when creating search ads:

  • Create a few different ads to see which works best. Google will rotate your ads automatically and optimize delivery based on how they perform.
  • Don’t use nontraditional capitalization or punctuation in the title. For example, using all caps or an exclamation point will hurt your quality score.
  • Include a CTA in the description to encourage viewers to interact with your ad.

4. Extras: Use Ad Extensions

Even if you’re not sure what ad extensions are by name, chances are you’ve seen them before during your own Google searches. They’re attachments on search ads that direct the viewer to take more specific actions than a normal search result, whether it’s a phone call from their mobile device or links to different pages on a company’s website.

Ad extensions are a great way to get better qualified leads because click-throughs go right to what people want to see on your site, so those people will likely stay longer. Plus, ad extensions make search ads bigger and more prominent on the page, making them more visible and more likely to be clicked through.

5. Optimize Your Landing Page

Besides looking at your ads and keywords themselves, Google actually looks at your landing page to see how relevant it is to your ads and searches, and considers this when deciding whether or not to show your ad. Though it may not seem like a top priority while you’re setting up ads, optimizing your landing page can go a long way in making sure your ads are seen.

In order to ensure your landing page isn’t hurting ad performance, you’ll need to optimize it for easy navigation on any device (e.g., phone, tablet, laptop). You’ll also want to make your page relevant to your ads. For example, if your ad is for a pair of shoes you sell online, an ad that links to a page displaying the specific shoes will rank higher than one that links to your business’s home page. And finally, try to use some of your keywords and ad language in the landing page itself.

Still have questions or thoughts on search ads? Leave us a comment, we’re happy to chat!


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As CMG’s Crafter of Strategic Communication, Amy Libka combines strategy and creativity to help clients communicate as effectively as possible. She is passionate about clear, effective communication, and enjoys crafting messages that help individuals and groups achieve their goals. She specializes in creating content and managing digital advertising campaigns for a diverse group of clients.

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