Site usage data for search terms

Site usage data for the search terms that you paid for in Google ads can be very useful information in judging what keywords you should keep.

How do we judge if a keyword is useful in our Google account?

You would of course see the conversion data, the search queries (the actual terms which the user typed that triggered the keyword in your account), and other such data that is available in the Google ads interface.

However, if you have Google Analytics linked with your Google ads account (and this linking is highly recommended), then you can also see the engagement data for the search queries that triggered your ads.

For example, if you are bidding on a competitor name, then over time you will find out whether this keyword is converting (bringing business for you) or not. However, it can also be very interesting to see the website engagement data for such keywords.

You can see this engagement data in Universal Google Analytics in Reports > Acquisition > Google Ads > Search Queries section of the Google Analytics interface. Once you are in this section, Google Analytics will show you a Summary by default. In order to see more engagement data, click on the “Site Usage” link. (This site usage link is on the top of the graph that you see on the page and you can easily find this link by searching for the words site usage using the Find option in your browser.)

site usage data for search terms - engagement data for search queries

Once you have the Site Usage report open in front of you, you can see data like Pages/ Session, Avg. Session Duration, Bounce Rate, and Goal completions for the search queries (the actual terms that users typed) that you paid for in Google Ads.

Let us suppose you notice that people visiting your website after clicking on an ad that you show when people search for your competitor, engage well with your site but do not convert, then it may be that these people are looking for an alternative to your competitor (which can be you) but your content is not convincing enough to convert them. The site usage report can show you this data and you can take appropriate action on that basis.

In some cases, the competitors are so strong (they have such high brand recognition and interest) that most people looking for those competitors will not look at your site in depth. Even if such people reach your site by clicking on the ad that you showed for those competition keywords, they may not engage with your site. It may be better to avoid such keywords until you have something (some deal, some content) that can attract the fans of your competition to your company.

The site usage report for search queries can help you decide which competition keywords you should keep and which ones you should not bid on (till you are ready for your competition).

As always there are other uses of this information (report), and there are other ways to decide on the usefulness of your keywords but this tip is only meant to point out an available resource that you may consider when deciding on the success of your keywords.

Google Ads : Equipment Rental ads being flagged as “Housing”

While managing an active ad account, most of the time we look at the account from a higher level. We dig deeper into the account only if we notice a problem, or when we want to improve some aspect.

However, if you are running or managing Google ads, more specifically remarketing ads, for any equipment rental business, then I urge you to look at your remarketing ads “Status” attribute/ column very carefully.

Your ads may be running but they may have been incorrectly categorized under “Housing”.

google ads equipment rental housing

It seems like Google is running some algorithm to figure out such ads at scale, but this automated process might not be so accurate.

In USA and Canada, personalized ads running under “Housing” policy cannot be targeted to audiences based on gender, age, parental status, marital status, or ZIP code. See https://support.google.com/adspolicy/answer/143465

If you are targeting on basis of gender, age, parental status, marital status, or ZIP code, then this incorrect classification may limit your ads. If so, then you can appeal against this classification.

Housing-policy-appeal

 

Google ads target by age (Feb 2020)

Google ads target by age (or Google ads demographic targeting)

Age targeting is not available while creating the search campaign

When creating a new search campaign, if you try to look for age group targeting in the “Audiences” section of campaign buildout then you will not find age group targeting in the “Who they are” (Detailed demographics) targeting.

google ads target by age

 

How to target by age?

First create a new campaign, without trying to do any age targeting at the campaign creation stage. Now open this new campaign.

Go to “Demographics” – it is an option on the left hand side bar (left hand side page menu) when editing campaigns. See following screenshot.

google ads target by age - demographic targeting

Since you want to set the age (demographic) targeting at the campaign level, please make sure that campaign view is selected in the drop down on the right hand  side of the screen as marked by an arrow in the above screenshot. (You can set age group targeting at ad group level also.)

Now select “More” and then select “Exclusions”. Please refer to above screen shot – More is marked by an arrow.

Once “Exclusions” is selected, you might see something like the following screenshot –

google ads target by age - google ads demographic targeting

Select the age groups or other demographics you want to exclude and you are done.

Further resources

If you want to read more, please see these Google support article –

Read Google’s article on excluding demographic groups – https://support.google.com/google-ads/answer/2601123?hl=en&ref_topic=3122881

Read about demographic targeting options, how Google determines demographic information, and more details about the “Unknown” category in this article – https://support.google.com/google-ads/answer/2580383?hl=en&ref_topic=3122881

How to add demographic targeting to an ad group – https://support.google.com/google-ads/answer/2580282?hl=en&ref_topic=3122881

 

Google Ads Display Campaigns – Better audience available for a long time now

Summary : If you have not recently checked the audience targeting of your Google ads display campaigns, then please do so and (if suitable) please make use of the new targeting options like custom intent audience and life events which were not available earlier. 

This post is not for someone who regularly creates new campaigns. If you do, then you already know about these features.

This post is for the Do-It-Yourself business owners who may not have time to regularly check their accounts.

If you are managing Google ads and if you have not looked deeply into your ad account for a long time, then I urge you to definitely try and create a new campaign, just to see and use the new ad types, optimizations and targetting available in Google ads now.

Example, please see the following screen shot from the Google ads account of a basement renovation company in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. ( This screen is presented when trying to edit audiences of their currently running display campaign).

On the right hand side are the 7 audiences being used by this account’s display campaign.

Do you think that the audiences listed on the left hand side might be more relevant for the basement renovation market?

I definitely think so and in fact I have seen that custom intent audience can work really well.

I am aware that these audiences were not available some time back.

So the business owner (or the agency that created that account and then probably forgot about it) were not really wrong – they chose the best possible audience available at that time. However as you might have heard before – ad accounts are not “do-it-and-forget-it” properties.

This level of audience fine tuning is relatively new. Changes like these are one of the reasons why you should regularly check your Google ads account, to make sure that you are using all the new features relevant for your business.

So, if you are running your own ad account and have not recently reviewed your audience targeting, then it may be a good idea to do so today.

Useful info on Google ads policy disapprovals

If you are a PPC pro then this article might be a useful read – https://www.ppchero.com/google-policy-ad-disapprovals-a-story-of-false-flags/

If you are a business owner managing your own PPC, then most probably you may not have time to check your Google ads account everyday. In such a case, do follow the “Email Notifications” section of the above article, to set up email notification for ad disapproval.

 

Free VPN for accessing Google Ads (adwords) web interface

Most people would not need a VPN solution to access Google ads web interface.

However if are using a VPN for accessing Google ads web interface, and if that VPN solution happens to be  Windscribe for Chrome then you would know that Windscribe is no longer working well. (as of November 2019)

You could try https://setupvpn.com/ or  http://freevpn.zone/ , instead of Windscribe.

Paid (premium) VPN solutions also exist and may be better in some contexts, but I find that above free VPNs work fine too.

How to keep PPC accounts healthy

This article on PPC Hero is a good pointer.

You could vary the frequency of executing the suggested steps as per your account’s requirements but the steps mentioned herein are all very relevant towards maintaining a healthy PPC account.

https://www.ppchero.com/ppc-task-checklist-for-account-success/

 

Google ads – Ad rotation “Optimize for clicks” does not always deliver the best results

  1. If you have a new ad that MUST run along side an old ad, it is advisable to manually switch campaign ad rotation settings from “Optimize for clicks” to “Rotate indefinitely” for some time.
    • Do NOT rely on “Optimize for clicks” because sometimes it does not give any impressions to the new ad – it does not test the new ad as it should. In my experience I have seen the algorithm fail too many times!
    • Sometimes the ad rotation algorithm decides in favour of the old ad in so few impressions that the new ad just does not get sufficient impressions to make any impact on the audience.
    • So manually switching ad rotation settings is advisable if you want to make sure that the new ad get a good chance to run along side the old ads.

  2. If you want to test a new ad, then also “Rotate indefinitely” might be better for some time. After some performance data is collected, then you could hand over ad rotation to the “Optimize for Clicks” algorithm if you want.

  3. In certain cases, where you want multiple messages to be shown to the same audience (for example if you want to highlight all the multiple product/ service benefits to your remarketing audience), again rotate indefinitely” might be a better option for you.

Without going into any details I will just link to an excellent article written on Adalysis in Sep 2018 –  https://adalysis.com/blog/google-ads-optimize-ad-serving-often-fails/

It’s over one year but the observations in this article are still very true. “Optimize for clicks” is not the best solution for all situations.

Adwords country blocking and wordfence settings in WordPress

Wordfence is a very useful plugin for wordpress. However on most sites I have worked on recently, I have realized that most webadmins just install wordfence with default settings.

However if you are using Google Adwords, then do remember to uncheck the “Block access to the rest of the site (outside the login form)” in the “Country Blocking Options” within the “Blocking” submenu of Wordfence settings.

adwords country blocking policy and wordfence settings in wordpress

 

Wordfence also explain it here.

 

AdWords conversion tracking tag vs importing Google Analytics goals

Two useful resources

Differences Between AdWords Conversion Tags & Google Analytics Goals Import

Above article is a definite read to understand differences between using the AdWords conversion tags & importing Google Analytics goals into Adwords.

However, after reading above Lunametrics article you must read this detailed Google resource at

https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/2679221?hl=en

Does the new Global Site Tag (gtag.js) change anything mentioned in the above articles? (as in October 2017)

In my opinion, the new gtag.js does not change any of the details mentioned in the articles. It is just a new tracking code but GA and Adwords continue to handle data in the way explained in both above articles.

What do I prefer?

I prefer using both GA and Adwords tags together.

I set up interaction related goals (which are not real business goals but still important like “Viewed more than two pages”) using Google Analytics. I import these goals into Adwords and treat them as “soft-conversions”. These type of soft-conversions can be helpful in various cases, for example in analyzing the value of display clicks and other such cases. Mostly, I do not include these soft conversions in the conversions counted by Adwords, so these would show in “All conversions” column in Adwords but not in the “Conversions” column.

However in most Adwords accounts, I prefer the Adwords tag for counting hard conversions like form fills because if a paid click plays any role in a hard-conversion like generating a lead (form-fill), then I prefer attributing it to Adwords, rather than Organic search or anything else. (I understand that many people may not agree with this approach and neither am I advocating it as a definite best practice.)

I could still set up the hard conversions (like form fills) in Google Analytics too but I wont import them into Adwords. This would allow me to see the same data in a different perspective without messing up data.

As with most things concerning data analysis, there is no definite best method for all accounts, so it is good to understand differences between AdWords conversion tags & importing Google Analytics goals and using them appropriately.