Five Tips To Master The Google Search Network

It's amazing the number of businesses that don't understand (or even worse, don't use) the Google Search Network in their marketing strategy. This is despite they may be spending thousands of Euros (€'s) on Facebook ads or other social media platforms.

I'm obviously not saying that Facebook Ads don't have their place, but Google Ads ensures that your products get in front of potential customers when they need them most. This helps to drive a favorable conversion rate and evidently, sales, not to mention the extra qualification of leads. 

This leads me onto the workhorse of the Google Ads marketing platform; the Search Network. While Google Shopping is now seeing its day for eCommerce businesses, the search ad is still the go-to for most online marketers. 

There is some initial set-up work required in building 'Search' campaigns, but when done correctly, this can be a very lucrative channel for small businesses in growing sales and profit. There is great control over customer targeting, budgets, and personalisation (which I will get to more later on). Most importantly, the Google Ads platform keeps advertisers in check to ensure that ads are relevant to the user and more likely to convert. This is carried out in the form of the ever talked about 'Quality Score'. 

The quality score is somewhat of a validation metric from Google that results in rewards fro advertising best-practices. These rewards come in the form of higher-ranked ads, cheaper cost-per-clicks (CPC's), and a competitive advantage over other businesses in the industry. 

So you might be asking; what is the best way to set up a Google Ads account for your small business? Here are five tips to master the Google Search Network: 

1.) Google Ads Account Structure

The account structure is so important to ensure that the management of the search ads and ongoing optimisations are made as streamlined as possible. However, remember what was mentioned about the quality score above? The account structure plays a large part in this too. As an example, let's take a look at the structure of an electronics eCommerce website below, and see how we could structure the account:

If we look at the TV category above, this could be broken into three subcategories (budget dependent), as follows: 


Google Search Network Ad Account Structure


  • General TV Campaign - Keyword examples would be 'buy new tv near me', 'buy flatscreen tv in Dublin/Cork/other location', etc. 
  • Branded TV Campaign - 'Samsung TV for sale', 'Sony Bravia TVs', 'Samsung 8K TV', etc. 
  • Feature Campaign - '42" TV for sale', 'OLED TV Cork', etc. 

Again, this would come down to budget, as you might expect, there may be a wide scope of keyword targeting for both the 'General TV Campaign' and 'Feature Campaign'. 


2.) Location Targeting

Depending on the business, and the reach of your delivery/services, you may want to think about narrowing down your location targeting to suit your goals. If you would like more footfall in-store, this can be achieved at a granular level. However, there is also a radius targeting option (e.g. a locksmith in Newbridge, Co. Kildare might target Newbridge +10km). This ensures that you can keep on top of your business' margins required for travel to jobs, and time required. 

If your business is offering the sale of products on an eCommerce site, it would be more beneficial to target country-wide and narrow down the location targeting depending on ongoing account optimisations. Best performing locations can be boosted using positive 'bid adjustments', and worst-performing locations can be scaled back using negative bid adjustments.

You will be glad to hear that some of Google's automated bidding strategies do take location performance into account and will place more emphasis on better locations. It would be recommended to start campaigns using manual targeting. This will give the automated bidding strategies (tCPA, tROAS) relevant data to 'learn' to distinguish the best performance. 

Google Ads Account Audit Banner

3.) Keyword Match Types

We can't create a Google Ads account set-up article without touching on how you may get the most out of keyword match types. It is important to note that there will be more posts outlining the best practice for match types in the future and in more detail. For this particular post, however, I will outline what is used in Volume Digital, and previous agency positions held.

One of your best allies in creating keywords for Google Ads campaigns is historical data. By accessing the previous strategies used within an account, keyword match types, and targeting; marketers get a full picture of previous successes and failures. This is why Volume Digital's first question to potential clients is; "Do you have a current Google Ads account, and can we get access?". This data can save you a lot of time, and budget, in starting off an account on the right track with negative keywords, match types, and conversion rates.

Similar to location targeting above, starting off campaigns is usually best to start wide-reaching, and eventually narrow as you find the sweet spot for cost efficiencies and conversions. One of the first things businesses try to achieve with a digital marketing agency is to outline the keywords that they want to target. This is understandable to a degree, as you would think businesses know their market and the terms that customers will use to search for them. However, when pressed to find out where these terms come from, 9 times out of 10 it's determined that it's what the business owner would search for. The not so little secret in digital marketing is that users don't know what to search for, or how to search for it. This makes historical performance data and search term reports even more important to your ongoing strategy.

The start of a campaign is when you should be trying to generate as much data as possible, to know what may or may not work. If we use the same analogy as the location targeting, it's best to start with broad keywords; Broad Match Modified (BMM) to be precise. BMM keywords allow keywords to be triggered only when the targeted words are within a user's search term but can be in any order. 


Broad Match Modified (BMM) keyword targeting Google Search Network


Depending on the industry and size of the market, this could result in a high level of click traffic to your website. It's important to note that there will be terms that will not be fully relevant to your products/services using this strategy. However, this is so important when trying to scale your businesses as it finds search terms that you may have never seen before. In fact, according to Google, "between 16-20% of searches, every year has not been seen before" (Internetlivestats).

When you start seeing results from your BMM keywords, this is when you can get more strategic with cost efficiencies on your keywords. Depending on the level of traffic/conversions moving through your site, you may decide to set up an exact match keyword campaign and move the best performing BMM keywords (and their search terms) into Exact Match. If you do go down this route, please don't forget to add an exact match negative to your BMM keyword so that your campaigns are not double serving. This will, unfortunately, result in tainted data and you would need to start tracking performance again.


4.) Google Search Network Ad Types

The Google Search Network has four main ad types to get your message in front of potential customers. Each has their own purpose, and each can contribute differently depending on the industry.


The main ad types are as follows: 

  • Expanded Text Ads (ETAs) - Despite constant mumblings that ETAs will be deprecated, they remain the best search network ad type for experimenting with headlines and messaging. It's important to note that it's from ETAs that you will see the majority of results on the Google Search Network, as they show relevant headlines and descriptions associated with the users' search term. This relevance can be the difference between a strong and weak conversion rate. 
  • Responsive Search Ads (RSAs) - There is great potential in RSAs, and more so that it's been rumored for some time that RSAs will eventually take over from ETAs. Responsive Search Ads are very similar in a way to Expanded Text Ads with headlines and descriptions. However, there is much more scale involved with RSAs, as this ad type allows up to 15 headlines and 4 descriptions. There are downfalls in the RSAs reporting, however, and it's because of this that many marketers are hesitant to move over to this more automated ad type. The Google Ads algorithm chooses the best headlines and descriptions to show users based on their online search traits, demographics and search query. 
  • Call ads - Remember what was said about some ad types working better in some industries? This is the case with Call search ads. These ads can be shown on devices that can make a phone call, so your mobile device or tablet, if it is set up to do so. When a user clicks on the ads, the device automatically places a call from to the business advertising their service without visiting the website. This can be very lucrative for some business types, such as emergency service providers (no, not the first responder types); I'm talking about plumbers, electricians, locksmiths, etc. By creating a sense of urgency in messaging, and the urgency of the issue, people will click on the call ad to speak with someone as quick as possible. 
  • Dynamic Search Ads (DSAs) - As I will be writing a separate post about DSAs in the near future, I won't go into much detail in this particular post. Dynamic Search Ads are, in a way, similar to RSAs as targeting is taken out of your control to an extent. The Google algorithm takes on a lot of the heavy lifting for this ad type. DSAs take information from your web pages and uses that to create headlines that best align with a users' search query. There are a number of ways (from easy to complex) to target DSAs to particular webpage information. This is why it warrants a separate article. Keep checking back to the Volume Digital blog or sign up to our newsletter for up to date information straight into your inbox.

5.) Search Ads Personalisation

One of my favorite topics in Google Ads, the use of personalisation in ad messaging. I can't stress enough that the personalised message does not need to reinvent the wheel to perform favourably for your business. The smallest hint that an ad is personalised can see conversion rates soar in the Google Search Network.

According to Epsilon, "80% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase from a brand that makes personalised experiences" (source)

Some things we can do as marketers are some small changes that affect the ad copy to personalize towards the user, such as:

  • Add their location to the messaging using 'ad customisers'
  • Retarget people who visited the site through social channels and let them know about it too.

Personalisation in Google Search Network ads can help conversion rate increase

  • "IF" Functions for audience users. For e.g. if you capture users who visit certain pages/offers (imported through Google Analytics), IF functions allow you to target messaging within active campaigns to include additional ad messaging. This is a great way to send these users additional offers, or ads that create even more urgency through Call-To-Actions (CTAs) or Unique Selling Points (USPs). This helps to make the user feel special and that they are seen as valuable customers, instead of just a metric on a dashboard. 

There will be upcoming posts that will dive deeper into some of the topics mentioned in this article. There will also be a series of posts about other Google Ads products, such as the Google Display Network, Shopping Campaigns, and YouTube advertising. If you would like up to date articles and information straight into your inbox, please sign up for the Volume Digital newsletter. There will be 4 posts per month but will provide enough detail to help small businesses to get started on their own campaigns.


We'd love to hear from you if you need any help with managing your Google Ads campaigns, or if you have any questions. Please don't hesitate to send us a message today. Contact Volume Digital

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