When you first start a new campaign with Google ads, you might be expecting to see some results within the first week to two weeks, only to find out it has barely gotten off the ground. Before you quit on your campaigns or fire your current PPC manager, you should have some realistic expectations of how long it may actually take to start seeing Google ad results.
Most SEO/SEM experts agree that it can take up to three months for your campaigns to fully mature. You’ll most likely see some early signs in the first few weeks but you may not know if your efforts have paid off until four to six months into the process. This is why it’s critical to have a clear understanding of the signs of early success and the patience to see your ads do well.
How Will I Know If My Google Ads Will Be Successful
Most businesses can’t wait around for several months to start seeing results but finding those early signs of success can make it all worth it. Although the first few weeks can feel slow, most campaigns will not see many, if any, leads until 2-4 weeks into the campaign. So, if you’re seeing a low initial conversion rate, don’t panic. Remember that Google is still learning about your campaigns in the first few weeks. Meaning if results are low, try not to be tempted by making major changes. Patience is key.
You will start to see some measurable results in the first month of running your advertising campaigns. First, take a look at your Ad Groups, not your campaigns. How many clicks have they received? If you’re seeing 15 clicks or more per ad group, then you are on the correct track. If you’re not even close to 15, you need to prepare yourself for some major changes in month two.
Once you’ve determined where you are with your ad groups, start digging into your keywords. In the first month, you should be getting 200-300 clicks total from all your keywords. If you’re not seeing results at that level, it’s not too late to get on the right track, but it will require you to do a little investigative work. You’ll have to analyze your keywords to make sure you’ve optimized keyword targeting.
If you’re not seeing quality scores in the keyword tab, now is the time to edit your columns to show Ad Relevance, Quality Score, and Landing Page Experience. If you’re not ranking well in these categories, you need to focus on this in your optimization stage.
The Importance of CTR in Your Adwords Campaigns
Click-through rate (CTR) is one of the most important factors in how Google utilizes your ads in the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). CTR becomes more and more important as your ad matures because Google doesn’t want to put your ad up against ads that are performing particularly well. Think of your quality score as your weight class. When you’re just starting out, your quality score will, generally, be fairly low and you’ll be competing with other ads of the same quality score for clicks. As your CTR increases, provided you’ve optimized other factors that are more in your control, you will start to rise in weight class, going head-to-head with higher-quality ads.
Before your CTR becomes your main focus, there are small but vital quality score indicators that should be your main priority for optimization. This is your landing page experience and ad relevance. Both of these factors heavily involve your keywords. Are you using your keywords in your ad titles and descriptions? Are they present on your site?
If you can’t answer “yes” to these questions, you should work to fix this. Naturally, Google doesn’t want to send searchers to irrelevant or spammy links. Google Adwords does this by looking at your ads and determining if it’s a good fit for the keyword you’re bidding on. It analyzes if users type the keyword in and if the website you’re linking to is also relevant to that keyword. When you optimize with your user in mind, you’ll work toward a higher CTR as your campaign matures.
What is a Learning Phase and How Long Will It Last?
When you first start your ads, be prepared for some potentially long wait times for your ads to begin. This is called the “Learning Phase”, and if you’ve never run ads before—or run a lot of display ads or video ads—be prepared for the possibility of being flagged. In the learning phase, Google is checking for a lot of things. First, it looks to see if your ad is following Google guidelines. This is when most ads receive a flag. It’s harder for Google to determine if images or videos break their rules, and most SEO/SEM marketers will tell you that these flags can range from annoying to humorous as Google attempts to figure out what is in your ads.
Pro tip: Small banner ads featuring people are the most likely to be flagged as Google has a hard time understanding the images at smaller sizes.
If you’ve avoided getting flagged, there are various standard wait times depending on ad type. Search ads are the quickest to leave the learning stage with just 1-2 days of wait time. Ads with images are generally around the same wait time but account for more frequent flags. They may take you up to 3 days to sort out. Video ads, as a general rule, take 2 days to be approved without any flags. And, if you plan to run political ads, you may be waiting a week for approval time.
What to Do After Your PPC Ads are Approved to Run
Once your ads are approved to run, there are still some steps you need to take to keep your ads properly targeted. First things first, make sure you have a good negative keyword list set up to filter out bad results.
For example, if you were advertising as a lawyer looking for “auto accident cases”, you may get a lot of clicks from people searching for things like, “auto accident on I-65”, which would not be the audience you’re looking to attract. To avoid this, you could make local highways negative keywords or make your existing keywords more specific, avoiding broad terms. If you conduct thorough keyword research, you are less likely to run into this issue. As your ad matures, it’s still recommended to check in with Google Keyword Planner here and there.
Next, you should be paying attention to demographics, audience, and (if you’re running display or video) placement. Demographics are important to optimize early on. As a general rule of thumb, it’s best to remove unknowns from all categories and certain audiences you don’t want to pull while creating the campaign.
However, depending on your product or service, it may be good to wait and reduce bids on low performers and increase on high performers. This can be critical if you were a diamond seller, for instance. You might want to be open to most ages as younger audiences—those in the 18-24 range—may be looking for engagement rings as the older demographics have more disposable income for jewelry. As you see who clicks through, you may change who you bid toward. If you see that most 18-24-year-olds are clicking through but their engagement or lead generation is negligible, you may consider lowering the budget on that audience.
If you’re running display or video ads, you have an additional metric to watch for. Placement of your ads can cost you a lot of money in accidental clicks. In the first few weeks, you will most likely see children’s channels and apps focused on younger generations or the elderly. If that is your target audience, then you’re set. For most businesses, however, you really want to avoid this and need to be actively checking your placement results. Google focuses on these two age groups because their CTR is extremely high. Children and the elderly are most likely to accidentally click an ad and may struggle to leave the page showing a good Time on Page score. You can prevent people ages 65 and older from seeing your ads, but there is little you can do about children. In addition to not being able to filter this audience, they are most likely using a parent’s device to access your ad in the first place.
What to Expect and How to Optimize Your Google Ads in the Next 3 Months
Over the next three months, paid search starts to get interesting. You will see different search terms coming in. Some will be bad and will need to be added to a negative keyword list. But, some you may not have considered in your initial build and should be added to your campaign. Although these small optimizations are good to continue, you have a whole new world of optimizations at this level. You should look to get the best cost-per-click (CPC) you can manage, increasing or sometimes decreasing your bid on certain keywords or audiences, and optimizing your landing pages for best conversions.
Decreasing your CPC is a two-part challenge. Your CPC may be high because your ad relevancy isn’t where it should be. It may also be high because the average bid on your keywords has increased since you started the campaign. Keeping up on optimizations is a sure way to fix ad relevancy, but when it comes to the average bid, you may need to look into adding more long-tail keywords. These are keywords with 3 words or more. They have less competition, so the bids are low, but they also have fewer searches per month. Remember, you can always decrease your bids on low-performing keywords and attempt to match bid increases on the keywords you’re really after.
Landing page optimization can be the most difficult part of your 3-months-out plan. If you’ve optimized throughout the months, you may see some great Landing Page Relevance scores. But, is your landing page actually converting people?
You can’t find this out from pay-per-click advertising campaigns alone. You will need to bring Google Analytics into the conversation. What have searchers been doing once they get to your site? Are they barely spending time on-site and bouncing at the landing page?
You may need to add heat mapping to your site to truly understand how you could increase conversion rates. This will show what users are doing in real-time and how far they actually get to becoming a conversion. You may see that potential leads are not seeing a form fill soon enough on the page or maybe there are just too many.
Not Looking Forward to Optimization Steps? Let Uncommon Marketing Works Increase Your Google ROI
PPC management isn’t for everyone and it can be extremely time-consuming. Search marketing tends to overlap with SEO, which is a job in and of itself. When you can’t make these changes and optimizations yourself, sometimes it’s best to call on an agency to help you with set up, creating conversion tracking on-site, and helping you conduct keyword research. So much of what makes a Google ads PPC campaign successful comes down to the experience of the search engine marketing team behind the ads.
When you talk to the expert team of digital marketers at Uncommon Marketing Works, you get more than just paid search marketing help. We’re a full-service marketing agency. That means that we can help build your brand awareness with new logos and websites, improve your organic traffic with search engine optimization (SEO), and so much more. Looking to increase your return on investment with Google ads? Contact us today.