I have reported many times on how Google regularly makes apparently subtle changes to the rules in Google Ads that essentially move the goalposts and give them more control of the money you spend.  At a time when Google Ads revenue is up, but their share of search is down, it makes sense that they are seeking new ways to make more money from their product.  Their history of adjusting the rules to their benefit led them to yet another rule change, making tactics I’ve shared in the past more important than ever.  I’m going to do a quick review below of some of these tactics, and include some enhancements.

Google Will Now Pause Low Volume Keywords Automatically

The most recent announcment is that Google will give themselves the power to automatically pause low volume keywords.  Broad match keywords make Google more money, and they are always trying to get advertisers to use more broad terms that give Google more power to show your ads for keywords they want you to show up for.  To make your campaigns more efficient, you, or someone like me regularly refines your keywords to narrow down to some of those less searched phrases that drive the most sales, with the intent to focus on exact matches for the most profitable terms. Google is now saying if there is low volume, they will turn those keywords off to force you back to the money wasting broad matches which makes the negative terms more important than ever. So to keep fighting against these things Google has done over the years to enhance the bottom line, like changing the definition of “exact match“, auto-appling strategic changes, poor geo-targeting,  and now pausing keywords, we must Go Negative!

Negative Keyword Research

Negative KeywordsIt isn’t enough now to monitor your search terms and add negative terms as they come up. With Google now auto-pausing and changing match type intent, you need to get ahead of it and do “negative keyword research” before you even get started. I recently had a client use the phrase match “video content platform” as a B2B business targeting clients.  Google decided that this phrase match included showing the ad to the search “streamable” and a solid percentage of their budget for the few days before they noticed this went to that term, which is totally off the mark. I say this to warn that the expansion of these match types has reached the point of absurdity to try to force you to leak budget while attempting to refine your campaigns.

We need to now start out campaigns by looking at similar keywords to our intended searches, and then researching similar phrases that we don’t want that have any search volume at all. Many of us have standard lists of negatives befor we get started with words like “free” and “jobs” included. Now we need to begin to look at searches with any volume that does not have the intent we want and may come up, and add that as a negative term before you even get started. This is the evolution of Google Ads into constant defense mode as Google keeps laying on the pressure and changing the rules.

Negative Geography Targets

I recently blogged about this and linked to it above. Google is getting worse and worse at understanding where searchers are and wasting your ads dollars on people outside your geographic target area. They are erring on the side of more revenue for themselves, rather than accuracy. You now want to set up your campaigns to not only have geographic targets, but to include many exclusions in nearby areas as well, to just help a little in fighting these geographic inaccuracies tha thave begun to cost small business owners a lot of money in the past year, getting leads outside of their market.

Say No to Auto-Applied Changes

I just worked with a client that wanted to get some ads running for the sake of their brand. The intent was awareness more than direct conversions. They started up their campaigns and things were running fairly smoothly and getting good clicks, until they suddently stopped.  When I looked at their account, we found that Google had auto-applied a major targeting strategy switch to their campaign. When the scammy Google Ads reps call you and say they are “helping” you with your account, they typically have you turn on their ability to auto-apply changes. I strongly recommend you don’t do this. Not only are the Google reps trained to only help you enough to keep you spending, but not to make you run most efficiently. Once you let auto-applied changes to your account, they can change the hard work you do randomly without you even noticing. In this case, the prior person working with this company had let auto-apply be turned on and then left the company. They didn’t run ads for a several months and then started with a new pan.  Little did they know the campaigns would be automatically changed without their input.  You know your business situation far better than Google’s AI tools and reps that are programmed and trained to help make Google more money, not you.  Don’t let them change your strategy.

Get Help

As this world gets more and more complicated, it becomes pivotal to have someone who knows all of Google’s tricks, on your side to help make sure you maximize all of the great success we can get with Google Ads. There is a lot of opportunity there, but also a lot of potential waste. You have to know what you are doing to do it right, and it is best to bring in someone that knows how to do things right for you, and not to increase Google’s revenue.