Search engines text ads: my 15 recommendations

The fundamentals

0. Check regularly the official Google Ads and Microsoft Advertising resources

Landing pages

1. Have consistent landing pages

Just by looking at the URL, the title tag and the meta description tag of a landing page, you should be able to know what is the main and obvious search term related to that page. The search term is a word or a sequence of words that people would type in a search engine to find your landing pages.

A landing page can only have 1 main and obvious search term. If you're not able to find one right away, it means that your landing page is not specific enough or not coherent enough for search engine text ads.

2. Have high-quality landing pages

Your landing pages must be one of the best offerings of the market: largest choice, best prices, best description and/or best added value. The quality of your landing pages directly improves the conversion rate of your text ads and also improves the Quality Score of your corresponding keywords.

3. Have optimized landing pages

Your landing pages should load fast and fit all screens (desktops, tablets, mobiles).


4. Create 1 campaign for each landing page

Each landing page should have 1 and only 1 campaign.

Ad groups

5. Each campaign should have 2 ad groups

Each campaign should contain:

  • 1 ad group for modified broad match keywords. We can call this ad group "Search/Ad group/Broad".
  • 1 ad group for exact match keywords. We can call this ad group "Search/Ad group/Exact".

So far, this is the golden rule to follow: 1 landing page = 1 campaign = 1 main and obvious search term = 2 ad groups.


6. Only use modified broad match keywords and exact match keywords

When it comes to keyword matching options, focus on modified broad match keywords (+keyword) and exact match keywords ([keyword]). These 2 types of matching are the most useful for Search Engine Advertising (SEA).

7. Be consistent: use singular keywords only or plural keywords only in your ad groups

For modified broad match keywords, use singular keywords only or plural keywords only, but try to stick to the logic you choose for all of the ad groups of your account. The simplest choice is to systematically use what seems most natural. There's no need to duplicate keywords in singular and in plural. Google Ads automatically targets variants of your existing keywords.

Modified broad match keywords

8. For each campaign, create the "Search/Ad group/Broad" first

This ad group will ideally have 1 modified broad match keyword. If necessary, you can add several additional modified broad match keywords (maximum 4). The keyword(s) of the "Search/Ad group/Broad" will target all the terms searched by the users. The goal of this ad group is to know the exact search terms that are used.

Search/Ad group/Broad = 1 to 5 modified broad match keyword(s)

Negative keywords

9. Add negative keywords

Once the "Search/Ad group/Broad" starts getting some clicks, you can check the search terms triggered by your modified broad match keyword(s).

Some search terms will be irrelevant to what you offer on your landing page. Those irrelevant search terms are negative keywords.

In order to prevent your ad(s) from appearing for these negative keywords, you need to add them in negative keywords lists or in negative keywords sections of "Search/Ad group/Broad".

In your account, you can have 2 types of negative keywords lists:

  1. Account lists for all the negative keywords that apply to all the campaigns of your account.
  2. Campaign lists for all the negative keywords that apply to several campaigns.

For negative keywords that apply to only one campaign, you can add them directly in the negative keywords sections of the "Search/Ad group/Broad".

Exact match keywords

10. Move the most relevant search terms to the "Search/Ad group/Exact"

After looking at the negative keywords in the "Search/Ad group/Broad", you can now focus on the most relevant search terms.

The most relevant search terms are the ones that get the most conversions, the most clicks and/or the most impresssions.

The idea is to move those keywords to the "Search/Ad group/Exact" by doing 2 tasks:

  1. Add these keywords to the "Search/Ad group/Exact" as exact match keywords.
  2. Add these keywords as negative keywords in the negative keywords section of the "Search/Ad group/Broad". This prevents the "Search/Ad group/Broad" to show the ads when a user searches an exact match keyword.


11. Bid higher for exact match keywords

The bids for the exact match keywords in the "Search/Ad group/Exact" must be higher than the bids for the keywords of the "Search/Ad group/Broad". The more precise a keyword is, the higher its bid should be.

Exact match keywords are the most relevant search terms for your landing page, so it's important for your ads to have the best position in search engines for these most relevant terms.

12. Use the manual bidding strategy first

When you create your "Search/Ad group/Broad" and your "Search/Ad group/Exact", start with low manual max CPC bids. If you track conversions, activate the Enhanced CPC option.

Then, increase the bids progressively depending on your competition and your budget. It's the best way to control your CPC, compared to using an automated bidding stategy right away.

Later on, for successful campaigns with a history of data, you will be able to switch to a fully automated bidding strategy.


13. Write great text for your ads

For the copywriting of the ads:

  • Use action verbs.
  • Use objective facts (numbers).
  • Avoid spelling and grammatical mistakes at all costs.
  • Do not use abreviations or do not uppercase entire words: keep it natural and readable.

Spend much time on writing the ads for the "Search/Ad group/Broad", then use exactly the same ads for the "Search/Ad group/Exact".

I recommend using between 1 and 3 expanded text ad(s) or 1 single responsive search ad per ad group.


14. Retarget the visitors of your landing page

If you're tracking conversions, create remarketing audience lists to retarget the visitors of your landing page(s). Remarketing audience lists can now be automatically created in Google Ads or in Google Analytics, if the tagging on your website is right.

Increase the bids by 50 to 90 % for these specific audiences. For example, + 50% for those who did not reach the cart page, + 70% for those who did not reach the payment page, + 90% for those who have already purchased (if your offering can be repurchased right away).


Comment 1

Optimizing text ads is an ongoing process. It requires you to repeat the same tasks regularly:

  1. Check for negative keywords and add them to the appropiate negative keywords lists.
  2. Check for relevant search terms, add them to the "Search/Ad group/Exact", and add them to the negative keyword list for the "Search/Ad group/Broad".
  3. Ajust the bids and the budgets.
  4. Check the performance of the ads and pause the ones that don't work.

Those tasks are highly ungrateful, but there are necessary to optimize your ads.

Comment 2

The difference between good SEA and bad SEA depends on 3 factors:

  1. The landing pages.
  2. The copywriting of the ads.
  3. The update of negative keywords.

Any SEA specialist should focus on those 3 factors in priority.

Comment 3

The most important unit of any Google Ads account is the ad group. However, on Google Ads, you cannot start by creating the ad groups. You need to create the campaigns first. This implies some planning in the way you intend to regroup your ad groups before you actually create them.

Comment 4

For text ads, I highly recommend you use Google Ads Editor. It is a software that enables you to work on your computer and then to upload the data to your Google Ads account. You can also download all the data back to your computer. It's really convenient.

Comment 5

The previous recommendations are the same for Google Ads and Microsoft Advertising. If you're using both, my advice is to manage your ads primarily in Google Ads, and then to import all your Google Ads data to Microsoft Advertising. Microsoft Advertising enables the import of all data from Google Ads. It will prevent you from having to make the same changes twice.

Comment 6

As you may have noticed, the process of creating and managing text ads can be overwhelming, especially if you have many of them. It is time-consuming, with plenty of repetitive manual changes to make to optimize your ads.

Google is constantly trying to simplify the whole process by creating new types of campaigns. An easier way to launch text ads campaigns is to use Dynamic Search Ads. The choice of keywords and the bids are automatically handled by Google. This can be a quick alternative to classic text ads if you want save time.

However, be aware that the check of negative keywords is still mandatory.

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