Digital Advertising

Google Ads Search: How it Works

The term “Google Ads Search” is used to define one of the channels made available by Google’s Pay Per Click program: Google Ads (formerly Google AdWords). What characterizes this type of campaign is the possibility to publish text ads within the Google SERP and its partner sites.

The ads of these types of campaigns can be published above or below Google organic results, through text ads that, once received a click from users, redirect them to the web page of another site. These ads are recognizable thanks to a rectangle containing the words “Ann.”. Next to the URL of the site.

Structure of a Google Ads account on the search network

To understand how ads are published within this channel, you must first understand how a Google Ads Search account is structured.

An account consists of three macro-groups:

  • Campaign: this is the first thing you need to create. At this stage you have to choose all the main settings: budget, geographical target, type of offer, etc.. It is always advisable to create campaigns divided by product, service, geographical area or other, so that you have full control over the overall account structure and quickly know where everything is located.
  • Group of Ads: this is the second element to set up in a campaign. Within this section you will create the ads and set the keywords; this part is like an intermediate container between campaigns and keywords.
  • Keywords and Ads: the former represent what we are buying from Google, what we are willing to spend a certain amount of money on and what we are ready to do an auction with other advertisers. The second, however, are the content that the user will see appear in Google search results after typing a query.

For the correct use of campaigns on the search network, it is very important to know the difference between “search query” and “keyword” (or keyword).

A search query is a phrase or, more generally, a set of words that the user types in the Google search bar. It can be more or less long and more or less complex. But the most important thing to understand is that it doesn’t have to be the same as the keyword or keywords purchased within Google Ads. A keyword instead is the word we are going to buy within the platform, so we may not be the only ones who bought it, in fact, it’s almost never like that, that’s why auctions are formed.

The first doubt that is generally created in these situations is how to correctly filter or intercept the desired search queries, with the correct keywords, to optimize the account and investment.

Obviously Google Ads has also thought about this problem and has created solutions: keyword matches. They are signs to add to keywords and that heavily affects the performance of the entire account.
For more details on the topic of the keyword, matches see the article at the following link.

Announcements on the search network

As you can see by performing a simple Google search for a product, there are two types of ads that can be released: product card ads (which are part of the Google Shopping circuit) and text ads. The latter are those that can be activated through Google Ads Search campaigns, called text ads.

This type of ads has undergone numerous changes over time: titles, descriptions, increased the total number of characters, changed the display URL, etc.. Each of these changes has made the ads more and more performing. In fact, the structure has remained almost the same, consisting of three basic parts: titles, display URLs and descriptions.

  • Title: with the introduction of the new ads, there are 3 titles available to advertisers, each with 30 characters. Specifically, the titles are the blue ones that appear in the ads and are important for two main reasons:
    • including the keyword in title 1 or 2 increases the quality score (discussed below) of the keywords;
    • they are the first thing the user generally reads, so having three instead of 1, as it was initially, brings a considerable advantage for advertisers.
  • Display URL: This is the green part of the ad. It’s crucial to understand that the URL that users will see doesn’t have to be the same as the final page. It can be changed manually to optimise the ad, it is more important to let users know where they will land after the click. As for the titles, the available characters of the display URL are limited. Specifically, 15 characters are available for each of the two paths, where the paths represent the part that follows the actual domain (example: example.it/path-1/path-2)
  • Description: This is the longest part of the ad, displayed in black. There is no specific use for this section, but it generally serves to highlight what you can’t put in the titles. It is a useful space to argue your service or product or to highlight particular offers or calls to action. In the new ad format, there are two descriptions available, each with 90 characters.

As mentioned in the section regarding the title, in order to have an optimized quality score, it is necessary to insert the keyword purchased within the Google Ads platform in title 1 or 2.

Sometimes, however, it happens that certain keywords are too long to be inserted only in 30 characters or have too many search variants (so many different queries), such as to make the process of creating ads too long and complex.

To overcome this problem, Google provides advertisers with keyword insertion or “keyword entry”. This option allows Google Ads to directly complete part of the ads in a fully automatic way.

Let’s see how.

Once in the section for the creation of a new ad, if we insert in one of the lines the bracket, a new window will open with the option “keyword insertion”.

In short, we are telling Google to search for a “tailor-made” title for the user’s search query. However, in case Google can’t find the right title, it will insert exactly the phrase after the colon, which we can insert as we like, so we are giving an alternative to Google’s machine learning in case it doesn’t know how to complete the ad.

The Quality Score of the Keywords

We have previously talked about quality score, or quality score often referred to as QS, which is one of the most important factors of Google Ads, which is calculated every time you compete in an auction.

The value of this metric can vary between 1 and 10 and, for the purposes of the calculation itself, each keyword has its own score.

To be considered good, a QS must be at least 7/10 (or even 6/10, depending on the situation). The higher this value is the more Google will value our work, the lower it is and the more we will be penalized: how? Through the CPC.

Essentially, the higher the Quality Score, the more we will have a sort of discount on the total we will pay for every single click. On the contrary, the lower it is the more we will have to pay to reach the same position.

This parameter is influenced by 3 main factors:

  • Predicted click-through rate, i.e. the potential CTR (Click Through Rate) that ads could get; therefore it indicates the probability of receiving a click on an ad. This probability, however, is determined a priori by Google, taking advantage of historical data already in its possession and then comparing them with the data of the current campaign.
  • Ads relevance, already mentioned above, is a factor that indicates how much keywords, ads and destination page are consistent with each other. Google Ads always demands consistency from its advertisers.

If, for example, a pair of shoes is promoted in an ad, Google wants the user, after clicking on it, to be directed to a destination page where they will find one or more shoe models and not, for example, a bicycle.

  • Destination page experience, a parameter that directly influences campaigns, but that actually has to be managed separately. In this case Google takes into account several factors: correlation between keywords, ad and final page on the site, loading times, content, experience with the various devices, call to action, images, titles, corporate information, privacy, consistency of URL and Title (which must, if possible, include the keywords purchased in Google Ads).
    The upload time has a big impact on the Quality Score because it is a “cover letter” for the experience the user will have on the site/landing page, and for Google it is important that this experience is the best possible. Privacy has also become very important in recent times and managing it correctly allows you to achieve a higher score (example: link to privacy in the footer and acceptance of privacy when you request the completion of a form).

Each of these 3 values can in turn be broken down into 3 other parameters, in order to understand exactly what contribution, positive or negative, these factors have on our campaigns. So the expected click percentage, the relevance of the ads and the experience of the destination page, can have a value equal to:

  • Above average, this means that the optimisation of the attribute is at its maximum and that, therefore, from that point of view we can do nothing else;
  • Average, the situation is quite stable, the keyword in question is not penalised but it could be optimised in some way;
  • Below average, in this case it is certainly possible to make some changes and improve the overall performance of the keywords. The optimisation in this case is in a sense “mandatory” because, in order to achieve the same results achievable with the value “above average”, it will be necessary to invest more than necessary.

Obviously these are only the “official” factors that influence the quality score of a keyword, that is what Google allows us to know and that works with certainty. However, over the years, after several tests and searches, other significant aspects have emerged that influence the performance of campaigns, including the relevance of keywords, historical account performance, general campaign performance, continuous updating of ads, inverse keywords, offers, the geographical location of the user at the time of the search (which is becoming an increasingly important factor), the device used and much more.

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