What Matters and What’s Next in Paid Search

Features are constantly changing in paid search. At times keeping up with the changes may feel a bit overwhelming. It is quite easy to get wrapped up in trying to test everything that is new, but sometimes that leads to vendors disregarding the most important aspects of paid search. We will explore what is next in paid search and what really matters.

In the past six months, Google Ads has published 130 announcements, including many new features. Let’s explore four features today that are worth your attention.

  1. Lead Form Extensions (BETA)

    *Image from Google Ads community

    Is your company’s or client’s success built on lead generation? If so, you must try out Google’s Lead Form ad extension feature, currently in BETA. Ad extensions not only help increase your ad’s visibility but also affect quality score positively. This slick new ad extension gives users the option to fill out a lead form directly within the ad experience without having to visit the landing page. This feature is perfect for the user who has already done research and wants more information.

    Google will store lead information for 30 days, and you can download your leads at any time as a CSV file. Make it a priority to download these leads frequently so you aren’t at risk of losing your data. Daily downloads are recommended so vendors respond to information requests quickly, which keeps leads interested in moving forward with your service. 

    1. Responsive Search Ads

    Responsive search ads have been available to most accounts for a while. In fact, they just recently were released to all accounts in all countries. If you haven’t tested these out yet, you should. Google Ads has focused on machine learning this year across many features. Responsive search ads are a great example of machine learning implemented well.

    *Image from Google Ads community

    Advertisers can upload multiple headlines and descriptions, allowing Google to optimize search results in real time. Thousands of combinations can be tested to find the most effective versions of text ads. We recommend that you add at least one responsive search ad to your existing expanded text ads and analyze the traffic. That will allow you to see the results of responsive search over your current ad strategy and adjust if needed.

    Analysis is extremely important when using responsive search ads. Google has new tools to help you evaluate what is happening with your ads. With up to a thousand variations for one ad, it is imperative to know which ads are performing best and why they are working. Then you can use those versions or that combination to enhance your marketing strategy. Google’s new performance column helps identify which of your creative assets are driving good results in high-volume ad groups. Replace assets rated “Low” with new ad copy to improve performance over time. Keep “Good” assets and use assets performing at “Best” levels as inspiration for new ad creation.

    1. New Search Audiences to Layer on Campaigns

    Google wants you to reach your ideal customer. They also want to deliver the best experience possible to people who are searching so they will continue to use Google as their information source. Google has expanded to include affinity audiences (tags that target an audience affinity or preference) and seasonal event segments for in-market audiences as layering options for a search. This is an exciting development for brands that are expanding into broader search strategies.

    • Engage people who are passionate about their products using Affinity Audiences. These audiences help you raise awareness and drive consideration among people who have a strong interest in your products.
    • This is a great way to reach users who are comparing products or actively researching your type of product or service.
    1. Optimization Score Card

    The Optimization Score helps prioritize recommendations directly from Google. It is a great opportunity use Google’s expertise when it comes to how to make your campaigns better. Is your account set to perform at its full potential? Use this card to guide you. It may not make sense to make all the changes recommended, but be sure to clear the suggestions that you don’t use and move on to the next.

    What not to forget! What really matters?

    While the landscape of paid search is consistently evolving, we must not forget what paid search is built on and that is search quality! Quality is the most important aspect of search and influences your ranking as a vendor and your media’s cost efficiency.

    This image from Point It really shows why quality matters. If a keyword has a quality score of 1, you will be paying considerably more—up to 400% more than your competition.


    Back to the Basics: What is Quality Score?

    Quality score affects the amount you must bid to be visible. It affects your ad rank and position. Quality score is Google’s rating of the quality and relevance of both your keywords and your ads. Your quality score depends on multiple factors, including the following:

    • Relevance of each keyword to its ad group
    • Relevance of your ad text
    • Click-through rate
    • Landing page quality and relevance
    • Landing page speed and usability
    • Google Ads account past performance

    All these items shape your overall quality score in Google. When these factors are optimized, Google will reward your campaigns with higher ad rankings (they will be visible when people are searching) and lower costs (you pay less than your competition).

    All of this sounds amazing! I’m sure everyone would strive for a perfect 10 when it comes to quality score if they knew about it, but it is definitely something that advertisers forget about when there are so many shiny new features in Google Ads.

    Here is my advice: Follow the steps below to increase your quality score before you attempt to use all the new amazing features that are available. It makes sense to build the engine before adding on the rims!

    • Build a solid campaign structure
    • Use negative keywords to filter out irrelevant searches
    • Optimize ad text and structure
    • Use all ad extensions possible or those that meet your business goals
    • Optimize landing page content
    • Improve landing page user experience, especially mobile interface

    Google has some amazing features that are useful and can help your campaigns be more efficient, but remember to not let quality suffer. Focus on quality and you will see a positive impact on your bottom line.