Managing Google Ads Bidding Strategies

Google Ads lets you do an amazing number of things to help improve your search marketing. It offers many automation tools — basically allowing your campaign to run itself — but is that really a good idea?

In Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising with Google Ads, you bid on keywords that are relevant to your services. While managing your PPC campaign can be daunting — especially when you’re trying to keep track of how much keywords cost — it’s tempting to let Google handle it for you.

But when you’re starting out, it’s better to set the bidding strategy to “manual” and watch the numbers yourself. Once you get a feel for how it all works, then you should consider automated bidding strategies.

Automated Bidding Strategies: The Basics

These strategies are all about getting the best results predicated on your set campaign goals. When you set automated bidding, Google automatically sets bid amounts based on the chances that your ad will get a click or conversion.

They accomplish this by taking into account a user’s device, operating system, time of day, location, and demographics. This kind of strategy groups multiple campaigns, keywords, etc., but can also be used for single campaigns.

There are two major issues that marketers try to address with automated bidding:

  1. If their bids are high enough compared to other qualified buyers
  2. If their bids are too high (and revealed to people who aren’t really going to buy)

With automated bids, you don’t need to update bids for keywords or ad groups manually. Your bids are automatically set and are unique to each auction.

Special Note: You may have heard the term “Smart Bidding” and assumed it’s the same as automated bidding. This isn’t accurate — in actuality, smart bidding is an automated bid category that describes conversion-based strategies only.

The 7 Automated Bidding Strategies

There’s more than one way to automate your bidding strategies — in fact, most experts list seven:

Maximize clicks

Focuses on increasing the number of site visits and setting bids to help you get the most clicks within your pre-set budget. If you have a solid conversion funnel, this strategy can help get as many visitors to your site as possible.

Target search page location

Set your bids with the goal of increasing your visibility on “page one” of Google search results (or to show in a top position).

Target outranking share

When your goal is to outrank a specific industry competitor, you can target their domain in order to outrank their ad position (and how frequently you’d like to outrank it).

Target cost-per-acquisition (CPA)

If you have a specific CPA that you know you can spend to get a customer (while still making a profit), you can have Google automatically set Search or Display bids to get as many conversions as possible.

Enhanced cost-per-click (ECPC)

To increase conversions but also stay in control of keyword bids, the ECPC concept is relevant if you want to use a manual bidding strategy but still include some automation. Google will adjust your manual bids automatically to help get more conversions while also attempting to get the same cost-per-conversion results.

Target return on spend (ROAS)

Driving the highest value of conversions — instead of trying to get the highest number of conversions — is basically a digital marketing version of “quality over quantity.” By setting your ROAS (the average value you get for every dollar you spend on ads), your marketing efforts will be very highly focused.

Maximize conversions

If budget isn’t an issue, you can automate your ads to drive more conversions. While Google optimized for a higher volume of conversions, you can utilize your entire set budget.

Why Some People Say Never Use Automated Bidding Strategies

While we’ve talked about the various types of automated bidding strategies and their benefits, there are marketers who have made arguments against automation, such as:

  • You can’t selectively choose to increase your bids on keywords that are central to your product/service. Your inability to increase bids means you’re losing the fastest way to improve your rank.
  • You can’t adjust the individual bids on essential keywords — leaving your ads at the bottom of the page. If you can’t adjust your bids on individual keywords, your position on the page — and your chances to make an impression — will be lower.
  • You can’t rank the match types you’re using in pay-per-click (PPC), so Google randomly decides where to attribute your clicks. No bid editing means tiered or stacked bidding.
  • You can’t control how Google will manage your account if you hand over control over maximum bids. After all, Google doesn’t have your ability to make judgments about the value of your keywords.
  • You don’t have the control needed to lower your CPA. With Google calling the shots on how your budget and bids are prescribed for keywords, you’re not able to make specific preferences for converting terms and underperforming keywords.

While most advertisers do prefer to use manual bidding, the Google Ads platform and algorithms have improved greatly in recent years. And there are some marketers and campaigns that are better suited to automated bidding strategies. Testing is the best way to determine this for yourself.

When — and How — Do I Change Bidding Strategies in Google Ads?

Your goals will dictate when it’s appropriate to try more automated bidding. It’s pretty safe to say that the more niche (or small) your business, the more you should be hands-on with your bidding. Some of Code Authority’s clients have a small, focused business that benefit from a constant hands-on approach, while others take a broader, slightly more automated approach due to their scope.

To find out how Code Authority can help you manage your Google Ads bidding strategies — whether you want to run them manually or using automation — contact our digital marketing team today!