Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
An estimated 80% of all internet users see Google Ads on a daily basis. That’s about 4.4 billion people. So, if you’re not getting any leads or seeing a return on your Google Ads campaigns, it’s not for a lack of reach — chances are, you’re doing something wrong.
There’s a reason Google Ads is the world’s number one pay-per-click (PPC) marketing service: It works! Don’t believe the naysayers. If a disgruntled marketer isn’t happy with Google Ads, it’s because they failed to diagnose the errors in their campaigns.
If you’re seeing sluggish ROI on your Google Ads campaigns, I’ve got some tips to share. After nearly two decades of using Google’s PPC ad services, I know a thing or two about how to get the most out of this all-important marketing service.
Related: How to Scale Your Business Using Google Ads
Step 1: Diagnose the problem
In my experience, Google Analytics is the best tool for self-diagnosing issues with Google Ads campaigns. Within their dashboard, you can see how each of your keywords and landing pages are performing. Use the Google Analytics dashboard to find the landing pages with the highest bounce rates and the keywords with the lowest click counts.
If you’re running multiple campaigns at once, this will give you a great opportunity to explore what works and what doesn’t by comparing the top-performing and the worst-performing campaigns.
Step 2: Check out your impression share metrics
There are a bunch of key performance indicators (KPIs) in the PPC game, but in my opinion, none more important from an ROI-maximization perspective than Impression Share. Your Impression Share figure will tell you how much room you have to scale.
If you’re capturing 80% or higher of the impression share for a keyword, you’re about to hit a ceiling. That remaining 20% is likely too expensive for you to target, and probably isn’t worth pursuing. You may need to change your keyword if this is the case.
However, an Impression Share score of, say, 5% or 10% indicates that there is a lot of room for growth. By gradually augmenting your monthly ad spend budget, you can probably tip the scales in your favor.
Step 3: Consider Google Ads Recommendations
Sometimes the best solutions are the simplest ones. This is definitely the case with Google Ads, which offers a built-in “Recommendations” algorithm accessible on the left-hand panel of the Google Ads dashboard.
Google Ads Recommendations provides your campaigns with an “optimization score” that, in my experience, is almost always accurate. If yours is lower than 90%, I suggest implementing the recommended changes that Google Ads auto-generates below your listed score.
Related: Get More of the Right Eyeballs Seeing Your Google Ads
Step 4: Reevaluate your keywords
More often than not, a dud PPC campaign is caused by a keyword with low search traffic. Simply put, you’re not going to get any leads from a keyword that no one is searching for. That’s why I strongly recommend using any of the following services to identify which keywords are worth pursuing and which are not:
Moz Keyword Explorer
In my opinion, any keyword with fewer than 500 searches per month is a waste of time and energy. Personally, I prefer going after keywords with multiple thousands of searches per month — as long as they don’t have keyword difficulty scores higher than 35 or 40. These software services are paid tools, to be sure, but they are worth every penny if you want to improve your PPC marketing performance. Otherwise, you are basically taking shots in the dark without the data required to make informed marketing decisions.
Step 5: Look into a Google Ads specialist
Google Ads has become a cottage industry unto itself. These days, there are many certified Google Ads specialists who can help you optimize your campaigns and eliminate some of the friction involved in the creation, analysis and maintenance of Google Ads campaigns.
Not only can Google Ads specialists pinpoint the vulnerabilities in your marketing strategy, but they can also take direct control over your campaigns so that they start converting on a more timely basis. Basically, they can take all of the legwork out of your PPC marketing.
Step 6: Shift your location targeting
Google has arguably the best geolocation targeting capabilities of any Big Tech giant — so use them! Within the Google Ads dashboard, you have three options when setting local targeting:
Presence or interest: People in, regularly in, OR showing interest in that location
Presence: People in or regularly in that location
Interest: People searching for that location
The default setting is “Presence or interest,” which is not always ideal. For instance, someone who may be passing through the city for a day and searching your keyword might not be interested in visiting your dental clinic.
If you aren’t seeing the ROI you want from your Google Ads campaign, I suggest tweaking these options. Specifically, I recommend narrowing your geolocating preferences to “Presence” in order to appeal to locals who are more likely to take an interest in your business.
Related: 18 Ways to Nudge Your Google Ad Higher Without Paying a Cent Extra
Contrary to popular belief, Google Ads is not a hands-off marketing tool. You can’t simply “set it and forget it” and ride off into the sunset while your bank account starts collecting zeros. It requires maintenance and testing almost every day if you want to succeed.
Despite the fact that it’s a bit heavy on maintenance, Google Ads is still the best game in town for PPC services nearly 20 years into its existence. However, it’s only as useful as your capacity to use it. By following the steps outlined above — including diagnoses, keyword optimization, KPI analysis and geolocation changes — you can improve your ROI on your Google Ads campaigns.
If that fails, don’t shy away from consulting with a Google Ads specialist. Fortunately for busy business owners, these professionals can take a lot of the heavy lifting out of your PPC marketing experience.