Choosing the Right Search Bid Strategy

KLIK Staff

December 17, 2021

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Selecting an appropriate Google bid strategy is important when determining how to optimize a campaign’s performance. Your bid strategy is the goal for your campaign that Google’s platform  can automatically optimize to. Google offers the standard manual bid strategy, but also has a variety of automated bid strategies. So how do you pick the right strategy in order to bid appropriately towards our target audience? In this post, we’ll dive into the different bid strategies offered, their intended goals and the challenges of automation.

Bid Strategy Goals

Before selecting a bid strategy, we need to determine the objective of the campaign. In search, this can be broken up into three categories: conversions, clicks or impression share. 

Conversions: This consists of website conversions, lead generation or any website actions, similar to that of LinkedIn. In order to use a bid strategy based on conversions, tracking needs to be set up on your website.

Clicks: This is focused on how often someone clicks on your link. While the bid strategy is based on clicks, this strategy is best to use when your campaign already has strong conversion performance.

Impression share: This is based around how often someone sees a link to your site on Google, with the goal of having your ad appear as often as possible. This goal is optimal for awareness or brand campaigns.

If an advertiser wants to utilize an automated strategy, then they are allowing bids for keywords and ad groups to be updated with minimal or no manual control needed (depending on the strategy). That makes it even more important to understand the correct objective so your campaign goals are met. So once we have determined the objective, we can pick the appropriate bid strategy to maximize results. In the next section, we’ll review bid strategies and which objective they align with.

Bid Strategies

Manual CPC gives the user complete control over the bidding strategy. You set the bids for each individual ad group or keyword, so adjusting bids based on performance is only done at the cadence of the user. This strategy is best for experienced paid search users who want to retain control and optimize how they see fit.

Enhanced CPC is similar to manual in that the user sets the bid, but it also grants Google the freedom to increase or decrease your bids by 30 percent depending on its expectancy of a conversion. While it can increase your CTR and conversion rate, there are no bid caps so spend could shoot up more than anticipated. This strategy can be set as the default bid strategy, so make sure to be on the lookout when setting up a campaign.

Target CPA allows Google to adjust bids based on a certain cost per acquisition that you set. A cost per acquisition is defined as how much you can spend on getting one customer. Target CPA is ideal for an advertiser with the goal of getting more conversions within your budget, using Google’s conversion tracking data to avoid wasting money on high cost areas. 

Target ROAS is a strategy where Google sets your bids to maximize your conversions based on the return on ad spend that you’d like. To determine your desired return on ad spend, you must determine the value of the sale and divide your desired ad spend for that sale, then translate that total to a percentage. Instead of doing the math on this one, you can navigate to a past campaign and add the column “Conv. value/cost” to determine your current ROAS. This strategy is best when focused on driving the highest value of conversions as opposed to the most.

Maximize Conversions takes the maximum daily budget you set and Google automatically controls your bids to get the most conversions. For example, if the daily budget is $100 and a single conversion costs $100, Google will not bid on it in an attempt to find cheaper conversions. 

Maximize Clicks takes the maximum daily budget you set and Google automatically controls your bids to get the most clicks. This strategy is best for smaller budgets in order to increase the total traffic or campaigns that have historically had strong conversion metrics, but limited search volume.

Target Impression Share is focused on brand awareness and reaching as many people as possible. The user sets the impression share to target and Google controls what it can to hit that target. With this strategy, it is important to keep in mind that impression share is affected by more than bids, such as the quality score

Selecting the Best Strategy

As mentioned in our previous blog post discussing LinkedIn bid strategies, the same questions can be considered when determining which strategy is the best for you:

What is your campaign’s goals?

Implementing an automated bid strategy is a great tool to maximize your budget to your set goals. If you are focused on driving conversions, then Target CPA, Target ROAS and Maximize Conversions would be your choice. If clicks are your priority, then Maximize Clicks will help the most. Lastly, if you are focused on brand awareness, then Target Impression Share would be the best for you.

How much time do you have?

Using a manual strategy or enhanced CPC do allow the user to control the cost a lot more effectively, but it takes the most time by far. If you are running multiple campaigns or can not commit time to them, automated strategies would be the most effective. Instead of committing time to managing and adjusting bids, all you will need to do is monitor performance.

What are your budget needs?

Different bid strategies perform better under a variety of budget sizes. If you have a small budget, then strategies like Target CPA and Target ROAS would be the best since they are targeted at getting the most out of their spend. If it is a large budget, then strategies like Maximize Conversions and Maximize Clicks have a higher chance of spending your budget in full and effectively.

Wrap Up

There are many benefits to utilizing the automated bid strategies that Google provides. While they do allow the user to limit their daily management while still attaining your company goals, it is important to closely monitor newly implemented strategies in order to maximize their performance. By monitoring closely, you can determine if performance is adequate to your goals or if testing a new bid strategy is the next step

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