How To Use Google Automated Rules For Targeting Optimal Ad Positions

By Amanda West-Bookwalter | @Amanda_WestBook | Senior Account Manager at Hanapin Marketing

In part one of our automating paid search series this week, Kayla explained three ways to self-automate your work, and in part two Sam talks about using bid management software. Today, in our third series post, I’ll tell you all about Google’s automated rules. Why you’d want to use them, how to set them up, a case study on when I used them for an account, and how to stop using them.

Automated rules are rules you can set-up within your Google AdWords account to automate several things. They are:

1. Schedule ads for special promotions or events

2. Pause low-performing ads or keywords

3. Change keyword bids to control your average position

4. Adjust budgets or schedule budgets for certain days each week

5. Raise keyword bids to ensure ads show on first page


So, how do you set them up? Well, I’ll let this article in the Google Help section explain the nitty gritty of the how-to, but basically you decide what you want to change and how. For example, for the 4th reason above, you could realize that Sundays are really high traffic and high conversion rate days for you. So, while you need to restrict your budgets, you’d like Sundays to get more of the budget than other days. You could set an automated rule that sets the budget to whatever you’d like each Sunday without you having to remember to log on and do it. The same basic principle applies for all of the other reasons as well.

The main reason I’ve used automated rules in the past is to manage ad positions. Ever since Google took away position preference settings, this is the best option if you know your account has specific “sweet spots”. Sean Quadlin recently did a video blog about how to use pivot tables to find your account’s optimal average ad position. In my case, I had an account that had VERY different cost/conversions and conversion rates when you changed the average positions by even half a position. So, I decided to make an automated rule that would bid all converting keywords up by 5% every day if it fell below position 3.5. Ad position 3 to 3.5 was where I found my ads performed the best, so I wanted to make sure they didn’t fall below that threshold if they were converting. This worked really well for me, and I saw an increase in conversions and a decrease in cost per conversion.

Another issue with this account was how testy it was and just how much it reacted to changes. So, when it was going on automated rules and I was just doing minor tweaks otherwise, it was good. But then this account got transferred to another account manager, who thought they could turn automated rules off and make a mass amount of bid changes to increase performance. What this actually did was send the account into a tailspin. Because they account had been optimized around and was consistently performing at the ad positions I’d discovered to be optimal, pushing the converters out of their comfort zone lead to bringing in way more traffic without the conversions. The new account manager then tried to correct this by doing another bid change, which also affected the account negatively, and so on.

My recommendation for turning off automated Max CPC rules is to first check the frequency. If it’s occurring daily, make sure you don’t change bids the same day your rules have already done it. I would recommend, if it’s daily, to change the frequency to weekly, and monitor the account closely in the week it’s not making daily changes. Then, after it makes the changes a week from then, see if that affects performance. If you feel a manual bid change would increase performance, then wait several days after the last bid change to turn rules off and make a bid change. If you see a decrease in performance after your manual bid change, revert the bids back to where they were (hopefully you still have that excel doc), and either try again or turn rules back on. The point is to avoid shocking the account or getting yourself into a bid change tailspin.