We all have to start somewhere. Whether we’re launching a new campaign, launching our first campaign, or taking a look at one that has been running for a while, we need to put into focus one of the key portions of the Google auction place, the bid.
I’ll outline 3 different strategies and when to best utilize them. There are millions of different situations and caveats so testing and using your own experience is always key. Let the data do the talking for you.
Bidding to Average Position
Much like the header suggests, this form of bidding targets a specific average position as the most important metric and can take a number of different approaches. For larger budgets, you may target always ranking in position 1 regardless of cost. For smaller more constrained spend, you may target a position of 2 or 3 and sacrifice some traffic for those passed down savings of not being ranked as highly. There is no right answer but more what you’re comfortable spending & what performance you’re able to generate through your ad copy & landing page.
Aiming for Position 1
While every industry is different, you’re much more likely to see higher CTRs the higher you rank in the search results. That is true across organic and paid rankings. The whole goal of aiming for position 1 is to maximize the number of clicks coming to your website and pushing your competitors down in the SERPs.
Two times I can think this is of major importance, low investment conversions and low volume verticals. If you think you have a great offering and make it easy for someone to convert, may as well take advantage with the largest slice of the pie. Similarly, if there isn’t a lot of traffic out there, you’ll want to ensure you’re getting the most clicks. Even for long sales cycles, awareness is likely a large part of the battle so ensuring you’re part of the conversation is key.
Aiming for Below Position 1
Starting in a more modest position can either be a beginning or a pivot to your strategy. When first launching, it can be a more conservative strategy to aim for a lower position while you start generating data on what keywords work and what don’t. From there, you can make changes to better optimize where you’re spending your money. While you likely lose out on some initial conversions, you do save money.
Similarly, if you start battling for the top spot and it doesn’t prove profitable, you can simply drop down the search results to try and bring the equation back in line. While CVR doesn’t always scale linearly, you can make some good guestimates on where you stand by lowering your CPCs to *insert value here*.
Google’s new rollout of Top Metrics & Absolute Top are new metrics you can use to better inform your decision. The number of paid listings above the organic results does fluctuate and you’ll likely have to modify strategy around that. Simply trying to rank for position 3 isn’t always going to yeild consistent results on the SERP.
Optimizing Around CPL
Once you have some data, this is something you can use to make a more informed decision as to what you’re willing to spend and, if you’re better at Excel than I am, build out a large bid sheet to suggest bids on low/high performing keywords.
If you have a CPL goal, once you have some good data on CPCs and CVR you can do some simple math to find the maximum CPC you’re willing to spend. If your CPL goal is $100 and you have a CVR of 5%, you’re willing to pay a $5.00 average CPC and you should be able to equal your goal.
Through this basic math, you’ll be able to put a more scientific approach around what you’re willing to spend rather than taking Google’s suggested bids and running with that. Sometimes you’ll find that it simply isn’t profitable until you make improvements to CVR (or quality score to lower CPCs), but that is another show. If you’re handy with excel, you can build out large bid sheets that you can then bulk upload into the Editor to save yourself some time.
Finally, the new frontier that Google has been pushing. While not something you want to initially launch with, these are tools I strongly suggest playing around with if your campaigns have met the suggested (strongly suggested) minimum number of conversions. If you’re unfamiliar with these strategies or their requirements, take a look at Automated Bidding Strategies by the Numbers or A Case for Automated Bidding for some deeper insight.
In a nutshell, these bidding strategies take the control out of your hands and pass it over to Google with all of its machine learning capabilities. While I have seen success with these types of bidding, they do sometimes have unintended consequences; especially impression share if that’s a metric important to you. Best practice is still setting up an A/B test in Google Ads and testing the new strategy against the current to see how it performs. That way you’re not sacrificing weeks of performance if it isn’t optimal.
There are multiple ways to approach bidding whether you’re just starting out or reevaluating a campaign. While these three strategies are in no way all-encompassing, they provide a good foundation for starting your journey.