There are a lot of settings to choose from in your Google AdWords account, but how do you know which ones are best? Depending on your objectives, goals and approach you might find one combination works better than another but the key is to test, test, test. What works for one account or campaign, may not work well for another. If you haven’t spent time exploring the settings options, you are likely using the defaults and a few quick changes could bring in additional clicks or conversions. Below is a brief description of many of the settings as well as some recommendations.

Locations & Languages

If you haven’t taken a look at the geo-targeting options, it is worth becoming familiar with the many choices. I once had a client where we targeted the states in the Midwest. We noticed in analytics that a lot of clicks were coming from one metro area, but those visitors rarely converted. In order to help manage spend, we kept the states we were targeting but excluded traffic from a 15 mile radius around the metro area. This way we were no longer getting irrelevant clicks and had more money to spend on those who were more likely to convert. The location options allow you to narrow down your focus by country, state, city, metro area or even zip code. Want to reach everyone in who lives in Houston but not those that live downtown? You can choose to target the city of Houston but then exclude the zip codes in the downtown region.

Another option if you are trying to target a region but don’t want to list out every city in the area, is to use settings on the ”Custom” tab. You have the option to target a specified radius around a city or zip code or you can also create a “custom shape”. For custom shape, you can decide if it is a triangle, square or rectangle and include (or exclude) exactly what you want.

Networks and Devices

Under this section you can choose if you want to run on Google Search, Search Partners and/or Google Content Network. I won’t go into these differences today but you may want to brush up on the Content Network best practices before you make your selection.

If you haven’t taken a look at the Device options, you might want to. Is your landing page smart phone friendly? How about your conversion form – is it really long with a lot of items to fill in? You may be getting clicks from smart phones and your landing page is less than optimal for these devices. If that is the case, change your settings so you don’t spend money on clicks that won’t convert. Google gives you the options to target all devices, desktop and laptop computers only, or just iPhones and other mobile devices with full Internet browsers. If you do have a landing page that is mobile friendly, click on “Advanced devices and carrier options” to choose which mobile devices to target (Android, iPhone, Palm and iPad) as well as the mobile carrier. Running ads for a Custom iPhone app? Since the apps won’t work on Android phones, target only iPhone users to help rule out irrelevant clicks and spend.Bidding and Budget

Google provides two options for managing your bids – either use Manual Bidding or Automatic. I prefer to manage bids myself and use manual bidding in order to maintain control of budgets and spend but some only use automatic bidding and it works well. Try both and see which one gets you the results you need. Another option in this section is to use Conversion Optimizer. This option is only available for campaigns that have at least 15 conversions in the last 30 days. If you qualify, you are given the option to set your conversion goal and then Google will manage your campaign to help generate additional conversions. For better results, make sure your account has quite a bit of history before activating. Also, keep conversion optimizer on for several weeks before you determine if it does or does not work for you. Often the cost per conversion goes up at first and then brings itself back down to an acceptable average over the course of several weeks or months depending on your traffic.

Position Preference, Delivery Method

Position preference can be enabled if you want Google to control bids and show your ads in a preferred position or range. For instance, if you get the most qualified clicks in positions 3-4, you can set it to optimize to these positions. Google can’t guarantee you will show in your preferred position all the time, but they will try to automatically adjust your bid to place. You can choose to show:

  • Higher than a given position
  • Lower than a given position
  • Within a range of positions
  • In a single exact position

One important note before selecting this – you may loose impressions and clicks by setting position preference. If you are not able to show up in position 3-4 as specified, Google won’t show your ad at all. Make sure you weigh the options before deciding.

In Delivery Method, you have two choices – Standard or Accelerated. In Standard method your ad will show evenly throughout the day. The benefit is that Google helps balance your clicks to your budget so you are less likely to run out of budget by mid morning. Make sure your budgets are set high enough, if your budgets are too low, you will eventually run out of money not matter what. The Accelerated setting doesn’t take into account your budget and the amount of time left in the day. It shows your ads as frequently as possible, which means if budgets are low, you may run out by lunch.

Schedule: Start date, end date, ad scheduling

In this section you have the option to set a start and end date for your campaign. Running a campaign for the 4th of July? Make sure it starts and stops on time by setting a start and end date so you don’t loose track and time and forget to pause the campaign after the holiday. Ad scheduling or day parting allows you to run your ads only during certain time periods in the day. There are many options with this and we have put together a separate post with tips on how to get the most out of ad scheduling.

Ad Delivery: Ad rotation, Frequency Capping

Ad rotation allows you to choose how your ads are served. Do you want Google to determine the best performing one? If so, choose Optimize. If you are testing not only ads but also landing pages or simply want more control, select Rotate which shows your ads more evenly. A general best practice is to use Rotate, especially if you have a campaign focused on conversions. With Optimize, Google will run the ad that has the highest click through rate but it may actually have a lower conversion rate – since you want conversions, Google isn’t optimizing to your advantage.

While several of these categories can be explored much further, this gives you the general summary of the Google AdWords settings tab. Make sure you try different settings to see what produces the best result and anytime you add a new campaign don’t forget to go in and update your settings!

Bonus shortcut tip – an easy way to change the settings on multiple campaigns quickly. Click on the Settings tab (without clicking on a campaign first). Once all campaigns are listed, click the check box on the left for all the ones you want to edit. Once all are highlighted in yellow, select “Edit Settings” and you will be allowed to change settings right there rather than going into each campaign separately. Want to change Ad Rotation and it isn’t showing up? First click “Column” at the top and use the check boxes to select other categories. Make sure you hit “Save” at the bottom to save your changes.