Most photography business owners who are serious about online marketing understand about the research and attention to detail that goes into setting up a new Google Ads (formerly AdWords) account. But the importance the of work immediately following the set-up is probably less appreciated. The first month is crucial, not just because of the learning and “bedding in”, but also because the overall account is starting to build Google Trust. This infographic highlights main activities we recommend undertaking during that initial optimisation period.
Stage 1 (First week)
At this stage, you should have done your competitor and keyword research; and set up the campaigns structure in a nice ordered way (granularly with keywords and ads grouped into tight themes); and also set up the conversion tracking (don’t start without this). So the focus in the first few days should be on getting a feel for the bidding to achieve a position on the first page and probably a top-of-the-page position. This should all be done manually, and you should definitely not be aiming for the very top position (at least not at this point). If the budget is being used up, reduce the bidding a touch. If it is not being used up, take another look at the keywords and bidding level.
After the first few days, you should be confident that the campaign is active and your ads are being served. Now you can check and adjust the account once a day.
The focus in week two is about the position of your ads. In term of the optimal position, there’s not one right answer here, because this depends on the campaign objectives of the business and also the budget. If the objective was purely about branding and online presence, then the number one position might be priority. But for most photographers, it’s about being either in a top 3 position or on the first page. It’s quite rare to be targeting second page.
You should be checking your position alongside click volumes. Look carefully at the most expensive keywords, and potentially pause those with the very highest cost per click (CPC). It is often a good idea to be researching additional keywords which you can start experimenting with. Every few days, click the Search Terms report and add negative keywords to your campaign.
Stage Two – Week Three
At this stage, we are confident that the campaign is running properly and that we have a bit more data to work with. So we can put more emphasis on optimising the account and increasing profitability.
Look for ads and keywords that stand out in terms of low click through rates (CTRs). And to take this further we can start pausing ads that are under-performing, and in the light of the information, start creating new ones – and test them too. The aim to get into Google’s virtuous cycle. A good, improved relevant ad will get a better CTR, which will in turn raise the quality score, which will improve the position (for a given bid) and you will hopefully achieve more clicks for a lower budget.
Depending on the level of activity in the campaign, there might be enough emerging data on conversions to start assessing and adjusting your bidding strategy. So for example, of the cost per conversion is too high, you might want to lower your CPC and accept a lower position. Remember to review continually the quality scores for all keywords and pause badly performing ones.
Week Four and Onwards
At week four, a great deal of the heavy lifting has now been completed, and the overall management is about optimisation and focusing on improving the return on investment (ROI). The most important metrics are, at this stage, cost per conversion and the number of conversions. This is why you are using Google Ads and all optimisation activity should stem from what these are telling you. This activity will include ad copy creation and testing, keyword review, bidding optimisation, and click volume. Ad extensions should have been finished at this stage too.