Google Ads: How to Keep Your Cost Down

I was helping a client with a Google Ads campaign recently because they had run up a huge bill in just a couple of days with virtually no new business to show for it.

As I said to them: the most important thing to remember with Google Ads is that Google is the fox looking after the hen-house.

Google is in this to make money, not to provide good value advertising to Google Ads customers.

Of the US$162 Billion they made in 2019 the bulk came from advertising, and everything they do is designed to increase your spending on ads.

Treat all suggestions that Google makes in your Google Ads account with extreme suspicion.

So, for people new to Google Ads, here are some things to look out for:

Setting up new campaigns

When you set up a new campaign there’s a section that enables you to select which networks your ads should be placed on. The default is ‘all networks’, with the comment ‘Recommended for new users’.

Whatever you do, do not accept the default.

The reason is because that includes the display network (which used to be called the content network) and, if you’re new to Google Ads, you do not want to be using the display network on your first campaigns.

It will eat through your budget at the speed of light, generating un-targetted traffic, which doesn’t buy and costs you lots of clicks.

So de-select the display network and learn as much as you can about relevance, focus, keyword research, targeting and all the rest of it on the search network, where you have more control over your costs and targetting.

When you’ve got all that in place then take a look at the display network, if you want to. I have never used it, though, and I cannot see a case in which I would.

The over-riding principle to use when starting with Google Ads is to start small.

Make sure your ads and landing pages are optimised as far as possible and then slowly scale up.

Always remember: Google’s in this for the money, not for your benefit!

Setting the display network ‘on’ by default is understandable when you consider it’s their business.

What I object to is that comment: ‘Recommended for new users’.¬†That’s just setting newbies up for a horrible financial shock.

Today there are various ad extensions that you can use, some of which are switched on by default. Again, though, look at these very carefully and switch them off unless you know what they will do and you’re OK with that.

I’ve written a post about how automated ads extensions were set to ‘on’ by default and were screwing up one of my campaigns. It’s worth a read so you can see what you’re dealing with!

When your new campaign is running

Once your campaign is running you’ll get ‘helpful’ suggestions from Google of keywords that they think would be good for your campaign.

Again, treat these suggestions extremely carefully.

The keywords probably do look pretty good on the surface but you can bet your bottom dollar that they’ll be among the most expensive keywords around.

So review them carefully, making sure they’re totally relevant to your campaign (which will help to reduce their cost), and check their estimated cost before accepting them.

Keep this principle in mind: general, short keywords will cost a fortune and not bring targetted visitors to your site. Longer keywords will cost less and bring more highly targetted visitors, which is the kind you want.

You won’t get the volume of visitors, but your conversion is likely to be higher.

Auto Optimise Options or Manual Control

Wherever Google suggests an option which they claim will automatically optimize your campaign, you should review what they’re offering with extreme care and, in most cases, opt for the manual option.

For example, if you’re using two ads in an ad-group they’ll encourage you to let Google display the better performing one more.

That sounds good, but it prevents you from being able to compare the performance of your ads on a like-for-like basis because they’re not getting the same exposure.

And that means you won’t be able to improve their effectiveness and, therefore, your campaign ROI, over time.

You should always place 2 ads in an ad group and continuously compare their performance.

As the results start to reflect in your account you can review and modify the poorer performing ad.

After you’ve modified the poorer performing ad, leave both running and review them again once a statistically valid number of clicks have gone through.

And then, once again, review and modify whichever ad is the poorer performer.

That way, over time, you can continuously improve the performance of your ads and, thereby, the ROI of your campaign.

You cannot do that if Google only displays the better performing ad.

So select the ‘Rotate more evenly’ option in the Advanced Settings, Ad Delivery, Ad Rotation section to ensure that your ads are being displaid evenly.

This will ensure you’re getting a valid basis on which to compare and improve their performance.

Over-riding principle for people new to Google Ads

Start small and focused, get comfortable and then gradually open the taps.

That means setting a low daily budget initially and using the targeting options to their full (language, time of day and geographic regions).

And avoid the display network until you’re really comfortable with using Google Ads.

You may not get an instant avalanche of traffic, but you also won’t lose your shirt.


Martin Malden

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