How Does the Google Ads Update Affect Your Digital Marketing Strategy?

How Does the Google Ads Update Affect Your Digital Marketing Strategy?

How Does the Google Ads Update Affect Your Digital Marketing Strategy?

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In early September, Google surprised the industry by making a major announcement to Google Ads. Google will no longer display the full list of search queries that triggered an ad to appear in any given campaign. The change, effective immediately, will make a significant difference in the level of insight you can derive from the search patterns of your audience. This will undoubtedly make an impact in digital business and marketing strategies not only Google Ads, but also SEO, content, and insights into your audience. To help walk you through how this will affect your Google Ads strategy, we’ve pulled together some insights and suggestions for mitigating the issue.

    What exactly is changing?

    Until now, Google account managers have been able to view the Search Terms Report in their Google Ads console to see what queries were used to trigger a campaign’s ads. This meant we could actually see what people typed into Google to trigger an ad to appear. Not only did this allow us to uncover new and relevant keywords to target, it also made it easy to negate search queries that were spending money but not generating results.

    For example, let’s say you are running a campaign with a goal to sell computer monitors. When someone searches the terms “computer monitor,” you want your ad to appear. But when someone searches “monitor computers,” you don’t want your precious ad dollars spent on the similar, yet highly irrelevant term.

    That’s where the Search Terms Report has helped by blocking the term “monitor computers” from triggering ads. This most recent update will reduce the number of terms Google provides in the report by 28%.


    How will this impact you and your business?

    The easiest way to identify wasted spend is to review search terms that generate one to two clicks. It’s not uncommon to find single search terms that cost $3, $5, $10 or more per a single click (think of your daily budget and how much that irrelevant click will eat up). In the past, Google would show us 98.7% of all search term data so we could easily identify terms to negate. With this new implementation, that number goes down to 72%.

    Chances are you don’t have a full-time person or marketing department managing your Google Ads, and your budget is minimal. That means your wasted spend is probably much higher than the generally accepted rate of 5-20%. When onboarding new &Marketing clients, we’ve found that the percent of wasted spend for less ad-savvy (or overwhelmed) account managers is typically much higher, with an average in the 35-40% range. Given the fact that daily budgets for our clients are minimal, these irrelevant terms eat into their budget, preventing them from showing up consistently for terms that actually drive conversions and attract ideal customers.

    Because of this, you’ll lose visibility into more than a quarter of your spend, not knowing whether or not those clicks were for terms that are valuable to your business. Additionally, this will affect your SEO strategy. These search terms can help you better understand customer intent to help you identify content opportunities and determine what keywords to target when writing blog posts or improving website copy.


    What can you do?

    The good news? This change is NOT historical, so you can go back to previous months to get a better understanding of your wasted spend. If you need some help with this, check out our PPC inefficiencies calculator—if you upload your search terms, we’ll even do a quick audit for you. To date we’ve saved our clients over $15K in Paid Search spend that has been reallocated to higher converting terms.

    You should also continue to be vigilant in monitoring your Google Ads account. Don’t give Google money that doesn’t help you (they have enough). Take a look at the search terms that are driving unwanted clicks (even if they are only showing 72% of them) at least weekly, and negate them as quickly as possible.

    Also, consider testing Smart Bidding Strategies. Google is trying to push people to Smart Campaigns and automated bidding. It may be wise to consider a small test to determine the results for yourself.

    Last but definitely not least, continue to follow our blog, as we’ll be monitoring this change to provide key updates.

    Want to get ahead of the curve and see how much wasted spend you have? Check our PPC Inefficiency Calculator.

    About &Marketing

    &Marketing provides the robust outsourced marketing department growing companies need without the high overhead costs of big agencies or full-time employees. Our variable model empowers businesses to reach their growth goals through access to the guidance and expertise of senior level strategists and a flexible execution team.

    How We Used Business Intelligence to Save up to 33% on A Google Ads Budget for One of Our Clients in 30 Minutes

    How We Used Business Intelligence to Save up to 33% on A Google Ads Budget for One of Our Clients in 30 Minutes

    How We Used Business Intelligence to Save up to 33% on A Google Ads Budget for One of Our Clients in 30 Minutes

    Written By


    You may have heard the buzz words, read the blogs, or even watched a few videos, but it’s time to make it official. Data strategy is one of the hottest trends within the digital marketing world. In fact, companies that drive their marketing efforts using data as the roadmap are six times more likely to be profitable year over year. At &Marketing, we call this process Business Intelligence & Analytics, and we can use it not only to sharpen your marketing efforts, but also to save money and time as you grow your business. 

    The digital age has brought with it a wealth of data that equips us to make better and smarter marketing decisions and optimize our strategies, but that is only step one. Step two is learning how to collect and align all of that data to uncover scalable insights that apply to overall business goals faster and more easily. The ability to take hundreds of thousands of data points and analyze them in understandable, meaningful ways in minutes without using tedious Excel spreadsheets, codes, and VLOOKUPS is the future or marketing and business growth trajectory. 

    One of these ways includes leveraging data in order to find wasteful spending within paid search campaigns. Even if you have limited data points to draw from, you can still uncover valuable marketing and business insights. Small data can speak just as loudly as big data does, if you only know how to listen. Sound too good to be true? Find out below how we uncovered 33% of wasted spend within a real Google Ads paid search campaign in just thirty minutes. 

    Aggregate and Align: Two Approaches

    We uncovered a third of wasted paid search spend by collecting and organizing Google Ads and organic data together to determine where our client was spending unnecessary dollars on ineffective keywords. This is a process that can and should be performed regularly, but the traditional method is manual, tedious, and time-consuming. 

    With the old way, you would start by looking at PPC (pay per click) search terms one by one and determining impact and relevance. Next, you would need to export those out into a spreadsheet and combine that with your organic data in a separate sheet and make sure all columns are aligned (and now I am yawning because I’m exhausted just thinking about it!). There is a better and more effective way.  

    But first, a small disclaimer.

    We found significant inefficiencies within this Google Ads  account. Unless an account uses all exact match types for keywords (which is rare), there will always be some inefficiencies within a PPC account. The idea is to minimize this as much as possible and determine what percentage of wasted dollars you are comfortable with spending month over month. 

    So How Can You Uncover Such Discrepancies in Only 30 Minutes?

    Here’s a step by step approach for mirroring the method we used for slashing overspend on Google Ads in just 30 minutes and three steps.

    Step 1

    Export all PPC keywords and search terms. You will need the term, impressions, clicks, conversions, and cost from paid search, along with your exported organic data from Google Search Console. For this step, you only need the keywords, impressions, clicks, and average position. 

    (Pro tip: you can also export that data from a tool like SEMRush and use that in addition to or in replacement of Google Search Console). 

    Step 2

    Now, instead of merging two spreadsheets together and trying to align them, turn to a different tool: Power BI. With Power BI, you can easily upload your exports and create relationships between common columns. In this case, the specific column is your keyword. 

    (Pro tip: When importing your PPC data, you can edit your spreadsheet within Power BI to remove characters like “ “ or + that are commonly used for phrase match and qualifiers within paid search) 

    Example of Bad Communication

    Once you have your spreadsheets uploaded and relationships created, you can then build out a responsive dashboard like the one below. Here we added filters to show only the keywords that have anywhere between 1-3 clicks, as most irrelevant search terms are only clicked once. You may be thinking that one click here at $1.83 and another click there at $2.47, aren’t much. But we also created scorecards to show us the number of keywords and the overall cost that all of those add up to. For example, for this client it was 235 terms with 0 conversions and a cost of $2,659.29. Yes, some of those terms are relevant and we’ll add them to our keywords. But how many aren’t? Additionally, it’s much easier to sort through 235 terms, rather than thousands.

    Unfortunately, we can’t show you the actual keywords we found that were relevant or irrelevant in this specific example, because it’s our clients’ data. But we can reveal that we were able to identify irrelevant search terms that were tied to:

    • Other companies

    • Question phrases (ex: “what are” or “what does”) 

    • Website searches

    Step 3

    From here you can export the table with these irrelevant search terms as a spreadsheet and easily import them into Google Ads as negative keywords. With this information, you can now identify the common themes among your negative terms. 

    For example, a client of ours had irrelevant searches for “livestock.” Not only did we negate those search phrases, but we also negated  the term “livestock,” ensuring our ads never show again for farm animals. You can also create a monthly calculator to measure what percentage of your Google Ads budget is wasted spend. Again, there is no universal benchmark for this percentage, but I think we can all agree that 33% is way too much.

    Not only will this exercise allow you to easily identify irrelevant keywords, but you can also use it to find new keywords that are converting but not in your account. Once you align your organic and PPC data, you can see where (or if) you rank on Google for any of the keywords you are paying for. If you notice you are getting lots of conversions for a paid keyword that is eating up your budget, you should consider a content and organic strategy to improve your organic ranking for that keyword. 

    So in just thirty minutes, one exercise can give you multiple ways to optimize your paid search account and enhance your organic and content strategy. 

    This particular example is focused on optimizing existing marketing efforts and strategies. But Business Intelligence can also give marketing departments the information to guide companies to answer quintessential business questions, such as: 

    • Which state should I expand to next? 

    • Where should we increase product distribution? 

    • Who are our REAL online competitors? 

    • What is our customer’s digital journey?

    • And more…

    Learn more about BI by watching this video from our friends at Seer Interactive.

    Wondering if you are wasting money on the wrong keywords in your Google Ads account?

    Visit our PPC Inefficiencies Calculator, fill out the form, and we’ll perform a FREE audit to show you how much money you could save. 

    About the Author

    As a Marketing Director at &Marketing, Paul Ferguson uses his 16 years of B2B marketing experience to help clients develop fully integrated marketing solutions that make impressions and drive results. Whether it be design-oriented campaigns or digital market execution, Paul skillfully creates strategies backed by data, to effectively reach client’s desired audiences. Paul graduated from La Salle University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and a double minor in Marketing and Business Administration. Visit Paul’s LinkedIn.

    About &Marketing

    In today’s fast paced world, many growing businesses are struggling to modernize their marketing approaches because either they don’t have the expertise or the bandwidth to do it themselves.

    &Marketing provides seasoned marketing strategy professionals and a nimble execution team to help our clients achieve their goals. Our unique partnership model allows us to augment our client’s existing teams or outsource the entire marketing function in an affordable, flexible, and transparent way.