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How to Create a Google Ads Strategy Plan That Drives Results?

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Google Ads is one of the best platforms to drive sales and leads for your business.

But going in blind and expecting to strike it rich is a fool’s errand.

Google Ads takes serious skill, planning, and time.

With Google Ads, you need a strategy going in.

You need a planned budget, keywords, picking the right medium, creating ad groups, and landing pages, and even perfecting what call to action you are using.

Beyond that, Google Ads only continues to get more complex.

Ready to create your personal Google Ads strategy plan to drive results?

Here is how.

Google Ads Strategy Plan Step 1:

Plan a Budget

The first step to creating a Google Ads strategy plan that works is developing your budget.

And this may be harder than you think.

It’s not as simple as “let’s try $500 a month and see what happens.”

Depending on what industry you are in and how expensive keywords are, $500 could be far more than you need to start out or barely enough to scratch the surface of your advertising potential.

Keyword cost per clicks varies from cents to dollars to hundreds of dollars.

For example, if you are selling e-commerce products like basketball shoes, you’ll be paying a dollar per click:

But if you are looking to drive consultations as a lawyer, you’re paying 100x that amount:

So, that $500 won’t get you anywhere.

Not at standard conversion rates.

And that’s where budget forecasting comes into play.

Taking average conversion rates and cost per clicks in your space, you can plan out a realistic budget forecast that shows you:

  • How much you need to spend
  • How many conversions you can expect on that ad spend
  • A general prediction of ROI

Take a look at average CPCs and conversion rates for your industry and conversion rate benchmarks.

Now, once you have that information, it’s time to forecast your budget, starting with average conversion rates.

Let’s say that your industry conversion rate is a generous 10%.

This means that you will need to generate 10 clicks to land a single conversion, as you are converting 10% of your clicks (10% of 10 = 1.)

With this information, use the following formula to determine how much you will spend to acquire a single converting lead:

Keyword CPC * Clicks Needed to Convert One User Based on Average Conv. Rate

In this case, using the injury lawyer keyword, the formula would look like this:

$100 * 10 = 1,000.

That means you can rightfully expect to pay $1,000 for a lead in that space using that exact keyword.

You can repeat this process for your target keywords to find ones that are cheaper, too.

Now that you have a generalized idea of how much money you need to spend for a single customer, you have two options:

  1. Multiply that by how many new leads you want each month to get your monthly budget estimate
  2. Find cheaper keywords with less volume (see step three in this guide!)

Once you are ready, head to step two to pick your advertising network/medium of focus.

Google Ads Strategy Plan Step 2:
Pick Your Advertising Network/Medium

Search? Display? Shopping? YouTube?

Which advertising network that Google offers is best for your business?

This heavily depends on your budget.

If you have a large budget and cheap keywords / CPCs, you can likely attack multiple platforms right off the bat.

For instance, is your budget $500 per day with low-cost keywords in the $1-$5 range? If so, you have tons of room to work with.

You could run multiple campaigns on the search network or split your money between search network ads and display remarketing.

If you have a lower budget, you don’t want to risk spreading your budget too thin.

If you do, you might only be able to generate a few clicks per day. And that’s going to take months to show just a few conversions.

I recommend sticking to the search network for your first campaigns unless you are selling e-commerce products with an online store.

With online shopping ads, Google Shopping is your best bet for low-cost conversions.

By starting on the search network, you give yourself the chance to build traffic and sales that convert quickly.

Once you start to generate a return on investment, you can re-invest that money into display network remarketing to convert people who didn’t buy from you the first time.

This strategy can help you create a self-sustaining advertising strategy that isn’t as limited by budget down the line.

 

Google Ads Strategy Plan Step 3:
Find the Right Keywords

Finding the right keywords on Google Ads isn’t an easy task.

Whatever you do, please don’t select the most basic, head term in your industry.

These are by far the most expensive and competitive terms and won’t be your most profitable.

Most people make the mistake of finding big keywords with tons of volume and thinking they need it.

But is paying for a high volume keyword worth it?

Most of the time, it’s not, especially if you aren’t already the brand leader in a given space.

If you have tremendous brand awareness, it’s a different story.

You can likely get away with it because people know your brand and what you offer. No brand power? Chances are you will generate tons of clicks that don’t convert, costing you a fortune on the acquisition and produce lower profit margins.

Take the example of this injury lawyer keyword:

It’s got 14.8 thousand searches a month! That’s huge. But it also costs $118 for a single click.

The keyword also tells you nothing deep about what the searcher wants.

Do they want a consultation? Do they just want to learn about general services?

Now compare that to the following keyword:

This keyword is location specific and already drops the cost per click to just $30 with 250 searches per month and a low difficulty.

Break down your search even further to specific subsets of your business, and you can discover even cheaper keywords with great volumes:

You don’t need to pay $100-$200 per click no matter what industry you are in.

It’s all about discovering the right keywords with the right volume and competition.

If the volume is sky high, chances are competition is too, and so is CPC.

If the volume is moderate, you can afford many more clicks and increase your chances at making solid returns.

Great tools to use are SEMRush, Ahrefs, and Google’s Keyword Tool.

The Google Keyword Tool is one of my favorites. It can be found in your Google Ads dashboard under the Planning section:

Start by typing a base level keyword that summarizes your business.

 

This will generate a big list of keywords that could fit your business well:

Be prepared to do tons of research here. Most people won’t, which means there are likely dozens of keywords out there with low competition and tons of volume.

Once you have compiled a big list of potential keywords, it’s time to create focused ad groups that can increase your quality score and decrease your cost per click to save money.

 

Google Ads Strategy Plan Step 4:
Create Focused Ad Groups

The bigger your budget, the more ad groups you can develop and give attention to.

The smaller your budget, the more focused and honed-in you will have to get.

If you have a smaller budget, limit yourself to just a few ad groups that contain a mix of long-tail keywords with lower volume and head terms with high volume.

This will give you a mix of keyword intent to work with and a substantial volume to keyword difficulty range.

Once you have narrowed your keyword list down and selected a few that you want to attack, it’s time to create focused ad groups.

Focused ad groups will dramatically improve quality scores. But, don’t just take my word for it. Clicteq used the focused ad group strategy to increase their quality scores nearly three points:

The impact? A 37.5% lower cost per lead and 28% improvement in their click-through rate.
Using too many keywords in a single ad groups leads to something like this:

That’s just about as unspecified as you can get with ad copy and keyword targeting.

The key here is to limit your ad group to nearly identical keyword variations or using SKAGs, single keyword ad groups, like so:

If you decide to use SKAGs, you can take advantage of the three specific match-types above:

  • Broad match modifier: +keyword
  • Phrase match: “keyword”
  • Exact match: [keyword]

If you want to expand ad groups slightly, that’s totally fine too.

For example, if you had the following keywords in a single ad group, that would work too:

  • Injury lawyer
  • Injury attorney

These are essentially identical, so placing them in the same ad group is harmless.

You start to run into problems when you use variations like this in the same ad group:

  • Injury lawyer
  • Car injury lawyer
  • Work injury lawyer

These keywords show vastly different circumstances, and therefore, they need specific copy and examples to match.

Finished creating your focused ad groups? It’s time to write some ads and develop a few landing pages!

Google Ads Strategy Plan Step 5:
Develop Intent-Based Ad Copy and Landing Pages

Your ad and landing page are two essential components to driving sales on Google Ads. Your strategy can’t be complete without them.

When it comes to writing ads, you have to match the intent of the keyword you are targeting and provide enough value to drive a click.

Analyze the intent and then keep your ad focused on just a few simple factors:

  1. Keyword targeted
  2. Benefits
  3. Call to action

For your landing page, keep it simple and ensure you maintain message match by continuing the same keyword target and the exact same call to action.

And that’s it!

Ready for step six?

Google Ads Strategy Plan Step 6:
Select Your Bidding Model and Send it Live!

Choosing the right bidding strategy isn’t easy. Why? Google gives you about a dozen bidding strategies to choose from.

To give you a short and sweet answer, I’ll break down what bidding strategies are best for different advertising goals.

Conversion goal:

Focusing your campaign on getting sales, leads, or signups? Use these bidding types…

  • Maximize Conversions
  • Target CPA
  • Target ROAS
  • Target Outranking Share

Website visits goal:

Focusing on getting more people to land on your site? Try the following…

  • Maximize Clicks
  • Target Search Page Location
  • Manual CPC Bidding

Brand building goal:

Focusing on getting some good old fashioned brand awareness? Here are some solid bidding types to lower your CPC…

  • Target Search Page Location
  • Target Outranking Share
  • CPM and CPM for YouTube and Display Networks

Congrats! You did it!

Now send your campaigns live and repeat this strategy each time you launch a new campaign or ad group.

Conclusion

Creating a strategic plan for your Google Ads advertising is critical to success.

Going in without one is a recipe for spending money without making money.

Let’s recap all the steps you need when creating your Google ads strategy plan:

1️⃣ Start with the budget.

Your budget will determine what you can realistically do on Google Ads.

High budget? You can test multiple mediums and multiple campaigns at once.
Small budget? Stick to the search network and a single, targeted campaign.

2️⃣ Pick your advertising network/medium of focus.

3️⃣ Spend time doing keyword research to uncover long-tail phrases that pack intent and cheap CPC.

4️⃣ Create focused ad groups that can help increase your quality score and conversions.

5️⃣ Develop intent-based ad copy and landing pages

6️⃣ Choose the right bidding strategy

Repeat the process for each of your Google ads campaign intent.

 🎉 Send your Google ads campaign live! 📈

Google Ads gives advertisers the potential to grow their business. But without a strategic plan, that’s not gonna happen.

 

I've been helping businesses grow online since 2011. At the moment, I'm a digital marketing specialist at Forbes.com.

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