Google Ads For E-Commerce: A Simple Guide

By Jasper Meurs
March 22, 2021

I can’t count the number of times that I’ve started with a new client, only to find a Google Ads search campaign that is setup totally wrong.

The thing is,  it’s really not that hard to mess up a Google Ads search campaign. And when this happens, a lot of money can go down the drain.

Because I’ve seen this before, and I work with them quite often, I can usually rectify the situation in less than a day. And today, I’m going to teach you how to do this as well.

All you need is a simple guide to use Google Ads for e-commerce, and that is exactly what I am going to give you.

Let’s start with the basic principle of an excellent campaign.

One simple rule to follow

There is one very important rule to make your Google Ads Search campaign a success: Make sure your entire campaign is as relevant as humanly possible.

This may sound logical and simple, but the number of  times I’ve come across companies that fail to do this is astonishing. I’ll give you a very simple example.

When someone is searching for a red t-shirt, they are expecting to see results (and ads) for red t-shirts. Not for t-shirts in general and not for sweaters, they want red t-shirts. So it is only logical that you show them your ad for red t-shirts.

Ok, so we show people the ad that they are expecting to see. This will directly impact one of the most important KPIs, the CTR (Click Through Rate). If the CTR is low, something is wrong with this phase of your campaign.

Next, when someone clicks your ad for a red t-shirt, where do you send them? Your homepage? Your general page about clothes? Maybe the t-shirts page? Nope.

We want to send that person straight to your landing page with, you guessed it, red t-shirts.

Ok, so how does this look as a Google Ads Search campaign structure?

Your first campaign structure

A Google Ads account consists of two main levels. First, the campaigns; these are the highest level within your account. This is where you set your budget, target geographical region, specific audiences, etc.

Next, within each campaign we can create Ad groups. These are basically holding your keywords and ads. This is also where you want to create your relevance.

Sticking with the t-shirt idea, let’s look at an example:

Let’s say we’re the owner of an online clothing store, what would a good Google Ads account look like? Something like this:

T-shirts

  • Short sleeve t-shirts
  • Long sleeve t-shirts
  • Red t-shirts
  • Black t-shirts

Jackets

  • Bomber jackets
  • Leather jackets
  • Parka’s

Pants

  • Jeans
  • Chino’s
  • Shorts

The main bullets are campaigns, and the sub-bullets are ad groups. You could also differentiate your ad groups by brand, for example.

Just make sure you don’t overdo your keywords within each ad group. We’ll talk more about this later in this article.

The different elements dissected

Now that you know what a good Google Ads account should look like, let’s take a deep dive into the different elements that make up an ad group.

Keywords

Keywords are the core of your ad group. They’re how you choose the target audience you want to see your ads.

There are 3 different types of keywords:

Broad match: red t-shirt

Broad match means that Google will show your ad to people searching for red t-shirt. But, it will also show your ad to those searching for variants and any search query containing red t-shirt. E.g. people searching for free red dragon t-shirts. Most of the time, this is not what you want.

Phrase match: “red t-shirt”

Phrase match means the search query can have anything before or after this keyword, and close variants to the keyword will also show your ad. This is usually the best type to start with when creating a new campaign. E.g. people searching for free red t-shirts.

Exact match: [red t-shirt]

Exact match means that your ad will only be shown to people searching for your exact keyword, or very close variants. This is the way to go for more mature ad groups. E.g. someone searching simply for a red t-shirt. In an ideal world, this is the most perfect case to have an exact keyword match with high relevance.

Ads

Your ads are the link between your keywords, and your landing pages. This is also a great way to stand out from your competition. So when writing ad copy, it’s incredibly important to show empathy towards your customers. What do they care about? What problems are they facing? What would really make their day?

Think about it this way: When you are a customer searching for the keywords within a specific ad group, what ad would you expect that totally speaks to your wants and needs?

A couple of things you can mention in your ads:

  • USP (Unique Selling Proposition)
  • Competitive advantage
  • Delivery time
  • Applicable discounts (these can also be added as an ad extension)
  • The product your ad is about (!)

Ad extensions

Ad extensions are a great way to stand out. It’s essentially taking your ad, and increasing the amount of screen real-estate that it occupies.  Some of the most common ad extensions that have been known to make an impact are below

  • Sitelink extension
  • Callout extension
  • Call extension
  • Location extension
  • Review extension

Starting here, you’re well on your way to make the best out of your ads.

Landing page

Last but not least, the place where everything comes together: the landing page. Armed with an enhanced range of campaigns and ad groups focused on relevance, the best keywords selected for each ad group, and the best written ad copy the world has ever seen, the time has come. It’s time for these ads to go somewhere. This is where the landing page comes in. Most e-commerce systems provide you with the necessary tools to easily create every landing page you need in a second. Like collections within Shopify, for example.

And again, it is essential to make these landing pages as relevant as possible. I really can’t stress this enough, since this will be the main differentiator between a campaign that’s losing money, and a campaign that’s making money.

You can expect an entire blog post about ecommerce landing pages soon, but for now I will provide you with a list of some of the most essential elements of an ecommerce landing page:

  • A good title (should match with your ad)
  • High-res, attention grabbing photos
  • Supporting copy, like product benefits
  • USP’s
  • Social proof, like testimonials
  • A call to action (the color should be different from your brand identity)

To bring this all together, try using a clean design that guides the user through your page.

The metrics that matter

Once your Google Ads campaigns are running, you’ll need a way to gauge how they are doing. I’ll list some of the most common KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) that will tell you how your campaign is doing, and how you can improve them.

Average CPC

This is the average amount you are paying for each click on your ads. You can improve this metric by improving your QS (Quality Score).

QS (Quality Score)

This is a score from 1 to 10, where 10 is the best. This score is calculated by combining your keywords, ads and landing pages, and valuing them for their, you guessed it, relevance. So the more relevant your campaigns are, the better your quality score will be, and the less you’ll pay. Isn’t that a great incentive?

CTR (Click Through Rate)

This number shows you the percentage of people that saw your ad and clicked on it. So basically, the number of people who clicked on your ad divided by the number of people that have seen it.

Conversion Rate

This is the number of people who have taken the action you want them to take on your website (for ecommerce this will probably be a purchase) divided by the number of people who clicked on your ad. Improving this number is a bit more complex than the other KPI’s, because this is where everything comes together. To improve this number you need to look at the relevance within an ad group, the elements on your landing page, and your market position.

Return on ad spend

If we take all the value generated by ads, and divide this by all costs for your campaigns, the result will be the return on ad spend. The bigger this number the better, of course.

Every marketer will proudly tell you about that insane ROAS they once had a few years ago. 

When calculating your return, you should of course keep in mind your Customer Lifetime Value as well.

Bounce rate

When you link your Google Analytics property to your Google Ads account, which you should always do, you’ll also get access to some Google Analytics data within your campaigns. The bounce rate is a key metric that you can use to improve your campaign. A user is registered as a bounce when they arrive on your landing page, and immediately leave again, without taking any other action on your website. This is the number of users that “bounce” divided by the number of users who visit your page.

A high bounce rate indicates that the user who clicked on your ad didn’t find what they were looking for. To improve this, you need to improve the relevance between your ads and your landing page.

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