Many Google Ads recommendations can be quite useful as they help identify certain shortcomings in campaigns and signal problems in the account. In addition, Google is constantly learning and improving, so it is often worth listening to its advice. However, some of the recommendations are primarily focused on increasing expenses. They may not justify themselves and negatively affect the effectiveness of campaigns. Therefore, do not rely entirely on Google and apply recommendations carefully.
Recommendations such as “Bids and Budgets” that relate specifically to adjusting budgets and bids. They are all aimed at increasing spending on campaigns because they are primarily focused on demand, rather than achieving your business goals. Therefore, it is necessary to focus on the effectiveness of campaigns and increase budgets or bids accordingly, rather than relying on Google. Don’t forget that the main goal of all advertising systems is to make money from advertisers.
Below I will list the recommendations of the “Keywords and Targeting” type that I do not recommend applying.
- Add new keywords. As mentioned before, the system algorithms may not work perfectly here and may suggest irrelevant keywords. Moreover, this recommendation does not always take into account the structure of your campaigns and may create chaos in your ad groups. For example, you have a group with general keywords for men’s shoes and a separate group for men’s sneakers. The system may suggest adding general keywords for men’s shoes to sneakers. This will not only disrupt the campaign structure but may also lead to keyword duplicates. Therefore, it’s better to manually analyze search queries and add effective keywords.
- Increase coverage using Google search partner websites. This topic deserves a separate article, but in short, this feature allows you to show your search ads not only in Google but also in other search engines that it collaborates with. You cannot influence the budget allocation between them, and in the case of lead generation projects, you cannot reliably know the quality of conversions. In Ukraine, other search engines are not very popular, so the expenses on them usually will not exceed 10% of the total budget. The situation is very different in foreign markets, and these partners may spend even more than Google and be less effective. Below I provided an example of budget allocation for a campaign in Europe. Using the screenshot, you can evaluate how much higher the cost of conversions is on partner sites.
- Use the “Add Media Network” feature. Similar to the previous recommendation, this feature suggests showing search ads in the media network. You also cannot influence the budget allocation and evaluate the quality of conversions. Moreover, the media network may divert expenses to itself and, in most cases, bring more expensive conversions. These two recommendations make sense to test only in cases where your budget is enough to buy a significant portion of impressions in Google – more than 50%. And you can allocate additional funds to scale campaigns.
- Expand your audience. This recommendation allows the system to go beyond your targeting in the media network and show ads to users with similar interests. It is generally not relevant for remarketing campaigns, as such a campaign will no longer be remarketing with this recommendation. This means that ads will be seen by people who have not yet visited your website at all. Also, it should not be applied to campaigns targeting cold interests. They are already quite broad themselves, so you will need to significantly increase your budgets to reach all users enough times. Furthermore, applying this recommendation will lead to overspending the daily budget if the bids are not reduced. I will illustrate this with an example. When our ads for virtual telephony had broad match, they were somehow displayed for the query “buy phone” because “telephony” and “phone” are related words. Google also sees that those who searched for us also searched for other companies, and can show their ads for our query, which is not acceptable for a branding campaign, as we want to buy only branded traffic.
- Set broad match for existing keywords. Overall, I recommend using this recommendation, but not in all cases. I do not recommend it for relatively new campaigns, as a lot of spending can go towards non-targeted traffic. I recommend first working on negative keywords and then moving to broad match. Also, I do not recommend it for branding campaigns because there is usually not much branded traffic, and you will already be covering all targeted impressions on phrase match in most cases. Broad match will bring a lot of non-branded queries that are not relevant for this type of campaign. For example, queries related to competitors or general product queries that you do not sell.
Please note that the algorithms of the system do not always work correctly – even after a long time. This is because artificial intelligence is not perfect and can make mistakes. Most PPC experts know about the recommendation to add new keywords, which often suggests adding irrelevant keywords for your business. For example, for men’s shoes, it may suggest adding keywords related to women’s shoes.
Therefore, not all recommendations can be applied. First, you need to understand how they work and how they can affect your campaigns as a whole. Moreover, what works for one advertiser may only make things worse for another.