What Campaigns Do
A search campaign is how you tell Google exactly what you want to have happen when a search is performed. This section is here to improve your understanding of exactly what search campaigns do and how to make them work better for you. So let's start off by covering exactly what an SEM campaign does.
SEM campaigns determine three things: 1) Which Google searchers will see your ad, 2) What ads and extensions will be shown, and 3) What happens if your ad is clicked.
Since campaigns only do those three things, you would think that people would design their campaigns so it was fairly obvious what was happening when they ran. Why you would want to create (or try to use and manage) a campaign that you can't predict or understand? We're not sure. (Even though we used to do exactly that ourselves.) And no matter how complex you make your campaign, it's still only doing the three things mentioned above.
Campaigns have essentially four sets of information at work that determine what is going to happen when you run that campaign. Getting all four of these parts to work together is the goal.
- Settings: determine what time your ads run, on what devices, and how much you pay.
- Locations: decide what city or zip code will see your ads.
- Keywords: decide what search terms you will match up on.
- Ads/Landingpage: determine what ads the customer will actually see.
We could show you lots of examples of how well these elements can work together. But that wouldn’t really tell you how important it is that they do. Instead, let’s imagine what happens when you DON’T have these four elements working in harmony.
- If you’re showing an ad that doesn’t match with the keywords then nobody will click on it and you’re wasting impressions. This leads to lower click through rate (CTR) and that results in much higher cost per click (CPC). You need ads that match your keywords.
- If you’re showing an ad that was designed to work on a desktop to a user on a mobile phone (where it will wrap and lose a lot of it’s messaging) you’re either wasting the impression or wasting the click. You need to make sure mobile ads are shown in mobile campaigns.
- If your call-only campaign is running on sunday when there’s nobody to take the customer call, you’re wasting a customer. And a click. You need to make sure your ad schedule matches your business schedule.
Google created a system which we will refer to as: Google Ads/Editor (Google Ads is the web interface; Ads Editor is the desktop version) that lets you create and run something called a “search campaign” where you can specify how you’d like to get Google’s help in finding customers. Your search campaign is a set of instructions whereby you are telling Google to allow certain people (searching on Google) to be able to see and click on your ad. Google takes your campaign, loads it, and runs it along with every other campaign in the universe to decide which searches will see which ads and in which order.
This is quite understandable and actually makes sense. Google shows ads that are relevant, perform well, and offer a good bid (all three are computed relative to other ads). When the searcher clicks on your ad, they are transported to your landing page. Google then gets paid for that click.
In order for Google to do this job for you correctly, your search campaign needs to clearly answer three questions:
- What searches do you want to match up with? This includes where the search is located, what device is being used, what time of day and day of week it is as well as which terms are included and which terms do not appear in the search. It is challenging, but properly made campaigns can specify exactly which searches are to be targeted.
- What ad/extensions do you want to show? There is a huge opportunity to communicate with your potential customer through well written ads and extensions. There are over 600 characters of information you can use and some very creative ways to present and format that information. In addition, you have the change to make it clear that this ad is for buyers only – and save a lot of wasted clicks.
- How much you are willing to pay Google if you get a click? Bidding and budgeting can be very complex and unpredictable in a Google search campaign. But they do not have to be.