Google Ad performance is the measurement of results driven by paid online advertising on Google’s advertising platform. The determination of whether performance is good or bad is a function of the goals and objectives of each campaign. For example, a YouTube campaign might be geared towards visibility and brand awareness while a search campaign is looking to capture leads from high intent searches.
Given the variety of objectives to consider, success will look different depending on what you’re trying to accomplish with these ads. There are many fundamental metrics to consider like click-through-rates (CTRs), impression share, conversions, return on ad spend, etc., but these only tell part of the story around why ad performance is declining or improving.
Like any other digital marketing strategy, Google ad performance isn’t always consistent and there are many reasons why campaigns get worse over time. So even though you’ve had a campaign or series of Google Ad campaigns that were driving great results for your business, that can all change rather rapidly due to a variety of factors. Here’s a breakdown of why your Google Ad campaigns might be on the decline and what data points to keep an eye on.
Competition Is Intensifying
If you’ve found success with Google Ads, odds are that your competitors will soon realize the opportunity to compete on Google. Businesses who identify high-intent keywords in industries and target these keywords with search ads are in a position to generate more leads and business. However as more and more get into the Google Ad auction, costs will go up and this could impact your results negatively. In addition, if competitors offer a better website experience and a more relevant ad and landing page, Google will reward those advertisers for that by placing them higher in the ad results for search ads. This means that you must be conscious of your competitors and if your costs are going up it’s possible there is just more competition for the keywords you’re targeting.
Performance Data to Watch: Cost per click, auction insights, impressions, interactions.
Search Behaviors Are Changing
With search ads, it’s simply supply and demand. When there are more people searching a particular keyword you are targeting that means there is more supply and therefore cost per click may be more reasonable. However, the opposite is true as well and decreases in search volume means decrease in supply making each search more valuable to advertisers. If you’ve had a lot of success generating leads or sales from a particular keyword or group of keywords, it doesn’t mean this will remain true in perpetuity. You’ll have to keep an eye on how cost per click is changing over time and continue to find new keyword opportunities or keyword variations to keep those costs down while maintaining your ad’s relevance to the searcher.
Performance Data to Watch: Impressions, cost per click.
Technical Website Issues
Your landing page for your ads is a key component of your overall Google Ad performance. Website technology is constantly evolving and many sites utilize various plugins, add-ons and other technologies that require regular updating. In some cases these updates can conflict with parts of your site causing technical issues. Simply put, if your landing page doesn’t function properly, or worse, Google’s bots are able to recognize these issues and will determine that your page/ad doesn’t offer a good experience to the user. It is important to keep an eye on your site’s usability and quickly troubleshoot any issues that you run into. Otherwise, your ads may stop delivering altogether. Luckily, Google will often alert you of these issues but try and be proactive with these updates.
Performance Data to Watch: Keyword quality score, ad status, policy notifications, impressions, clicks.
Before any Google Ads run, you will need to set up tracking for the “conversions” you want to track. Whether it is page views or form fills or clicks, this is foundational to any campaign and allows you to track your Google Ad performance. In some instances, conversion tracking tags and other methods for tracking conversions/sales can fail as a result of site updates or Google updates. If you’ve had conversions coming in regularly and they have dropped off a cliff, this might be a good place to look to confirm that your key actions are still being tracking correctly.
Performance Data to Watch: Conversions, cost per conversion, revenue, conversion value / cost.
Google Is Testing
While it’s extremely hard to measure and know for sure, Google is always testing what they display in the search results which can have an impact on your Google Ads performance. For example, recently Google rolled out the ability to add image extensions to your search ads which introduced a new element to the search results page. Google is often testing other elements in the search results to find ways to improve the user experience. With that being said, the fact that search results are changing there is undoubtedly going to be an impact on ad performance. Whether good or bad, in some instances it’s possible your ad performance is changing because Google is changing how the ad inventory is being delivered.
Performance Data to Watch: Cost per click, impressions, clicks.
These are some of the most common reasons for dips in performance but other factors exist as well. For instance in the ecommerce space, product price and sales have a huge impact on your performance. If competitors come in and offer a lower price or a sale on an item you both sell, it’s very likely you wont win that sale on your site. With ecommerce having a unique product set or a more niche focus will allow you to be more competitive, but your competition will likely be approaching in the same way.
There’s a reason that agencies and marketing companies specialize in Google Ads. It is an ever evolving space that requires regular attention and adjustment. Google Ads isn’t a set it and forget it tactic. Given all that can change with your campaigns on a daily and weekly basis, your best option is to hire a professional to manage your ad spend and get you set up for success. If you’re budget is limited there are some lower maintenance campaign types to consider. However, these campaigns still require your regular attention and need to be setup correctly.
If you’re still set on managing these campaigns yourself, take the time to understand what factors might be impacting your results most. Try and analyze the Google Ads performance data in a way to identify the issue and make adjustments accordingly.