Are you unsure whether to use manual or automated bidding strategies for your Google Ads campaigns? Are you feeling overwhelmed by the different options available? In this article, we will guide you through Google Ads bid strategies and help you choose the best one for your specific campaigns.
Table of Contents
What are bidding strategies in Google Ads?
Google Ads bidding works like a bidding system where advertisers can bid in different ways, such as clicks, impressions, conversions, or video ad views. Whenever there’s ad space available, Google holds an auction to decide which ads will be shown, considering both the bids and the quality of the ads.
Google Ads bidding explained: In simple terms, it’s like a bidding competition to determine which ads get displayed on Google.
Manual vs. smart bidding and automated bidding
Google provides a variety of bidding strategies. You might lean towards manual bidding for complete campaign control. However, are you familiar with the distinctions between smart bidding and automated bidding? Let’s offer a brief overview to give you a comprehensive understanding.
Manual bidding means adjusting bids yourself for individual keywords or ad groups. You set the maximum amount you’re willing to bid in auctions for your keywords. You can choose a blanket bid for an entire ad group or be more specific and set bids for each keyword individually. Shredding your bids by keyword is recommended for better control and results with manual bidding.
Automated bid strategies use machine learning to optimize bids according to your campaign goals. Google optimizes bids based on the strategy and its specific goal, which we’ll discuss in detail later when exploring your bidding strategy options.
Smart bidding in Google Ads is an automated strategy that uses machine learning to optimize for conversions or conversion value in each auction, known as “auction-time bidding.” Strategies like target CPA, target ROAS, maximize conversions, maximize conversion value, and enhanced CPC are included in smart bidding. For a detailed look at automated and smart bidding, check out our article on smart and automated bidding.
Best 9 Google Ads bidding strategy options
Let’s uncover the bidding strategies in Google Ads for your specific goals. However, remember that nothing should ever be fully set on auto-pilot.
There are 9 different types of Google Ads bidding strategies for each specific campaign goal:
- Manual Cost Per Click (CPC)
- Enhanced Cost Per Click (ECPC)
- Maximize clicks
- Maximize conversions
- Maximize conversion value
- Target CPA (Cost Per Acquisition)
- Target ROAS (Return on Ad Spent)
- Target impression share
- Target CPM (cost per 1,000 impressions)
1. Manual CPC
Manual CPC bidding offers advertisers a high level of control, allowing bids to be set at either the ad group or keyword level. This bidding strategy in Google Ads is particularly beneficial for new advertisers, new accounts, or new campaigns, as it enables close monitoring of performance and prevents overspending.
- Highest level of control: Advertisers have full control over bids at either the ad group or keyword level.
- Cost control: The max CPC bid is the maximum amount charged for a click, often resulting in lower actual costs.
- Time and effort: Managing manual bids requires continuous attention and adjustments, demanding time and experience.
- Limited data insights: Manual bidding may not provide access to all the data points used by automated bidding, potentially leading to less informed decisions.
- Time investment: Advertisers must invest time in reviewing performance metrics and adjusting keyword bids accordingly.
- Limited data visibility: Manual bidding might not offer the comprehensive data insights of automated strategies, affecting bid optimization.
2. Enhanced CPC
Enhanced CPC bidding, a smart-bidding setting offered by Google Ads, provides a bridge between manual bidding and full automation. By allowing Google’s algorithm to make bid adjustments based on the probability of conversion, Enhanced CPC can yield positive outcomes like increased click-through rate (CTR) and conversion rate (CVR).
- Improved CTR and CVR: Enhanced CPC typically results in higher click-through rates and conversion rates compared to manual CPC bidding alone.
- Broader audience reach: With bid adjustments based on conversion likelihood, your ads can reach a broader audience.
- Potential for higher CPC: As the bid caps are removed, there is a chance that CPCs may increase, potentially impacting the account’s profitability.
- Lack of bidding control: The automated nature of Enhanced CPC might lead to higher daily spending than your budget allows.
- Monitor CPC and CPA: Keep a close eye on CPC and CPA to ensure the bidding strategy remains cost-effective and aligns with your target CPA.
- Stay informed about performance metrics: Frequent tracking of CTR and CVR will help ensure that the bidding strategy functions as expected, yielding positive results.
3. Maximize clicks
Maximize Clicks is a bidding strategy focused on driving as many clicks as possible within your daily budget. It can be beneficial for increasing website traffic, branding, and list building, especially when you have strong conversion performance and want to find more volume.
- Simple and automated: The strategy is easy to set up and allows Google Ads to automatically adjust bids for maximum clicks.
- Lower CPCs and higher impression share: Maximize Clicks tend to lower CPC while increasing search impression share (SIS).
- Shorter learning period: Since clicks are easier to obtain, the learning period for this strategy is typically shorter.
- Efficient for traffic generation: This strategy is highly effective for generating website traffic and increasing visibility.
- Potential for lower-quality clicks and conversions: As the focus is on clicks rather than conversions, the quality of clicks and subsequent conversions might be impacted.
- Not optimized for conversions: Maximize Clicks may not actively pursue conversions, which could affect conversion rates.
- Set a max CPC limit: It’s essential to set a maximum CPC limit to control costs and prevent spending more than intended.
- Monitor performance regularly: Keep an eye on CPC performance and other goal metrics to ensure the bidding strategy aligns with your objectives. If necessary, adjust settings or explore alternative bidding strategies.
4. Maximize conversions
Maximize Conversions is a fully automated bidding strategy aimed at achieving the highest number of conversions within your daily budget. With no individual keyword bids set, Google’s algorithm determines the CPC bid based on the strategy’s goal, focusing on maximizing conversions.
- Higher conversion volume: Maximize Conversions is effective in driving more conversions, making it suitable for increasing sales or lead generation.
- Targeting likely converters: The algorithm identifies and bids higher on potential converters, improving the likelihood of successful conversions.
- Lack of bid limit control: With no bid limit, CPCs can become costly, potentially exceeding your daily budget.
- Potential increase in CPA or lower ROAS: The focus on maximizing conversions might lead to higher costs and impact your CPA or ROAS.
- Individual campaign budgets: Each campaign using Maximize Conversions should have its own dedicated daily budget to prevent overspending within shared budgets.
- Enable conversion tracking: It’s crucial to have conversion tracking in place to ensure the algorithm makes informed decisions based on tracked conversions.
- Monitor CPC: As the algorithm bids aggressively to meet conversion goals, be prepared for a potential increase in spend or average CPC.
5. Maximize conversion value
Max Conversion Value is an automated bidding strategy in Google Ads that aims to maximize the total conversion value rather than focusing solely on the number of conversions. This strategy is geared towards bringing in high-value conversions to achieve the highest return on investment (ROI).
- Maximize ROI: By prioritizing high-value conversions, Max Conversion Value can lead to a better return on investment (ROI) compared to strategies focused solely on increasing the number of conversions.
- Target ROAS guidance: The option to set a Target ROAS helps guide bidding decisions, ensuring that the algorithm aims to meet your desired ROAS goal.
- Quality focus: This strategy focuses on the value within each conversion, promoting quality over quantity and driving more profitable results.
- Value assignment required: Assigning a value to each conversion is necessary for the algorithm to distinguish between high-value and low-value conversions. Failure to do so may lead to suboptimal bidding decisions.
- Limited data impact: Accounts with limited historical conversion data may face challenges as the algorithm may not have enough information to make accurate bidding decisions.
- Competitive bidding: Bidding for high-value conversions in competitive industries can increase the cost per click, potentially impacting ROI.
- Low conversion volume concerns: In accounts with limited conversion history or low conversion volumes, the algorithm may struggle to accurately optimize bidding.
- Fluctuating conversion values: Businesses with fluctuating conversion values due to external factors may face challenges in maintaining consistent bid optimizations.
- Impact on traffic volume: Prioritizing high-value conversions might result in a decrease in overall conversion volume, affecting goals related to brand awareness or reach.
- Realistic Target ROAS: Setting an achievable Target ROAS is crucial to avoid inefficient spending and ineffective bidding strategies.
- Market and industry changes: Monitoring and adjusting the strategy to adapt to market changes and competitive industries is necessary for sustained success.
- Long sales cycle considerations: Long sales cycles or unclear immediate conversion values can affect the algorithm’s ability to attribute accurate values to each conversion.
6. Target CPA
Target CPA bidding is an automated Google Ads strategy where advertisers set a desired cost per conversion, and the system adjusts bids to achieve that goal, aiming for more conversions at the specified cost.
- Increased conversions: Target CPA bidding helps maximize conversions by automatically adjusting bids to meet your designated CPA goal. It focuses on getting more conversions for your budget.
- Efficient spending: By using conversion tracking data, this strategy avoids spending on unprofitable clicks, leading to more conversions at a lower cost.
- Portfolio bid cap: While you can’t set a maximum CPC bid cap at the campaign level, you have the option to set bid minimums and maximums at the portfolio level, offering more control over bidding.
- Limited bid cap control: You cannot set maximum CPC bid caps at the individual campaign level when using Target CPA bidding, which may restrict granular bid control.
- High budget requirements: Target CPA bidding requires a healthy budget to perform effectively. Your daily budget should ideally be at least twice your target CPA goal for the campaign.
- Conversion tracking is required for effective Target CPA bidding.
- Aim for at least 30 to 50 conversions in the past 30 days for efficient performance.
- Set realistic initial target CPA goals to allow effective learning and optimization.
- Consider the first two weeks to a month as a learning phase and gradually adjust the target CPA for desired results.
7. Target ROAS
Target ROAS bidding in Google Ads is an automated strategy that optimizes bids to achieve a specific ROAS goal. It uses historical conversion data to predict the value of a conversion and adjusts bids accordingly, aiming to maximize revenue based on the target ROAS set by the advertiser.
- ROI Focus: Target ROAS bidding is ideal for advertisers with a specific ROI goal in mind. It helps achieve the desired ROAS by optimizing bids to generate the expected revenue based on ad spend.
- Ecommerce optimization: This strategy is well-suited for eCommerce platforms with multiple products. It simplifies the process of finding the right balance between volume sellers and high-margin products, maximizing overall revenue.
- Reaching buying-ready audiences: Target ROAS aims to put ads in front of audiences that are more likely to convert, increasing the chances of reaching customers ready to make a purchase.
- Necessary data input: To effectively optimize bids for ROAS, Google requires data on product revenue. This means you need to provide the necessary information about conversion values or eCommerce revenue values to the platform.
- Potential ad spend reduction: Since the goal is to achieve the target ROAS, the strategy may reduce ad spend to ensure the return on ad spend goal is met. This can limit the reach and exposure of your ads.
- Sole focus on ROAS: Unlike some other strategies, Target ROAS is solely focused on achieving the desired return on ad spend and may not prioritize maximizing total revenue.
- Accurate product revenue data is crucial for successful Target ROAS bidding.
- Be aware that the strategy may limit ad spend to achieve the target ROAS.
- Avoid setting bid limits that could restrict the algorithm’s bid adjustments.
8. Target impression share
Target impression share bidding in Google Ads is an automated strategy that allows advertisers to set a specific impression share goal for their ads. The system then adjusts bids to achieve that goal, aiming to ensure that their ads appear in a certain percentage of eligible auctions to increase visibility and brand exposure.
- Brand visibility: Target Impression Share is beneficial for brand keywords, as it ensures your ads appear as frequently as possible for those terms, increasing brand visibility and awareness.
- Control over top placement: This strategy helps advertisers achieve their desired search top impression share (IS), allowing them to secure top ad positions on Google search results.
- Cost considerations: Target Impression Share can be expensive, and reaching impression share goals may be challenging without careful monitoring and optimization.
- Not directly optimized for conversions: While the strategy focuses on awareness and reach, it doesn’t necessarily prioritize optimizing for conversions.
- Potential overspending: Advertisers should be cautious about setting the maximum CPC bid too high, as it may lead to overspending and impact campaign profitability.
- Setting realistic Max CPC: It’s essential to set a realistic max CPC bid to avoid overpaying for individual clicks. Starting with a percentage increase over the current bid and monitoring performance is recommended.
9. Target CPM
Target CPM bidding is a YouTube-exclusive strategy where advertisers set their average bid for every 1,000 impressions. It maximizes brand exposure and aims for broader reach and visibility. Unlike other strategies, it charges for all impressions, regardless of whether viewers skip or watch the full ad. Ideal for boosting brand awareness on YouTube.
Brand awareness boost: Target CPM bidding prioritizes reaching the most unique viewers, which can significantly enhance brand awareness and recognition.
Potential for waste: As advertisers are charged for every impression, even if viewers skip the ad, there is a risk of paying for impressions that do not contribute to meaningful engagement or conversions.
- Watch for potential waste: Advertisers should be cautious about potential waste in target CPM bidding, as impressions that don’t lead to brand engagement might not provide significant value for the campaign.
- Compelling ad content: To maximize the impact of target CPM bidding, it’s crucial to create compelling and engaging ad content that encourages viewers to voluntarily watch the ad and interact with the brand message.
What Google Ads bidding strategies should you choose?
Choosing the best Google Ads bidding option in Google Ads depends on your goals, budget, and volume. Select a bidding strategy based on what you want to achieve. For example, if you want to make sales on the Display Network, CPM is not a good choice as it prioritizes views over site sales. Let’s explore common goals and the best bidding tactics for each.
|Campaign Goal||Recommended Bidding Strategies|
Manual CPC (with enhanced CPC enabled)
|Website Traffic||Maximize Clicks|
Manual CPC Bidding
|Brand Awareness||Target Impression Share|
CPM and vCPM for YouTube and Display Networks
5 useful tips for Google Ads bidding strategies 2023
Now that you’re caught up on all the different Google Ads bidding strategies, you can set up bidding for your Google Ads. After this, let’s move on to 9 different tips you can use to get the most out of your strategies.
1. Seasonal trends
For seasonal businesses, Google Ads performance fluctuates with the time of year. Conversion rates may decrease and cost per conversion may rise during off-seasons, while peak times like holidays can lead to surging conversion rates. Adjust bids aggressively during peak times but readjust after the season ends. Analyzing seasonal trends is crucial for aligning bidding strategies with changing needs.
Looking to optimize your Google Ads bidding strategies for the holiday season? Check out Mega Digital’s Google Ads Holiday Playbook for expert tips!
2. Set bidding rules
In Google Ads, you can set specific rules that automatically adjust your Google Ads bidding strategies, budgets, and campaign status based on certain conditions you choose. You can apply these rules to your entire campaign, specific ad groups, individual ads, or keywords. For example, you can create a rule that increases your bids by a certain amount if the cost per conversion is below a target value.
To set up these rules, go to “rules” in the tools and settings section, or select a campaign, ad group, or keyword, click “Edit,” and then choose “Create an automated rule.”
2. Adjust bidding based on sales, not conversions
In Google Ads, not all keywords are equally effective for generating sales. It’s essential to track which keywords lead to actual sales, not just leads. Focus on bidding more aggressively for high-converting keywords, even if the cost per conversion is higher than the account average. The ultimate goal of Google Ads bidding strategies should be maximizing revenue and closing more deals.
4. A/B testing on various keywords and offers
Have you ever split-tested your landing page offers? If so, you are likely aware of the significant impact on conversion rates and sales/closing rates.
Therefore, it’s crucial to continuously test new offers, such as time to close and sales rates, after capturing leads. A/B testing keywords is one of the most essential Google Ads bidding strategies to determine which ones work best. Moreover, ensure that the data collected is statistically relevant for meaningful insights.
5. Bidding on branded keywords
Bidding on branded keywords has multiple benefits beyond controlling your brand’s ad message. It can improve account health, enhance overall performance, and drive visitors to dedicated landing pages.
Even if you receive organic clicks for branded terms, considering bidding on them can yield positive results. It’s a smart move with lasting benefits beyond message control.
Choosing the right Google Ads bidding strategy is crucial for a successful campaign. Consider your goals – brand awareness, website traffic, or direct sales – and select the appropriate bidding approach. With practice, you’ll improve your bidding skills for future campaigns.