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How Much Can You Trust Recommendations In Google Ads?

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How Much Can You Trust Recommendations In Google Ads?


You can barely go a minute in Google Ads without seeing recommendations put in front of you.

The overview screen surfaces them in a highly visible box.

The notification bell turns red, alerting you to the fact that you have several recommendations waiting.

Suggested budget increases appear right next to the graph at the top of the Campaigns section.

You can click a button to apply the updated amount and instantly spend more.

Screenshot from Google Ads, January 2022

So, how helpful are these recommendations that Google puts front and center for advertisers?

Let’s take a deeper dive into the types of recommendations and how well they correlate with the metrics that matter for performance.

Recommendations Overview

First, what are Google’s claims regarding the value of recommendations? The official support page says:

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“Recommendations can introduce you to new, relevant features, help you get more out of your budget by improving your bidding, keywords, and ads, and can work to increase the overall performance and efficiency of your campaigns.”

If you work with an official Google representative, they’ll spend a significant amount of time talking about optimization scores.

This score measures how well your account is following best practices for setup, in Google’s eyes.

Overall, recommendations correlate directly to optimization score, and Google provides you with an exact percentage that the score will increase for each recommendation you accept.

Types Of Google Ads Recommendations

While the specific recommendations that surfaced vary depending on the account and types of campaigns being run, there are several common types of recommendations that tend to surface.

Let’s consider a few common ones here.

1. Budget

When a campaign is limited by budget, Google will often suggest increasing the daily budget cap to ensure that ads are showing throughout the day.

The dangerous aspect of this suggestion is that with one click you can boost your budget significantly.

For instance, one of the accounts is suggesting that you raise a $75/day campaign budget to $690/day.

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That would result in an increase from a $2,250 monthly spend to a $20,700 monthly spend for that single campaign.

Whether managing accounts for clients or for their own businesses, most PPC managers have some level of budget constraints to work within and are not free to apply drastic budget increases without approval from higher up.

Budget increase recommendations can be helpful to surface the fact that a campaign is being limited in reach.

It can help make the case for adding budget incrementally (if performance is good). But instant, exponential budget boosts are less likely to be the ideal route for most accounts.

2. Conflicting Negative Keywords

This recommendation is one that I generally find useful.

If you’ve accidentally added any negative keywords that would prevent current keywords from showing up, Google will warn you and allow you to remove the conflicting negatives with one click.

In addition, this can also be helpful to flag keywords that you didn’t intend to be active if you wanted to keep certain words excluded but forgot to pause keywords that contained those words.

You should still take the time to double-check through the list of conflicts before auto-applying.

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3. New Keywords

Google will periodically surface ideas for new keywords to add to your campaigns.

You should always review these lists carefully as opposed to mindlessly adding them with a single click.

I’ve found that keyword ideas can range from a handful of relevant queries to extremely broad and unrelated keyword themes.

For example, a Google Ads campaign promoting accounting services is seeing phrases like “how to find employer identification number” recommended to bid on.

4. Adding Extensions

Google will frequently suggest adding extensions that are not in place for an account.

Some extensions generally make sense to apply across the board, such as sitelinks and callouts.

However, not all extensions may be relevant to every company.

For instance, a SaaS product would likely prefer to send people through a signup process on a landing page as opposed to paying for a click to a phone call.

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Even if you can’t necessarily immediately think of a way to incorporate a certain ad extension, be creative about potential options to help increase your ad visibility.

For example, a plumbing company might not immediately come to mind as an application for image extensions, but incorporating an image of a vehicle or even a photo of a person at work can help to visually draw attention to a search ad.

5. Add Audience Segments

These recommendations are another area that I do find useful at times, as the data tends to be based on actual audiences who are currently engaging with ads and visiting your website.

However, you should still take the time to review carefully through the options before applying everything, as not all audiences may be relevant to your brand.

6. Include Search Partners

Search Partners performance can be hit or miss depending on the account, and sometimes even if CPAs are efficient, lead quality can be lower.

If you’ve excluded Search Partners based on lead-related or budgetary reasons, you can just dismiss this recommendation.

7. Improve Responsive Search Ads

This suggestion will surface, either recommending adding more headlines/descriptions or tailoring copy more closely to keywords.

This area is also a complex one, as the ad strength metric for RSAs doesn’t necessarily correlate to good conversion performance.

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However, a study from Optmyzr showed that ad strength can correlate to capturing more available impressions, so considering these recommendations can be helpful to improve overall reach.

Thoughts On Recommendations

Let’s come back to the question at hand in the title of the article.

How much can you trust recommendations in Google Ads?

First of all, recommendations are clearly tied to Google’s view of best practices, which may not correlate with the approach that will actually result in your account’s end goal.

For instance, a business’s ultimate goal for Google Ads may be to deliver qualified leads that turn into sales, to sell ecommerce products through their website, or to get users to purchase an app.

A recommendation that increases conversion volume but simply leads to lower quality leads may not be beneficial.

Rolling out recommendations for bid strategy adjustments may be best tested in experiment campaigns as opposed to immediately switching up the strategy.

For instance, you can allocate 50% of traffic to a version of a campaign using Target CPA bidding, while keeping 50% going to the original Manual CPC campaign.

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Next, some recommendations may be more or less relevant for you depending on your business.

Think through the implications of applying each one and how likely it is to help or hurt your account.

When you’re already limited by budget with exact and phrase match keywords, adding broad match keywords likely won’t help, but if you have budget to play with, you may find broad match helpful for discovering new queries.

In short, Google’s recommendations can provide some helpful guidance and shouldn’t be entirely dismissed without review.

But don’t rely on them as an end-all tool for optimizing your account.

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Featured Image: fizkes/Shutterstock

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SEO

How Data Is Reshaping The SEO & Digital Marketer’s Landscape

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How Data Is Reshaping The SEO & Digital Marketer's Landscape

There is a new data revolution happening, and it’s sweeping across the industry so quickly that many SEO and digital marketers are struggling to make sense of the insights and intelligence at their disposal.

To utilize this opportunity, marketers need to evolve their mindsets and use technology to analyze multiple data formats and understand the new opportunities it can bring.

SEO marketers of today and digital marketers of tomorrow will need to extract, structure quickly, and manipulate data to drive the most critical business outcomes.

Data has always been mission-critical to digital decision-making.

The Economist, back in 2017, declared it the world’s most valuable resource.

Fast forward to today and the future, and we can see that the exponential growth of data fuelling this revolution is staggering.

According to the IDC, the amount of digital data created over the next five years will be greater than twice the amount of data made since the advent of digital storage.

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Think about that for a second!

Flash drives, for example, were introduced in 2000.

This means that in the next five years, marketers will have to analyze and make sense of 2x the data created in the last 22 years!

The Data Revolution Means More Sources & Complexity For SEO

The data revolution has gone on for some time now, and it’s changed our concept of what counts as “data,” rightfully so.

In the past, we thought only numbers mattered.

But, in this new digital world where everything is converted into ones and zeros, data is broader and contains text, audio, and visual information – all bits waiting to be processed!

  • Machine-based and human-generated data are growing at a rate of 10x faster than conventional business data.
  • Machine-created data is increasing exponentially at a 50x the growth rate. This data revolution is primarily marketing-driven and consumer-oriented who are “always on.”
  • In just the last 18 months, the volume of site processing data we have been generating at BrightEdge has increased by 11x!
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As a result of these increasingly demanding trends, SEO and digital marketers need to adapt and become more like data analysts and scientists in approaching the extraction of structured data insights and business intelligence – without adding more manual work.

Fortunately, SEO is well-positioned to take advantage of this new data revolution.

  • Increasing your keyword universe – More keywords mean more data points to look at with reporting and fuelling insights. While focusing on conversion rate metrics is very important, it wouldn’t be possible without opening the scope of your audience and getting more people in the door. SEO has drifted away from writing for a primary dedicated keyword and is now way more advanced with advancements in search engines like Google’s understanding of intent of searches through RankBrain and BERT.
  • Increasing your search footprint – will also help you discover unexplored of informing your future content strategy or ideate new keyword ideas. However, sometimes you might miss the boat, like the transition of Content Management Systems slowly turning into “Experience Platforms” as they offer more functionality to meet the needs of today’s webmaster or marketer.

Read More On SEJ

Data Is The Currency Of An Accelerated SEO & Digital Age

By 2025, Worldwide data will reach 175 zettabytes.

But unfortunately, the human brain can’t process, structure, and analyze all that data.

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So technology engines have to help, and digital marketers should be the driver.

There is a massive opportunity for companies that can utilize data to create more engaging experiences.

A recent study showed that 95% of business leaders recognize this as their biggest growth lever over the next three years, which means there’s plenty at stake here!

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Robust data analysis ensures decisions are evidence-based and have more accountability.

Drawing on existing and new data sources to fully integrate business acumen and analytical skills into decision making, sourcing, managing, and analyzing large amounts of unstructured data will ensure continued use and success.

SEO began with data and has evolved.

From the introduction of real-time SEO in 2019 and Page Experience Updates in 2021, SEO’s future lies again with data and the creation of intelligent systems. Here marketers can leverage combined data sources that structures data for them.

As a result, they can achieve business objectives and stay ahead during all data and digital transformation stages.

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Technology & AI Are Helping SEO Evolve

Advancements in technology and, in particular, AI and Natural Language Processing has meant that SEO and digital marketers can become data analysts without having to become an actual data scientist.

This is key to unlocking structured insights from your company’s big data to make more precise predictions about what is coming next based on existing information.

Digital marketers can evolve, understand key trends, and learn in new areas such as:

  • Predictive modeling of future trends and forecasting based on multiple types of data.
  • Real-time identification of opportunities and intelligence.
  • Digital research at scale with both historical and real-time data.
  • Leveraging automated visualizations for various stakeholders.
  • Improved data security and compliance.
  • Market and business intelligence at a macro level.
  • Consumer behavior at the most granular level.

SEO and digital marketers can learn critical skills such as statistics, data analysis, data visualization, and strategy.

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AI, NLP, and machine learning are helping them do this without needing expertise in computer programming and software applications.

What digital marketers must do is combine their communication skills and analytics skills with stakeholders who cannot think outside of the advertising box.

Read More On SEJ

Data Analysis & Intelligence As Competitive Advantage

The application of technology will be the driving force behind the next generation of data analysis technology.

Therefore, SEO and digital marketers of today should learn how to better utilize insights from data analysis.

It’s becoming more apparent that the marketing platforms of tomorrow will require the capabilities of data analysis and science infrastructure at their core.

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The future of marketing will blend technological know-how, business sense, and an understanding of data analysis.

The next generation of SEO will touch all components of marketing, from video, email, and voice, to digital performance of content.

SEO and data science will converge into one evolved discipline that drives omnichannel acquisition and democratizes data.

Marketers who embrace this new era of SEO will be well-positioned to succeed in the years to come.

Data is reconfirming its role as the new competitive advantage, and as SEO and digital marketers, you must evolve if you want to be part of the future.

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Featured Image: ra2 studio/Shutterstock

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