There are a lot of moving parts to a Google Ads Campaign.
So many that it’s hard for the average person to know what all they need to do to have a successful campaign.
This is one of the reasons that Google started providing recommendations for accounts.
What are Google Ads recommendations? They are customized suggestions Google makes to marketers that they think will help improve their specific PPC campaigns.
Why Does Google Make These Recommendations?
The main reason Google makes these recommendations is that they know many people manage their own accounts and often take a set it and forget it approach.
As a result, accounts run without incorporating many features of Google Ads. Or they run with outdated ads or without campaigns being tweaked on a regular basis.
The recommendations range from keyword suggestions to changes in bidding and alerts of features not being used or recently introduced.
They are supposedly based on your account's history and campaign settings.
Recommendations are also a way to alert advertisers to new features or existing ones they weren’t aware of.
By constantly making adjustments an advertiser will improve their results. Which Google then hopes will mean they’ll increase their spend.
It used to be just a handful of suggestions, but today there are dozens of recommendations that can appear.
According to Google, there are as many as 60 different recommendations available. To be honest, I haven't seen nearly that many, but the number is certainly significant.
The problem with recommendations is that not all of them will benefit your specific campaign no matter what Google tells you. And could, in fact, create wasted spend.
Some recommendations actually contradict one another, creating more confusion.
In the screenshot on the right, there are 4 recommendations that will help the marketer to bid more efficiently. Obviously only one can be used, so how to know which recommendation to accept.
To see all their suggestions, click on recommendations along the main column. Here you’ll not only see their recommendations but also an optimization score.
The lower your score the more recommendations you’ll have and undoubtedly the more work you need to do on your campaign. Ideally you want a score of 100% or so it would seem.
In addition, you’ll also see a number encircled on each recommendation. This is the percentage amount of benefit you’ll supposedly receive from applying this particular recommendation. If your current score is 69.9%, then all the recommendations listed will add up to 30.1%.
When you see a number that gets a double-digit improvement score, you’re likely to anticipate it being more important. Don’t let this influence you.
What Google feels is important to your account may not be the case. Ignore the numbers and instead focus on the recommendation itself.
With each recommendation, you can either apply it or dismiss it. Ironically whether you accept the recommendation, or reject it, your score will still improve.
You need to be cautious with their suggestions.
If you accept the wrong recommendation or it's automatically applied to your account, your campaign could be negatively impacted.
Yet, many recommendations could benefit your account and be a game-changer for you.
You need to review each recommendation carefully to see if they really benefit your campaign.
Typically, Google has suggestions broken down into 5 categories, but I've created my own groupings.
I’d like to say this is the definitive list, but its not.
Google Ads Campaigns Not Running
These recommendations concern your campaigns not running at all.
Unpause a campaign - If you see this notice it means your campaigns aren't running because they're all currently paused.
Most likely your already aware of this because you paused the ads yourself. Or you had them running for a specific date range and that time has passed.
This is simple to take care of. Just unpause the ads or extend the time they're set to run.
Your Ads Aren't Showing - I could have placed this one under ads, but decided it was more appropriate in this category as it means your campaigns aren't showing because of your ads.
Yet, it could also be related to your website.
The reason for your ads not running is most likely your site or campaign is in violation of a Google Ads policy. This is a much more serious issue and can be difficult to remedy because of the problem.
One client who had this problem was getting all of his ads rejected because Google found there was malicious software on his site. Try as he might, and even with the help of web specialists, he couldn't get the issue resolved.
These suggestions relate to your advertising spend. Most often they involve you spending more money.
Raise Your Budget – This one is easy to evaluate. Only you know what you can afford to spend on your marketing campaign.
Their recommendation does provide you with specific budget levels and potentially how many more clicks you’ll see with each amount.
As is to be expected, the amounts are significantly higher than your current budget.
Accept this only if you can afford to spend more money and only choose the option that works for you.
Raise Your Budget For Upcoming Traffic Increases - This one is most often for eCommerce sites and relates to changes in the season or upcoming holidays that are big for your business.
Quite a few will see this as holidays such as Christmas draws near.
The idea is that you’ll benefit from spikes in traffic due to the time of the year.
Accepting this recommendation is again based on what you can afford for your marketing budget.
Move Unused Budget – More than anything Google wants you to spend money.
If they notice that one of your campaigns isn’t reaching its daily spend, while another is limited by budget, they'll want you to adjust accordingly.
This comes down once again to what you can spend.
You might be spending enough per day, even if one of your campaigns isn’t reaching its limit. Rearranging your daily spend could result in you going over your planned budget.
If you’re not reaching your planned budget, then this recommendation is worth accepting.
If you’re comfortable with what your spending, then reject it.
Lower Your Bids – This is often a better option if you can’t increase your budget and your reaching your daily spend.
If your campaign is showing Limited By Budget, then this means your ads aren’t showing the entire time your campaign is set to run.
By lowering your bids, you could see more clicks for the same amount of spend.
The problem I see with this suggestion is that when you view the recommendation, the amount they recommendation is often pretty dramatic. Typically, it’s close to 40%. This is too much, especially at one time.
You can adjust the bids on your own. I suggest lowering them by 15% to begin with. Then monitor to see if you’re still getting the clicks you need to reach your daily spend. If so, then decrease the bids again.
Dismiss this recommendation by saying you’re already doing it and then manually adjust your bids on your own at a lower amount. Let the campaign run for a while. If you're still reaching your daily spend, then adjust the bids down slightly again.
This group of recommendations involves how you bid on your keywords.
As mentioned previously, you’ll often see several conflicting recommendations for the same campaign. If all of these bidding options are more efficient, then which one is truly efficient.
Which bid is best for you often depends on how well you track conversions.
Bid More Efficiently with Maximize Conversions – Just the name alone makes this seem like the ideal choice. And it can be for many businesses.
The key to this is if you’re properly tracking conversions on your website and with your phone calls.
With any of the automated bidding options, they’re always more effective if you already have conversions that Google’s system can analyze.
Google recommends switching to an automated only after you’ve had more than 15 conversions in a 30-day period. And I would suggest that if you can get more conversions than this before making the switch the better off you’ll be.
It's also critical that your properly tracking conversions. If your not then the data Google is working with is corrupted.
To be honest I've had very little success with this targeting option.
The problem is that Google's system will often bid significantly higher when it's a search that is more likely to convert. Especially if you haven't had any conversions that day.
You might want to test out this option, but monitor it closely and after a few weeks review what your paying for a conversion in comparison to what you were paying before switching over.
Bid More Efficiently with Target CPA – In this option you set what you want to pay for each acquisition. If you set it at $20, then this what you want your cost per acquisition to be.
Again, for this system to work, you need to have data to work with and you're properly tracking conversions.
It’s also important to remember that there is a learning process with this. Typically, in the first month you’ll see an increase in CPA as the system gets to know your best prospects.
This can be an effective bidding option, but only if the proper steps have been taken.
Accept this recommendation if everything is in place in terms of conversions and you fully understand what a profitable conversion is for you.
Also realize that its best to go with Google's target CPA suggestion. You might want to target a significantly lower number, but often that isn't realistic.
Choose their option or close to it, then over time lower it.
If you set your target CPA too low you'll see the next recommendation.
Adjust Your CPA Target - This is the warning you get when you set your Target CPA too high.
By having your target CPA too high the system will try to reach your objective, but ultimately fail.
As a result, you won't see any conversions. Or at least as not as much as you could.
As I mentioned in the previous passage, start with the amount Google suggests. Then gradually lower it as you see conversions coming in.
Bid More Efficiently With Target Impression Share – This one almost seems like it should be exclusively for display campaigns, but it's intended for search.
Since the focus is on impressions, not clicks, it about getting your ads in front of as many faces as possible.
This bidding option to me is a little deceptive as it actually focuses on what position your ads appear in.
When you set it up, you have three options on where your ads appear.
Top of Results Page means your ad is one of the three or four that appear at the top of the page above organic results.
Absolute Top of Results Page means you want your ads to appear number 1.
Anywhere on the Results Page simply means your ad appears somewhere on the page. Without a doubt, I would advise against this option.
If your goal is to be at the top of the search results page, then this option would be a way to have it done automatically.
The risk is that it could result in a higher cost per click, especially if you choose the absolute top of results page. This is why you should definitely set a Max CPC bid limit.
Like many of these recommendations its about giving Google more control of your bidding, which isn’t always the best thing.
Accept this if you don’t have time to monitor your ad positions and are willing to potentially pay more to rank high.
Bid More Efficiently with Enhanced CPC – This is one of the easiest bidding options to accept, especially at the beginning.
With this option, you manually set your bid, but by checking the box next to enhanced you allow Google to utilize its algorithm to adjust your bids up or down.
In the recommendation, it is stated that they’ll raise “your bid for visitors who are more likely to convert and lowers your bid for visitors who are less likely to convert.”
If you want to take small steps in relying on automated bidding, this is the best option, to begin with. Let your campaign run for a while and accumulate a number of conversions before switching over.
Bid More Efficiently WIth Maximize Clicks - This is about getting the most clicks out of your budget.
I used to dismiss this bidding option as being about quantity over quality. Yet, it does have some value if done correctly.
Maximize clicks works best if you'rr using the keywords that have the most value to you.
This can be a good setting in the beginning of your account to see where the most clicks come from. Then you can transition over to a bidding option that requires conversion tracking.
Shopping Campaign Recommendations
There are some recommendations that are specific to shopping campaigns.
Switch to Smart Shopping Campaigns – As the name implies, this automated bidding option is designed for product ads.
As with all the smart bidding options you need data and plenty of it before switching over to smart shopping.
You have two options when choosing this format, target return on ad spend and maximize conversions.
I’ll be honest. I don’t have as much experience with shopping campaigns as I do with search campaigns.
I do know you have less control with this campaign type. For example you can't see the search terms you showed up for.
To learn more about this type of campaign I’d suggest reading this article on Wordstream that has more detail on it.
My suggestion is to get your campaign running correctly and with enough data coming in on conversions before switching to this.
Fix Disapproved Items In Your Feed - This relates to the items in your feed. Most likely there are errors in some of the fields for a product.
If you're seeing this warning it's because of the issue with more than 20% of your items. That's a pretty significant amount.
On seeing this you need to correct the errors so that all your products can run.
These recommendations focus on the quality and the number of ads you currently have in each ad group.
1 Ad Group Does Not Have Any Ads – Often this happens when you started pausing ads at the campaign level and inadvertently paused all the ads in a single ad group. Or you started to set up a new ad group and never made it to the ad stage.
Accepting this recommendation is relatively simple. Either pause this ad group or create some ads.
Add Ad Suggestions – Since many marketers struggle with creating ads or have only one or two in an ad group, Google has taken it upon itself to create new ads for you.
It's important to have multiple ads in an ad group as you never know which your prospects will respond to.
I suggest having two expanded text ads in an ad group and one responsive ad. According to Google, "research has shown that ad groups with 3 or more high-quality ads can get up to 5% to 15% more clicks or conversions than ad groups with only 1 ad,"
You're trying to see which ads perform the best. Eventually, you’ll pause the lesser performing ad and try out a new one.
Having more than 3 ads is fine, but if you have too many it’s hard to get a true picture of which are most successful.
The problem with the ads that Google creates is that they’re often terrible. Most often the first headline is simply the company name. They also lack a third headline.
And they only have a single description. They also don’t utilize display paths.
My suggestions are to review them and if certain elements seem good then fill in the blanks or make some tweaks. Unless their system improves I’d almost never accept them as they are.
As I'll discuss later, you also have to be aware these ads could be auto-applied, depending on your settings.
Create New More Relevant Ads – This suggestion is a reflection on the quality of your ads.
This recommendation points out that your ads don’t incorporate some of your important keywords in your ad text.
This is a recommendation I suggest you follow, even if you reject the ads they create.
An ad has a better click-through rate if an ad incorporates the words the searcher is using.
One thing to keep in mind is that an ad should be relevant for all the words in an ad group. If it doesn't apply to certain phrases, then these words should be placed in their own ad group.
This is why it's often best to have a number of themed ad groups.
Add Responsive Search Ads – You're receiving this suggestion because you are using expanded text ads, but not responsive ads.
In this ad format, you supply Google with as many as 15 headlines and four descriptions.
Like expanded text ads, Google still only shows up to three headlines and two descriptions.
Yet, by adding all these additional variations, Google can create 43,680 different ads.
I was hesitant to use this format at first as the click-through rate was often less than those of the expanded text ads I was running.
Yet, what a Google representative informed me and which I’ve now had confirmed by others is that this ad will often appear for search results that your expanded text ads wouldn’t have shown for.
This means a responsive ad will allow you to appear in more searches.
This a recommendation I accept.
As mentioned, I typically run two expanded text ads and one responsive ad in each ad group.
Add Assets to Your Responsive Search Ads - It can be daunting to create all the headlines and descriptions for a responsive search ad. Most often you didn't use the maximum amount allowed.
This suggestion encourages you to ad either more titles or descriptions to your ad.
They even provide suggestions on some ad copy to use. Often they're from other headlines or descriptions from other ads your running.
This is a recommendation I suggest you follow even if the suggestions they provide aren't always the best.
Instead either tweak what they provide or ignore them and create your own.
Why does Google make this recommendation? By adding more titles and descriptions you provide Google with more options in creating ads.
Improve Your Responsive Search Ads - What is the difference between this and the previous recommendation? It has to do with the number of assets you have or their poor quality.
As you develop a responsive ad you'll see your ad strength displayed in a circle.
If your ad strength is below excellent, then you'll get this warning.
With your responsive ad, you'll also often see some suggestions. They will be for additional headlines or additional descriptions.
You'll see this recommendation alongside the adding assets recommendation. When you click on it you'll see similar suggestions to the other one, but entirely different.
Again this is a suggestion I follow. If I don't like their suggestion, I at least come up with one of my own.
You want to have high ad strength in order to get the most out of responsive ads.
Create Dynamic Search Ads – The most recent ad format is similar to responsive search ads but doesn’t involve keywords.
Instead, it takes information from your landing page or even your entire website to find search ideas you might not have considered.
In other words, they might find search queries that you currently aren’t targeting.
With the current version, most marketers are seeing only allows for you to create two descriptions and add the page you want to be targeted. The rest including the headlines, Google will create.
This format I’m hesitant to recommend, given my earlier complaints about Google Ads.
Accepting this recommendation depends on how much control you want over the ad creation and whether you need more searches.
Add Items To Your Feed – This relates to dynamic search ads your running for products.
It means that your dynamic ads can’t run until you add a feed to them.
If you're receiving this recommendation and your not selling products then most likely you set it up incorrectly.
If want to try dynamic search ads, then you need to look into this recommendation to see if you need to add items to your feed or change the settings.
Use Optimized Ad Rotation – Google has two choices when it comes to how your ads are rotated.
If you’re seeing this recommendation, it’s because you are using Do Not Optimize: rotate ads indefinitely.
This means you’re expecting Google to show each ad about the same number of times.
If you're testing your ads regularly and installing new ones on a regular basis, then this choice makes sense for you. You want an even playing field for your ads to see which get the best click-through rates.
Google would prefer you use the second option, Optimize: Prefer Best performing ads. That your best ads get more exposure over your other ads.
The problem with this option is that Google often chooses an ad too early in the process and without the other ads getting many impressions.
If each ad were getting a similar number of impressions before kicking in, then this would be a better option.
This is why in the beginning I chose the Do Not Optimize setting. To at least get all the ads a significant number of impressions. Yet, even with this setting you’ll never see an equal amount across all your ads.
Typically, I dismiss the recommendation in the early stages of a campaign, then switch to it later. It works best if your ads have had time to run.
Fix Your Ad Destination – This alerts you to the fact that some of your ads aren’t running because of an issue with your website url.
This issue often occurs when a website gets a redesign and some of your url’s have changed. Now when someone clicks on your ads they get an error message.
With this recommendation you simply have to edit the ad so that it now goes to the correct page. It’s a recommendation you should respond to or some of your ad won’t be running.
Fix Certification Issues - This is another reason some, if not all, of your ads aren't displaying.
Depending on your industry, you might be required to show some certification of your legitimacy.
Often this occurs if your in the healthcare field. But not always.
Google's algorithm inadvertantly flags ads that don't relate to what they believe they represent.
I've had clients receive this warning because the system thought they were in the addiction field. In fact, they weren't even remotely related to that service.
If you feel your ads have been wrongly characterized then appeal. Often after being manually reviewed, ads are approved.
If you are in fact, in one of these industries, then supply the certification they request.
Google’s Recommendations About Extensions
Extensions are a great way to enhance your ads.
Why does Google offer so many extensions? They provide additional features on your business or the products or services you offer.
They also help your ads to take up more real estate on the search results page. This helps to push down the other ads and organic listings.
There are dozens of extensions available, but typically only a handful are relevant to your business.
I won’t go in-depth about each extension, as I’ve done that in a previous blog How To Set Up Google AdWords Extensions & Which To Use. In fact that article will highlight even more extensions than what appears in the recommendations.
Add Sitelinks – This is one of the best and the most common extension that shows up in the search results. They not only provide additional information about your business or services, but additional links they can click on.
The only time sitelinks aren’t applicable is if you’re doing a landing page that stands alone.
Otherwise, sitelinks are applicable to all types of businesses and the most used.
This recommendation is one I suggest acting on. Immediately.
Sitelink Descriptions This means you’re using Sitelinks, but not taking advantage of having descriptions for each link.
Descriptions don’t always show, but it’s still worth having them for the times they do show. And by not having them, they might not be shown at all on occasion.
This is a way to incorporate even more information about your business or your products and services.
This recommendation I would suggest you act on.
Callouts - Another important extension that all advertisers should be using.
These are short lines of text that can appear as part of your ad. Think of them as blurbs about your business or product. It could be something like In Business 12 Years or Money Back Guarantee.
As with other extensions, the callouts should be information not already contained in the ads. You don’t want to be redundant.
This extension can be effective for all types of businesses and is another recommendation I would accept.
Structured Snippets Once again, another extension most marketers should be using.
These are lists that appear with specific headers such as brands, neighborhoods, service catalog, types, etc. Most likely you can find a header that is appropriate and then you can list various products, services, or locations that are relevant to your business.
This again is one recommendation you should follow if appropriate. I have found a couple instances where this extension wasn’t appropriate, but these were rare.
Call Extensions – Calls are critical to many businesses from lawyers to plumbers and restaurants.
If calls are an integral way prospects contact you, then this is a recommendation you should follow.
Yet, phone calls are not relevant to all businesses. For example, many b2b businesses rely on companies that visit their site and then fill out a form.
Accepting this recommendation depends on the type of business you have and if phone calls are important.
Add Price Extensions – This can show up in a variety of campaign types, not just businesses that sell products.
It appears for service industries, as well, such as plumbers and lawyers. Some of these industries, particularly lawyers don’t have set fees, so these aren’t a good fit.
You can do the price extension as a fixed price or a range.
Pricing can be a way to set yourself apart from the competition, particularly when you have lower prices.
Another benefit for some industries is that it might dissuade some people from clicking on your ad because of your price. These searchers wouldn’t be good prospects anyway. Their decision to not click on your ad is more beneficial in the long run.
If this is appropriate to your business, then once again accept it.
Add Seller Ratings – More and more people rely on reviews and ratings to choose a business, a product or a service.
Naturally, this would make this recommendation a no-brainer if it's appropriate to your business.
This recommendation takes a little more work, then most of the recommendations in that you might have to set up an account with Google and make some changes to your computer code. Then customers can leave reviews of your products.
Despite the effort involved in this recommendation, I do think it’s worth it if you know customers are extremely happy with your products. Thanks to Amazon and Google reviews, consumers rely more and more on reviews to make a decision.
Add Lead Form Extensions To Your Ads - This extension is more recent and designed to cut the middleman out of the equation. Your website.
With a lead extension prospects can fill out a form without having to visit your site.
You have a lot of options when creating your form, from a number of fields to background images.
They also have a number of questions you can ask on the form, based on your industry.
This extension is still in beta and has been for a while, meaning Google is really testing it out. The fact that its been around for a while means some businesses have found it successful.
This extension isn't just for service providers and retailers, but also real estate, auto, travel and more. You can also use this to get job applicants.
Google Ads Keywords Suggestions
Keywords are still the mainstay of your campaign, even with dynamic campaigns being rolled out. Therefore, your choices should be done with careful consideration.
You should focus on quality, not quantity. You want keywords that are relevant to your business and which seem to indicate the searcher is ready to purchase your products or utilize your services.
Add New Keywords - Of all the recommendations that Google offers this to me is the most beneficial.
It can provide you with valuable phrases you hadn’t considered. Yet, it can also provide you with phrases that aren’t beneficial.
The one nice feature about this recommendation is that each phrase has a checkbox next to it. You can check the boxes next to the phrase you like and hit apply. Then when these are removed, check the rest of the keywords and hit dismiss.
Constantly review this recommendation even if you dismiss most recommendations.
Add Phrase or Broad Match Versions of Your Keywords – This recommendation focuses on keywords you’re already using. It suggests your run different match types of these keywords.
Most of the time when I see their suggestions it involves running broad match versions of your keywords.
Broad match typically results in a high number of impressions, many of which aren’t critical to your business.
An example of this is a lawyer using a personal injury attorney as exact match. With broad match you’ll see clicks for other law firms, as well as medical-related queries.
This is one I review carefully but usually dismiss. Particularly if all they are recommending is to run broad match of your terms.
Read Which Keyword Match Type to Use for Google Ads to learn more about different match types.
Add Broad Match Versions of Your Keywords - A potentially worse recommendation than most of these.
As I mentioned broad match allows a variety of phrases to show up for your campaigns. It's one of the reasons Google uses it as the default choice in which keywords are added.
This involves smart campaigns, but even with this being the option, it's not a very good choice.
I would seldom recommend this choice unless you are really desperate for more searches.
Add Trending Search Terms as Keywords – Why does Google Ads make this recommendation? These are phrases that might be seasonal or related to a new trend.
This can be helpful as it might alert you to phrases you hadn’t thought of, especially if your product or services see spikes around specific seasons of the year.
This is another recommendation you should constantly review as it may reveal keywords you hadn’t considered.
Remove Redundant Keywords – One of the biggest changes to Google Ads is related to keyword match types and this reflects that.
In the past exact match meant the phrase you were targeting would only trigger an ad if that specific phrase in that specific order was typed in. That is no longer the case. A personal injury attorney is the same now as a personal injury lawyer.
The other match types have also undergone changes so now you don’t have to include every variation of a phrase in your account.
Google now lets you know when certain phrases are no longer needed because other phrases mean the same things.
Why does Google make this recommendation? I think it helps to clean up an account and make it easier to manage.
This recommendation I usually follow as it helps to clear up an account. If your hesitant about removing a phrase because you think it has value on its own, then dismiss it. It’s not going to negatively impact your account.
Add Negative Keywords - This prevents your ads from showing for certain phrases that don't benefit your business.
As is stated in the recommendation, this helps to reduce wasted spend.
For example, you are a plumber in Atlanta targeting keywords like affordable plumbers or 24-hour plumbers. Then you see in the search term report your showing up for affordable plumber in New York. Your targeting the Atlanta area, but someone there might be looking for help for a parent in New York. Adding York will keep this from happening.
This is a recommendation I strongly suggest using depending on the word they suggest.
Remove Conflicting Negative Keywords – This recommendation involves keyword phrases that you accidentally blocked because of a word you added to your negative keyword list.
I’ve done this a number of times because of the context in which I saw the word wasn’t beneficial, yet the phrase now being blocked still has value.
The easy solution is to hit apply and then your keyword phrase is active again.
Yet, there can be situations when the word you initially blocked does result in bad searches.
The solution is to add the negative to most ad groups, but not in the one ad group with the phrase you want to run.
This recommendation you should definitely review, but not necessarily follow in the manner they suggest.
1 Ad Group Does Not Have Any Keywords – As the name implies you have an ad group with no words.
This typically happens when you are reviewing an entire campaign and paused non-performing words. In the process, all the words in an ad group were paused.
The solution is to either add in new words or simply pause the ad group.
Remove Non-Serving Keywords – This involves keywords that are getting no impressions.
You’ll often see a warning besides keywords that they have low search volume. This means they’re getting no impressions or very few.
What Google is telling you is that by removing them, you’ll have less to review.
The problem is that if there are a few searches for this phrase, they could be very beneficial to your business.
I accept this recommendation only if the words being listed have been running for a while with no impressions.
Pause Poorly Performing Keywords – This is Google’s way of telling you that one of your keywords has a low Quality Score.
When you review your keywords, you might see a red warning next to one that says its Rarely Shown (low Quality Score). Quality Score is an important element into where your ads show and even if they show.
With this recommendation, pausing the keyword is the easiest option. It’s not always the best, however.
If you feel that this keyword could be beneficial, then there are some other options. Too many to review here, but if you read my article on Quality Score and how to improve it.
If you see this recommendation review each word individually and decide what to do with it.
Expanding Your Market
Some recommendations are designed to expand your reach on Google Ads.
Expand Your Reach with Google Search Partners – Google Search Partners are not the same as the sites that make up the display network.
Instead, these are sites that use Google’s search platform to provide a search feature on their website.
Who makes up the search partners is a bit of a mystery. In the past, it was sites like AOL and Yahoo, but now it's YouTube and Yelp and a whole lot of other sites. Some of the search partners are simply little sites that have little to no traffic.
Google wants you to opt into the search partners, but I’m always hesitant about this due to the quality of the sites.
Should you include search partners? If you're looking to spend more than its worth testing.
Make sure to monitor your click-through rate and your cost per conversion. Then decide on whether to incorporate search partners in your campaign.
There are two reasons to try the search partners. One is that it can help when you’re not getting enough searches with Google alone.
Another reason is that the search partners' cost per click is often lower.
There are also reasons not to use Search partners, as well. The click-through rate can be much lower. And often fewer conversions.
If you are trying this you need to monitor it to determine how many conversions you’re getting from it and how good of quality they are.
This is a recommendation that is worth experimenting with if you want to expand your market. Yet, watch it carefully as it might not be your best market.
Add Audiences – This is a new feature for search campaigns that was available for a while in display.
These are a group of people who have shown an interest in various topics, or more importantly, are in the market for certain products or services.
For example, they could be looking for a new home or a new car. Or they could be a fan of rock climbing.
There is a lot to unpack with this feature as Google has a variety of categories.
This new feature could be a game-changer and potentially change the way campaigns are done in the future. Many businesses have already had success with this feature.
This recommendation I would test, especially since there are so many categories.
When you add an audience, you can either target them or observe. In the beginning, choose observe to see how many of the people clicking on your ad are in a particular group.
Depending on what you see in the data, you might later change this to target.
Upload Customer List – This is Google’s way of suggesting you use remarketing.
You most likely are aware of remarketing or at least the concept. That sites you visited or dealt with in the past now show ads to you when you visit various other sites.
You can also use this remarketing list for search.
This recommendation occurs when you have enough visitors tracked through Google or a remarketing pixel to being using this feature.
I’d follow up with this recommendation if you think it would help with branding or with coaxing potential prospects who visited your site but didn’t follow through with it.
Fix Your Audience List With No Activity - This relates to the audience list you’re creating for your remarketing list.
This warning is to let you know there is an issue with the code your using or some other element is preventing your list from populating.
I’ve already discussed the benefit of using remarketing, so address this issue if you can.
Refresh Your Customer Match Lists- This indicates your audience list is probably out of date.
A list isn't effective if the leads on it are likely no longer interested in your services or products. You need to refresh your list to make sure the ads are being shown to prospects who are still relevant.
As the message indicates, this list hasn't been updated in 90 days. That can be an eternity in many businesses.
Expand Your Reach With Video Partners - This relates to campaigns involving video.
Video partners is similar to Google Search Partners in that they are other sites that are part of Google's universe.
I'll be honest I don't have as much experience with video.
As I suggested with Google Partners, this might be worth trying out, but review the data carefully.
Recommendations Involving Changes To Your Site
Some of the recommendations involve changes to your site, either through the addition of code or making substantial changes.
Improve Your Mobile Site – This recommendation relates to how your site looks on mobile.
There are various factors involved in a poorly performing mobile site, from page speed to functionality.
This one can be slightly confusing as it has two numbers. The percentage gain you’ll get to your score by adding this and usually a second, much larger number. This is the percentage of traffic that goes to non-mobile friendly pages.
This recommendation is critical since so many of your visitors are likely finding you on their mobile device. It would be great if you could fix your site, but this isn’t always an option due to the cost.
If you can update your site, then take care of it as quickly as you can. If this isn't an option, then consider lowering your bids on mobile devices.
Set Up Conversion Tracking – You can track customers who have made a phone call or filled out on a form on your site after they’ve clicked on your ads.
Conversion Tracking is Critical to Assessing Campaigns
This is one of the most important things you can do for your campaign. It’s not just that you can see how your ads are resulting in business, you can determine which keywords and ads are the most effective.
For some of this, it requires that you add code to your site. Unfortunately for some businesses, this isn’t always an option. They might not have a webmaster or haven’t updated their site in years and have no one to do it. This means the only conversion they can track is if they use call forwarding for click to call.
This is an option you really need to act on if you can. It might require your hiring someone to make changes to your site and Google does have tech department that can help with this.
Finish Setting Up Conversion Tracking – This most likely occurs if you started to add conversion coding, but didn’t complete all the necessary steps. As I mentioned with the previous recommendation, this could come down to whether you can make the necessary changes to your site.
Improperly tracking your conversions is as bad as not tracking them at all.
Any recommendation involving tracking data is worth acting on.
Upgrade Your Conversion Tracking - This one doesn't involve making changes to your code, but since it involves conversions I'm including it here.
Most likely this is related to the age of your account. In the past, Google would track conversions only one way. Through last click. This meant that if your ad was the last interaction a prospect had with your site before filling out a form it would be a conversion.
The problem is that many conversions aren't from the last click. For example, a prospect might click on your ad, be intrigued by your offer, and then convert later. Google now allows you to change your conversion so that no matter when they clicked your ad in their buying process it will give them partial credit.
I strongly suggest you change your conversions even if you're not receiving this warning. Better options are linear, time decay, position-based or if its available, data-driven.
These are recommendations that don’t fit into the categories I created.
Download the Google Ads Mobile App – This a tool that allows you to monitor your campaign on your phone.
Accept this recommendation if you want to have ready access to your campaign and want to monitor it easily or make changes to it.
This is one of the most annoying recommendations, as it constantly reappears even after you've dismissed it and even if you downloaded the app.
In reviewing the recommendations, the choice is either to apply or dismiss.
When dismissing you’ll be given a list of reasons for your dismissing it such as I don’t want to spend more, or I don’t think this will improve my performance.
You can dismiss them without a reason, but many times I provide one, thinking it could provide more information to Google about the business. There is nothing to prove this, but Google always seems to review every piece of data.
You’ve reached a score of 100%. Now What?
Now that you’ve reached a 100% score either through acceptance or dismissal you might think reviewing recommendations no longer matters to you. That’s not the case.
According to Google the recommendations are done in real-time and constantly evolving.
Some recommendations such as those involving keywords will constantly be added to your account.
And some seem to keep reappearing because of Google's persistence.
Google’s features constantly change as well so new recommendations could involve a new extension or feature you weren’t even aware of.
Google suggests you check the recommendations daily, but most marketers aren't in their account that often. I suggest checking them at least weekly.
How often will often depend on the size of your account.
Changing Your Mind on A Recommendation You Dismissed
If you’ve dismissed a recommendation and wish not you’d learned more about it or even implemented it. Don’t worry. Google has a dismissed tab on the recommendations tab you can click on that will bring back those you’ve dismissed.
Then you can accept or review again the recommendation you’ve had second thoughts on.
The idea behind Google Ads recommendation is certainly a good one, particularly if you don’t spend a lot of time on your account or don’t have time to keep up with the many changes Google makes to its platform.
What To Know About Google Ads Auto Applied Recommendations
Google is slowly transitioning away from making suggestions to fully implementing them.
Google could already be implementing recommendations without you knowing it. This is especially true about their ads recommendations.
To be fair they are starting to send out emails forewarning you.
Yet, these emails are a little misleading. They boast that they will improve your campaign.
It's been for a while that Google started to auto-apply ads they created. If you don't act on their suggestions, they'll add them to your campaign after 14 days. As mentioned these ads are often terrible.
Your better option is to create new ads, even if they are just tweaks on hour existing ads.
To opt out of ads being automatically added you need to go into your settings and click account settings.
Recently, Google also started adding other recommendations without marketers being aware of it.
You might review your account and find new keywords added, for example. That's fine if the keywords are relevant, but if not, then this could be wasted spend.
If you've dismissed their recommendations, then this won't be a problem.
To be safe, however you should opt-out of auto applied recommendations. Follow this link to find out if you've been opted into this program.
What About Microsoft Ads?
Microsoft, formerly known as Bing, also has recommendations, many of which are the same as Google. There are a few unique to them, but I won't go into that here.
With Microsoft, there is no scoring involved, but the format is pretty much the same.
You can hit apply or dismiss. You can also request to stop seeing a particular type of recommendation.
With many of their recommendations they do seem to go into a little more detail on what impact a specific suggestion could have on a campaign.
With both Google and Microsoft take the time to review each recommendation and only accept one if you’re confident that it will benefit you.
I’ve mentioned many that you should accept right away, but for others it can often depend on what you can do with your site or even what type of business you run.
As I acknowledged this is not the definitive list as there are many I've simply not come across. In the comments let me know if you've seen others or if you disagree with my assessments of each.
If you want to learn some simple tips to improving your campaign, read my article on the 10 Biggest Mistakes in Google Ads in 2020 & How to Avoid Them.
If you’re not sure what recommendations to accept or frustrated with your current campaign, then consider getting professional help.
As a Google Ads Consultant I can help you grow your business and understand how to effectively manage your campaigns.