You can barely spend a minute in Google Ads without seeing the recommendations offered to you.
The preview screen presents them in a highly visible box.
The notification bell turns red, alerting you that you have multiple pending recommendations.
Suggested budget increases appear right next to the chart at the top of the Campaigns section.
You can click a button to apply the updated amount and instantly spend more.
So how useful are these recommendations that Google puts for advertisers?
Let’s take a closer look at the types of recommendations and how they correlate with important performance metrics.
Presentation of recommendations
First, what are Google’s claims about the value of recommendations? The official support page said:
“Recommendations can introduce you to relevant new features, help you get the most out of your budget by improving your bids, keywords, and ads, and can help increase the overall performance and effectiveness of your campaigns.”
If you’re working with an official Google representative, they’ll spend a lot of time talking about optimization scores.
This score measures how well your account follows setup best practices, in the eyes of Google.
Overall, recommendations are directly tied to optimization score, and Google provides you with an exact percentage increase in score for each recommendation you accept.
Types of Google Ads recommendations
While the specific recommendations that appear vary by account and the types of campaigns in progress, there are several common types of recommendations that tend to appear.
Here we consider some of the most common.
When a campaign is constrained by its budget, Google often suggests increasing the daily budget cap to ensure ads run throughout the day.
The dangerous aspect of this suggestion is that with one click you can increase your budget significantly.
For example, one of the accounts suggests that you increase a campaign budget from $75/day to $690/day.
This would translate to an increase from a monthly spend of $2,250 to a monthly spend of $20,700 for this campaign alone.
Whether they are managing accounts for clients or for their own company, most PPC managers have some level of budget constraints to work in and are not free to implement drastic budget increases without approval from a higher level. superior.
Budget increase recommendations can be useful to signal that a campaign has limited reach.
This can help make the case for a gradual increase in budget (if performance is good). But instant, exponential budget increases are less likely to be the ideal path for most accounts.
2. Conflicting Negative Keywords
This recommendation is one that I generally find helpful.
If you accidentally added negative keywords that would prevent the current keywords from showing, Google will notify you and allow you to remove the conflicting negatives with one click.
Additionally, it can also be useful for flagging keywords that you didn’t intend to be active if you wanted to exclude certain words but forgot to pause keywords containing those words.
You should always take the time to double-check the list of conflicts before automatically applying.
3. New Keywords
Google will periodically come up with ideas for new keywords to add to your campaigns.
You should always carefully review these lists instead of 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 sees phrases such as “how to find employer ID 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 teasers.
However, not all extensions may be relevant for all businesses.
For example, a SaaS product would probably rather send people through a signup process to a landing page than pay for a click on a phone call.
While you can’t necessarily immediately think of a way to integrate a certain ad extension, be creative about potential options to help increase your ad’s visibility.
For example, a plumbing company might not immediately come to mind as an application for Image Extensions, but embedding an image of a vehicle or even a photo of a person. at work can help draw attention to a search ad visually.
5. Add audience segments
These recommendations are another area that I sometimes find useful, as the data tends to be based on actual audiences who are currently engaging with ads and visiting your website.
However, you should always take the time to carefully consider the options before going all out, as not all audiences may be relevant to your brand.
6. Include research partners
Search partner performance can be hit or miss depending on the account, and sometimes even if CPAs are effective, the quality of leads can be lower.
If you’ve excluded search partners for budget or lead-related reasons, you can simply ignore this recommendation.
7. Improve responsive search ads
This suggestion will surface, either recommending adding more titles/descriptions or tailoring the copy more closely to the keywords.
This area is also complex, as measuring the strength of ads for RSAs does not necessarily correlate with good conversion performance.
However, a study by Optmyzr showed that ad strength can be correlated with capturing more available impressions, so it may be useful to consider these recommendations to improve the overall audience.
Thoughts on the recommendations
Let’s go back to the question posed in the title of the article.
How much can you trust Google Ads recommendations?
First, the recommendations are clearly tied to Google’s opinion of best practices, which may not correlate with the approach that will actually lead to your account’s end goal.
For example, a company’s ultimate goal for Google Ads might be to provide qualified leads that convert into sales, sell e-commerce products through their website, or get users to buy an app.
A recommendation that increases conversion volume but simply leads to lower quality leads may not be beneficial.
Deploying recommendations for bid strategy adjustments can best be tested in test campaigns rather than immediately switching strategies.
For example, you can allocate 50% of traffic to a version of a campaign using Target CPA bidding, while keeping 50% to the original manual CPC campaign.
Then, some recommendations may be more or less relevant to you depending on your activity.
Consider the implications of applying each and the likelihood of it helping or harming your account.
When you’re already limited by your budget with exact match and phrase match keywords, adding broad match keywords probably won’t help, but if you have enough budget, broad match can be useful for discover new queries.
In short, Google’s recommendations can provide useful guidance and shouldn’t be dismissed entirely without review.
But don’t think of them as an ultimate tool to optimize your account.
Featured Image: fizkes/Shutterstock