Should You Always Trust Google Ads Suggestions?

Meaghan Butler, Paid Search Specialist at Ontario SEO
Meaghan Butler
April 22, 2020
Don't Trust Google's Recommendations

In our first episode of SEO On The Rocks, we dive deeper into Google Ads recommendations and why they may not always be in your best interest to implement.

Why You Shouldn’t Always Trust Google Ads Recommendations

Let’s talk about the Google Ads optimization score, the recommendations tab and how Google’s recommendations shouldn’t always be trusted. Follow along as I go through some of the common recommendations we see and what kind of potential impacts you can expect if you do choose to apply them. But first, I’ll explain why you can’t always trust Google’s recommendations.

When you are evaluating any suggestions from Google, it is important to remember that what is good for Google isn’t always good for you. Any extra cost to the advertiser is additional revenue for Google. This means Google benefits from advertisers increasing their costs, whether it the increase in spend drives additional results or not. This is why you’ll often see recommendations from Google that talk about expanding your reach or to avoid missing out on additional results. It is important to note that Google cannot promise that implementing their recommendations will improve your KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) or your bottom line.

So whether you’re working in an agency, freelancing or an in-house marketing specialist, it’s important that when you’re reviewing these recommendations, you still use your common sense and don’t blindly accept them. You might think that Google’s just trying to help, but it is fair to be skeptical. Let’s jump into the types of recommendations that Google often provides. Based on Google’s recommendations, we’ll point out critical issues in your Google Ads account or things that need to be fixed.

Types Of Google Ads Recommendations

Fix Your Audience Targeting

A great example of a critical Google Ads recommendation is to fix your audience targeting, which tells you that your audiences are too small for your ads to serve to them.

Another example is if your conversion rate drops off suddenly, you might get a recommendation that tells you your conversion tracking needs to be checked. These types of recommendations can be helpful and help you to spot issues that you might not have otherwise noticed.

There are also recommendations that just help you to keep your account more organized by highlighting different keywords that are either redundant or they just aren’t serving, so there’s no point of having them in your account. I would say most recommendations fall into this third category which is, “Best practices.” These are usually helpful, or they can be helpful, but also sometimes irrelevant, depending on your client’s industry, and the nuances of their business. For example, a lot of our B2B client accounts receive this recommendation to add price extensions. However, this doesn’t make sense for them because they don’t have fixed prices for their services. One of their suggestions I do really like is this suggestion to lower your bids. This basically just points out where you’re overbidding, and where you could get more clicks within your budget. You’ll also see recommendations like this one which just suggests you implement features that you may not be using.

Now let’s get into the good stuff.

Smart Bidding

Smart Bidding is something Google has been pushing over the last few months. Smart bidding strategies, like Target CPA, involve giving up the control you have over your bids and allow the Google Ads system to bid higher or lower to achieve certain results. I say achieving results very loosely because Google has no obligation to meet your targets. But this is a way for you to tell the system what results you’re trying to optimize for. That sounds great in theory, but the problem is that your account needs a certain volume of conversions every month in order to make these strategies work. So, if you’re a small or medium business, or you are getting fewer than 30 conversions a month, this strategy may not be right for you. Choosing one of these strategies is likely just going to skyrocket your cost per click.

This strategy is also volatile. If you see good results in the first few weeks, it doesn’t mean that those results are going to be permanent. If you are going to use smart bidding strategies, make sure to use them wisely and monitor your performance thoroughly.

New Smart Campaigns – Automated Bidding and Targeting

Google may also recommend you create entirely new smart campaigns where both the bidding and targeting are completely automated. For most advertisers, this is a really easy way to waste money, because not only are you giving Google complete control over who your ads deliver to, you’re also giving up any data you could’ve collected through manual targeting.

Raising Your Budgets

The most clear-cut example of Google attempting to increase your costs is this recommendation to raise your budgets. Now, unless you’re paying out of pocket for your ad spend, it’s just not that easy, as budget decisions usually need to go through multiple parties for approval. And besides that, I find these budget recommendations are usually pretty arbitrary.

In this example, by clicking apply, you can increase your costs by over $300 a week, and this screenshot was taken from an account that’s only spending $500 a month, so you can see how big of a jump that is.

Google Ads Recommendations Should Not Replace Strategy

The moral of the story is Google Ads recommendations shouldn’t replace strategy. You can make these changes with a click of a button, but the reality is some of these need to be more thought-out strategic decisions. Hopefully, this video has given you some insight into how we manage Google Ads. If you need help managing your campaigns, feel free to reach out to us to find out how we can help.