Google Ads: Using Negative Keywords

What are Negative Keywords?

When we set up Google Ads campaigns, our first thought is generally in regards to the the type of traffic we want to attract. The keywords that our target customers will type into their browser. We want them to see our ad, click our ad, and then convert to a lead or a customer on our website. In doing so, we inevitably also attract some clicks from terms related to our keywords, but not necessarily the traffic we want. Negative keywords are keywords we add to our Google Ads accounts, campaigns, or Ad Groups as word to avoid, words that will prevent our ads from being displayed.

Why Use Negative Keywords

The first and most important reason to use negative keywords in your Google Ad campaigns is to save your self money on clicks that will not help you reach your business goals. We want to use negative keywords as a quality filter, to stop unwanted clicks and save our budget dollars for the customers who are more likely to convert to leads and customers.

In Google Ads, Negative Keywords can be set up to apply specifically to the Ad Group level, more broadly at the Campaign level (which includes all the Ad Groups within that campaign) or overall at the Account level.

Negative Keywords for Ad Groups

If you want to eliminate the use of some keywords within a specific Ad Group, then we want to set up our negative keywords at this level. By doing so, we are not putting these negative keywords in effect in other Ad Groups, unless we specifically ad them there as well. This is a good strategy to use when the negative keywords are not desired in association with the keywords in one Ad Group, but might actually be attractive in another Ad Group. This is one method of focusing your keywords and ads very tightly. For example, you might have an Ad Group set up with keywords and ads to target terms related to fishing rods. You only want people looking to buy fishing rods, not other fishing tackle items, such as fishing reels. So you would add fishing reels as a negative keyword, plus other types of fishing tackle.

To set up negative keywords specifically in an Ad Group, within your Account, select the Campaign, then select the AD Group, then select Keywords. In the banner above the performance graph you should see Search Keywords, Negative Keywords, Search Terms, Auction Insights. Click the link for Negative Keywords. Click the plus sign to add negative keywords. Type or paste in your list of negative keywords and then Save.

Negative Keywords for Campaigns

Setting up negative keywords for a Campaign is similar to setting up for an Ad Group. Within your Account, select the Campaign, then select Keywords. In the banner above the performance graph you should see Search Keywords, Negative Keywords, Search Terms, Auction Insights. Click the link for Negative Keywords. Click the plus sign to add negative keywords. Type or paste in your list of negative keywords and then Save.

This list of negative keywords will now apply to all the Ad Groups within that Campaign.

Negative Keywords Lists for Accounts

Negative Keyword Lists are used to avoid unwanted clicks (unwanted ad spend) and impressions across multiple campaigns. The process is to create a negative keyword list, including the the keywords you want to avoid, and then simply apply the list to campaigns as needed. You can have up to 20 negative keyword lists in your account so the list can actually be tailored as needed.

To create your negative keyword lists, begin as above by selecting a Campaign, clicking Keywords, click Negative Keywords, then the plus symbol to start a new set of keywords. When you have built your list, before you click the Save button, click the checkbox to Save to new or existing list. You will give this list a name. The list can then be easily added to campaigns as needed.

Finding Negative Keywords – Search Terms Report

Your initial list of negative keywords will likely be easy to come up with. Using our previous fishing tackle example, if you only sell new fishing rods, you will likely want to include negative keywords such as “used” or “repair”. You will likely find you can come up with an initial list of 10 to 20 negative keywords quickly. After your campaign has ran for about a month, you will have a new source of data to help you. In the same banner where you clicked on Negative Keywords, to the right, is the Search Terms report. This report will show you actual search terms that triggered your ads. If you find search term that are costing you click traffic dollars, do not result in conversions, and are clearly terms you don’t desire, you can simply click the check box, scroll to the top of the list, and click on Add as a Negative Keyword. You can select to add to specific Ad Group negative keywords, broadly to Campaign negative keywords, or overall to a keyword list.

Quality Control with Google Analytics Reports

Article #6 in the Series

Previous Articles:

Google Analytics Reports

This is the 6th, and the last article in this series. We have taken you some of the basic set up practices of getting Google Analytics onto your website to linking in external sources of data (Google Search Console and Google Ads) so that you have a central location to view your website performance data. In our third, fourth and fifth articles in the series we also told you about the most important report in Google Analytics. We will tell you again about that below.

Here is one thing to remember about Google Analytics, if it is happening on your website, Google Analytics probably has a way to track it. Sometimes that requires the addition of enhanced tracking methods such as using Google Tag Manager and recording events.

Our Favorite Google Analytics Report

Click Acquisition – All Traffic – Source / Medium.  This report shows you the Source / Medium of your various traffic sources, such as “google / organic”, “google / ppc”, “ / referral”, and more. 

Columns in Acquisition and Behavior will provide very valuable information.  The data such as bounce rate, pages per session, and time per session will help you understand how engaged you site visitors are, or another way of stating this, is how well are you providing meaningful content to your visitors.

We are very partial to the Goals columns as it answers the important question of what marketing activities (the Source / Medium) are driving the results (Conversion) that bring value to your business.  Based on this data, you can make informed decisions about where to invest your future marketing budget dollars and also you can make some predictable estimates about what results you can expect if you make these investments.

Geo Location Report

Select Audience – Geo – Location. How local is your brand? How global is your brand? If you consider yourself a local business operating in a small geographic area, but you find 50% or more of your traffic comes from outside your service area, then your content is not well targeted. If you are intending to be a global brand, or a North America-wide brand, but all your traffic is local, then you will not get the market response you want. This report includes the behavioral measures of Bounce Rate, Pages per Session and Avg Session Duration. These are excellent measures of how much visitors, from different geographies, value your content.

Need more granular detail than at the first glance country level reporting? You can click a country in the map or in the results list and see data from a state or provincial level. Another click and it will break down by nearest city.

By Device

Click Audience – Mobile – Overview. This report is falling down our list in importance. There was a time when most websites were experiencing about 30% of their traffic coming from a mobile device and that was a rapidly climbing proportion of the traffic. Now, because of factors well beyond individual markets, it’s nearly impossible to find a website with less than 60% of it’s visitors on a mobile device.

Web designers are almost exclusively designing sites to be mobile friendly, most often with a responsive website design that adapts the display to the device. (If not, find another developer.) But the important data in this report tell us how users on different devices interact with your website. If you find the Bounce Rate, Pages per Session and Avg Session Duration is drastically different, and declining with screen size, then you have a mobile user experience problem. Given the trends mentioned above, if you have a problem, it’s only going to get worse.

Landing Pages Report

Click Behavior – Site Content – Landing Pages. What we love about this report is that it gives you a hit list of pages that are ripe for content improvements. Assuming you want to appeal to your site visitors. You have put money and effort into getting visitors to your site. Now work on engaging them. Higher engagement makes a visitor more likely to interact with your site, more likely to contact you in regard to what products or services you offer.

The Landing pages report shows which pages on your site visitors most often see first. Then those wonderful measures of Bounce Rate, Pages per Session and Avg Session Duration make it obvious if they like what they see, or if they are bouncing back to the search engine results to find a competitors page.

Google Analytics Tracking Google Ads Conversions with Tag Manager

Article #5 in the Series

Previous Articles:

If you have been following through this series of articles
on getting enhanced tracking in place, linking your Google Analytics account
with other valuable data sources, such as Google Search Console and Google Ads,
then you know that having Conversion Goals set in Google Analytics is invaluable
in helping make key digital  marketing decision.  Conversion Goals lead to a much stronger understanding
of your marketing return on investment.

This article assumes that you already have conversions set
up in your Google Ads account.  We will
use these conversion actions to also provide the data to Google Analytics (via
Google Tag Manager).  You will need to be
logged into the Google Account which has admin access to Google Analytics,
Google Tag Manager, and Google Ads.

Your first step is to decide what you want to track as a “Conversion”.  In our experience, Conversions represent the
most valuable activities performed by visitors to your website.  This includes activities they take to
interact with your company via phone, email, or form submissions.  These would typically be referred to as Lead Conversions
as by contacting your company, they will be exchanging their personal contact
information for product or services information from your company.  This also provides you with the opportunity
to sell these contacts your products or services, or continue to contact them,
through various methods, to promote your products and services.  At the highest level of Conversion activities
would be an ecommerce enabled website where the visitor makes an online
purchase.  For this to be a Conversion
that we can track and attribute to Google Ads, the website visitor must have arrived
on your site via a Google Ad link, then perform the conversion action.

Google Tag
Manager to Track Google Ads Conversions

At a minimum we would suggest that you would want to track clicks on phone links, clicks on email links, and form submissions, whether that is a contact form, a product enquiry form, or a quote request form.  In a previous article we described how to use Google Tag Manager to set up Triggers and Tags to send event data to Google analytics when these types of activities occur.  We will now build up this to be able to identify the event also as a Google Ads conversion.  To get started, log into your Google account and open up separate windows in your browser for Google Ads, Google Analytics, and Google Tag Manager.  Next, in Google Tag Manager, go to the workspace and click on Tags.  Then click New and select Conversion Linker. Click Triggering and select All Pages.  Save the Tag. This utility simply improves the data sharing between Google properties. 

Set up the Google Ads Conversion
tracker general Tag?

When we set up the event tracking, we used pairs of Triggers and Tags to “push” event data from your website to Google Analytics via Google Tag Manager.  We will now add a set of Tags to do the same, but to attribute the event to the Google Ads traffic source.  We will not need to set up any new Triggers as we can re-use what we already have in place.  Building on the example in the previous article where we set up a Google Analytics event for an Email Link Click, we will make use of the same Email Link Trigger.  We will use a new Tag so that it will send the data as a Google Ads conversion.  In Tags, click new.  Rename the Tag from Untitled Tag to G Ads Email Link Conversion.  For Tag type, select Google Ads Conversion Tracking.  Click on your browser tab for Google Ads and click the Admin Link, go to Conversions, and select the conversion action that matches with the click of an email link.  For installation, click Google Tag Manager.  Copy the Conversion ID.  Click back to the Google Tag Manager browser tab and paste it in the Conversion ID data field.  If you have multiple conversions set up in Google Ads you will also want to copy and paste the Conversion Label.  For the Trigger, choose the same Trigger as you used along with the GA Event Email Link.  Save the Tag.  Repeat this set up process for Phone Link and for Form Submissions, using the Triggers to match with the similar GA Event Tag.

Note: If you have set up different conversion actions in your
Google Ads account, you will want to make sure you use the same conversion
label when you set up the G Ads Conversion Tag.

When you have set up all the G Ads Conversions to mirror the
GA Event Conversions, Publish the GTM container.  What will now happen is when a visitor comes
to your website by clicking on a Google Ad, your website will know the traffic
source as Google Ads.  If they complete a
conversion action on your website, Google Tag Manager will fire the Trigger for
that conversion action.  The Trigger will
activate the GA Event Tag and the G Ads Conversion Tag, sending an event to
Google Analytics and also recording a conversion with Google Ads.  Because we have previously set a Goal in
Google Analytics which is matched with the GA Event, it will record that as an occurrence
of the Goal and attribute the Goal to the traffic source of Google Analytics.

Google Analytics for Reporting linking Google Ads to Analytics

Google Analytics for Reporting linking Google Ads to Analytics

#4 in the series

Previous Articles

Google Ads Reporting

Google Ads had a wide assortment of reports available to
help you assess the value and performance of your marketing investment.  This includes reports to help you determine
which ad groups, which keywords, which ads, and more, are performing best.  You can even get a geographic breakdown of
which countries, or provinces, or states are driving the results you seek.  This is all very valuable information and
helps you to make decisions on how to allocate your Google Ads budget spending.

Not all of your digital marketing activities can be captured
within your Google Ads reporting which where the data available begins to fall

Digital Marketing
Program Level Reporting

In order to make a truly informed marketing decision, a
marketing manager should be able to view their data within the context of your
digital marketing plan, not just your Google Ads spend.  This includes many other potential digital
platforms including social media activities, referral traffic, organic traffic
especially as a result of your content marketing or SEO efforts, email
marketing campaigns, video marketing, and more. 
Much of this can be tracked and attributed back to the traffic source if
properly set up in Google Analytics. 
This then means we can use Google Analytics to provide us with
performance data across our digital marketing plans, not just the data we are
limited to within Google Ads reporting.

Google Ads to Google Analytics

So we must link our Google Ads account to our Google
Analytics account. An important note is that when linking these accounts, you
will need to be logged into a Google account that had administrative level access
to both accounts.

To link your accounts:

  1. Log into your Google Analytics account. 
  2. Click the Admin gear icon in the lower corner.
  3. In the Property column, click Google Ads Linking
  4. When you click the link above, you will be displayed a list of Google Ads account that you have Admin access to with your Google account. 
  5. Choose the correct account.

Google Ads
Data in Google Analytics

The process above allows Google Ads and Google Analytics to share data.  This places the Google Analytics source data along side your other source data such google organic traffic, Facebook social traffic, direct traffic, referral traffic, etc.  When viewing the #1 most important report in Google Analytics, you will be able to directly compare these traffic sources and quality of the traffic they are bringing to your site.  In addition to viewing important data such as number of visitors, the most important report in all of Google Analytics also includes behavioural data on each traffic source such as the average session duration, time on site, and average number of pages viewed.  The report can be found in Google Analytics by clicking Acquisition – All Traffic – Source/Medium.  As an even more valuable comparison is possible if you have set up Conversion Goals in Google Analytics.  If so then you can now attribute your most valuable activities on your website to the sources of traffic.

Our next article in this series will outline how you can send
Google Ads conversion tracking data to Google Analytics and have it track to a
Conversion Goal.

Google Analytics for Reporting Tracking in Tag Manager

Using Google Analytics for Reporting and Quality Control

#3 in series

Previous Articles:

Google Analytics tracking in Tag Manager opens up a whole new opportunity for marketing mangers to better understand the user behavior on their websites.  If you have Google Analytics, you will already understand the value of the user behaviour data it contains such as page views, pages per session, average time on site and much much more.  From an audience view, Google Analytics also shows the sources of your website traffic.  But we can go much further.

Enhanced Tracking with Google Events

One of the most important questions a marketing manager can answer is “what marketing investments are leading to desired results?”.  Another way to state this question is “where will I choose to invest next in marketing activities?”.  Using the tools in Google Tag Manager to track “Events” and additional tools in Google Analytics to track “Goals” we can gather the data to help answer this all important question.

We define an “events” as an activity that occurs on your website that you are interested in tracking and/or analyzing.  Google Analytics already tracks all your page views.  what would interest a marketing manager would be activities such downloads of a PDF document, views of a YouTube video embedded on the site, how far someone scrolls down the image gallery, clicks on telephone numbers, clicks on email address links, and submissions of contact forms.

Some of these are considered low leverage events.  They are interesting, and provide us a picture of the content types our web users are consuming.  This data helps guide us for future content development.  The last 3 are what we consider to be high leverage events, they are customers or potential customers (leads) interacting with us through the website.  We refer to these high leverage events as Conversion Events.

With these Conversion Events we will also go one step further.  We will set them up to be tracked as events in Tag Manager and then we will also set up matching “Goals” in Google Analytics.  By creating Goals in Google Analytics, we can automatically see these high leverage Conversion Events in some of the most useful reports in Google Analytics, the reports that help to attribute results to marketing investments.

Tags and Triggers in Google Tag Manager

You will be using a combination of Tags and Triggers to send event tracking data to Google Analytics.  Here is how we view them.

Triggers: this defines the conditions of the event, what must occur on the website for the event to happen.  For example, to track an event for the download of a PDF file, the user must click on the link for the PDF file.  To track an event for a contact form submission, the user must successfully submit the form.

Tags: this is the data that we are going to send from the website to Google Analytics.  A tag can send multiple fields of data, including Category, Action, Label and Value.  Usually we will only use the first 2 or three of these.

Setting Up Events in Google Tag Manager

Your first run through setting up events using Google Tag Manager may seem like an exercise in overwork, but as you learn and understand more about Tag Manager, it will make more and more sense the power of Tag Manager will be more and more apparent.  Make sure you are logged into your Google Account, then log into Google Analytics and in a separate window open Google Tag Manager.  If you need a refresher on getting Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager in place see Setting Up Google Analytics Using Google Tag Manager.

Step 1 is to click on Triggers (down the left hand menu in Workspace) in Tag Manager.  We are going to use a simple click on an email address as the example we want to track.  Click the New button.  Rename “Untitled Trigger” to “Email Link Trigger”.  Click the Trigger Configuration area.  Choose Just Links.  Click the radio button for Some Link Clicks.  Set the first drop down to “Click Url”, the second drop down to “contains” and in the box type in “mailto” (without the quotations).  Click the Save button.

What we have done is tell Tag Manager that when a user click an email link on the website (email links use the link protocol mailto:) that we want to fire the Email Link Trigger.

Step 2 is to tell Tag Manager what data to send to Google Analytics when this trigger is fired.  Click on Tags in the left menu.  Click on New.  Rename “Untitled Tag” to “GA Event Email”.  Click the Tag Configuration area.  Choose Google Analytics Universal Analytics.   Change Track Type to Event.  In the Category box enter “Conversion”.  In the Action Box enter “Link Click”.  In the Label box enter “{{Click URL}}”.  (leave off the quotations on all three of the above).  Click the box for Enable overriding settings in this tag and enter “{{Google Analytics ID}}” which you should have set up if you followed our previous articles in this series.

Now click the Triggering area.  Click the Email Link Trigger you set up in Step 1.  Click Save.

What you now have in place are the components needed to store event data into Google Analytics.  When an email link on your website is clicked, Tag Manager will fire the Email Link Trigger.  This will activate the GA Event Email Tag and send (or push) the event data to Google Analytics.

Category:  Conversion

Action: Email Link Click

Label: {{the actual email address of the link}}

This Trigger / Tag combination will work with any link on your website that begins with “mailto:” and will save the email address of that link as the label.

Click the Submit button above the Workspace.  For a descriptive name simply enter your name or initials and the date.  Add any description you want to describe what changes or additions you have made and then Click the Publish button.  Your Triggers and Tags will now be live on your website.

Creating Goals in Google Analytics

Keep in mind the data we just passed to Google Analytics in the for of Event data.  This included Category, Action, and Label.  As we mentioned previously for those high leverage events that we call Conversion Events, we also want to set up Goals in Google Analytics.  So leave Google Tag Manager behind for now and go to the Google Analytics window you should have left open in your browser.

In the lower left corner, click the gear icon to open the Admin dashboard.  In the column under View, click Goals.  Assuming you do not already have Goals set up, click the button for +New Goal to begin setting up.  Click the radio button for Custom.  Click Continue.  Name the Goal “Email Link”.  Click the radio button for Event.  Click Continue.  Now fill in the Category and Action using the data we set up above (Conversion / Email Link Click).  Pay close attention to ensure you match upper/lower case letters.  Click Save.

We now all the pieces in place that when a user clicks an email link on your website, a Trigger will fire, activating a Tag, sending event data to be stored in Google Analytics which will also be recorded as a Goal.

The Most Important Report in Google Analytics

Now that we have the data tracking, being sent from  our website to Google Analytics via Google Tag Manager, we can start to answer our most important marketing question, “what marketing investments are leading to desired results?”

In Google Analytics, far left hand side, click Acquisition, All Traffic, Source / Medium.  You can set the date range as desired in the top right hand area.  (note: if you have just set up enhanced tracking including Goals, you will not yet see Goals data as it is not retroactive.)  This report shows you the Source / Medium of your various traffic sources, such as “google / organic”, “google / ppc”, “ / referral”, and more.  Columns in Acquisition and Behavior will provide very valuable information.  But it is the Goals columns that answer our most important question.  If you set the Conversions drop down to All Goals you will be able to see what marketing activity (the Source / Medium) that is driving the results (Conversion) that bring value to your business.  Wondering if your social media efforts are driving traffic to your website that contacts you?  The data will tell you.  Wondering if the money you are investing in Google Ads is producing more leads than your organic traffic?  Yep, check the data, it’s there.

Adding Google Search Console to Google Analytics

#2 in the Series

Previous Article: Setting up Google Analytics Using Google Tag Manager

Google Search Console

As part of a comprehensive digital marketing measurement package, Google Search Console provides invaluable information on actual user searches that resulted in traffic to your website. This information comes straight from Google and can be found in the Google Search Console dashboard in the Search Query report. (Note: Google Search Console was formerly known as Google Webmaster). In addition to viewing the search terms, the data also includes the impressions for your website for these search terms and the resulting click through rate (CTR).

To view this data, first you must have Search Console set up, then log in, then select the report. There is a more convenient way to access this data. But we are getting slightly ahead of things. First, you need a free Google Search Console property set up.

Set Up Google Search Console

We are assuming you already have a Google account and a Google Analytics account. You will need to be logged into your Google account. Then go to:

Create your Google Search Console account. Make sure you use the same protocol (http:// or https://) and include or exclude the www from the settings depending on how your website is set to display. For example, if the URL of your website is normally displayed as then be sure to use https:// and be sure to exclude www.

The most difficult part of setting up a Google Search Console property is performing the verification step. We suggest you read the Google documentation on this.

Link Google Search Console to Google Analytics

Once your Google Search Console property is properly set up and verified, it can be added to your Google Analytics account. Sign in to your Google Analytics account and click the Admin gear icon in the lower left to bring up the dashboard.

On the following page, click the menu link for Adjust Search Console

On the following page click the Add link. Because you are logged into your Google account which was used to set up both the Google Analytics account and the Search Console Property, a list of website properties will appear. If you are only working with one website, then only that property will appear. Select the website property and click Save then OK to Add association. this will resolve to that property in Google Search Console, leaving Google Analytics open in a previous tab. Click back to Google Analytics and click the Done button. To confirm that the association has been set up properly, from the Google Analytics dashboard, refresh the page. Then click the Adjust Search Console button again and you should see your Google Search Console property.

Search Console Data in Google Analytics

It may take up to 24 hours for Google Search Console data to be available in Google Analytics. To check for the data, in Google Analytics, click Acquisition – Search Console – Queries. This will provide you a view to the same data that is reported in Search Console, but much more conveniently in the same reporting tool as the rest of your analytics data.

Setting Up Google Analytics Using Google Tag Manager

Using Google Analytics for Reporting and Quality Control

#1 in series

We have said this numerous times, Google Analytics is by far the best free source of website user statistics you could possibly hope to use.  Google Analytics will provide you data on how website visitors arrived on your website (source), important classification on who they are (audience), and what they are doing on your site (behaviours).  This is not information that can be used to individually identify a user, that’s typically not even valuable information for marketing, but data you can spin and analyze to learn what digital marketing activities are actually working.  But let’s not get too far ahead.  Let’s begin by getting the tools in place.  The tools we strongly recomend putting in place for any website, new or existing are Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and Google Tag Manager.

Creating your Google Analytics Account

Before you can set up a free Google Analytics account, you first need a free Google account.  Simply go to, or in Canada, Click the Sign In button in the top right and then click Create a Google Account.  If you already have a Google Account, just Sign In with your account.  For new accounts there is typically a verification process, such as an email sent to the email account you provide or to the mobile phone you specify.

Once you have your Google Account, you will use the same account to set up all the tools we have listed above and described below.  It is always best that the email / Google Account used to set up the tools belongs to the business owner, or the website owner.  These are your account properties, you should own them.

Once you are logged into the Google Account you own, it’s time to get your Google Analytics account.  Click the following link to get started:

You will need to name the account.  This does not need to be the name of the website.  Most often it will be your business name, but you can name the account anything you want.  Leave the Account Data Sharing Settings as they are, checked.  Click Next.  Click on Web for what you want to measure.  Click Next.  For Property details, provide the name of your website and then your website URL.  Make sure you properly indicate if your website is https:// or http://.  The industry category is only for Google’s own classification so choose something as close as possible to your industry.  Setting the time zone is important as this will determine the start/end times of each day for the data being recorded.  In most cases, choose the time zone of your head office.

When you click next, Google will generate a Google Analytics account id that will look something like UA-12345678-1.  Copy this ID or keep the browser window open.  You may also see some instructions on how to install the analytics code on your website.  Ignore this for now as we recommend that you use Google Tag Manager for this which we describe below.

Setting up Google Analytics via Google Tag Manager

Once you have your Google Analytics account ID, now we need to get it so that it begins to record data from your website.  Google Analytics receives a variety of data from the data layer (produced by your website server) and can store this for future analysis.  Each time a webpage on your site loads, new data is produced.  We recommend using Google Tag Manager as the means of placing the Google Analytics code on your website. 

So first we need to get Tag Manager.  While still logged into the same Google Account as above, go to:

Follow the steps to crate a Tag Manager account and a Container Setup.  For the container name we recommend using your website domain to make it easy to identify if you should end up with multiple containers.  Click Web for the Target platform and click Create.  You will receive confirmation that a Tag Manager container has been set up and instructions on placing the Tag Manager snippet code on your website.  The Tag Manager container will have an ID such as: GTM-AB1CD2E. 

We will need to do some basic set up to tell the Tag Manager container how to send tracking data to your Google Analytics account.  Click on Workspace.  Then Click Variables.  Scroll down to User-Defined Variables and Click New.  Rename your new variable (top left) from Untitled Variable to Google Analytics ID.  Click in the Variable Configuration box, scroll down and select Constant as the Variable Type.  Enter the Google Analytics ID from above in the format UA-12345678-1 and then Click Save.  In the left hand navigation menu, click Tags, click New, rename the Tag from Untitled Tag to GA Page Views.  Click Tag Configuration then select Google Analytics Universal Analytics.  Click the box for Enable overriding settings in this tag, enter {{Google Analytics ID}} in the box.  Scroll down and click the Triggering box.  Click on All Pages.  Click Save.

Up near the top right corner, click the Submit button.  Give it a Version name such as your initials and the date and for Version description enter Initial Google Analytics set up.  Then click Publish.  You now have a Google Tag Manager container that is ready to send page view data to your Google Analytics Account.  Now we just need to have the Google Tag Manager snippet added to your website.

Add Tag Manager Snippet to Your Website

If you have a custom html website, you will need to have your webmaster or web programmer add the Tag Manager snippet code.  The details for how/where to add the snippets (there are actually 2 snippets) can be found within Tag Manager by clicking the Admin link and then the Install Google Tag Manager link.  This will provide the two code snippets.

For a WordPress site, we recommend installing a Tag Manager plug-in.  The plug-in we have found to be reliable is Google Tag Manager for WordPress.  Once the plug-in has been installed, all that is required is to provide the Google Tag Manager container ID in the format GTM-AB1CD2E.

For other Content Management Systems, such as Squarespace or Wix, we recommend you check their user documentation as they have been updated several times in recent months.  The functionality to simply  insert the Google Tag Manager container ID may already be in place.

How to Structure Google Ad Campaigns and Ad Groups

Google Ad campaigns can become very large. If you are running a very small campaign, say one main target market, with 10 to 15 keywords, then this article likely doesn’t apply to you. If you are running anything larger than a beginner Google Ad campaign then we will help you understand how properly structuring your campaigns and ad groups can help you control your budget and improve your ad quality which in turn can produce more clicks per dollar. We will be discussing a couple of key concepts:

  • budget management
  • quality scores
  • relevance

In order to help explain this article, we are going to need an example. So lets go with building ad campaigns for a fishing lodge and campground business. At this fishing lodge, they fish for 3 species of fish, Walleye, Northern Pike, and Lake Trout. The campground offers campsites with full service camping (water and electrical hook ups), and campsites without services.

Google Ads Budget Management

If you are familiar with Google Ads, maybe you already see where some of this is headed. First, it’s important to know the Google Ads hierarchy. In order from broadest the narrowest, the structure of Google Ads is:

  • Account
  • Campaign
  • Ad Group
  • Ads and Keywords

Budgets are set at the campaign level. A Google Ads account may have multiple campaigns, each with their own budget. Within each campaign, there can be multiple Ad Groups. Ad Groups contain their own list of keywords and associated ads. Using our example, we would create a campaign for the fishing lodge and another for the campground. This way we can allocate the budget separately as well as control increases / decreases and stopping / starting the budget for each campaign.

How you structure campaigns, and how many campaigns, should be based on how different your products or services are and differences in your target market for these products and services.

Create Ad Groups per Topic

Within each campaign, you will want to organize closely related topics of keywords, or themes. You should then set up one ad group per related group of keywords. In our example, in the campground campaign, we would likely set up Ad Groups based on themes such as “full service camp sites”, “tenting”, “seasonal campsites”, “long weekend camping”, “family camping”. Normally we will want to group together 5 to 15 keywords within each Ad Group. Usually if the list of keywords gets larger than 15, there will be enough variation that we should consider splitting into two Ad Groups. The main reason we want to limit the number of keywords in an Ad Group is to maintain a high level of relevance between our keywords, our ads, and the landing page for the ads. A high amount of relevance between these three components will lead to a higher ad Quality Score which will have big benefits for us. We will discuss improving Quality Scores in another article. It is important to know that all Ad Groups within the same campaign share the budget of that campaign.

Ads per Ad Group

You should plan to create a minimum of 3 ads per Ad Group and we recommend up to 5 ads. The more ads you have, the more assets Google has to work with and that increases the likelihood of a winning combination. Google will optimize the combinations of keywords and ads and will use the ads that perform better more often. When you are writing more ads you can use the top performing ads and make modifications based on a successful ad.

Cover all your main keywords with at least one ad. If you have have done your keyword research you should know which keywords will be your most important keywords. These top priority keywords should have ads that are specifically built to be of the highest relevance possible.

Google Ads Campaign Development Steps

You can easily follow through this series of steps to build your Google Ads campaigns.

  1. for each line of business, set a budget for ad spend
  2. list all your keywords for a line of business or product/service
  3. group your keywords into similar themes of no more than 15 per theme
  4. choose the top three keywords in each theme
  5. write an ad specifically for each of the top three keywords

You now have all the components for a well structured Google Ads campaign.

Linking Google Ads to Google Analytics

There are very powerful reports available in Google Analytics when you link in your Google Ads account.  These will lead to better marketing decision making based on better data.

Google is Search

Google has managed to lead the search industry for several decades now.  In the early days of the Internet, there were plenty of arguments over what was the best search tool.  Alta Vista lead the way for a while.  Others preferred Yahoo. Some got into Ask Jeeves.  MSN Search had a good foothold for a while (later becoming Bing).  But, for as hard as many of these tried, none of them became a verb.  Now if you want to look up something on the internet, you “Google it”.  With somewhere around 90% market share, Google is simply the way we find information.  Largely that is due to two factors.  The have the largest database of information, and their ability to produce the most relevant results.  In practice, Google is search.

Why Linking Matters

For marketers, Google has been a resource for unbelievable amounts of performance data for our websites.  While Google was constructing the best search algorithm, they were also providing marketers with powerful ways to track performance.  In Google Analytics they have given us a free website statistics package.  Yes, free.  Just sign up for a free account, add the tracking code, and you have access to statistics on your website visitors.

Now consider why you use Google Ads.  To drive traffic from Google searches to your website.  Google Ads has it’s own performance date reports you can view on your campaign performance.

But these are two separate sets of data (Google Analytics and Google Ads), making it difficult to determine what your best marketing efforts actually are.  Well, actually not.  Just link your Google Ads account to your Google Analytics account and your data-driven decision making will get more obvious.

How To Link

Linking to your Google Ads account from your Google Analytics account should take you less than 10 minutes.  We are assuming that your Google account (the account you sign into) has administrator rights for both your Google Analytics account your Google Ad account.

  1. Sign in to Google Analytics and select the website account you want to link
  2. Click the Admin link, it’s that gear symbol in the lower left corner
  3. Using the middle column of choices, choose the property you want to link, normally this will be the default property already displayed.
  4. In that middle column, under PRODUCT LINKING, click Google Ads Linking.
  5. Click + NEW LINK GROUP (the red button)
  6. Select the Google Ads accounts you want to link, Google will display the Google Ads accounts you have permissions to access.  Click Continue.
  7. You can name the link group, easiest to remember if you just use the website name.

How to Use the Data

With Google Ads linked to your Google Analytics account, you have the data to help determine which sources of traffic are producing the results you want and the data is in one place, Google Analytics.  One of our favorite reports is the Source/Medium report.  To see this report, click Acquisition – All Traffic – Source/Medium.   This report will show you where your traffic is coming from and some key traffic behaviour stats for each Source/Medium combination of traffic.

Where this gets really powerful is if you have set up Goals in your Analytics account.  Goal tracking in Analytics is a way to report on the occurrence of the most important outcomes on your website, such a customers making a purchase, or filling out a form, consuming certain types of content, or other important performance criteria.  If you haven’t yet set up Goal tracking, don’t worry, we are going to cover that in an article in the not too far off future.

With Goals set up, you can quickly look at these report to see what traffic sources are leading to Goal completions.  Your Source/Medium combinations are likely to include referral traffic, social media referral traffic, direct traffic, organic search traffic and your Google Ads traffic.  It is these last two that will really tell you how your efforts invested and your dollars invested are producing the results you want.  If your organic traffic sources are driving half the traffic of your Google Ads traffic but are leading to more Goal conversions, then you need to address the Google Ads campaign performance.  You are likely wasting marketing dollars on ads that are not bringing the right traffic.  Conversely, if your Google Ads are far out performing your organic traffic sources then increasing your investment in Google Ads should result in more of the outcomes you are after.

Another very useful report is the Keywords report.  You can find it in Acquisition – Google Ads – Keywords.  Here you will see the traffic quality stats of your Google Ads keywords.  It is one of the best places to determine if your Google Ads campaign keywords are bringing you solid targeted traffic, or if you are just paying for traffic.  Low bounce rates and high pages per session are good indicators that the click through traffic is finding valuable information on your site.  Of course, if the keyword traffic is leading to Goal completions then this particular keyword is definitely bringing the type of traffic you want.

In conclusion, linking your Google Ads account to your Google Analytics account requires less than 10 minutes of effort and the data that will be available in Google Analytics will be extremely valuable.  You will be able to compare the value of all your traffic sources, leading to your Goals, as well as more detailed comparisons to help identify the top quality keywords in your Google Ad campaigns.

Spend the 10 minutes today.  You will be glad you did.

Google Ads Keyword Match Types

Google has built an incredibly powerful advertising machine. Powerful in two ways. The most important is that it helps advertisers place their ads in front of people actively searching for content matching their ads. The second is it is a very powerful way for Google to reach further into your company wallet and optimize their way into bigger revenues. Fortunately, it’s a winning combination for you, the advertiser. How much you are able to win will depend on how well you are able to optimize Google Ads for your benefit. One of the most important ways to do this is by using Keyword Match Types.

What Are Keyword Match Types?

When you build your Google Ads campaigns, you will include a list of keywords to associate with your ads.  (We won’t get into how to structure your Campaigns and Ad Groups in this post.)  Keywords can be in one of 4 keyword match types.

  • Broad Match
  • Broad Match Modifier
  • Phrase Match
  • Exact Match

This list above is also in the order of least specific to most specific.  As the name suggest, Broad Match will match your keywords to as many search queries as possible, search queries that are the same, similar, and related.  On the other end of the scale, Exact Match is also just as named, it will only match to a search query which is exactly the same as your keyword.

The more specific your keyword match types, the more targeted your traffic, but also the fewer ad impressions that you will receive.

How Keyword Match Types Work

For our examples below, we will be an online store selling fly fishing gear, including fly fishing rods, fly fishing reels, fly fishing line, fly fishing nets, and fly fishing vests.

Broad Match

  • enter the keyword without any special symbols
  • example: fly fishing rod
  • Search queries can match based on any word in your key phrase, in any order plus misspellings and synonyms.  So this keyword could conceivably be triggered by “fishing rod”, “fly in fishing”, “fly swatter”, “fishing boat”, “ice fishing tent”, “fishing lodge”, “best places to fish”.  Some of this traffic is desired, some is not.

Broad Match Modifier

  • place the plus sign in front of words that must be matched
  • +fly +fishing rod
  • Search queries can match based on having the + marked word included in the query, in any order, and may also include other words, or synonyms.  “fly fishing lodge”, “fly in fishing”, “fly angling guide”, “fly fishing gear”, “fishing flies”.  Traffic will be more specific than broad match.

Phrase Match

  • place quotes around the word combination that must appear
  • “fly fishing” rod
  • Search queries can match if they contain the phrase, in the correct order, or closely related phrases, but also may included additional words or synonyms.  “fly fishing trip”, “guide to fly fishing”, “fly fishing handbook”, “fly fishing for trout” could all be matched.

Exact Match

  • place square brackets around the term that must match exactly
  • [fly fishing rod]
  • Search queries must be very specific and must include the entire phrase, all words, in order, or very close variants.  This match type was updated by Google in 2017 to be a little less restrictive so now will also match on close misspellings.  “fly fishing rod”, “fly fishing rods”, “fly fish rod” would all be search terms that could trigger this match.

Multiple Keywords, Multiple Keyword Match Types

Remember as you are building your campaigns, that each ad group will have multiple keywords and each keyword can use a match type.   Some terms may target traffic broadly while others may be specific enough to eliminate other related traffic, that you do not want.  How broad, or how narrow you set your keyword match types should be based on how broad or narrow are the product or services offered.

You should almost never have all of your keywords as the same match type.

What is the Right Keyword Match Type for Me

The only exception to the above would be a brand new ad campaign built by a New Advertiser who does not have the data or the intuition to initially use other match types.  In this case, start with Broad Match and follow the data (see below).  As your campaigns run, Google Ads tracks a very useful set of data that can help you make decisions.  Your data should drive you to consider changing keyword match types.

New Advertisers

If you are new to using Google Ads, then narrow the choices down to two keyword match types, Broad Match and Phrase Match.  This gives you enough control over your keywords without providing a confusing set of rules that end up resulting in casting a net that is either too wide or too specific.  You will need at least 2 weeks of data but it is better to leave your ads running for at least 4 weeks before you start making changes.  Then go to the data, specifically look at keywords within your campaigns that are receiving a very high number of impressions and a very low click through rate (CTR).  Generally a CTR of less than 1% is considered low.  These are quite often add impressions that are triggered by search queries which are only slightly related.  The user then sees your headlines and ad copy as unrelated to their query and does not click your ad.  By using phrase match on these terms, you can narrow down the ad impressions to those matching the most important portion of your keywords.

Experienced Advertisers

If you are an experienced Google Ads user then optimize your use of keyword match types by starting from broad match and working your way to more narrow match types.  If you have enough experience with Google Ads and enough familiarity with the search behaviour of your target audience, then you may be able to begin your campaign with more than just Broad Match keywords.   Let the campaigns run for several weeks to a month and then begin following the data from the campaigns to lead you in the right direction.

The data you will want to use most for making decisions on keyword match types will be clicks, impressions, the resulting click through rate (CTR), conversions, and the wealth of information found within the Search Terms report.  Some of the best data available in your Google Ads account will be ad conversions.  To see this data, you will need to have conversion tracking set up. If you do not have this set up, we will be writing a future article on how to set up conversion tracking.

Anywhere you have high conversions, your campaigns are doing what you want, driving high quality traffic to your website.  Where you see good conversion numbers, it’s best to leave those keywords alone and spend you time on improving the performance of other keywords.  For an optimization strategy, think about beginning as broad as possible and working to becoming as specific as possible.  Where you see keywords with low CTR, you know you need to apply some attention.  As the initial step, consider which individual words in your keywords really should be in a search query to drive relevant traffic, and add the broad match modifier.  In our example, +fly +fishing would be the best place to apply this.

Check the Search Terms report.  The link to the report is found above the graph in your keywords performance report.  Here you will find the actual search queries used which triggered clicks on your ads.  Look for commonalities in the terms, phrases which you are not currently using in your keywords, but also pay attention to the CTR in this report.  If you find high impression numbers, with low CTR, make note of the search term and then go back to your keywords and adjust your match types to weed these out.  In our example, if we find high instances of “ice fishing rods” then we know we are too broadly exposed.  We can limit our exposure to these types of impressions by focusing the attention in our keywords to “fly fishing” with the Phrase Match modifier.

Looking again at the keywords performance report, look for high CTR but a low number of conversions, these are the types of people you want, (they are likely fly fishing enthusiasts) they just aren’t looking specifically for what you are selling.  The downside of this traffic is that it uses up your ad budget but doesn’t contribute to your revenue.  In this case, the keyword match type Exact Match can help to focus the ad impressions to those searches looking for the products you carry in your store.  Examples would include [fly fishing rod], [fly fishing reel], [fly fishing vest], [fly fishing nets], and [fly fishing line].

Pause the Old and Add New Keyword Match Types

One important user tip when you are optimizing Google Ads keyword match types.  When making changes to match types, we recommend pausing the existing keyword and adding a new keyword with the updated match type.  Sometimes your optimization efforts will go too far, get too specific, and reduce the appeal of the ads to a very small audience (low impressions).  But this is hard to tell if you don’t have the historical data from the old match type to review.  You can still see the historical data of a paused keyword in Google Ads.  So if your new match type is less effective at driving sales traffic conversions than the old match type, simply pause the new and reactivate the old.

Revisit your campaigns at least monthly and look for further opportunities to optimize.