Whether you’re just starting one or two search campaigns or you are already an expert in the field, there’s always room to learn from others. Wouter van Amersfoort (Freelance SEA Specialist at Fish and Burger), shares his best practices so that you can rock your search campaigns like never before. For example by following the newest Hagakure Ads structure to using tools that will make your life a lot easier – these are 6 best practices in Search Advertising to keep in mind while setting up and optimizing your search campaigns. 


# 1 Follow the newest Hagakure structure

Build your campaigns according to the new Search Ads structure Hagakure, because it will make your life easier. It’s the newest development in the world of Search Advertising and fits perfectly within the automation era. Hagakure is Japanese for ‘hidden by the leaves’, showing Japanese samurai warriors their practical and spiritual path to victory. For instance, in terms of Search Ads campaigns, you could interpret it as a more ‘practical method’ to structure your campaigns. The Hagakure structure follows a smart bidding strategy (instead of manual) and Responsive Search Ads. You also benefit from less management costs as you manage fewer ads. Due to fewer ad groups you also gain faster insights and there is fewer room for error. As a result – you gain better campaign results thanks to efficient machine learning. 

#2 Make use of tools

Tools make your life a lot easier. For example Google Ads Editor will allow you to easily cut and paste different ads. You import the campaign from the online interface and you can edit it offline. To clarify, there is no data in it, but you can easily duplicate 10 campaigns to 20 campaigns. 

Also take advantage of Google’s bidding strategies. This is an automatic bid strategy and the easiest way to bid for clicks and therefore maximize clicks. Meanwhile, you just set a daily budget and the Google Ads system automatically manages your bids in order to maximize the clicks within your budget. For instance, manual CPC bidding is especially useful when you find out that certain keywords are more profitable, so you can allocate a part of your budget manually to those keywords or placements. 

There are also tools that manage your PPC campaigns for you, like for instance OPTMYZR . This tool uses algorithms to monitor your ad campaigns and instead of optimizing yourself, the tool presents you with actionable insights and alerts. Above all – it allows you to build customized reports to showcase the results of your campaigns.

#3 Focus on the most relevant keywords

Keywords are phrases that users enter into Google to find the information they’re looking for. Google Ads allows advertisers to bid on certain keywords that are relevant to their business, in order to show their ads to users that enter these keywords. In that way, brands can target a specific audience that matches their brand. Google differentiates branded and non-branded keywords. Above all, branded keywords are always a hot topic at companies.

Especially for smaller companies with a specific product it doesn’t make much sense to bid on branded keywords at first, as they are also perfectly well found within organic search. However, bidding branded keywords allows companies to claim all placements above the fold – maps, advertisement and organic. Also, it helps to repel your competitors. Consequently, branded keywords are cheap because there is little competition for them. If there’s more competition on it, it’s highly recommended to bid and outcompete your competitors, because otherwise the competition might run away with your customers. 

Target keywords with a SEO strategy

Keywords that do relate to your products or services, but don’t reference your brand name are considered non-branded keywords. Therefore, it’s usually more cost-effective to target these keywords with an SEO strategy. Whereas non-branded keywords are broad and therefore you gain a lot of waste in these campaigns. However, if your goal is gaining visibility in search engine results and increasing your brand awareness, non-branded keywords are a good option. After all, ads for ‘black bicycle’ could potentially reach more users than ‘LEKKER Bikes + black bicycle’ for instance. Above all, do keep in mind that the more competitive a keyword is, the more difficult it will be to display your ad for it. Naturally, non-branded keywords are more competitive as they are not connected to a certain company or brand. 

Also check out our blog about Online marketing fundamentals voor snelgroeiende start-ups!

best practices in Google Advertising

#4 Make sure your ads are relevant

Naturally, your ads need to match the searchers’ intent in order to be relevant. Otherwise, the performance will be bad and (part of) your budgets will be wasted. As logical as this may sound, it is not so obvious in every campaign. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to make sure your ads are relevant. First, create as many unique headlines as possible that make sense for your campaigns. In this way the system can assemble more successful ads combinations.

Secondly, implement all ad extensions that are relevant for your brand, starting with a minimum of four. It’s a best practice that ads with multiple extensions usually perform better than ads with only one. Another tip to make your ads relevant is to make use of ad customizers and keywords insertion when you manage multiple ads. This allows you to connect creative posts to user’s search while minimizing management overhead. Lastly it’s useful to pair responsible search ads with broad match keywords and Smart Bidding. It helps to show the right message you wish to communicate with as many people as possible, while still managing your budgets by setting the right bid for each query.

#5 Improve your Quality Score

Your Quality Score determines how Google values your rank. The higher you rank, the more users your ads will get exposed to. There are multiple ways to improve your Quality Score. First, you can review the different components, such as expected CTR, Ad relevance and landing page experience. Make your ads more relevant to the keywords and consider updating your landing page (more about that later). 

However, be warned when spending too much time optimizing your Quality Score. Wouter: “As I am a freelancer, I need to invest my time wisely. Adjusting keywords, landing pages and ads take up a lot of time compared to what it yields. Therefore, I always ask myself – is the time investment worth it right now or can I achieve a bigger impact in another way?” Also as an internal marketer, it’s important to outweigh the benefits of micromanagement. Above all – is it worth investing an hour in saving up a couple of cents?

#6 Optimize your landing pages

Your ads are only part of the journey. In order to see the bigger picture, you have to understand the needs of your target audience. Is your landing page answering those needs? Consequently, try to review this question every once in a while in order to stay on top of your ads strategy and minimize budget waste. However, it could be that certain ads perform better than others, because the landing page matches the user’s search better. Sometimes it helps to revise the landing page of the weaker ads or it might help to create a completely new landing page. Also keep experimenting with them in order to test & learn and improve your campaigns along the way. 

Best practices in Search Advertising

There are multiple best practices to make the most of your search advertising. It starts with following the newest Hagakure structure that helps you to gain faster insights by using automation. There are multiple tools supporting your advertising strategy, like the Google Ads Editor and Google’s bidding strategies. In order to reach the right users, make sure you focus on the most relevant keywords and minimize waste as much as possible. It helps to make sure your ads are relevant, improve your Quality Score and landing pages. However, keep your priorities straight in order to minimize micromanagement when it is not worth the effort.