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Google Ads: managing your website and PPC campaigns during COVID-19 [2021 UPDATE]

Google Ads: the latest guidance for managing your website and PPC advertising campaigns during the COVID-19 pandemic [2021 UPDATE]

Are you following all the best-practices during COVID-19? Google is continually updating their Google Ads (Adwords) guides and checklists so advertisers and businesses can respond, rebuild and recover as confidently as possible during the Coronavirus pandemic.

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Are you following and implementing Google’s latest COVID-19 recommendations?

We have been working alongside our clients to make necessary adaptations and improvements to their digital marketing strategies, and their websites, to keep their businesses running as resiliently and profitably as possible. Alongside our own ideas and strategies, the Google Ads guidance available on Google Ads Help shares a wealth of important information on how best to approach the ever-changing challenges advertisers face during the ongoing situation.

Managing your campaigns through COVID-19: “respond, rebuild and recover”

With further updates being added to Google Ads COVID-19 guidance, we have produced a TL;DR guide on how website owners and marketers can provide the most effective user experience and future-proof their business online.

We have addressed the following areas – Search, Display, Shopping and Measurement – however further campaign types and business guides are available at support.google.com.

google ads covid19 respond rebuild recover

Google’s COVID-19 motto: respond, rebuild and recover.

Google Ads: Search

The full COVID-19 Search Ads management guide and checklist can be viewed here.

Our Google Ads: Search TL;DR standout tips include…

Evaluate your ads

  • Avoid words with double meanings like “protection,” “checkup,” “prevention,” or “virus.”
  • Edit your ads as needed to let customers know if you offer services like delivery or in-store pick-up.
  • Review delivery/shipping settings and estimated delivery time to ensure you accurately reflect current operations.

Review your creative and proactively communicate business changes

  • Conduct a thorough review of your search text ads, extensions, and landing pages. Pay attention to tone, highlight any business changes, and check that your message is helpful.
  • Update relevant ad extensions to reflect changes in your business.
  • Communicate any business changes to Google searchers by updating your Google My Business page.
  • Apply call extensions to your text ads or setup an appropriate schedule to drive calls when you have someone there ready to answer the phone.

Examine your website

An optimised mobile website experience generally drives more conversions and a higher return on ad spend.

Google Ads: Display

The full COVID-19 Display Ads guide and checklist can be viewed here. Compared to guidance for Search and Shopping ads, Display tips are somewhat limited, unfortunately. We’ve summarised creative guidelines and have added a few suggestions of our own.

Our Google Ads: Display TL;DR standout tips include…

Adapt your creative to fit the moment

  • Stay up-to-date on insights and trends. To identify real-time insights that are relevant to your business, use Google Trends to explore what’s top of mind for your customers and how you can adjust your ads to meet changing expectations.
  • Adjust your strategy quickly with responsive display ads, delivering the right message in a rapidly changing market.
  • Conduct a creative review of your existing responsive display ads with the asset report. You can focus your creative optimisation on “low” performing headlines, descriptions, and images, rather than starting from scratch.

As long as you’re delivering a message that’s helpful and appropriate, and you’re making proactive changes to your audiences based on analysis and emerging trends, your Display ads shouldn’t experience declining performance.

Taking action to update your website and marketing strategy with measurement tools from Google

Google’s measurement tools provide insights into changing customer behaviour via Google Ads attribution reports, Google Analytics, and Google Data Studio. Their Google Optimize feature can help businesses to update their website without needing to add or amend code. The full measurement guide can be viewed here.

Our Google: Measurement Tools TL;DR standout tips include…

Understand the impact of your Google media

Use the new look for attribution reports in Google Ads to help you quickly see how customers interact with your marketing throughout the purchase cycle. This makes it easier for you to then take action in the areas that are driving results. Attribution reports include:

    • Overview
    • Top paths
    • Path metrics
    • Assisted conversions
    • Model comparison
google ads adwords attribution report

The new look attribution report in Google Ads

If you’re not already using data-driven attribution, and are eligible to switch over to this model, then we definitely recommend that you do so. Data-driven attribution uses machine learning to determine how much credit to assign to each click on the customer journey, helping it account for changes in customer behaviour during unprecedented times. As this modelling gives a much clearer perspective on how customers are acquired, advertisers can quickly learn a lot about true campaign, ad, and keyword performance and optimise accordingly.

As a general guideline, for this model to be available, you must have at least 3,000 ad interactions in supported networks, and a conversion action must have at least 300 conversions within 30 days.

Keep your website updated

If you haven’t added a banner to alert website visitors of any changes to your products or service, or an easily accessible page with relevant information on changes, then you may be losing out on customers who are finding this reassurance elsewhere. Google Optimize offers a fairly new feature whereby you can easily add a message for your customers to the top of your homepage, and throughout other pages on your site.

covid-19 coronavirus banner google optimize 360 ads

Add a COVID-19 service update banner to your website with Google Optimize 360 – for free!

You can sign-up to Google Optimize for free to implement basic changes and experiments, or use their premium testing and personalisation tool, Google Optimize 360, for more advanced experiments.

Retail guide for e-commerce websites and Google Ads: Shopping advertisers

The full guide for adapting to retail industry trends during COVID-19 can be viewed here and the e-commerce website and advertising checklist is available here.

In a lockdown/tier 4 world, consumers are turning to internet-first routines

As routines and schedules adapt to isolation and new realities, so have online habits. More purchases are occurring online, as are higher order value transactions. Shopping behaviour we previously considered as more of an “IRL” event, such as grocery shopping, is now increasingly shifting to online.

internet first google ads retail shopping

Our Google: retail guide for e-commerce sites and Google Shopping TL;DR standout tips include…

The COVID-19 retail guide shares the same basic advice as before: update your business information in Google My Business, edit your Business Profile to provide the latest information on temporary close status, and indicate if your store offers “store pickup” or “in-store shopping”. Other important measures for e-commerce businesses include:

  • Keep your product inventory up to date.
  • Use feed uploads and automatic item updates to keep your online product data as up to date as possible. 
  • If items are running low, you can set a purchase_quantity_limit or mark them as “out of stock” in your shopping feed. Low stock items, especially those only available in certain sizes (low range competition), will still be advertised consistently if rules or specific attributes are not applied. By adding the purchase quantity limit attribute, you can ensure that you are not spending your budget inefficiently on low stock, or low range completion items. 
  • Make sure your shipping and delivery information is accurate – dispatch time and delivery/shipping time may need to be adjusted.

Optimise your e-commerce experience

With an influx of shoppers searching on Google everyday, it’s crucial that retailers are connected to the customers searching for their products. Once customers are on your site, offering simple, easy-to-navigate web experiences will help them find the information they’re looking for and improve their shopping experiences.

google ads optimise ecommerce experience

Further guidance on optimising your website for mobile can be found here, Grow My Store here, and App campaigns info here

Grow My Store

This full report highlights quick-wins and necessary improvements you can make to your online retail store to improve user-experience and e-commerce conversion rate.

grow my store google ads
grow my store google ads results

Get your Grow My Store report here

E-commerce tools for understanding demand in real-time

Among recommended tools and reports such as Google Trends, Google Alerts and Shopping Insights, one of our favourite tools at the moment is Price benchmarks for Shopping ads (beta). It helps you to identify products that are price competitive and adjust your pricing accordingly.

You can easily access benchmarking data by adding the following columns to your reporting UI:

  • Average product price
  • Benchmark product price – the “click-weighted price” of your competition for the relevant product (see image to the right)
  • Benchmark product price difference – how far off your average product price is from the competition benchmark data
price benchmarking google shopping ads
price benchmarking google shopping ads

Are you future-proofing your business?

We haven’t gone through each and every helpful tip/tool/insight that Google Ads currently offers in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic as there are so many. We recommend that you take a look at the guides and checklists and apply those most suited to your business and the challenges you are currently facing.

If you would like further information on making your website or marketing strategy as COVID-19 friendly as possible, or implementing any of the above changes, then get in touch with us by submitting an online enquiry form or by calling us on UK +44(0)203 411 2680 or DUBAI +971 (0)4512 5714. We have helped our clients stay resilient and profitable during the ongoing situation and would love to offer our help to any other business or advertiser.

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