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Stop searching for your Google AdWords

- By Katie Patterson

Google AdWords is a great, flexible advertising tool that allows businesses to display ads on Google and throughout its network by setting a budget and only paying when people click on those ads. It’s largely focused on keywords, and it has proven to be a very effective avenue.

When we set up a new campaign for clients, it is common for them to want to see those ads running or to play around with Google search terms to see if/when their ads pop up. Although there is a natural curiosity to see your ad in real time, this can actually hurt your advertising performance.

Google bids using either automatic or manual bidding. When you set a daily budget and select automatic, Google uses your daily budget to determine your maximum cost per click to get you the most clicks. You also have the option to set the maximum cost per click bid for your ads on your own.

Google bidding works like an auction. When a user searches, Google automatically finds all the advertiser keywords that fit the search in the geographic area; it then determines each ad’s quality score (a combination of bid, ad quality and other factors) to decide which ads to ultimately show with that search. Just because your ad doesn’t “win” the auction and turn up in search results one time, it doesn’t mean it isn’t winning the auction other times.

Your auction bid is dependent on your budget and quality score. Your quality score is determined by things like your current click-through rate, your ad's relevance and the landing page you’ve set for those clicking on your ad. A lower Quality Score means you will be paying more to serve your ad and it will appear lower in the search results page. Searching for your own ad can can cause the Quality Score to lower in two different ways:

  • If your ad comes up and you do not click it, that is an impression that did not get a click, so it will drop that ad's relevancy score, it will drop the click-through rate and therefore it will lower your quality score.
  • If you do click the ad, not only you are being charged for a click but if you leave the page immediately, Google will note this as the ad not being relevant to the search query it populated for and again lower the overall quality score.

Your search also skews search terms data as it will show up in the keyword search terms results page in AdWords. We analyze the search term data that leads to clicks for our clients. If we see multiple similar search terms, we think potential customers are the ones using those queries and use this information to help edit current efforts as well as build future campaigns. There is no way for the media buyer to know those are coming directly from our client’s own searches and could throw off how data is optimized.

Ads may also stop showing for your account or IP address altogether if you are repeatedly searching. When you don’t click, Google marks the ads as irrelevant to you. If you frequently click, Google could mark you as someone intentionally making invalid clicks on specific ads to drive up costs.

You may panic if you don’t see your ad, but this is normal and your searches may just be further preventing it from being served. AdWords works on a daily budget and, using default settings, that budget will be spread out as evenly as possible throughout the day. If you are spending $20 per day and get two clicks at 8 a.m. for $2.52 each, you now only have $14.96 left to spend for the day. This means AdWords will stop bidding with your ads for a few hours in order to spread out the remaining $14.96 throughout the day and your ad won’t pop up when you search for it.

Don’t worry, just because you can’t organically search for your ads, it doesn’t mean you can’t still see them. When you create an ad in AdWords, a sample of what your ad will look like appears.

Additionally, there is an Ad Preview and Diagnostics tool that brings up a sample Google search page interface. You can manually set your location, language and device, and type in any search terms you would like, as often as you want. If your ad is showing up for the term you enter, it will show up on the page in the exact position it would show up in organically, as will the paid and organic search results surrounding it. If it isn’t showing up, Google will provide you with a reason as to why your ad isn’t currently running.

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