How Much Can You Trust Recommendations In Google Ads?

You can hardly spend a minute on Google Ads without seeing the recommendations placed in front of you.

The overview screen displays it in a highly visible box.

The notification bell turns red, alerting you to the fact that you have several recommendations waiting for you.

Suggested budget increases appear next to the graph just above the Campaigns section.

You can click a button to apply the updated amount and spend more instantly.

Screenshot from Google Ads, January 2022

So how useful are these recommendations that Google places first on advertisers?

Let’s take a deeper look at the types of recommendations and how they relate to the metrics that matter to performance.

Recommendations overview

First, what are Google’s claims about the value of recommendations? Official support page He says:

“Recommendations can offer you new and relevant features, help you get the most out of your budget by optimizing your bids, keywords and ads, and can increase the overall performance and efficiency of your campaigns.”

If you work with an official Google representative, they will spend a great deal of time talking about your optimization results.

This score measures how well your account follows setup best practices, in Google’s view.

In general, recommendations are directly related to the optimization score, and Google provides you with a set percentage that increases the score for each recommendation you accept.

Types of Google Ads recommendations

While the specific recommendations shown vary by account and the types of campaigns being run, there are several common types of recommendations that tend to appear.

Let’s consider some common things here.

1. Budget

When a campaign is on budget, Google often suggests increasing the maximum daily budget to ensure that ads are shown throughout the day.

The dangerous side of this proposal is that with one click you can significantly increase your budget.

For example, one account suggests raising the campaign budget from $75 per day to $690 per day.

This will increase the monthly spend from $2250 to $20700 monthly spend for that one campaign.

Whether they run accounts for clients or their own business, most PPC managers have some level of budget constraints to work within and are not free to apply large budget increases without approval from above.

Budget increase recommendations can be useful to highlight the fact that campaign reach is limited.

It can help explain why the budget is being added incrementally (if the performance is good). But immediate and accelerated budget reinforcements are unlikely to be the ideal path for most accounts.

2. Conflicting negative keywords

This recommendation is one that I generally find useful.

If you accidentally add any negative keywords that are blocking the existing ones from appearing, Google will warn you and allow you to remove the conflicting negatives in one click.

Additionally, this can also be useful for flagging keywords that you didn’t intend to be active if you want to keep certain words excluded but forgot to pause keywords that contain them.

You should still take the time to double-check the list of conflicts before auto-submitting.

3. New keywords

Google will periodically come up with ideas for new keywords to add to your campaigns.

You should always review these listings carefully rather than carelessly adding them in one click.

I’ve found that keyword ideas can range from a few relevant queries to very broad and unrelated keyword topics.

For example, a Google Ads campaign promoting accounting services sees phrases like “How to find your EIN” recommended to bid on.

4. Add extensions

Google will frequently suggest adding non-existent extensions to an account.

It generally makes sense to apply some extensions across the board, such as sitelinks and callouts.

However, not all accessories may be relevant for every company.

For example, a SaaS product is more likely to prefer sending people through a registration process on a landing page than paying for a click of a phone call.

Even if you can’t immediately think of a way to include a specific ad extension, get creative about potential options to help increase your ad visibility.

For example, a plumbing company might not immediately spring to mind as an image extension app, but incorporating a photo of a vehicle or even a photo of a person at work can help draw attention visually into a search ad.

5. Add audience segments

These recommendations are another area that I sometimes find useful, as the data tends to be based on actual audiences that are currently interacting with ads and visiting your website.

However, you should still take the time to carefully review the options before applying everything, as not all audiences may be relevant to your brand.

6. Include search partners

Search partners’ performance can be hit or miss depending on the account, and sometimes even if CPA is effective, the quality of leads can be lower.

If you have excluded search partners based on lead or budgetary reasons, you can only decline this recommendation.

7. Optimize responsive search ads

This suggestion will pop up, either recommending to add more titles/descriptions or assigning closer copy to keywords.

This area is also complex, as a measure of RSA’s ad strength does not necessarily correlate with good conversion performance.

However, a study from Optimyzr showed that Ad strength can relate to attracting more available impressionsso considering these recommendations may be helpful in improving overall reach.

Thoughts on recommendations

Let’s go back to the question posed in the title of the article.

How much can you trust the recommendations in Google Ads?

First of all, the recommendations clearly relate to Google’s view of best practices, which may not relate to the approach that will actually lead to your account’s end goal.

For example, a Google Ads business’ end goal might be to deliver qualified leads that convert into sales, sell e-commerce products through their website, or get users to buy an app.

A recommendation that increases conversion volume but simply results in lower quality leads may not be helpful.

It may be best to test out proposals for bid strategy adjustments in test campaigns rather than immediately switching strategy.

For example, you could allocate 50% of your traffic to a campaign version with Target CPA bidding, while keeping the 50% going to the original manual CPC campaign.

Then, some of the recommendations may be more or less relevant to you depending on your business.

Consider the implications of applying each and how likely it is to help or harm your account.

When you’re already on budget with exact and phrase match keywords, adding broad match keywords probably won’t help, but if you have a budget to play with, you may find broad match useful for discovering new queries.

In short, Google’s recommendations can provide some useful guidance and should not be dismissed entirely without review.

But don’t count on it as the ultimate tool for improving your account.

More resources:

  • 9 tips to help your Google Ads B2B campaigns shine
  • The Google Ads Analytics page has been updated with four new features
  • Is your use of Google Ads an organic search ranking factor?

Featured image: fizkes/Shutterstock

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