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12 Google Search Ads Metrics To Discuss With Your Agency

Tyson Huggins
Written By
Tyson Huggins
Published On
Feb 22, 2023
Google Search Ads Metrics - The Influence Agency

Google Search Ads are a common first stop of any digital marketing journey. The platform allows you to bid on keywords relevant to your business and show at the top of Google search engine results pages. You get your website in front of potential customers using keywords that signal purchase intent. For example, using Google’s Ad platform, a local pizza shop could bid on the term “pizza delivery near me” and enter a real-time auction against other local pizza restaurants to determine where they could show in the search results.

Sounds complicated? Don’t sweat it. Paid search experts spend their entire careers learning the ins and outs of Google’s ever-changing platform. Since Google Ads (initially known as Google AdWords) launched in the year 2000 it has been a cost-effective method to garner visibility and drive traffic and conversions to your site. However, navigating the platform can seem overwhelming to the uninitiated. That’s why many businesses choose to partner with Google Ads experts via a digital marketing agency to create, optimize, track, and report the progress of various Google Ads campaigns.

But what do you define as success with your agency and what KPIs should you be looking for to track? We’ve put together a simple list of the 12 key performance indicators for Google Search Ads and how you can prepare yourself for your next meeting with your performance agency.

We’ll explain in-depth, what each metric is, break it down in simple terms, outline why it’s important to your performance, and what to ask your agency about each metric. Here are 12 Google Search KPIs To Discuss With Your Search Agency:

1. Impressions

What is It?: An impression in Google Ads simply denotes every time that your ad was shown on the search engine results page. This could be at the campaign, ad group, ad, or keyword level.

Explain Like I’m Five: The number of times my ads were shown in Google search results.

Why is it important?: Impressions are vital because without them we have no chance to succeed. Impressions are impacted by your keyword bids, budget, ad rank, and other campaign settings. Simply put the more impressions you receive on relevant keywords the more likely you are to increase visits to your website.

What to ask your agency?: How relevant are my impressions? Despite the previous comment, more impressions don’t always equate to quality. Ask your agency about which keywords are driving the bulk of your impressions and how those equate to purchase intent. For example, broader short-tail keywords ie – “shoes”, signal less purchase intent than “size 12 black Nike AirMax 90s”. Make sure that your campaigns prioritize keywords that exemplify purchase intent as opposed to just maxing out your impressions.

2. Clicks/Interactions

What is It?: A click/interaction in Google Ads is recorded every time that someone is served your ad (impression) and clicks on it driving them to a website, app, purchase etc…  

Explain Like I’m Five: The number of times someone clicked on your ad.

Why is it important?: Clicks are vital to your Google Search campaigns as they signify a few things about your campaigns. Firstly, your ad copy quality. A high number of clicks on a specific ad demonstrates that your ad is attractive and relevant to those who saw it. Without clicks, there are no visits to your website, no conversions, transactions, leads etc… Clicks are the first step in the journey of conversion. Without any clicks on your ads, you’re dead in the water.

What to ask your agency?: Again, relevance and quality are of utmost paramount. Ask your agency which keywords received the highest number of clicks. If it’s a keyword with low purchase intent, you are paying for poor-quality traffic.  

3. Avg CPC (Average Cost Per Click)

What is It?: Avg. CPC is a simple metric that gives you an idea of how expensive your keywords are to win in auction. Since the auction is based on a cost-per-click model (meaning you pay when someone clicks on your ad) average cost per click gives us an overall median of the cost to click on our keywords.

Explain Like I’m Five: How much you pay on average for a click on your ads.

Why is it important?: Cost per click is important because it allows you to gauge the average cost to produce a vist to your site. Additionally, a very high cost-per-click average might tell us we are bidding on a keyword that might not be entirely relevant or too expensive for our campaign. 

What to ask your agency?: Benchmarking by vertical is key here, for example, avg. CPC in a defense lawyer campaign might be monumentally higher than in a local painter campaign due to higher competition. Understand your industry and set goals with your agency.

4. CTR

What is It?: CTR or clickthrough rate is a simple metric to gauge the quality and relevance of your keywords and ad copy. It’s a simple formula, clicks/impressions = CTR.

Explain Like I’m Five: The percentage of clicks you receive from your impressions. High CTR denotes strong ad copy and relevant keywords for your business.

Why is it important?: Clickthrough rate is a great gauge of your ad quality. This goes for search, display, programmatic, etc… A strong CTR tells us that your ad is attractive to users and a poor CTR might mean your ad copy is below par or the keywords which the ad copy is accompanying are completely irrelevant to the user ie – serving a burger restaurant ad for a pizza-related keyword.

What to ask your agency?: Benchmarking CTR is key for an agency and is always a source for improvement. Ask your agency what they’re doing to improve CTR such as testing ad copy, pausing low performers, and expanding your keyword breadth and ads themselves. Additionally, CTRs for every platform (Google Search, Bing, Meta, TikTok), format (search, display, video), and vertical (home improvement, beauty, ecommerce, law) vary wildly. Ask your agency for a benchmark for CTR by vertical, platform, and format to gauge your success up against the field.

5. Conversion

What is It?: A conversion in Google Ads is the desired outcome or action which you want users to take on your website. Ie – make a purchase, email sign-up, collect a lead, receive a phone call. Conversions can be set up by your agency with tracking codes on your website to measure when an action is taken. You can even set up call tracking phone numbers that re-write on your site when a user arrives from Google Ads. 

Explain Like I’m Five: Purchases, sales, leads, phone calls that come from your Google Ads. The objective your Google search campaigns are trying to achieve.

Why is it important?: Conversions are important because they are the gauge that all optimization efforts are geared towards. Conversions are the ultimate measure of success for your campaigns. Whether you’re measuring leads, transactions, email signups, downloads, etc… This is the metric that signifies that your campaign is working.

What to ask your agency?: Conversions are great, but tracking them can be complicated. Ask your agency to fully break down the conversion tracking so you know exactly what they’re seeing as success so you can cross-reference your business’s data with theirs. Often, agencies may under or over-report conversions as the objective may be unclear or a technical error may produce skews.  

6. CvR (Conversion Rate)

What is It?: Similar to CTR this is a simple formula that conveys how successful your campaigns are in converting on your website. The CvR formula is as follows conversion/clicks = conversion rate. For example, if you had 50 conversions from 1,000 clicks then your conversion rate would be 5%

Explain Like I’m Five: The percentage of users that convert on your page after clicking your ad. 

Why is it important?: Relevancy is on full display again. A fairly low conversion rate can tell you that you’re not driving the right audience to your landing pages or website. Additionally, conversion rates can tell us a lot about your landing environment as well. If you think your search terms are relevant, and your ad copy is succeeding but you’re not seeing conversions this could mean that your site isn’t cutting it from a conversion standpoint.

What to ask your agency?: Just like CTR, CvR can vary from platform and vertical. At the beginning of your relationship with your agency, ask what the goal CvR and establish some benchmarks for the industry you fall under. Don’t be surprised if your agency has some tough conversations about your site. They should be able to make some conversion enhancement recommendations or perhaps build a new landing page or website to improve conversions for your campaign or overall site in general.

7. CPA (Cost-Per-Acquisition)

What is It?: Cost-Per-Acquisition (CPA) can be referred to by many different names. Some include cost-per-lead (service-based industries), cost-per-transaction (ecommerce), or simply cost-per-conversion. This is a simple metric that calculates the cost of a single conversion based on your overall ad spend. It’s calculated by dividing the number of conversions you received by your overall cost.

Explain Like I’m Five: How much you pay for a single conversion. 

Why is it important?: It’s especially important in lead-based campaigns where you are trying to generate business inquiries. CPA gives you an idea of exactly how much you’re spending to generate a single conversion

What to ask your agency?: CPA benchmarks should be established for Google Ads based on your vertical and seasonality. In some cases your CPA might be impacted by seasonal changes, this is why comparing year-over-year data for CPA can be helpful. Achieving a strong CPA at a decent lead volume is the goal for most service-based Google Ads campaigns.

8. ROAS (Ecommerce)

What is It?: ROAS (Return On Ad Spend) is a vital metric for e-commerce campaigns. It is calculated by dividing revenue attributable to your ad campaigns by the cost of those campaigns. ROAS = Ad Revenue/Ad Spend. This is usually displayed in a ratio ie – 5:1 or 500%. In this example revenue attributed to your ads would be $5,000 and your ad spend would be $1,000.

Explain Like I’m Five: A percentage of how much revenue was generated from your ads in comparison to your ad spend.

Why is it important?: We previously discussed CPA, but there are reasons why CPA isn’t a great measurement for e-commerce. This is because CPA would calculate the cost to produce each transaction from one of your ads, but the problem here is that not all transactions are of equal value. Your store might feature products with a $9.99 price tag and a $999.99 price tag. Spending $50 each on those transactions produces widely different results.

What to ask your agency?: If you’re an e-commerce client looking for Google Ads support you should ask for a ROAS for your ads. This will allow you to determine if the margins from cost, shipping, and all the way to your agency management fee make sense to advertise certain products. In general, spending $20 to sell a $5 bracelet doesn’t seem logical. Determine with your agency which products to prioritize. 

9. Search Impression Share

What is It?: Search Impression Share is a metric that measures the impressions you’ve received on Google’s Search Network divided by the number of impressions that you were eligible to receive.

Explain Like I’m Five: The percentage of time that my eligible impressions served to potential users.

Why is it important?: Search Impression Share is an important metric because it signifies the percentage of times you are receiving eligible impressions. If your Search Impression Share is under say 50% this means that you’re not serving ads half of the time someone types in one of your keywords. This could be due to a number of factors including budget and rank which we will discuss shortly.

What to ask your agency?: In highly competitive verticals it can be a real fight to get into the auction and stick there for the keywords in which you would like visibility. Ask your agency what your Impression Share is and how they plan to improve it.

10. Search Impression Share Lost Due To Budget

What is It?: Search Impression Share Lost To Budget is a percentage of lost impressions which are directly correlated to budget. In other words, the search volume that you’re missing out on because your budget is either too small or your target audience (location, day of the week, hours, irrelevant keywords, etc..) are too large.

Explain Like I’m Five: The percentage of time that my eligible impressions were not served to potential users due to an exhausted budget.

Why is it important?: This metric tells us a couple of things that can be addressed immediately. Firstly, you might be spreading yourself thin with your budget. Blanketing large geographic areas or not instituting an ad schedule can be one of the most common issues with IS lost to budget. Secondly, if you’re happy with your return on investment in Google Ads and you have a high percentage of IS lost to budget, throwing more budget at the problem could help increase your lead volume and capitalize on missed opportunities in the form of search impressions.

What to ask your agency?: Just like Search Impression Share you should ask your agency for a plan to improve a high IS lost due to budget. If they instantly request more budget without a plan to decrease your IS lost to budget this can be a red flag. Ask them to look at segmenting conversions by device, location, hour of day, day of week etc… Optimizing these conversion points can allow you to exclude high CPA/ROAS segments of your campaign so you’re not wasting budget where you don’t need to be. For example, maybe you look back over the last 6 months and notice on Sundays your CPA is 6x higher than the other days of the week. Instead of continuing to spend and stretching the budget on Sundays, maybe you remove that day altogether to spread your budget to winners and decrease your IS lost to budget.

Just remember that an adequate amount of data is required for these types of changes and making decisions based on a short window is not advantageous in the long run.    

11. Search Impression Share Lost To Rank

What is It?: Search Impression Share Lost To Rank is a percentage of lost impressions which are directly correlated to your ad rank. What is ad rank? Ad rank is calculated based on what you’re willing to pay on each keyword auction as well as your quality score, a metric that we will soon discuss. Poor ad rank could be a combination of below-average landing pages, expected clickthrough rate, and ad relevance.

Explain Like I’m Five: The percentage of time that my eligible impressions were not served to potential users due to a poor ad rank.

Why is it important?: Ad rank is something that your agency might not talk about because of the several nuances involved with improving it. A poor ad rank sends a signal to Google to not include your ads in the search engine results page.

What to ask your agency?: Ask your agency for a plan to improve poor ad rank and increase your overall impression share. This can be done by continually monitoring CTR and making improvements as well as pausing low quality score keywords and making improvements to your landing pages. This could be user experience or relevant content to the overall campaign. In general, if you’re bidding on a keyword such as “dental implants” make sure you drive them to a page that mentions this.

12. Quality Score

What is It?: Quality Score is a 1-10 Google KPI designed to measure the quality and relevance of your keyword. Quality Score is assigned to every keyword once it accrues a large enough volume of impressions. It is based on three major components, expected CTR of your ads, landing page experience, and relevancy of your ads.

Explain Like I’m Five: A score given to each of your keywords out of 10 (1 being poor, 10 being excellent) based on the quality of your ads and landing pages. A better quality score means cheaper clicks!

Why is it important?: Quality Score can have a dramatic impact on Google Search campaigns. Low quality score means not only will you be showing up fewer times for your eligible search impressions, but also that you are paying more per click as lower quality score keywords have to bid much higher to improve their ad rank.

What to ask your agency?: Quality Score is a metric that a lot of agencies and so-called search experts move right past, but developing a plan to measure and improve your QS can have exponential implications for your campaigns. Just remember that this isn’t something that you can measure right out of the gates, as you need time for keywords to accrue enough impressions and be assigned a QS.

Final Thoughts

There you have it. 12 metrics for you to be aware of when you start working with an agency partner for Google Search. Just remember the platforms are everchanging but these KPIs have stood the test of time with Google and are vital to the optimization and measurement of your success.

For those looking for a Google Search or paid media partner, The Influence Agency manages your campaigns from discovery, strategy and delivery, to reporting. We are completely transparent and love to partner with brands and businesses ready to take the next step in their digital journey. Learn more about our paid services and review our checklist to make sure you’re covered for paid media.

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