SEA: 5. Optimize

Paid search is part of the always-on strategy and is one of the key priorities when activating on digital. When the SEA strategy is implemented, you can start optimizing on a regular base. When optimizations should be made, please first align with your local Digital Brand manager to ask for their input. 

For the optimization of SEA, you should go to google ads and select the SEA account of the market you want to optimize. 

First you should look to the SEA performance on campaign level. You can compare the performance of a period with the previous period, you can change the dates and select ‘compare’. 

The first metric to look at is budget.


It is important to check your budget on a regularly base. First you should check 2-3 times per week if you are overspending or underspending. Go to the SEA spend tracker to check your pacing. Make sure that the monthly budget is adapted to the budget which is mentioned in the scorecard.

If you are underspending, you can increase the average daily budget of the campaigns with the highest lost impressions share due to budget. This will be explained in more detail below. You can also ask you local Digital Brand Manager which campaigns are priority for their market and increase those average daily budgets.

If you are overspending, please have a look to the campaigns which are not performing well. You should also monitor the cost per click and cost per conversion. Put a cap on the cost per click bid to avoid paying too much for less important keywords. This can be done by going to Google ads and filter on impressions bigger than 1000 on campaign level. Have a look to the campaign with the highest cost per click and compare it with the average cost per click of the account. 

When this is much higher, please set a maximum cost per click bit limit. You should click on the campaign with the high cost per click and go to settings. Click on bidding and set a maximum cost per click.

On campaign level you will be able to see other several important metrics:

  • Impressions is the amount of times your ad is served on Google’s ad networks. It indicates the interest toward certain topics. 

  • Click-through-rate which measure how often people click on your ad after it’s shown to them, it indicates how relevant your ad is and if it matches with their search. For optimization you need to check your ads and keyword which will be explained later in this section.

  • Average cost per click which is the amount of money that you have paid for your ad divided by its total clicks. 

  • Conversion Rate shows how often on average an ad interaction leads to a conversion.

The most important metric to start from for the optimization, is search impression share. Search impression share is the impressions that you have received on the Search Network divided by estimated number of impressions that you were eligible to receive. Go to the auction insights tab, to have an overview of the competitors who are bidding on the same keyword as you do. You will be able to filter on campaign level.

There are two main elements for the optimization to improve your search impression share: search lost IS (budget) and search lost IS (rank).

Search Impressions share lost due to budget 

Search lost IS due to budget estimates how often your ad didn’t show on the Search Network due to low budget. To decrease the lost of search impressions share due budget, you can increase the daily budget. First you should check if you are underspending or overspending. Go to the SEA spend tracker to check you pacing. When having an underspending, please filter on the highest lost IS due to budget and increase the daily budgets with 10-15% of those campaigns with a high percentage of lost. To know which campaign budget should be increased first amongst all the ones with high IS lost due to budget, please take into account the 60%/40% rule for themes and align with the local brand manager to understand key priorities in terms of campaign in a their market.

Search lost IS due to ad rank

Search lost IS due to ad rank estimates how often your ad didn’t show on the Search network due to poor Ad Rank. The Ad rank determines your ad position and whether your ad can show at all. It is calculated using your bid, quality score and ad format. To optimize this metric, you should have a look at the quality score which is calculated using the ad relevancy, landing page experience and your expected CTR. This can be all found on keyword level. 

To improve your quality score, you will need to check the following metrics:

Landing page experience estimated how relevant and useful your landing page is to people who click your ad. It considers factors such as how well your landing page content matches a person’s search term, and how easy it is for people to navigate your page. If the landing page experience is below average, first consult the brand manager to understand if there is page that is matching better the query. If not, please inform the owned team.  there a several optimization possibilities, contact the owned media part of the team to help you with this optimization.

Expected click-through rate measures how likely it is that your ad will be clicked when shown. This score is based on the past click through performance of your ad.

Ad relevance measures how closely your keyword matches the message in your ad. A below average may mean that your ads are too general or specific to answer the user’s query or that this keyword isn’t relevant To improve ad relevance, you will need to tweak/adapt the existing ads or add new ads that are matching more closely with your set of keywords for a specific ad group. Adding new ads or keywords can be done via google ads editor or via google ads.

There are two types of ads: expanded text ads and responsive search ads. 

Expanded text ads have three headlines, you can use up to 30 characters per headline and 2 descriptions up to 90 characters. 

Responsive search ads let you create an ad that adapts to show more text and more relevant messages to answer the customer query. Google will automatically test different combination of headlines and description, to learn which combination performs the best to serve the best messages to different searches depending on the keyword they search for, their device, their past browsing behavior and other signals. For this type of ad, you will need to enter minimum 3 headlines, but you can enter up to 15. You will need a minimum of 2 descriptions, but you can enter up to 15. We recommend having around 8 headlines and 3-4 descriptions. 

Google is recommending at least 2 expanded search ads and 1 responsive search ad per ad group. Underperforming ads should therefore be paused once new have been added or ads have been tweaked

To create new ads or change ads, you will need to ask the input of the local DBM. The implementation part afterwards, should be done by you. You can do it via Google ads by clicking on the blue + button or via Google Ads Editor which is explain in section 3.2.4 (launch).

Another way to optimize your ad relevancy is by adding new keywords or pausing underperforming keywords. Google is recommending having 5-20 keywords per ad group. In our SEA strategy, three type of keywords are used. The first one is broad match modifier; your ad will be only showed in searches that include the word you have marked with a plus + sign or close variants of these terms. Second type of keyword is the exact match, your ad will be showed to people who are searching for your exact keyword or close variants to your exact keyword. To implement an exact keyword, put the keyword between []. The last type of keyword is the negative exact keyword which excluded your ads from showing on searches with that term.

When some keywords are underperforming due to low volume, rarely shown, not matching well with the ads, you can pause them. 

To add new ads or keywords, you can do it via Google Ads Editor which is explained in section 3.2.4. (launch) or you can do it via google ads. In google ads you can add new ads via the ‘ads & extensions’ tab and click on the blue ‘+’ button.


Ask your Local Digital Brand manager which keywords could be relevant to add to certain ad groups to increase the ad relevancy. You could also provide them with the list of search terms which can be found in Google ads. Search term is the word that someone enters the search engine. This differs from a keyword which is a word we are already bidding on in the campaigns. You could first download the list of search terms, filter on the highest impressions and ask input of the local DBM on which search terms could be relevant to add as a keyword to the correct ad group. 

For example, on the picture above, the search term ‘veggie recepten’ is not a keyword on which we are bidding. If this keyword would be relevant to add, you should add the search terms as an exact keyword ‘+veggie +recepten’ to the exact ad group VEGETARIAN_MEALS_EXA in the DIETS_VEGETARIAN [NL] campaign. To make sure that the BMM ad group and the EXA ad group are not bidding on each other, we will need to add the +veggie +recepten as a negative exact keyword in the broad ad group VEGETARIAN_MEALS_BMM.

Search terms are also useful to identify irrelevant search queries we bid on. You can add some of those irrelevant search terms as negative keywords to ad group to make sure you stop bidding on those.      This can be done in the tab negative keywords. The negative keywords should be added as negative keyword to the BMM ad group, not to the EXA ad group.

Keyword planner is a free tool which can be used to discover new keyword and see estimates of the searches they receive and the cost to target them. Another tool you can use is Google trends which shows how frequently a given search is entered into Google’s search engine relative to the site’s total search volume of a given period of time.

Another important keyword optimization is checking duplicated keywords, this can be done by running a duplicate keyword report on Google Ads Editor.

  1. Go to Google ads Editor.
  2. Go to tools and select find duplicate keywords.

  3. Select Strict word order
  4. Select duplicated must have the same match type
  5. Select Across selected campaign as location of duplicates
  6. Last step: press on find duplicates

If you have the same keyword in different campaigns or ad groups, this would mean they are bidding on the same keyword so against each other. The keyword can only be added to 1 ad group, choose for the ad group which match the most with the keyword and put the keyword in the other ad group on pause.

For other optimization possibilities you can have a look to the recommendations tab in google ads. There you will be able to see different optimization possibilities such as bidding & budgets, keywords & targeting and ads and extensions. Please discuss with your local Digital Brand manager which recommendation should be priority and so being implemented.

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