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Expert Tips for Google Search and Display Ads

Scott Snowden
Scott Snowden
Business & Technology Strategy
Write to Scott

The Google Ads world can be overwhelming to navigate. Formerly known as AdWords, this diverse range of campaign types stretches across display ads, search ads, shopping, and video. We recently wrote about setting up a Google Merchant Center for shopping ads, so in this post we’ll be focusing on the Search Network and Display Network. We manage Search and Display for several of our clients and wanted to share some technical know-how that has proven to provide success.   

Boost search ads through remarketing

The Search Network makes sure you show up in the top results when someone searches a relevant keyword in Google, and it’s a great place to start if you’re looking to increase traffic to your site. When search ads lead users to your site, they become tracked by Google Ads as an audience group. You can use this to your advantage to for all future searches by that same user who has been flagged in this particular audience group. Here’s how:

  1. Use the “All users” remarketing list as an audience group for your search campaign related to the already identified keywords.

  2. Create a “bid adjustment” for that audience, boosting what you pay for a click if someone from that audience searches those particular keywords.

Result: those search ads will get boosted (show up higher on the search results page) for people who have already been to your site when they search again in the future.

Target people who visit your competitors

The Display Network allows you to reach potential customers wherever they go on the web. Though there are many different types of audiences to choose from, our best results have come from targeting people who visit our clients’ competitors’ websites. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Create a display campaign as you normally would.

  2. Create an audience (Tools > Audience Manager) and click custom audiences at the top.

  3. Click the plus sign and choose Custom Intent.

  4. Paste all of your competitors’ websites into the Related URLs field.

  5. Name and add that Audience to the campaign you created.

Result: your ads will show up all over the Display Network, but only for users that have visited your competitors’ websites.

Target people who visit relevant websites

In some cases there aren’t enough relevant competitors or enough traffic to those competitors in a niche market, in which case we take a more traditional approach to Display Ads: targeting users that are interested in relevant sites. Here’s how to make your ads show up in the right places:

  1. Create a display campaign as you normally would.

  2. From the campaign, click Audience in the left menu (don’t create this audience from Tools > Audience Manager).

  3. Click the pencil icon, then Edit Audiences and choose Targeting.

  4. Select “what they’re actively researching or planning” and then click In-market Audiences.

  5. Choose all applicable topics to your business, then make sure to save.

Result: Now your ads will appear on the Display Network to all users, but only on sites related to the topics you identified.

Exclude your ads from showing on apps

Though you can set ads to follow the most relevant users around the web wherever they go, this may not be ideal depending on your brand positioning - imagine a very prestigious company’s ad showing up on Candy Crush.

  1. Open the campaign or create a campaign as you normally would.

  2. Choose Placement and go to Exclusions.

  3. Add “www.adsenseformobileapps.com

Result: Your ads won’t appear on apps anymore. Ta-da!


These tips will increase the success of your campaigns while effectively managing your budget. To learn more about Google Ads, check out our blog posts on the value of remarketing and how to manage your digital spend. As always, we’re happy to help if you have more questions about how Google Ads could work for you.

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