5 Beginner Tips for Targeting Shoppers with Google Ads

When it comes to making the most of your online marketing campaigns, there is one phrase you should keep in your head: it’s all about the keywords. In a post-GDPR world, some of our favourite marketing techniques (i.e. remarketing) have to be reconsidered. Today, we want to look at some tips to optimise your keywords in order for you to make the most of your online marketing budgets.

#1 Check the Quality Score of your keywords

Google provides Quality Scores for a lot of elements in your Google Ads account. For example, you’ll get a Quality Score for your ad groups, campaigns, site links and ads. Perhaps the most important of all of them is the keyword Quality Score.

Google will give the keywords you choose to bid on a Quality Score (between 1-10) based on factors such as (but not limited to) your ad’s click-through-rate, the quality of your landing page, keyword/ad relevance, keyword/search relevance, geographic performance, ad’s performance on a site, and your target devices.

In the end, having a better keyword Quality Score will make your ads cheaper to run. Remember, Google loves ads that get clicks, so they’d rather have a bidder who is highly relevant with a lower bid than a high bidder with irrelevant ads.

After all, if ads are irrelevant (your ad and landing page focuses on shoes, but you bid on the keyword “dress”), hardly anyone will click on it. If no one clicks on it, Google can’t charge advertisers who pay on a per-click basis.     

So, if you want to boost your keyword Quality Score, make sure the text in your ads and on your landing page match the keywords you’re bidding on. If doing this doesn’t help, it’s better to stop bidding on these keywords all together.

Quality_Score_is_too_low Google will warn you if a certain keyword has a low Quality Score

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#2 Remove duplicate keywords

Using the same keywords across multiple campaigns is not a good idea. You’ll end up competing against yourself, driving up the price to win that particular keyword. If you sell multiple similar products, you should probably include the ads for each item in the same campaign so they don’t compete with each other.  

If you use Google Ads editor, it is quite simple to find the duplicate keywords (go to Tools > Find duplicate keywords). However, with the Google Ads interface, this must be done manually in the Keyword tab.

#3  Optimise for negative keywords

People often combine your product with other keywords. It’s a good idea to optimise for that. However, the opposite is true as well. Some keyword combinations are something you’ll want to avoid.

For example, “cheap version” or “free” are searches you don’t want to show up for. Make sure you’re not needlessly paying for those queries by adding those phrases to your negative keyword list. 

If you sell products that might be sold in other industries as well, this might be something to be pay attention to. The product might not be the same, but the name might. For example, if you sell eyeglasses, you might target the word “glasses”. However, you might want to add negative keywords for the term “wine glasses” and “drinking glasses”.

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#4 Use different keyword match types

When bidding on keywords, a keyword match type must be chosen. This tells Google how strongly the match should be to your keyword searches. By using different symbols with your keywords, Google will know which match type you’ve chosen.

There are four types of match types to choose from:

  1. Broad match - no symbols necessary

  2. Modified broad match - used with a “+” sign in front of each word

  3. Phrase match - used with a “quotation marks” around the entire phrase

  4. Exact match - used with [brackets] around the entire phrase

arrows hitting target


Broad match

Broad match is the default match type that your keywords are assigned. With this match type, ads may show on searches that are not the exact keywords you’ve added. Google may consider misspellings, synonyms, related searches and other relevant variations and place your ads there as well. For example, you may bid on the term Children’s bicycles, and someone who searched “kids bikes” might see your ad.

However, because these matches are so broad, they are designed to reach the biggest audience possible. That means it can become costly quite quickly if you’re not careful.

Modified broad match

By modifying your broad match (by adding a “+”), your ads may show on searches that include modified broad match keywords (or close variations, but not synonyms), in any order. For example, if you bid on the search terms +women’s +hats, then your ad might be shown to people who searched “hats for women”.

Phrase match

With phrase matches (use quotation marks around the phrase), ads will show on searches that match a phrase (or close variations of that phrase) with additional words before or after. The ads won’t show up if extra words are added in the middle of the phrase or if the order of words changes. For example, if the keyword you bid on is “soft pillow”, the ad might show up for a search of “very soft pillow”, but not for “soft feather pillow”.

Exact match

Ads will show on searches that match the exact term or are close variations of that search term. Reordered words may still be okay if it doesn’t change the meaning of the phrase, as are the addition or removal of function words like prepositions or conjunctions. For example, if the search term that you bid is [women’s hats] then your ad might show up for the search term “hats for women”.

#5 Track your spend on keywords

Getting traffic to your site is a great thing, right? Well, the answer is “kind of”. If you’re paying for that traffic, then you’ll want relevant traffic. Otherwise, you’ll be spending money on website visitors that have a very low chance of converting into customers.

That is why you should be constantly checking on the performance of those keywords. If certain words aren’t performing after a couple weeks, then you should seriously consider removing those words from your keyword list. Instead, explore some other keywords and keep on optimising your ads.


If you’re a beginner with Google Ads, it’s important to get the basics down. Testing out different strategies and tweaking successful ones are important tasks for any online marketer. With some practice (and some useful tips), you’ll be driving relevant traffic to your site in no time.  

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Alon Eisenberg

Alon Eisenberg

Alon Eisenberg has been the Content Manager UK at Trusted Shops since 2017. He graduated from Boston University with a Bachelor's degree in Communications in 2004.

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