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Google Ads Bidding Strategies Explained – Find the Best Bidding Strategy for Your Campaign

Ever felt like you’re throwing darts blindfolded when setting up a Google Ads campaign?

You’re not alone. 

Unraveling the enigma of Google Ads bidding strategies can be daunting, but imagine having a roadmap that turns your first Google Ads venture into a masterstroke. 

Dive in, and let’s demystify the art and science behind it all, starting with this beginner’s tutorial.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

Why Bidding Strategies Matter

Ah, the world of Google Ads. It’s vast, intricate, and can sometimes feel like you’re trying to navigate through a dense forest with only a dim flashlight. 

But, let’s shine a spotlight on one of the most crucial aspects of this forest: bidding strategies. 

Why, you ask? Well, let’s dive deep and unravel this mystery.

The Heartbeat of Your Campaign

  • Bidding is the Pulse: Think of your Google Ads campaign as a living entity. The bidding strategy you choose is its heartbeat, determining how vigorously it runs, how visible it is, and how much ground it covers.
    • Description: Just as a heartbeat pumps blood throughout the body, your bidding strategy pumps visibility and reach to your ads. Without the right strategy, your ads might as well be invisible.
  • Achieving Your Bidding Goals: Setting clear bidding goals is like setting a destination on your GPS. It gives direction and purpose to your campaign.
    • Description: Whether you’re aiming for maximum clicks, impressions, or conversions, your bidding strategy should align with these goals. It’s not just about spending money; it’s about spending it wisely to achieve the best results.
  • Performance Metrics: Ever heard the phrase, “Numbers don’t lie”? Well, in the world of Google Ads, performance metrics are those numbers. They give you a clear picture of how well your ads are doing.
    • Description: If you’re seeing a high click-through rate but low conversions, maybe it’s time to re-evaluate your bidding strategy. Monitoring your Google Ads performance regularly ensures you’re on the right track.

A Real-life Analogy

Imagine you’re at a Storage Wars auction, and there’s this exquisite, vintage Spiderman comic you’ve had your eyes on. The auctioneer starts the bidding process, and the room is buzzing with excitement.

  • The Initial Bid: You start with a safe bid, not too high, not too low. This is akin to setting an initial CPC bid on Google Ads.
    • Description: Just as you wouldn’t want to overspend at an auction, you wouldn’t want to blow your ad budget without seeing results.
  • The Competitive Edge: Another bidder challenges your bid. Now, it’s a game of strategy. Do you bid higher, or do you bow out? Similarly, in Google Ads, you’re constantly competing with other businesses for ad space.
    • Description: The right bidding strategy ensures you stay competitive without overspending. It’s a delicate balance, but when done right, the rewards are worth it.
  • The Winning Bid: At the end of the auction, it’s not always the highest bidder that wins, but the smartest one. The same goes for Google Ads.
    • Description: It’s not about how much you spend, but how wisely you spend. Achieving the best results requires a combination of strategy, analysis, and a bit of intuition.

In conclusion, bidding strategies are the backbone of your Google Ads campaign.

They determine how visible your ads are, how much you spend, and ultimately, how successful your campaign is.

Always keep an eye on the transparency center to ensure you’re making informed decisions.

Google Ads Bidding Strategies

We’re about to dive deep into the ocean of bidding strategies.

If Google Ads is the vehicle driving your online success, bidding strategies are the gears that determine the speed and direction of that vehicle.

Let’s break it down, shall we?

The Basics: Manual vs Automated Bidding

  • Manual Bid: This is the OG, the classic. With manual bidding, you set the maximum amount you’re willing to pay for a click on your ad. It’s like setting a speed limit for your car.
    • Description: Manual bidding gives you control. You decide the bid based on your budget and the value of a click to your business. It’s hands-on and requires regular monitoring.
  • Automated Bid: Let Google take the wheel. With automated bidding, Google automatically adjusts your bids for you to get the most out of your budget.
    • Description: It’s like cruise control for your Google Ads campaign. Google uses historical data to predict which clicks are more valuable and adjusts your bids accordingly.

Types of Bidding Strategies

So what bid strategies are available in Google Ads? Let’s find out!

1. Manual CPC Bidding

  • What is it? You set your bids for different ad placements.
  • When to use? When you want full control over your bids.

2. Maximize Clicks

  • What is it? An automated bid strategy that sets your bids to get as many clicks as possible within your budget.
  • When to use? When you have a solid conversion funnel and want to send as many visitors to your website as possible.

3. Maximize Conversions

  • What is it? It sets bids to help you get the most conversions while spending your budget.
  • When to use? When you have a large budget and want to automate your ads to drive more conversions.

4. Target Search Page Location

  • What is it? It sets bids to help your ads appear on the first page of Google search results or in one of the top ad positions.
  • When to use? When you want to rank as one of the top positions in a Google search.

5. Target Outranking Share

  • What is it? You can choose another advertiser’s domain that you want to outrank in ad position and set how often you’d like to outrank it.
  • When to use? When you want to outrank a specific competitor in your industry.

6. Enhanced Cost-Per-Click (ECPC)

  • What is it? Google adjusts your manual bids to help you get more conversions while trying to achieve the same cost-per-conversion.
  • When to use? When you are using a manual bidding strategy but still want to take advantage of automated bidding.

7. Target CPA (Cost-Per-Acquisition)

  • What is it? Google sets bids to help you get as many conversions as possible at your set target CPA.
  • When to use? When you’ve established a CPA that you’re willing to spend to acquire a customer while still maintaining a profit.

8. Target ROAS (Return On Ad Spend)

  • What is it? It sets your bids to achieve as much conversion value as possible at your set target ROAS.
  • When to use? When you want to focus on driving the highest value of conversions versus trying to receive the highest number of conversions.

9. Maximize Conversion Value

  • What is it? It sets bids to get the most conversion value for your budget.
  • When to use? When you want to maximize the total conversion value of your campaign within a specified budget.

10. Percentage of Impressions

  • What is it? It sets bids to help you achieve a target share of impressions.
  • When to use? When you want to maintain a certain share of possible impressions for your ads.

11. Target Impression Share

  • What is it? It sets bids to help your ads appear a certain percentage of the time on the absolute top of the page, top of the page, or anywhere on the page of Google search results.
  • When to use? When you want to increase your visibility and brand presence on Google search results.

12. Smart Bidding

  • What is it? A subset of automated bidding strategies that use machine learning to optimize for conversions in every auction.
  • When to use? When you want to maximize conversion results by tracking and analyzing data signals from every search and click.

Within Smart Bidding, there are 4 strategies:

  • Enhanced CPC
  • Target CPA
  • Target ROAS
  • Maximize Conversions

Remember, the best bidding strategy depends on your campaign goals, budget, and the specific circumstances of your business.

It’s always a good idea to test different strategies to see which one works best for your needs.

Diving Deeper: Different Bidding Strategies

  • CPC Bid: Cost-per-click bidding is where you pay for each click on your ad. It’s the most common type of bidding, especially for businesses looking to drive traffic to their website.
    • Description: Imagine you’re fishing. Each click is like a fish biting the bait. You’re paying for the bait, hoping to reel in a big catch.
  • Smart Bidding Strategies: This is a subset of automated bid strategies that use machine learning to optimize for conversions. Examples include Target CPA bidding and Maximize Conversions bidding.
    • Description: Think of it as having a personal assistant (with a PhD in data analysis) adjusting your bids in real-time to get the best results.
  • Portfolio Bid Strategies: These are automated strategies you can apply across multiple campaigns, ad groups, and keywords. It’s like having one strategy for your entire portfolio of stocks.
    • Description: It offers a holistic approach, optimizing bids based on the overall performance of your ads.
  • Target Impression Share Bidding: This strategy aims to show your ad on a certain percentage of eligible ad auctions. It’s all about visibility and brand awareness.
    • Description: Imagine you’re a musician. This strategy is like trying to get your song played on the radio as much as possible.
  • CPV Bidding: Cost-per-view bidding is primarily for video ads on platforms like YouTube. You pay when someone views your video.
    • Description: It’s like buying a movie ticket. You pay to watch, and in this case, you pay for others to watch your content.
  • Different Google Ads Bidding Strategies: There are several other strategies like Maximize Clicks, Target Return on Ad Spend (ROAS), and more. Each has its own unique benefits and is suited for specific campaign goals.
    • Description: It’s like having different tools in a toolbox. You pick the one that’s right for the job.

The Platforms: Where Your Ads Show

  • Google Search: This is the most common platform. Your ads show up in Google search results.
    • Description: It’s like placing an ad in a newspaper. People searching for specific terms will see your ad.
Screenshot of Google search ads
  • YouTube Ads: These are video ads that play before, during, or after a YouTube video.
    • Description: Think of it as a commercial break during your favorite TV show.
Screenshot of a YouTube ad
  • Ads Platform: This refers to the entire ecosystem of Google Ads, including Search, Display, Video, and more.
    • Description: It’s like advertising on multiple TV channels, each with its own audience and content.

Understanding the different types of bidding strategies is crucial for the success of your Google Ads campaign.

It’s not just about setting a budget and hoping for the best.

It’s about choosing the right strategy, monitoring performance, and making adjustments as needed.

The Science Behind Bidding: A Data-Led Approach

Ever wondered how Google seems to magically know just where and when to place your ads for maximum impact?

Well, it’s not magic—it’s science.

And we’re going to pull back the curtain and dive into the data-driven world of Google Ads bidding.

So, grab your lab coat and goggles; it’s time for an experiment!

The Algorithmic Magic: How Google Uses Data

  • Google Analytics Integration: Google Ads and Google Analytics go together like peanut butter and jelly. By integrating the two, you can gain insights into user behavior, which can inform your bidding strategy.
    • Description: Imagine you’re a detective, and Google Analytics is your trusty sidekick, providing you with clues (data) to solve the mystery of where to place your ads.
  • Enhanced CPC: Google has the enhanced CPC (cost-per-click) feature, which automatically adjusts your manual bids for clicks that seem more likely to lead to a conversion.
    • Description: It’s like having a personal trainer who pushes you a little harder when they see you have the potential to lift heavier weights.
  • Auction-Time Bidding: This is where the magic happens. Google uses real-time data to adjust your bids during every auction, ensuring you get the best bang for your buck.
    • Description: Think of it as a high-speed car auction, where decisions are made in milliseconds based on the latest data.

Strategies and Their Inner Workings

  • Automated Bidding Strategies: Google Ads offers several automated bidding strategies, each designed for specific campaign goals. Whether you’re looking to maximize clicks, impressions, or conversions, there’s a strategy for that.
    • Description: It’s like having a Swiss Army knife of bidding options. Each tool (strategy) has its unique purpose.
  • Smart Bidding: Google’s smart bidding uses machine learning to optimize your bids for conversions or conversion value in each auction. It’s the future of bidding, today.
    • Description: Imagine a world where your ads are powered by AI, constantly learning and adapting to get you the best results. Welcome to the world of smart bidding.
  • TCPA Bidding: Target CPA (cost-per-acquisition) bidding is a fully automated strategy where you set a target cost-per-acquisition, and Google automatically sets your bids to get as many conversions as possible at your target.
    • Description: It’s like setting a budget for grocery shopping and letting someone else (who’s really good at finding deals) do the shopping for you.
  • The Human Touch: While Google’s automated bidding strategies are powerful, they work best when combined with human insights. After all, no one knows your business better than you do.
    • Description: It’s a harmonious dance between man and machine, each bringing their strengths to the table.

The science behind Google Ads bidding is a blend of data analytics, machine learning, and human intuition.

So, the next time you’re setting up a campaign, remember to trust the science, but also trust your gut.

Scaling with Google Ads: Beyond Just Bidding

So, you’ve mastered the art of bidding on Google Ads.

But here’s the thing: while bidding is a crucial component of your Google Ads strategy, it’s just the tip of the iceberg.

If you’re looking to truly scale your campaigns and maximize ROI, you need to look beyond bidding. Let’s dive in!

The Bigger Picture: Your Google Ads Account

  • Holistic Strategy: Your Google Ads account is like a well-oiled machine, with multiple components working in harmony. Bidding is just one cog in this machine.
    • Description: Imagine your Google Ads account as a car. Bidding might be the engine, but you also need wheels, brakes, and fuel to get to your destination.
  • Video and Display Ads: While search ads are the most common, don’t forget about video and display ads. These can be powerful tools for brand awareness and engagement.
    • Description: Think of search ads as the main course, while video and display ads are the appetizers and desserts that complete the meal.
  • Performance Metrics: Always keep an eye on your Google Ads performance metrics. This will give you insights into what’s working and what’s not, allowing you to adjust your strategy accordingly.
    • Description: It’s like checking the health of your car. Regular check-ups ensure everything runs smoothly.

Scaling Strategies to Consider

  • Landing Page Optimization: Once a user clicks on your ad, the journey doesn’t end there. Ensure your landing pages are optimized for conversions. Check out this landing page checklist for some handy tips.
    • Description: Your landing page is like a store. If it’s messy and confusing, customers will leave without buying anything.
  • Budget Allocation: As you scale, it’s essential to allocate your budget effectively. Templates like this PPC budget allocation tracker can be invaluable.
    • Description: Think of your budget as water in a garden. You need to ensure every plant (campaign) gets the right amount to thrive.

Common Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them

Alright, let’s switch gears a bit.

While Google Ads offers immense potential, there are also pitfalls that can trip up even seasoned advertisers.

But fear not! We’re here to guide you through these treacherous waters.

The Top Mistakes Advertisers Make

  • Setting and Forgetting: One of the most common mistakes is setting up a campaign and then forgetting about it. Google Ads requires regular monitoring and optimization.
    • Description: Imagine planting a tree and never watering it. It won’t grow, right? The same goes for your ads.
  • Ignoring Brand Traffic: Don’t underestimate the power of bidding on your brand name. It can boost credibility and drive conversions. Learn more about it here.
    • Description: It’s like ignoring loyal customers in a store. They’re already interested; you just need to engage them.
  • Poor Ad Scheduling: Not all hours are created equal. Ensure your ads run during times when your target audience is most active. Dive deeper into ad scheduling for SaaS.
    • Description: Think of it as a store opening at odd hours. If you open when no one’s around, you won’t make sales.

How to Dodge These Pitfalls

  • Continuous Learning: The digital advertising landscape is ever-evolving. Stay updated with the latest trends and best practices. Avoid common mistakes by checking out this list of the top 5 Google Ads mistakes.
    • Description: It’s like attending regular training sessions. The more you learn, the better you become.
  • Use Tools and Resources: There are numerous tools available to help you optimize your campaigns. For instance, ensure your ads are efficient with tools like GBRAID.
    • Description: Think of these tools as your toolkit. Each tool has a specific purpose, helping you build a successful campaign.

In conclusion, while bidding is a vital aspect of Google Ads, it’s essential to look at the bigger picture and be aware of common pitfalls. By doing so, you can truly harness the power of Google Ads and drive unparalleled growth for your business. Happy advertising!

Google Ads Bidding Tips

Alright, folks, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty.

Here are some expert tips that can elevate your campaigns to the next level.

1. Understand Your Audience’s Behavior

  • Time of Day and Day of Week: Not all hours or days are created equal. Dive deep into your analytics to understand when your audience is most active and adjust your bids accordingly.
    • Description: Think of it like a coffee shop. There’s a morning rush and a mid-afternoon lull. You’d want more staff during the rush, right? Similarly, you’d want to bid more aggressively during peak times.

2. Leverage Seasonal Trends

  • Adjust Bids for Seasonal Events: Whether it’s Black Friday, Valentine’s Day, or back-to-school season, some periods can drive more traffic and conversions. Be ready to adjust your bids during these times.
    • Description: Imagine a toy store during Christmas. The demand is sky-high, and so should your bids be during such peak seasons.

3. Keep an Eye on Your Competitors

  • Competitive Bidding: If you’re in a highly competitive niche, sometimes it’s worth bidding on competitor keywords. But tread carefully; you don’t want to overspend.
    • Description: It’s like setting up a lemonade stand right next to another. You might get some of their customers, but you also don’t want to start a price war.

4. Don’t Set and Forget

  • Regularly Review and Adjust: The digital landscape is ever-evolving. Regularly review your bidding strategies and adjust based on performance data.
    • Description: Think of it as pruning a plant. Regularly trimming and adjusting helps it grow better. Similarly, regular adjustments can help your campaigns flourish.

5. Test, Test, Test

  • A/B Testing: Always be testing. Whether it’s your ad copy, landing page, or bidding strategy, A/B testing can provide valuable insights.
    • Description: It’s like trying out two different recipes to see which one your family likes more. Testing helps you serve the best dish (or ad) to your audience.

6. Consider the Entire User Journey

  • Multiple Touchpoints: A user might not convert the first time they see your ad. Consider the entire user journey and adjust your bids for different touchpoints.
    • Description: Imagine a customer in a store. They might visit multiple times before making a purchase. Similarly, consider the entire journey before making bidding decisions.

7. Use Automated Bidding, But Wisely

  • Leverage Google’s Algorithms: Google’s automated bidding can be powerful, but it’s essential to monitor and ensure it aligns with your goals.
    • Description: It’s like using a GPS. It can guide you, but sometimes you know a shortcut it doesn’t. Trust the tech, but also trust your instincts.


We’ve covered all bid strategies available in Google Ads.

As you can tell by now, there isn’t one bidding strategy to rule them all. 

You should use the best bidding strategy for your specific case.

Ready for another adventure? Dive into optimizing for mobile devices here.

Michael Schroder

Michael Schroder

Michael Schroder is a Google Ads and SaaS marketing consultant. He has been managing $200k-$300k monthly ad spend and has worked with 200+ SaaS companies. The thing that makes him unique is his data-led approach and his focus on SaaS businesses.