Google Ads, The Update You Can't Miss

You ain’t much if you don’t show up on Google. Google Ads, when done well, make you visible. Staying up with Google Ads’ updates is important, but can also be a dizzying task. They update their algorithm a lot. Like 500-600 times per year. Most of those are minor updates, but a major update in August in 2020 made us take note and improve how we advise and strategize for the businesses we support. This isn’t an exhaustive list, but highlights where Google has made changes and where it’s headed in 2021. We want to share these important updates with you.


1 - More Liberal Phrase Match and Broad Match for Keywords

            Phrase-match keywords match queries that include the entire keyword in strict order. Similarly to long-tail keywords, the exact match keyword, for instance, [hair salon], a phrase-match keyword would also trigger [cheap hair salon] or [best hair salon near me]. What wouldn’t work is [salon for hair near me]. Broad-match modifier keywords don’t require the keywords to be in a specific order. The words just need to be included. The broad-match modifier keyword of [best mattress] is eligible to match to queries like [best place to buy a mattress] and [mattress that is best for back pain]. These Google Ads updates amount to a double-edged sword. Google Ads updated phrase-match keywords and broad-match modifiers to include words that have the same intent or meaning but are fundamentally different than the chosen keywords. Google expects “advertisers using broad-match modifier and phrase-match keywords to see 3-4%” more of their target audience. Those percentages are only average, and if Bonsai clients’ ads are getting more views to the wrong audience, that isn’t an effective advertising strategy. It also makes it more challenging to use negative keywords as effectively as before.


2 - More Targeting Tools

            Google Ads added two more tools in this update to get the right people viewing client ads in Google search. There were already many effective tools, and now there are two more: affinity audiences and in-market audiences. Both tools bring something new to the table, and they go after different ends of the sales funnel. Affinity audiences broaden the client’s ad horizon. For example, if the ad is targeting someone searching for a [one person sleeping bag], we could also pair the affinity audience “outdoor enthusiast.” That includes the audience who may be interested in what your client is selling. These are the top-of-the-funnel leads who are just beginning their buyer’s journey. When the affinity audiences start the buying process, the in-market audience targets the bottom-of-the-funnel customers who are ready to purchase.


3 - Lead Form Ad Extension

            85% of marketers claim lead generation as their number-one marketing goal. It’s easy to see why. Lead generation gives us more data about our client’s prospective customers. And, with more data, we can better communicate and customize our interactions, which leads to higher conversions. Customers are looking for friction-free experiences, and Facebook Leading ads are very effective because the customer doesn’t have to leave the page to fill out the form. With this update, Google Ads has a newly similar experience. Now, after clicking a call-to-action button on the Google ad, a lead form pops out, and users can quickly submit a pre-populated form, populated with their Google-user information. This new lead form ad extension narrows the bridge between our clients and their customer in a way we’ve never seen from Google Ads before.


4 - A More Effective Google Ads Mobile App

            Gone are the days of traditional desk work and hours in front of a desktop computer. With Bonsai marketing experts working in different locations than clients, we are frequently communicating via Google Hangouts or checking off tasks on Teamwork. Many times tasks need to be changed, updated or completed ASAP, and sitting down at a computer can slow the process down. Thankfully update #4 relates to the Google ads mobile app, allowing marketers to stay responsive to our client’s ads’ needs. This update allows us to create and edit responsive search ads from your phone. Also, before this update, we could only pause and turn on ads through the app. Now, launching last-minute promotions, and tinkering with running ads based on available data, is feasible and accessible via the mobile app.


5 - Maximize Conversion Value with Smart Bidding

            Many of the Google Ads updates make things more automated and less labor-intensive. That’s the story with smart bidding. If a Google Ads budget is set for a client, Google Ads will do its best to maximize the client’s conversion value. Google will try to increase the total revenue of the client’s campaign. If Google sees an opportunity, for instance, with a less expensive product or services the client offers, the Google algorithm will go there and find winners in unlikely spots. This strategy will be more effective for more established pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns, already bringing in a good number of conversions and are not too budget restricted. Freedom and opportunity, along with tracking revenue and conversions, helps the smart bidding strategy really work.


6 - Easy Conversion Measurement Set-Up

            This much-needed update is a simple, but important one: setting up conversion tracking as a new campaign is created. Obviously, tracking client’s conversions is a big deal. The previous process, before this update, wasn’t intuitive or straightforward. But now, conversion tracking can be set up simultaneously with a new campaign. After the tracking is set up, an email is sent with instructions to complete the setup, and then the conversions for a pay-per-click campaign can be tracked.


7 - User-Generated Images in Product Reviews

            User reviews are the new product copy. The customer’s word makes or breaks a product. With this Google Ads update, Google has made their reviews even more powerful by allowing user-generated images used in the business’s feed. This allows for a deeper connection between the product and a potential customer.


8 - Responsive Search Ads

            Traditional search ads usually consist of a headline and description copy. Simple and straightforward. But the Google Ads update allows now for a Responsive Search Ad, in which several options can be used. Redundant headlines and/or descriptions work against this update. Redundancies restrict the system’s ability to create new and unique ad combinations. By adding unique, but relevant headlines and descriptions or reusing existing copy (that has proven effective) the business’s chances of ads performing well increases. Add high-volume keywords to the headlines. For instance, if a company sells camping gear, and mainly focuses on the high-volume keyword of [camping tents], then [camping tents] needs to go into the headline.


9 - Elevate Video Campaigns with New Extensions for YouTube Ads

            YouTube is unparalleled as the video platform on the internet. It’s just behind Facebook, but ahead of Instagram as a social media app with 2 billion users worldwide. This recent Google Ads update unrolled an extension to help capitalize on the YouTube audience. Similar to the Lead Form Ad Extension in update #3, this update allows a potential customer watching a business’s video ad to interact with their business without leaving YouTube. When a customer sees the ad and clicks on the call-to-action, a drop-down menu appears with the new actionable items. For instance, the customer can get information on brick-and-mortar store locations or coupon codes.


10 - Say Goodbye to Average Position

            The Average Position metric is no more, and most Google advertisers are okay with that. Average Position was, at best, misunderstood, and at worst, pretty useless for most pay-per-click campaigns. Average Position always referred to where ads appeared within the hierarchy of paid results from Google’s search engine. If, for instance, an ad got an Average Position of 1 in an audition, it was no guarantee the ad would be at the top of the search engine results page (SERP). It could show up at the bottom of the SERP, as long as it was the first ad. But now, Google recommends the business uses Google Analytics to monitor both top impression rate and absolute top impression rate. The top impression rate = top impressions / total impressions. This metric tells us the percentage of the total impressions coming from the top of the SERP (above the organic results). Absolute top impression rate = absolute top impressions / total impressions. A good rule of thumb is to review any Google Ads scripts that utilize average position.


11 - Get Insight into Campaign Performance

            Analyzing fluctuating metrics is part of any marketer’s job, but a new Google Ads update is making it more manageable and more efficient. Now there is a clickable metric to get suggested reasons why the results may have changed (whether for the better or for the worse). Google Insights reveals the most likely reasons why impression, click-through rates, cost changes (and more), have occurred. It doesn’t replace the job of the marketer, but it points in a possible direction, taking the first blunt of research of the marketer’s plate.


Google Ads is a strong digital marketing and advertising platform (duh). The updates covered here are not exhaustive, but highlight important and helpful areas where Google has already made updates, as well as indicate where it’s heading in the coming year. Google thinks of the user, but also thinks like a business, looking to increase its revenue. By using the tools given in this update, marketing strategies can adapt to improve return-on-ad-spent (ROAS). Bonsai Media Group is ahead of the game, anticipating and adapting to Google Ads updates. If your company’s current marketing strategy isn’t up to snuff, it’s time to upgrade with Bonsai Media Group. Get in touch with us today to see how we can improve your Google Ads relationship.




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