It’s an all-too-common situation. You’ve spent time, energy, and money in building your Google Ads account in furtherance of your marketing strategies. You’ve put your research, every best practice you know, and your heart into launching just the right ads for just the right searcher. You set the account to live, and you’re ready to see results!
You Google the most important keywords you’re targeting, waiting for Google to serve that perfectly scripted ad to you – but – WHAT?!? It doesn’t appear at the top of the organic search results! Where is it? What went wrong??
Keywords are not the only factor that determine if your ad will be shown at the top of the SERPs (search engine results pages). Below are several factors that impact your ads being displayed, and why you should use tools like Google’s Ad Preview instead of continually searching, or (please tell me you haven’t done this!) clicking on your ad, thereby charging yourself to view your own site.
If your Google ads account is properly structured and targeted, and you don’t match your ads’ targeted audience, you should never see your ads.
When I search for our agency, Digital Third Coast, I don’t see any of our Google Ads. Instead, our agency website shows up at the top of the search engine results page (SERP). Keep reading to learn why that’s actually a “good” thing.
While keyword-based, ads can be served based on a variety of factors including geography, IP address, time of day, days of the week, and demographics. For example, if your ads are set to target Chicago but you’re searching from a device based in Austin, you won’t see your own ad when searching for targeted keywords.
Similarly, if you scheduled your search ads to run from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm Monday through Friday, and you look for them on a Saturday at 2:00 pm, you won’t see your ad.
The reason digital marketing can drive better returns than traditional advertising methods like billboards is that we can be more specific about audience targeting. Keyword research helps tie your ads with the right queries, while audience targeting helps you serve those ads to your target demographics.
While you won’t see your ads every time you drive down I-90, the people who are seeking your services and products will see it when they are actively looking for you.
As Google leans more into automation & black box factors, there are also several additional reasons we may never know for why your ad doesn’t show. This comes down to how well your own Google profile maps onto the profile model of those who are very likely to click your ad.
The cost to serve your ad every time someone searches target key phrases can be well beyond reasonable budgets. You want your ads to appear at the right time to the right user – not all the time.
Even the best campaigns often don’t achieve 100% impression share. Eking out the final points of impression share requires an advertiser to bid unnecessarily high, and that then affects every click you get. You may get 5% points more impression share, but you could end up paying 22% more for every click.
When you search repeatedly and don’t click on an ad, Google stops showing it to you. One of the key indicators of disinterest, in Google’s mind, is failure to interact.
Google does not know the difference between you searching for your ads and a potential user searching for your services. When you search for yourself over and over, and your ads don’t get clicked, Google assumes your ads aren’t relevant to the search query, so they penalize the ads by lowering the quality score, thus showing them less frequently (and less frequently to the users who want to see your ad).
Another reason you may not be seeing your ads is that your ad account used your daily budget before you ran your own search. This is worth reviewing with a professional to see if you could drive more return with increased spends.
There are a few instances where not seeing your ad is actually because of an actual problem. Review your account to make sure ads have not been disapproved and that your credit card is being processed properly.
Impressions affect click-through rates. If you are searching for yourself, every time your ad appears and you don’t click on it, it can affect CTRs and quality score, meaning it will cost more when it is served at the right time.
Use Google’s Ad Preview tool. This way you can see how your ad appears to searchers without impacting search performance. Review data from your account on impressions, clicks, conversions to better understand the performance of your campaigns.