Top 5 Google Ads Metrics – For Search

How to choose?  With the hundreds of metrics available in Google Ads, the possibilities are staggering.  What should you pay attention to without pulling your hair out?

After years of honing my approach, I’ve settled on the Top 5 Metrics I use to manage Google Ads. I certainly use others, but this core set is always part of my account dashboard.  

1. Click-Through Rate (CTR)

CTR – for keywords or ad copy, click through rate (or CTR) tells you if the content is resonating and meaningful to the audience. Low CTRs means you need to improve keywords, ad copy and even landing page content. This chart from WordStream lists industry average CTRS.

You should be aiming to meet or beat the industry average.  Anything lower is a warning sign.  

2. Cost Per Click (CPC)

CPC – at its core, cost-per-click drives the entire cost of a campaign so I like a mix of costs that do not lean too heavily on the highest cost keywords. If the account is skewed too far toward expensive keywords that drives high costs. To address this I use max. CPC limits or other controls like manual CPC to cap the upper end of cost per click.  I also recommend watching CPC over time, for periods of 30, 60 or more days.  A trend up in CPC tells you something is going on and you need to dig into the data and find out what.  

3. Cost Per Conversion

Cost per conversion – this all-important metric is where the metal meets the road. If this number is too high, nothing else matters. Cost per conversion is a direct route to return on investment (ROI). This one depends of course on the product or service you are advertising. I use this one as an overall “temperature gauge” – if too high we need changes.

4. Conversion Rate (CR)

This measure is a gauge for how well our ads and products sell to the searchers that encounter them. It’s especially useful to compare different elements of your own campaigns. If one ad group or campaign has a consistently better conversion rate I’ll move budget and emphasize those ads while reducing budgets or bids for lower CR ads.

5. Impression Share

According to Google, “Impression share is a good way to understand whether your ads might reach more people if you increase your bid or budget.” I use this metric in two specific ways: (1) to determine if are we playing a big enough role based our client’s desired reach and (2) on the other end of the spectrum, are we so large in the market that we are bumping up against the ceiling of what’s possible, meaning are we taking so much share that it gets too expensive to take any more (say above 85-95% share). If we are above the high 80s we know higher budget and bids may not drive more share and any more we grab will be at incrementally higher costs.

6. BONUS Quality Score (QS)

In my experience advertisers pay too much attention to this metric. Google tells us that QS is part of Ad Rank and therefore affects the cost per click we pay and our ranking alongside our competitors.  However, I have seen accounts drive profitable clicks on low QS keywords.  So what to do about QS?  One thing I don’t do is try to rid my account of all low QS keywords.  Instead, I do scan these numbers to make sure the campaign doesn’t have tons of 1s and 2s (out of 10).  It’s more of a balancing act than a race to all perfect 10/10 scores.  

Well, there you have it.  My top 5 (er, plus 1) Google Ads metrics.  I’d love to hear your comments or questions so drop a note in the comments box below!