A Strategic Guide to Automated Rules in Google Adwords Pay-Per-Click


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That means better ad positioning, lower cost, higher click-thru rate, more conversions, reduced cost-per-conversion, and thus more efficient leads into the funnel.

When we manage our clients pay-per-click campaigns, Automated Rules are always implemented within those campaigns. Besides being a time-saver, Automated Rules allow us to strategically manage bidding for optimal performance by testing multiple tactics and metric variables. When managed properly, more efficient leads are generated, and campaign ROI increases.

This post is not a how-to guide, but a look at strategic uses of Google Adwords Automated Rules. There are no specific best practices as every Adwords campaign is different, so you need to look at your own goals, and your own campaign performance before setting up rules. Review your ad positioning, conversion data, level of competition, etc and have in mind a plan before setting up the rules.

Automated Rules can be implemented via the Account Level (for client managers), Campaign Level, Ad Group Level, Ad Level, and Keyword Level. There are many (perhaps too many) variables to choose from when setting up Automated Rules. To keep it simple, I focus on the following rule types:

  • Keyword Level: Maximum CPC (Cost-per-click), Top of Page CPC (1st 3 ad positions), First Page CPC, and Pause
  • Ad Level: Pause
  • Ad Group Level: Default Maximum CPC, Pause

Here’s where you find the Automated Rules button on the keyword tab; for this post I will be focusing on Keyword rules where most of the time should be spent anyway when it comes to bidding management.

When I implement keyword bidding rules, I have the option of choosing all enabled keywords, all but deleted keywords (meaning paused terms as well), or selecting specific keywords to apply the rules to. I usually choose all enabled keywords.

Below are 7 examples of strategic ways to utilize Automated Rules for Adwords campaigns. Many we use for our own clients; both enterprise and mid-market.

1. Goal: Increase bids so higher performing keywords appear in top 3 ad positions. The rule below tells Google to increase keyword bid to the top 3 CPC estimate (based on auctions last 14 days) but don’t go over $8.00 per click, only if the average ad position of the keyword is less than position 3, and the keyword’s conversion rate is above 1% Rule is activated based on data of last 14 days. (most rules I implement use data from minimum last 14 days; many times 30 or more days)

2. Increase maximum CPC bids for under performing terms that include a specific term in the keyword phrase, as that keyword is relevant to my client’s product. Goal is to see if the CTR increases with better positioning. The rule below tells Google to increase the keyword’s maximum bid 25% of the average position is worse than 6, includes the specific term in the keyword phrase I am bidding on, and the CTR (click-through rate) is less than .50%. My CTR goal for all keywords in 1%. Rule is activated based on data of last 14 days.

3. Increase bids to allow keywords in a specific, important ad group to appear on the first page of search results if the quality score is low. The rule below tells Google to increase bids to first page estimate (again maximum bid of $8.00), if the keyword quality score is less than or equal to 3 (our of 10), and has at least 100 ad impressions (so there is some history built up), only for a specific ad group I have the opportunity to choose.

4. Pause under-performing keywords when certain criteria are met. I usually include at the most 3 requirements. The below lists four but the first two options can be either or, rather than both included. The rule below tells Google to pause keywords in my campaign (again this can be ad group level as well) if the CTR is less than .25%, the quality score is less than or equal to 3, there are at least 200 impressions for the keywords, and there are zero conversions. This last requirement is significant; if a keyword had a achieved a conversion, I prefer not to have it paused automatically. That’s something I can do manually if I feel that keyword is indeed not performing to par. Rule is activated based on data of last 30 days.

5. In a competitive auction, my goal below is to increase bids of higher performing keywords into the top 3 positions on a Google search. The rule below tells Google to increase keyword bids to top of page CPC with a maximum bid of $8.00 if the average position is worse than 3, the CTR greater than .75%, and the quality score is greater than or equal to 5. CTR can increase (and thus quality score) if these terms receive better ad positioning. Rule is activated based on data of last 30 days.

6. Here’s a situation where now I want to DECREASE bids due to good ad positioning. My goal is to not have to overpay when my keywords consistently appear in Google’s top 3 ad positions. The rule below tells Google to decrease bid 25%, with now a minimum bid of $1.00 only if the average position of that keyword is better than 4 over the last 14 days.

7. With a goal to decrease cost-per-conversions, this rule also decreases maximum CPC bids, but not to risk reducing top 3 ad positioning. The rule below tells Google to reduce keyword bid by 33% with a minimum bid of $2.00, if the keyword cost-per-conversion was over $30 (my goal is $20 Cost/conversion) and average position worse than 3.


With rule implementations like above, Automated Rule strategy brings a whole new look to bidding management and Adwords campaign optimization. There are a myriad of options and variables to test. It’s best to plan, and really think about your goals and current performance before jumping in. NuSpark Marketing can help you with strategy, but at the end of the day, maximizing quality clicks and conversions is the ultimate goal, and by utilizing paid search bidding strategically, your campaigns will perform better.

How are you implementing Automated Rules? What variables to you test? What has worked for you?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Paul Mosenson
Owner of NuSpark Marketing Helps B2B and B2C companies market themselves through integrated tactics, (traditional advertising, internet advertising, SEO, social media), conversions, and sales through lead nurturing/marketing automation.


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