How to Manually Bid in Google

Changing your max CPCs allow you to show your ads more or less frequently. This is important for businesses that fluctuate during the year for example, due to seasonality. During a business’ peak season, your company should be willing to pay more per click in order to get more eyes on your products. Conversely, during times of downturn, like the times we are in now during COVID-19, you want to be able to pull back on costs quickly if it is effecting business.

These days, Google offers a variety of “smart” bidding strategies which are great, but in using these automated bidding strategies you do give up a little bit of control, like setting your own CPCs (cost-per-click), over your campaigns. Losing control over setting your CPCs can lead to higher costs per click than you’re willing to pay. By using the manual bidding strategy, you have complete control over your bids by setting maximum amount you are willing to pay per click, your CPC.

There are two ways you can edit your bids: either at the ad group level, called your default bid, or at the individual keyword level. I find it more beneficial to change bids at the more granular, keyword level. This allows you to figure out which keywords are returning more profits and you can then allocate more of your budget towards those specific keywords. One thing to remember is that keyword level bids will trump the default ad group level bids.

The first question you have to ask yourself when manually bidding in Google is “what should my CPC be set at?”. To do this, you will want to look at your businesses 30-60 day historical data and the value of a sale. A simple formula that is used to figure this out is:

Note that traffic to your ads/website are always going to be changing so it is very important to continually calculate your CPCs. For a small business, it is recommended to calculate CPCs 1-2 times per week. For larger businesses, you’ll want to do this more frequently, around 3-5 times per week. This is not something that you should/need to be doing to every keyword in your campaign. You will want to do this just to the top 10-20 highest spending keywords. This is going to make the largest impact for the least amount of effort.

Now that you have calculated what your max CPC should be, how do you actually edit the bid in Google?

We will begin with editing the bid at the ad group level:

  • Login to your Google Ads account.
  • Click Campaigns on the left-hand side of the screen.
  • Locate the campaign you would like to edit and click into the campaign.
  • Once you click into the campaign, you should now be viewing the campaign’s ad groups.
  • Select the ad group of which you would like to adjust the bid.
  • Click the little pencil icon under the column “Default Max. CPC”.
  • Enter in your new max CPC.
  • Click “Save”.

To edit bids at the keyword level, the steps are pretty much the same:

  • Login to your Google Ads account.
  • Click Campaigns on the left-hand side of the screen.
  • Locate the campaign you would like to edit and click into the campaign.
  • Once you click into the campaign, you should now be viewing the campaign’s ad groups.
  • Select the ad group(s) with the keyword(s) whose bids you want to edit.
  • Click Keywords on the left-hand side of the screen.
  • Select the keywords that you would like to change the bids for.
  • Once the keyword(s) is selected, a blue bar will appear. Click “Edit” then click “Change max CPC bids”.
  • Now you can either Set new bids, increased or decrease bids by percentage or amount, or raise bids to first page or top of page CPC.
  • Click “Apply”.

Do you manually set your bids in Google? Tell us how it’s going in the comments below!

By Michelle Barnes