Google Ads Bidding can seem overwhelming, but it fundamentally shapes your ad visibility and overall campaign performance. Knowing the right strategies can transform your high customer acquisition costs into more profitable and predictable growth.

Here’s a quick overview you need to know about Google Ads Bidding:

  • Auction-based system: Compete for ad placements.
  • Bidding options: CPC, CPM, and more.
  • Ad rank factors: Bid amount, Quality Score, and ad formats.
  • Quality Score components: Ad relevance, landing page experience, and expected CTR.

If you’ve struggled with Google Ads Bidding in the past, this guide will give you clear, actionable steps to get it right.

Hello, I’m Luke Heinecke. I’m passionate about digital marketing and specialize in pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. My work has been featured in significant marketing publications like Social Media Examiner and Instapage. This guide will help you effectively manage bids and maximize your ad performance on Google Ads.

Quick Tips for Google Ads Bidding Success - Google Ads Bidding infographic step-infographic-4-steps

Understanding Google Ads Bidding

What is Google Ads Bidding?

Google Ads Bidding is the process where advertisers compete to have their ads shown to users. Think of it like an auction, but instead of bidding on physical items, you’re bidding on ad placements. Google Ads operates on an auction-based marketplace, which means every time someone searches for a keyword, an auction determines which ads will appear and in what order.

In this auction, you set a maximum bid, which is the highest amount you’re willing to pay for a click on your ad. This is known as cost-per-click (CPC). There are other bidding models too, like cost-per-thousand impressions (CPM) and cost-per-view (CPV), but CPC is the most common for search ads.

How Google Ads Sets Bid Prices

When you enter an auction, Google doesn’t just look at your bid amount. They use real-time calculations to consider multiple factors. Here’s a breakdown:

  1. Ad Quality: Google evaluates the quality of your ad, including its relevance to the search query and the user experience on your landing page. This is reflected in your Quality Score. A higher Quality Score can lower your actual CPC and improve your ad rank.
  2. Ad Rank Thresholds: Google has minimum bid amounts, known as ad rank thresholds, that your bid must meet to be eligible for the auction. If your bid is below this threshold, your ad won’t show.
  3. Competitiveness of the Auction: The number of advertisers bidding for the same keyword affects the auction. More competition can drive up the CPC.

Google runs these auctions in the blink of an eye, and your ad’s position is determined by your ad rank, which is a combination of your bid amount and Quality Score.

Auction Process

Every time a user searches for something on Google, an auction takes place. Here’s how it works:

  1. User Searches: A user types a query into Google.
  2. Auction Begins: Google checks the ads eligible for the keywords in the query.
  3. Ad Rank Calculation: Google calculates the ad rank for each ad based on the bid amount and Quality Score.
  4. Ad Placement: Ads with the highest ad ranks win the top spots on the search results page.

Maximum Bid

Your maximum bid is the highest amount you’re willing to pay for a click on your ad. But you won’t always pay this amount. Due to the auction dynamics, you often pay less, which is called the actual CPC.

Different Bidding Models

  1. Cost-Per-Click (CPC): Pay each time someone clicks on your ad. Ideal for driving traffic to your website.
  2. Cost-Per-Thousand Impressions (CPM): Pay for every 1,000 times your ad appears. Best for brand awareness.
  3. Cost-Per-View (CPV): Pay for video views and interactions. Suitable for video ads.

Real-Time Calculations

Google uses real-time calculations to determine ad placement. They consider your bid, Quality Score, and the context of the user’s search. This ensures that the most relevant ads, not just the highest bids, appear in top positions.

Quality Score

Your Quality Score is crucial. It’s based on:
Expected Click-Through Rate (CTR): How likely users are to click your ad.
Ad Relevance: How relevant your ad is to the search query.
Landing Page Experience: The quality and relevance of the landing page users reach after clicking your ad.

A high Quality Score can lower your costs and improve your ad position.

By understanding these elements, you can better navigate the Google Ads Bidding process and improve your ad performance.

Next, we’ll dive into the different types of Google Ads bidding strategies and how to choose the best one for your goals.

Types of Google Ads Bidding Strategies

Choosing the right Google Ads Bidding strategy can make or break your campaign. Let’s break down the most common bidding strategies and when to use each one.

Manual CPC Bidding

Manual CPC Bidding gives you full control over your bids. You set the maximum cost-per-click (CPC) you’re willing to pay for each keyword.

When to Use It:
New Accounts: If you’re just starting with Google Ads, this strategy is ideal. It allows you to keep a tight rein on your budget while you gather data.
Manual Control: Perfect for advertisers who want to control bids at the keyword level.

Imagine you have a new art supplies website. You can set a higher bid for “premium paint brushes” while keeping lower bids for less profitable keywords.

Enhanced CPC (ECPC)

Enhanced CPC (ECPC) is a step up from manual CPC. It automatically adjusts your manual bids for clicks that seem more likely to lead to a conversion.

When to Use It:
Conversion Tracking: If you have conversion tracking set up, this can be a great way to optimize without losing manual control.
Search and Shopping Campaigns: Works well with both types of campaigns.

If your average CPC bid is $2, ECPC might bid $2.20 for a high-value click but balance it out with a $1.70 bid for another click.

Maximize Clicks

Maximize Clicks is an automated strategy that aims to get you as many clicks as possible within your budget.

When to Use It:
High Volume: Ideal for generating a lot of data quickly.
New Campaigns: Useful for new campaigns where you need to gather data fast.

Note: This strategy can lead to potential losses if not monitored closely.

A new e-commerce site wants to drive traffic to gather user data. Maximize Clicks can help achieve this quickly.

Maximize Conversions

Maximize Conversions is another automated strategy that focuses on getting the most conversions possible within your budget.

When to Use It:
Consistent Conversion Data: Best for campaigns with a steady flow of conversions.
No Target CPA: If you don’t have a specific cost per action in mind, this is a good fit.

A subscription box service wants to maximize sign-ups without worrying about the cost per conversion. This strategy would be ideal.

Target CPA Bidding

Target CPA Bidding aims to get as many conversions as possible at your target cost per action (CPA).

When to Use It:
Consistent Volume: Works best when your campaign has a stable conversion volume.
CPA Goal: If you have a specific CPA goal, this strategy can help you achieve it.

An online course provider wants to acquire new students at a CPA of $20. Target CPA Bidding will optimize bids to meet this goal.

Maximize Conversion Value

Maximize Conversion Value focuses on maximizing the total value of conversions within your budget.

When to Use It:
High-Value Conversions: Ideal for campaigns where the value of conversions varies significantly.
No Target ROAS: If you don’t have a specific return on ad spend (ROAS) goal, this is a good fit.

An online retailer wants to maximize the revenue from high-ticket items. This strategy will help achieve that.

Target ROAS Bidding

Target ROAS Bidding aims to achieve a specific return on ad spend.

When to Use It:
Revenue-Focused Campaigns: Best for campaigns focused on driving revenue.
Consistent Conversions: Works well if your campaign consistently hits or is close to hitting your ROAS goal.

A high-end electronics store wants a 5x return on ad spend. Target ROAS Bidding will optimize for this goal.

Target Impression Share

Target Impression Share focuses on getting your ads seen as much as possible.

When to Use It:
Brand Campaigns: Ideal for campaigns aimed at increasing brand visibility.
Top Ad Spot: If you want your ad to appear at the top of the search results frequently.

A new brand wants to dominate the search results for their name. Target Impression Share will help achieve this.

Next, we’ll explore how to optimize your Google Ads bidding strategy to get the best results.

How to Optimize Your Google Ads Bidding Strategy

Optimizing your Google Ads bidding strategy can make a huge difference in your campaign’s performance. Let’s dive into some key areas: bid adjustments, keyword research, and Quality Score.

Using Bid Adjustments

Bid adjustments allow you to increase or decrease your bids based on specific factors like location, audience, device type, and time of day. These adjustments help you prioritize the clicks that are most valuable to your business.

  • Location: If you notice that certain regions convert better, increase your bids for those areas.
  • Audience Targeting: Adjust bids based on user demographics like age, gender, and income level.
  • Device Type: If mobile users convert more often, increase bids for mobile devices.
  • Time of Day: Boost bids during peak hours when your audience is most active.

Example: If your conversion rate is higher on weekends, you can increase your bids for those days to maximize your ROI.

Bid Adjustment Example - Google Ads Bidding

Leveraging Keyword Research

Effective keyword research is crucial for a successful Google Ads campaign. Use tools like Google Keyword Planner to find high-value keywords and understand bid ranges.

  • High-Value Keywords: Identify keywords that are likely to drive relevant traffic.
  • Bid Ranges: Understand the competitive landscape and set your bids accordingly.

Tip: Regularly update your keyword list to include new terms that your audience is searching for.

Improving Quality Score

Quality Score is a critical factor in determining your ad rank and cost-per-click (CPC). It is based on three main components:

  • CTR (Click-Through Rate): A higher CTR indicates that your ad is relevant to users.
  • Keyword Relevance: Ensure your keywords closely match the content of your ads.
  • Landing Page Quality: Your landing page should be relevant and provide a good user experience.

Example: If your Quality Score is low, consider revising your ad copy and landing page to better align with your keywords.

Quality Score Components - Google Ads Bidding

By focusing on these areas, you can significantly improve your Google Ads bidding strategy and achieve better results.

Next, we’ll address some frequently asked questions about Google Ads bidding strategies.

Frequently Asked Questions about Google Ads Bidding

What is the best bidding strategy for Google Ads?

Choosing the best bidding strategy depends on your campaign goals. Here are some strategies to consider:

  • Maximize Conversion Value: If you want to get the highest possible value from your conversions, this strategy is ideal. It’s perfect for e-commerce businesses that have varied product prices and want to focus on the total revenue generated.
  • Maximize Clicks: This strategy is great if your primary goal is to drive a high volume of traffic to your website. It’s simple and effective, especially for new advertisers who want to gather data.
  • Manual CPC: This gives you full control over your bids, allowing you to set maximum CPC bids for individual keywords or ad groups. It’s useful if you have specific insights into which keywords are most profitable.
  • Enhanced CPC (ECPC): This is a hybrid strategy that allows you to manually set bids but lets Google adjust them to maximize conversions. It’s a good middle ground between manual control and automated optimization.
  • Target CPA: If you want to maintain a specific cost per acquisition, this strategy helps you get the most conversions at your target CPA. It’s great for businesses wanting predictable costs.
  • Target ROAS: This strategy is best for campaigns focused on revenue. It helps you achieve a specific return on ad spend, making it ideal for businesses with consistent conversion data.

Each strategy has its strengths. Choose based on your specific goals and available data.

How much should I bid on Google Ads?

The amount you should bid depends on several factors, including your industry, competition, and campaign objectives. Here are some guidelines:

  • Average CPC: The average cost per click varies by industry. For the search network, it’s around $2.32, while for the display network, it’s approximately $0.58.
  • High-Value Keywords: Conduct keyword research using tools like Google Keyword Planner to see bid ranges for your targeted keywords. This will give you an idea of the low and high-end costs.
  • Budget and Goals: Define your daily budget and adjust your bids to align with your goals, whether it’s maximizing clicks, conversions, or maintaining a specific CPA or ROAS.

What is the minimum bid for Google Ads?

Google Ads does not have a fixed minimum bid, but the lowest average CPC you might encounter will vary based on several factors:

  • Minimum Bid Strategy: Google will often suggest a minimum bid required to make your ad competitive. This is influenced by your Quality Score and the competitiveness of the keywords.
  • Lowest Average CPC: While there’s no strict minimum, some industries and keywords have very low average CPCs. For instance, niche markets with less competition can have CPCs as low as a few cents.

Focus on improving your Quality Score to reduce your overall CPC and achieve better ad placements without increasing your bids significantly.

By understanding these aspects, you can make more informed decisions about your Google Ads bidding strategy and optimize your campaigns for better performance.


At Linear Design, we understand that navigating Google Ads bidding can be challenging. But with the right strategies and expert guidance, you can transform your digital marketing efforts into predictable growth.

Our team specializes in Google Ad management, helping you to optimize your campaigns for maximum performance. We use a combination of A/B testing and custom reports to ensure your ads are always performing at their best.

By leveraging our expertise, you can focus on what you do best—running your business—while we take care of the complexities of Google Ads. Whether it’s improving your Quality Score, adjusting bids, or refining your ad copy, we have the tools and knowledge to help you succeed.

Ready to take your Google Ads to the next level? Contact us today to learn more about our PPC management services and how we can help you achieve your digital marketing goals.

Luke Heinecke


Luke is in love with all things digital marketing. He’s obsessed with PPC, landing page design, and conversion rate optimization. Luke claims he “doesn’t even lift,” but he looks more like a professional bodybuilder than a PPC nerd. He says all he needs is a pair of glasses to fix that. We’ll let you be the judge.

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