Google Bid Strategies Explained

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Google bid strategies are something we use continuously whilst managing PPC accounts. See below an extensive breakdown of all the available strategies we can adopt in Google Ads.

But first, What is a Bid Strategy ?








A bid strategy is a feature in Google ads that defines how you want to optimise your bidding or target your bidding for your campaigns KPIs. You can automate bidding using Google algorithms to push a particular KPI such as clicks, conversions, visibility, or cost per conversion.

Google Bid Strategy 1 – Target Cost Per Acquisition (CPA)

Target CPA bidding is a bidding strategy to use if you want to optimise for conversions. This will focus on driving conversions as your primary goal for the campaign and attempting to reach them at a defined cost per conversion.

With this strategy, Google Ads will automatically set your bids on each campaign based on your CPA. In high cost-per-click industries, you may want to set a max bid cap so that you do not pay more on a click than you are willing to pay.

It is important to understand profitable cost per acquisition to your business, as if you are setting a target CPA of £40, but your CPA must be £30 to drive profit, then you are wasting ad spend and time.

When selecting this bidding method, you can enter your target CPA, and you’re good to analyse and tweak this as you see fit, my personal recommendation is to set TCPA at ad group level, to ensure for the most granular results.

Google Bid Strategy 2 – Target Return on Ad Spend (ROAS)

This more uncommon bid strategy is predominantly used in e-commerce accounts and is a more technical numbers driven approach to bidding.

Target ROAS is the bidding strategy where Google Ads will set your bids to maximise conversion value based on the return you want from your ad spend. This number is percentage based.

Using percentages and profit margins you can pre-define how much you would like to make in return to your out-going ad spend. Sounds perfect right?

This can be reliable for a renown industry except with its own brand recognition, however is ill recommended to a new start up or business with a limited budget.

Below is a basic maths formula for target ROAS –

On your next Google Ads campaign, you want to generate £50 for every £10 spent. To do the maths, you complete this formula:
Sales ÷ ad spend x 100% = Target ROAS.

Doing the maths from the example above, here is what the Target ROAS would look like:
£50 in sales from campaign ÷ £10 ad spend (clicks) x 100% = 500% target ROAS


Google Bid Strategy 3 – Maximise Conversions

Maximise Conversions is simple and effective. The algorithm works on driving as many conversions as possible for your designated budget.

Again in an idealistic world this sounds perfect. However I recommend the below steps before adopting this strategy, as if you were to run this out the gate, Google will just drain your budget and provide you with no results.

  • Run this once the campaign is already converting and has conversion data to run the algorithm off.
  • This tends to perform best when you have high conversion volumes (more than once a day).
  • When your conversion pattern is regular and you convert throughout the day and week.

This strategy can be easily applied in the account settings section in Google Ads and requires no other information.

Google Bid Strategy 4 – Enhanced Cost Per Click (ECPC)

Enhanced CPC is the most common use of automated bidding, as this is a slight adaptation of manual bidding, meaning you the account manager are still in control.

What ECPC allows is for you to bid up to 30% higher than your manually defined bid cap when google believes a conversion is likely, based on a user’s search intent, behaviour and previous purchase patterns.

This is universally recommended and can also benefit competitive industries where bids are changing regularly to ensure you are maintaining good visibility and engagement to your website.

Google Bid Strategy 5 – Maximise Clicks

This bid strategy is very bread and butter, with the aim of maximising engagement and users to the website. Maximise clicks will take your existing budget and aim to gain the highest volume of clicks possible.

This can be great for brand awareness and increasing traffic volumes to the website, however can result in lower qualities of traffic as it’s driving the cheapest possible clicks it can.

So it may be sending informational, loosely related or non essential users to your website.

This also can be a strategy used to reduce your cost-per-click.


Google Bid Strategy 6 – Manual CPC Bidding

Manual CPC Bidding is the traditional bidding process allowing you to manually assign bids to individual keywords and optimise these as you see fit.
This allows for the closest attention to detail as you effectively define each individual keyword and its performance. This is more time consuming, however when done correctly often results in the best performance.

In highly competitive industries bids may need to be reviewed daily and optimised to stay ahead of the competition and ensure your campaigns are as profitable as possible.

Manual CPC also allows for the most control on how much you are willing to pay per singular click, as you the manager specifically set each keywords bid and what the max is you can spend on one singular auction.

Furthermore, this allows you to rapidly react to performing terms or products and attempt to reap the benefits further, increasing the visibility for example of a top converting keyword.

You also have the benefit of being able to split test different bid amounts to calculate the median bid driving the highest return on investment.

You can also combine Manual CPC bidding with ECPC bidding (mentioned above):

Doing this, will help you manually control budgets but allow Google to adjust bids based on the likelihood of converting by 30%.

Google Bid Strategy 7 – Target Search Page Location

TSPL (Target Search Page Location) bidding is the strategy of pushing your bidding as much as possible, to ensure your ad features for the below options:

  • On the first page results of Google
  • At the top of the first page of Google (1-4)

This can be effective for an aggressive approach and when you want to ensure relevant users go to your website vs any other competitor, however, in high CPC industries such as insurance, finance and legal sectors. This can cause your cost-per-click to skyrocket.



We typically adopt this bid strategy on branding campaigns, to ensure that competitors do not try to poach traffic by bidding on your brand name.

Google Bid Strategy 8 – Target Outranking Share

Target Outranking Share is focused on specifically ‘beating’ an competitor in the keyword auction. This can be done by pre-defining a brand or URL you want to outrank.

When your ads and your competitor’s ads are both displaying, Google will increase your bids to outrank the competitors ads.
Google also will aim to show your ads when your competitor isn’t showing up to give you better brand awareness and more of the target market share.

Below is the variables you set when selecting this bid method:


  • Firstly enter the URL or competitor name you wish to outrank.
  • ‘Target to outrank’ is the percentage of times you want to bid to rank on top of them.
  • For instance, setting it at 75% would mean that you want to outrank them for 75 out of 100 auctions.

Keep in mind: you must be careful when defining your percentage and continuously review this, as you may have to increase your cost-per-click to unprofitable amounts to continuously outrank a large competitor.

Overall this can be a good approach to be aggressive in your industry however you may damage your return on investment or click volumes by spiking your cost-per-click, attempting to outrank the competitor.

Google Bid Strategy 9 – Cost Per Thousand Impressions (CPM)

Cost per Thousand Impressions, otherwise known as CPM, is paying per 1000 views on your campaigns.

This bidding strategy is solely for display campaigns such as YouTube and Smart Display.

Google Bid Strategy 10 – Cost Per Thousand Viewable Impressions (vCPM)

vCPM bidding is very similar to CPM however only counts an impression when it’s in a viewable display for the user for more than 3 seconds. This also allows you to set a maximum bid you want to pay per 1000 views.

This is much more effective than the previous strategy as it only counts when the ad is viewable on your desktop, mobile or tablet, whereas CPM may count the impression despite the ad being below the fold, and the user never scrolled lower.

Again, like CPM bidding, it is only available for the display network.

Google Bid Strategy 11 – Cost-Per-View Bidding (CPV)

Cost-per-view bidding is strictly reserved for video advertising on Google Ads, and can be used on the TrueView video platform. Using CPV bidding, you pay for video views or interactions.

  • Interactions on the TrueView platform could be any of the following:
  • Call to action clicks
  • Overlay clicks
  • Cards

Companion banners A “view” is determined by how long someone watches your video ad for, otherwise known as the duration. In this case, with CPV bidding, a view is counted when someone watches 30 seconds of your ad, or whenever they decide to click on the ad.
CPV is currently the default setting for bid type on TrueView advertising.

For CPV bidding, you start by entering the highest bid you are willing to pay for a view or interaction. This is known as your maximum cost-per-view.

For instance, if you set your max CPV to £0.10, you would pay a maximum of 10 pence when a user watches your ad or engages with your call to action.

So, how do you know what to set as your CPV?

  • Start low and adjust based on your results.
  • Focus on first maxing out your quality scores and ad rank, these will drive down the cost-per-view on your ads, allowing you to pay less for better results.
  • Slowly bump up your CPV to increase your audience reach.

Google Ads Bidding Option #12 – Target Impression Share Bidding

Target Impression Share is the newest bid strategy introduced in late 2018, This smart bidding strategy is focused maximising your visibility and allowing you to reach a percentage of the available market.

For example a 90% Target impression share is 90 out of every 100 relevant users in your industry.

As an example scenario, if you are looking to dominate impressions for specific keyword searches, like “digital marketing Manchester“, you can ensure your ads show up 100% of the time on SERPs by selecting 100% as your target impression share:

Target Impression Share is great if you are looking to build brand awareness, but beware:

  • The costs can really add up fast if you are selecting 100% on your targets.
  • This means you are always bidding to show your ads for a given term. Be sure to set a maximum limit and restrict your daily budget for this type of bidding.
  • If you select to showcase your ads at the top of the page, you will pay more, too.
  • Reserve this bidding type for cheap keywords and brand awareness goals.