Google Smart Search Campaigns

Complete Guide to Smart Search Campaigns on Google Ads

Smart Search Campaigns are Google’s effort to try and make it easier for small business and local business to advertise with search ads on Google Ads (not display as these are a separate function).

What they have tried to do is take away some of the more complex decisions such as managing bids, finding keywords, and linking with Google sites making it easier for a small business to set up a Google Ads campaign and manage that campaign (Google managing much of the activity with algorithms).

In our experience of using smart search campaigns, we have found that the outcome will vary from business to business but that the success is not necessarily limited to just small businesses but also a business turning over hundreds of millions per annum.

You can use smart search campaigns for a large business with great success.

As is always the case with all Google features its always best to test and as you use algorithms and as they are only as good as the data that they get its important to ensure your conversion data and conversion activities are setup correctly (many small businesses may need help with this to get the maximum success or you can follow our guide here).

Setup a smart search campaign and see how the results compare with a traditional search campaign. But don’t just compare cost but look at a range of measures such as CTR, conversions and revenue.

In addition they have made the links with Google My Business and advertising on Google Maps easier to implement through Google Ads.

We would recommend you have your Google My Business account set up and linked to your Google Ads account before setting up a smart campaign.

Smart campaigns are focused on leads and sales (items that have a strong conversion activity) and are based on a single URL for each campaign.

As Google is trying to simplify, the dashboard for a smart campaign is very different relative to other Google Ads campaigns and you see ad groups, you just get a dashboard like the overview concept in other campaigns.

Smart Campaigns will not be for everyone but they are worth testing (we are running multiple tests with clients)

Table of Contents

Google My Business and Google Smart Search Campaigns

One of the important success factors for a smart campaign is to link and use your Google My Business account.

If you have not already done so we recommend setting up a Google My Business account.

If you don’t have this setup, it is not compulsory and you can add details as we go through below, however, to get the full benefit it would be best to setup a Google My Business Account first.

Setting up a smart campaign

Setting Up A Google Smart Campaign

To get started with smart campaigns , log into your account and follow the steps below.

Step 1 – Click on Campaigns and then you can either click the blue circle with the plus symbol OR you can click “New Campaign”. This will bring up a little popup box and click new campaign.

Choosing your goal

When you set up a smart campaign there are limitations.

The first of these is that Google is looking for conversions which could be a sale, phone call, add to cart, filling in a form, time on your website, a potential customer going to a contact page as part of your funnel as it relies on algorithm to tweak and adjust your campaign to do the hard work for you as opposed to logging in and monitoring your campaign.

The second is that because of this intense focus to tweak your campaign by the algorithm it also will focus on a single URL for your website rather than you whole domain.

Therefore when you get to the next screen and you need to choose a goal, your choices if you want to build a smart campaign will be sales, leads or no goal.

Choosing Your Goals With Smart Campaigns

Step 2 – Choose your goal. To run a smart campaign you will need to choose from sales, leads or no goal. We would recommend leads in most cases unless your selling products online and in which case choose “sales”.

Step 3 – Choose “smart” for the campaign type and then click “continue” at the bottom.

Choosing Smart Campaign

Linking to Google My Business

Hopefully you already have or have followed our recommendation and set up a Google My Business account.

If you do have a Google My Business account and it is linked to your Google Ads account you should see it appear as per our example below and you can choose your business.

Our image shows a number of businesses as those are our clients so if you have just your business you should just see the one option to choose.

Connecting Google My Business

Step 4 – If you have a Google My Business Account, simply click your business in the list (similar to the image above). You will then be taken to the next screen.

However, if you don’t have a Google My Business account click the Blue plus sign at the bottom of the box for “New Business”. See the image and box below for those that don’t have a Google My Business account.

Step 4 b – For Non Google My Business account holders – Enter your Business name and domain for your website. Then click Next.

Choosing the audience location to target (i.e. where you want to show ads)

Target Location
Radius Location

In the next step Google wants to try and understand where you want to advertise.

The default address and possible advertising area will come from your address on your Google My Business account OR you website and they will provide these as a starting point as per the images above.

However, you should not feel limited to this default choice and you can add or delete this to focus where you want to market your business.

Hopefully you have a good idea how far your customers come from to do business with you.

If your a local business like say a flower shop, you may only want to advertise in those suburbs your located in and or suburbs around you.

If you a state based business you may choose a state and if your a national business advertise across a country.

If you are looking at advertising nationally or internationally we would not recommend a smart campaign but rather use smart campaigns for local or country offices.

However, if you are a national business and you had shops or outlets in different locations nationally and also setup in Google My Business for each outlet, you could set up smart campaign for each outlet.

The important point is to take some time and think about where you want to market your business.

Let’s say there is a local Seafood restaurant based at Bondi Beach that wants to bring in more customers.

Location For Smart Search Campaigns

If you want to choose specific areas, you may run into problems.

For example if we type in Bondi Beach Google does not recognise that as an area so we would likely need to choose a larger area OR set up the campaign using radius which has a minimum 5km / 4 mile radius.

For example I could solve the Bondi Beach location by choosing a larger area like “Eastern Suburbs Sydney”, although this is a much larger area.

Larger Location For Smart Campaign

This is a common problem around the world and we would assume its just Google trying to ensure there is a big enough target audience to advertise to for local advertisers.

Take for example San Francisco, Google will recognise Nob Hill but does not recognise the neighbouring area Russian Hill.

Nob Hill San Francisco

So our suggestion is that if you want to advertise in neighbourhoods or local areas you will be best using the radius to draw a circle around the area you want to market in.

However, if you want to target larger areas such as a town or city using specific areas will be easier.

To use the radius around your business is very easy.

Type in your address (if it is not already there) and Google will show a 25 km / mile circle around your business.

You can adjust the size of this radius down to 5 km (4 miles) depending on how far you want to advertise your business using the slider.

Radius Location Smart Search Campaign
Targeting Using Radius

From the examples above Google will give you an estimate on potential audience that you will advertise to.

It is worth noting that you can adjust this down the track so if you find that the campaign is set to 10 km radius and your getting too many bookings / sales / leads you could possibly reduce your radius and vice versa if your not getting enough possibly increase your radius.

Step 5 – From the discussion above you have had time to look through the choices you have for audience targeting. Now is the time to input those target locations and then click “Next”.

Keyword choices

Based on the domain registered in Google My Business or what you entered, Google will attempt to identify keywords relevant to your website.

You should have a page something like this, showing keywords relevant to your website.

These keywords will be used to target keyword searches on Google.

Keywords For Smart Search Campaigns

Step 6 – So there is a couple of things you will want to do on this page.

  1. Review the keywords in the first box titled “Your Products and Services” and ensure that each of these keywords makes sense for your business. If a keyword does not make sense then click the blue “x” at the end of that keyword to remove it.
  2. In the second box at the bottom, you should ADD any of these keywords. To do so just click the keyword.
  3. Now back to the first box. Where is says “Add new product or service” type in keyword phrases that would make sense for your business.
  4. Only once you happy with the keywords in the first box, then click “Next”.

Writing your first ad for the campaign

Writing Your Ad Smart Search Campaign

Getting you ad right is crucial to your success but even ads can vary and deteriorate in their relative success over time so there are some tips below for writing ads or see our guide here.

Secondly, the goal with ads is to increase your click thru rate over time. Therefore even if you write awesome ads today, you will need to update these on an ongoing basis.

This is NOT a write and forget strategy, and it is highly likely that your first ads will not be awesome and it will take time to try new ideas.

In terms of the management of your account you will need to replace poor performing ads on a regular basis.

These need to be stopped and replaced with a new ad to compete against the best performing ads to improve your CTR.

Power Words

Power words are just adjectives that help to enhance the ad.

Some simple examples are “Best”, “Leading”, “Brilliant”, “Supreme”, “Free”, “Save” and thousands of others you can use.

For an indepth look at Power words check out this article.


Emotion, while also could be classified as power words, we classify separately.

Emotion refers to highlighting an emotion in your ads.

“Don’t put your family at risk” would be a use of emotion in a headline for an ad.

Know one want to see their family hurt or injured or put in danger.

You don’t want to become sick or face a potential risk.

But emotion does not need to be negative it can also be positive such as “Find your true love for cars” or “live changing solution”

By using emotion you aim to draw attention to your ad.

Call to action

Every ad should have a call to action to tell the person what you want them to do.

For example do you want them to call you, buy now, subscribe, learn more?

Features and Benefits

Lots of products have features, but customers don’t buy features they buy the benefit of the product or service to them.

For example lets so you had a self driven lawn mower – a feature.

But to market it you would say something like our self driven mower will mow your lawn in half the time

Overcome Objections

Customers will have objection to clicking , the most common being they have to pay and they might say they don’t have the budget, or that its too expensive.

Many ads overcome this objection with a free trial.

But there may be other objections such as I don’t understand your product, or we already use your competitors product.

If you know that there will be a high probability of an objection it would be important to address this in your ad.


Facts can be used to give authority to your ad.

For example, “family business for 50 years” provides authority that the business is established and that they must have high knowledge or expertise given they have been around so long.

If you are going to use facts use the actual number.

For example you may have a percentage of 45.3% of things that happened. Best to use 45.3% rather than say 50%. Same would go for 96.7% vs 100%, always use the actual number as it is believable.


Deadlines such as end of the tax year, or you have to purchase by a certain date are great ways to create urgency around your offer.

For example the Government might provide a tax write off and you need to do the application before the end of the tax year.

Another example might be the lead up to an event such as mothers day, Christmas, etc and the offer is only available until that date.

There are many other ways to write better ad copy and a quick search on Google will bring you a list of new ideas, so lets move onto the next stage of setting up your Google Smart Search Campaign.

How many ads should you write?

Once you have written your first ad you will notice at the bottom of the box a blue text “write another ad”.

Write An Ad Smart Search Campaign

We would recommend you write a minimum of three ads choosing different methods and copy for each.

You can write more ads to try different copy and work out what works and what doesn’t.

Step 7 – write a minimum of three ads for your campaign.

Use the information above to come up with headlines (30 characters) and descriptions (90 characters) for your ads.

Also check your spelling and grammar!

Set your budget

On the next screen you need to consider your budget and how much you want to spend.

Choose Your Budget For Your Smart Search Campaign

Couple of things to consider here

  1. How much do you want to spend per day (or choose monthly and divide by 30 as Google works mainly on a daily basis) and then compare this with the suggestions Google provide.

  2. Depending on the keywords you have chosen the cost of a click on a keyword can vary significantly depending on how competitive it is.

    So for example if you have a daily $40 budget and a keyword will average $2 then you should see about 20 clicks while if the cost per click is $1 then you would see 40 clicks.

    Look at the information provided by Google to get an idea of the number of expected clicks (and remember not all clicks result in a conversion) because you want to consider if this is the volume of traffic you want.

    Say for example your conversion rate from clicks is 25% (sale for every 4 clicks) and you want to generate 10 sales per day so you may need 40 clicks.

    If your conversion rate is 2% and you need ten sales you will need 500 clicks.

  3. Budget can also vary depending on the area you have decided to target.

    Using a small area might mean you can use a smaller budget while a national campaign may require to have a bigger budget.

    You can use a smaller budget nationally but be aware that your campaign will likely run out of money during the day.

    Again Google provides a guide (as per the example below) that is worth considering especially if there is a big gap between what you think you want to spend from point 1 above vs what Google suggests.

  4. You are not locked into the budget you choose and you can change your budget at any time up and down.

    So don’t stress, choose something you are comfortable with.

  5. Google on some days will spend over your budget and in our experience this can be double to triple your daily budget.

    However, over a month, Google will only spend your daily budget times 30 and you won’t pay over your monthly budget so long as you don’t change it.

  6. You can always adjust your target location as well so you may find you don’t need to change your budget, but rather the area your targeting to get the right mix of conversions.

  7. If you don’t like any of the choices by Google you can choose your own budget by clicking the blue text “ENTER YOUR OWN BUDGET“.

Step 8 – taking into consideration the points above choose or enter a budget you think works for your business and then click next.

Review your campaign

You can now review everything you have setup in your campaign.

Notice that there is an edit link in each box so that if something is not right you can go back and edit what is in that box.

If you need to edit or fix anything take the time now to edit your campaign.

You can edit your campaign at anytime but now is as good a time to make sure that for now everything makes sense.

If everything looks good you can hit next at the bottom.

Once you hit next your campaign will go to Google for review and will show pending.

The review period can vary from a few hours to a few days, usually shorter.

Weekly housekeeping of your smart campaign

While a smart search campaign is relatively hands off when compared with other campaigns, this should not mean it is set and forget.

We would recommend logging into your account at least once per week to go through your data

Check search phrases – if you log into your campaign and under “search Phrases” you should see in blue “Manage All“. Click this and you should get a screen like the image below.

You can scroll through the keywords and see what keywords are generating impressions and clicks and if a keyword does not make sense for your business you should change the selector in the status column from blue to grey which means Google will not show your ad for that keyword going forward.

Google does not get it right so you need to take the time to ensure it is hitting the mark with your campaign and not going on a tangent in a direction that spends your money rather than generate clicks and conversions.

Manage Your Keywords In Smart Search Campaign

Write fresh ads – about every month or two, take the time to write a new ads and stop one of the other ads from running to keep it fresh.

One of the downsides of a smart search campaign is that you don’t get data on each ad but by rotating your ads by writing new ads you do at least keep it fresh.


So its over to you now.

Did this article help you setup a Google Smart Search Campaign?

Do you still have questions? Is there something we missed?

Please add your comments below.

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