How Long Does It Take Google Ads to Work and How Does It Work?

How Long Does It Take Google Ads to Work and How Does It Work_ - MediaOne Marketing Singapore

Are you thinking of running Google Ads? Or maybe you’re just curious about how long it could take before it becomes profitable? Well, the answer is a little complicated. 

Depending on your industry, goals, and ad budget, a successful Google ads campaign may take at least three months to mature and approximately four to 12 months to develop into a strong campaign producing consistent and profitable results. 

That’s not to say you’ll be swimming in cash after three months. You will still need to monitor your campaign and adjust it periodically. You may even need to tweak the budget or strategies you’re using. 

But once all the pieces are in place and you’ve built a solid foundation, you should start seeing profitable results within a reasonable time. Just remember that it takes patience, effort, and dedication to see success with Google Ads.

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So, Why the Long Wait?

Simply put, it takes time to optimise your ads. You must test different ad copy and settings, measure the results, and adjust. It’s rare for a campaign to be successful right out of the gate — if ever.

Google also needs to collect enough data to serve its ads to the right audience effectively. This process can take up to a few weeks and sometimes longer.

In this article, we’ll try to break down how Google uses this time and how it ultimately helps you to be profitable. So, keep reading, and maybe your Google Ads dreams will come true.

The First Week of Running Google Ads: What to Expect

When you first activate your ads, it typically takes Google 24 to 48 hours to review and approve them.

Once they’re up and running, Google will take an additional seven days to:

  • Gather vital data about your business: What business are you running? What services do you provide? 
  • Examine Your Target Audience: Who is this ad campaign targeting? What geographic areas should the ads appear in? 
  • Learn About Your Desired Topic: What topics should the ad target?

This process may take a bit longer, depending on how big or complicated the campaign is. But if you’ve done your research and set up the campaign correctly, it shouldn’t take more than seven days to get everything in order. 

Google needs this time to analyse your ads and start promoting them effectively. Without it, you could waste beaucoup bucks on irrelevant impressions and clicks. 

In other words, the 7-day wait is necessary for Google to get your ads in front of the right people. So, don’t fret if it takes a bit longer — it’s all part of maximising your ad budget and getting the most bang for your buck.

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How to Know If Your Google Ads Campaign Will Succeed

How to Know If Your Google Ads Campaign Will Succeed | MediaOne Marketing Singapore
Image Credits: Google Ads Blog

There’s a fair chance you won’t see success right away. That doesn’t mean you should give up. You just need to be patient and keep making adjustments until it works. 

So, how do you know if your campaign will be a success?

Here’s something to remember during the initial waiting period: 

you’ll only see a fraction of your desired impressions and clicks during the first few days. That’s because Google is still trying to collect enough data to optimise your ads.

So, how many impressions and clicks should you see as an early sign of success?

Ideally, we’d say 15 clicks per day per ad group or 200 to 300 clicks on your keywords per month is a good benchmark. If you can hit this, you’re on the right track, and your ads should be profitable over time.

Otherwise, you may need to adjust your budget, target audience, or ad copy to get it back on track.

What to Expect After the First Week of Running the Ads

Google will continue to serve the ads and collect data. However, don’t expect leads and sales to skyrocket after the first week. Your ads typically take months or longer to show consistent and profitable results.

So, be patient. Monitor your campaign closely during this time and wait for it to pick up momentum. You can also make small adjustments to the campaign, such as making ad copy tweaks or testing new keywords.

Between the 2nd and 4th Week: What to Expect

During this period, it’s advisable not to make any changes to your ad account.

Give Google enough time to continue collecting data without redoing the process. 

Your impressions and the CTR (click-through rate) should slowly increase. If that’s happening, you’re on your way to success!

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Google won’t rank your ads first page right away. It usually requires patience and some trial and error to get there.

So, How Long Does It Take for Google Ads to Generate Enough Leads and Sales to Make Your Business Profitable?

That depends on your budget, target audience, and ad copy. 

If you do it right, it can take up to 3-6 months for Google Ads to generable noteworthy leads and sales.

Typically, an effective Google ads campaign takes at least 90 days to mature and 12 months to refine and become a strong campaign. 

In a nutshell, Google requires time to collect and analyse data before you can expect any real performance. 

What Happens After Running Google Ads and What Should You Do?

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Step #1: Get Through the Learning Phase

As mentioned, Google takes about 24 to 48 hours to review and approve your ads. After the approval, they’ll spend another seven days in what they call a “learning phase” — when they start collecting data and adjusting your ads accordingly. 

During this phase, they’ll be trying to:

  1. i) Learn and understand your desired topic.
  2. ii) Find the best audience for your ads. 

iii) Test different variations of your ad copy and keywords to see what works and what doesn’t.

What to Do During this Period?

You’ll receive only a tiny fraction of your desired clicks and impressions during this period. But don’t worry—that’s perfectly normal.

Google won’t spend your entire daily budget while they’re learning, so it’s best to leave the budget unchanged and let the ads run.

Give Google enough time to understand your campaigns and optimise them. 

Step #2: Make Adjustments if Necessary

The learning phase takes about seven days, after which Google will continue running ads and gathering vital data. 

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At this point, you should see a gradual increase in impressions and clicks, but don’t expect leads to flood in.

Usually, it takes about 90 days for Google ads campaigns to pick up momentum.

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What Should You Do During this Period?

During the first week, we suggest you don’t make any significant changes to your ad account. Give Google enough time to understand your campaigns and optimise them before jumping in.

However, after the first week, you want to expect to make some minor adjustments to your campaigns. 

Note that any small change you make to keywords doesn’t usually trigger a learning phase, so you can spend more time testing and fine-tuning your campaigns. 

You can also start testing different ad copy variations or bid adjustment strategies to maximise the campaign’s performance. 

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You specifically want to adjust the following:

Why Should You Wait for 90 Days?

Depending on the magnitude of your optimisation, you want to give Google a few weeks to process the data and determine how the changes affect the performance of your campaigns. 

That helps you better understand what works and doesn’t work for your business. 

Optimising and re-optimising your Google campaigns repeatedly as you wait for Google to adjust to the new changes usually take about 90 days in length.

Here’s how you calculate:

Seven days times the number of changes you make = 90 days (min)

Of course, the more you optimise, the longer it will take.

But the idea is that you have to give Google enough time to process every change you make before you move on to the next or make significant adjustments that may trigger a learning phase.

Step #3: Grow Your Results

After all the optimisation and testing, you’ll finally start to see results after approximately 90 days. 

As your campaigns mature, you’ll see an organic increase in impressions, clicks and conversions.

What You Should Do

At this point, you can start replicating successful campaigns for other services or product offerings. And use what you’ve learned from the initial campaign to create a stronger one.

By now, you should have a better sense of what’s working and what isn’t, and you can continue to tweak your campaigns to get even better results. 

Once you find an ad strategy, you want to implement it on a larger scale to maximise the ROI

If you like the results you’re seeing, then perhaps you should consider investing additional resources in your Google Ads campaigns to continue the growth you’ve achieved. 

Otherwise, you want to revisit your campaign and overhaul it to see if there’s anything else you can do to increase the ROI. If you’re unhappy with the results, you can make significant changes or start over.

What Changes Trigger the Learning Phase?

What Changes Trigger the Learning Phase? | MediaOne Marketing Singapore

Adjusting keywords, target audience, ad copy, or geographical location doesn’t usually trigger a new learning phase unless you’re doing so on a crazy scale. 

But once you adjust your budget or change the ads you’re running, then Google will trigger a learning phase of up to 7 days. 

If you’re doing them in bulk, you must give it at least a few weeks for Google to process the changes and fully optimise your campaigns. 

Additionally, here are some of the changes that restart the learning process regardless of the magnitude to which they’re done:

  • Changing your bid and budget
  • Changes in the setting for your bid strategy
  • Implementing a new bid strategy
  • Changing your conversion actions
  • Making significant changes to the campaign’s composition

So, whenever you implement any of the abovementioned changes or adjust your keyword, ad copy, or target audience to a large extent, you want to give it at least 90 days for Google to optimise your campaigns.

7 Elements to Modify for Optimal Google Ads Results

If you have an experience PPC team of copywriters, ad specialists, data analysts, and strategists in your corner, you’ll have a much better chance of success. 

Why? Because it takes all of these elements working together to ensure your campaigns are running optimally and performing at the highest level. 

Here’s a quick breakdown of the seven elements that need to be modified for optimal Google Ads results:

#1. Bid Strategy

We’re not big on automated bidding. If you ever see an ad agency using automated bidding, don’t hesitate to ask for a refund. 

That’s because automated bidding doesn’t always consider the nuances and complexities of a campaign. Understanding how each keyword will perform in different scenarios and what type of audience you want to target is crucial to your ad success.

#2. Keywords

Keywords are the backbone of any successful Google Ads campaign. When choosing keywords, you want to ensure you’re using the keywords your target audience is already searching for. 

You also want to ensure you’re not targeting irrelevant keywords that won’t generate conversions. 

You want to work with “Commercial Intent Keywords,” which are the terms people use when they’re ready to purchase.

#3. Negative Keywords

As confusing as this might sound, honing in on negative keywords is just as crucial to your campaign’s success as finding profitable target keywords. 

Negative keywords are the terms you don’t want to appear for in search engine results because they won’t bring in qualified leads or sales. 

For example, if you sell running shoes but don’t have kids’ sizes, you’d want to add “kids running shoes” as a negative keyword.

#4. Ad Copy

A compelling ad copy is like a piece of art; it takes experienced copywriters to craft the perfect ad. 

Your ads must be intriguing enough to make people click on them and informative enough that they understand what you’re offering once they land on your page.

PPC specialists often fail in this area. They might understand the technicalities and the algorithm but don’t understand human behaviour.

Their copywriting skills are often missing the mark.

#5. Conversions

A majority of existing ad accounts don’t track conversions correctly. 

If you report the wrong conversion, then Google will not have the correct data to learn from. 

This can lead to incorrect estimations and assumptions, resulting in low conversion rates. 

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You want to set up your goals correctly and track the user journey from start to finish.

#6. Mobile Advertising

Most Google searches are done on mobile devices, and you must optimise your campaigns for these devices. 

Make sure your ads are responsive and take advantage of location-based targeting to reach the right audience in the right place and at the right time.

#7. Targeting

Your ad campaigns should be highly targeted to ensure you’re reaching the people most likely to convert. You can use audience targeting to narrow your reach to the people who are more likely to purchase from you. 

You can also use location-based and device-specific targeting to reach the right audience. 

If Google isn’t driving conversions, then there could be an issue with the ad itself. It could be that the ads need more than a simple rewrite. 

You must ensure that all seven elements work together harmoniously for the best results. 

If one element is off, it can throw your whole campaign off balance and prevent you from seeing success with Google Ads.

7 Things You Can Do to Improve Your Google Ads Results: 

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#1. Give Google Enough Time for Onboarding

Let’s not lie to you — it takes time for Google ads campaigns to take off. It’s not a case of throwing together a few words, bidding on some keywords, and hoping for the best. 

It would help if you gave Google time to learn your campaign, refine its targeting, and optimise your ad placement.

So, don’t expect instant results — it may take weeks or months to see conversions.

The learning phase or “get to know you” phase means that every ag, ad group, and ad campaign must be tailored to meet the needs of your audience and deliver relevant results.

#2. Getting to Know you

Your agency will scope out your business, taking time to understand your business and team up with you to define your goals. 

They will create a plan to help them produce the best results and keep track of progress as they progress. 

The idea is to build an efficient and profitable relationship between you and your agency, where everyone gains something from the process.

Here’s what they’ll try to understand:

  • What Are Your Goals?
  • What is Your Target Audience?
  • Who’s Your Competitor?
  • Who’s Your Ideal Customer?
  • Where Are You Starting from?
  • Are Your Customers Using Mobile or Desktop?
  • What’s Your Advertising Budget?

#3. Strategy Development and Campaign Build

This is where things get a bit tactical. 

The agency will begin by conducting in-depth keyword research, online audit, and market research.

They’ll also define your audience, cross-match with your SEO activities, and map out the different stages of your customer journey.

They’ll set a tracking plan, identify the KPIs to monitor, and craft copy that resonates with your target audience. 

They’ll also create ads and landing pages to ensure that each interaction is designed to drive conversions.

Once all your ad elements are in place, like structured snippets, negative keywords, ad text, and remarketing strategies, your Google Ads campaigns are ready to launch.

While all this is happening, you must make yourself available to the agency and give them everything they need to conduct their research and build your campaigns.

Make sure you’re available to answer any questions and provide feedback regularly.

#4. Optimise Your Campaigns

Every Google ads campaign is unique and a work in progress. You must keep updating it continually to ensure it’s delivering the best possible results.

That means fine-tuning your campaign regularly to ensure it’s up to date with the latest trends and changes in the market.

Stagnation is the enemy of success when it comes to Google Ads. You must keep tweaking your campaigns, experimenting with new ad formats, and optimising your landing pages.

The first month of your campaign should provide you with data and visibility into user behaviour so that you can adjust your campaigns accordingly

A good agency will ensure that its campaign management process includes regular reviews and performance tracking. 

They’ll also create detailed reports to identify opportunities for improvement and track the overall progress of your campaigns.

If something isn’t working, they should be able to tell you why it’s not working and suggest changes to help you reach your goals.

#4. Test, Measure & Report

Finally, the agency will produce detailed reports to help you assess the progress and impact of your campaigns. 

They should have a framework to track key performance indicators (KPIs) like impressions, clicks, conversions, cost-per-click (CPC) and return on investment (ROI).

It is the only way to know if your campaigns are successful. 

If they’re not, the agency should be able to provide you with insights into how they can optimise your campaigns and get better results.

Google Ads takes time to work and requires ongoing maintenance, but it can start delivering results almost immediately when done right.

What Google Looks at When Reviewing Your Ad?

Google looks at a lot of different criteria when reviewing your ad. They’ll look at the quality and relevance of the content, the structure of your landing page, and whether you’re using keywords related to your target audience. 

Here are some of the key things they’ll look out for:

  • Headline: Is it spammy, or does it accurately describe what’s in the ad?
  • Copy: What’s your message? Is it offensive, prohibited, or misleading?
  • Keywords: Are they relevant and targeted to the specific audience you’re trying to reach?
  • Landing page: Does the landing page offer a clear, cohesive experience? Or does it lead visitors down a rabbit hole of irrelevant content?

And Here are the Things You Must Avoid

  • Prohibited Content: Google won’t approve ads that promote offensive, deceptive, or illegal activities. 
  • Misleading Claims: Don’t make false claims or promises in your ad. 
  • Low-Quality Content: Poor quality content may lead to a suspension of your account. Make sure you proofread and spell-check all your ads before submitting them for review.
  • Restricted Content: Google won’t approve ads that promote adult content, gambling, political campaigns, or alcohol. 
  • Prohibited Practises: Prohibited content and practises include spyware, malware, fraud, or any other unethical activity.

About the Author

Tom Koh

Tom is the CEO and Principal Consultant of MediaOne, a leading digital marketing agency. He has consulted for MNCs like Canon, Maybank, Capitaland, SingTel, ST Engineering, WWF, Cambridge University, as well as Government organisations like Enterprise Singapore, Ministry of Law, National Galleries, NTUC, e2i, SingHealth. His articles are published and referenced in CNA, Straits Times, MoneyFM, Financial Times, Yahoo! Finance, Hubspot, Zendesk, CIO Advisor.

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