Google Ads Bidding Strategies. Manual vs Automated Bid Strategies

Which Google Ads bidding strategy will work best for your business? Should you go for manual bidding? Or should you opt for automated bids? Hi, my name is Francisco, and I am the owner of Planet Marketing, a Digital Marketing agency. My company specializes in Google Ads, Facebook Ads and remarketing. I am very familiar with Google ads and can advise you on the best bidding strategy for your business. So, don’t hesitate to get in touch with me if you need help! In this article, I will cover the following areas;

  1. Introduction
  2. How does Google Ads Work?
  3. Manual Bids.
  4. Automated Bids.
  5. What’s the best bidding strategy for Google Ads?


The question here is; do you wish to retain control of your bids in Google Ads, or would you rather have Google automate the process on your behalf. Whatever the choice that you make, there are potential benefits and shortfalls. First, let us briefly outline how Google Ads works. From there, we will define both manual and automated bid strategies. What are they and what do they entail for those wishing to advertise on Google?

Manual BidsAutomated Bids

You retain control over when to spend your money

You cede control to Google
Changes on your account happen instantlyChanges can take time to propagate
You can react quickly to changesChanges and opportunities can pass you by
Good for small accountsGood for large accounts
High possibility of making mistakesEverything is automated, reducing chances of making mistakes
Time-consumingYou have time to do other things

How does Google Ads work?

Before we get to the bidding strategies for Google ads, it’s important to briefly lay out how Google Ads works. In essence, Google Ads is an auction platform. You compete with other people for advertising space on the platform.

One thing that makes the issue cutthroat is the fact that an ad that appears at the top on Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs) gets more clicks than competing ads. In fact, an ad that shows on position 1 gets 50% more clicks than one that appears on position 2.  So, your goal is to make sure that your ad appears at the top.

But, does this mean your ad will appear at the top if you pay lots of money? Is the solution to Google Ads simply to outbid the competition? Unfortunately, or fortunately, that is not the case. There are a number of factors that determine where and when your ad will appear.

Ad Rank

Google has what it referrers to as Ad Rank. This is an estimation of where your ad is going to appear on SERPs. So, if your ad has a low Ad Rank, it’s unlikely to appear on pages featuring relevant keywords. 

In other words, you will lose out to the competition. It’s important to point out here that Ad Rank is not determined by bidding amount. The following are some of the factors that determine Ad Rank in Google Ads;

  • Your bid
  • Your Quality Score.

What’s a Quality Score?

The Quality Score is a measure of the quality of your ads and their relevance. The following factors determine Quality Score;

  • Expected CTR.
  • The relevance of your ad.
  • The relevance of your Landing page to your ad.

What are Manual Bids in Google Ads?

Manual bids, as their name implies, happen when you, as an advertiser, determine the maximum amounts that you wish to pay for your ads. So, you determine the most that you will be willing to pay per click. Manual bidding works best in the following instances;

  • If your budget is limited and you wish to allocate most of it to your most profitable Campaigns.
  • Where consumer data is still limited.
  • Manual bids also work best if you wish to maintain control over your spending while advertising on Google. Rather than leaving everything to an AI, you ensure that you control all actions within your account.
  • Manual Bids can be time consuming. They will only work if you have inordinate amounts of time on your hands. Otherwise, you will have trouble keeping up.

What are the benefits of manual bidding in Google Ads?

Manual bidding in Google Ads comes with a number of advantages;


The issue of control is one that I am always raising with my clients. Automated bidding may appear less strenuous, but you are basically ceding control to Google.

The major advantage of manual bidding is that you retain control of where you money is spend. As an example, you can make individual bids for particular keywords. It’s up to you to decide whether or not to be aggressive when targeting those keywords.

Changes happen instantly

One thing that you will notice if you decide to adopt an automated bidding strategy is that changes that you make within your account can take time to come to effect. With manual bidding, on the other hand, any changes that you make happen instantly.

You can react quickly to changes

This works if you have someone constantly monitoring your account. Truth is, the environment out there is ever changing. Having control ensures that you are able to quickly react to these changes.

As an example, you may notice a sudden drop in your performance during the course of the day. You can determine what’s causing it by going to Auction Insights. There could be a number of issues relating to your performance. Perhaps someone has been outbidding you.

Having this information allows you to make changes that are designed to return your performance to its previous scale. These are all steps that you will be hard pressed to do should you choose an automated bidding strategy.

Disadvantages of manual bidding in Google Ads

I personally prefer a manual bidding strategy. However, there are some challenges that arise from choosing this course of action;

It can become hard to keep up as your account grows

A manual bidding strategy works great if you are managing a small account. Perhaps you only have a couple of ads targeting a few keywords. However, as your Google Ads account grows, it can become rather difficult to maintain this strategy.

You are bound to make mistakes

That’s another shortcoming of a manual bidding strategy in Google Ads. It’s inevitable that you will make mistakes. Many of them will happen as your account grows. The end result could be that you will not get quite the performance that you are looking for from your Google Ads.

Manual bidding takes massive amounts of time

Maintaining a manual bidding strategy in Google Ads can become a full time undertaking. That’s not always a good option and it could end up increasing your advertising spending should you be forced to hire other people to handle matters on your behalf.

Automated bidding in Google Ads

Other than manual bidding, you also have the option of choosing an automated bidding strategy for your Google Ads. Under this setup, your bids are automatically placed by the system depending on whether or not there is a likelihood that you will get a click or a conversion.

When to use an automated bidding strategy

 If you go through the internet today, you will come across tens of articles on the subject. That’s all great, save for the fact that each of these gurus prescribes different things.

There are some people who swear by automated bidding in Google Ads. Then there are others who are not so convinced. I fall somewhere in between these two extremes.

Face of the matter is, whether or not you are going to go for an automated bidding strategy for your Google Ads or whether you are going to stick to manual bidding largely depends on a number of variables. Automated bidding works best in the following instances;

  • For those that have large accounts. As noted earlier, it becomes progressively difficult to manage your PPC account as it grows. Manual bidding in that case becomes a hit and miss affair. This is where automated bidding comes into it’s element. It simplifies the process of managing large accounts.
  • If you wish to save time and money monitoring your account. We noted that one challenge of manually bidding while doing Google ads is that you constantly need to keep on eye of what’s happening in relation to your account. You may even be forced to hire other people to help you out. Choosing and automated bidding strategy takes away the necessity of doing this.
  • If you are not experienced in manual bidding. This applies for beginners. If you don’t really know what you are doing, choosing an automated bidding strategy is the best approach. You can then opt for a manual strategy as you familiarize yourself with Google Ads.

Advantages of automated bidding

Choosing an automated bidding strategy comes with a number of advantages;

You can segment your audience

An automated bidding strategy allows you to clearly define your target audience based on interest and behavior. So, you will have a broadly defined audience.

And then you will have sub-sections of that audience. In a way, you will be narrowing down as tightly as is possible on your target audience. Targeting these sub-sections increases your conversion rate.

Automated bids free your time

Another major advantage of choosing an automated Google Ads bidding strategy is that it gives you time to do other things.

You don’t have to constantly keep an eye on what’s happening regarding your Campaigns, as is the case with manual bids.

It doesn’t’ matter that your account may be growing. You can target thousands of keywords and create hundreds of ad groups at the same time.

You can predict your result fairly accurately

An automated bidding strategy in Google ads is not a hit and miss affair. In fact, you get projections about your campaigns that are more or less on point.

Disadvantages of automated bidding

The following are some disadvantages of choosing an automated bidding strategy;

  • It takes away control over how your ads a run. In reality, you will be leaving everything to Google’s AIs.
  • You need to have a decent amount of traffic and conversions for automated bidding to begin to work for you.
  • Changes in your account are not implemented instantly. It can take time for changes that you make to propagate to every part of your account. 

Automated Bidding Strategies on Offer

Google has a number of automated bidding strategies. The following are a few of them;

  • Maximize site visits: Here the aim is to get the most clicks from the set budget. So, Google will automatically place bids on your behalf based on the likelihood that you will get a click.
  • Get more conversions: This is another type of automatic bidding strategy that’s available in Google Ads. Google will get your ads out based on the potential for converting that person. A drawback is that budget takes a backbench, meaning you could very well burn through your set amount in no time.
  • Get maximum number of shares. This strategy is called Target Impression Share. If you choose this as your bidding strategy, your bids will be set with the aim of showing your ads at the top of the page, where they will get the most impressions.

Manual vs Automated Bidding Strategies in Google Ads

Now that we have outlined what both automated and manual bidding strategies entail in Google Ads, it’s time to make a comparison of the two. If you have been following what we have said so far, you will probably already be clear on the best choice for your particular case. So, should you leave bidding in the hands of an AI or should you handle your own bidding in Google Ads?

It’s clear here that you should choose manual bidding if you wish to retain control of your spending. This works best for those whose accounts are still small. Manual bidding also has the advantage of allowing you to make real time changes within your account.

Automated bids, on the other hand, are for those that wish to adopt a hands off approach to Google Ads. Once you have set everything up, you can step back and Google’s AI will handle everything on your behalf. So, you spend less time managing your account.

What do I prefer?

I personally prefer a manual bidding strategy for my Google Ads. Why? Well, it’s all about control. I like to retain control of how much I am bidding and when. It’s the same with Facebook ads.

I am always advising people to take steps to retain control of their spending. So, for me a manual bidding strategy works best.

But that doesn’t mean that’s the best approach for everyone. You may wish to explore both options to find out what works best for you.


In this article, we explored Google Ads bidding strategies. We noted that there are two strategies in Google Ads; manual bidding and automated bidding. What you choose depends on the nature of your business, how big your ad account is and how much control you wish to retain over management of your account.

Are you looking for help running your Google Ads account? If yes, then feel free to get in touch with me today. This is what I do on a daily basis. Therefore, I am very well placed to help you set up and run Google Ads campaigns that bring result

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