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Choose a bid amount that works for you

If you're just starting out in AdWords, you’ll want to go with a budget and bid amount that you’re comfortable with.

This article provides tips and best practices to help you choose your first bids.

Before you begin

If you’re new to AdWords bidding, read About ad bidding basics. It helps to know what the goals of your campaign are and which networks work best to help you reach your goals.

Choose your first bids

First things first: there's no single recommended bid amount that works perfectly for everyone. The right bid for you will depend on:

  • Your campaign type
  • The cost of your keywords
  • The success of your keywords

Most people starting out in AdWords use cost-per-click (CPC) bidding to pay for each click on their ads. With this option, you set a maximum cost-per-click bid (max. CPC bid) that's the highest amount that you're willing to pay for a click on your ad.

Set your bid by thinking about how much an ad click is worth to you. If you’re unsure what bid to start with, try setting a max. CPC bid of US$1.

Example

Let's say you own a skateboard shop and you make US$10 from every skateboard purchase. You've seen that on average, 1 in 10 visits to your website results in a purchase. If you set a max. CPC bid of US$1, you’ll break even (advertising costs = sales). To make a profit, you should spend less than US$1 to get a click on your ad, which means you’ll want to set your max. CPC bid below US$1.

Tip: Automate your bidding

If you’re new to AdWords and you’d like to increase clicks to your website, you might consider using the automated Maximize Clicks bid strategy. This strategy automatically sets your bids to help get as many clicks as possible within your budget. Learn about all types of automated bid strategies.

When you set a max. CPC bid in a new campaign, it's applied to the keywords you choose for your ad group. You can change this ad group default bid at any time. If certain keywords are more relevant to your business than others, you can choose to set different bids for them in order to increase your chances of having your ad appear when people search with those keywords. These are called keyword bids.

To make changes to individual keywords, click the bid amount in the “Max. CPC” column for that keyword.

Bidding on the Display Network

Keep in mind that the clickthrough rates are often lower on the Display Network, because it can be harder to get a reader's attention. If you’re showing your ad on the Display Network, you can set a Display Network Max. CPC bid for clicks that happen just on the Display Network. 

  • Consider bidding on impressions: Instead of paying per click, you can pay by the number of times your ad is viewable. You’ll bid on the cost-per-thousand viewable impressions (vCPM) bidding, and pay for every 1,000 times your ad is measured as viewable. If you're mostly interested in getting your company's name or logo in front of lots of people, this is a smart option. Learn more about vCPM bidding
  • Bid on placements: Similar to how you would evaluate keywords, if your ads perform well on certain placements, you can consider raising the bid for those placements.

Other ways to choose a bid

You can also set bid adjustments to increase or decrease your bids based on whether someone is searching from a mobile device, at a certain time of day, or from specific locations. Learn more About bid adjustments.

Example

You run a store in San Francisco and you’ve set a max. CPC bid of US$1. You could use bid adjustments to increase your chances of showing your ad to customers in your neighborhood. For example, you could set a +20% adjustment for nearby areas, resulting in a final bid amount of US$1.20. Here's the math:

Starting bid: $1
Location adjustment: $1 x (+20%) = $1.2
Resulting bid for nearby searches: $1.20

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