Google Ads Tutorial: A Guide to Setting Up Your First Google Ads Campaign
Google Ads are to online marketing what the “pizza move
” is to beginner skiers—once you get the hang of the basics, you’ll start seeing results straight away (and likely be keen to learn more, more, more). But that initial learning curve can be a little daunting, especially if you’re still learning about online marketing in general
, and all the tactics, tools, and strategies that come with it.
Since Google is basically synonymous with the Internet, Google Ads are worth getting friendly with. Not only will they get your business, product, or offerings in front of a lot more of the right eyeballs, they can help build good credit within the Google ecosystem to bolster your organic ranking efforts.
But you’ve gotta crawl before you can walk, so I put together a step-by-step guide to creating and setting up your first Google Ads. Full disclosure—I’m pretty new to setting up Google Ads myself, in the interest of taking a genuine, no-foolin’ beginner’s approach. I’ve also included all of the awesome resources I used in my research at the bottom of the post, so you can explore advanced strategies at your leisure. Now let’s tackle this bunny hill together.
Why Should I Use Google Ads?
Google Ads put your offers in front of a super-targeted audience that is—in many cases—actively looking for exactly what you’re offering. Beyond the pay-to-play power of advertising your business on the world’s most-used search engine, Google Ads can be your portal to building a high Quality Score that reflects on your business overall.
is a measurement of relevance through an assessment of click-through rate, ad relevance, and landing pages experience. It’s a way for Google to calculate which advertisers are creating honest, well-targeted, and useful ads versus ones that are… not.
You know those clickbaity, keyword-dense ads that send you to a mystery website or page with a million different products? Their Quality Scores are probably in the pooper—and that sh*t has consequences
- Which ads are eligible to run
- How eligible ads are ranked in search results
- CPC (cost-per-click) you’ll pay as an advertiser
What Google’s really looking at is the experience you’re providing to people searching for those keywords. Your Quality Score gets better the more relevant your keywords are to your offer, the more targeted your ad messaging is, and the better your landing page matches your ad—so visitors get exactly what they’re expecting when they click through. This also translates to increased ad opportunities, higher ad rankings, lower costs-per-click, and more return on your ad spend.
Terms to Know
- Pay-per-click (PPC): The general term for paid online advertising, in which you’re paying by the number of clicks on your ad.
- AdRank: A value assigned to your ad position in relation to other ads. Essentially, when there are several ads showing up at the top of a search engine results page, this is where you show up in the queue.
- Bidding: The highest amount you’re willing to pay for an ad click.
- Click-through rate (CTR): The number of clicks your ad receives divided by the number of times your ad is shown, as a percentage.
- Cost-per-click (CPC): What each individual ad click costs.
- Conversion rate: The average number of conversions on your ad, as a percentage. A conversion is the action you want visitors to take after they’ve clicked the ad—a sale, call, signup, etc.
- Keywords: Words or phrases describing your product or service that you choose to help determine when and where your ad can appear.
- Quality Score: Google’s assessment of the quality of your ads, keywords, and landing pages.
- Search volume: The number of searches expected for a keyword within a certain time period.
What Type of Ads Can I Run With Google?
In the spirit of tackling the basics, we’ll just be covering Search Network ads in this post. But there are several options
to explore with the world of Google Advertising.
Search Network: Text ads shown next to search results when a query is typed into Google.
: Visual ads shown to prospective customers wherever they may be on the Internet (relevant websites, blogs, etc.) within the Google Display Network
Video: Video ads shown on YouTube and other video partner websites.
Search Network with Display: You guessed it—a combination of search and display ads.
Shopping: Designed for physical products, these ads are shown at the top of search results and give detailed descriptions of your item.
Universal App: Promotes your app across Google Play, YouTube, Google Display Network, and Google Search.
Ad Extensions: A feature that shows extra information about your business, like a phone number, address, store rating, or additional website links.
: Displays your ad to people who’ve visited your site already, wherever they may be—like the Display Network—by using cookies
Which Keywords Should I Bid on?
You can use Google’s Keyword Planner
to research keywords, discover new ones, and get estimated bids on ones you’re planning to go after. While you’ll need a Google Ads account
to access the Keyword Planner, you don’t need to have any ads running yet. Signing up is totally free.
SEO expert Brian Dean has an excellent beginner’s guide to using the keyword planner
. Check it out for thorough, step-by-step instructions to getting the most out of your keywords. But a few things to keep in mind when choosing:
- Think of search intent, not simply descriptions. Put yourself in the mind of your customer—which terms would they be searching for that your product or service could be the solution to? For instance, if you’re selling grass skirts for cats, you may want to explore terms like “funny cat outfits” or “novelty cat clothing” (or “nearest hospital” for the eventual aftermath).
- The more specific your offer, and the more specific your customer, the more specific your keywords should be. Say you’ve got a surplus of women’s Nike runners in size eight you need to sell. Your ad will likely be just what someone searching for “women’s size eight Nikes” or “women’s Nike running shoes on sale” is looking for. Note that getting too specific may narrow your search opportunities, so you’ll have to find the right balance between being super-targeted and using terms with enough search volume to get in front of people.
- Bid on broader keywords if you want to reach more people. If your ad is more general, it can apply to more people and be relevant to a more general search. Keywords with higher search volume have tougher competition and can be pricier to bid on, though, so play around with broad keywords that are both relevant to your offer and give your ad a decent chance to be noticed.
- If you’re into outsourcing to robots, Google offers a tool called Smart Bidding that uses machine learning to bid on keywords and optimize your ads for conversion.
Optimizing Your Google Ads
Marketing never sleeps—there are always ways to tweak and experiment with ads to get the most conversions. Be sure to check on your campaigns and look for ways to optimize both your ads
and their respective PPC landing pages
to plug any conversion leaks and make the most of your ad spend.
, which involves running multiple pages within the same campaign to test different messaging, design, and calls to action, is one of the most effective ways to see what’s resonating with your audience (and what’s not).
If you’re building landing pages, Smart Traffic
can also run these experiments for you, using machine learning to send visitors to the most relevant page variant based on individual attributes.
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