The Complete Guide to Google Ads
1. Why Google?
3. How it Works
4. How to Set Up Your Ads
5. Bidding Strategies
6. Get Started
Because it WORKS!
The answer is plain and simple: because it works. Google is the most-used search platform in the world. It gets over 3.5 million search queries daily making it a high-traffic destination for advertising. When you enter a search query into the search bar, Google brings up a page of paid and unpaid results. Users select the result that seems to best answer their query.
Ads run on Google have an 8 percent click-through-rate and paid ads receive 65 percent of the total clicks. If you work to optimize your campaigns, you can enjoy an exceptionally high return on investment. In fact, advertisers can potentially earn $8 for every one dollar they spend on Google Ads. Talk about a high ROI!
Plus, Google Ads isn’t the new kid on the block. It’s been around for nearly 20 years, giving it seniority and credibility. You would be among thousands of companies choosing to advertise on the platform. Of course, this does mean the competition is high. However, the rewards are potentially even higher.
You may be thinking, I’ll just rely on my amazing organic traffic and page one ranking to garner traffic. Unfortunately, Google favours paid ads over organic results. Your page will be pushed below the most relevant paid ads. That’s why it’s so important to disperse your marketing efforts into both paid and non-paid tactics.
“I’ve tried Google Ads and they just don’t work for me.”
Does that sound familiar? Perhaps you’ve tried your hand at Google Ads and PPC marketing but never saw the fruits of your labor. There is a myriad of reasons this could have happened, but none of them mean you should stop trying! This form of marketing has a learning curve, but once you find the strategy that works for you, it’s well worth the effort.
Here are some of the reasons your ads may have failed in the past.
- Your keyword terms were too broad. One aspect of your Ads campaign is selecting the keywords you want your ads to show up for. If the keywords you choose are too broad, your ad could be showing up for the wrong audience. To fix this, test a variety of keywords, the more specific the better. Review the ads for each keyword grouping to see which have the highest CTRs and which lead to the most sales. It’s normal for the first keywords you try to not be the most successful. Unless you hire a professional Google Ads manager (like our experts at SEO Heroes), it’s trial and error.
- Your ad content wasn’t relevant. It’s incredibly important to be clear and accurate in your ad copy, images, and intent. These ad elements need to match your keywords, and perhaps even mention them, so Google shows them to the correct people. If not, you end up displaying for search queries irrelevant to your business which is a huge waste of your money.
- Insufficient Quality Score. Your Quality Score (QS) is the score Google gives your ad based on how many click-throughs you get. Your click-through-rate (CTR) will be higher the more relevant and high-quality your ad is. The higher your QS, the more people will see your ad. Improving your CTR will improve your QS.
- Low-Quality Landing Page. What happens when a user clicks your ad? The page the ad takes them to is called a landing page. This page should be optimized for conversions, use the same keywords as your ad, and be highly specific to the problem your ad suggests you can solve.
The Technical Terms
To make this guide more comprehensive and your Google Ads journey simpler, these are the terms you need to know. The better grasp you have on this terminology, the more successful your ad campaigns will be.
AdRank: Your AdRank is your Quality Score multiplied by your maximum bid. This number affects your placement on Google; the higher the better. High AdRanks get more views and clicks.
Ad Extensions: Extensions are free and allow you to supplement your ad with additional information. They fall into the following categories: SiteLink, Offer, Call, App, or Location.
Bids: As the advertiser, you need to decide how much you’re willing to spend per ad. This is your maximum bid, the highest amount you’re willing to spend. In general, the more you spend, the better the placement your ad will have on Google.
There are three ways you can bid; the first is called Cost-Per-Click (CPC). In this bid, you pay every time a user clicks your ad. The second form of bid is called Cost-Per-Mile (CPM) in which you pay per 1000 impressions/views. The third bid form is called Cost-Per-Engagement (CPE) and you only pay when a predetermined action is taken on your ad.
Campaign Type: There are three different campaign types you can choose from before creating your ad. The first is called Search Ads which are displayed on the SERP and consist of text. The second is Display Ads which are displayed on websites that are part of the Google’s Display Network. They are usually image-based. The third is Video Ads which run for 6-15 seconds during or before YouTube videos.
Click-Through-Rate (CTR): Your CTR is a valuable number to know. It’s made up of the number of clicks your ad gets in ratio to its views. Higher quality ads have higher CTRs.
Conversion Rate (CVR): Conversions occur on the landing page your ad sends users to. If users on your landing page take a specific action, like buying something or engaging in some other way, that’s considered a conversion. A high CVR shows that your ad and landing page work well together.
Google’s Display Network (GDN): Websites that allow Google Ads to be displayed on them are part of GDN. The ads can be image or text-based and take your target keywords into consideration. If your ad is for hardwood flooring services, it might be placed on a renovation or home décor website in the GDN. Assuming you’ve targeted your keywords efficiently, of course.
Keywords: Google users enter specific words or phrases into the search bar when they’re looking for information. Then, Google shows them a results page populated by webpages that best answer their query. One of the ways Google populates the results is by finding relevant pages that use the keywords that the user searched with. In terms of Google Ads, you want to include keywords in your ad that your target customer might use as a query. For example, your target customer might type in, “the top hair salons in Houston.” Your ad keywords might be “hairstyling Houston”, “hair salons Houston”, or “best hair salon Houston.”
Then, there are negative keywords you need to be aware of. These are keywords you don’t want your ad to rank for. They might be somewhat related to your business but aren’t specific enough. For example, if you’re a hair salon in Houston, negative keywords could include “nail salon” or “Dallas.”
PPC: Pay-per-click ads, or PPC, is a form of digital advertising. The advertiser pays Google to display their ad to Google users based on their search queries. Although it’s not exclusive to Google, Google paid ads are the most popular form of paid ads.
Quality Score (QS): You QS is a grading system for the quality of your ads. It considers your click-through-rate, landing page quality, keyword relevance and quality, and history on the results page. It helps Google determine your AdRank.
Bid, Win, and Profit
Google has a massive base of potential customers and leads for your business. By creating an ad, Google will potentially show it to your target audience. To get your ad shown, you must bid on search queries/keywords. Whoever wins the bid, usually multiple advertisers, gets their ad shown at the top of the results page, on relevant GDN websites, or before relevant YouTube videos.
How can you increase your chances of having your ad shown? Google considers many different factors, which will be covered below.
Quality Score and AdRank
The amount you bid and your quality score contribute to your AdRank. Your AdRank is what decides your placement on the search results page, on GDN sites, and on YouTube videos. As mentioned above, your Quality Score relies heavily on your click-through-rate. If your ad matches the Google users’ search intent, you will have a higher CTR. Here are the ways you can improve CTR: using relevant keywords, writing ad copy and call-to-actions that meet the searcher’s requests, and improving your landing page’s user experience. It’s crucial you place most of your efforts on improving your Quality Score, especially when you’re a new Google Ads user. Before you consider increasing your bid amount and spending more money, improve your QS. Remember, a higher QS means a lower cost of acquisition.
The Different Types of Ad Campaigns
When creating your ad, there are three types of campaigns to choose from. Here are the reasons you might choose each of the different options.
Search Ads: These ads are text-based and shown on the Google search results page. They’re placed at the top of the page under the search bar. They will have the green “Ad” text enclosed in a box. These ads are great because they’re displayed right where most users look first. Your ad looks like the other results, minus the bolded text and the ad box. Users will often assume these ads are equal to the other search results and click them.
Some advertisers opt for responsive search ads. With these ads, you can enter up to 15 versions of your ad’s headline and copy. Then, Google selects the best ones to show to its users. This allows Google to best cater your ad to your audience by choosing the copy it thinks will best suit them. It also provides automated testing for you to see which copy is most effective.
Display Ads: The Google Display Network has an extensive network of websites that cater to different industries and audiences. When a website becomes part of the network and agrees to host ads on their site, they’re paid by Google for every click or impression the ad gets. The advertiser gets to show their ad to that website’s unique audience. Display ads are usually image-based. Some display ads can also be shown on the Google results page, but fall under the “shopping campaign” or “app campaign” categories.
Video Ads: YouTube is a search engine that acts similarly to Google, only its results are in video form. The ads Google shows on YouTube are also in video form. They can play either before, during, or after a video and placement is based on keywords. The video creator is paid for the clicks or impressions the video ads get on their videos, and the advertiser gets their ads in front of that creator’s audience.
Your ad is more than just copy and an image. There are many elements you need to get right for it to be effective. Here are some of the components you need to focus on.
Location: You must set the geographical location you want your ad to be displayed in. For businesses with physical storefronts, it’s smart to use the radius around your store. For e-commerce businesses, most will set the location to the places they provide shipping to. And, when your business services the entire globe, your options for location setting are endless. Setting your location is immensely beneficial to reaching your target customers. If your hair salon wants local Houston customers, people in Oregon who type in “best hair salon” won’t see your site. Only users in your set location will see your ad, which makes your ROI even higher.
Keywords: It’s crucial you do efficient and detailed keyword research for your ads. The closer your keywords match your target user’s search query, the more likely you are to show up in their results. It’s optimal to choose between one and five keywords per ad.
Match Types: Do you want Google to only show your ad to users with the exact keywords you chose, or also to users with semi-related keyword queries? Both are strategic options for you to choose from.
- You could choose Broad Match which means your keywords can be used in any order. If you choose “vampire facials in New York”, your ad will also include “vampire New York” and “New York facials” in your results.
- You could choose Modified Broad Match which allows you to ensure certain words within your keywords are locked in. You do this by placing a “+” sign before the word. For example, “vampire +facials in New York” will also yield results like “facials in NYC” and “facials for anti-aging”.
- The option, Phrase Match, keeps your keywords in the order they’re written, but may also include other words. So, if your keywords are “vampire facials in New York”, you won’t show up if someone types “New York vampire facials for anti-aging.”
- The last option is Exact Match which uses your keywords in the order they were written without any other words added. Unless users use your exact phrases, your ad won’t show up.
It’s best to start with Broad Match keywords when you’re starting out. As you test the effectiveness of your ads and assess your QS, you can make your match type more specific. You will always be testing and modifying your ads as you learn more about them.
Headline and Content: Copy is incredibly important in your ads. The wrong spelling, grammar, or meaning can make users not click your ad. Always make sure your ad copy specifically addresses the intent of your target users. Here’s an example of effective ad copy. Let’s say you enter “adult music lessons” into Google. The top ad you might see has the following headline: Adult Music Lessons? | Find Your Perfect Teacher. It uses the keywords you searched exactly in the headline, confirming it matches the intent the user had. Below the headline is the URL, and below that is the description. The description is where you prove to the user that your ad will answer their query best. For the ad in this example, the description says: Hand-Picked, World-Class Teachers. Best Facilities, Staff and Resources, etc. It uses this section to convince the user that this link will best solve their problem. This ad will secure many clicks, but it all depends on the landing page to create conversions.
Ad Extensions: Extensions are free and super helpful in providing users with more information. They encourage users to engage with your ad. There are five main ad extension categories.
- SiteLink Extensions. These create additional links below the description of your ad to other pages on your website. For example, if you’re an online clothing store, you could have a SiteLink extension to your New Arrivals or Sales pages.
- Call Extensions allow you to include a phone number in your ad. Users can instantly contact your customer service team and engage. Your phone number is displayed to the right of your URL in the ad.
- Location Extensions include your phone number as well as your location in the ad. This gives Google the ability to show a map when users click the address in the ad. If you have a physical store, this is a very useful extension, especially when users include “near me” in their search.
- Offer Extensions are useful when you’re running a promotion. It includes the promotion information below the description in the ad. It might say, “First time customer bonus $100 value.”
- App Extensions include an “app.” at the beginning of the URL so users are taken to a download page for your app instead of a regular landing page. This is only useful if you want your target audience to download an app.
It’s common for users to see an ad many times before clicking it or engaging with it. When you retarget a Google ad, you’re advertising to those users who’ve already seen your ad but are yet to engage. By using tracking cookies, Google can see where those users are on the internet and show them your ads. It’s said that it takes users seven times to view your marketing before acting on it. Retargeting is an important facet of your advertising strategy.
10 Minutes Guides
Google makes it exceptionally simple to set up your account and start creating ads. Once you’re on Google Ads, click the Start Now button. This function will take you step by step through the setup process including setting up your first ads. If you already have the ad image or text you want to use ready, this could take as little as 10 minutes. However, there are a few extra steps that are a little less clear to setup. We’ll go through them here.
Linking to Google Analytics
You likely know how important Google Analytics is for your website. It’s equally important for tracking the effectiveness of your ads. If you don’t have Google Analytics set up already, do that first. If you already have it set up, you need to link it to your Google Ads account. Google’s support page takes you through how to do this here.
Adding UTM Codes
UTM stands for Urchin Tracking Module; these codes are what Google uses to track any engagement with a link. You can see UTM codes in a URL, in the content after the “?” These codes allow you to track which ad sent the user to which page. They show you the effectiveness of your conversion efforts and where you need to improve your ads. Setting up UTM codes manually is a drag, though. It’s best to set them up when you’re setting up a campaign, so it applies automatically to all the ads within that campaign.
Setting Up Conversion Tracking
This is an optional feature you can set up that often proves to be effective for monitoring campaign success. Conversion tracking shows you the number of leads each ad has acquired so you can thus track your ROI.
Google Ads and CRM Integration
If you already use a CRM to track customer/client information, you can easily integrate that program with Google Ads. Doing so allows you to see all the important data you need in one place. And, you can track the lead flows starting with which ad the lead saw.
Budget, Goals, and Strategies
So, you’ve set up your campaign and ads. Now comes the final step which is bidding on different keywords for your ads to rank for. Your bid amount depends on your budget, goals, and strategies. Here are some of the key bidding concepts you need to be aware of before you begin.
Manual Bidding and Automated Bidding
When you bid on keywords with automation, you let Google make the call. You set the maximum amount you’re willing to spend, and Google adjusts your bid according to your competition. When you have little knowledge of the bidding process or your competition, this is a good option. Manual bidding requires you to set each bid amount manually. This can be helpful when you’re trying to reduce your spending and already know which ads are worth spending more on.
Branded Search Terms
Branded search terms include your company’s name in them, like “Harry’s Haircuts”. There are two sides to the idea of bidding on your own brand terms. On one hand, if you have a specific and unique name that no other businesses share, you theoretically shouldn’t bid on those terms because you’d naturally yield organic results from that name. On the other hand, if you have a common business name or one similar to many others (ex. Barber Shoppe), then you know your competitors will bid on that term anyways, so to compete, you should as well. Your decision to bid on branded search terms should be well researched and thought-out.
Cost Per Acquisition
Your Cost Per Acquisition, or CPA, is how much it costs for you to convert one user into a customer. When you use this strategy, you only pay for your ad when it converts a user, not simply for an impression. This can sometimes end up costing you more money, but you can rest assured that you’re only paying for confirmed conversions.
Scale and Grow!
Your business needs to be taking advantage of Google’s immense access to potential customers and leads. Relying on organic traffic isn’t a long-term solution if you want to really scale and grow your business. Remember, your first campaigns might not be as effective as you expect. It takes time to learn the process and modify your strategies based on the data in your analytics. Use the information above to get started.