It's hard running a business, particularly when you have to compete with giants like Amazon who have an endless marketing budget that power their ads. The race to attain Google's first search results page is highly competitive. Trying to reach the first page can easily take months, or even a year, even with outstanding SEO.
This is where paid ads (or, "PPC") come in. Google Ads is the advertisement service provided by Google that enables advertisements to appear either in the top or bottom of a Google search.
Using Google Ads is a common and effective marketing strategy among businesses looking to get drive traffic and sales. In this article, we’ll dive into some of the basics on using Google Ads that you can start applying TODAY.
- an example search result
Advantages of Using Google Ads
Google Ads is a powerful tool when it comes to online advertising. What makes it effective? Below are only a few of the benefits companies receive on Google's paid marketing platform:
Paying Only For Results
Our team 100% agrees that this is the most popular advantage to Google Ads. With Ads, businesses only pay for clicks, instead of impressions. This is called a pay-per-click (PPC) advertising model, and businesses using this model save money by only paying when a user has taken action to view their website.
With many targeting options offered by Google, business owners have the ability to display ads only to potential customers. They can filter their audience based on geography, age, keywords and more. Moreover, they can also choose the time of day when their ads will be shown to their target audience.
For example, many of our brick-and-mortar clients run ads from Monday – Friday from 8 AM to 5 PM. This is usually due to the fact that, on weekends, small businesses are either closed or slower that normal. Our E-Commerce clients, however, run a majority of their ads during lunch, at night, and on the weekend. By targeting a specific time, business owners are maximizing their ad spend.
- an example ad schedule
Another nice advantage to using Google Ads is the ability to track ad performance. This means you or your marketing partner can track the number of views (i.e. impressions) and actions taken by your set audience. Even more advanced, Ads also enables you to track the desired actions taken by users visiting your site; something very useful to many E-Commerce owners.
If you're confused about setting up your Ads account, don't worry. This guide is going to help you do just that.
Like any powerful tool, pay-per-click advertising is only effective when used smartly. Before jumping into the process of creating your Ads account, you must know your objectives. While "additional sales" sounds like a great objective, online advertising will require you to be specific.
Now, it is highly unlikely that someone visiting your website for the first time will make a purchase; because online sales require nurturing and trust with your customer before any else. For this reason, there can be a number of objectives for a business to use Ads; common ones such as:
While you may have more than one objective, always keep in mind that you will need to run different Ads campaigns to achieve those different goals (more on that later).
So, apart from identifying an objective or two, there is another important prerequisite for Ads: having a beautiful landing page.
A landing page (or, a website) is what the user "lands on" when clicking on your ad. A landing page is distinctive from your main website, and it is designed to focus on a specific objective. A great landing page is super important to the success of your Ads campaign, because a well-designed and optimized landing page will convert visitors into customers.
Keep these in mind while designing your landing page:
Be Specific: Design individual landing pages for individual goals. A landing page focusing on multiple objectives may confuse your visitors.
CTA: aka "call-to-action". Don't forget to include and properly highlight your desired call to action button within your landing page.
Mobile-friendly: With the amount of mobile users increasing every day, it's crucial to ensure your landing page is mobile-friendly
Now that you have your goals in place and incredible landing pages to accomplish each of them, it's time to set up your Google Ads account.
Setting up your Google Ads Account
Step 1: Sign Up
To begin, simply go to Google Ads and sign up with your Google email. (If you don't have a Google account, you'll need to create one. Don't worry, it takes less than 2 minutes.)
- Google Ads welcome screen
After you've entered all the necessary details, you'll land on the following page to either choose preset goals or expert mode. For this guide, we'll choose expert mode as this gives you more control from the start. There, you can fully customize and define your budget, target your audience, set up bids, and write your ad copy.
- choosing between preset goals and expert mode
Step 2: Choosing a Goal
It's the first task when creating a campaign; and perhaps that's no accident - Google wants you defining your goal before you go any further as this ensures you know exactly what you want, helping Google determine recommendations and what not. Each goal has differing means to achieve them. For this guide, we'll go with website traffic as this is the most common option for beginners.
- choosing a goal
Step 3: Choose a Campaign Type
This step involves choosing between Google's Search Network and their Display Network. The Search Network displays your ads on Google's search result page, while the Display Network will show your ads on ad-enabled websites across the web.
For beginnings, Simple Digital recommends using Search Network as it shows your ads within the search results in front of users searching for keywords relevant to your business. Although Display Ads are great for branding and retargeting, they generally have a lower click-through-rate. Other options like Smart, Shopping, and Video are great, but may require an advanced knowledge of Google Ads outside of this guide.
- choosing a campaign type
Step 4: Select Your Target Audience
This step is where you'll specify the geographical location of your target audience. Basically, this cool feature tells your ad to show only when users are within that location, and when those specified users clicked on your ad after searching using your keywords (more on that later).
See "location options"? By using that, Google gives you the ability to target a radius that allows you to specify areas from a zip code. Depending on the nature of your business, you might want to use "radius targeting" to narrow exactly who you want. Additionally, you can set different bid adjustments to multiple radii. For example, a pizza shop may want to increase their bids higher in a 5-mile radius, but lower within a 10-mile radius.
- targeting your audience
- advance audience controls
Step 5: Set Your Budget
Defining your daily budget ensures you'll never cross your expenditure limit. The best way to figure out your daily budget is to first understand the number of visitors your landing page can convert into customers. If you're just starting this for the first time, with no data, it's perfectly okay to work with averages.
According to our lead digital marketing specialist here at Simple Digital, the average rate of conversion is across industries is 2.30%. This means, that on average, only 2.30% of users take the desired action after clicking on an ad. Taking this average rate into account, you can figure out how much you are willing to spend for each visitor. This is referred to as cost-per-acquisition (or, "CPA").
After you've set your budget, save and move onto the next step.
- budget controls
Step 6: Ad Extensions
Ad extensions give your ads advanced abilities to display your phone number, additional links, more business information, and a bunch of other cool features. I won't go into detail with this one, because it's optional and may be beyond this beginner's guide to Google Ads, but it's worth mentioning because Google data shows a 15% higher CTR using ad extensions.
- ad extensions
Step 7: Select Your Keywords
Keywords are the search terms and phrases a user entered into the search box when conducting a Google search. Google allows advertisers to choose 15-20 keywords that will trigger your ad to appear when a user searches those keywords. Later on, you may add more than 20 keywords, but for now, we'll follow on with the setup.
Simple Digital recommends choosing a few keywords that you are most certain will bring results, instead of choosing 20 that may seem sorta relevant. Have said that, also pay attention to the search volumes to each keyword you choose. It may seem tempting to select a keyword with high search volume, but doing so may not be the best idea.
Why? Well, as mentioned earlier in this guide, Ads is based on a bidding system, and the higher the search volume is for a keyword, the more pricey the bid. Always keep your budget in check by choosing a few relevant keywords with moderate search volume.
- adding your keywords
Determining The Right Keyword Type
Google gives you four keyword match types that determine how you want your ad to be displayed: broad match, broad match modifier, phase match, exact match, and lastly, negative keywords.
Broad Match is the default setting on Google Ads, because according to them, it "allows your ad to show for searches on similar phrases and relevant variations, including synonyms, singular and plural forms, possible misspellings, stemmings."
This type allows your to reach, well, the broadest part of your audience. For example, if you're a NYC pizza shop and want to target "pizza shop near me", broad match will include your ad within searches like "pizza shop nyc", "Italian restaurants with pizza", and "best nyc pizza" just to name a few.
Broad match modifier goes deeper and gives you more control. Simply by adding a plus sign (+) before a term, you can lock it. For example, adding "+pizza shop near me", your ad will never show for search terms like "pizza in NYC".
Phrase Match goes even deeper and gives you even more control. So, with this keyword type, you can narrow down an exact phrase as it is Googled.
For example, say you're an E-Commerce brand selling egyptian cotton bathrobes. Using Phrase Match enables you to show your ad on "egyptian cotton bathrobes" and not "bathrobes egyptian cotton".
To use Phrase Match, simply add quotations before and after your phrase.
Exact match is a safe and slower way to scale your campaigns, and I'll tell you why. As the name suggests, this keyword type ensures your ad will only display when someone searches exactly your desired phrase. Meaning, your budget is literally going to the exact searches you would want, and that can only mean more clicks and more sales.
Negative keywords are terms to help ensure your ad isn't appearing within irrelevant searches. This Ads feature will come in handy if your business or E-Commerce store has a similar service/product that may share keywords with something unrelated to you.
Step 8: Write The Ad
Ad copy is arguably the most critical part of this process, which is why most people who set up their Google Ads account, usually end up hiring a professional to do this part for them. Why? Because your message should be clear and compelling; it should communicate strongly and convince the user to click on it.
If you're up for the challenge, here a few tips to get your started:
Ad Copywriting Best Practices
Have a clear call to action telling the user what you want them to do.
The headline is crucial and will be the first thing a user will read. Make sure it calls out to them!
Keep your message to the point as there isn't a lot of space.
- ad structure
Headlines: Google Ads allows up 3 headlines, allowing up to 30 characters per headline. Since the space is limited, be sure to use your headline space wisely. Lastly, be sure to use one of your keywords in the headline.
Display Path: Depending on if you're viewing an advanced view of Google Ads or not, the next item you can fill within you ad is the "display path". This is different than the "Final URL" you added in that this is the text you want users to see. For example, say your selling a product that has a final url looking like "/sale/womens-sale/product-category/product?filter", and for obvious reasons, you don't want to show that, you can can add a display path that looks like "/product-keyword" or "/sale".
Description: Google Ads allows two descriptions to be added within your ad, each up to 90 characters. Use this space to convey your message as clearly as possible. And, if you can, include offers and discounts in there too.
Step 9: Publish your Ad
Once you are done writing the ad copy, click save and continue. Google will ask about your business, payment information, etc. Depending on the info you provide, you may be temporarily charged $50 to be spent on your first campaign. Then, after you've exhausted your set budget, you'll be billed by Google directly every 30 days or so, depending on your account.
- billing info
Running Multiple Ads
As stated earlier, Simple Digital recommends running multiple ads to focus on various objectives. This can easily be done by running multiple campaigns at once, and then by doing, can find out which ones convert customers and which ones don't.
Each campaign is to consist of multiple ad groups. Each ad group will consist of similar keywords, and will have a similar theme on the landing pages. For example, an ad group may be dedicated to PCs for an electronics store, while another may be dedicated to TVs.
And in that example, it's possible to include both ad groups in the same campaign. The ads groups would share the same budget, location, and specific settings in a single campaign; however, if you are looking to target multiple locations or devices, you need to create separate campaigns.
Going back to one of the best features of Google Ads, you'll want to take advantage of Ads tracking capabilities. Using these, you can determine if the ad you just created is performing well or not.
To evaluate your campaign, the first step is to select a conversion source. For small businesses, the two most common conversion areas are:
To successfully track this, you'll want to set up a Google Analytics goal on your website. (If you don't know how to do that, don't worry! Just chat with us or contact us and we'll help guide you.)
You can also track phone conversions too, which may be very important if your business relies heavily on phone calls.
Google Ads is an extremely powerful tool. It comes in handy when acquiring new customers, leads, or calls to a small business like yours. However, if not used properly, the platform can waste real money and time.
If you need help setting up Google Ads or Google Analytics, contact our team and we'll more than happy to help to set it up properly for you!