If you’re thinking about spending money on ads to reach your target audience, you should spend it wisely.
That is, with more than 259 million unique visitors per day and 4.8 billion daily interactions.
Somewhere along the lines of Google.
Google Ads was launched just two years after Google.com, the world’s most popular website. The advertising platform was launched as Google Adwords in October 2000, but after some rebranding in 2018, it was renamed Google Ads.
You’ve seen (and probably clicked on) a Google advertisement, given Google’s vast reach. Your potential customers have done the same.
This guide will teach you how to start advertising on Google. We’ll go over platform-specific features and show you how to optimize your campaigns to get the best results from your ads.
It’s no secret that the stronger and more focused your paid campaigns are these days, the more clicks you generate — resulting in a higher likelihood of acquiring new customers.
This is why Google Ads has grown in popularity among businesses.
What are Google Ads?
Google Ads is a paid advertising platform that falls under the pay-per-click (PPC) marketing channel, in which you (the advertiser) pay per click or impression (CPM) on an ad.
Google Ads is an efficient way to drive qualified traffic, or good-fit customers, to your business while searching for products and services similar to those you provide. You can increase your website traffic, phone calls, and in-store visits by using Google Ads.
Google Ads enables you to create and distribute well-timed ads to your target audience (via mobile and desktop). Your company will appear on the search engine results page (SERP) when your ideal customers search for products and services similar to yours on Google Search or Google Maps. This way, you reach your target audience at the optimal time for them to see your ad.
Ads from the platform can also be seen on other channels like YouTube, Blogger, and Google Display Network.
Google Ads will also help you analyze and improve those ads over time so that your company can meet all of its paid campaign goals.
Furthermore, regardless of the size of your business or available resources, you can tailor your ads to fit your budget. The Google Ads tool allows you to stay within your monthly budget and even pause or stop your ad spending.
Now for another critical question: Are Google Ads truly effective? Consider the following statistics to provide an answer:
- Google Ads has a click-through rate of nearly 8%.
- Display ads yield 180 million impressions each month.
- For users ready to buy, paid ads on Google get 65% of the clicks.
- 43% of customers buy something they’ve seen on a YouTube ad.
Why Advertise on Google?
Google is the most popular search engine, with over 5 billion searches per day. Not to mention that the Google Ads platform has been in operation for nearly two decades, giving it some clout in the paid advertising space.
People worldwide use Google to ask questions that are answered through a combination of paid advertisements and organic results.
Furthermore, Google claims that advertisers earn $8 for every $1 spent on Google Ads. So there are a few reasons why you should consider Google advertising.
Do you require another reason? Google Ads are being used by your competitors (and they might even be bidding on your branded terms). Hundreds of thousands of businesses use Google Ads to promote their products and services, which means that even if you rank organically for a search term, your results will be pushed down the page beneath your competitors.
Google Ads should be a part of your paid strategy if you’re using PPC to advertise your product or service — there’s no way around it (except maybe Facebook Ads, but that’s another article).
Google Ads Best Practices
Don’t give up if you’ve tried unsuccessfully to advertise on Google. There could be several reasons why your Google Ads are underperforming and let’s go over some of the most common Google Ads best practices.
1. Use a PPC Planning Template
Using a planner helps you keep track of your PPC projects. You can view how your ads will appear online, see your character counts, and manage your campaigns all in one place with Google and ROI Minds’ PPC Planning Template.
2. Avoid Broad Keyword Terms
When it comes to keywords, you need to nail it, so testing and tweaking should be part of your strategy. If your keywords are too broad, Google will show your ad to the wrong people, resulting in fewer clicks and a higher ad spend.
Examine what’s working (for example, which keywords generate clicks) and make changes to better match your ads to your target audience. You’re unlikely to get it right the first time, so keep adding, removing, and tweaking keywords until you do.
3. Don’t Run Irrelevant Ads
If your ad does not correspond to the searcher’s intent, you will not receive enough clicks to justify your ad spend. Your headline and ad copy must match the keywords you’re bidding on, and your marketing solution must address the searcher’s pain point.
It’s a combination that will produce the desired results, and it could be as simple as a few tweaks. You can create multiple ads per campaign; use this feature to test which ads perform best. Alternatively, use Google’s Responsive Search Ads feature.
4. Improve Your Quality Score (QS)
Google uses your Quality Score (QS) to determine where your ad should rank. Your placements will improve as your rank rises. If your quality score is low, your ad will receive fewer views and fewer conversion chances. Google will tell you your Quality Score, but it is up to you to improve it.
5. Optimize Your Ad Landing Page
Your efforts should not end with your advertisement; the user experience is just as important after a click.
What does your user see after clicking your ad? Is your landing page conversion-optimized, which means it uses the same keywords? Is the page resolving your user’s problem or answering their question? Your user should have a smooth transition through the conversion process.
Google Ads Terms to Know
These common terms will assist you in setting up, managing, and optimizing your Google Ads. Some are specific to Google Ads, while others are more general to PPC. In any case, knowing these will help you run an effective ad campaign.
Your AdRank determines your ad placement. The higher the value, the higher you’ll rank, the more eyes will fall on your ad, and the more likely users will click on your ad. Your AdRank is determined by multiplying your maximum bid by your Quality Score.
Google Ads is based on a bidding system in which you, as the advertiser, set a maximum bid amount for a click on your ad. The higher your bid, the higher your position. You can bid in three ways: CPC, CPM, or CPE.
- CPC, or cost-per-click, is the amount you pay for each click on your ad.
- CPM, or cost per mille, is the amount you pay for one thousand ad impressions; that is when your ad is shown to a thousand people.
- CPE, or cost per engagement, is the amount you pay when someone takes a predetermined action with your ad.
3. Campaign Type
Before you begin a paid campaign on Google Ads, you’ll select between one of three campaign types: search, display, or video.
- Search ads are text ads displayed among search results on a Google results page.
- Display ads are typically image-based and are shown on web pages within the Google Display Network.
- Video ads are between six and 15 seconds and appear on YouTube.
4. Click-Through Rate (CTR)
Your CTR is the number of clicks on your ad as a percentage of the number of views your ad receives. A higher CTR indicates a high-quality ad corresponding to search intent and targets relevant keywords.
5. Conversion Rate (CVR)
CVR is a ratio of form submissions to total visitors to your landing page. A high CVR indicates that your landing page provides a seamless user experience that matches the ad’s promise.
6. Display Network
Google ads can appear on search results or web pages within Google’s Display Network (GDN). GDN is a network of websites that allow Google Ads to be displayed on their webpages; these ads can be text-based or image-based, and they are displayed alongside content relevant to your target keywords. Google Shopping and app campaigns are the most popular Display Ad options.
Ad Extensions allow you to add extra information to your ad at no extra cost. These extensions are classified into five types: Sitelink, Call, Location, Offer, and App.
When a Google user enters a query into the search field, Google returns a set of results that correspond to the searcher’s intent. Keywords are words or phrases that correspond to what a searcher is looking for and will answer their query. You choose keywords based on which queries you want your ad to appear alongside. A searcher who types “how to clean gum off shoes” will see results for advertisers who targeted keywords such as “gum on shoes” and “clean shoes.”
Negative keywords are keyword terms you do not want to rank, and Google will remove your bid from these keywords. These are typically related to your intended search terms but fall outside of the scope of what you offer.
Pay-per-click, or PPC, advertising is a type of advertising in which the advertiser pays for each click on an ad. Although PPC is not unique to Google Ads, it is the most common type of paid campaign. Before launching your first Google Ads campaign, it’s critical to understand PPC fundamentals.
10. Quality Score (QS)
Your Quality Score is determined by your ad’s click-through rate (CTR), keyword relevance, landing page quality, and past performance on the SERP. QS influences your AdRank.
How Do Google Ads Work?
Google Ads will show your advertisement to potential leads or customers interested in your product or service. Advertisers bid on search terms or keywords, and the winning bid is displayed at the top of search results pages, YouTube videos, or relevant websites, depending on the type of ad campaign chosen.
Numerous factors influence your ability to create effective and high-performing Google Ads. Let’s go over them in more detail below and some Google Ads examples.
1. AdRank and Quality Score
AdRank determines the placement of your ads, and Quality Score is one of two factors (the other being bid amount) that determine your AdRank. Remember that your Quality Score is based on the quality and relevance of your ad, which Google measures by how many people click on your ad when it’s displayed — i.e., your CTR. Your CTR is determined by how well your ad matches searcher intent, which three factors can determine:
- The relevance of your keywords
- If your ad copy and CTA deliver what the searcher expects based on their search
- The user experience of your landing page
When you first set up your Google Ad campaign, you should pay the most attention to your QS before increasing your bid amount. The higher your QS, the lower your acquisition costs, and the better your placement.
When you first create a Google Ad, you’ll choose a geographical area where your ad will appear. If you have a physical storefront, it should be within a reasonable radius of your physical location. If you have an eCommerce store and a physical product, you should set your location to the locations where you ship. If you offer a service or product available globally, the sky is the limit.
Your location settings will influence placement. For example, if you own a yoga studio in San Francisco, someone searching for a “yoga studio” in New York will not see your result, regardless of AdRank. This is due to Google’s primary goal of displaying the most relevant results to searchers, even when
Keyword research is essential for both paid ads and organic searches. Your keywords should be as close to the searcher’s intent as possible, and this is due to Google matching your ad with search queries based on the keywords you chose.
Each ad group in your campaign will target a small set of keywords (one to five is ideal), and Google will display your ad based on those selections.
4. Match Types
Match Types give you some leeway in your keyword selections by telling Google whether you want to match a search query exactly or if your ad should be shown to anyone with a semi-related search query. There are four types of matches to choose from:
- Broad Match is the default setting that uses any word within your keyword phrase in any order. For example, “goat yoga in Oakland” will match “goat yoga” or “yoga Oakland.”
- Modified Broad Match allows you to lock in certain words within a keyword phrase by denoting them with a “+” sign. Your matches will include that locked-in word, at the very least. For example, “+goats yoga in Oakland” could yield “goats,” “goats like food,” or “goats and yoga.”
- Phrase Match will match with queries that include your keyword phrase in the exact order but may include additional words before or after. For example, “goat yoga” can yield “spotted goat yoga” or “goat yoga with puppies.”
- Exact Match maintains your keyword phrase as it is written in the exact order. For example, “goat yoga” will not show up if someone types “goats yoga” or “goat yoga class.”
If you’re just getting started and don’t know how your persona will search, switch from a broad match to a narrower approach to test which queries produce the best results. However, because your ad will be ranking for various queries (some of which are unrelated), you should keep a close eye on your ads and modify them as new information becomes available.
5. Headline and Description
Your ad copy can mean the difference between a click on your ad and a click on your competitor’s ad. Your ad copy must match the searcher’s intent, be aligned with your target keywords, and address the persona’s pain point with a clear solution.
Let’s look at an example to see what we mean.
This was the result of a search for “baby swim lessons.” The copy is succinct and uses limited space to convey its message and connect with its target audience.
The Swim Revolution knew to include the keyword in their headline, so we knew right away that this ad was relevant to our search. The description explains why this is the best option for swim lessons because it addresses their persona’s concerns — a parent looking to enroll their baby in a swim class.
They use words like “skills,” “fun,” “confidence,” and “comfort in the water” to calm our fears about putting a baby in a pool and to demonstrate that we will get what we want from this class — an infant who can swim.
This type of ad copy will get you clicks, but carrying this level of intent into your landing page copy will result in conversions.
6. Ad Extensions
If you use Google Ads, you should use Ad Extensions for two reasons: they are free, provide users with additional information, and are another reason to interact with your ad. These extensions fall into one of the following five categories:
- Sitelink Extensions extend your ad — helping you stand out — and provide additional links to your site that offer users more enticing reasons to click.
- Call Extensions allow you to incorporate your phone number in your ad, so users have an additional (and instant) way to reach out to you. If you have a customer service team ready to engage and convert your audience, then include your phone number.
- Location Extensions include your location and phone number within your ad so Google can offer searchers a map to find you easily. This option is great for businesses with a storefront, and it works well for the search query “…near me.”
- Offer Extensions work if you’re running a current promotion. It can entice users to click your ad over others if they see that your options are discounted compared to your competitors.
- App Extensions provide a link to an app download for mobile users. This reduces the friction from performing a new search to find and download the app in an AppStore.
7. Google Ads Retargeting
In Google Ads, retargeting (or remarketing) is a method of advertising to users who have previously interacted with you online but have not converted. Tracking cookies follow users around the web and target them with advertisements. Prospects must see your marketing at least seven times before becoming a customer, so remarketing is effective.
Types of Google Ads Campaigns
You can select from one of the five campaign types on Google Ads. Let’s cover the optimal uses for each and why you might choose one over the other.
1. Search Ad Campaigns
Text ads that appear on Google results pages are known as search ads. A search for “pocket squares,” for example, yields the following sponsored results:
The advantage of search ads is that your ad will appear where most searchers look for information first — on Google. Furthermore, Google displays your ad in the same format as other results (except that it is labeled an “Ad”), so users are accustomed to seeing and clicking on results.
- Responsive Search Ads
Responsive search ads allow you to enter multiple headlines and ad copy variations (15 and four, respectively) for Google to choose the best performers to display to users. Create one static version of your ad with the same headline and description as you use traditional ads.
Responsive ads enable a dynamic ad that is auto-tested until you reach the best version for your target audience — for Google, this means until you get the most clicks.
2. Display Ad Campaigns
The Google Display Network is a network of websites in various industries and with a diverse audience that opts in to display Google Ads. The website owner benefits because they are paid per click or impression on the ads, and advertisers benefit from getting their content in front of audiences who match their personas.
3. Video Ad Campaigns
Video ads are displayed before or after (and sometimes in the middle of) YouTube videos. Remember that YouTube is also a search engine. The right keywords will bring you to a video, disrupting the user’s behavior just enough to catch their attention.
4. App Ad Campaigns
Google App Campaigns advertise your mobile application on Google Search Network, YouTube, Google Play, Google Display Network, and other sites. You can run ads that encourage your audience to download your app or, if they already have it, to perform a specific action within it.
Unlike other types of ads, you do not create an App ad campaign. Instead, provide Google with information about your app and its target audience, and then place a bid.
5. Shopping Ad Campaigns
Google Shopping Ad Campaigns are another type of Google Ad. Shopping campaigns, like the others, appear on SERPs and include detailed product information such as price and product imagery. You can launch a Shopping campaign via Google Merchant Center, where you can enter specific product information that Google will use to create your shopping ads.
Shopping Ads allow you to promote specific products and product lines rather than your entire brand. When you search for a product on Google, ads for various brands will appear along the top and side. When I search “running shoes,” this is what I get.
How to Use and Create Google Ads?
Setting up paid campaigns on Google is relatively simple (and quick), thanks to the platform guiding you through the process and providing helpful hints. When you go to the Google Ads website and click “Start Now,” you will be guided through steps to get your ads up and running. The setup should take 10 minutes if you have your ad copy and images ready.
All the extra steps you must take to ensure your ads are properly set up and easily trackable may be less obvious. Let’s go over them altogether. These are the steps you’ll take after submitting your ads for review.
1. Link Google Analytics
You most likely have Google Analytics installed on your website to track traffic, conversions, goals, and other unique metrics. You must also connect your Analytics account to Google Ads. Because you can view these events in one place, linking these accounts will make tracking, analyzing, and reporting between channels and campaigns much easier.
2. Add UTM Codes
Google uses Urchin Tracking Module (UTM) codes to track any activity associated with a specific link. You’ve probably seen them before; they’re the bits of a URL that come after a question mark (“?”). UTM codes will tell you which offer or advertisement resulted in a conversion, allowing you to track the most effective parts of your campaign. Because you know exactly what’s working, UTM codes make it easier to optimize your Google Ads.
The trick is to add your UTM codes at the campaign level when configuring Google Ads, so you don’t have to do it manually for each ad URL. Otherwise, you can manually add them using Google’s UTM builder.
3. Set Up Conversion Tracking
Conversion tracking tells you how many customers or leads you’ve gotten from your advertising campaigns. It is not required to set up, but without it, you will have to guess the ROI of your ads. Conversion tracking enables you to track sales (or other activities) on your website, app installs, or phone calls generated by your advertisements.
4. Integrate Your Google Ads With Your CRM
There is something to be said for centralizing all of your data so that you can track, analyze, and report on it. You already use your CRM to keep track of contact information and lead flows. Integrating Google Ads with your CRM allows you to track which ad campaigns are working for your audience so that you can continue marketing to them with relevant offers.
Google Ads Bidding Strategies
It’s time to start bidding after setting up your ad campaigns and tracking. Remember that your ability to rank in Google Ads is determined by how you bid. While your budget and objectives will determine your bid amount, you must know a few strategies and bid settings before launching your paid campaign.
Automated vs. Manual Bidding
You have two options for bidding on your keywords — automated and manual. Here’s how they work:
- Automated Bidding puts Google in the driver’s seat and allows the platform to adjust your bid based on your competitors. You can still set a maximum budget, and Google will work within a range to give you the best chance of winning the bid within those constraints.
- Manual Bidding lets you set the bid amounts for your ad groups and keywords, giving you the chance to reduce spending on low-performing ads.
Bidding on Branded Search Terms
Branded terms include your company’s or a specific product’s name, such as “ROI Minds CRM.” There is much debate about whether or not to bid on your branded terms, and bidding on terms that are likely to produce organic results may be viewed as a waste of money on one side of the debate.
On the other hand, bidding on these terms gives you control over these search results pages and helps you convert prospects further down the flywheel.
Another argument in favour of bidding on your branded terms is that competitors will take up valuable real estate that should be yours if you don’t.
Cost Per Acquisition (CPA)
If spending money to convert prospects into leads makes you uncomfortable, you can instead set a CPA and only pay when a user converts into a customer. While this bidding strategy may be more expensive, you can rest assured that you only pay when acquiring a paying customer. This strategy makes it simple to track and justify your advertising spending.
Additional Resources to Optimize Your Google Ads
Your ad copy and headline are not the only elements that will determine the success of your paid campaign. Getting a user to click is only the first step, and they should be directed to a conversion-optimized landing page before being directed to a Thank You page, instructing them on what to do next.
Check out these additional resources and use them as guidelines to set up your Google Ads campaign if you want your Google Ads to generate qualified leads and customers.
- Landing Page Best Practices will teach you how to set up a landing page that’s prime for conversions, so you don’t waste those precious clicks.
- Optimized “Thank You” Pages show you what to do with your new lead post-conversion, how to keep them on your site, and ways to maintain their attention.
- Tips for Mobile Google Ads teaches you the key differences between desktop and mobile ads and how to optimize both.
- Optimizing Google Ads Costs will show you how we, at ROI Minds, maximize our Google Ads spend to get the best ROI.
- Quality Google Ads Examples That Convert shares examples of Google advertising campaigns that got it right.
Start Your Campaign
Google Ads should be a part of your paid strategy due to its reach and authority. Start with the tips we provided, and remember to refine and iterate as you go.
There is no such thing as a failed Google Ads campaign, only those that require additional attention. You now have everything you need to create a successful Google Ad campaign that drives clicks and converts leads using the strategy and information provided above.
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