Google Ads (formerly Google AdWords), is the cornerstone of most business owners’ digital marketing strategies. Offering a high return on investment for small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs), Google’s competitive pay-per-click (PPC) pricing model allows ad buyers to squeeze the most value out of their campaign budget.
Since launching in 2000, Google has accrued millions of advertisers on its platform—and not by accident. According to Google’s 2016 US Report, Google attracts about 250 million unique monthly visitors and generates 1 out of every 4 clicks for US small businesses advertising on the Internet. In total, Google Ads creates $222 billion in economic activity in the US every year.
In other words, Google simply works. Whenever a consumer has a question on their mind that needs to be answered, they turn to Google for the solution. For that reason, Google provides prime real estate for advertisers to get in on the action and present their content to millions, if not billions, of targeted consumers the world over.
In this guide, we’ll go over everything you need to know about Google Ads so you can get started designing your first PPC campaign on this leading platform.
Table of Contents
- Why Google Ads?
- Getting Started Creating a Text Ad on Google AdWords
- How Does Google Ads Work?
- Step 1: Configuring Your Account
- Step 2: Finding Your Customers
- Step 3: Profile Your Product
- Step 4: Writing Your Ad
- Step 5: Setting Your Budget
- Step 6: Set Up Billing and Monitoring
- Google Ads vs. Microsoft Advertising (Bing Ads)
- Are Google Ads Worth It?
Why Google Ads?
There’s perhaps no better investment in a small business than Google Ads. That’s right—Google Ads provide among the best dollar-for-dollar ROI than any other marketing channel, with some estimates as high as 700% returns on traffic-generating PPC campaigns.
That’s the kind of benefit that you won’t be able to find on Facebook or Snapchat. Plus, paid Google traffic converts at a rate 50% greater than unpaid, organic traffic, which makes paying for a PPC ad the more economical solution than wasting your limited time cramming new keywords into blogs or composing flashier headlines for your content.
On average, you’re likely to earn back over double your total ad spend by leveraging the power of Google Ads. This is due, in large part, to the fact that Google Ads provide a highly efficient direct route to your audience—Google, after all, has a lot of data, and it able to utilize it to allow marketers to reach only highly targeted audiences.
While social media advertising provides a great resource for advertisers jockeying for ad space in a niche market, Google dominates a massive 70%+ of the total US search engine market. In other words, you can rest assured that you will always have a sizeable audience with Google Ads given that the clear majority of users turn to Google to search for products and services.
Getting Started Creating a Text Ad on Google AdWords
There are several types of advertisements that can be run on the Google Ads platform, but text ads remain far and away the most popular and cost-effective advertising method for small and medium-sized businesses. For this reason, we’re going to walk you through the process of creating a simple Google Ads text ad for a camera retailer.
What To Know Before You Design Your Campaign
Easy there—before we get started with Google Ads, there are a few things that you should know about the platform to help you avoid common mistakes and get the most value possible. Below, we’ve listed some of the most important pre-construction factors that need to be ironed out before you get down to business.
- Define A Goal: What does the end of your Google Ads marketing funnel look like? Do you want your audience to be directed to your site’s landing page, or install an app? What is the total cost you’d be willing to spend on acquiring a new customer?
- Define Your Customer: What’s the general persona and demographic (i.e., gender, ethnicity, interests, age, income) of your ideal customer, if you have one? Do you understand their pain points, and how can you appeal to them?
- Define Your Keywords: Effective keyword research is the backbone of an effective PPC campaign. Ensure that you’ve selected the appropriate short and long-tail keywords relevant to your niche or industry.
- Define Your Competition: Are you aware of how your competitors advertise in the PPC space? How are they utilizing keywords and calls to action (CTAs) effectively?
- Define Your Proposition: What is the unique selling proposition (USP) of your product or service, and how can this be easily communicated in your ad text?
With the Five Definitions of your product or service understood, you can move forward with confidence knowing that you have a clear direction for your ad. Without these factors settled beforehand, you might struggle to articulate the value you can provide your customer, or may not even reach your intended customer at all.
How Does Google Ads Work?
Put briefly, Google Ads allows paying advertisers to display their ad to targeted leads that have expressed interest in your niche, product, or service. Google Ads allows marketers to place bids on keywords and search query terms, with the winner of each bid being awarded ad space on the top of a search engine results page (SERP), website, or YouTube video.
Understanding Google AdRank
Google’s proprietary AdRank algorithm determines where your ad will be placed on your viewer’s screen relative to other ads. AdRank assesses your ad and uses a QualityScore metric to estimate the expected impact and engagement of your ad.
You more people click on your ad—in other words, the higher your click-through rate (CTR)—the higher Google will rank your QualityScore. This is Google’s way of determining whether your ad actually satisfies consumers’ search intent and whether your keywords are relevant to the search terms used.
Step 1: Configuring Your Account
Get started by visiting the Google Ads homepage, where you can log in to your company or personal Google Account and begin initializing your ad campaign. With your Google Account, you can sign up for a 10-digit Google Ads account number, which serves as your company’s identification code you will use when managing your ad campaigns through Google.
Note that your unique 10-digital ID number is located in the top-right corner of the Google Ads interface in a web browser. It can also be accessed by clicking on your Google Account profile photo in the corner of the screen.
The New Campaign panel walks you through your first steps.
Your first task when setting up your campaign is to choose what your overarching advertising goal: phone calls, store visits, or website sales/sign-ups. For the sake of our camera store example, we selected “website sales” from the list and clicked “Pick Goal.”
From there, you will be prompted through a series of questions asking for basic information pertaining to your business, such as its name and business URL.
Step 2: Finding Your Customers
The second step requires you to get specific about who you want viewing your ad. Google handles hundreds of millions of users, which is far too broad a consumer base for your product or service. Instead, you need to tell Google where your customers live (e.g., New York, New York, USA).
The Location panel, above, lets Google know where you want your ads to appear.
For the sake of example, we’re creating an ad for a camera store in New York City. According to Google, this leaves us with a potential audience size of 35,988,953 users. To narrow down our potential customer base, we can use the “Set up specific areas” button to reduce our window to neighborhoods like Brooklyn or West Bronx. When satisfied, click the blue “Next” button.
Step 3: Profile Your Product
Since we’re creating an ad for a camera store, we inputted the following search terms when prompted by Google:
- DSLR camera
These keywords caused our potential audience size to dwindle from 35m+ to only 246,547—however, this audience size is significantly more likely to lead to conversions, since they’re actively interested in cameras.
Defining your search terms helps narrow your audience size to only interested users.
Step 4: Writing Your Ad
Now we can move onto the fun part—composing your first-ever Google text ad. Here you need to fill in three field entries within the character limits provided (30 for headlines; 90 for descriptions). As you fill the empty fields, you will notice that Google Ads automatically renders your ad in real-time to the right (on desktop) or below (on mobile).
Mastering a Google Ads headline is more of an art than a science. For this reason, it can be difficult to offer suggestions for what to put. However, you should think of the two headline spaces as opportunities for immediately catching your audience’s attention (usually with a deal or promo announcement), and using the description section to clarify what you offer in one line.
To get the most engagement out of your ad, you should use the limited headline real estate (30 characters) to its maximum advantage. Below are examples of eye-catching sub-headlines (i.e., Headline 2) that might be effective when appealing to users shopping for discount digital cameras:
- 25-50% OFF Select Models
- All Cameras On SALE
- Exclusive Limited Time Offers
- 30% Off TODAY Only
- BOGO Sale – This Week Only
An auto-generated preview of your text ad appears on the right of the screen.
A well-designed Google Ads campaign will run multiple text ads at once. This way, you can A/B test to determine which ads convert and which don’t after your first week or month of advertising. This is one of the many benefits that Google Ads offers advertisers interested in optimizing their PPC performance.
Step 5: Setting Your Budget
The last step before launching your Google PPC campaign is to figure out how much you want to spend. Whatever you set your daily spend average to will affect your estimated performance metrics, which are updated in real time on the right-hand side.
With an average daily spend of $100, for example, we can see that Google estimates that we will receive between 229,000 and 382,000 impressions, as well as up to 6,000 clicks per month. This equates to a $3,040 maximum monthly spend for a minimum guarantee of 3,620 clicks from potential leads—in other words, roughly 90 cents per click on average.
Your per day average spend determines your monthly clicks and impressions.
In the screenshot above, you will notice that that the daily budget for our made-up camera store is significantly above our competitors’. If we slide our daily spend down to the upper limits of the industry average ($25/day), we notice that the estimate clicks per month reduce to a range of 900-to-1,500—considerably lower, but at a maximum cost of only $765 monthly.
Be Conservative About Your Spend Limits
It’s important to note that Google Ads tends to spend more than what you set your “per day average” to in a given day. According to Google Ads Help, if you’re paying for conversions you might end up paying “more than two times your daily budget” over time. However, Google guarantees that you won’t be charged for more than your average budget multiplied by the mean days in a month (30.4).
Step 6: Set Up Billing and Monitoring
The last step before launching your Google Ads campaign is to choose a payment method and to confirm your billing information. During this step, you will also be asked to input any introductory offer or promotional code to receive a discount as a first-time Google products user.
The final step requires you to confirm payment information.
Once the payment form is filled out and you’ve inputted either your credit/debit card or bank account information, you can proceed to the Google Ads dashboard by clicking the blue “Submit” button. From there, you will be redirected to the Google Ads dashboard where you can manage your ad campaigns and toggle whether you want them enabled or disabled.
Tracking Google Ad Performance
Business owners don’t have time or money to waste on non-performing ads. That’s why you should track the performance of every ad campaign you run on Google Ads. To do this, click on the name of your campaign in the Google Ads dashboard and select “Details.”
From there, you can review the following metrics to see how your ads have been converting relative to your budget over time:
- Total impressions
- Total clicks
- Total amount spent
- Search phrases used
On this page, you can also enable Google Analytics for a more in-depth analysis. Using Google Analytics allows you to see what customers are doing on your website after they have clicked on your ad, including how much time they spend browsing your site and how many pages they view before leaving or checking out.
Google Ads vs Microsoft Advertising (Bing Ads)
When it comes to search engine advertising, there are two main players—Google, and Microsoft’s Bing. Although Google has long held the overwhelming share of the search engine market, Bing, powered by Microsoft Advertising, has quickly taken up about 33 percent of the US desktop search market. For this reason, it’s about time we take Bing Ads seriously.
While it’s always a good idea for business owners to invest in Google Ads and Bing Ads, it’s important to know the differences between them first. Below, we’ve listed some of the main differentiating factors between Bing and Google Ads, and where they can make up for each other’s shortcomings.
Extend Your Reach
A January 2019 partnership deal between Verizon Media and Microsoft created a new arrangement in which all search functions through Verizon-owned media assets will be powered through the Bing Network. In other words, digital media giants will be exposed to Bing Ads, including:
By investing in Bing Ads, you can capitalize on the increasing share of the market that Bing has recently purchased. In real terms, this equates to roughly 5 billion monthly search queries that are subject to Microsoft Advertising.
Bing: The Click-Through King
If you want to maximize your CTR, Bing might be the better option. At present, Bing enjoys a superior CTR by a margin of roughly one-third of Google’s. This means that the average Bing ad is more likely to drive a conversion than a Google ad.
Limited Platform Availability
One of the main limiting factors of Bing is that ads run on the platform are only available on Microsoft apps. In other words, Bing Ads can be seen on Windows mobile and desktop programs, whereas Google Ads can be viewed on Windows, Mac, and iOS platforms.
Are Google Ads Worth It?
For a small or medium-sized business owner, there are few marketing channels that offer an ROI comparable to Google Ads. While Bing Ads can make your dollar stretch further, there’s no beating the sheer reach that Google Ads boasts over the competition.
Fortunately, you don’t have to choose one or the other. Performance-minded PPC marketing strategies should include a mix of Bing Ads and Google Ads campaigns to reap the benefits of both search engine providers.