Google Ads is one of the most effective online marketing platforms. The king of advertising, however, can easily confuse beginners.

Luckily for you, we are here to give you the lowdown on Google Ads. We will break things down and run through a step-by-step setup guide, so you can get your first ad campaign up and running.

We will take a closer look at how to best perform keyword research before launching your first ad campaign. We will also run through how to write new ads and set up your first ad group. So, if you are ready, let’s get started.

Why Advertise on Google Ads?

When it comes to search networks, Google reigns supreme. From the ever-popular search engine to Gmail and Google Assistant. Google is everywhere and can be found even in dictionaries: ‘Googling’ is a verb.

While there are plenty of other search engines available (hi Bing), none of them compare to Google in terms of dominance and notoriety. Google search averages 3.5 billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year worldwide. It is the best platform for reaching your desired audience while producing a high ROI (return on investment).

Google Ads also provides users with extreme flexibility and a plethora of features that can fit any business model. The options available to you are many and include:

  • Mobile app downloads
  • Partner websites
  • Maps
  • Google search results
  • YouTube
  • Gmail
  • And many more

But is Google Ads superior to social media marketing? Absolutely! When you start out on social media, you have no likes, no shares and no followers. Building an audience on social media can be brutal and time-consuming. This is where Google Ads comes into its own.

Within a few minutes, you will be able to launch a campaign on Google Ads that generates genuine conversions. No waiting around. No hard work. As soon as your campaign goes live, instant sales are possible.

For best results, you need to use the right keywords. As an example, if someone needs a boiler fixed and your ad places at the top of the SERPs (search engine results page), then you are in a prime position to convert that search into a sale.

Performing Google Ads Keyword Research

Keyword research is the backbone of any successful Ads campaign. To have your ads displayed, you will need to target specific keywords and bid on them. These should be industry-related and targeted towards your brand or business model.

As an example, if you sell shoes then you are going to want to target searches made by real people who are looking for shoes. But—and this is a big but—finding the perfect keywords for your budget can be a nightmare. All the major footwear brands have almost limitless bidding budgets and drive up the bid cost massively.

Use The Google Keyword Planner

Google has its own tool for keyword research. It offers transparent suggestions from basic phrases or topics. You even have the option to search by URL.

Navigate to the home screen of your Google Ads page and search for “keyword planner” on the “GO TO” search option located on the top-right corner of the page.

keywords page login

Click on “Find New Keywords”. Type in one two three words related to your brand or product.

find new keywords

 Let’s carry on with the shoe seller example. Let’s see what happens if we search for ‘online shoe shop.’ You can hit enter to add more keywords. Press “GET STARTED” and let the magic begin.

keyword magic

This list contains information about average monthly searches, competition level, ad impression share, top of page bid low and top of page bid high. The top of page bid high and low are the amounts that you would need to place as a bid if you wanted one of the keywords to feature at the top or bottom of the first page.

keyword lists

Competition level means how competitive a keyword is. Highly competitive keywords are searched more often, which means you’ll have to compete with many advertisers that want to take advantage of their popularity.

The key to maximising exposure is balance. Most keywords in the above example have a competition score of 1, which would make ranking with any of them extremely difficult. The keyword “shoe shops” has medium competition and a respectable search volume, making it a great alternative to the generic “shoes”.

Be Specific

Highly specific keywords such as ‘women’s red high heels for sale’ have higher conversion rates. Those who search for women’s red high heels for sale are most likely looking to make a purchase. More generic keywords such as ‘review’ or ‘which is best’ are used by those who have not yet decided or are still searching.

If you want to know which keywords work best for your competitors, good old benevolent espionage may just do the trick. One of the best 3rd party tools for performing competitor keyword research is SEMRush. Another great third-party tool is SpyFu. This tool holds information about the history of your competitors’ ads and keywords along with useful performance metrics and statistics.

spyfu keyword metrics

As soon as you have a list of keywords that fit your objectives, you will be ready to start your first Google ad campaign. Don’t stress! We are here to guide you through the process step-by-step.

Single Keyword Ad Group Setup

Now you are ready to begin the setup process. However, make sure that you don’t misconstrue the advice that Google gives you. When setting up your single keyword ad group, Google asks you to start with between 10 and 20 keywords. This is just too many keywords for a single ad. At a push, you should use 8 to 10 keywords—and you need to be specific.

If someone is looking for size 42 heels, they don’t want to see an ad about size 42 sneakers. While the context is similar, the aforementioned items are not. Even if your product comes up in plenty of searches, people will ignore it if it’s not exactly what they’re looking for.

To set up a new campaign, create a new ad group by navigating to the left sidebar. Grab all of the keywords that you compiled earlier and add them into your new ad group plan under “keywords”. Click “SAVE” when you’re done.

Ad group forecasts

Ad forecast 2

Google will then provide you with a forecast table that holds some useful information. Based on the selected keywords, Google automatically calculates a hypothetical amount of clicks and outlines the required budget. Click on “CREATE CAMPAIGN” on the top-right side to kick off your new campaign.

Campaign metrics

Now you want to work out the match type that you’re going to use. Keyword match types give a bit more control on what searches can trigger your ad. You can choose from three options, ranging from reach to relevance.

  • Broad: Matches with close variations, related searches, synonyms and misspellings—the default and basic match type.
  • Phrase: Matches with close terms, including keyword phrases—any words in between.
  • Exact: Matches only with close variants and search terms related to the selected keyword.

To change match types, navigate back to the keywords page and click on the edit-pencil icon next to a keyword.  Click on “Broad match” to bring up the drop-down list and make changes. Click “SAVE” to apply any changes.

Broad match keywords

Google recommends that you use broad match for all your keywords. However, the reality is that proper use of phrase and exact match types will bring better results.

If there are certain keywords that you don’t want to be associated with your product, you can create exclusions by navigating to the negative keywords tab. Words and phrases that you add here tell Google that you don’t want your product to be shown in searches that include said keywords or phrases.

Create Your First Google Ad

It can be tiring to write Google ads. You are faced with character limits that make it difficult to write compelling text. Google recommends creating specific ad groups that contain a minimum of three ads.

But why is that? Well, Google automatically rotates ads to show the ones that are performing best. Creating different types of ads translates into higher conversion rates. You can choose between three types of ads:

  • Text ad: Most common type of ad that comes with many restrictions.
  • Responsive search ad: With responsive search ads, you enter multiple headlines and descriptions and Google combines them into ads—currently in Beta
  • Call-only ad: An ad that displays a phone number—Meh…

Here is what you have to do. Navigate to Ads & extensions on the left sidebar. Click on the “CREATE AD” button in the middle of the page and choose an ad type from the drop-down list.

create google ad

You can experiment with responsive search ads, but for now, we’ll focus on text ads. Once you’re in the new text ad page, you’ll have to select in which ad group your ad will be saved. Keep in mind that Google text ads can be quite restrictive.

Here’s what you need to fill out:

  • Final URL:  The URL of your product’s page.
  • Headline 1: Space for your first headline—up to 30 characters.
  • Headline 2: Space for your second headline.
  • Headline 3: Space for your third headline.
  • Display Path: Customise your URL with a maximum of 15 characters.
  • Description 1: Describe your product in 90 characters or less.
  • Description 2: Space for your second description.

google ads guide

You should use your ad group keyword twice in your ad to help with ad relevance. This can be in your title and URL. You should also use a CTA so that users know exactly what to do.

Take a look at the above example. The keyword is used twice. There is a summary of benefits and a call to action. It is concise, clear and highly effective. To create more ads, simply modify your CTA and text to fit your next product.

You are now ready to launch your new ad. The next step is to make sure that you have a working landing page that converts.

Setting Up Your Landing Page

Your landing page should be created in a way that entices users to perform the requested CTA or make a purchase. Typically, your landing page should not feature many elements found on other pages, such as navigation, sidebars etc.

Your landing page should be a stripped-down, clean and clear page dedicated to the product or service that you are offering. It should be free from any distractions or external links that might direct potential customers away from your products.

One of the biggest mistakes that people make when setting up Google Ads is setting their homepage as the landing page. This really isn’t a good idea as homepages contain way too much content and distract customers away from the focal point of your page—the product that you want them to buy.

Ultimately, you want to create a landing page that accurately captures the message of the ad. Remember, you’re actually paying for every click on one of your Google Ads. It won’t do you any good if your advertising Ladies Red Fashion Heels but the link takes customers to a landing page filled with men’s sneakers.

landing page example

Google’s display planner is no longer available, but most of its features have been incorporated into the new Google Ads platform.

To access all the necessary information and edit your campaign goals and settings, click on the “campaigns” option on the left of the navigation bar. Click on the big blue plus icon and select “Load campaign settings”.

Load campaign settings

Here is where it gets a bit crazy. The new planner is filled with campaign settings that really can make a huge difference.

First, you need to select your campaign settings.

For a more effective marketing strategy, you can edit the type and goal of your campaign.

type and goal of your campaign

You can choose to focus on sales, leads, website traffic or promotions. Maybe your goal is to raise awareness for your brand. Choosing a goal that reflects your brand’s actual goals and marketing strategies is necessary if you want to succeed.

Google ad campaign goal

Choosing the right campaign type is also important. Do you want to reach customers who may be interested in your product or service or do you want to promote your products with shopping ads? Perhaps you want to reach and engage viewers on YouTube, in which case a video campaign may work best for you.

You also have the option of including your ads on Google search partner sites, which will only display ads with relevant search results, or you can include your ads on the Google Display Network, a collection of more than 2 million web pages.

Google ads targeting and audience

You can then select those locations that are important for your business. For example, if you’re based in Australia, you’ll want to choose Australia as your main location and English as the main language of the campaign.

It’s important to note that if you’re advertising in a language other than English, you’ll have to use keywords in the targeted language. With the audience option, you can narrow your target audience even further (according to age, gender etc.).

ad budget and bidding

On the budget and bidding tab, you can edit the budget that was automatically generated when you created your campaign. Although your goal is to reach wider audiences, you shouldn’t always focus just on clicks. Google lets you choose whether you want to focus on maximising clicks for exposure or conversions for profit. This one’s up to you.

The extension tab gives you more control over the links and information that will be displayed along with your ad. Aside from links, information and a phone number, you could also add:

  • Structured snippets
  • App extensions
  • Message extensions
  • Promotion extensions
  • Price extensions
  • Location extensions

Double check your main settings and click “SAVE AND CONTINUE”.

set up ad groups

Next up, ad group settings. You have a choice between standard group type and dynamic group type. Standard ads are written by you and target audiences based on your selected keywords. Dynamic ads generate headlines automatically by scanning through your website’s content.

If you still have not picked your keywords, you can let Google scan your website (or one that’s related to your business) for keyword ideas (right box). This works even if you’re using standard ads, but you’ll have to type the ads in yourself (left box). For a broad match, type your keyword and phrases normally. Adding quotation marks around the keyword will activate phrase match (“keyword”), while brackets correspond to an exact match ([keyword]).

You can now create ads that utilise your new settings. Check the previous section for more detailed information on how to create the perfect text ad for your search campaign. If you’d rather create a video or promotion add, you need to change the campaign type.

Visual campaigns

Display campaigns

Are all about banners.  You can choose between a standard display campaign (you pick your settings and targeting) and a Gmail campaign (targets people as they browse emails).

With display campaigns, you have access to all the standard search campaign settings but must also upload pictures (GIF, JPG and PNG files) that will be used to market your business, product or service.

Display campaigns

The size limit for all image ads is 150 kilobytes. Double-sized images are not supported. Google supports several different sizes for your image ads, which is why it is always seen as good practice for your display banner ads to have the ability to appear on a variety of sites, regardless of the banner size. You can find more information about image size on Google’s official page.

It is essential that your images can fit into all the different sized banner ads. If not, it could limit or prevent your ads from appearing on specific sites.

Video campaigns

Require more resources to create but open up new possibilities as they reach huge audiences. With Google Ads, you can choose to run a custom video campaign that is tailored to your brand’s needs or choose between:

  • A non-skippable in-stream: A 15-second non-skippable ad that will run between videos relevant to your product or service.
  • Outstream: Outstream ads are mobile-only ads that appear on partner sites and apps outside of YouTube. These ads play automatically on mute when they appear on screen. You only pay if your ad is viewable.
  • TrueView: TrueView campaigns are made up of CTAs and a headline. These ads are available on YouTube and give viewers the option to skip them after 5 seconds.
  • Ad sequence: These are ads that tell a story. They come together to form a whole and the goal is to ensure that your potential customer progresses through the complete sequence campaign.
  • Shopping: Skippable ads that seek to promote relevant products and direct people to your online shop.

Google Video Ads

Once you’ve created your video ad, you must provide Google with a valid URL from YouTube. If the video is not hosted on YouTube, Google will not be able to process it.

App campaigns are a great way to promote your newly launched app. You first choose your mobile app’s platform and then search for the app by name, package name or publisher.

Your campaign’s objectives depend on the type of bidding that you choose: Cost per instal; (CPI) will charge you every time someone installs your app on their phone, while cost per action (CPA) charges you every time someone takes a revenue-generating in-app action.

You can add up to 20 image and video files (HTML5 is also supported)  to promote your app. Google recommends that you use landscape images for native ad and portrait images for interstitial content. Valuable formats include 320  x 50 px, 320 x 480 px and 300 x 250 px.

More Features

Once you’ve set up your campaign, Google gives access to multiple stats and metrics that you can use to keep track of everything.

landing pages stats

The Landing Page tab offers useful information about page clicks, views, interactions and engagements. It’ll tell you how well your page is performing and whether and how many people are actually using the page to purchase the advertised product or service.

The Audiences and Demographics tabs offer valuable information about the people that your ad has managed to reach. With that information in mind, you can design new suitable products or change your marketing strategy to ensure you reach your desired audience.

The Devices tab can tell you where most users view and engage with your app. Again, this tool can be used to determine whether your marketing strategies are effective. For example, if you’re targeting the mobile market but are still receiving more traffic on PC, you may want to switch focus to target PC users or come up with new strategies that will engage more mobile customers.

The Locations tab holds information about your targeted and excluded locations. Google can also generate Geographic and User location reports.

With the schedule option, you can design your ads beforehand and decide when exactly (day and hour) they’ll go live. It sometimes takes more than 48 hours for changes and new ads to get registered, which is why it’s always a good idea to plan ahead.

The new Google Ads interface aims to keep everything that you need to market your product in one place. Navigating through its tabs and finding exactly what you need may be a challenge at first, especially if you’re used to using the separate Keyword and Display Planners. We hope that this guide will help you navigate through Google Ads with more ease. If you still have questions, you should take a look at Google’s self-help page.

If you’re using Google Ads to promote your new online business, you should definitely check out our Entrepreneur guide!