The web is crowded and getting people to visit your website – out of all the other options available to them – is an ongoing challenge that all website owners are familiar with.

One useful tool for getting your website in front of more people is Google Ads (formerly called Google AdWords).


Why to Use Google Ads

You only have so much money to spend promoting your website, so what makes Google Ads worth the investment? Google’s advertising platform provides a few main benefits that make it worth considering:

1. Your ad can reach a huge audience.

Google Ads doesn’t just control the ads that show up on the search engine (which billions of people use each day), it’s also behind the ads on all Google properties (including YouTube and Gmail) and a huge number of other websites included in the Google Display Network. All told, the Google Ads platform reaches over 90% of all internet users, making it the best tool for reaching a large audience online.

2. Google offers targeting options.  

For a lot of businesses, reaching a lot of people is less important than reaching the right people. Google Ads allows you to target which search terms and keywords your ads show up for, what people see your ads based on demographic information, and the types of sites they show up on in the display network. All of that helps you to more efficiently reach the people most likely to care about your website.

3. You only pay when people visit your website.  

With a lot of advertising, you pay for the exposure the ads bring you. Google Ads uses a pay-per-click advertising model, so you only pay for the times people actually click on an ad and visit your website.

4. It’s faster than most online marketing tactics.

While tactics like SEO and content marketing are valuable, they’re slow. Google Ads gets your website in front of more people faster.

If your online marketing efforts could use an extra boost, PPC marketing with Google Ads can provide it.


How to Set Up Your Google Ads Account

Setting up an account in Google Ads is pretty easy. When you’re on the Google Ads website. You’ll see a big green button that says Start Now.

google ads get started screen

After you click, you’ll encounter a form that asks you to provide your email address and the website you’ll be promoting.

welcome to google ads setup

You’ll need to use an email here that’s already associated with a Google account, so if you already use Gmail and Google Analytics, use the same account you use there. If not, you can set up a new account here.

You’ll be asked to log into your Google account, then you’ll be in.


6 Best Practices for Google Ads

While you could theoretically dive right in and start creating ads today, in order to get the most out of the money you spend on Google Ads, you need to take some time to learn the ropes.

Google has a series of videos that can offer a good start to understanding the platform and how to use it. Going through them all can take some time, but for most website owners it’s worth it.

Until then, here’s a shorter summary of best practices to keep in mind.


1. Determine your goals.

What is it you want from your Google Ads? Are you at the point with your website where the most important thing is getting those initial leads to learn you exist, or do you want visitors to convert to customers right away? Your Google Ads campaigns should be designed around the main goals you want to achieve.


2. Do keyword research.

This is one of the most important steps in PPC marketing. Your keyword lists will be a big part of the campaigns you set up for search. You want your ads to show up specifically when people are looking for what you have to say or sell. The way to learn what terms people are using (and how competitive different terms are) is to take time to do the research. Try using long-tail keywords to keep bidding costs low. 


3. Prioritize relevance.

One of the best things about online marketing is that you can more effectively reach the specific people most likely to be interested in your website or business in the context where they’re looking for or thinking about what you have to sell. Your ads will perform much better if you can make them relevant to the person at the moment they see them.

Good keyword research is a big part of this, but you should also do ad targeting based on demographic information and user interests to better get your ads in front of the right people.

And relevance has to go beyond what shows up on the ad: your ad content should always match what people will see when they click through.


4. Test out your ads.

It will probably take you a few tries to figure out what gets people to respond to your ads. Try out different ads with different wording, different images, and different targeting to collect data on which ones work best. If you just do one thing, you won’t ever know if it could be working better.


5. Use retargeting.

Getting a visitor to your website once is nice, but getting them to come back again is much more valuable. Google Ads provides retargeting so you can target your ads to the people who have already viewed your website and even use it to show them ads for the items they viewed while they were there.


6. Refine as you go.

Google Ads provides useful analytics that will help you gain a greater understanding of what your audience responds to based on your ad performance over time. And the platform even factors your ad success into how much you pay for each click through the Quality Score. You Quality Score is determined based on how well your ads perform, and can affect your pricing.


For best results, Google Ads requires a time commitment.

If you don’t have a lot of time to spend on running your Google Ads campaigns, you may benefit from hiring a PPC specialist or agency who can bring their expertise to your campaigns and help get you better results while saving you time.

If you stick with doing it yourself, actively monitor your pay-per-click campaigns. Pay attention to the data they provide and use it to improve your campaigns over time. If you manage your ads well, you can expect to see better results the longer you use the platform.


How to Create a Campaign in 6 Steps

Google Ads makes it pretty easy to get started by walking you through the steps to create a campaign.

A note here: Google Ads just recently rolled out an all new interface, so if you have any past experience with it or have done research into it from resources created before this summer (2018), then you’ll notice that the platform looks different that you probably expected.  

To get started in the new interface, look for Campaigns in the menu on the left side of the page. Then click either the plus sign in the big blue dot on the left side of the page, or where it says New Campaign toward the bottom. Select New Campaign.

google ads create new campaign

1. Choose Your Campaign Type

You’ll see a page that includes the five main types ads you can create in Google Ads:

  • Search ads – Ads that show up on the search engine results page, usually above the natural results
  • Display ads – Ads that show up on websites across the web
  • Shopping ads – Ads that show up on the search engine results page for product-related searches that often include images and information like price and availability.
  • Video – Ads that show up before or on the bottom of YouTube videos.
  • Universal app – Ads that show up on mobile apps.

google ads select campaign type

Make your selection for which type of ad you want to use in your first campaign. You can run multiple campaigns, so choosing one now won’t keep you from creating the other types of ads as well.


2. Select Your Goal

Now the platform will ask you to choose your goal for the campaign. It will fill in different suggestions here based on the campaign type you choose, but the most common options are:

  •      Sales
  •      Leads
  •      Traffic
  •      Brand awareness
  •      Product and brand consideration

google ads select campaign goal

You can also choose to create your campaign without choosing a specific goal. Choosing your goal allows Google Ads to better determine how to track your campaign’s success and provide you with the most important analytics.


3. Define Your Settings

On the next page, you’ll do a few important things.

First, give your campaign a name. This is for internal use only, so you just need to make sure it’s something that makes sense to you and any other marketers who will be accessing the PPC account, and that it will differentiate this campaign from any others you create.

Next, choose whether you want your ads to show up in the search network, the display network, or both.

Ads in the search network will show up on the Google search engine results page, as well as on other Google properties. Those in the display network will show up on websites all across the web.


Select Your Language and Geographic Targeting

Next choose your location and language targeting. If your business is local, then you don’t want to waste money on clicks from people in other states or countries. And if you only have a staff that speaks one language, then you’ll want to stick with reaching customers you can communicate with.

google ads set language geographic targeting

Set Your Budget

Now we get to the money side of things. Set your maximum daily budget, as well as the maximum amount of money you’re willing to pay for each click. As you’d expect, the higher you go, the more times your ads will show up and the more visitors you can expect to come to your website.

You can either choose to do the bidding for your ads manually, or you can let Google choose bids for you automatically. The latter option is recommended for everyone but the most experienced of Google Ads users. The Google Ads automated option is programmed to get you the best possible results for the amount you spend, so it’s usually a good choice.

google ads set budget

Provide start and end dates for your campaign, or select None if you’d like the campaign to run indefinitely.


Audience and Extensions

At the bottom of the page, you’ll see a few optional sections. The most important of these are:


1. Audience Targeting

This is where you can define who will see your ad in terms of their general search habits and interests. It’s also the section where you can set up remarketing to show ads to people who have already visited your website.

google ads set audience targeting

2. Extension options

You’ll see a few different extension options. These all give you the chance to add some extra information to your ad, whether it’s including links to additional web pages on your site, adding your phone number, or providing extra details like price or discount offers.  These are a good way to provide important information in a way that stands out and gets the viewer’s attention.

Once you’re done with this page, click Save and Continue.

4. Add Your Keywords

The next page is where you bring in the keyword research you’ve done.

You can set up a number of Ad Groups for each campaign. In each group, you only want to include ads that are focused on a particular product or service so that you can use a specific set of keywords that will be relevant to those ads.

google ads choose keywords

5. Create Your Ads

This is the part where you’ll need to bring your creatives in (or bring your own creative skills to the process). Load the images and copy you want to use for each ad that’s relevant for the keywords in this ad group.

google ads upload images

6. Pay and Launch

When you’ve got everything else set up, you’ll see a red banner over the top of the Google Ads interface letting you know to add your payment information to make your campaigns active.  Click on Fix It and enter your payment information where prompted.

google ads pay and launch campaign

Follow Your Campaigns and Improve

The hard part of getting started is now done, but you still have work to do. Make sure you pay attention to your campaigns and track the analytics Google Ads provides. Use the data available to make changes to your ads, your budget, and your targeting to get more relevant clicks and better conversions over time.

While Google Ads is notable for getting faster results than some other types of online marketing, it’s still true that you’ll get more out of it the longer you do it, as long as you do the work of learning from your campaigns and improving them as you go.

When done well, Google Ads can provide a healthy ROI and bring a lot of new relevant traffic to your website.

Get expert help managing your Google Ads campaigns. Learn more about HostGator’s PPC Advertising services.

Kristen Hicks is an Austin-based freelance content writer and lifelong learner with an ongoing curiosity to learn new things. She uses that curiosity, combined with her experience as a freelance business owner, to write about subjects valuable to small business owners on the HostGator blog. You can find her on Twitter at @atxcopywriter.