Beginner’s Guide to Google AdWords
Pay-per-click marketing, frequently shortened to PPC, is an important part of any online marketing mix. As brands work feverishly to try to get onto the first page of Google via SEO, the only genuine shortcut to achieving that goal is paying for it with Google AdWords.
And there are a lot of benefits to PPC advertising beyond that coveted spot in Google:
- AdWords provides a lot of targeting options so you can get your ads in front of the right audience, at the moment they’re searching for a relevant term.
- You only pay per click (hence the name), so you know the funds you’re putting in are resulting in getting someone to your website.
- The cost-per-click is often relatively low, as long as you don’t try to compete for the most popular and expensive keywords.
- Google ads have an average conversion rate of 2.7%, which isn’t bad. And in some industries, the average goes up to more than 5%.
PPC was already lucrative years ago, but Google has increasingly made moves to give more of the search results display over to ads – especially for the types of searches that indicate a person is looking to buy something.
Just look at how far down you have to go to get to organic search results in these examples.
While getting high up in the organic search results is still really valuable (organic still gets more of the clicks), PPC ads are a great way to gain more visibility online and reach a larger, targeted audience.
Note: Our post is primarily on Google, because the platform remains the dominant search engine that the vast majority of users turn to. It doesn’t hurt to also look into the ad platforms on Bing and Yahoo though. You can see instructions on getting an account set up for Bing Ads here, and Yahoo Gemini here.
Set Up Your Google AdWords Account
Setting up a Google AdWords account is easy and won’t even take you all that long.
First, navigate to https://adwords.google.com, and click on the big green Start Now button.
AdWords conveniently walks you through the next steps. Fill in your email address and website.
If your email address is a Gmail address, then you’ll be prompted to provide your password to sign in. If not, then you’ll need to create a Google account by selecting More Options and Create Account before moving forward.
Once you agree to the terms of service, you’ll get to a page where you can start filling in information for your first campaign. But before you create your campaign, there are a few things it’s good to know.
How to Get Started with Google AdWords
AdWords makes it easy to start filling in the information for your first campaign, but you need to take some time to make sure you know what you’re doing first.
1. Learn the basics.
- The best keywords to use and avoid
- The way to structure a CTA to get clicks
- How to make sure your ads stand out from those of your competitors
- How to say what you need within the limited space available.
But text is just one part of the equation these days. You also need to understand the Google Display Ad network and Google’s Shopping campaigns. For some of your ads, finding the right image will matter more than getting the copy right.
Hopefully you’ve already developed personas in order to understand your target audience, but if not, that’s a step you’ll want to take before setting up your first campaign as well. Google’s targeting options give you the power to deliver ads to people in the specific demographics you most want to reach based on age, geography, gender, parental status, and household income.
And you’ll also want to strategize where your ads will send users when they click. A click alone isn’t worth much if the user doesn’t like what they see on the other side of it. You need well designed landing pages that will drive them to take the action you want them to.
In short, there’s a lot you need to know in order to get started with Google AdWords and it’s worth taking the time to explore Google’s support resources and other PPC educational materials you find online.
2. Do keyword research.
The success of any PPC campaign hinges on choosing the right keywords. You need to figure out which search terms the people interested in your products and services are likely to use. And you need to work out the different variations that people commonly use on them and determine which ones you can afford to compete on.
Google’s Keyword Planner is designed specifically with AdWords clients in mind.
You can get keyword suggestions based on an initial keyword or by providing your website.
And you can access data on traffic and estimated cost-per-click for a list of relevant keywords for your business. That information will help you figure out the keywords to base your ad campaigns around.
Depending on the size of your business and the amount of money you have to spend on PPC, you may want to avoid trying to compete for some of the most high-cost keywords. You could find your budget eaten up before you’re able to get much traction. See if there are more specific, long-tail variations of the more competitive keywords that still get traffic and might be worth considering. For example, focusing on something specific like “birthday flowers” is more affordable than going after the broader term “flower delivery.”
3. Figure out what you can afford.
One nice thing about Google AdWords is that you can decide exactly how much you’re willing to spend. You can set a maximum daily amount and AdWords will stop displaying your ads once it’s been met. If you set your budget too low to start though, you may not be able to get enough displays and clicks to start to see results or, just as importantly, start to collect data on what works.
PPC advertising, at least when done well, is more data driven than many other forms of marketing. You can continually tweak your campaigns to perform better based on the data Google provides on clicks and conversions. But you may have to spend more in your first few months to get the data you’ll need to spend less for a higher ROI later on.
4. Make use of ad groups.
At this point, you’ll have the knowledge you need to start filling in the information Google requests to start creating a campaign. If you have multiple audiences, products, and keyword types you’re targeting, then keeping your campaigns organized can quickly get complicated. You can manage everything more easily and tell AdWords how to prioritize your different ads by using ad groups.
Best practices for ad groups can get a little complicated and vary based on the particulars of your campaigns, so this is a topic area it’s worth reading up on and doing some experimentation in. But they’re useful for better directing your budget spend toward your priorities so you can get better results for your money.
For most businesses, PPC advertising shouldn’t be treated as a replacement for other marketing tactics like SEO and content marketing, but rather as a way to help promote your other efforts and help you get more out of them. As long as Google remains an important part of how people shop and research brands online, Google AdWords will remain a smart investment for businesses of all types and sizes.
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.