Getting noticed on the web is an uphill battle. The entire complicated industry of online marketing has grown around the difficulty of getting people to visit your website, stick around once they’re there, and take the actions you want them to.

A good portion of online marketing revolves around a site almost all of us use, that regularly sees over 3.5 billion searches a day: Google.

Because of how ubiquitous Google is, it plays a significant role in how people experience the web and find the websites they visit. For most websites, it has the potential to be the biggest referrer of new visitors to your website by a long shot.

But showing up on page one of Google in the natural results is extremely competitive and out of reach for a lot of websites that are either fairly new or in an especially competitive space.

A faster and easier way to get traffic from Google (and traffic in general) is with Google Ads.

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What Are Google Ads?

Google’s advertising platform, Google Ads (previously called Google AdWords) powers all the ads that show up on the search engine results page (SERP), as well as on many of the other sites around the web.

For many types of search terms, ads increasingly dominate the SERP. You’ll see ads that look a lot like the natural results at the top of the page, along with ads that include images either above the other search results or on the side of the page.

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In addition to the valuable real estate these ads provide on the Google results page itself, Google Ads also show up on other popular Google properties like YouTube and Gmail, as well as over 2 million other websites and apps included in Google’s massive display network.

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In other words, the reach of Google Ads is about as broad as you can get. They’re all over the web – you’ve probably already seen a few today without realizing it.


Should You Use Google Ads?

Google Ads are a powerful way to get your website in front of a targeted audience. While it’s only one of many online marketing tactics you can use, many of the other best tactics require playing a long game. Seeing results from SEO, social media, and content marketing often takes months or even years of ongoing work, while investing in paid advertising with Google Ads can start earning you traffic faster.

Most businesses will be better off using a mix of online marketing tactics than just sticking with one, and if you want quicker results and have the budget for Google Ads, then it’s a solid choice to include in your marketing mix.


How Buying Google Ads Works

The first step for anyone interested in Google Ads is to set up a PPC account, which is a pretty simple and quick process. Once you’re able to access the Google Ads platform, you can start setting up ad campaigns. Check out this guide to getting started with Google Ads.


The Bidding Model

Google Ads uses a bidding model for ads, meaning that you’re competing with everyone else on the platform who’s interested in the keywords and ad placements that you choose to target.

When you’re creating a campaign, you’ll be prompted to provide a maximum daily budget, along with a maximum bid amount. The higher you’re willing to spend, the more often your ad will show up.

You can set your bids manually, but Google Ads also offers an automatic bidding option wherein you trust the platform to decide the best amount to bid within the budget you’ve provided. Their program aims to make bids that will bring you the highest number of clicks possible for your budget.


Pay-per-click Pricing

One of the biggest benefits of Google Ads is that most campaigns on the platform use a pay-per-click pricing model. You only pay when someone clicks on one of your ads. Unlike many advertising options where you pay for general exposure, here you only pay when someone takes the main action you want them to: visiting your website.

While it’s not used as commonly, Google Ads does also offer the option of setting up campaigns that use a cost-per-impression pricing model. If your main goal for a campaign is building brand recognition rather than getting clicks, you can choose this option and pay for every 1,000 times your ad shows up.


Targeting Options

One of the other main benefits Google Ads offers is relevance. When you put up a billboard, you’re paying to show your ad to loads of people in order to reach the few who are actually in your target audience. By comparison, Google Ads makes it easier to more effectively reach those people.

The main type of targeting they provide for ads that show up on the SERP is keyword targeting. You can choose which keywords you want to bid on to ensure your ad shows up when people are searching for precisely what’s on the page you’re promoting. By choosing highly relevant keywords to target, you increase the chances of getting clicks from people likely to be interested in your page.

In addition, Google Ads allows targeting by geographic area and demographics. If you sell products that primarily appeal to a specific age range or gender or if you want to reach an audience in a specific city or region, then you can tell the platform to just show your ads to them. Google can use its extensive user data to help you reach the precise audience you want visiting your site.

Being seen on the web is hard and your website can’t do its job until people find it. Google Ads is a relatively affordable tool for increasing your online visibility and driving more traffic to your website. Get started with Google Ads now.

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.