Google Ads is Google’s advertising platform that allows businesses to display ads on Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs) and other sites across the Google Display Network. This guide will provide a step-by-step overview of how to create and optimize a Google Ads campaign for success.
Whether you’re new to Google Ads or looking to improve your existing campaigns, this guide is designed to help small business owners, marketers, and advertisers demystify the platform. We’ll cover everything from initial setup, to keyword research, optimizing ads, and analyzing performance data. With the right strategy, Google Ads can help drive qualified traffic and conversions for your business.
Follow along as we break down the core components of a high-performing Google Ads campaign. With the steps outlined in this guide, you’ll gain the knowledge and skills to launch your own successful PPC campaigns on the Google Ads platform. The main goal is to set you up for an effective start that leads to a high return on your advertising investment. Let’s get started!
Determine Your Goals
Setting clear goals is one of the most important first steps when creating a Google Ads campaign. Having specific, measurable goals will help guide your strategy and optimization efforts. Here are some of the main goals to consider:
- Drive website traffic – If you simply want more people to visit your website, focus on maximizing traffic. Set goals around number of visits, unique visitors, or page views.
- Generate leads/sales – For ecommerce sites or service businesses, your goal is likely acquiring new customers. Set targets for lead form submissions, phone calls, demos requested, sales inquiries, or purchases.
- Build brand awareness – Branding campaigns aim to increase visibility and recognition of your brand. Track goals such as impressions, reach, clicks, and growth in brand search volume.
- Get app installs – For mobile apps, you may want to boost installs. Measure app downloads initiated from your ads.
- Increase store visits – If you have a physical location, foot traffic is key. Set in-store visit goals and track store visits initiated from your ads.
- Engage existing customers – You can also target ads to previous customers to drive repeat business. Measure goals like repeat purchases or increased customer lifetime value.
Clearly defining your goals from the start will set your campaign up for success. Always track goals that align closely with your core business objectives. For best results, focus on 1-2 primary goals per campaign.
Do Keyword Research
Keyword research is a crucial first step in setting up a successful Google Ads campaign. Taking the time to identify and select the right keywords will help you reach potential customers who are actively searching for the products or services you offer.
When doing keyword research, start by brainstorming a list of relevant keywords and phrases that relate to your business. Think about the words and questions potential customers might type into the search bar when looking for you.
Next, use Google’s free Keyword Planner tool to expand your list and discover additional keyword ideas. The Keyword Planner will show search volume data to help you identify high-traffic keywords that could drive conversions. Focus on uncovering keywords with decent search volume but low competition from other advertisers.
Also research negative keywords – terms you do NOT want to trigger your ads. Adding negative keywords helps Google know what searches to avoid showing your ads on, saving you money on irrelevant clicks.
Once you’ve compiled your keyword list, group similar keywords into ad groups around a theme. For example, a shoe company could have ad groups like “running shoes,” “kids shoes,” and “sandals.” Having tightly-themed ad groups makes it easier to tailor your ads and landing pages.
Taking time on the front end to do thorough keyword research will pay off with better qualified traffic and higher conversions down the road. Select keywords aligned with your business goals and customer search intent. With smart keyword selection, you can gain an edge on competitors and make the most of your Google Ads budget.
Set Your Budget
How you set your budget for Google Ads can have a big impact on the success of your campaigns. When determining your budget, you’ll need to consider your overall marketing goals, the competitiveness of your keywords, and your advertising timeline.
Google Ads provides several budget options:
- Daily Budget – Set a maximum amount to spend each day. Google will try not to exceed this, though it may sometimes if needed to maintain your ad position.
- Shared Budget – Allocate a total budget that is shared across multiple campaigns. This allows you to optimize spending across campaigns.
- Monthly invoices – Get a monthly bill for your spending instead of having your credit card charged directly. Good for managing large budgets.
- Accelerated Budget – Spend your daily budget faster to get more impressions quickly. Only available on some campaign types.
- Lifetime Budget – Set a total budget for the lifetime of your campaign. Once reached, the campaign will pause.
When determining your daily or total budget amount, start low and increase gradually over time. Monitor your results to find the optimal budget level where you maximize conversions without wasting spend.
Competitive keywords will require higher budgets. Budget at least $5-10 per day for new campaigns, and increase to $25+ over time for competitive markets.
Spread your budget across ad groups, campaigns, and networks for the best coverage. Don’t allocate your whole budget to just one area.
Adjust your budget with seasonal trends or sales cycles. You can raise it temporarily during high-volume periods, then decrease it during slower times.
Following these budgeting best practices will allow you to make the most of your Google Ads investment and achieve your marketing goals. Start small, increase slowly, spread it around, and optimize for results.
Create Your Ads
When creating your Google Ads, the ad copy itself is one of the most important elements to get right. Your ads should capture attention and interest users enough to click through to your site or call your business.
Your headline text appears prominently at the top of your ad. You have 30 characters for your main headline and 80 characters for a second headline. Make your headlines descriptive, compelling, and relevant to searchers. Include important keywords, but write naturally.
You have two description lines with 90 characters each. Use these to describe your business, products/services, or special offers. Focus on your value proposition and what makes you better than competitors. Include a call to action.
Images and Videos
Adding visuals can boost ad performance. With image ads, use high-quality, eye-catching images that relate to your business. For video ads, create short, engaging videos that demonstrate your product or convey your brand personality. Videos under 15 seconds tend to perform best.
Ad extensions like call, location, link, and review extensions can appear below your ad to add more relevant information. Use these to highlight your phone number, physical location, website, app, recent posts, or customer ratings. Extensions improve ad visibility and clickthrough rates.
Create multiple versions of your ads and use A/B testing to determine which perform best. Test different headlines, descriptions, landing pages, images, offers, and targeting to optimize results. Measure clickthrough rate, cost per conversion, and conversion rate as key metrics.
The key is crafting compelling, relevant ad copy while utilizing visuals and extensions to enhance your ads. Test different elements to learn what resonates most with your target audience. This will lead to higher quality scores and better ad performance over time.
Choose Where Your Ads Appear
You have several options for where to place your ads on Google’s network. Choose the placement that aligns with your goals and target audience.
The search network shows your ads on Google search result pages when people search for terms related to your keywords. This is ideal for capturing users actively searching for products or services like yours. Your ads can appear at the top, bottom, or right side of search results.
The display network shows your ads on non-search pages like news sites, blogs, YouTube, and Gmail. You can target your ads to specific sites, topics, demographics, and placement. This expands your reach beyond just searchers to also include users casually browsing content.
YouTube and video partner sites comprise the video network. Create video ads and target them to relevant YouTube videos and channels. Video ads can increase brand awareness and engagement with your message.
Create ads to promote your mobile apps and target users based on their interests, location, device type, and other factors. App campaigns can help you get downloads and engage mobile users.
Discovery campaigns showcase your products across Google’s entire network, including YouTube, Gmail, and partner sites. They work well for awareness and consideration stages.
Carefully consider which networks and placements give your ads the best chance of being seen by your target audience. You may need a mix of search, display, and other placements to achieve your goals. Monitor performance and adjust your targeting for optimal results.
Set Up Conversion Tracking
Tracking conversions is crucial for measuring the effectiveness of your Google Ads and optimizing your campaigns. With conversion tracking, you can see what actions people take after clicking your ads.
The main way to track conversions is by installing a Google Ads tracking pixel (also called a conversion tag) on your website. Here’s how to set it up:
- In your Google Ads account, navigate to Tools > Conversion tracking.
- Click +New tracking tag.
- Choose the type of tag to create:
- Website tag for tracking actions on your website like form submits, purchases, etc.
- App tag for tracking installs or actions within a mobile app.
- Call tag for tracking phone calls from your ads.
- Enter the name for your tag.
- Add the website, app, or phone number to track.
- Select the category that best fits the conversion action.
- Click Create and continue.
- Copy the tracking tag code and paste it on every page of your website that you want to track conversions on. For WordPress sites, you can use a plugin like Google Ads Conversion Tracking Tag to add the code automatically.
- Upload any necessary event snippet code to track interactions.
Once the tag is implemented, you’ll start seeing conversion data in your Google Ads account within 24-48 hours. The conversion tracking reports will show you valuable metrics like conversion rate, cost per conversion, and return on ad spend.
Use this data to identify your best-performing keywords, ads, and placements. Stop showing ads that aren’t generating conversions. And optimize your campaigns to get more conversions for less cost.
Conversion tracking is a must for getting the most out of your Google Ads campaigns. Properly setting it up provides the insights you need to understand your customers and maximize your ROI.
Monitor and Optimize
Once your Google Ads campaign is live, it’s crucial to monitor performance and continuously optimize for better results. Key metrics to track include:
- Clickthrough rate (CTR): This indicates how relevant your ads are to searchers. A low CTR often means your targeting is too broad or keywords aren’t closely matched to ad text. Try tightening targeting or improving ad relevance.
- Conversion rate: Are people taking your desired action after clicking your ad, like making a purchase or signing up? A low conversion rate means your landing page experience needs improvement.
- Bounce rate: What percentage of visitors are leaving your site from the landing page without further interaction? A high bounce rate indicates your landing page isn’t optimized for conversions. Revise page content to better engage visitors.
- Cost-per-click (CPC): How much are you paying for each click? Lower CPCs mean more clicks within your budget. If CPCs are too high, tighten targeting or lower bids.
- Impressions: How frequently your ads are being shown. Low impressions may mean your targeting is too narrow. Consider expanding.
Regularly analyze search term reports to see which keywords are performing best. Prune low performing keywords and boost high converters.
Run A/B tests on ad text, landing pages, and more to incrementally improve performance over time.
The key is constantly monitoring data, testing changes, and optimizing based on what delivers results. With diligent refinement, your Google Ads ROI will steadily improve.
Ad extensions are a great way to enhance your Google Ads and make them more prominent and effective. Here are some of the main types of ad extensions to consider using:
These display your phone number prominently in your ad, making it easy for interested customers to call you directly. This leads to higher ad engagement.
These show your business locations on a map in your ad, along with your address and “Get Directions” link. This helps customers find your local brick-and-mortar stores.
These add additional links to your ad pointing to other relevant pages on your website, like product categories or service pages. This keeps customers engaged on your site.
These highlight important information about your business, like your prices, services, products etc. This helps communicate your key selling points.
Structured Snippet Extensions
These can highlight your star ratings, reviews, or credentials to build trust. Customers see you have positive reviews or certifications.
Affiliate Location Extensions
If you have local affiliate business locations, these extensions can show those locations also on your branded ad.
The key is to test different extensions and see which help increase your ad performance. The right combinations can significantly improve your ad CTR and conversion rates. Extensions help take up more space on the search results page, standing out more to searchers.
By following the steps outlined in this guide, you now have the foundational knowledge to set up successful Google Ads campaigns. We covered determining campaign goals and picking the right keywords to target, setting your budget and creating compelling ads, choosing where to place your ads and setting up conversion tracking, as well as monitoring performance and optimizing over time.
To recap, the key steps for Google Ads success include:
- Clearly defining your campaign goals – whether it’s to drive conversions like sales or signups, get more website traffic, increase brand awareness, etc. This focuses your efforts.
- Doing thorough keyword research to find relevant search queries to target. Look at monthly search volume, competition, and commercial intent to pick the best keywords.
- Carefully planning your budget based on factors like goals, investment timeframe, and resources. Start small if needed and scale up as you gain experience.
- Writing great ad copy and creating eye-catching ad visuals tailored to your target audience. Include persuasive, benefit-driven messaging.
- Selecting the right ad placements and networks, like Search, Display, Shopping, Video, and more. Place ads where your audience is most likely to see them.
- Setting up conversion tracking to attribute actions like purchases and signups to your ads spend. Know what’s working.
- Closely monitoring performance data and optimizing regularly – adjust bids, keywords, ads, placements to improve results.
- Using ad extensions like callouts, sitelinks and more to boost ad visibility. Extensions can improve CTR by 10-15%.
With this guide as a starting point, you now have the key knowledge to create effective Google Ads campaigns. But don’t stop here – continue learning and testing to build on your PPC skills over time. Check out Google’s free certification course and other resources to take the next steps. The more effort you put into learning ads, the greater your results and ROI will become.