What is Google Ads? – Your Step-by-Step Guide

what is google adwords a step by step guide

What is Google AdWords?

Google Ads, formerly Google AdWords, is how you advertise on Google. You bid on keywords to get your ad shown in search results (and other places). When someone clicks your ad, they go to your site and you pay for that click.

  1. Sign up for Google Ads
  2. Determine Your Goals
  3. Pick Your Keywords
  4. Write Your Ads
  5. Set Your Budgets and Launch

Whenever you search for something in Google, you get two types of results—(1) Organic and (2) Paid. Organic results are things weren’t paid for and are showing up because they are just really good answers to your query. Paid results, or ads, are results that were paid for. They generally show up at the very top of the page and say “Ad” next to them.

Organic Result

organic search result

Paid Result

paid search result2

So, how does Google Ads work?

Can I just pay Google to put my ad at the top of any given page? Not exactly. Every ad must win an auction for their spot. You bid against other advertisers on each search result. Plus, your Ad needs to be good. And the page you want to send people to needs to be relevant to whatever the user searched for—similar to Organic results. These, and other factors are what you call AdRank. Here’s a separate post explaining how it works in detail and describing how to optimize your campaign for AdRank. That said, if you have good content and you want to get it to the top of a page fast or only for a certain type of user, you can use Google Ads to make that happen.

what is ad rank and how to optimize it

Getting up and running on Google is pretty straight-forward. Just follow these 5 steps:

  1. Sign up for Google Ads
    Once you have good content, you start by signing up for Google Ads. It’s free to sign up and you can do all your prep work without spending a dime.

  2. Determine Your Goals
    There are many, many ways to setup your campaigns, so take some time to really be sure what your goals are and what you want from Google Ads. Do you want people to visit your site? Do you want to get your brand known? Do you want people to call your business? Most people will want to get traffic, so it’s common to write text ads and target people searching for specific keywords, hoping people will click their ads.

  3. Pick Your Keywords
    Decide which keywords you want to target. If you’ve run campaigns in the past, start with keywords you’ve used in the past.

    If you have a site, but have never had campaigns, you can use Keyword Planner to build a list of keywords from existing content on your site (or a competitor’s). There are many ways to decide which keywords to focus on, but don’t stress it. Just think of which page/s you want to send people to and focus on one or two keywords/phrases that make the most sense for those pages. You can use Search Console to see which keywords are already working for those pages. Start there.

    Let’s assume you only have one landing page, keep it simple by making a single Ad Group with 1-5 keywords in it. And be sure to understand how “matching” works. A keyword by itself is what you call “broad match,” which includes all kinds of related results. Broad match isn’t usually the best way to go, but has its advantages. Adding “brackets” ex: [keyword] makes it an “exact match. Exact Match is the most limited, but the most accurate. Adding a + (plus) to a keyword is somewhere in between. There’s also “phrase match.” I encourage you to read more about it yourself before launching your campaign.

  4. Write Your Ads
    Once you have your keywords and landing page, you need to write your ads. Your ads should have your keywords in them and be a good match for your landing page. Think about how Organic search results look. The Headline and Description below are exactly what you find on the page you land on. With Paid Ads, you don’t have to match them exactly, but having Headlines and Descriptions that are mega different than your landing page won’t help. It’ll lower your Ad Rank, which ultimately means your ad will show up less and cost you more.

  5. Set Budgets and Launch
    The final step is to set your budget and launch your campaign. Generally, you will set the total amount you want to spend per day. Over the course of a month, Google will do a good job of getting your daily spend amount to the amount you set to spend per day. At this point, you simply turn your campaign on and it starts spending.

Other things to consider:

Will Google Ads work for me? This depends on your business, your goals and how well you execute your Paid Media campaigns. In general, if you target the right keywords, manage your campaigns diligently and write compelling ads, you will find that Google Ads work very well.

How much does Google Ads cost? The amount spent on each click varies quite a bit. The important thing to remember is that clicks will bring you new business. So, if every click brings in twice as much money as it costs, it doesn’t really matter how much it costs. Think of it like an investment. What’s important is the return on your investment, or ROI.

What determines how auctions are won? Auctions winners are determined by something called Ad Rank. Ad Rank is a combination of your bid and your Quality Score for the keyword you are bidding on (plus a few other lesser factors). Your Quality Score is a combination of Landing Page Experience, Ad Relevance, and Expected Clickthrough Rate. In short, Google wants to serve good ads, even if you’re paying for them.

What other types of ads can I run? You can run Display ads, which are rectangle images that can show up all over the internet. You can also run Video ads and even something called Smart Ads, which are ads for your Google My Business profile. Smart Ads are particularly effective for local businesses looking to get phone calls.

How does search engine optimization (SEO) affect paid campaigns? SEO is actually very important for your Paid campaigns. Having good SEO in place before you run a Paid campaign will have a major impact on your Quality Score, which will have a big impact on your AdRank. In short, with good basic SEO, your ads will show up more and you will pay less for your clicks.