Google Adwords is pretty effective in that it allows you to reach people exactly when they’re looking for something online. Believe me, leads don’t get any hotter than that!
This means they’re looking for some real answers or looking for a specific solution to a problem (or an emergency). In many cases, they’re even looking to buy that solution. And this is where your product comes in via Google Adwords.
But for many businesses, getting started with online advertising can be a very daunting task.
See, most of the digital marketing methods typically employed by small business owners– especially those just starting up– have a lower barrier to entry.
What do I mean by this?
What I mean is: many small businesses just starting up are going to focus more on marketing methods that don’t require much in the way of spending: getting a WordPress website up, doing their own SEO, write their own articles, and then promote those out on social media.
Think of it this way: Google Adwords (and other paid advertising methods) is the next step up in your digital marketing. You’re now going to spend a bit of money to get some ads running, which means at the end of your campaigns, you’re going to want to see results.
And in a way, this is why Google Adwords can be intimidating for a lot of small business owners.
Google Adwords can bleed you dry if you’re doing it the wrong way. But do it the right way and it can help your business generate even more profits with each successful campaign.
My advice: if you’re starting with Google Adwords, take baby steps. Get your feet wet, learn by doing, and get the hang of it.
Once you’ve seen some results and gained a little bit more confidence, take another step forward. Lather, rinse, repeat until you get awesome at it.
If you’re someone who’s already familiar with Google Adwords, meaning you’re already spending thousands of dollars on Adwords, then you’re probably all good and so it’s OK for you to skip over this article.
If, however, you’re new to Google Adwords, or if you’re a small business owner looking for a refresher of sorts, then this guide is totally for you.
Google Adwords Basics
OK, first things first: the basics. Just a bit of the fundamentals to help you understand the big picture of Google Adwords.
Google is mainly in the business of search. Specifically, it organizes all the websites it indexes and arranges them according to some very specific criteria to determine the best results of any query.
Why is this so important for Google?
A very satisfying search result means people know they can count on Google to give them the best possible answers to their questions and the best solutions to their problems.
In short, they turn to nobody else but Google.
No surprise then that folks on the internet all over the world just started using Google more than other search engines at the time.
In fact, Google has been so awesome at this that to “Google” something (i.e. to search something on the internet) has been incorporated into our everyday language.
(Notice how nobody tells you to “AltaVista” something or to “Yahoo” something up? Exactly.)
Now if you’re a business, you’re constantly thinking of ways on how to get to the top of these search engine results pages (or SERPs).
SEO, or search engine optimization, when done right can get you there, but 1) it’s going to take quite a bit of time– several weeks or even months! And 2) there are no assurances you’ll get that highly-coveted top spot on search.
Enter Google Ads.
A relatively small investment gets your brand seen right away at the top of search results. So you can understand now why businesses love Google Ads.
What is Google Ads?
Google Ads was introduced.in October 2000 as an online advertising platform that allows advertisers to pay for their service offerings and product listings to appear at the top of Google search results and the Google ad network to web users.
There are a number of ways these advertisements can be displayed:
- As text-based search ads
- As graphic display ads
- As video ads
- And as in-app mobile ads
This means advertisers are now given a greater number of options and opportunities to reach their intended target audience.
Why Use Google Ads? (Why Not Bing or Yahoo?)
Search has grown to be so reliable that 86% of consumers now use the internet to find a business (according to Brightlocal’s 2018 Local Consumer Survey).
- 72% of consumers prefer to find information on merchants via search
- 29% of consumers search for local businesses at least every week
Of the total search market share, Google owns 71% of all worldwide search. The rest is divided up among smaller search engines (like Bing and Yahoo!, among others) and more regional search engines (like Baidu and Yandex, etc.).
This alone should be reason enough to use Google Ads.
But here’s another interesting fact: 97% of Google’s total revenues come from advertising. Why is this particular bit of information so important?
This highlights the importance of Google Ads to Google as a business.
In the same way, Google has made the search a generally positive experience for any user, we can count on Google to give just as much attention and care in maintaining, developing, and constantly making improvements to its own advertising platform.
Do Google Ads Really Work?
The key to it all is making sure you’ve got your Google Ad campaigns properly set up and managed correctly.
Google themselves have reported that businesses make an average of $2 in revenue for every $1 they spend on AdWords.
But what about the businesses say about Google Ads?
According to Search Engine Watch, there’s a strong indication that Google Adwords actually work: 72% of AdWords marketers plan to increase their PPC budgets. This is an interesting indication that a lot of these businesses have been experiencing positive ROI with their ad investments on Google.
Note, however, that a lot of factors come into play so we can’t be sure of the successful outcome of every AdWords campaign every single time.
Just like any business, there are risks involved, and depending on how you play the game, yes you can get great results, but you can also lose money for any number of reasons.
Where Do My Google Ads Appear?
There are different networks within the entire Google Ad network, but most campaign types are centered around these two:
- The Google Search Network
- The Google Display Network
These networks make up all the possible places where your advertisements can show up. And that includes other Google-owned websites, sites that show relevant Google ads, and even mobile apps.
The Google Search Network
With the Google Search Network, your advertisement can show near search results when someone enters a query with terms related to one of your keywords.
Depending on how you’ve set up your ad campaigns, your ads can show up on:
- The Google search engine results pages (SERPs)
- Search partners, which includes smaller search engines such as AOL.
Usually, for smaller budgets, it is recommended that you start off with the Google Search Network.
This method is most likely to drive direct conversions, and so you can also see how effective your PPC efforts are.
The Google Display Network
Meanwhile, you have the Google Display Network. You can place display ads across a vast network of websites all over the internet.
Just how vast is vast?
Google says its Display Network reaches over 90% of global internet users across more than 2 million websites. These sites can include:
- Other Google-owned websites (such as Gmail, YouTube, and others)
- Popular news and media sites
- Blogs of all kinds
- Online forums and marketplaces
You would normally notice these ads on the banners and sidebars of the various websites you’ve been visiting.
How Do I Know Which One To Use?
When running a campaign, the question is: should you use the Google Search Network or the Google Display Network?
Ads on the Google Search Network target more “active searchers”. These are people out on a mission to find some information or a solution to their problem.
Urgency is a big deal. Which means they want their answers right now.
It means these are searchers that are ready to book a service or buy a product. These are the hottest leads you can get– people who are already in that mindset to spend some money.
Meanwhile, ads on the Google Display Network are meant for a more passive sort of user. These are people who might be reading up on their news or favorite blog articles for the day, but the sites they’re on would be running your display ads.
This means they might not necessarily be in that mindset for shopping, but with an enticing enough message, you might just be able to draw them to yours through your ad.
“Emergency” Products or Services
If your business has a service or a product that users look for on a when-needed basis, you should be advertising on the Google Search Network.
What sort of companies or businesses fall into this category? Examples would include:
- pest control companies
- window repair services
- foreclosure attorneys
Users looking for these services are active searchers. This means they’re really out on a mission to find something.
Especially if your business address and phone numbers are included in your Google ad, you can expect to drive more conversions than other display campaigns.
I Want More People To Know About My Brand
If you’re after brand awareness, brand visibility, or broadening your fan base, the Google Display Network is the way to go.
The Google Display Network is so expansive, and there are a variety of ad placement options allowing you to specifically target people from around a particular geographic area or a particular interest group.
Most of all, what the Google Display Network gives you is impressions.
While your ads ultimately have the goal of driving your target audience to do a certain action for you (like go to your website, or install an app), just by having banner ads across websites they visit only adds to your visibility and awareness.
My Products Have a Lengthy Sales Process. What’s The Best Approach For Me?
Usually, for items which have a larger price tag, your customers would be needing more time to evaluate their options before making a commitment or a purchase.
This is where the Google Display Network comes in. The impressions across a wide variety of sites allow you to be top of mind.
But more importantly, even after your leads have visited your site, started browsing through your material, and for some reason, left your site before making a purchase, you can later create retargeting campaigns to specifically target these leads.
Tips and Tricks For Running Your First Campaign
1. Learn by doing
The best way to learn Google Adwords is to get your feet wet and go through the motions of setting up your ad campaigns, monitoring them, and using the information gained from these campaigns to better fine-tune your next run of ads.
2. Google AdWords gets you new leads (not sales!)
Remember: Google Adwords is primarily used for lead generation. A lot of business owners make the mistake of thinking just putting a bunch of ads on Google will directly result in sales.
There’s a difference between leads and actual sales. For sure, Google Ads can bring new leads to you, but you (or someone from your sales team) will still have to guide these leads all the way through to the end of the buyer’s journey.
Setting up your sales funnel — i.e. how you plan to attract new potential customers and gain their interest enough, and ultimately consider you to seriously buy what you’re offering– is just as important even before you run your first campaign.
3. Use lead magnets
Whatever it is you’re selling, you must always have something to help generate leads for you– something that encourages people to give you their name and email (and maybe even their phone number) so you can offer them with your products and services later on.
Lead magnets are free resources that are relevant and of value to your target audience: downloadable guides and how-to’s, useful lists and checklists, maybe even a short course via email, or an informative webinar.
Set up your landing page so that it collects incoming leads’ names and contact information, and then a link can be provided (or emailed) once you’ve received their info.
4. Start simple
When running your very first campaign, let’s keep things simple just for now:
- Let’s start with just one campaign. After you’ve got the hang of Google Adwords, you can run a number of campaigns at the same time, but for now, let’s just make sure you do one campaign the right way.
- Have 3 to 4 ad groups max. You don’t need to overwhelm yourself with way too many options at the start. Picking out just 3 or 4 ad groups at this stage allows you to gather enough data to see what works and what doesn’t.
- Set an end date for your campaign. Your budget can run wild if you don’t set an end date for your campaigns. By switching off your ads by a pre-determined date, you get to control your spending, so you can use the rest of your ad budget on other campaigns later on.
5. Focus on one product or service
You might have a lot of products or services to sell, so the temptation to include as much information as possible on your ads is strong.
Especially so as you’re just starting: as a rule, for each ad campaign, decide on advertising just one product or service first.
By doing so, you focus down on one target audience, and it also means your sales funnel will also be optimized towards this particular audience.
Components of your sales funnel further customized to nurture your incoming leads would include:
- Your lead magnet (see #3, above)
- Your landing page
- Your sales literature and brochures
- Your follow-up email marketing campaign
- Your after-sales support
6. Go with the Google Display Network for your first campaign
If this is your first campaign, some experts recommend you opt for the Google Display Network advertising route (instead of the Google Search Network route).
Especially if you have a budget of, say, under $500, what you’re really after is the data you get from all your impressions and clicks so you can make more well-informed, more actionable decisions later on.
Running a Google Display Network campaign for a week or two will yield you enough impressions (i.e. the number of times your ad shows up on sites within the network), and how many clicks you get out of all these impressions.
This can probably get you a few hundred or maybe even a thousand clicks, plus information on which keywords are actually working for this particular campaign.
Eventually, you’ll be familiar enough with Google Ads that you can choose to go with either Search or Display.
7. A shortcut to the usual keyword research
No doubt, keyword research is important in finding out exactly what your target audience is typing into Google so they can find products or services that you are pushing.
A lot of businesses invest a lot of time and energy into extensive keyword research. But as mentioned, a shortcut to this process is actually by running your Display ads (as discussed in item #6).
After running a long enough campaign, Google gives you your search terms report for your campaign, and it tells you the specific keywords you might want to add to your succeeding advertising campaigns to improve your overall results.
8. Use in-market audiences
One way Google has made it easy for advertisers like us is that it has already pre-identified certain groups of people interested in (and actively looking to buy) particular products or services.
These are known as in-market audiences. Just go through this list and pick out the entries (maybe three to five maximum, if you’re just starting) that you feel are the most relevant to whatever your product or service is.
They’re targeted enough, which means you’re more likely to get better conversion rates than with a broader, bigger audience.
Sure, they might be just a little bit more expensive, but they’re going to be easier audiences to test.
Create an ad group for each in-market audience, so you’ll probably have three to five of these ad groups. This ensures you cover enough ground but aren’t stretched too thin.
A good one- or two-week campaign should give you a fair idea which in-market audiences are giving you good results.
9. Have a look at your competition’s headlines
Enter some of your keywords in an incognito window on Google Chrome (or private browsing for Firefox) and have a look at the top search results.
Already, you can see which advertisers are running ads for your product/service category. Pay particularly close attention to how they have written their headlines and descriptions.
They can be showcasing benefits, or features, or special offers. Some might be pretty clever at how they write their ad copy.
Take a cue from these advertisers, drawing some inspiration from them as you create the ad copy for your materials.
10. Crafting (and testing) your ad copy
When creating material for your ads, you will be needing:
- Two headlines, each with 30 characters.
- Your description, which will have 80 characters.
- Your URL, which will have 15 characters.
Your headlines will be doing most of the work. They’re the most prominent of all, and searchers usually just skim over the headlines, before finally picking out a search result to check out.
This means you have to write the best headlines you possibly can. In addition to having your search term, your headline has to be able to draw attention to your search result.
You should also make it a habit of coming up with variations of your headline so you can test them and optimize them further.
Another commonly overlooked piece of online real estate is the URL. Remember, you have 15 characters, so you can utilize these to play upon a sense of urgency, inject a bit of personality– anything to make your brand better resonate with your audience.
While creativity is key, ultimately it’s the data that matters. Once the results of your campaign are in, you should see which ad version managed to pull in the best numbers for you.
With each succeeding campaign, test new ad copy so you can figure out how to better connect with your potential customers and prospects.
Lastly, there’s a wealth of resources online that can help you get better at your Google Adwords game.
Everything from blogs on nothing but pay-per-click advertising, to digital marketing authority sites, and even video tutorials on YouTube and even more in-depth courses on online learning sites like Udemy and Lynda.com, there’s simply no shortage of places to go if you’d want to learn more about Google Adwords.
Here are some of the best sources online I recommend learning from:
First of all, head on over to Google’s very own Google Ads Center. It’s got everything you need to know about running your own campaigns, it’s free and most important of all, you get everything straight from the horse’s mouth.
Next, you might want to check popular online learning sites such as Udemy and Lynda.com (LinkedIn Learning) for some of the more higher-rated courses specifically on Google Adwords.
For starters, Udemy has a few courses available for free. And Lynda.com can give you a free month trial to check out all their courses (including Google Ads courses and so much more). Beyond that, you’re going to spend a little bit extra on your online training.
Lastly here are a number of my favorite blogs that have great stuff on Google Adwords and pay-per-click advertising: