The Ultimate Guide to Google Ads

I’ve never quite understood why some entrepreneurs choose to invest in anything else except their very own business. It’s as though the minute they have a taste of success, they choose to see what other glorious investments they can pursue, but…

There’s nothing smarter than Google Ads. It’s easy enough, optimizes your business needs and goals, and it leaves the money where it belongs: in your business ventures, not someone else’s.

You can easily double your profit, if not more. Some have earned over 10x as much as what they invested. But you have to put in some hours of effort to learn the ins and outs, or better still, hire a consultant who already knows how it works.

Still, it’s far easier than any other external side project that would require more effort, and frankly, more risk. If you know the costs and margins of your offerings, you can really boost your ROI.

So, let’s learn more about Google Ads, figure out how it works, and see if it’s a right fit for your business, shall we?

Google Ads Overview

Think of Ads and SEO in the same vein, yet different. With SEO, you build traffic, you direct people to your content, and it scales everything…

But it takes more time.

And Ads does all of that, but immediately. Then again, it should be no surprise, after all, one of them is organic, the other is paid.

In under an hour, you can have yourself a new system setup, and begin generating sales.

Also, you don’t need to pay whenever there are no results. That means unless someone’s clicking, or buying, you’re not paying.

But chances are you will be paying, because that’s the point. You want people to convert, that’s the objective. And Ads is designed with intent. When people search for something specific, they’re looking to buy something.

That means if you set everything up correctly, you’ll be right where you need to be in terms of results. That’s essentially the name of the game: paying your way to the top of a search results page, based entirely on relevant keywords.

And that levels the playing field. Suddenly, it doesn’t matter that your little French bistro is a small time “hole in the wall.” You can outrank your big competitors like Au Bon Pain and La Madeleine, despite their popularity.

To make things easier on businesses, Ads also tells you what the lucrative keywords are, so you’re not having to pay and set things up on a hunch or guess.

Words to Live By

But before you jump straight into it, there are some critical rules to follow:

  1. Start with either $25, $50, or $75. Nothing more and nothing less.

  2. Although Google Ads is straightforward, it’s not easy, so don’t get sucked into all the customization it offers. Do as little as possible to just kick things off.

  3. And whatever you do… be patient. Although it’s faster than SEO, and by comparison does work immediately, it still takes some time. Don’t quit before you see any progress.

Behind the Scenes

Getting more detailed about Ads here, think of Google as a counter. It counts the number of clicks you get, and charges for them, but it also counts impressions, which is basically the number of times your ad’s been seen.

Taking those two numbers, if you divide your clicks by impressions, you get your Click-Through-Rate, or CTR. It’s essentially an easy way to see how effective your ad actually is. You want that percentage to be decently high, with most people who see the ad clicking it, rather than glazing over it.

Of course, that’s just more helpful data. Even if the CTR isn’t very good, that just means you need to go back and revise your ad to make it more appealing. It keeps you from guessing about its effectiveness.

But apart from being a counter, Google’s also a bit of an auctioneer. When you’re setting things up, you’re selecting your overall budget (total amount you’re going to spend―please don’t make it more than $75) and a bid (how much you’re willing to pay per click). If your max bid is, say $1, Google will only show your ad to people if others aren’t bidding a higher amount.

But it’s still relative. For instance, going back to the bistro reference, if your competitor is using the same keywords and is bidding $3.50 per click, but you’re only bidding $2, their ad will take prevalence, because it means more revenue for Google.

Before you lose heart, if you’re bidding less, it means Google won’t spend your max bid. They know you don’t have the most capital to work with anyway, so they will simply optimize impressions and clicks, which means you’ll spend less than $2 per click.

The Quality Score

Now that you realize Google Ads functions a bit like an auction house, it’s important to note that you can’t exactly bid on just any keyword.

Enter the Quality Score.

Before anything, this is a pretty intricate section, so pay extra attention. We’re outlining it in detail for the sake of clarity:

  • Keywords are graded by a Quality Score, regardless of whether or not they’re even in the same Ad Group.

  • These scores help determine how relevant these words are to someone’s search.

    • By that logic, if you’re searching for “bike rentals”, the keywords “bike rentals Los Angeles” will have a higher relevance score than “motorcycle rentals,” or even “bike sales.”

    • By that same logic, if you have several keywords that are all strikingly relevant, Google will rank them all on popularity.

  • Remember CTR, and how the higher it is, the better the overall ad performance? Well, Google looks at older CTRs and determines how well your current as should match somebody’s search. In other words, if you were successful before, Google assumes you’re more likely to be successful again, as supposed to someone with a much lower CTR rate.

  • And much like CTR, Google will also use your account history to determine whether to score you higher or not. It’s not a huge factor, but it still weighs in.

    • This means your landing page needs to be relevant to the keywords being searched. If the keywords are “local French pastry,” then your landing page should have a local address, images of French pastries, and hopefully a menu.

    • Remember, landing pages must also be user friendly. Keep it simple, informative, and easy to navigate on all devices.

    • If for some reason your landing page isn’t cutting it, and people are clicking out of it quickly (bouncing), then your Quality Score will be hit, and you’ll have to pay more per click to make up some lost ground.

Whew, that was a bit to take in. Seems complex, but outlining it all makes it easier to fully see the big picture.

Playing It Smart

As an added note, remember that it’s an auction. That means if you’re smart, you can be the top ranking for your keywords, while paying the least.

For instance, if your landing page is carefully optimized, you won’t need to pay more to make up for anything. And you’ll automatically rank higher because your bounce rate will be so low.

In other words, if you get your Quality Score as high as possible, you can have a lower max bid than anyone else, and still outrank everyone. Competitors paying large bids are having to make up for a lack in overall quality, relevance, content, etc.

But some of the factors will be out of your hands. Cost Per Clicks (CPC) in your industry may differ when compared to another. It will determine people’s search demands, and how much your competition is spending. Which means, if you’re in a very popular, competitive field, you’re probably going to have to pay more in ad bids than someone in a smaller, niche industry with less competition.

That would explain why some industries command $75 per click on the low end, which is actually cheap for Ads. With more competitive fields, this is pocket change, especially because they know they can 10x their investment.

Getting Acquainted With Google Ads

google ads

We’ve gone over Google Ads now, and hopefully you have a better understanding of its benefits, how it works, and what to keep in mind before diving right in.

That means it’s time to tackle your very first Ads campaign, step-by-step.

And remember: the platform is straightforward, but it isn’t easy. There’s a lot of work involved in making sure your Quality Score is high enough to make your ad bid the lowest possible. To keep things as simple as possible, avoid veering off and exploring with customization options that you really don’t need starting out anyway.


Step One: Doing Some Math

If you’re selling donuts, and a dozen of them costs $20, assuming you’re making a $5 profit on each dozen sold, then the $5 will be your profit per sale.

And if for every 3,000 page views you have 30 buyers, then you have a 3% conversion rate.

Then, take into account that Google takes a cut out of every sale for themselves, as they should. But how much would you have them take?

Figure that out and then follow this equation:

Your Profit (In this scenario, it’s $5) x commission for Google (say it’s 20%) x Your Conversion Rate (let’s go with the 3% listed above) = Your Max CPC

= $5 x 0.2 x 0.03 = $0.30

That would mean a $0.20 commission to Google Ads still allows you to make a profit, assuming your commission rate stays the same.

Note, these figures are all small for the sake of illustration. Your numbers may be significantly higher, and that commission could be as high as 30-40%. It’s all going to depend on your own business wants and needs.

Still, once you figure that out, you can scale your max CPC up and use it to determine your daily budget.

And don’t worry if you don’t have many clicks to go on, you just need a few. Even 20 per day is enough to get started. If you have your $0.30 CPC, and 20 clicks per day, that’s $6 per day. Assuming the campaign runs for 10 days, that’s $60 for the entire thing.

And you have two ways of going about it: Manual CPC, which gives you full control and sets each keyword to the same bid, or Automatic CPC, which does it all for you, and raises or lowers each bid depending on many different factors.

You may think manual is the way to go, and it certainly can be, but it’s not always so clear cut and dry. Automatic may account for several factors you’re not aware of, gaining you more visibility. But because it’s not manual, there’s no max bid listed, and therefore, you’re trading budget control.


Step Two: Keyword Selection

Keyword Planner should be your go-to for keyword planning. It’s highly efficient, and quite insightful. After all, you don’t want to waste effort trying to work with irrelevant keywords.

Think in terms of your customers: if you were looking to buy donuts, what would you enter in the search bar?

Maybe…

  • Local donuts

  • Los Angeles donuts

  • Highly-rated LA donuts

  • LA donuts

  • Local LA donuts

And so on. Type in any variations that you feel you would type into the search bar. And feel free to set your product category, if you can find it, as well as your country and language under “Targeting.”

Then choose Google > exclude the network (banner ads sites we covered earlier) > and “Get Ideas.”

You’ll be presented with the monthly search volume for your keywords in whatever region you chose, and the average CPC for each one.

Avoid anything that’s too pricey, for starters. You’re looking for a low CPC that’s affordable, but still has enough traffic per month to make a dent during your campaign duration.

If you’re looking for an added edge, consider branded searches, where you’re using keywords relating to your company. That targets people who are already looking for you by name, hence making your conversion rate higher. Still, unless you’re super popular, this may be a small pool to work with.

Which means, you also need to select terms that people who are unaware of you will still type in. Lower funnel keywords convert well, but there’s not very many of them. You’re also going to need middle and top funnel keywords.

For reference, top of funnel are the best, most popular and relevant search terms. Mid funnel covers the ones that are still popular, but cheaper in terms of CPC. And lower funnel are the keywords that are very specific to your brand, and won’t convert well with people who don’t already know about your company.

If you need extra help try using Google Trends. This lets you see what people are searching in specific locations, what’s gaining popularity overall, gain insight on local events, and even lets you see what specific terms people are searching for on your website.


Step Three: Creep On the Competition

google ads

That’s right, it’s business 101: always keeping an eye on what your competitors are doing. You want to make sure you’re not falling behind, after all.

And thankfully, you can take a peek with Spyfu. Enter your keyword, and you’ll see the average CTR and the number of companies who’ve used that same keyword in the last 3 months. It will also show you other niche keywords that have done well.

And if you click “Advertiser history,” you will see their ads. Yes, their real ads that they used with this keyword.

Don’t feel dirty, this is just research, simple knowledge gathering. Seeing what’s worked for them, what hasn’t, and then comparing that to your own experience could help you better navigate your campaign to success.

For instance, something that elevates your Quality Score is using your keywords within an ad. If your competitor didn’t do that, then your research should tell you that they are easily beat.

More to it, say you have a specific competitor in mind that you know has been outdoing your every move for the last few months. They’re on your radar, and you’re unsure of how to become as successful as they are. Well, you can start by looking them up specifically, and even pull up they keywords they’re bidding on.

From there, you simply reverse engineer their PPC strategy to outperform them. That way, the competitor won’t continue to outdo you, making you feel like second best.

Step Four: Your Landing Page Is Everything

The whole point of Google Ads is to basically pay some money to get people to go to your website. So, then when they get there, they should find something interesting, helpful, and relevant, right?

Otherwise, you’re just losing money, really.

That means your landing page needs to be everything that your target audience would want it to be. It needs to have all of the elements, including…

  • Keep it all super simple. That means don’t overdo the design, don’t make it too busy. And don’t ask for so much information upfront.

  • The headline is your first impression, so make that count. It needs to be clear, relevant, and interest peaking.

  • Write like a human, not a robot.

  • Use images or graphics if at all possible. There shouldn’t be walls and walls of text here. Just enough information to understand the benefits of the offer.

  • Speaking of which, there should be more action-driven information to convey trust and confidence.

  • Sometimes, little tweaks like streamlining your page design are all that’s necessary. But shortening your copy and hitting them with a problem that they can relate to, how it feels to have that problem, and then a solution for it… Well, that’s just gold. Do that upfront in your copy.

  • Remember, if your landing page isn’t converting, you can always run some tests to figure out why. Use tools that you already know and love, or try out some new ones like Kissmetrics.

Step Five: Setting Up Your First Campaign

In Google Ads, select “Start Now,” and fill in your information (email, homepage URL, etc.). You’ll be taken to a really daunting page that wants you to list your budget, target audience, bid, and ad text.

Don’t freak out, just pause for a second and use this campaign list for reference:

Ideally, you want to use the Display Network to get your business name out there. Gain visibility, get people to want to search for your offerings specifically. Then, you use the Search Network to actually rake in the sales.

Moving right along, under networks, make sure that you uncheck display network, because you don’t want to show up on other websites in your industry.

Finally, enter your keyword, and set your bid to whatever amount you’ve been calculating (see step one).

Of course, this is all assuming you’re working on one campaign, which is the way to go if you’re new to Google Ads. Otherwise, you’d be doing all of this twice over, or more, for multiple campaigns.

Remember how there were three tiers of keywords? Broad ones to obtain new customers, highly specific ones for people who already know about your company, and then highly popular terms? If not, see step two.

Well, ideally, you want to start your first campaign with the popular terms. But as you get comfortable, you should create two more campaigns, one for each of the other terms (mid and low funnel).

Step Six: Write Your Ad

Now that you’ve set up your first campaign, and know what to do moving forward, it’s time to actually sit down and write some copy. In step four we went over landing pages, and dabbled a little on copy. This is going to be equally as simple, yet even shorter.

Here are a few tips:

  • Be direct, straight to the point. Keep it short.

  • Have a unique value proposition (offer) that won’t easily bore people or make them wonder why they should pick you over the millions of other businesses offering the same thing.

  • Write one solid sentence that highlights the benefits of choosing you (slogan).

  • Technically, you can take what’s on your landing page and rework it to work in the ad.

  • Also, adding a number to your headline has been proven to increase conversion rates, so it’s something to consider.

  • Always add a Call to Action (CTA), which asks your audience to do something.

  • Then consider the tone of your CTA. Is it more “get these designer-approved home decor tips to improve your home” or is it “stop making these 10 most designer hated mistakes in your home”? Studies show that negative toned messages, such as the latter, are more effective, and convert higher, but there’s a time and a place.

  • Your display URL (green link under the title), needs to have the same domain as your landing page. And it should always include the keyword.

Step Seven: Staying Organized

google ads

At this point, you’ll be on your dashboard for the very first time. Before you get things up and running officially, pause the Ads campaign and click into the campaign instead. This will present you with the inside, so you can see the ad group Google automatically created for you. As you progress into several campaigns, you’ll see several ad groups added.

That means you should label your campaigns clearly, so you know which one is which. Right now, you’re working with one campaign, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t label it. To do so, click on your keyword and set it to phase match. The other two campaigns you create will either be exact match (people who know your business) or broad match (to acquire new customers).

Step Eight: Setting Up Your Conversion Tracking

Google makes this last step super simple: you put a bit of code on the page that users reach after purchasing something from you. This tells Google that they converted, making it easily trackable.

To set it up:

  1. Go to “Tools” > “Conversions”

  2. Click on “+ Conversion,” then select “Website.”

  3. Fill in the page title/name and then the value of the conversion that you expect (maybe your offer is $200, so you’d add that in).

  4. Hit “Save & Continue.”

You’ll be presented with the code, which you simply copy and paste into the HTML code of your thank you page, which customers will see once they’ve made a purchase.

Account Maintenance

Congratulations! By this point, you’re done creating your campaign. Now you need to play the waiting game for a few days, maybe weeks, as your campaign runs its course. And until you start seeing the results, there’s not much to do but tap your fingers on the table.

That being said, you can maintain, and even edit your campaign. If you have a large account (several campaigns), you can do it on a weekly basis, but otherwise, do it about once a month.

This is essentially just checking up on your ad and landing page, making sure that it’s all as effective as you’d hoped it would be.

To do it, pull up your Search Term Report and look at new potential key phrases you could add to your existing campaigns.

Also, look at your ad position. If you’re consistently showing up in the first position (beating your competition), you could probably afford to decrease your budget to reduce your Cost Per Lead, while still remaining on the top. Essentially, you’d be avoiding overpaying for the same results.

Finally, you could spend this time essentially learning from your campaign. Your goal, on a best case scenario is to have a CTR of 8% or higher, so tinker around with things until you achieve that, or get close to it. This involves testing a few variations per keyword or ad group, hence why it’s smarter to start with one campaign.

If your campaign is underperforming, feel free to pause it while you make changes, so you’re not wasting money. After all, you want to play it smart, using the knowledge/data that Google Ads provides.

In Conclusion

google ads

As you can see, there’s a lot that goes into Google Ads campaigns. And a lot of it revolves around messaging. Being able to keep things short and sweet, very direct, and visually appealing is critical in every ad and landing page. Having a clear CTA for your audience to follow is a no-brainer.

But that’s not enough. There’s also elements like starting out with top-of-funnel keywords, before creating two more ad campaigns. And researching your competition’s ads and keyword bids, so you know what’s worked for them and what hasn’t.

And yet, despite all the little elements that add up into this massive, lucrative endeavor, Google Ads is a worthwhile investment. It can do wonders for your digital marketing, especially if you’re looking to grow your business. It’s been proven to increase ROI, traffic, conversions, you name it. If you want to get your name out there, and create more of a following for your business, this is the way to do it. Don’t rely on social media for all of your marketing.

So don’t be afraid to give it a try. Just make sure to start off with one campaign, a small budget, and plenty of smart decision making.

Do you think your ads so far have been very successful? And if not, do you think Google Ads could help?

I would love to hear from you, so leave your comments below!