How to Get Started with Google Adwords
By Seth Price
So you have an awesome website, but no one is coming to visit. You’ve got a few choices: be very creative with publicity using stunts or your good looks, Kardashian-style, or double down on your content marketing and consistently create really useful content tailored to your audience. The other option is to advertise. Though it can seem extremely complicated, getting started with a tool like Google AdWords is easier than you think. The basic premise of Google Adwords is that it’s an online advertising program that allows you to reach consumers who are already searching for things on the world wide web. Your job is to create ads that target the searchers most likely to want what you have to offer. As an AdWords advertiser, you get to choose which search terms (a.k.a. keywords) you want to target. When your keywords are searched for in Google, your AdWords ad may appear above or next to the search results. Your ad may also appear on relevant websites that are part of the Google Display Network. What’s more, you can choose specific websites and geographical locations (states, towns, neighborhoods) where you want your ad to appear.
Below is a very basic breakdown of how AdWords works (via support.google.com):
The total reach of Google Adwords is mind boggling (the Google Display Network alone reaches 80 percent of U.S. Internet users), but you don’t want to reach everyone. That just wouldn’t be cost effective. You want to reach a targeted audience: people using search terms that might be a good fit for what you offer. There are lots of tricks with regards to targeting and assessing the types of users that you drive to your website. In this guide, we’ll show you how to get started with Google Adwords, create a campaign, then track and analyze the results.
“Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising.”
— Mark Twain
Let’s Get Started
There are a few basic concepts that you’ll need to grasp before you can get rolling with your first AdWords campaign. For starters, with each campaign you’ll need to allot a budget and choose settings to determine where the ads in that campaign will appear. When you drill down into a campaign, you’ll find one or more distinct ad groups. An ad group is a collection of ads, keywords, placements, and other methods for targeting consumers. Google recommends that you create ad groups for your different products and selling points, as well as for the different ways that you can describe your business (e.g. “real estate agent” and “Realtor”). Another recommendation: There should be a common theme that ties together all of the ads and keywords you use in each ad group. A common theme might be a geographic area, a property type, an attribute, or a market segment.
Before diving into the nitty gritty of building your ad campaign, make sure you fully understand the types of people you’re trying to reach. What are their habits? What are their preferences? The more you know about your ideal audience, the more targeted you can make your messaging and the easier it will be to choose the ideal campaign settings.
“Nobody counts the number of ads you run; they just remember the impression you make.”
— Bill Bernbach
If you want to understand a bit about audience segmentation, take a look at this infographic on the Science of Content Marketing for Real Estate. While it’s focused on content marketing, it illustrates the different types of real estate customers that you might target.
Of course, your campaign budget is also of considerable importance when it comes to maximizing your reach. For each campaign, you get to set an average daily budget. Since AdWords utilizes a PPC (pay-per-click) model, you’ll want to think about how many clicks you’d like to get each day. Just multiply the CPC (cost-per-click) by the number of clicks you’d like per day to find your daily budget. While you could do a budget of $1 per day, I suggest you budget $5 per day so you can compete on keywords and actually see some results.
After signing into your AdWords account, click the “Campaigns” tab to create your first campaign. Google will give you the “Search & Display Networks” campaign type by default. Google recommends this setting for first-time AdWords advertisers because it allows for the widest reach possible. However, if you wanted to exclusively target Google searchers or website browsers, you could select the “Search Network only” or “Display Network only” options respectively.
After naming your campaign, you’ll have several settings that you can adjust. By default, your campaign will show ads on all devices, but you do have the option to limit this (for example, if you wanted to run a mobile-only campaign). You’ll also be able to set locations and languages on this screen, and manage your bidding strategy and budget. For first-time advertisers, you’ll likely want to stick with the default AdWords strategy (where Google intelligently bids on clicks) as opposed to manually placing your bids.
To add more information or context to your ad campaign, AdWords offers ad extensions, such as the Location, Call, and Social extensions.
“The more informative your advertising, the more persuasive it will be.”
— David Ogilvy
The Location extension (example above) puts address and contact information front and center, and is ideal for advertising a brick and mortar business.
The Call extension (example above) provides click-to-call technology, so people can click a phone number on your ad to get in touch.
Finally, the Social extension links your AdWords campaign to your Google+ account, which can help increase ad performance by adding social context.
Ad Group Setup
After saving your campaign settings, you’ll be prompted to create an ad group for that campaign. For first time advertisers, Google recommends choosing the Text ad format. However, there are other formats, such as video, image, app, and mobile ads, which you can choose if you have specific advertising goals in mind.
Assuming you stick with the Text ad format for your first ad group, you’ll need to enter in a headline, description, display URL (the web address that appears in your ad — usually your site’s homepage) and destination URL (the specific page of your website that the ad is sending people to). According to Google, both URLs should have the same domain name. For example, if you’re a real estate professional running an ad group for a specific listing, the display URL could be your homepage address (YourWebsiteHere.com), while the destination URL could be the property details page for that listing (YourWebsiteHere.com/sample-listing) or a landing page designed specifically to convert.
The next step to setting up an AdWords ad group is entering in your keywords. Keyword research is the best way to figure out which keywords to include. There are several tools (including the AdWords Keyword Planner tool) that can help you evaluate which terms are being searched for most by your target consumers. Google recommends starting with 10 to 20 keywords per ad group (you can always add to or edit your keywords later). Once your keywords are in, click “Save” and, if you’re a first time advertiser, continue to billing to pay for your ads.
Tracking Your Ads
After launching your first ad, you’ll likely want to see what it looks like and make sure it’s working correctly. However, for best results, resist the urge to “Google” your own AdWords ad. Searches that bring up your ad increase impressions without increasing clicks, which can lower click-through rates and negatively impact how often your ad shows up. Also, Google may eventually stop showing you your ad because it will think you’re not interested.
“I’ve learned that any fool can write a bad ad, but that it takes a real genius to keep his hands off a good one.”
— Leo Burnett
To see how your ad is appearing in Google’s search results, use the Ad Preview and Diagnosis tool, which you can access from the Tools and Analysis tab. Just choose the appropriate options at the top and you can simulate a Google search without disrupting your campaign.
For a more detailed approach to monitoring your ads, visit the Campaigns tab. There you’ll be able to find information about your ads’ impressions, clicks, click-through rates, and more. Finally, you can visit the Keywords tabs to ensure that your keywords are triggering your Adwords ads. Just select the speech icon (in the “Status” column) to learn whether your ad is showing up for a particular keyword search.
AdWords lets you analyze performance at a variety of levels, from the account level, where you’re analyzing the performance of all campaigns, all the way down to individual ad groups. When you’re using AdWords to increase leads, sales, or other so-called “conversion events,” it’s important to measure your ROI, or return on investment. The first step to measuring your AdWords ROI is to get set up with Google’s free Conversion Tracking tool. The installation process is similar to that of Google Analytics, in that you’ll need to copy and paste a tracking snippet into your website’s source code. Once in place, you’ll be able to use Conversion Tracking to see how profitable certain keywords or ads are and for monitoring conversion rates and the cost of conversions.
Once you’re measuring conversions, you can start calculating ROI. If you have a positive ROI, the value of each conversion should be higher than whatever you spent to get it. For example, if you spent $500 and generated 10 seller leads, you probably made a positive return on your Adwords advertising investment.
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Published on December 9, 2013
Written by Seth Price
Seth is a brand and marketing strategist with 20 years of digital marketing experience. He’s a founding team member and VP @Placester, author of the bestselling small business marketing book, The Road to Recognition and host of The Craft of Marketing and Marketing Genius podcasts. As a speaker, writer, and marketing workshop leader, Seth brings levity, mentorship, and a dose of reality to the businesses and entrepreneurs he coaches.