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It’s impossible to spend time on the internet without encountering advertisements. You see them appear in your search results, social media, mobile apps and even on your favorite news blogs. 

Such presence is the result of how effective they are as a digital marketing tool, with companies estimated to have spent over $400 billion on internet advertising in 2022. 

At the forefront of the online advertising industry, with a 28% market share, is Google. Its online advertising platform, Google Ads (formerly Google Adwords), is one of the most popular options for small business owners that want their ads to be seen by billions of internet users. 

The good news? Much like other businesses, you can use Google Ads to your advantage. If you want to learn about Google Ads and how to get started, keep reading.

What is Google Ads?

Google Ads (formerly Google Adwords), is an internet advertising platform that allows you to create and display ads on the internet. These ads can be created in several formats and placed in different locations online to encourage interested internet users to interact with them.

It shares the fundamentals of SEO (search engine optimization) in the sense that one of the goals is to get your content to appear favorably in search engine results, but the approach is different. You need to pay to have your ads appear rather than just optimize content from your website.

Google launched Google Adwords in 2000, just about two years after its search engine launched. It was created as a platform for businesses to promote their products and services in Google search engine results.

Over time, it has grown to display ads on all the other platforms owned by Alphabet, Google’s parent company, like YouTube and Google Maps. Google Ads also appear within mobile apps and other websites and platforms that are part of its network.

These platforms mean that adverts created with Google Ads have the potential to reach billions of people. The Google search alone homepage has over 80 billion monthly visits.

How does Google Ads Work?

Google Ads uses a number of factors to determine how and when adverts from your campaign are displayed, including:

Quality score

The first of these factors is the quality score. This score is a measure of the quality of your advert based on three metrics:

  • The relevance of your ad keywords to a user’s search intent.
  • The relevance of the landing page your advert leads to when a potential customer clicks on it.
  • The expected click-through rate (CTR), which is the ratio of ad clicks to ad views.

Google Ads uses a scale of 1–10 to measure the quality score of your ads. The three metrics are measured against other ads from the past 90 days that use similar keywords.

Advert bid

Next is your advert’s bid. It refers to the maximum amount you are willing to pay Google each time someone interacts with any of your adverts. These interactions vary depending on the ad type, which also affects the focus of your bidding strategy.

These are the major interaction types that you can choose to bid for:

  • Clicks: Here, the focus is on having users click on your ad to go to a website or landing page. This focus will use a pay-per-click (PPC) or cost-per-click (CPC) bidding model.
  • Impressions: This campaign type focuses on impressions or views, and since the numbers are much higher, the bidding is based on cost-per-thousand viewable impressions (vCPM).
  • Conversions: The bidding here is done by cost-per-action (CPA) and is based on the user completing a signup form or completing some other activity based on their interaction with your ad.
  • Views: this area of focus is only for video ads, and the bidding is measured in cost-per-view (CPV).

Ad Rank

Google Ads combines your quality score with the maximum bid to determine an Ad Rank for your campaign. The Ad Rank is entered into an auction with those from several other competing ad campaigns to determine if they will appear on a search engine results page (SERP) or other ad display locations.

Other factors can affect your ad rank, like the competitiveness of the auction (based on the number of adverts with matching rank scores, or the ad rank threshold, which is the minimum score an ad rank must meet to be displayed. That means an advertiser only pays the publisher (Google in this case) when a target clicks or interacts with the advert.

That differs from other models, where you pay based on the number of completed transactions or impressions. Based on all these factors, your Google ads determine when your ad is displayed and where it will appear.

Google Ads campaign types

There are five major types of ad campaigns you can run with Google Ads as part of your search engine marketing strategy.

Search campaigns

This is the original type of ad campaign and is displayed on Google’s search engine results page with the rest of the results of a search query. These ads are usually text-based, and when displayed, they look just like a regular part of the search results.

Your ads will be displayed with the organic results when a user’s search queries match the specified keywords for your campaign (if your Ad Rank is high enough for the keywords). That applies to Google search results or other websites on the Google Search Network.

Search campaign ad types mainly use the PPC model to ensure you only pay when users find your ads useful enough to click on them.

Display campaigns

Display ad campaigns are different because their goal is brand visibility, not clicks. So your campaign is usually in a format that attracts visual attention.

Google Ads uses its Google Display Network to ensure that ads of this type are visible not just on Google-owned properties but also on millions of other websites and online platforms. You can also use demographics and other forms of targeting to control where and how your ads are displayed on the network.

For display campaigns, you can pay for ad interactions by click (PPC), impressions (vCPM), or conversions (CPA).

Video campaigns

These campaign types are designed to appear on YouTube, Google’s video platform. The ads are also in video format, so they can play alongside the regular video content on the platform.

Video ads are typically 6–15 seconds long to ensure they can catch a viewer’s attention, though they can be much longer. Also, YouTube plays them before the requested video loads and sometimes during the video playback, but users can skip them.

Like other campaign types, you can factor in things like location, demographics and interests to determine who sees your adverts. Payments for the ad are only made when users view your ads over a certain time limit or interact with other elements you include in the ad, like a banner or overlay.

Shopping campaigns

Google Ads shopping campaigns are perfect for customers with eCommerce sites or offline retail stores that need to showcase their products to a new audience. However, it requires you to jump through some hoops before advertising your products. 

To create a shopping campaign, you first need to sign up at the Google Merchant Center and add your products there. Once that’s done, you can create your shopping campaign and display your ads in search results of related keywords. 

You can configure your campaign to lead to actual sales of your products or just to drive traffic to your online or physical store.

App campaigns

App campaigns allow you to promote Android or iOS apps by placing ads in search results, YouTube videos, websites and even on the app stores. All you need to do is create the ad campaign, specify your goals and budget and Google Ads will handle the rest.

You can use these campaigns to promote your app’s installations or drive in-app interactions, like completing an activity or making a purchase. For example, if your app is a mobile game and you just released an update for a new level, you can create an ad campaign that promotes completing the new level rather than starting the whole game.

As a result, billing for these ads is based on conversions. 

How to create a Google Ads campaign

With the basics out of the way, let’s explore how to create a Google Ads campaign.

Step 1: Create a Google Ads account

Go to the Google Ads website and click on either Sign In to create a new account or Start Here if you already have an account. 

The Google Ads (formerly Google Adwords) homepage

Note that while setting up your new account, you’ll need to specify your business name and the online address you want visitors to be directed to.

Step 2: Set the goals for your new advertising campaign 

This refers to selecting the activity you want users to perform when your advert successfully attracts their attention.

Choosing the goal of your Google Ads (formerly Google Adwords) campaign

The four options are:

  • Get more phone calls
  • Get more website sales or leads
  • Get more visits to your physical location
  • Get more visits and engagements on YouTube

These advertising goals sort of correspond to the campaign types mentioned earlier. If you choose the second option, you can choose the type of sales or leads you want and what web page on your site can perform this action.

You need to specify what type of lead or sales activity you want your campaign to deliver

Step 3: Craft your advert messaging

Here’s where you put down the ad’s contents that will be visible to users on the internet. There are three sections: the headline, the description and the call to action. Note each section has character limits.

Crafting the headlines and descriptions that will be displayed in your ads

You can add multiple versions of the headline and description to give Google Ads more combinations to test. The testing helps optimize the ad to achieve the best possible results. You can also add a phone number for calls.

Adding images and logos to your ads

You also get the option to add images to your ad messaging. That includes regular images and logos for your company or the product you’re advertising. As you add the content for your ad, you can see a small preview to the side that shows you what your ads will look like.

Step 4: Choose your keywords

Your keywords are the foundation for how Google determines who sees your ads. Google compares the terms in your keywords to its users’ search results and search history. 

If there are any matches, the users with these matches in their records may receive your ads because they’ve shown interest in something related to them.

Selecting the keywords for your Google Ads (formerly Google Adwords) campaign

You can choose multiple keywords and specify the language you’re advertising in. Also, you can have a keyword phrase instead of just a single word. Sometimes, as you add keywords, Google will make suggestions for you.

Step 5: Select the location for your ads

You can also specify the location where you want your ads to be displayed. That helps tailor the reach of your ad campaign and makes it more likely to reach your audience.

You can specify the geographic locations you want your campaign to target

There are two options you can use to specify locations. The first lets you choose an address and set the distance around the address you want your ads to cover. With the second option, you can choose multiple zip codes, cities or regions as your target.

There’s a small map to the right for each option that you can use to confirm the locations you pick.

Step 6: Set your campaign budget

This is how you determine the average daily spend for your campaign. The daily average affects how many times your ads can be displayed in a day if its Ad Rank is high enough.

Setting the budget for your ad campaign

You can choose the ad options Google recommends or select your budget. For each budget option, you can see the daily average, the max amount to be spent in a month and the estimated number of clicks per month.

When you manually set a campaign budget, Google Ads gives you an idea of what competitors typically set as their budget for similar campaigns. That way you can balance what’s good for you and what gets results. 

Step 7: Publish your campaign

Once you’ve set everything up and reviewed the details to ensure you’ve provided all the necessary information, you can launch your campaign. Before publishing, you can check the information you’ve entered for your campaign and make necessary changes.

Summary screen of your campaign details where you can review before you submit

You must also input your payment information before your campaign can launch. Google Ads doesn’t bill you immediately but waits until your budget is used up or the campaign is over before you get charged for the interactions.

Once you submit your campaign information, Google will review it to ensure it complies with its ad policies.

Best practices for an effective Google Ads campaign

  • Calculate your ad budget. Advertising aims to generate returns on your investment and turn a profit. Therefore your advert budget should be adequate to be effective. Also, you can adjust your budget based on the effectiveness of your campaign as time goes by.
  • Focus on ad content that showcases your uniqueness. You are selling products and services, so your advert headings and descriptions should showcase what is unique about your offerings.
  • Research your keywords. Using the right keywords can help place your ads in front of the perfect audience. The goal is to pick keywords that may appear in your customer’s search queries. Google Ads has a Keyword Planner that helps simplify this task, but you can also use third-party tools like Semrush and Moz.
  • Be upfront about pricing or discounts. You want to provide customers with all the information they need to make a decision about your advert content. 
  • Optimize your ad content for mobile viewers. Roughly 60% of the world’s internet users are on mobile devices, and you want to make sure that they can view your ads correctly. Also, optimize your landing pages and websites for mobile views so that they have a great experience when they click through from your ads.
  • Avoid spelling and grammatical mistakes. These can easily put off users and reduce the effectiveness of your ads.
A Google Analytics dashboard will help you track Google Ads (formerly Google Adwords) performance
  • Measure your ad performance. If you’re using Google Ads to drive sales or leads to your website or online store, then you should install and customize Google Analytics on your site to track conversions as well as other metrics like demographics and traffic sources. This information can help you optimize your ads for the best results.

Final thoughts: Start using Google Ads

Whether you refer to it as Ads or Adwords, Google’s clear dominance as an internet search engine and advertising giant makes its ad management platform an easy choice for promoting businesses. 

Once you understand how it works, you can easily create ad campaigns to showcase your products and convert prospects into customers. So what’s stopping you from starting your own ad campaign today with Google Ads?

Beyond that, consider partnering with a high-quality web hosting partner like Bluehost to make the most out of your new-found, Google Ads traffic.

  • Tiffani Anderson

    Tiffani is a Content and SEO Manager for the Bluehost brand. With over 10 years experience across all facets of content and brand marketing, she strives to combine concepts from brand marketing with engaging content through the lens of SEO.

    University of North Texas
    Previous Experience
    Content Marketing, SEO, Social Media
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