Bonus: Get a free social media analytics report templatethat shows you the most important metrics to track for each network.
What is Google Ads?
Google Ads is a paid online advertising platform offered by Google.
Originally called Google Adwords, the search engine company rebranded the service as Google Ads in 2018.
The way it works remains essentially the same: When users search a keyword, they get the results of their query on a search engine results page (SERP). Those results can include a paid advertisement that targeted that keyword.
For example, here are the results for the term “fitness coach.”
You can see that all the advertisements are on the top of the SERP. They also look nearly identical to organic search results save for the bolded “Ad” at the top of the post.
However, purchasing advertising on Google doesn’t necessarily ensure the top spot. After all, you’ll likely have a lot of other marketers competing for the same keyword through Google Ads.
To understand those rankings, let’s take a look at how Google Ads work exactly.
How Google Ads work
Google Ads operates under a pay-per-click (PPC) model. That means marketers target a specific keyword on Google and make bids on the keyword — competing with others also targeting the keyword.
The bids you make are “maximum bids” — or the maximum you’re willing to pay for an ad.
For example, if your maximum bid is $4 and Google determines that your cost per click is $2, then you get that ad placement! If they determine that it’s more than $4, you do not get the ad placement.
Alternatively, you can set a maximum daily budget for your ad. You’ll never spend more than a specific amount for that ad per day, helping you get a better sense of how much you should budget for your digital ad campaign.
Marketers have three options for their bids:
Cost-per-click (CPC). How much you pay when a user clicks on your ad.
Cost-per-mille (CPM). How much you pay per 1000 ad impressions.
Cost-per-engagement (CPE). How much you pay when a user performs a specific action on your ad (signs up for a list, watch a video, etc).
Google then takes the bid amount and pairs it with an assessment of your ad called a Quality Score. According to Google:
“Quality Score is an estimate of the quality of your ads, keywords, and landing pages. Higher quality ads can lead to lower prices and better ad positions.”
The score number is between 1 and 10 — with 10 being the best score. The higher your score is the better you’ll rank and the less you have to spend converting.
Your Quality Score combined with your bid amount creates your Ad Rank — the position your ad will appear in the search results page.
And when a user sees the ad and clicks on it, the marketer pays a small fee for that click (thus pay-per-click).
The idea is that the more users click on a marketer’s advertisement, the more likely they will accomplish the advertisement’s goals (e.g. become a lead, make a purchase).
Now that you know how Google ads work, let’s take a look at the different types of Google ads you can use for your campaign.
Types of Google Ads
Google offers a variety of different campaign types that you can use:
Let’s take a look at each campaign type now to see how they work—and which you should choose.
Search campaign ads appear as a text ad in the results page for the keyword.
For example, here are the search campaign ads for the keyword “laptops”:
These are the ads you’re probably most familiar with. They appear on the search result page with the black “Ad” symbol next to the URL.
As you can see, though, text based ads aren’t the only type of ads in the Search Network. You can also have your ads appear in Google Shopping. That brings us to…
A shopping campaign allows you to promote your products in a much more visual way.
These ads can appear as images on the search results page:
And they can appear in Google Shopping:
If you have a physical product, Google Shopping ads can get qualified leads by showcasing your product directly to customers.
The Display Network leverages Google’s vast website partners to showcase your ad on different websites all over the Internet.
And there are a variety of different ways they appear. First, your ad can appear on on third-party websites like so:
You can also have a video ad appear as a pre-roll before YouTube videos:
Google also allows you to advertise your ad on its email platform Gmail:
Finally, you can have your ad appear in third-party apps on Google’s app network:
Some benefits of using the Display Network is its reach. Google partners with more than two million websites and reaches more than 90% of all Internet users to help ensure your ad gets in front of the most eyes as possible.
The ads themselves are also flexible in terms of style. Your ad can be a gif, text, a video, or image.
However, they don’t come without their downsides. Your ads might end up appearing on websites you don’t want them to or in front of videos that you don’t want your brand associated with. This hasn’t been more evident than with YouTube’s various “Adpocalypses” throughout the past few years.
If you’re careful about where you’re putting your ads, though, the Display Network can be a great place to garner leads.
These are ads that appear in the front of YouTube videos in the form of pre-rolls.
“Wait didn’t we just cover this with the Display Network?”
We did! But Google offers the option of choosing video ads specifically, rather than more broadly advertise on the Display Network.
This is perfect if you have a great video ad idea you want to test out.
The video campaign ads come in a variety of different forms. There are skippable video ads like the one above. There are unskippable ads like this one:
There are discovery ads which you can find on the search results page of specific keywords:
And there are the various overlays and banners you can see above.
Like video ads, app ads are also included in the Display Network but can be used for targeted campaigns.
For this, you don’t design each individual app ad. Instead, they’ll take your text and assets such as photos and they’ll furnish the ad for you.
The algorithm tests different asset combinations and uses the one that performs the best more often.
Now that you know the types of ads you can create with Google, let’s take a look at cost.
Google advertising cost
The average cost-per-click in the United States is typically between $1 and $2.
However, the cost of your specific Google Ad varies on a number of factors. Those factors include the quality of your website and how much you’re bidding.
As such, the cost is going to vary from ad to ad.
To understand how much Google advertising is going to cost your business, you need to first understand the Ad Auction system.
When a user searches a keyword you’re targeting, Google automatically jumps into auction mode and compares your Ad Rank with that of every other marketer targeting that keyword.
If you think a big ad budget with large maximum bid amounts to rank well, think again. Google’s Ad Auction and Ad Rank system favors websites that help users most with a high Quality Score over lower ones.
So you might see your CPC be much lower than a huge Fortune 500 company with a big ad budget just because your advertisement was of better quality.
Now that you know the cost, the types of ads you can make, and what Google Ads are, let’s take a look at how you can optimize your ads with Google Keyword Planner.
How to use Google Keyword Planner for your ads
Google Keyword Planner is Google’s free keyword tool to help you choose the ones your business should target.
The way it works is simple: Search for words and phrases related to your business in the keyword planner. It’ll then furnish insights on those keywords such as how often people search for it.
It’ll also give you suggested bids for amounts you should bid on the keyword as well as how competitive certain keywords are.
From there, you’ll be able to make better decisions regarding your Google Ads campaign.
Make sure you’re signed into your Google account. Once you do, click on New Google Ads Account in the middle of the page.
On the next page, confirm your business information is accurate by choosing your country, time zone, and currency. Once all looks good, click Submit.
When you do, you’ll be sent to a congrats page. Click on Explore Your Campaign.
Step 3: Go to Google Keyword Planner
You’ll then arrive to your Google Ads campaign dashboard. Click on Tools & Settings in the top menu. Then click on Keyword Planner.
You’ll then be sent to the Google Keyword Planner. To find new keywords to target, use their Discover new keywords tool. This tool allows you to search for relevant keywords and generate a list of ideas for new keywords you could target.
Let’s look at an example: Imagine you’re running a running shoe store. You might want to target keywords around running shoes and race training. Your keywords might look something like this:
When you click Get Results it’ll furnish you with your list of keywords and show you the following information about them:
Average monthly searchers
Ad impression share
Top of page bid (low range)
Top of page bid (high range)
It’ll also show you a list of suggested keyword ideas too.
There you have it. That’s how you can get started using Google Keyword Planner.
How to advertise on Google (Easy method)
There are multiple ways to advertise on Google.
If this is your first time advertising, you’re going to get a very hand-holdy process that’ll help you easily set up your Google ad. If this isn’t your first rodeo and you already have a Google Ad account, skip this section and move onto the next one.
If not, keep reading!
In order to advertise on Google, you must first have a Google account for your brand or business.
On the next page, you can choose the keyword themes that match your ad and brand. Remember the work you did with Google Keyword Planner? This is where it might come in handy.
After you’ve chosen your keywords click Next.
Step 3: Choose your target audience
On the next page, you’ll be able to choose where you want to target your ad. This can be near a specific address such as a physical storefront or location. Or it can be broader regions, cities, or zip codes.
Choose the region you want to target. Once you do, click Next.
Step 4: Craft a fantastic ad
Now it’s time for the fun part: Crafting the actual ad itself.
In this section, you’ll be able to create the ad’s headline as well as the description. All of it is made even easier with the ad preview box on the right side.
Google also offers helpful tips and sample ads for you to jumpstart your ad writing.
There’s only one thing you need to know about writing great ad copy: Know your audience.
That’s it. There’s no big secret or trick to writing captivating copy. Once you know your target market and exactly what their pain points are, you’ll be able to create content that’ll send them click on your ad faster than you can say, “Don Draper.”
This part is straightforward. Enter in all of your billing information as well as any promotional codes you might have for a discount.
Then click on Submit.
Congratulations! You just created your first Google Ad!
Don’t celebrate just yet. You still need to learn how to track your Google Ad with Google Analytics.
How to advertise on Google (Advanced method)
Here is the more hands on approach to creating a Google Ad.
Note: This method assumes you’ve already entered your payment information into Google Ad. If you haven’t done that yet, go to your Google Ads dashboard, then click on Tools & Settings.
Under Billing click on Settings. There you’ll be able to set up your payment info.
Step 1: Define your goals
First, head to the Google Ads homepage. From there, click on the Start Now button in the middle of the page or the top right hand corner.
If you’re sent to your dashboard, click on + New Campaign.
You’ll then need to choose your campaign goal. Choosing this goal will let Google know the type of audience you’ll want to target, as well as how they’ll get your bid money.
With your goal chosen, a window appears where you select your campaign type. The options are:
From here, the directions are going to change depending on what type of campaign you choose. The broad steps remain the same though.
Choose your campaign type, enter in the specific information Google requests for that type, then click on Continue.
Step 2: Choose your targeting and budget
For this example, we’ll be going with a Search campaign to generate leads.
Here you can choose the networks you want your ad to appear.
And you can choose the specific location, languages, and audiences your ad will appear to.
It’s natural to think that the bigger your radius, the more business you get — but that might not be the case. In fact, the more clear and defined about who you’re targeting, the more leads and conversions you’ll be able to make.
It’s paradoxical, but the smaller of a net you cast, the more fish you’ll catch.
It also makes sense to target a smaller area if your business is based primarily in one city. Like if you offer physical products or retail in Chicago, you probably wouldn’t want to include Los Angeles in your target.
In the next section, you’ll be able to put in actual bids and budget for your ad campaign.
Enter the budget you want, as well as the type of bidding you want to target.
In the last section, you’ll be able to include Ad extensions. These are additional pieces of copy you can add onto your ad to make it even better.
When you’re done with this page, click on Save and Continue.
Step 3: Set up the ad group
An ad group is a group of ads you might have that share the same themes and target. For example, you might have multiple ads targeting running shoes and race training. You might want to create an ad group for “running” in that case.
Add your keywords or enter in your website URL and Google will furnish them for you. Once you add the keywords you want for this ad group, click on Save and Continue at the bottom.
Step 4: Craft your ad
Now it’s time to actually create the ad.
In this section, you’ll be able to create the ad’s headline as well as the description. All of it is made even easier with the ad preview box on the right side. There you’ll be able to look at previews of your ad on mobile, desktop, and display ad.
Once you’ve created your ad, click Done and Create Next Ad if you want to add another ad to your ad group. Otherwise, click on Done.
Step 5: Review and publish
In this next page, review your ad campaign. Make sure that any and all issues are addressed. Once everything looks good, click Publish. Voila! You just created a Google Ad campaign!
How to track your Google Ad with Google Analytics
There’s a quote from Adam Savage of Mythbusters that fits here:
The only difference between screwing around and science is writing it down.
The same applies for marketing. If you’re not tracking and analyzing your Google Ad campaign, then you’re going to gain very little from it.
By analyzing your data, you’re going to learn the tweaks you need to make to your future campaigns to make them more successful.
To do so, you’re going to want to link your Google Ads with Google Analytics.
You can now view the Google Analytics websites you can access. Click Set up link on the website you want to link to Google Ads.
From here, you’ll be able to link the Google Analytics view of your website.
You’ll now be able to view vital metrics such as costs and click data of your Google Ad on Analytics. This is vitally important for determining future campaign adjustments and measuring the success of your current campaigns.