[Full Guide] How to use Google Ads to reach your goals
Google Ads (formerly Google AdWords) is the largest online advertising platform in the world. As the most popular search engine, Google offers advertisers this competitive tool for:
- building brand awareness
- increasing website traffic
- reaching qualified leads
- driving online or in-store sales
There are different Google Ads formats available for business. All of them rely on searched keywords. When online users type queries in the search engine, Google may return paid ad results at the top of organic ones. If people click on such ad, Google will charge a certain fee to the advertiser. We call this model: Pay Per Click (PPC).
Understand Google Ads Logic
Primal introduced Google Ads as one of the best advertising channels in 2020. Let’s go more in detail to understand how Google Ads work and learn best practice to run efficient paid campaigns.
Cost Per Click (CPC)
This ad platform works as follows: businesses competing on the same keywords will bid for their ad ranking. Say 5 companies want their website to appear on the search results page when users type the keyword “google ad agency”. Each company must define a Cost Per Click (CPC) for this specific keyword. The CPC is the bidding price each company is willing to pay every time a user clicks on their ads. Based on this price, Google algorithms calculate the rank of each ad and returns the results accordingly.
Of course, each business wants to pay the smallest Cost Per Click and rank ads as high as possible. If they set their campaign the wrong way, they can lose money quickly. Primal will help you properly balance your advertising budget to promote your services.
Quality Score (QS)
Besides the CPC, ads ranking depends on the Quality Score (QS). Check this simplified formula:
Ad Rank = Cost Per Click x Quality Score
The Quality Score is an estimation of the ads quality on a 1 (minimum) to 10 (maximum) scale. It strongly correlates with the relevancy between the keyword and the ad itself. Other factors influence the Quality Score such as compliance to Google Ads policies. The user experience of the landing page also impacts the QS. For example, your Quality Score will be low if you bid on the keyword “google ad agency” while you own a billboards business.
Google Ads Ranking
Here is a formula update:
Actual Cost Per Click = (Ad Rank to beat / Quality Score) + $0.01
It means advertisers do not exactly pay for their bid. They just pay the least possible to beat the competitor below. It works pretty much like auctions except that advertisers do not know how much others are bidding. Is bidding high amounts the best strategy to secure the first ad placements? In the tips section at the end of this article, we will answer that is not the case.
This formula also tells us that the higher the Quality Score, the lower we pay. If QS = 10, then we control the auction because Google Ads anticipate the best experience for users. We pay the least and we force competitors to pay the most. Even small companies with limited budget can make their Google Ads visible if they have high relevancy and Quality Score.
Google likes high QS because it guarantees good content for online users. If people are happy with what they find on Google, they will continue to use this search engine: virtuous circle. Google looks for user satisfaction. A good strategy for your business is to maximize your Quality Score.
The best combination for ad ranking is:
- choosing the right keywords from the search network
- having the right bidding that optimizes the budget
- crafting the right quality ad for smooth online quality experience
Discover Google Ads Tool
To run Google Ads, businesses only need for the following:
- computer with internet connection
- valid Gmail address
- live website
- credit card for payments
The first step is to create a Google Ads account. The platform makes it easy: input your email address and site URL to get your customer ID. From this point, Google immediately invites you to set your first campaign. Define your budget, target audience, and ad text, or just skip this part to directly access your Google Ads account dashboard.
Create Google Ads Campaign
The tool asks you to choose a goal from a list of six:
- site traffic
- product and brand consideration
- brand awareness and reach
- app promotion
Primal Vietnam recommends skipping this part and selecting the last option: create a campaign without a goal’s guidance. It eliminates any risks of incorrect settings.
In 2020, Google Ads offers 5 campaign types, and this is where you need to pay attention:
- universal app
Search: it shows text ads to online users performing a Google search. They appear above the organic search results. Google charges the advertiser every time someone clicks on such ad (Pay Per Click). To be successful, you need to anticipate what keywords or key phrases people are likely to search. The conversion rate of those ads is usually good because the users’ intent is high.
Display: it shows visual ads (mostly banners) to online users surfing on the web. They appear on the Google Display Network (GDN) which includes more than 2,000,000 websites worldwide. Advertisers target people by interest (not by keywords anymore). This option is good for businesses looking for brand or product awareness. The traffic and exposure is high, but the conversion rate is typically low.
Shopping: it shows physical products information to online users performing a Google search. Potential shoppers get detailed descriptions even before clicking on the ad. Google Shopping Ads are the best option for advertisers willing to promote their inventory, get traffic to their e-commerce site, or visits to their brick and mortar store. The conversion rate is excellent since online users have high purchase intent.
Video: it shows various video ad formats to online users visiting YouTube (owned by Google) and video partner sites. This option reaches many people since videos are a popular form of online content. Advertisers looking for brand awareness should consider such campaigns for their products and services. Video ads are cheap, but their conversion rate is low (most people skip them).
Universal app: it promotes your mobile application through Google Play, Google Search, Google Display Network, and YouTube. Advertisers consider this option to get app installs or app engagement. Cost per download and cost per clicks are usually low but click-through rate and conversion rate are impacted by the huge number of competitors apps in the market.
Google Ads Campaign Settings
After choosing the campaign type, advertisers must name it. This is a critical step, especially when running multiple campaigns. The naming convention should be as descriptive as possible to avoid any confusions later. In the campaign settings, you must also pay attention to the following options:
- audience interests
- bidding options
- ad extensions
Ad extensions enhance Google Ads text to look more relevant to online users. Advertisers can activate them from various options available, depending on the business type and campaign objectives. For example, to promote a local business website, Primal recommends considering these ones as priority:
- sitelink extensions
- call extensions
- review extensions
- callout extensions
- location extensions
Ad Groups Settings
Campaigns are the first level of the ad account layers. They are subdivided into ad groups. At this level, advertisers define keyword clusters that are relevant to promote their business to customers. Consistency and quality are key to optimize the paid campaign. With an effective ads group structure, you ensure more conversions at lower cost because they play an important role in the quality score calculated by Google.
Each ads group contains one or more ads and a set of related keywords. To maximize the performance, 1 ad group should focus on 1 product or service. Keywords help Google evaluate the ads group relevancy for ranking and costs in the search network.
To input keywords and key phrases into the ads group, Google uses a match type system that restricts how the ads match with the keyword searches. Check the list of match types:
- broad match
- broad match modifier
- phrase match
- exact match
- negative keyword
Broad match: it is the default match type that reaches the widest audience. Ads may appear when online users’ search queries include any word or close variations of the keyword. Advertisers must make sure they are not paying for irrelevant traffic to their website.
Broad match modifier: by adding +keyword (plus sign), advertisers tell Google the search query must include that term (or close variation of that term). Additional words may appear before, after, or between the terms in the search results.
Phrase match: by adding “keyword” (quotation marks), we increase the level of control. Google will return the ad if the search query matches the keyword (or close variations) in the same order you enter them. Additional words may appear before or after the terms.
Exact match: by adding [keyword] (brackets), the ad is eligible to show up only in case of exact match of the terms (or close variations with the same meaning): same words in same order. It is the most restrictive keyword match type.
Negative keyword: by adding a -keyword (minus sign), we exclude ads from showing on searches with that term. Advertisers should always consider them when running campaigns. Negative keywords make ads more relevant and optimize the media budget.
Google Ads Text & Creatives
The last Google Ads campaign layer is the ad itself. This is what will show up following online users’ queries. The tool asks advertisers to input important information such as:
- the landing page URL
- the headline
- the description
You can input several headlines and descriptions to share the most suitable message to online users. Keep in mind the fields have a length limit.
For each ads group (meaning for the same group of keywords), Primal highly recommends creating several ad variations. The logic behind this is to A/B test them, check their performance, compare their click-through rate (CTR), monitor their costs, and edit the campaign accordingly. You want to pay the least possible for the maximum impact. Never go for 1 ad text with 1 ad group only. Small tweaks make huge difference.
Now that you understand the basics about Google Ads, let have a look at pro tips that will help you grow your business and find more customers.
Google Ads Professional Advice
Once advertisers understand the basics of Google Ads, they need to grow their expertise. The best way is to test and learn by running campaigns. Instead of wasting time and money on trial and errors, check out Primal’s tips below. You will save years of practice.
Before Running Google Ads Campaign
The most important rule to follow before launching any digital strategy: always define a clear campaign objective. It sounds obvious but most businesses still lack vision in 2020. Every digital campaign must have a purpose.
Companies setting generic targets such as “growing revenue” or “getting more customers” will most likely fail. Such objectives are not specific enough. Before running your campaign, ask yourself the following questions:
- have we run any digital ad campaigns before?
- what worked & did not work?
- what are our current pain points?
- what do we need to achieve?
- what campaign metrics should we follow?
- how many leads / customers do we need to have in 1 month?
- what is the average revenue per customer?
- what does success look like? (in 1 month, 6 months, 1 year)
- how much advertising budget are we ready to spend to reach those targets?
Of course, advertisers must also have insights on competition, target audience, and market trends. Questions above help define the best digital strategy and choose the right channels.
Tools To Get Started With Google Ads
Digital tools support marketers getting things done. When it comes to paid campaigns on Google Ads, advertisers need to perform few tasks beforehand. Here is a quick checklist:
- define audience profile: check current traffic on Google Analytics
- benchmark competition: compare website performance with Similarweb
- list keywords opportunities: use Google Keyword Planner, Ahrefs, SEMrush, and Google Trends
To select the best search terms, combine at least 2 different tools (ex: Google Keyword Planner and Ahrefs). Their keyword database are different and search volume lists may not be the same. They remain good indicators of which phrases your customers are looking for.
We cannot improve what we cannot measure. For this, set your tracking tools as soon as possible when preparing your campaign. Google Ads or Google Analytics (along with Google Tag Manager) will help you. Use Google Data Studio to create actionable reports sourced from your various digital tools.
Last essential advice: strictly comply to Google Ads policies. Take time to read them all. Seriously, just do it. You do not want to see your account suspended by Google because you did not follow the platform rules. Bottom line: do not mess with Google. It can be extremely hard to get an account unsuspended.
Optimizing Google Ads
To build a good Google Ads campaign structure and grow your business, follow these hints:
- segment audiences in small groups & test them
- craft tailored ads suitable for each audience group
- test ads by changing only 1 factor at once
- build a remarketing list & target it as soon as possible
- add negative keywords to control irrelevant traffic
- start bidding low on keywords & increase progressively based on results
- review keywords performance at least once a week
Lazy marketers throw money out of the windows. To be successful, advertisers must continuously optimize their campaigns. There are many factors to consider, and the competition does not stand still.
In parallel, give some time to your ads for performing on your account. Depending on your industry, it may take 2 or 3 days to see significant results with Google Ads. Optimize or pause the low performing and invest more on the ones that are doing well to reach your business objectives.
Google Ads Text Good Practice
Google Ads texts are essential components of successful digital paid campaign. Experienced copywriters make the difference here. Check out our tips to write good ads:
- use all space available (check the characters limit)
- be relevant between the ad text & landing page
- be specific (“30% discount” beats “great discount”)
- have strong Call To Action (CTA) text
- think about the sales funnel (what buying stage users are in)
- check how competitors write ads… and differentiate
A/B test your ad texts to keep running the ones that convert the best. Sometimes, small edits generate huge performance boost and better cost control. You do not want to waste your money on poor ads so pay extra attention to this.
Craft Irresistible Landing Pages
Online users clicking on your ads will land to your conversion page, usually hosted on your site domain. This landing page is crucial for your business because this is where people will decide to trust you or not. Follow these guidelines to create the best landing pages:
- give a first strong impression
- have a clear and visible Call To Action (CTA)
- build the landing page around the CTA button
- put the important stuff at the top of the page
- optimize the page loading speed
- be mobile friendly
- do not use the home page as landing page (not specific enough)
Besides, there are few tricks that you want to implement on your site to make it more “Google-compliant”. By following them, you maximize your chances for better conversions and return on investment. For example, always run ads on web pages having the following info:
- physical address
- phone number
- email address
And for e-commerce websites, you should add:
- all the above
- shipping policy
- return policy
Those are staple rules that Primal recommends implementing in priority.
Now you are ready to run your Google Ads campaigns. Refer to this blog article every time you need to review how the platform works, how to set up your Google Ads campaign structure, and what are the pro tips for optimizing effectively.
Keep practicing, monitor your ads, and learn from experience. The best marketers are the ones who keep experimenting. After all, our experts at Primal have run Google Ads since the early 2000s!