If this year has taught us anything, is that having a reliable online channel that continuously generates leads for our business is the way to go. And in this Google Ads guide, we’ll try to convince you that this might just be the one.
Businesses see an average of $2 in revenue for every $1 spent on Google Ads. The platform’s reach is nothing short of astounding. The Google Display Network alone, which includes Gmail, YouTube, and other Google partner platforms, serves 6 billion impressions, or ad views, every day. Google is rolling in money, and their ad platform is where most of it came from—Google Ads accounts for over 95% of the company’s revenue!
In this article, we’ll discuss why and how you should be using Google Ads, explore additional details about the jaw-dropping ROI you can expect, and summarize the procedure for setting up your first ad. We’ll close out with some tips on what to expect as your campaign gains momentum and what you can do to optimize your Google Ads.
Ads to support any marketing goal
In the summer of 2018, Google AdWords became Google Ads, a brand that the company felt would represent the full range of campaign types more accurately.
There’s no marketing goal that Google Ads can’t help you achieve. The platform allows you to execute any of the following types of campaigns:
- Search—Google users are responsible for billions of searches per day, and for most searches, ads appearing above the organic results. That’s high-visibility advertising real estate! You can target people interested in what you sell and compel prospects to engage with your brand. Businesses commonly use Search campaigns to increase online or brick-and-mortar sales and get more leads.
- Shopping— Retailers can advertise exclusively to people who searched for their product or one like it. That sort of targeted advertising is a high-conversion technique that small business owners shouldn’t ignore. Shopping ads employ text and photos, allow you to display pricing details, and help you streamline the buying process. With a Google Ads Shopping campaign, you can gain qualified leads and trigger a flood of traffic to your store or site.
- Display—Google Search Network has an impressive reach, but adding Google Display Network, which includes the company’s partner platforms like YouTube and Gmail, allows you to get your ad in front of even more people. You can present ads to users while they’re relaxing with video content, checking their email, or using an app on their phone.
- Video—A Video campaign focuses exclusively on using YouTube to present your ads. Depending on the product or service you sell, the best time to engage potential customers may be while they watch or search for videos.
- Local—A marketing powerhouse for brick-and-mortar businesses, local campaigns allow you to promote your store, highlight products, and draw in people with special promotions. In addition to placing ads on the Search and Display networks and YouTube, a local campaign also leverages Google Maps to get your ads seen. Local advertising lends itself to highly targeting messaging; business owners can refine their outreach to address a specific audience in their area.
Supporting all these campaign types, Google Ads enables businesses to achieve a wide range of marketing objectives. There’s no doubt the platform helps businesses generate revenue, but you have to spend money to make money, as we’ll discuss next.
Google Ads are expensive, but the ROI is incredible
If there’s one downside to using Google Ads, it’s the high cost.
The cost of digital advertising is measured by the average cost-per-click (CPC). You can expect a CPC of $1-$2 for Google Ads. Even small companies commonly spend as much as $10K per month on Google Ads.
However, when you acknowledge the extremely high ROI, the cost can be fully justified. Google states, “for every $1 a business spends on Google Ads, they receive $8 in profit through Google Search and Ads.”
If the high ROI of PPC advertising isn’t enough to ease your concerns over cost, you can opt for the Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) model, in which you only pay when you acquire a paying customer.
How to set up your first ad
Google offers a simple, streamlined process to help users create and manage their Google Ads campaigns. Before you can set up your first ad, however, you’ll have to decide on the keywords you want to use and define some campaign parameters, as we’ll discuss in the following sections.
Choosing relevant keywords is the most important detail to get right when setting up a Google Ad. The keywords associated with your ad will determine how often and how high it appears in search results. An ad at the very top of the search results page has an average click-through rate of 71%, so competition for that position is fierce.
When you’re specifying keywords for your ad, Google Ads shows you the ad’s quality score, a metric that determines its CPC. A high-quality score correlates to a lower CPC. Google doesn’t reveal all the factors used to determine the quality score, but it’s mostly based on the specified keywords’ relevance. For that and other reasons more directly related to campaign performance, it’s important to do considerable keyword research before creating your ad.
Using Google Keyword Planner or another free tool like ahref’s Keyword Generator, research the keywords your customers are likely to use, including long-tail keywords that let you focus on a more specific target market.
An important factor is negative keywords: keywords that are so broad they’ll cause your ad to appear in front of the wrong people. For example, a commercial photographer will get more qualified prospects using the keyword “wedding photographer” than if they used a more general keyword like “photography.” Google Ads makes it easy to identify negative keywords to ensure your ad won’t appear for those search terms.
Google Ads includes a Traffic Estimator Tool. After you’ve identified a handful of keywords that might work for your ad, use the tool to work out the best budget and cost-per-click (CPC) for your campaign.
Once you’ve completed your keyword research, log into Google Ads and create your campaign, first specifying the campaign type. Explore all the options; these are some campaign types that commonly meet the needs of small businesses:
- Default—Your ads will show up on Google Search Network and Google Display Network on all devices.
- Search Network Only—Your ads will only display on Google Search Network, including Google Maps, Images, and Shopping.
- Search and Display Networks (Mobile Devices)—Your ads will appear only on mobile devices and tablets.
- Online Video—Your ads will display on YouTube and other Google Display Network platforms that support video.
When defining your campaign’s location settings, you have several options, including “All Countries and Territories,” and “The United States and Canada.” Define language settings based on your target audience. Specify the networks and devices where you want your ads to appear. Later, when creating ads, you can fine-tune the default configuration settings defined by your campaign type.
Specify your bidding options, setting bids for each click, or allowing the Google Ads system to optimize clicks while honoring your budget settings. Remember, click-cost is variable, changing throughout the day in response to bidding advertisers.
The CPC bidding option only charges you if a user clicks your ad. The CPM option (cost per thousand impressions) pertains only to the Display Network. This is helpful if you’re looking to get your ad in front of as many people as possible. With the CPA (cost per acquisition) option, you’re charged only when a user who clicked on your ad converts.
Next, define your Ad Extensions, which are forms of contact info included in your ad to help users reach you in the way you want them to. You can configure your ad to display your business’ address, phone number, Google+ ID, or a link to your mobile app.
This was a high-level overview of the campaign setup process. The interface explains all the options in each of the categories we covered above, and there are additional advanced settings available.
After you create a campaign, you’ll create an ad group. An ad group is configured with specific keywords; the group’s ads can be set up to cycle through the defined keywords based on clicks, conversions, or allotment parameters you set. Think of your campaign as a container for ad groups, and your ad group as a container for ads.
You can create one or more ad groups, titling them based on their purpose, and then begin creating ads. When defining the copy for your text ad, image ad, or mobile ad, these are the three most important components to focus on:
- Headline—It must be bold to attract attention. Your headline can contain a maximum of 25 characters.
- Description—You have two lines to work with, each limited to 35 characters. Hammer home the benefits of your product or service.
- Display URL—This should be a custom URL that spells out product benefits and is easy to remember.
Factoring in keyword relevance, a CTA, and a clear value proposition, craft the most compelling ad copy you can.
Optimizing your Google Ads
Even with stellar keyword research and copywriting that would impress Don Draper, there’s some Google Ads refinement that can only be accomplished after you’ve run your campaign for a while. You should expect to make some changes. The factors that typically represent early opportunities for improvement include:
- Ad copy and landing page content. A tepid response could mean you need to change your ad copy. Tweak your content as needed, based on initial ad performance.
- Keywords. Right after a campaign begins, initial results will constitute fresh, more accurate input about whether you’re using the right keywords. For one thing, you can filter out negative keywords based on initial results.
- Ad extensions. If your ads trigger contact, but leads aren’t using the communications channel you want them to, change your ad extensions to highlight the preferred channel.
- Your budget and bidding. A spike in conversions can be the proof needed to justify an immediate increase in your ad budget and a more aggressive bidding strategy.
Given the high cost of Google Ads, don’t let an underperforming campaign run longer than you need to. Make any changes required to get your conversion rate where it should be. As campaign performance data accumulates, you’ll be able to make more focused adjustments to your ad strategy.
One practice that will greatly improve your ability to optimize ads over time is A/B testing—comparing the performance of two versions of an ad, tracking which one performs better, and then using the better version. The most actionable data for small businesses seeking ad campaign optimization typically comes from A/B testing of keywords; ad headlines, copy, and images; landing page copy; and the offer.
You can use UTM codes, tracking elements that can be included in the URL, to find out which of your ads result in conversions. Connect Google Analytics to your Google Ads account to make it easier to analyze your campaign’s performance. A business can integrate Google Ads with its CRM system to link ad responses directly to a customer database, facilitating lead generation and ongoing engagement.
Google Ads Guide – Our take
We looked at some amazing facts regarding the ROI of Google Ads and the breadth of proven uses for this leader among ad platforms.
PPC advertising can be intimidating, but understanding the potential rewards and learning the basic implementation concepts was the first step for every business owner who uses Google Ads. We hope our getting-started summary helps you quickly set up your first campaign and gives you some ideas about how to optimize your Google Ads to achieve increased revenue and business growth.