How to Advertise on Google with Google Ads (Formerly AdWords)
In this post I’m going to breakdown how to setup a Google Ads account (formerly AdWords) to advertise on Google . This will specifically cover the following: What Google Ads is, How to Setup a Google Ads account, and how to setup specific campaigns within Google Ads, including Google Search, Display campaigns (including remarketing), YouTube video campaigns.
At the end of this blog post I cover helpful tips for each of the platform to drive the most success and an offer to sign up for my 2 hour Google Ads course.
What is Google Ads
Google Ads is the rebrand of Google AdWords. It’s the same extremely powerful platform of Google AdWords, but with the rebrand of Google Ads. Google Ads is extremely powerful as through Google Ads you can advertise on Google search, run display campaigns – including remarketing, and advertise on YouTube.
How to Setup a Google Ads Account
When you go to ads.google.com, to sign up for your account, watch out for any promotions Google Ads is offering. For example, when I checked this on September 7th, 2018 I saw a $75 credit promotion, when advertisers spend $25. Take full advantage of this, because when you start advertising you’ll need around some cash to understand what works and what doesn’t. Consider this free testing money. Additionally, write down the Google Ads support number, in this case it’s 877-763-9808. They offer great support to help you get off the ground, and it’s free. If that number doesn’t work, here’s a support number I typically use 1-866-246-6453.
Follow the prompts to setup your Google account, by entering your email and website. If you’re signing up without a gmail account, it will ask you to create a Google account.
AdWords Express vs. AdWords
As you’re going through the process, you’ll see Google give an option for AdWords express or standard AdWords (i.e. Google Ads). Whatever you do, do not click AdWords express. This is a significantly toned down version of Google Ads which strips out significant opportunity to optimize and further hone in on your audience. The intention behind the platform is good, make it easier for advertisers, but you’ll miss out on a ton of optimization levers.
Google Search Ad Creation
Click the plus button to select new campaign
Under campaign goals, select sales, then select Google search
As you follow this, it will show which networks to choose. Google will automatically default you into the Google Display network. Make sure you opt out of this. What this setting does is automatically serve your ads on sites containing content similar to your keywords. It sounds good, but it doesn’t work, far from it. The reason is you’re not targeting people as they’re actually searching your products.
You can however, select google search partners. This will include other search engines that Google has partnerships with, Google Ads doesn’t disclose the list but it’s sites like AOL, Comcast, Ask.com, etc.
As you proceed down the the process of creating a campaign, you’ll find a few settings that I want to bring to light. The next is location targeting:
The first is audience targeting. While with search we’re targeting users based on keywords they’re searching, we can also add in audience signals. There are two ways we can do this
In-Market Audiences: These are audiences that Google created where you can search for people who are in-market for certain products or services. For example, if you’re a gym, you an target users who are in-market for health and beauty products.
Remarketing Audiences: These are users who visited your site, you need to implement AdWords remarketing pixel on your site, but once you do this, you can also hone in on users who are not only searching your keywords, but have also visited your site.
The last bit is to make sure you’re targeting these audiences based on “observation” and not “targeting”. If you select targeting, your campaigns likely won’t serve much. Reason is you’re telling Google Ads in order to serve your ad, the user has to search your keyword and they have to be within the audience list. This doesn’t happen to frequent, which is why I recommend “observation”, which will allow you to check how these audiences perform, and you can place bid adjustments (i.e. increase bids if users have previously visited your site).
After you create these settings, it will guide you to create ads, setup ad extensions (appendages to your ads) and select keywords. For these, I highly recommend this blog post on how to create a search campaign, which goes into much more detail on specifics on what to think about when creating this campaign.
After you setup a search campaign, if you follow the process below you can setup display campaigns, including remarketing. As a refresher, remarketing is a display advertising tactic which will allow you to advertise banner ads to users who visited your site but didn’t convert. It’s a highly effective advertising strategy that’s proven to work since it’s inception around 10 years ago.
To get started, follow the steps below.
When you create a new campaign, click the objective of “sales”, click “display” then “standard” display campaign.
As you follow the process, you’ll get to the point to target the audiences you’re looking to reach. For a remarketing campaign, click website visitors. If you want to expand outside of remarketing, you can research other audiences. My recommendation is to start with remarketing. Once it’s rocking and driving sales, you can expand with in-market audiences or content targeting. In-market audiences allows you to target users who are in-market for specific categories and content targeting allows you to serve ads on relevant sites, based on content you choose.
Now, in order to have website visitors populate as a targeting option, you need to implement an adwords pixel, instructions here. As you go through the process and add audiences, you’ll be able to create banner ads. The good news is you don’t need to hire a creative shop. Simply select, “responsive ads”. This will guide you through the process to upload a couple images, headline, description, logo and Google will create highly effective ads for your business. Google also has stock photos you can select and gives you the option to even scan your website for images.
After you created your Google ads search campaign, Google Remarketing, now it’s time to share how you can advertise on YouTube. YouTube is a great platform to share your brand’s story with video. You can target users who are into the products and services you offer and you can serve them a video promoting your brand. The best part about YouTube advertising is you can set this up where you only pay per view. This means you only pay if someone has either watched 30 seconds of your video or clicked on your ad to go to your website.
Let me break down how to get started.
After you follow the same steps as above, selecting a new campaign to create, follow the instructions based on your goals. In this case, most of the goals will allow you to create a YouTube video campaign. In this instance, I’m going to go with Brand Awareness, as YouTube ads are great at driving brand awareness.
As you’re following the prompts, I’m going to call out a few notable highlights.
First, you can select your bidding preference, in this case (for the brand awareness goal selected earlier), I can bid based on a cost per view. I personally like this option as I can bid to a cost per view I’m willing to pay. It’s not uncommon to get a cost per view down to $.04. However, if your focus is leads, you can bid based on a CPA, which is cost per acquisition, if you have conversion tracking setup.
Next, you can define the audience you would like to reach. You can use the same audience targeting as you can for Google’s display campaigns including but not limited to:
- Keyword targeting – targeting videos that are contextually relevant to the videos you’re targeting
- Topic targeting – targeting topics of videos
- Audience targeting
- In-market audiences – users who are in market to buy certain products or services
- Affinity audiences – users who have an affinity towards certain products or services
- Remarketing lists
- Email lists that you upload
- Life events (i.e. folks that just moved, etc.)
- Similar audiences (users who are similar to your remarketing lists)
Once you establish the audience you’re looking to target, we’ll setup the creative. All you need to do is insert a YouTube URL. This means that the video you want to promote has to be uploaded to YouTube. Next, you can upload a companion banner, which is a 300*60 ad that will accompany the ad, and lastly a URL users should go to upon click.
There are a few different types of YouTube ads, I’ll break them down for you.
- In-stream ad – In-stream ads play before, during or after a video on YouTube.
- Video discovery ad – these are ads that you click to watch the video, which can appear in the search results page on YouTube, on the YouTube homepage, or next to related videos.
- Bumper ad – bumper ads are :06 videos that will play before, during or after a video.
- Outstream ad – these ads are on mute and can play on a top of a page (i.e. off of YouTube)
My recommendation is to start with in-stream ads, these are the ads are the most popular on YouTube and are one of the best in terms of driving brand consideration.
Once you go through this process, you’re all setup to run a video ad.
Google Advertising Helpful Tips
Google Search – Most Critical Settings
For nearly 75% of my clients, ranging industries, advertising on Google works really well. As mentioned, it works well as you’re only reaching users who are interested in your products and services. However, I’m going to share some quick tips to give this platform the best chance of success for your business.
- The keywords you’re targeting is the single most critical component to your potential success. If you’re not targeting the right keywords, you’re going to reach users who aren’t exactly into the products and services you offer. Take considerable time to research which keywords you want to be present for. Start out by being as specific as possible, then once these perform, you can test some more broad keywords.
- I would also recommend that you start off with [exact match] or “phrase match” targeting. Avoid broad match to start, as this can match to irrelevant search queries.
- Bids, outside of keywords, this is second most important factor of your success. I usually like to bid as low as possible, while getting sufficient clicks. You can setup your campaign bidding strategy to “maximize clicks”, which is a helpful strategy to get as many clicks as possible, on the cheap. Once you’re getting conversions (requires conversion tracking setup), you can change your bidding to maximize conversions, or target CPA.
- Time of day, when you’re running, review the hours your ads are serving. You might be burning through your budget early in the day (12 – 7am), and not have budget for the evening hours – where performance might be best. My recommendation is to review the hours you’re serving and update your ad schedule, accordingly.
Remarketing – Most Critical Settings
- When you’re creating the remarketing campaign, create multiple remarketing lists. Google will create an “all site” visitors audience, but this audience won’t be your top performing audience. You’ll want to create multiple audiences. For example, create an audience for shopping cart abandoners (users who visited “cart”) pages, users who visited product pages, users who visited the checkout page. Create these audiences then, negate users who have converted. What you’ll find is shopping cart abandoners will be your top audiences, followed by users who visited your product pages, next all site visitors.
- Use responsive ads, this is Google’s creative that works really well. It works because it auto-optimizes to device and page it’s viewed on. This will save you considerable time, as you don’t have to create many different ad creatives, rather one and Google will render according to device and available ad slot.
YouTube – Most Critical Settings
- The most important consideration for YouTube campaigns, is to understand that it’s not a platform designed to drive immediate action (conversions). The reason is users are watching programs on YouTube and are less inclined to disrupt their viewing experience to then shop on your store, or fill out a lead form on your site. However, it is great on telling your brands story and driving awareness and consideration.
- Targeting is important on this, target multiple audience, including past site visitors (remarketing), and test unique ad groups targeting relevant audiences, ranging from using topic targeting, in-market audiences, and demographic. I will say that when you layer audiences together, you’ll get the best performance (i.e. topic targeting + in-market audiences).
- Lastly, work on your video creative. Shorter videos perform the best (:15 – :30 max). Then, have your branding visible at the beginning and at the end of the ad, and ask users to take action.
Question and Answers
Are google ads free?
Google ads are not free, however one of Google’s main selling propositions is the advertiser will only pay per click. This is a very powerful proposition, if someone sees your ad and isn’t interested, they don’t click and you don’t spend a dime. However, if someone is interested, you’ll pay for them clicking. A strategy I recommend is to include as much information in the ad as possible, so the user won’t click unless they really are interested.
Are google ads effective?
Yes! Google ads are effective, however there is a very strong caveat to this. You need to know exactly what you’re doing, otherwise you’ll waste a lot of money without much to show. I strongly recommend to take my Google Ads Course, so you don’t step on any land mines and undermine all of your marketing efforts and investment. Google ads can work, but you need to know exactly what you’re doing and understand some nuances with the platform which can hurt your investment.
How much should on spend on Google?
This completely varies by company. If you’re a small business and just starting out with Google ads, I would recommend to start small, then grow. For example, put in $500/month on Google ads and closely monitor investment, and track how many leads or sales you’re getting. You’ll find campaigns that work and other campaigns that don’t. You’ll want to feed the winners and put more budget into these top performing campaigns.
The critical piece is to setup proper tracking so you can understand the return on your investment. As long as you’re profitable, continue investing in Google ads until you start to get diminishing returns and your overall profitability starts to drop.
Should I advertise on Google or Facebook?
Both! While this article is completely focused on Google ads, I am a strong advocate of Facebook ads as well. I wrote a detailed article on top facebook advertising strategies.
Every business is unique and for some businesses Facebook ads will outperform Google ads, for other businesses Google will outperform Facebook ads. For some businesses, another platform will outperform both.
However, for any business, I strongly recommend advertising on both platforms, then allocate the appropriate budget based on performance.
Do Google Ads work for Small Businesses?
Yes, they do. Even if you’re a small business with a local presence, I would strongly recommend to advertise on Google. Simply put, it works. I work with a variety of small businesses that do really well with Google Ads. To see if you can benefit from Google Ads, do a quick a few Google searches for relevant terms pertaining to your small business. For example, if you’re a plumber, do a search for “plumber near me”. If you’re ranking high, no action required. However, if you’re past the first several positions on the search results page, I would recommend to fill the gap with Google search ads.
Is Google Ads the same as Google AdWords?
Yes – it’s the exact same platform. Google rebranded their advertising platform from Google AdWords to Google Ads. The reason is Google AdWords was strictly based on advertising on “words”. Since then, Google has expended quiet a bit and offers many different platforms users can advertise on (YouTube, Google Display Network, Gmail, Search) and the targeting isn’t just based on words. With that, they migrated to Google Ads from Google Adwords.
Helpful Google Ads Resources
For more helpful resources, check out the blog posts and articles below.
Google Ads Support
Google Ads Management
Google Ads How to Guides
Google Ads Optimization Tips
- Top 14 Google Ads Search Optimization Tips
- Auction Insights: What are they and how to make them actionable
- Google Search Partners
- AdWords Express vs. Google Ads
- Google Ads and SEO Synergies
- Google Ads – Questions and Answers
- Keyword Expansion Tip
- Google Search Ad Copy – Best Practices
- Top 5 Critical Search Settings to Check
- Google Customer Match
- In-Market Audiences
Google Ad Formats