Step-By-Step Guide: How to Advertise on Google

With 40,000 search queries processed every second (yes, you read that right), Google’s strength as a search engine is unquestionable. With so many people flocking to type their life’s biggest questions into that waiting empty box – from locating the nearest paint supply store to how to perform CPR on a pet gerbil – there’s a massive built-in audience for your small business out there, just waiting to be accessed. Google helps you tap into this market through Google Ads (formerly known as AdWords), the platform you can use to move Internet browsers from the search engine results page (SERP) straight along to your website, by strategically placing ads relevant to exactly what a potential customer might be looking for at the very moment of their search. This practice is known as search engine marketing (SEM).

You’ve definitely seen Google Ads at work before, even if you haven’t realized it. They’re the ones responsible for any of those listings accompanied by the green ‘Ad’ label you’ll notice at the top and bottom of every SERP. Now start imagining that the path between these sponsored results and your business’ stunning site is a highway. Your job is to figure out what electronic road signs to place in your ad to keep the traffic moving smoothly towards your page and not looking like Los Angeles at rush hour. You don’t have to do this alone, though. We’re here to let you in on what Google Ads is and how you can use it to advertise your business on Google.

What is Google Ads and how does it work?

One way to think about a Google SERP is as real estate. Making it onto page one of the results can definitely be called luxury living. You can do this for free by managing your SEO (search engine optimization) to drive more organic traffic to your site, a must-do for every website. But even more exclusive than the general page one organic results is the area reserved at the very top and the very bottom of the page for paid ads, due to the high visibility of these sections. These areas are kind of like waterfront property. So if you want to wake up to ocean views, you’re going to have get ready to shell out a bit more. That’s where SEM (search engine marketing) comes in. In Google-land, that means getting your business’ name placed in those prime locations will require some cash.

Of course, one publicity-boosting strategy is not inherently better than the other. Your choice about whether to pursue paid advertising in addition to your organic marketing strategies will depend a lot on your industry, your targeting goals, and your own analysis of any experimentation that you conduct with each. If you have decided that paid advertising is right for you, but are a small business operating on an equally small marketing budget, the prospect of putting down money can have you cringing. That’s why we’ll walk you through tips for spending strategically to get the biggest bang for your buck.

To understand how to design an effective Google advertising campaign, it’s first important to have an awareness of how the search engine selects which ads get shown the royal treatment of featured placement on its SERPs. Essentially, it’s a mix of how much money you’re willing to bid plus the quality of your ad.

Let’s look into each of those factors for a second:

Your maximum bid: Just like it sounds, this is the amount you’ve declared is the absolute highest you’re ready to go to get your ad to appear. Unlike other auctions, though, the prize doesn’t always go to the highest bidder. While the dollar figure is important, there’s another factor Google takes into consideration to rank against your competitors: the quality of your ads.

Ad quality: You can bid as high as you want, but if Google doesn’t think your ad is relevant to a user’s search, you can say goodbye to getting featured. Yes, this means sometimes, an ad with a lower bid can actually outperform one with a larger budget due to its high quality. This is great news for small businesses everywhere.

So how does Google measure what it thinks is golden material?

Keywords: One major component is keywords. Google generates ads based on matches between the keywords their users type into the search box and words you’ve put money on. If you run a media file conversion business, imagine the words someone desperate to convert all of their old home video tapes into digital files might use to describe their desperate plea for help to Google. In short, you want to craft your ad to directly answer your potential customers’ burning questions. Google loves pointing its users in the right direction (they care about customer satisfaction, too!), so choosing great keywords only means good things for your ad’s chances to be displayed.

Convenience: Google’s aim to please influences other ways in which they judge ad quality. A handy way to try and master their logic on this and produce winning ads is to put yourself in the shoes of your average perspective client. What extensions or formats can you outfit your ad with that would be helpful to them, or grab their attention, in the moment of their search? If you’re an exterminator, let’s say, add a call extension to your ad. This feature places a phone icon button right beneath your add that panicked homeowners can press mere seconds after spotting an unwelcome visitor in their kitchen and turning to Google for a solution. No need to spend even more precious time proceeding to your website. (Because when you’re alone at home with a mouse, believe us, every second counts.) This level of attention to a customer’s needs will score you big time with Google’s ad ranking process.

User experience: In addition to evaluating the ad content and format, the search engine will also check out the site it leads to. If Google’s bots notice site traffic is quickly heading for the ‘Back’ button when reaching your site (called a high bounce rate), they will assume that your site isn’t actually adequately answering the query or that visitors aren’t enjoying their time on your page. Either way, it’s not good news for your ad’s chances of time in the spotlight. This is why you need to stack all the odds in your favor, by using the best website builder to create your landing page or website.

How to advertise on Google in 10 simple steps

1. Open an account

2. Set your budget

3. Mark your location

4. Choose your network

5. Select your keywords

6. Enter your bid

7. Write your ad's content

8. Structure your campaign

9. Adjust for mobile

10. Analyze your performance

01. Open an account

All you need is your Google email credentials and the address of your dazzling website. It’s free to sign up, so even if you’re not ready to take your first ad out for a spin, it’s still worth exploring around and seeing what this service can do to bolster your business’ reach and impact.

02. Set your budget

Google Ads operates on a pay-per-click (PPC) model, making it a great safety net for beginners testing the Google advertising waters for the first time. Why? Because users – that’s you after step one! – only need to pay up when someone actually clicks on one of their featured ads. We suggest starting small, perhaps around twenty five dollars, and exploring what that affords you in terms of ideal bids and, of course, return rate.Another way to set your budget is by working backwards with your business data. Multiply your profit per sale by your site’s conversion rate by the percentage of your profit you’re willing to fork over to Google. The product is the dollar value you’re willing to ‘buy’ a click on your ad. You can then multiply that number by your ideal number of clicks per day to get your total budget. A big advantage of PPC ads is their patience. As you play around to find the best keywords for your biz, it could mean your ad won’t appear as often as you’d like in the beginning. The upside is that you won’t be losing money on bids that end up being a bit off the mark, and you’ll even be gaining important comparative data in the process. Plus, if you’ve followed our steps and are quickly morphing into a keyword wizard, those clicks should start converting into more business for you. This is your cue to casually brush your shoulders off on an initial investment well made.

03. Mark your location

We don’t know about you, but we don’t tend to search for ‘unclog a toilet’ and ‘Seattle’ just to collect some fun trivia about plumbers in that area. Chances are, if that’s what we’re typing into the search box, then we could really use a helping hand. And if you’re a Seattle-based plumber, that’s where your ad steps in. Google allows you to set your location, so that your ad can feed into a local market of realistic potential customers, instead of wasting your money by appearing on the screens of people who live halfway across the world. Want to expand your reach, or alternatively, do you have limits on how far you can travel? Set specific geographic parameters through ‘Radius Targeting’ under ‘Advanced Search.’

How to advertise on Google: Select your location

04. Choose your network

You will be presented with two options of where you would like your ads to make their debut. We recommend selecting ‘Search Network,’ which refers to the standard presentation of Google ads at the top and bottom of the SERPs. Your other option is the ‘Display Network,’ which would expand your ad into other Google promotional real estate like YouTube sidebars. The ‘Search Network’ offers more opportunity for differentiation and particularization through the keyword selection process, making it a solid choice for small business owners with smaller and more specialized markets.

05. Select your keywords

You can use Google Ads’ Keyword Planner, as well as other free essential SEO tools, to figure out what keywords you’re feeling lucky about. First, let’s define a keyword: a three to five word-long phrase that an Internet user might use to find a business like yours. For instance, a browser on the hunt for a new bike might type in: ‘best quality mountain bike.’ As the proud owner of your business’ website, you’re looking to find that sweet spot between a high volume of average monthly searches, and words that accurately describe your content with as much precision as possible. That is, while the search volume for ‘movies’ might be off the charts, the competition for that word will be so fierce that your film editing freelance company won’t be able to enter the game.There are some keyword party tricks you can pull out here (we know we’re cool, you don’t have to tell us). One is using long tail keywords, that help you curate the traffic coming your way so your ads get seen by exactly the right eyes. Another is taking advantage of Google Ads’ keyword matching options. This feature lets you act as a club bouncer of sorts, opening or closing the doors to your ad based on how closely someone’s search terms match the keywords you’ve bid on. This is helpful because it lets you broaden or narrow your audience, depending on what you think would result in the highest click-through rate for your ad.

06. Enter your bid

Google Ads offers you two options for how to approach this step: automatic or manual bidding. With the former, the service does the work for you of finding and bidding on the highest volume keywords you can get within your budget’s reach. It sounds like a good deal, right? We totally get that there’s something really tempting about passing this task off to the computer. However, there’s a hidden plus to working on a shoestring budget. Not only are the calculations pretty straightforward, making computer automation unnecessary, but you can exert way more control over bidding on keywords that are perfectly suited to your small business instead of simply being flashy high volume ones. So tell your computer to move over, the director’s chair is waiting for you.

07. Write your ad’s content

Even though you’ve probably seen them a million times, here’s a basic overview of the structure of a Google ad, as well as how many characters you have per line. If you’re feeling ready to take the plunge into the ad writing party, then here’s the plan. You bring the wit and engaging voice, we’ll bring the checklist of all the elements you need to stamp with that winning personality:

  • Did you remember the key(word)s? Forgetting to use your keywords is like discovering you’ve left your passport at home when you arrive at the airport. It’s your ticket to getting anywhere, and the most obvious on the packing list, yet also so easy to totally blank on. Don’t be that person. Incorporate at least one of your keywords into the body of your ad.

  • Back to basics: Don’t get us wrong, we’re big fans of scavenger hunts, but when it comes to Google ads… not so much. Make sure the what, where, and why of your business are stated clearly and prominently in your text. That is, what is your service? Where are you located? And why potential customers should choose you? The answer to the last question could be a unique service you provide, or a special web discount for first-time customers.

  • Click here, today, now! Okay, we suggest taking the aggression down a notch, but your ad should include a clear call-to-action (CTA). Imperative verbs (think: purchase, buy, install, etc.) and time-sensitive words (now, today, under five minutes) are going to be your friends in crafting a CTA that Google searchers actually heed. Learn more about CTAs and how to craft successful Google text ads here.

  • Prepare for a smooth landing: Double check that what your ad is describing matches the link you’ve provided. So if you’re advertising your store’s big annual shoe sale, but the link directs Internet traffic to your homepage, you’ve just introduced one extra navigational step that could potentially dissuade some visitors from ever reaching those gorgeous shoes.

  • Reach out: Make use of extensions that allow browsers to reach information like your phone number or location with one click. You can find these tools by clicking ‘Ads and Extensions’ in your Google Ads dashboard, and then selecting the ‘Extensions’ tab up top. These buttons are one more way to put your business’ essential information at potential customers’ fingertips. Visually, it’s also a nice touch to free up your ad text from a string of numbers and dedicate the space instead to a CTA that packs some punch.

08. Structure your campaign

Do you offer several different exercise programs at your gym? Or want to schedule promotions for your home decor items based on the season? Keep everything organized by starting a new campaign for each service you offer, or for each sale your business is offering. Because with a new campaign comes the need for new keyword research and generating slightly different ad content depending on your target audience, having to literally create a new project in Google Ads will help you keep your yoga outreach separate from your TRX blasts, and your Christmas marketing separate from the language you use on Valentine’s Day. Another benefit of dividing up these campaigns is for the data comparison you can do between them to learn valuable lessons about what’s working and what’s not for your business.

09. Adjust for mobile

Essentially repeat steps 2-8 but through a separate campaign aimed at mobile devices, because your keywords and content will be slightly different when geared towards a population that’s more likely to be on the go. For example, a ‘Call’ extension is a must when possible, eliminating the need for someone to go searching through your site’s ‘Contact’ tab, or annoyingly switch screens back and forth as they input the listed number into their phone. You risk losing a potential customer before they’ve finished punching in the area code. Keep the text short and to the point, and take advantage of the ‘Preview and Diagnosis’ option found under the ‘Tools’ menu in the Google Ads Dashboard to make sure your ad is appearing as you would like. And, of course, you want to make sure the site you’re sending them to is fully optimized for mobile screens.

10. Analyze your performance

The Google Ads Dashboard can help evaluate your ad’s performance through such metrics as how many people have seen your ad, the click-through rate, and how much money you’ve spent on the campaign. Looking to paint a fuller picture about what happens after an Internet browser continues to your website? Link your Google Ads account to Analytics to gather important information like the bounce rate, average time spent on your site, and more. All of these factors are useful for measuring, and potentially diagnosing, each component of your digital presence. If you notice a significant drop in numbers between how many people click on your ad and how many people interact with your website, perhaps it’s worth looking into adding new features to take your site to the next level. Most of all, give yourself the license to experiment. Play with different keywords, as well as small increases and decreases in your budget, to see how both factors impact your reach and click rate. Once you’ve got your rhythm down, sit back, relax, and let the new clients roll in.

By Joanna Kramer

Community Writer


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