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Step-by-step guide: how to advertise on Google

Google, search, alert, rating and cursor icons to represent advertising on Google.

With 8.5 billion search queries processed every day, Google’s strength as an online advertising platform is unquestionable. With so many people flocking to type their questions into that waiting empty box—from locating the nearest Italian restaurant to learning how to paint their bedroom—there are many opportunities to promote your small business.

If you’ve only just finished creating your website, Google Ads can help you get in front of new audiences immediately and complement your SEO strategy. But like all marketing strategies, you'll need to learn some tricks of the trade to make sure that your campaign is successful. Keep reading for tips on how to make Google Ads work for you (and check out our guide on Wix Google Ads).

Ready to get started with Google Ads? Manage your campaigns right from your website dashboard using Google Ads with Wix.

How does Google advertising work?

Google Ads provides a variety of different ways to promote your products, services and content. At the most basic level, Google Ads is a pay-per-click (PPC) advertising platform, allowing you to bid on keywords and pay only when/if your ad is either clicked or viewed. Beyond this, Google Ads offer the below benefits:

  • Campaign types: Google Ads supports search, display, shopping, video, app, smart and Performance Max ad campaigns. The latter two options apply machine learning to automatically enhance the targeting and performance of your ads.

  • Placements: Your ads can appear in a variety of places within a Google search result page (e.g., the top of search results, or on the Google Shopping tab), as well as on YouTube, Gmail or affiliate sites (Google Display Network).

  • Targeting options: Ads can be targeted by keyword, demographics, interest and/or placement. Alternatively, you can choose to target existing customers (or people who are similar to your customers) via remarketing, in-market audiences or similar audience campaigns.

  • Bidding strategy: Google Ads are based on a bidding system, in which the highest bidder receives the best placement. That said, you can choose from several bidding models: cost-per-click (CPC), cost-per-mille (CPM, or cost per 1,000 ad impressions) or cost-per-engagement (CPE).

  • Ranking factors: Aside from your bid amount, Google Ads factor in the quality of your ads (a.k.a. “quality score”), the competitiveness of an auction and the context of a person’s search (e.g., location, time, etc.) to decide when to show your ads. These factors together determine what Google calls Ad Rank.

Smart Mode vs. Expert Mode

Getting started with Google Ads is easy, especially since you have the option of choosing between Smart Mode and Expert Mode. Smart Mode offers a simpler experience that allows you to delegate most tasks to Google. However, you’ll have limited control over your ads and only be able to launch Smart campaigns. This is a good option for first-time advertisers with smaller budgets, or for business owners who don’t have the time to manage their ads closely.

Alternatively, Expert Mode gives you maximum control over your ads. You can choose everything from your campaign type and your targeting, to your bidding structure and exact ad appearance. However, you’ll have to invest your own time into closely monitoring your ads and spend. Expert Mode is the best choice for advanced marketers, though it could also be a good option if you’re willing to spend time testing, learning and tinkering with Google Ads on a regular basis.

Note: If you start on Smart Mode, you can switch to Expert Mode whenever. Just go to the settings of your Google Ads account and make the switch.

How to advertise on Google (Smart Mode)

Ready to start advertising on Google? Below are basic steps for getting your feet wet following the Google Ads’ Smart Mode setup instructions.

01. Do your due diligence

Before jumping head-first into the world of Google Ads, you’ll want to take some time to map out your goals for advertising on the search engine. This upfront work will help you structure your ad campaigns in an organized way—even if you’re entering in Smart Mode.

For starters, ask yourself why do you want to advertise on Google? Are you looking to drive more traffic to your website? Do you want to increase sales on a particular product? Or, do you simply want to raise brand awareness?

Consider other factors as well, such as:

  • Your target audience: Who are you looking to reach with your ads? What characteristics, interests and values do your target consumers share—and what should you consider when writing your ad copy or setting up targeting?

  • Your budget: How much are you willing to pay in a given month on Google ads? Set a realistic budget that aligns with your financial resources, while also factoring in the competitiveness of your industry, desired reach and the value of a customer.

  • Your unique selling proposition (USP): What sets your business apart from competitors? Is it your price, quality, convenience or other factors? This will help you create compelling ad copy.

  • Relevant keywords: What terms or phrases are people searching on Google to find products or businesses like yours? Tools like Google Keyword Planner can help you see the monthly search volume, as well as the average cost of certain keywords.

  • Relevant landing pages: Which page(s) will you send people who click on your ad? Keep in mind that even though someone clicks on your ad, it doesn't mean that they’ll convert. This is why it’s very important to select or create a landing page that is closely aligned with your ad and includes content that visitors expect to see.

02. Create a Google Ads account

Now that you’ve defined your purpose for advertising on Google, it’s time to open an account. You can set up Google Ads using your Gmail credentials, so signing up is as easy as clicking “Start now” from the Google Ads homepage. From here, you’ll be prompted to provide basic information, such as your business name, website URL and advertising goals. You can choose from the following advertising goals:

  • Get more calls

  • Get more website sales or leads

  • Get more visits to your physical location

  • Get more views and engagement on YouTube

Note: If you have a Premium Wix account, you can start your Google Ads journey directly from Wix, plus leverage Wix's AI for Google Ads. Simply go to “Marketing & SEO” from your site dashboard and click “Google Ads.” Choose a Smart campaign or Google Performance Max campaign (if applicable), and automatically sync your Google ads with your Wix website content and/or product pages.

03. Write your ad

Google’s setup process makes it easy to create your first Smart Campaign ad. Google will pre-populate some text suggestions for you based on your business information. Tweak these suggestions as needed, keeping your target audience in mind.

You can add up to four headlines at this stage, each containing up to 30 characters. Google will show these headlines in any order that it sees fit, so make sure that each headline makes sense on its own. As a general rule of thumb, you’ll want to make sure that your headlines include strong action words and relevant keywords.

“Your three headlines should work together, building on each other to say something about what your customers are searching for (without repeating themselves),” advises Google. “For example, if your small business sells sunglasses, your three headlines might say: ‘Sunglasses For Sale,’ ‘Find Your Perfect Frames’ [and] ‘Shop Our Collection!’”

Add up to three descriptions (each containing up to 90 characters), which will appear below the headline on the text ad. Keep in mind that Google may not only show one of your descriptions depending on the SERP—you’ll therefore want to make sure that each description can stand on its own, and to include a strong call to action. Avoid making claims that aren’t supported by evidence (e.g., “Number One Bathing Suit of All Time!”) or spamming your descriptions with keywords.

04. Select keyword themes

Keyword themes are phrases that help Google understand which keywords you want to target with your ad. In other words, instead of picking individual keywords to target, you can feed Google a few keyword themes; Google will show your Smart ad for similar keywords.

For instance, by picking the keyword theme “gym,” your ad might appear for “gym near me” or “local gym.” For this reason, you’ll want to make sure you pick a keyword that has the right intent. Don’t simply look at search volumes. Rather, look for keywords that precede the right actions, e.g., “gym shoes” if you’re looking to sell sneakers. You can additionally add negative keyword themes (i.e., keyword types that you want Google to avoid targeting) after you’re all done with setup.

Google recommends adding 10 keyword themes at most—any more than this, and you risk targeting too broad of an audience. If you have more keywords than you know what to do with, you can always create separate campaigns for various keyword themes and thereby better monitor your targeting and spending.

05. Choose your geographic parameters

At this stage, you can specify whether you want your ads to appear to a broad audience or audiences within specific locations. Enter an address, zip code, city state or country.

Location targeting is especially useful if you have a brick-and-mortar location. For example, if you have a store located in New York City, you can set up your ads to appear in front of visitors within 25 miles of Manhattan or your specific store location. Alternatively, if your store is able to ship to anywhere in the U.S., you can set your location to “United States.”

06. Set your budget

Google will provide a few budget options with estimates for how many ad clicks each budget can get you. Alternatively, you can enter your own budget—but bear in mind that your daily spend will fluctuate. You may spend more than your daily average in one day, but spend less on another. However, Google will not exceed your monthly max.

07. Review and pay

Double check your work before activating your campaign. Rest assured that you can make edits even after your ads are live.

If everything looks good to go, confirm your payment information. At this point, you can either set up automatic payments—in which Google charges you on the first of every month—or make manual payments.

08. Analyze and strategize

Once your Google ads are like, the Google Ads dashboard will track four metrics: impressions, clicks, calls and conversions. You can also use your search terms report to drill down a bit deeper.

In addition to this, Wix users can lean on Wix Analytics to see how many new site visitors or purchases are coming from Google ads. If you notice a large gap in numbers between how many people click on your ad and how many people interact with your website, take another look at your landing page and make sure that it’s tightly aligned with your ads. Strip your page of any distractions and test out different CTAs or other special features. Keep close watch over the quality score of your ads. Strategically thinker with your ad creative, as well as your pages.

How to advertise on Google (Expert Mode)

Once you get the hang of Google Ads, consider switching to Expert Mode for more customization options and to get a deeper look into your campaign. Or, you can create your first campaign on Expert Mode by simply switching modes on the first few setup screens. Expert Mode requires more maintenance and strategic thinking than Smart Mode, but it gives you complete control over your Google Advertising campaign. When starting a new Google Ads campaign in Expert Mode, you’ll have to:

01. Choose your objective

When switching to Expert Mode, you’ll see many more options for how to set up your campaign. You can choose from the following:

  • Sales

  • Leads

  • Website traffic

  • Product and brand consideration

  • Brand awareness and reach

  • App promotion

  • Local store visits and promotions

  • Create a campaign without a goal’s guidance

Depending on what you click, Google will suggest the best campaign type for your goal (though you can always go off-script and choose one that’s not listed). You can choose from one of these campaign types:

  • Search

  • Performance Max

  • Display

  • Video

  • App

  • Smart

  • Discovery

  • Shopping

Each campaign type will have its own series of setup steps, such as choosing a conversion action or deciding on a campaign subtype.

02. Define your campaign settings

This setup page will look a bit different depending on your campaign type and objectives, but you’ll generally need to fill in the following the details:

  • Campaign name: Choose a name that’s easy to understand and defines the intent of your ads. The campaign name is for internal purposes only, but it’s key for remaining organized.

  • Networks: When applicable, you’ll need to choose whether to show your ads on Google’s partner sites to broaden your reach.

  • Locations: Decide which regions you want to target, be it a country, city or zip code. You can even choose locations to exclude—for instance, if you only want to target the contiguous U.S., you can exclude Hawaii and Alaska. To take this one step further, you can choose whether to target people who are only present in your target location, or those who are present and/or have shown interest in your location.

  • Languages: Choose the languages that apply to your target customers.

  • Audience segments: This is an optional setting, through which you can either add a remarketing list or add additional parameters for targeting, e.g., only target parents of toddlers (one to three years old), or people who’ve shown an interest in children’s toys. Pro tip: exclude this setting or start broad to begin with, then start narrowing your audience once your campaign is live and you have more data to work from.

03. Set your budget and bidding

Decide on your daily budget. The goal is to spend just enough to get enough reach (and, as result, data to work from) without overspending, or paying for irrelevant impressions and clicks. A good starting point is to perform keyword research. See the average CPC for your target keywords, and make sure to identify keywords that—like your budget—aren’t too narrow or too broad.

Use your research to calculate your daily budget. Google may go above or below your budget on any given day, but it will not go above your daily budget times the average number of days in a month. Plus, you should expect your budget to fluctuate depending on seasonal demand or other factors.

After you’ve set your budget, decide how you want to be charged. Bidding options will vary by campaign type, but you’ll generally want to choose between clicks or impression share. You may see options for manual bidding versus automated bidding: with manual bidding, you’ll be telling Google how much you’re willing to spend for each keyword, whereas with automated bidding, Google will decide on your max CPC bids for you.

If you’re new to Google advertising, it’s recommended that you start with automated bidding.

04. Decide on ad rotation (optional)

Within your campaign settings page, you can click “Show more settings” to change your “ad rotation” settings. By default, your campaign will be set to “Optimize” which means that Google will show the ads that it believes will get the most clicks or conversions.

However, you can choose to rotate your ads evenly or rotate ads indefinitely (without optimization). These options may be good if you’re looking to run controlled tests, but you’ll likely want to begin with the default setting.

05. Create your ad groups

Ad groups are particular sets of ads within your larger campaign. Each ad group has its own ad creatives and target keywords. They’re intended to keep similarly themed ads together to ensure that your audience is presented with the most relevant ads.

For instance, let’s say you have a Search campaign that’s intended to drive more web traffic to your online pet supply store. You may create these ad groups:

Ad group 1: Dog Supplies

  • Keywords: dog food, dog toys, dog beds, dog collars

  • Ad 1: “Shop for dog supplies online. We have a wide selection of dog food, toys, beds, and more.”

  • Ad 2: “Dog supplies on sale now! Save up to 50% on our selection of dog supplies.”

Ad group 2: Cat Supplies

  • Keywords: cat food, cat toys, cat beds, cat litter

  • Ad 1: “Shop for cat supplies online. We have a wide selection of cat food, toys, beds, and more.”

  • Ad 2: “Cat supplies on sale now! Save up to 50% on our selection of cat supplies.”

Alternatively, you might want to create separate ad groups per product (e.g., one ad group for dog toys, another for dog beds). How you organize your ad groups will depend on your business, your target audience(s) and your keyword research. You’ll want to make sure that each ad group has a distinct focus, and a large enough audience as indicated by your research around keyword volume.

06. Add your keywords

As noted above, you’ll need to select specific keywords for each ad group. At this stage, you’ll want to experiment with a variety of keyword match types.

different keyword match types for google ads

Broader match types capture a larger audience, but may not attract users with the right intent. Meanwhile, narrow match types (i.e., exact match) will target more specific users. However, your reach will be very limited. As a general rule of thumb, it’s better to start broad and narrow down your keywords as you collect more data—at the same time, using phrase match or exact match can help you control costs better.

Note that you can also add negative keywords, which prevent Google from showing your ads for irrelevant searches.

07. Construct your ads

Now that your campaign and ad groups are all set up, you can construct your ads. The steps will vary depending on your campaign types:

  • For search ads: Write clear, persuasive copy for the headline and description.

  • For display ads: Provide a headline, description and an image or video in the appropriate specs.

  • For video ads: Upload a video that’s formatted for YouTube.

  • For Shopping ads: Upload your product information—or use Wix’s Google Ad integration to automatically sync your product data with your ads.

Make sure your ads are tightly aligned with the search intent of the keywords that you’re targeting. Consider your audience’s preferences and traits when building any visuals, and speak to their values in your copy.

08. Incorporate assets

Assets, or ad extensions, are content pieces that you can add onto your ad to provide extra information to searchers. They increase the amount of space your ad takes up and don’t cost extra, so use at least one. Assets lead to a higher CTR (up to 15%, according to Google), which increases the quality score of your ad. There are nine types of assets:

  • Sitelink assets: Specific page links

  • Callout assets: Brief company highlights

  • Call assets: Phone number or call button

  • Image assets: Visuals that complement text ads

  • Location assets: Address and other business information

  • Structured snippet assets: Additional header with related values

  • Price assets: Interactive price breakdowns

  • App assets: App download links

  • Lead form assets: Contact forms

09. Confirm payment info and launch

As the final setup step, you’ll need to enter your payment information and confirm that everything looks as it should. When ready, hit “submit” and launch your ads. Establish a system for checking on ad performance frequently and making tweaks as necessary.

Simplify Google Ads with Wix

Looking for a smarter and simpler way to manage your Google Ads? Google Ads with Wix lets you create an ad campaign directly from your website dashboard. Avoid having to manually upload your product data or jumping from screen to screen to manage your ads.

With Wix’s Google Ads integration, you can create a Smart campaign or Performance Max Shopping Campaign (only for Wix Stores). Learn more.

How to advertise on Google FAQs

How much does it cost to advertise on Google?

The cost of advertising on Google will vary, depending on the keywords you want to target their competitiveness and how many people click on them. Cost per click for a Google ad can range from a few cents to tens of dollars depending on the type of ad and keyword. When you start Google ads you will need to set a budget for your campaign either as a total amount for the entire campaign run or as a daily budget. Google also uses an auction system for ads, where you bid on keywords and depending on your relevance and budget, Google will show whether to show your ads and in which order. Generally the more you pay, the higher on the search page your ad will show. Other pricing models on Google ads include cost per acquisition or cost per impression.

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