Pay-per-click advertising, or PPC, is one of the fastest and most effective ways to drive traffic to a web property online. PPC can include any website that already has a significant amount of traffic that sells ad space on its property. PPC was nothing new when Google came along; however, they are one of the first companies to have such wild success with monetizing a free service, which is its ubiquitous search engine. Google’s networks feature text and display ads triggered by the keyword queries of its users. For those who are not familiar or who have limited knowledge of the AdWords platform, we will show you how to set up and optimize your first campaign.
Setting up a Google Account
In order to use AdWords, you must have a Google account. If you already have a Google account that you are planning to use, you can skip ahead to the next section. If you don’t have a Google account, follow these steps to set one up.
- Visit adwords.google.com
- Click on the start now button
- You will be prompted to choose whether you want to use an existing Google account or say that you don’t use any other Google services (meaning you either don’t have a Google account, or you want to set up AdWords using a new account).
If you have login credentials for Youtube, Google Analytics, Gmail, Google Docs, Google Play, Adsense or any other service owned and/or operated by Google, you already have an account. You do not need to use these credentials, but if you want to and you use these other services, you already have an account.
- If you choose to use an existing account, you have the option of creating new login credentials just for AdWords.
If you are certain that your AdWords account will always be for personal use or that you will always be the only administrator, you can opt to use the same login credentials as your other Google services. This will eliminate the need for you to keep logging into the account when you are already logged into your other Google services. If you are setting up an AdWords account for a business, or there is a possibility that there may need to be more than one person as an administrator on the account, you should set things up with separate login credentials. If you are setting up an account for a client, you should either use the client’s Google account or create a new Google account for the client. This is a best practice because the account is essentially property of the client, and if they want to work with others down the road, they will not be able to do so properly if the account is set up using your personal Google account.
- If you choose to keep your login credentials the same, simply sign in to create your AdWords account.
- If you are setting up a new account, enter an email that you would like to use and a password. The email does not have to be a Gmail one, but you must have access to the inbox in order to verify the account.
- Check the email account that you provided in order to verify your account.
Learning about AdWords: Setting up Your Campaign
Log into your account and click the “create a new campaign” button. A drop-down menu will prompt you to select a campaign for the search network, the display network or both. There is also an option for a video campaign; however, we won’t be covering that here. One of the best ways to learn about AdWords is to dive in and start working with an account. The following is what each option entails:
- Search network: By selecting this, you will be setting up a campaign to display ads on Google’s search engine results pages. These are three-line text ads that appear at the very top of results and to the right.
- Display network: By selecting this, you will be setting up a campaign on Google’s network of partner advertising websites that are participating in Adsense. These ads are image ads and are a more traditional type of advertising online. Ads are displayed on websites relevant to the product or service that you are marketing.
- Both: This option lets you set up a campaign for both the display and search networks at the same time.
Since this is an introductory guide for learning about AdWords, we will only be covering the search network at this point. If you are interested in learning more about the other networks and advertising options through Google, there are a lot of great resources here.
Select the search network, and on the subsequent page you will begin entering your campaign information.
- Name your campaign: This can be whatever you want; however, you should make it something that is easy to differentiate from other campaigns that you have running or may run in the future. For instance, if you leave multiple campaigns as the Google default “campaign 1,2,…,” things can get a little confusing.
- Campaign configuration: Select the ad configuration you want for your account. At the time of this writing, the choices include standard, all features, product listing ads and dynamic search ads. The chart below allows you to compare these configurations in detail. If this is your first time with AdWords, you may want to choose the standard setting unless you have a specific need that can be fulfilled by one of the other settings.
- Select your network: This will be set depending on your choice in the previous step. For the standard configuration, the network will be the search network along with partner search networks like AOL.
- Device targeting: In the next step, you can choose which devices you want to target with your campaign. By default, your account will be set to enhanced campaign settings. With these settings, your campaign will target mobile devices, desktop and laptop computers. If you want to choose which devices your campaign targets, click “switch to legacy settings.” When you are first learning AdWords, it is best to use general settings until you are comfortable.
- Location settings: You have the ability to customize where your ads show with AdWords. You can target a single city, an entire state, a whole country or multiple countries. Location targeting allows you to extend your ad’s reach, but it also allows you to control who sees your ads so you aren’t wasting resources. If you are advertising to a local market, you can set a radius for your ads to show to people only within a certain distance of your business. You can do this by clicking “Let me choose…” in legacy settings and then “advanced search.” A dialogue box will appear allowing you to choose a radius.
- Bidding and budget: At this step in the process for setting up a standard search network campaign, you must decide what your daily budget and bidding configuration will be.
- Bidding: There are basic and advanced options in this step for bidding. For the purposes of this guide, we will only be covering configuration of basic options. You can select to set your bids manually or let AdWords choose your bid amounts in order to maximize clicks in your account. It is strongly suggested that you choose the option to let AdWords select your bids if you are not familiar with manual bidding. By doing this, AdWords will choose the appropriate maximum bid amount for each keyword based on your budget. By choosing manual bidding, you set your maximum cost per click on your own. Best Practice Tip: When setting your bids manually, it is not an effective strategy to choose a low bid amount. While bidding is not the only factor that determines which ad shows up first on the first page of Google, it plays a large role. All else being equal, if you set your max bid too low, you will be placed after other ads in line that may have higher bids.
- Budget: Your daily budget is simply whatever you want to spend per month on advertising divided by 30. For example if you wanted to spend $300 per month on AdWords, your daily budget would be 30 dollars per day. Setting your budget can be tricky if you have more to spend on advertising. You must take into account the average cost per click of keywords that you have chosen as well as the demand for what you are advertising online. Tools like Google’s Keyword tool and Traffic estimator can guide you on how high you should set your budget.
- Ad Extensions: The last step in setting up a standard search network campaign is ad extensions. Ad extensions are not necessary but are useful if you are targeting a local market. Ad extensions allow you to associate ads with your Google Plus social profile, add a phone number, add site links or add location information. These extras are not for everyone, but they are great if you have a conversion process that does not lend itself well to online conversions. For example, some sales cycles require more education for consumers or that there be contact over the phone. Ad extensions work great for these scenarios. If you decide not to use ad extensions, simply click “save and continue.”
Choosing Keywords for AdWords
After you click “save and continue” on the initial campaign settings page, you will see the step to start writing your ad copy. If you want to do this step first, that’s fine, but I have always felt like choosing keywords makes more sense to do first. Keywords are the foundation of your account because these are the things that trigger your ads. If you scroll to the bottom of the page, you will see the spot to add your keywords to the campaign.
When adding keywords, it is a best practice to make your campaigns very targeted. When setting up your first campaign, it is tempting to create a lot of ads and insert a lot of keywords. Keep in mind that any keyword that is included with your ad group has the potential to trigger an ad that you have associated with it. If that keyword is not relevant to your ad, users won’t click on it and your campaign will eventually perform poorly.
With this in mind, pick a tightly themed group of keywords to include in your campaign. Remember that if you want to target other themes or keywords, you should create a separate ad group for them and even a different landing page. The following example will help illustrate this concept.
Lets say you want to advertise a set of wooden toy blocks. Choose a target key phrase that represents your product (wooden blocks), and then use that phrase and its variants in your ad group. Here is a sample list of keywords:
And here are a couple of ads that go with these keywords,
Notice that in our list of keywords, all of the phrases are similar in terms of theme. They all have to do with wooden blocks for kids. Our ads contain the key phrases exactly as they are in the list or variations of those phrases. If we were to have one phrase in our list that was not relevant to the others, it would be more difficult to create ads for the group of keywords. Further, if there were an unrelated phrase, it would still trigger one of the ads. That means there is also the potential for the unrelated phrase to trigger an unrelated ad, and for a user to not click it because it doesn’t have anything to do with his or her query.
Say, for example, you also had the key phrase “wooden blocks” tied to a brand name as one of your keywords. Users searching for a specific brand name are less likely to click on our ads that do not contain any brand names, but generic phrases for children’s wooden blocks. The best way to set this up would be to create a different ad group with keywords that contain specific (and consistent) brand names with the words “wooden blocks.”
Learn AdWords Match Types
Match types are another factor to consider when including keywords. Match types are simply different ways of configuring your keywords so that ads are triggered only when you want them to be. There are a handful of different match types to choose from.
Learning to Write AdWords Copy
Keywords are important to have in your ads but don’t forget that you are advertising to customers and not search engines. You must make sure that your ads are compelling enough for users to click on them. There are a few basic rules to follow when configuring your ads.
- Headline: Your primary keywords should go in the first line of your ad. Capitalize all the first letters of the words in your headline to help it stand out.
- Body: In the middle line of your ad, you should have your value proposition or, in other words, whatever it is that you are promising users that they will get when they click your ad. This is your chance to convey what it is that you offer of value to users.
- Call to Action: The last text line of your ad should have your call to action. A call to action is a series of words that encourage a person to act. Common calls to action are “Act Now,” “Call Now” or “Visit Us Today.”
You should now have your AdWords account setup to start performing well. Even though there are best practices to follow, you should always revisit your campaign(s) about once every few days to make sure they are performing well. Over time — once you learn about AdWords and have optimized your campaigns — they will begin to mature, but in the beginning, you should check your account frequently to make sure things are doing well. If you want more information on how to optimize your AdWords campaign, there are tons of great resources online to help. The following are examples of such resources:
- AdWords Help Center: http://support.google.com/adwords/?hl=en
- AdWords Certification Help: http://support.google.com/adwords/certification/?hl=en
- AdWords Glossary: http://support.google.com/adwords/topic/15464