Google Ads Basics: How to Get Started With Online Ads

Kevin Randolph is a Google Analytics-certified digital marketing specialist at WebFX. He has a B.A. in Mass Communications and Languages & Cultures. In his free time, Kevin enjoys hiking, road trips, and playing the bass guitar.

Google Ads, formerly called Google AdWords, is one of the fastest, most effective ways to meet goals such as increasing sales and growing brand awareness. Through Google Ads, you can place ads in Google search results and a vast range of other web pages.

But how does Google Ads work, and how can you get started with it? That’s what you’ll learn in this guide to Google Ads basics.

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What is Google Ads?

Google Ads is Google’s program for online advertising. It allows you to advertise in Google search results by bidding on keywords. Your ads can also appear as banner ads on the more than 2 million websites, apps, and videos that are part of the Google Display Network.

Google search ads for shoes

Why use Google Ads?

Before we get into how Google Ads works and how to use Google Ads, you probably want to know why you should use the program in the first place. So, what are the benefits of using Google Ads?

A huge audience

Google Ads is the world’s largest pay-per-click (PPC) advertising network, so it enables you to reach a huge audience. Google processes more than 3.5 billion searches every day, and the Google Display Network reaches more than 90% of global Internet users.

Quick results

Online marketing strategies like search engine optimization (SEO) and content marketing are beneficial in many ways, but it takes time to see results. With Google Ads, your name can show up at the top of search results almost immediately.

Cost-effectiveness

With the right Google Ads strategy in place, your campaigns can be extremely cost-effective.

Google search ads are PPC ads, which means you only pay when someone clicks on your ad. On the Google Display Network, you can choose a cost per click (CPC) or cost per thousand impressions (CPM) strategy, which means you’re charged every time 1000 people see your ad.

The average return on ad spend (ROAS) for Google Ads is 200%, or $2 for every $1. Looking just at search ads, the average ROAS is 800%.

Highly qualified leads

Google Ads is an excellent way to reach your target audience.

Searching for a term and then clicking on a relevant ad demonstrates genuine interest in your business, products, or services. Users also tend to click on ads when they’re close to a purchase decision — 65% of high-intent searches result in an ad click.

Advanced tools and analytics

Google also provides many useful tools for planning your campaigns, targeting the right audiences, and tracking your results. These tools help you go beyond Google Ads basics and get more out of your campaigns.

How Google Ads works

We gave you the basic definition of Google Ads, but let’s take a closer look at how Google Ads works.

First, we’ll look at Google search ads since that’s the most popular type of Google Ads campaign.

To place ads on Google search, you bid on keywords you believe your target audience searches when looking for information related to your industry, business, products, or services.

When setting up your campaign, you’ll choose your bid and budget and the keywords you want to target.

When someone searches a term, Google runs an auction with the advertisers who bid on that keyword. This auction determines which ads will appear in search results and in what order.

To determine the auction winners, Google considers each advertiser’s bid and the quality of their ads. Google takes into account the ad’s relevance to the search, the expected click-through rate, the landing page experience, and other factors when estimating quality.

To get an idea of how Google views your ads’ quality, you can check your Quality Score in your Google Ads account.

Via the Google Display Network, your ads can appear as banner ads on websites across the Internet, video ads on YouTube, and ads at the tops of users’ Gmail inboxes. When creating a Google Display Network campaign, you set your bid and budget and to whom you want to target your ads. Your targeting options include:

  • Keywords, which shows your ads on websites related to your keywords
  • Interests and remarketing, which shows ads to users based on their interests and past Internet activity

You can also choose more specific targeting options within these categories.

examples of Google display ads

How to use Google Ads

Thinking about launching a Google Ads campaign? Here are the basic steps you need to follow. Let’s start with search ads.

1. Set a goal

An essential step in creating any marketing campaign is setting your goals. Google Ads gives you several goal options — leads, sales, and website traffic. It’s recommended that you create a different campaign for each goal you want to achieve.

2. Set your bid strategy and budget

You also need to set your bid strategy and average daily budget. Your bid controls how much you bid for each time your ad is shown, while your budget controls how much you spend in a day. You can choose to set your bid manually or use automated bidding, which means Google uses its data to optimize your bidding based on your goals.

3. Create ad groups

Next, you’ll create ad groups, which each target different keywords. Google recommends that each ad group includes several closely related keywords that are different from the keywords you target with other ad groups. Google also recommends that each ad group contains at least three ads.

4. Create ads

The next step is creating your ads. You’ll need at least a headline and a few lines of descriptive text. Make sure that it’s clear what your ads are promoting and that the ad matches the search intent and your landing page.

5. Add extensions

You can also add extensions, which allow you to add extra features to your search ads. Some of your extension options include:

  • Sitelink extensions: You can add several links to your ads that take users to different pages on your sites.
  • Callouts: Callout extensions give you more space for text and allow you to provide more details in your ads.
  • Structured snippets: Structured snippets enable you to highlight aspects of your products or services using a heading and list.
  • Call extensions: Call extensions share your phone number and encourage calls from users.

6. Track your results and refine your campaign

Once your campaign begins running, track its results, and adjust it based on what you find.

You can check campaign performance in Google Ads and set up conversion tracking to help you track what customers do after they click your ads. Tracking this information and calculating your return on investment (ROI) can help you determine what’s working well and what you can improve.

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If you run a Google Display Network campaign, the process will be slightly different. Keep in mind that, with Display Network ads, people aren’t actively searching your keywords when they see your ads. Instead, your ads will show up on various websites people are visiting.

Here are some of the options you have when creating a Google Display Network campaign.

  • You can choose the geographic area where you want your ads to be shown.
  • You can set your ad rotation, which determines which versions of your ads display.
  • You can place a frequency cap on your ads to determine how many times a single user can see your ads in a day.
  • You can target your ads based on users’ demographic characteristics, the topics of pages and the keywords used on them, and past web browsing behavior. You can also target ads to people who have visited your website before and choose to place your ads on specific websites and pages.
  • Display ads include images or videos. You can manually control how your ads display or allow Google to optimize and adjust your ads based on the page it’s showing on and what performs best.

Master Google Ads basics and beyond with WebFX

Now that you understand some Google Ads basics, hopefully, you feel ready to start working on your first Google Ads campaign.

You might want to start with a relatively small and simple campaign. You can then track your results, test out different strategies, and expand your campaigns when you feel more confident.

Another way to get the most out of your Google Ads campaigns is to work with a professional PPC and Google Ads management company.

WebFX is an official Google Premier Partner, and we’ve managed more than 650 ad campaigns for our clients. We can create a custom Google Ads strategy for your business, manage your campaign, track your results, and refine your campaign to maximize its performance.

To learn more about how our PPC ad management services can help grow your business, request a free quote, or call us at 888-601-5359 today to speak with a strategist.