A guide to Google AdWords: The Dos and Don’ts

Google’s my favourite Search Engine when it comes to online retail therapy, delving into Harry Potter fan theories and SEM (Search Engine Marketing). And Google AdWords has proven to be a fabulous tool!

“Google’s online advertising program is a techy beast.”

Check out my brief guide to using Google AdWords for your business – and after, have a Google of the latest Harry Potter fan theories and get back to me with them. Cheers!

*I am not affiliated with Google – this blog is purely based on research and my use of AdWords, aimed to refresh my own memory and act as a guide to others.  I am in no way getting paid for these magical words of (hopeful) wisdom.

So why should I use Google AdWords?

A laptop showing the Google search engine homepage ready for a user search

Google claims its online advertising program can:

“Attract more customers”

“Help expand online sales” and

“Target local and global ads”

Great stuff, right? It’s pretty vital to many online businesses and the key to many of their successes. Basically, this infamous pay-per-click (PPC) service allows people/businesses to create and run their own ads. These self-created ads are then displayed in Google’s search results – after an auction of keywords. Amazingly, Google AdWords’ auction gets run billion of times each month.

I’ve used Google AdWords because – well mainly, when I needed to run ads, I just turned to Google, out of force of habit. And truly, it’s an excellent tool. You have control over your ad(s) creation. You can clearly measure your results and see where you’re going right/wrong. You can play around with ad extensions. It’s incredibly flexible so it truly lives up to its promise of targeting the right people.

And by measuring your successes you can discover factually the keywords you should be using across your marketing copy too!

Convinced? If you’re thinking about delving into the exhilarating world of Google AdWords, keep reading for some tips on what to do for success!

How to run a successful Google AdWords campaign

A computer screen showing results from a Google AdWords digital marketing campaign

So you want people to see your business/product at the top of Google’s search results. I used an exotic flower shop business in my previous blog ‘Keeping it simple: A basic guide to SEO’ so will run with it. When someone searches for exotic flowers for sale in Google, organic search results will appear – yours may already rank fairly high if you’re playing your SEO cards right. (Learn more about this in my SEO blog).

Your paid ads placement will appear where it’s deemed relevant and useful to what the person has Googled, as well as your bid. These can appear in the top three or so results and on the right hand side of sponsored content.

Creating a campaign in Google Adwords

It’s time for creation! You’ll need to create a campaign for each of your marketing goals. For the exotic flower shop, this could be a campaign for a specific flower species, or perhaps a campaign for a seasonal offer. What to do:

Create a new campaign type

This is where you decide where people will see your ads and whether you want them to be text-based, include images or video. Google AdWords will present you with five options for this:

1- Search Network (ads will appear throughout websites on the Google Search Network – the text based results we see directly after a search is performed)

2- Display Network (banner ads will appear throughout the Google Search Network – typically to other websites, mobile apps and videos.)

3- Shopping (typically used by eCommerce stores to promote products with shopping ads; pushing rich production information like price and merchant name)

4- Video (advertising on YouTube)

5- Universal App (aimed to drive app installs across Google’s networks)

For some, you’ll also be asked to choose a specific campaign sub-type too, commonly ‘Standard’ or ‘All features’ – depending on your preferred ad features. Choose your targeted audience – including gender, age brackets and location – as well as what device they’ll be using to see your ad – e.g. desktop VS mobile.

Google’s advertising networks include the Google Search Network, the Google Display Network and the YouTube Network – all the majestic destinations for your ads to appear!


A collection of random words displaying examples of keywords for Google AdWords digital marketing campaigns

Your keywords are kind of epically fundamental to this entire process.

Each keyword in your account is given a Quality Score. Google’s Quality Score is the search engine’s rating of the quality and relevant of your keywords and PPC ads. This metric depends on your landing page and ad/keywords’s relevance as well as your CTR (click through rate). You desire a high Quality Score. It’s as important as getting into Gryffindor instead of Slytherin.

It’s also vital to ensure your keywords are appropriate for your ad as Google will take this into account when ranking. Their ad auction uses quality and bid to determine the ad’s position – so just because you’re paying more for a campaign than someone else, doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll rank higher. The amount you end up paying is called your actual CPC (cost-per-click).

Google’s Keyword Planner is a hugely helpful tool with this, as you can discover keywords that are relevant to your product, service and target customers. It tells you the average monthly searches for each keyword and ranks the competition, and also states the VPC (Value Per Click). This can be a great indication as to whether AdWords is realistic for your marketing budget!

Ad groups

Under each campaign you’re encouraged to create ad groups. Then inside these ad groups, you’ll have ads and keywords.

An ad group is a group containing one or more ads which target a shared set of keywords. Ad groups helpfully organise your keywords into themes. For the exotic flower shop, under a specific species campaign, this could be ad groups per sub-species.

Make sure the keywords are relevant and appropriate to the ad’s landing page or you’ll totally turn off your intended audience. It can be a good idea to bid on your brand name too, even if you’re doing fantastically in organic search results. It’s typically cheap CPC-wise, avoids competitors stealing it and makes you look super alongside organic SERPS. It’s a good idea to start with around 10-15 keywords per ad group.

To please Google, your ad group will be made up of relevant keywords, fantastic ad text and appropriate landing pages. I tend to use free this Long-Tail Keyword generator to help create them.

And let’s face it, we all want to please the big G.

Don’t forget Negative Keyword Targeting

You can also control what not to target! Negative keywords can help you avoid targeting irrelevant and inappropriate sites. Basically, they’re keywords related to other keywords in your campaign – but ones which are not related to what you’re advertising. By ensuring you’re not targeting incorrectly, you’re far more likely to improve your Google AdWords Quality Score. Result!

Keyword Matching

You also need to choose a match type for your wonderful keywords. This helps control which Google searches can trigger each ad. Choose Broad Match, the default, to trigger your ad when there are search misspellings, synonyms, word-order-variations and related searches. This is the broadest choice, with the possibility to reach the widest audience. Then there are Broad Match Modifier, Phrase Match, and Exact Match to choose from. It all depends on what you’re more passionate about – Broad Match is at the top of the ‘reach’ scale, while Exact Match excels on the ‘relevance’ scale. In the exotic flower shop example, it’s likely searchers will misspell a lengthy, Latin name of a species, so you may choose to be more open and lenient with searches.

Hot, hot hot ads

It should go without saying, your ads need to be on fire. Include a grabbing headline, clear call to action and compelling text. And of course, each ad should include the keyword you’re bidding on. They need to be highly relevant but also as compelling as possible, whether they’re text ads, video ads, image ads, app or digital content ads.

Money, money, money

When your ads show up for the keywords you picked, Google counts the clicks and charges you – a CPC. The AdWords system rewards businesses who are promoting high-quality ad campaigns.

So it’s great that you’re pretty much promised instant results once your AdWords campaign goes live (I mean, if you’ve created legitimately relevant and captivating content). But it doesn’t have to break the bank!

Google AdWords is a great way of budgeting your advertising. The AdWords marketplace relies on bids and quality of ads in order to determine who ranks the highest.

So make a budget for each individual campaign – ensuring you’re happy with the maximum CPC bid (the most you’re willing to pay for a click on an ad). Inevitably, the higher you bid, the more likely you are to receive more traffic.

Your bid strategy is very important. Google AdWords offers a lovely array of these depending on what you desire in return, whether it be clicks, views (on video), impressions or conversions. CPC bidding is very popular as it means you only pay when someone clicks your ad and visits the landing page.

Your delivery method is important too. You have the ‘Standard’ option, which means your ads will be shown evening over time, or the ‘Accelerated’ option, which means your ads will be shown more quickly – until your budget is reached. Or you can schedule your campaign (under advanced settings) and determine a specific start and end date – a simple technique less prone to error.

Love and nurture your Google AdWords campaign(s)

Once you’ve created your campaign(s), AdWords presents a neat, concise page of their progress. You can easily view each campaign’s status, max CPC, clicks, CTR and conversions. It’s imperative to monitor your campaigns and test new keywords or budgets, depending on the results.

Ensure your ads lead respondees to relevant and updated landing pages too – this doesn’t necessarily always mean your homepage! A dedicated landing page is far better, if appropriate. For example, if someone searches for a specific exotic flower, the landing page from the successful ad click should send them directly to that flower on your website, ready for viewing and purchase.

Test the results of these landing pages as well as your ad copy and bid price – making a few tweaks can be a real game changer. A/B testing (AKA split testing) is a fantastic process (pitting two variations of online content, an ad in this case, against each other to see which produces the highest conversion rate).

Don’t be afraid to change your business goals!

Time moves on and your business does to. Make sure this is reflected across your AdWords campaigns. You can easily download reports of your campaigns into a handful of popular file types through AdWords – so there’s no excuse for failing to monitor your progress! Download a sexy Excel spreadsheet of your weekly or monthly results and get busy with a highlighter.

Google AdWords: Get to it and don’t give up

Google AdWords can help you reach new customers. It all depends on the ads you create, the keywords you use, your budgeting and reflection on results. It’s a seriously powerful tool – and enticingly performance-based. AdWords is massive – there’s plenty to explore across it and utilise to your best advantage. If you’re not seeing your desired results straight away, don’t give up! Commit to using AdWords for a few months before throwing in the towel. It’s likely you just need to make adjustments to your campaign.

But it may not work for your business – if you use the wrong keywords or create low CTR ads, targeting the wrong people. So be warned!

Do you use Google AdWords? Has the advertising program worked for you? 🙂

Bethany Wash

Storyteller. Digital marketer. Blogger. Social media enthusiast. Off the clock, an avid reader, cat mum, flautist and cocktail lover flitting between Bristol and Cornwall.


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