Google Ads (formerly Google AdWords) is certainly the best-known Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising platform available. Pretty much every time we conduct a search on Google, first-up we’ll see ‘Ad’ placements fill the first 3 or 4 results at the top of the page. Then we’ll see roughly 10 ‘organic’ search results (driven by Search Engine Optimisation – SEO – activities), followed by another 3 or 4 ‘Ad’ placements. If you can be bothered to click the Page 2 results, you’ll see the same again – and again for Page 3, and so on.
The important message to take away here is the sheer power of advertising on Google Ads. The vast majority of people (75%) conducting a search on Google never go any further than Page 1. Furthermore, some 40% - 60% of searches only click on the first three organic search results. So, gaining significant visibility in Google either means that you have to attain the top 3 organic results, or appear in the top 3 or 4 Google Ads. There’s little wonder then that Google Ads have become so popular. If you are not using Google Ads, then your competitors almost certainly will be.
Google Ads or SEO
First off, let’s be very clear on what we’re considering here:
> Google Ads (PPC advertising) and SEO are not the same thing.
> Google Ads do not directly contribute to better organic search position results (this is accomplished only with good SEO management activities).
So, Google Ads should never be regarded as a replacement for SEO. But, Google Ads can influence your website visitor figures and help to obtain a form of instant visibility for your brand that can take many months of work with SEO alone. Ultimately, SEO will enable you to rank a number of critical keywords for your key website pages, while Google Ads will drive traffic towards specific offers or page content on subjects that you want to gain recognition for.
The Holy Grail then is to get your Google Ad ranking at the top of Page 1 of Google and to have your complementary key website page listed in position 1 to 3 of the organic results as well. However, in highly competitive sectors even well-funded companies can sometimes struggle to attain this and certainly if you are a young company, or an established company with poor website search results currently, then Google Ads are the obvious place to start. If you need further encouragement, the following statistics can be persuasive:
> 75% of people say that Google Ads make it easier to find the search results they need.
> 63% of people say that they trust the results provided by a Google Ad.
> 80% of B2B companies report greater brand awareness obtained by using PPC advertising.
Combine a well-designed Google Ads campaign with a comprehensive SEO Strategy and you will have the core elements of a great digital marketing footprint on which to build.
Who Should Use Google Ads
Hopefully having read this far you will have seen that virtually any company can benefit from the use of Google Ads. In fact, it’s difficult to think of a business that could not potentially benefit from running a Google Ads campaign.
Try running a few Google searches of your own and see what results you get – pretty much every business sector is covered. It doesn’t matter whether your business is B2B or B2C, if you need to elevate your brand and start generating interest in it (and generating sales from that process), then Google Ads are almost certainly an appropriate tool for your marketing armoury.
However, what you should not do under any circumstances is to go blundering in without a good basic understanding of the Google Ads platform. Google Ads is not free, so you’ll need to spend some time planning your objectives and the ROI that you wish to generate. In that respect, it’s no different from any other form of advertising and there’s no point in throwing money down the drain needlessly while you find out for yourself how to use Google Ads.
Use Google Ads Effectively
Once you have set-up your Google Ads account, you’ll be presented with an application user interface that looks almost mind-bogglingly complicated. What the heck do all those terms that you’re seeing even mean? If you’re not a digital marketer or you’re not familiar with Pay-Per-Click management generally, you might be tempted at this point to throw your arms up in exasperation!!
Stay calm and carry on as they say – we’re here to help! Although the interface may seem a little daunting at first, it’s actually reasonably straightforward to create your first Google Ads Campaign. And as long as you follow the basic guidelines and take a little time to understand the basics of the Google Ads management application, you can be up and running pretty quickly. All the complicated stuff can come later – and there’s a lot of it, but once you start to get into it, you’ll find that it can provide some great insights into all of your marketing processes.
The Basics – Getting Started with Google Ads
First off, I should mention that there are a number of different Google Ads formats that you have the option of using and that’s probably a subject for a separate blog all in itself! To start off, stick with the Search Network ads and only be tempted to use the other options once you have become fully familiar with the Search Ads Network and are seeing measurable results from it.
Like most things that are worth doing, it’s at this point that you’ll need to put a little thought, planning, and research into your first Campaign set-up before you go any further. Your Google Ads account is hierarchical and contains Campaigns, Groups, Keywords, and Ads. So, your Account will contain one or more Campaigns and your Campaigns contain one or more Groups, which in turn contain your focused Keywords and Ads. Sounds complicated to start with, but it’s actually pretty easy to get your head around. Here’s a quick overview – starting from the bottom-up:
This is really your starting point and it’s going to be the item that you spend the most time on when you are setting-up your first campaign. The term ‘keyword’ is actually a bit misleading, as a keyword is usually a phrase or combination of words that are commonly used to define your products and services. So, if you were running a coffee shop that sells speciality coffee blends, you would use ‘speciality coffee shops’ not ‘coffee’ as one of your keywords.
As you are gathering all your keywords, try and identify which keywords your competitors are using and the amount of traffic that each gets and the likely Cost Per Click (CPC). You can use the Google Ads built-in keyword planner (go to Tools & Settings > Keyword Planner) to help you with this.
Once you have a nice list of suitable keywords in your grasp, there are two further actions that you’ll need to take. First, you’ll need to assign them keyword match types and then create a negative keyword list so that irrelevant but associated terms do not trigger one of your ads when it shouldn’t. You can create a negative keyword list with the help of Google’s keyword planner tool again.
You’ll now need to group all of your keywords so that similar keywords are assigned to a specific grouping. It doesn’t matter how many groups you have and there’s nothing wrong with a group containing just one keyword. Just make sure that all the keywords in a Group are close variations of the same phrase – this will help with your next task, which is writing your ad copy.
Each Group should contain a minimum of three ad variations and when you’re starting out, I would recommend that you stick to Expanded Text Ads and make sure that you use all of the available fields provided. The more relevant to the Group’s keywords you make your ads, the better they will perform. Also always point the ads to a dedicated, very relevant Landing Page and never point all your ads at your website’s Home page.
As you’d expect, an individual Campaign will focus on a specific marketing objective and the promotion of a specific aspect of your business.
Now you’re nearly ready to make your shiny new account live – but hold on second – there are two more items to address before you do so – Budgets and Bids:
This is where you have to allocate a daily budget for your Campaign(s). You’ll get an idea of what your budget spend might be from using the Keyword Planner tool but bear in mind that Google’s estimate will likely be far higher than you initially wish to commit to. But do remember that this is only an estimate and that you control the actual spend. Work out what you want to pay per month as your test budget and divide that by the number of days your ads will run during the month to get the daily amount. Note that these days, Google may exceed the daily budget, but will aggregate the actual spend over a month to ensure that you do not break your total budget per month.
Google Ads is an auction process, so you’ll need to manage your keyword bid amounts accordingly. The amount that you actually pay per click for your keywords varies according to a number of factors including time of day, the quality of your ad text and landing pages and the overall relevance of your ad message to name but a few. As you improve those factors, the Cost Per Click (CPC) will reduce, so at times you may well end up paying a much lower percentage of the keywords’ initial bid value. To start out, use one of the automated bid strategies available rather than manual bidding. Something like ‘Maximise Clicks’ could work well, and you have the ability to adjust the recommended amount. But it’s always valuable to gather sufficient CPC data first.
So, are Google Ads worth it? Absolutely an overwhelming yes! But take the time to understand the platform first using the above guidelines. If you do good preparation, you’ll get a great start from which to develop your account and benefit from greater visibility for your brand. You’ll make mistakes for sure when starting out, but as you refine your account you’ll start to see the benefits. Once you’ve got that under your belt, the next vital stage is to add conversion tracking to your account – with that in place, you’ll be able to measure things like where your best leads are coming from, how people use your website, and whether your marketing is actually paying for itself by driving the sales you need. A final word of warning though – Google Ads can get time-consuming to administer, so you may wish to get a specialist company to manage the process for you. Please get in touch with us if you’d like more help.
For more information about Google Ads and help in setting up your account for top performance please get in touch with Element79. We offer the initial support that you need and can manage the entire account for you as your requirements grow.
Mike Flarry is a brand and digital marketer with a career spanning 30 years. He has helped large and small companies alike to generate more income from their marketing activities and has launched large new brands onto the UK market. He specialises in the marketing of B2B Tech and Software organisations. Follow Mike on LinkedIn