How to Set up Google AdWords

This post explains how to set up a paid search campaign (PPC) with Google AdWords. Detailed instructions are at http://support.google.com/adwords.

Choosing Google AdWords to do paid search advertising is the obvious choice to get into PPC. Google had about 2/3 share of the US market as of late 2013, see http://searchengineland.com/bing-ends-2013-with-all-time-high-in-us-market-share-but-google-also-up-comscore-181876. Microsoft Bing is a good second with 20%.

Step 0: Sign up with Google AdWords

Go to http://adwords.google.com and sign up for an AdWords account. All you need is a valid email address, which has not been previously used with AdWords, and a credit card.

Step 1: What are you trying to achieve?

At this point it is useful to do some soul searching of what it is that you want to achieve with Paid Search Advertising, if you haven’t done so already. Most businesses want to find new customers to sell goods and services to. Maybe you want to advertise for a new game, a book, or raise money for a charity. This exercise will help you organizing your online marketing campaigns. The creative process is very important to have clarity later.

Step 2: Choosing the Landing Pages

These are the pages of your website where you want the user to land after she clicks on your ad. It could be a product page or something related to your service offerings. In any case, if your keywords match the words on your landing page, Google rewards this with a high quality score and a discounted cost per click.

Step 3: Create Campaigns and AdGroups

A campaign is a sub-unit of your account. You can have as many campaigns as you like. It is a good idea to have one campaign per business goal. Campaigns can be targeted by language, geographic region, country, or demographic age group. For instance, if you want to advertise for a line of products and your market is bilingual, you could have one campaign for English speakers and one for Spanish.

Ad Groups are the sub units of campaigns. An Ad Group has one or more ad copies, the creative text that shows up in Google.com under paid results, see the highlighted areas in the picture below. Ad Groups have Ad text (step 4) and a number of keywords which Google matches to user search queries. An Ad Group can be for a line of product, let’s say baby strollers, in which case we need all keywords for ‘baby stroller’ and variations.

Paid Search Explained

Searching for ‘work uniforms’ on Google.com shows Paid Search Ads (highlighted) on top and on the right side.

Step 4: Write Ads

Each ad group must have one or more ads with a title, two lines of description, a display URL, and the actual target URL, a.k.a. the landing page. The screenshot below shows the edit form on the left and how it will appear on the right (two different formats).

Adwords Ad Text

Google AdWords Ad Copy Text

A good punch line that is relevant to your product increases your chances for success.

Step 5: Keyword Research

PPC is all about keywords. Your keywords need to match the search terms of users looking for your products and services. Build a list of keywords for your business. A good approach is to extract keywords from the landing pages and / or your broader web site. Your competitors’ sites can also be a good source of keywords. Once you have them in Google, there are even more tools to expand your keyword portfolio. In the AdWords console under the ‘Tools’ menu look for the ‘Keyword Planner’. The Keyword Planner tool suggests keywords based on entered phrases, landing pages, or categories pertinent to a common taxonomy of online businesses. After the creation of your new keyword portfolio, you can use the same tool to group the keywords into ad groups by theme.

Generally speaking your keyword portfolio needs TLC for the rest of its life. There is always room for improvement. There is a whole industry dedicated to growing your keywords. Basically, you want to achieve  higher specificity to reduce or eliminate false positive searches thus increasing the number of relevant searches. For that you have to learn the ‘language of your audience’. Secondly you want to grow your keyword portfolio to cover the whole breadth of your audience. The second goal is opposed to the first goal of specificity. This is where the hard work of keyword optimization begins. You may have heard of strategy terms like ‘negative keywords’ and ‘long tail’ optimization, to name a few. This is where a PPC agency or a consultant can help.

Step 6: Decide Daily Budget

Decide how much you want to spend per day for each campaign. This is set at the campaign level. Setting the campaign budget is not as easy as it sounds. You give money to Google for nothing of immediate return. That’s different from buying an ice cream cone. The ads will generate qualified leads if and only if you attract the relevant audience. Everything needs to be set up correctly. Double check if the landing page URLs are correct.

Step 7: Go live, Check your Ads

Your campaigns go live once their start date is arrives. Double check when you start advertising. Once it is live, you can use the Previewer Tool to simulate how a user of specific location, country, language, and device sees your ad. Go to http://adwords.google.com/d/AdPreview.

Step 8: Check Progress Periodically

Now that your Google AdWords account is up and running, your job becomes that of a command-and-control maintenance worker. You need to control the spend and monitor performance. Some key performance indicators (KPI) worth tracking are clicks, cost, cost-per-click (CPC), impressions, click-through-rate (CTR) – the ratio of clicks over impressions, average ad position, as shown below. 

Google AdWords Campaigns View

Google AdWords Campaigns View

The AdWords console has functionality for setting up automated reports with email notification. Sunsprinkle LLC offers services for setup and optimization of PPC campaigns.

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