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60 Seconds On: Starting Out With Google Adwords

60 Seconds On: Starting Out With Google Adwords

For those who haven’t yet started exploring Google Adwords for business, here’s a 60 second overview of the things you need know:


Topics covered in this post:

  1. The Google Adwords hierarchy: Campaign – AdGroup – Ad 
  2. Search vs Display
  3. Brand vs non-brand campaigns
  4. Keyword match type
  5. Conversion tracking

The Google Adwords hierarchy: Campaign – AdGroup – Ad

All advertising activity on Google Adwords (and on Facebook BTW) has a very specific hierarchy – for every ad you want to run you’ll need to create not just an ad but also an adgroup and a campaign.

These are all basically folders. Think of if this way – on your computer, you have a folder called “Photos”, and within that folder you have sub-folders called “Trip to Las vegas”, “Wedding photos” etc. and within each of these folders you have the relevant photos to that event. That’s exactly what the Google Adwords hierarchy is.

The campaign is the most “broad” folder, only defining things like the geolocation you want to target your ad at (do you want your ad to reach people who live in the US? In a specific city or state perhaps? or maybe you also want it to be shown to those who live in Canada?)

The adgroup is a sub-folder. Each adgroup will contain a group of ads targeting specific keywords.

In other words – You want to write ad messaging that most closely matches what users actually searched for on Google and so you need to group you ads into an adgroup based on the similarity between the keywords you choose to target.

People who search for “coupon for [your product]” and “discount for [your product]” should see a different ad than those who search for “[your brand name]”

The Ads are, exactly as you might assume, the actual ads that are shown on Google search when a user searches for a keyword you targeted.

The ads include 3 text lines (=your marketing message) + a display URL (=usually your site’s URL) and the actual URL of the landing page you want to send people who click on the ad to (this URL should include UTM tracking parameters so you’d be able to ascertain the success of each ad in getting conversions when you analyze results. Read more on UTM tracking).

You should always have 2 ads active in each adgroup. This way you can compare success of different ad-copy (lower CPC, higher CTR, more conversions, lower CPA) or same ad-copy but leading to 2 different landing pages and basically – be able to optimize your creative efforts.

Do you want your ads to be shown on Google’s search pages (=search) or on websites and mobile apps that have enabled google advertising (=display network)? or maybe you want both?

If you’re just starting out, I’d stick with search. The display network is much more fitting for retargeting (AKA remarketing) anyway.

Brand vs non-brand campaigns

Brand campaigns are campaigns that target branded keywords – the name of your business and variations of it.

Non-brand campaigns target everything else basically.

While it’s fairly obvious why you’d want to target non-brand keywords (=people searching for a solution for a problem your product solves for, for instance) some people don’t understand why they’d want to spend money on targeting ads at their own brand name keywords.

If someone searches for my business name, the website is already in the organic search results section, why would I want to spend money on ads as well?

Here’s why:

  • Real-estate on the search results page – If someone searches for your business on Google, you want to make sure he gets to your site, the more search results he sees that lead there, the better.
  • Competition – paid ads appear above the organic search results. This means that when searching for your business name, before seeing your organic, well-earned ranking, a user will see a paid ad.

If you’re not targeting your company name, your competitors could easily “buy” those premium spots and “steal” your traffic.

    • Control – The organic search results a user who searched for your business will see will likely link to your homepage and any other page on your site that includes a higher density of the business name keyword. These pages aren’t necessarily the best converters because they naturally include a lot of information.

By placing an ad, you decide which landing page the user gets to when he clicks. You can create a focused landing page with one cohesive message throughout, thus controlling the conversion funnel a user goes though, increasing the liklihood he/she would convert.

Keyword match type

Broad match – Your ads will show for users who searched for anything that could be slightly related to the broad keyword you chose to target (including misspelling, variations, related terms and synonyms)

Phrase match – when you put your keyword expression between quotation marks, “”, your ads will show only for that phrase or close variations of it (a word before or after the phrase)

Exact match – When you put your keyword expression within square brackets, [], your ads will only show for searches of that exact expression

Negative match – when you use the minus sign before a keyword, ‘-‘, your ads will not show for searches of that keyword. You would use this match type to exclude keywords.

How to use this:

Brand – If you’re just starting out with Google Adwords, you’ll want to create a brand campaign that includes an adgroup that only targets your brand name variations in exact match format as well as an additional brand adgroup that will target your brand name in broad match format.

In this manner, you can both catch those who searched for your brand exactly and show the the most relevant ads and also do some market research and see what other things people tend to include when they search for your brand (the broad option) in order to expand your keyword lists in the future.

Non-brand – By default, you should start out non-brand campaigns targeting broad match keywords. After you’ve accumulated enough data on what people search for  exactly and see which searches convert better for you, you can start optimizing – creating adgroups for specific phrase and exact match keywords with specific an highly relevant ad-copy for each.

(additional info on the above match types and on the modifier option)

Conversion tracking

As mentioned above, you should always add UTMs to your ads. But that’s not all, you should also integrate your Google Adwords account and Google Analtycs account.

Once you’ve done this, you can import goals you’ve set up in Google Analytics into Google Adwords, see right in the Google Adwords interface which campaigns/ adgroups/ ads were able to reach those goals for a better cost and optimize accordingly.

*I’ll add a detailed post about conversion goals soon.

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