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Google Ads 101

Reaching your target audience can be a challenge. With countless websites vying for attention, standing out requires strategic marketing efforts. Google Ads, a powerful platform offered by Google, provides businesses of all sizes with a solution to reach potential customers right when they're searching for what you offer.

63% of people have clicked on a Google Ad. Source:

What are Google Ads?

Google Ads is an online advertising platform that allows businesses to display their ads on Google search results pages, other websites, and even YouTube videos. These ads appear prominently, often at the top of search results, ensuring your business is seen by people actively searching for relevant products or services.

An example of how Google ads look after someone searches keywords. It shows the top sponsored results. Graphic Credit: Semrush


Benefits of Using Google Ads

  • Targeted Reach: Google Ads allows you to target your ideal customer with laser precision. Choose specific keywords, demographics, and interests to ensure your ads reach the right people at the right time.

  • Measurable Results: Unlike traditional advertising, Google Ads provides detailed analytics on your campaign performance. Track clicks, impressions, conversions, and more to understand the effectiveness of your ads and optimize them for better results.

  • Flexible Budget: Set a daily or monthly budget that fits your needs and adjust it as needed. Google Ads offers a pay-per-click (PPC) model, meaning you only pay when someone clicks on your ad.

  • Variety of Ad Formats: Go beyond text ads and explore options like image, video, and shopping ads to engage your audience in different ways.

  • Increased Brand Awareness: Even if users don't click on your ad, seeing it repeatedly can increase brand awareness and recognition.

The average business sees a 4.4% conversion rate when creating online Google Ads. Source:

How do Google Ads Work?

1. Advertiser Creates Ads

  • You, the advertiser or business owner, create text, image, video, or other ad formats targeting specific keywords.

  • These keywords represent the terms people might search for that are relevant to your business.

2. Keyword Bidding

  • You set a maximum bid amount you're willing to pay for each click on your ad for each keyword. This bidding system determines which ads appear in search results. Your goals will guide your bidding strategy. The chart below helps break this down:

A graphic showing keyword bidding strategies. Graphic credit: WordStream

3. Search Query Triggers Auction

  • When someone enters a search query on Google, an auction occurs among all advertisers bidding on relevant keywords.

4. Google's Algorithm Makes Decisions

  • Google's algorithm uses two main factors to determine which ads win the auction:

    • Ad Rank: This score considers your bid amount and the quality of your ad based on relevance and user experience.

    • Quality Score: This score reflects how well your ad and landing page match the user's search query and Google's overall quality standards.

5. Ad Display and Payment

  • The ad with the highest Ad Rank appears in the most prominent position on the search results page.

  • You only pay when someone clicks on your ad (pay-per-click model).


Getting Started with Google Ads

While Google Ads offers a plethora of features and functionalities, getting started is relatively straightforward. Here are some key steps:

  1. Define Your Goals: What do you want to achieve with your Google Ads campaign? Increase website traffic, generate leads, or boost sales?

  2. Set Your Budget: Determine how much you're willing to spend on your campaign and set a daily or monthly budget.

  3. Choose Your Keywords: Identify the keywords people are likely to use when searching for your products or services.

  4. Create Your Ads: Write compelling ad copy that highlights your value proposition and encourages users to click.

  5. Target Your Audience: Define your ideal customer demographics, interests, and online behavior to ensure your ads reach the right people. Use your buyer's persona to help guide you.

  6. Monitor and Optimize: Track your campaign performance and make adjustments to your keywords, bids, and ad copy based on the results.

Preview of the downloadable Google Ads Checklist.

Getting the Most from Google Ads with These Best Practices

Keyword Research

  • Thorough Research: Conduct thorough keyword research to identify relevant, trending keywords with high search volume and low competition. We love Semrush because it provides us with so much helpful information!

  • Match Intent: Choose keywords that align with the searcher's intent at different stages of the buying journey (informational, navigational, transactional).

  • Negative Keywords: Utilize negative keywords to prevent your ads from appearing for irrelevant searches that waste your budget.

Campaign Structure

  • Organization: Organize your campaigns by business goals, product lines, or location for better management and analysis.

  • Ad Groups: Create ad groups based on themes with tightly related keywords to ensure ad relevance and higher quality scores.

  • Multiple Ads: Include at least 3 ads per ad group to test different variations and optimize performance.

Ad Copywriting

  • Clarity and Relevance: Write clear, concise, and compelling ad copy that directly addresses the user's search query.

  • Keywords Integration: Include relevant keywords naturally within your ad copy to improve ad relevance and quality score. No keyword stuffing!

  • Call to Action: Encourage users to take action with a strong call to action.

Landing Page Optimization

  • Seamless Experience: Ensure your landing page aligns with the ad copy and provides a smooth user experience relevant to the search query.

  • Clear Value Proposition: Clearly communicate your value proposition (what makes you unique) and highlight the benefits of your product or service.

  • Conversion Optimization: Optimize your landing page for conversions by including clear calls to action, removing distractions, and ensuring a user-friendly design.

Additional Best Practices

  • Conversion Tracking: Set up conversion tracking to measure the effectiveness of your campaigns and optimize for desired actions.

  • Ad Extensions: Utilize ad extensions like sitelink extensions, call extensions, and location extensions to provide additional information and increase click-through rates.

  • Bid Strategies: Choose the right bidding strategy based on your campaign goals, whether it's maximizing clicks, conversions, or return on ad spend (ROAS).

  • Performance Monitoring: Regularly monitor your campaign performance, analyze data, and make adjustments to optimize your ads and improve results.

  • Testing and Experimentation: Continuously test different ad variations, landing pages, and targeting options to identify the best performing elements.


Final Thoughts

Google Ads is a powerful tool that can help you reach your target audience and achieve your marketing goals. With its targeted reach, measurable results, and flexible budget options, Google Ads offers a cost-effective way to drive traffic, generate leads, and ultimately, grow your business.

A woman flexing her arm and the words "Take your business to the next level with Emerald Strategic Marketing" and a button that says "Elevate My Marketing"


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