A Comprehensive Guide To Using Google Adwords in 2023

Categories: Marketing Advertising


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1. What is Google Adwords?

Google Adwords (or Google Ads) is an advertising platform provided by the Search Engine. This is where advertisers can bid on keywords for their ads to be shown on Google’s search results. Then, every time an ad is clicked, Google charges the advertiser a fee. This advertising method is called Pay Per Click (PPC) and which is how Google makes money. I’ll dive into how this fee is calculated in the coming chapters.

2. Google Adwords terminology

Search Terms: search terms are words or phrases that users type into the Google search.

Keywords: keywords are words or phrases that you set up in your campaign to determine where your ads are shown. Keywords do not necessarily have to be exactly the same to search terms; one keyword can be shown to lots of different search terms related to that keyword with the application of keyword match types about which you will learn in Section 5.

Branded keywords: the words or phrases that include the brand name or a variation of the brand name. For example: Sony headphones.

SERPs: Search engine result pages. This is the page that shows up when you search for something on Google.

Google Adwords
How the Google SERP looks like

Ad rank: this is a value that Google uses to determine the position of your ad on the SERP. This value is calculated based mostly on your bid amount, quality score, and expected impact of extensions. You can learn more about ad rank in Section 4.

Ad copy (ad text): this refers to all of the text of an ad on Google.

Google Ad copy

Clicks: every time your ad is clicked is counted as one click.

Impressions: every time your ad is shown on a search result page is counted as one impressions.

CTR (Click-Through Rate): How likely your ad is clicked. This metric is calculated by Clicks/Impressions. For example, if your impressions are 100 and clicks are 10, your CTR is 10/100 which equals 10%. This means your ad gets clicked for every 10 times it is displayed.

CPC: This stands for Cost Per Click which is how much you pay every time your ad is clicked.

Google Keyword Planner: This is a free tool provided by Google that advertisers can use to generate keyword ideas. You can learn how to use the GPK in Section 10.

Ad Extensions: these are extra pieces of information that can be added to your ad copy to give searchers more reasons to click on your ads. You can learn more about them in Section 9, Step #5.

3. How do you know if Google Adwords works for your business?

Google Adwords has been one of the biggest advertising platforms in the last decade, and millions of advertisers are displaying their products on this platform.

But that does not necessarily mean Google Ads will work for your business. One of the reasons is, for example, your product is very new and no one ever hears of it. When it comes to Google Ads, unless people search for your product, your ads aren’t going to show up. This means if no one knows about your product, they won’t search for it, and therefore there’s no point displaying your ads on Google. It boils down to consumer behavior.

You can think of Uber. When it first came out, no one said that I’m going to search for Uber on Google as they didn’t even know the concept of Uber, let alone the brand.

So let’s jump right into how you can find out if Google Ads can work for your product.

3.1. Evaluate traffic potential by doing keyword research

Doing keyword research is putting up a list of potential keywords on Google Keyword Planner to find out how many people are searching for your product on Google. That way you can find out if it is going to be worth it to opt in Google Ads.

Let’s try “online design courses” in the location of the US.

Google Keyword Planner
Google Keyword Planner will give you keywords idea and search volume estimation of each keyword

The key metric for evaluating a keyword is volume that is the number of people searching for this particular keyword per month. If your list of keywords has high volumes, it is a good indicator that lots of people are googling for your product or service.

If your keywords, on the other hand, have only one to two hundred searches a month, that means your product might be too niche to expect any considerable sales boosts from Google Ads.

You can jump to Section 7 of this article to learn how to use Google Keyword Planner and try this method.

3.2. Is your product tough to sell without images?

While there are products that can sell without the support of imagery, such as a design course, there are others that are very tough to sell without attractive images (clothing is the most obvious example).

Google ads displays text

Google is not a good platform for the latter category, because the ads display is only text.

Google Ads Display Is Only Text

So if your product can’t sell without imagery, consider advertising on Facebook or Instagram. You can get as creative with imagery as you are capable of on these two platforms.

3.3. Do competitor research:

Do competitor research is finding out whether your competition is advertising on Google. You can execute this by searching for your target keywords on Google and see if there are other advertisers bidding on them. If there are, that means your competition is converting sales with Google Ads, which means people do search for your product on Google, which means it’s time to opt in!

4. How Google Ad Rank Works?

4.1. What is Ad Rank?

Ad rank is the position that your ad is placed on Google’s search results. If your ad shows up in the second place, your ad rank is number two.

Google Ad rank

Google displays the maximum of 4 ads on top of the search result page. And there are a couple of factors that decide ad rank.

4.2. What factors decide ad rank?

Google Ads functions basically the same way an auction does, which means the better the bidder meets the required criteria, the higher he can rank. This also means ad rank on the SERP can change every time a search is performed. You can show up first in this search but second in the next one, because, in those split seconds, your competition decided to raise their bid.

Here’s Google’s formula for ad rank (ad rank is calculated as a score):

Ad Rank = Max Bid * Quality Score * Expected Impact of Extension

The highest ad rank gets the first position, the second highest gets the second, and so on.

+) Max Bid

Max Bid is the maximum amount of money you are willing to pay Google for a click on your ad. It is set when you’re creating your campaign, and only for determining your ad rank.

The amount of money Google actually charges you for a click is less than your max bid most of the time. This amount is called actual Cost Per Click. I’ll explain it in section 5.

+) Quality Score

Quality Score is an estimated score that Google gives your ad. It is calculated on a scale of 1-10 and based on three factors -

  • the relevance of your ad text
  • the user-friendliness of your landing page
  • expected CTR.

The more relevant your ad text is to the user, the more user-friendly your landing page is and the higher your expected CTR, the higher quality score you will get. Higher quality scores can lead to lower CPCs and better ad positions. Here is how you can check your quality score.

Expected CTR

Expected CTR is Google’s estimation of how likely your ad will get clicked. Google calculates your CTR by considering how well your keyword has performed in the past and how relevant your ad text is to the keyword.

There are three levels of expected CTR that you can get -

  • Average and above average: Good to go!
  • Below average: your ad text might not be relevant to your keyword. You should reevaluate your ad text and make sure it matches the intent behind a search on that keyword.

+) Expected Impact of Extensions

The role of extensions in Ad Rank is to encourage advertisers to use and optimize extensions. It is noted by Google that extensions are important to its users because they provide potential customers with extra information and additional ways to take an action (such as click-to-call, click-to-message, location extension, sitelinks to deeper pages, etc).

Adding extensions helps increase ad quality and CTRs. By encouraging the use of extensions, both Google and advertisers can acquire higher CTR and more paid clicks.

5. The three match types of keyword

Keyword match types are limits that can be set on your keywords to decide how your ads are triggered. Imagine that Google didn’t provide these parameters and you had to input every single keyword you wanted to use, this would be crazy time consuming and exhausting. However, with keyword match types, you only have to enter one keyword, and based on which Google will find similar ones for displaying your ads. There are three types of keyword match: Phrase match, exact match and broad match. Let’s jump into each of them.

5.1. Phrase match

Phrase match type is defined by a pair of quotation marks when you set it up in your campaign. For example, “car tires”.

Phrase match is all keywords that contain the original keyword in that exact same order. For instance, if your original keyword is “car tires” and you apply phrase match to it, the phrase match keyword “car tires” can show your ad to search terms such as “passenger car tires”, “car tires lowest price”, “best car tires”.

As you can see, all of these search terms have the original keyword in them added extra word(s) before or after it. This match type will enable you to target lots of long-tail keywords that are relevant to the original one. These long-tail keywords are often incredibly cheap because of their low search volume. However, the search volume of 100’s of them can quickly become kind of a big deal.

5.2. Exact Match

Exact match type is defined by a pair of brackets. For example, [car tires].

This one works exactly like the way it sounds, exact match targets just the keyword you’re using. This is when you want to focus on only one keyword without having your ads triggered by any other keyword. For instance, if you apply exact match to [car tires], only this keyword or its very close variation will be triggered, such as “car tires” or “car tire”; no extra word added.

Yes they look kind of exactly the same, which is the point of this match type. The targeting here is very specific, which is a great option when you have a highly profitable keyword and you don’t want any other keyword to steal its traffic.

5.3. Broad Match:

Broad match is defined by the keyword standing alone; nothing else added. For example, car tires.

The last match type of Google Adwords is broad match which is the default match when you start setting your campaign. This means if you want to use broad match, you just need to enter the keyword, but for exact match and phrase match, you need to add a pair of brackets or quotation marks.

With this match type, you’re going to have the broadest range of keywords, ranging from misspellings, synonyms, related searches and other close variants. If you want your ad to be shown to as many search terms as possible, this is the option to go for. For example, if you apply broad match to car tires, your ads will be triggered by search terms such as “Best tire reviews”, “best car tires”, “car tires replacement”, “tires and wheels for sales”, “automobile tires”, “car, SUV and truck tires”, and you can keep going all day.

That would, basically, be anything that has a part of your original keyword in it, which can quickly add up to hundreds of different combinations of your original keyword. Your ad in this case will reach the widest possible audience, but will bring you a ton of irrelevant clicks too.

6. Components of an ad copy

Components of an Google ad copy
A typical ad text is made of 4 components: Headlines, URL, Description, and Extensions

6.1. Headlines

Headlines are the blue text at the top of your ad copy, this is where searchers can click to go to your landing page. This part of your ad copy is what catches searchers’ attention, and therefore it needs to be closely relevant to their search terms.

This means if someone is searching for “bluetooth headphones”, the ad of yours that shows up should be “bluetooth headphones” instead of, say, “noise-cancelling headphones”.

Headlines are made of 3 portions called H1, H2 and H3 divided by a vertical line from left to right. H1 and H2 are always displayed in your ad if you set them up, H3 not always, but depends on how much relevant Google think it is to the user’s search term. For each of the Hs, you have 30 characters; spaces included.

6.2. URL

URL is the green text right under your headlines. This is not a clickable link, but is there for display purposes only; this is why it is also called display URL. You have 15 characters per slash to write something that is appealing, beneficial or most striking about your advertised product. You can learn how to make full use of this little line of text here.

6.3. Description

Description is the 90-character text portion right below your URL. This is where you can show off the best benefits that your product and your business can bring to the user if they buy from you, such as your warranty, shipping policies, discounts, etc. You can learn how to write a killer description for your ad copy here.

6.4. Extensions

Below your descriptions are ad extensions. Ad extensions are additional snippets of information that can be set up into your text copy. These include call buttons, your location information, links to other pages of your website, extra text and so on.

While it’s free to set up extensions in your ad, these snippets can bring about a lot of benefits such as more clicks and higher CTRs. You can read a comprehensive guide on what extensions can do for you and how to use them here.

7. Two simple but powerful tactics to write a great ad copy

The one thing that everyone is dying to have when they want to grow their business online is traffic. An online store without traffic is just like a brick and mortar store with no visitors. And what is the fastest way to drive more traffic to your website? Advertising. Advertising on Google means getting as many clicks as possible as clicks are visitors, and to achieve that, you have to make sure your ad copy are appealing and persuasive enough to attract clicks. Here are four powerful tactics that you can use to write killer ad copies.

7.1. Use headlines to show to searchers how you’ll solve their problems

Writing headlines for most people start and stop at putting in the right keyword. After all the keyword represents what the user is searching for so that’s what they’re going to read first. The problem is your competition is using that same keyword, and when everyone is displaying the same keyword, no one really stands out.

People click on an ad because they think it will give them what they want or help them solve their problem. So, to stand out among your competitors and grab searchers’ attention, your headlines need to match their end goal. So, think about what problem the searcher is trying to solve, or what they are expecting to get, and then let them know that you can fulfill their need right in your headlines. For instance, here are some ads for the keyword “sell books” -

Google Ads headlines

The first ad states this goal clearly in its headlines: Sell Your Books For Cash. This grabs the searcher’s attention immediately as they notice this advertiser can help them achieve their end goal, which is getting cash for their books. So, to make your ad stand out, show searchers that you can solve their problem in your headlines.

7.2. Benefits, not features

If you were to write the body of your ad by describing your product features or how awesome your brand is, that would be a waste of time, because these types of information don’t get people interested. People get interested by knowing what benefits they’re going to get. Therefore, be sure to make clear what benefits you and your product can bring about in your ad description. (Tip: remember to use the pronoun “you” to make your ad sound personal).

Here’s an ad for pet insurance -

Google Ads Insurance

The first ad is full of benefits -

  • Get 5% off
  • Cut costs without cutting coverage
  • Works with any licensed vet (convenience)

In comparison with the second ad which is kind of vague -

  • Save big (but how much?)
  • Visit today (visit the website? Why should I visit you while your competitor provides better benefits?)
  • Insure your pet today (yes, that’s what I’m looking for, but why do I choose you?)

You get the point right?

8. How actual CPCs are calculated

Here is Google’s formula for calculating CPC -

Google Ads CPC

Your CPC will always be less than or equal your max bid. In case your max bid is lower than min bid (which is the lowest amount accepted for your ad to be displayed), Google won’t display your ad and you’re going to need to increase your bid.

Also, as Google Adwords is an auction, competing for a position means your CPC will be influenced by both your and your competitor’s ad rank, max bid and quality score.

Let me break this down for you. Let’s say you are Advertiser 1, and another three advertisers are competing for the highest position in the SERP.

Max bids, quality scores and ad ranks are shown in below table.

Google Adwords competition

To appear in the first position of the SERP -

  • With the QS of 10, you need to pay only $1.61 per click.
  • With the QS of 4, Advertiser 2 needs to pay $3.01
  • With the QS of 2, Advertiser 3 needs to pay $4.01
  • With the QS of 1, Advertiser 4 needs to pay more than $4.01.

As you can see, the higher your quality score is, the lower CPC you’ll have to pay. My example is sort of theoretical because, in reality, Google won’t display ads with low and average quality scores on top of the SERP. A Good QS is 7 or higher, a Bad QS is 3 or lower and an Average QS is 4, 5, or 6. This means if your quality score is less than 7 you probably won’t get a chance.

This makes sense because the highest priority of Google is to give its users the most accurate result for the information they are looking for. A high quality score means the ad text is relevant and the landing page is easy to navigate, which deserves to be on top.

9. How to improve your quality score?

You can expect to double your return if you decide to opt in Google Adwords. But, of course, it won’t be that easy. There’s a lot going on under every CPC campaign, and you’ll have to make sure that those factors are on point so that your campaign can be cost-effective. So, what can you do?

The answer lies in having a good quality score. As you can see from the calculation in Section 5, if your quality score is low, your CPC will be through the roof for positions that should not be that expensive. On the other hand, high quality scores will bring you a higher ROI. As I have mentioned in Section 4.2, a quality score is defined by three factors:

  • Ad Relevance
  • Landing page
  • Expected CTR

Here are eight steps that you can take to increase your quality score -

Step #1: Set up your campaign with small ad groups

Google recommends that you should use from 15-20 keywords per ad group. However, this often does not work, instead, you should include only one keyword in each ad group.

Even if you’re running a large account, this one keyword strategy should still be applied to 80% of the keywords that you expect to get the most traffic from. Why?

The key to achieve a good quality score is you need to make sure that your keyword, ad text and landing page are closely connected together. If you put several keywords in your ad group, it will be difficult to create a common ad copy that is perfectly relevant for each keyword. Your landing page also might not contain all of those keywords either.

If you, on the contrary, use only one keyword in your ad group, it will be much easier for you to write your ad text around that keyword and to make sure that your landing page provides sufficient references to that keyword. This way you’ll have much more control in managing your quality scores.

Google Adwords campaign

In practice, for every single-keyword ad group, use all three match types (exact, phrase, modified broad) for your keyword. For example, if you’re selling travel tours to China, I’d recommend you to structure your ad group like this:

Ad group China cheap tours:

[China cheap tours]

“China cheap tours”

+China + cheap + tours

Ad group China luxury tours:

[China luxury tours]

“China luxury tours”

+China +luxury +tours

Ad group China tours for two people:

[China tours for two people]

“China tours for two people”

+China + tours +for +two +people

Ad group China tours for four people

[China tours for four people]

“China tours for four people”

+China +tours + for +four people

Another advantage of this single keyword strategy is that you can customize your landing page specially for the keyword in your ad group. This allows you to craft a much more relevant and targeted user experience, which will also improve your quality score. I’ll jump into how you can customize your landing page in Step #6.

You can learn more about the single keyword strategy and why they are great here. Read it thoroughly, seriously.

Step #2: Add negative keywords

Negative keywords are keywords that you don’t want Google to show your ads for. This means your ad won’t be shown to anyone who is searching for keywords in your negative list. This is so that your ads won’t be shown to irrelevant searches.

You would want, at the campaign level, to negative keywords that you don’t seek traffic from. For instance, let’s get back to our tours to China business, you would want to negative the below keywords (provided that you’re not selling these options).

  • Custom tours
  • Tailor-made tours
  • {whatever kind of tours you’re not selling}

Though the campaign level will hold most of your keywords, it is necessary to also have negative keywords for the ad group level, especially when you’re implementing the single keyword strategy discussed in the previous step. This strategy will leave you with many ad groups with similar keywords that overlap one another. Negative keywords are the only way to avoid this overlap.

For example, the “China cheap tours” ad group mentioned in Step #1 will start to take traffic from the keyword “China luxury tours”. You can eliminate this problem by negative the following keywords -

Ad group: China cheap tours

  • Luxury
  • For two people
  • For four people

Ad group: China luxury tours

  • Cheap
  • For two people
  • For four people

Ad group: China tours for two people

  • Cheap
  • Luxury
  • For four people

Ad group: China tours for four people

  • Cheap
  • Luxury
  • For two people

Negative keywords, basically, prevent your long-tail keywords from being overshadowed by your more specific short-tail ones. As someone searches for “China cheap tours”, he/she will be more likely to click on an ad that specially mentions the factor “cheap” instead of something else.

Step #3: Make use of Expanded Text Ads

Your ad text has to be as relevant as possible to user search queries if you want to improve your quality score. This goal is easier to achieve with the single-keyword strategy because you can always ensure that the ad copy contains the keyword.

However, you can improve your ad text even further with Google expanded text ad format which gives your ad 50% more length than it was before. This means not only will you have room to include benefits and a call to action, you’ll have enough extra space for your long-tail keywords.

This will increase the relevancy of your ad copy, which increases expected CTR and your quality score as a whole.

Expanded text ads gives you 140 more characters; this is a big jump from the former 25-35-35 format. Here’s how you can set up your expanded text ad:

  • Headline 1: insert your keyword here.
  • Headline 2: insert the most striking benefit/unique selling proposition (USP) of your product here.
  • Display URL: insert your keyword in the URL path, if your keyword is long, you can divide it up into both path fields. Otherwise, make one field your keyword and the other a call-to-action.
  • Description: Insert your additional benefits and features here. You can also add a call-to-action or your keyword.

Setting an ad, for instance, for our “Cheap China Tours” ad group would look like this -

Google Expanded Text Ads

Please note that if your keyword contains a trademark (such as Iphone or Sony), you’re not allowed to put this keyword in your headlines or description. Google, however, does allow you to include this type of keyword in the display URL, which is something you definitely should take advantage of. If you want to have a trademark in your ad text without violating Google’s terms, this is the only way.

Step #4: If you’re implementing Dynamic Keyword Insertion on your ad, stop it.

Dynamic Keyword Insertion (DKI) is a feature in Google Adwords that allows your ad to be automatically customized to a searcher’s search query. This means with dynamic keyword insertion, a user’s search term will appear as a part of your ad text (your headline most of the time), which makes your ad look more relevant. If you have never heard of it, you can read about it here.

You might find what I’m about to say contradictory to what you have heard before, but DKI is not some sort of magic to improve your quality scores. First of all, if you’re going to implement the single keyword strategy, that should eliminate the need for Dynamic Keyword Insertion in the first place.

Secondly, DKI can lead to unpredictable results. If the user’s search query contains a search typo, this misspelling will show up in your ad text too. DKI can also cause trouble to your broad match keywords because your ad might not be relevant to the user’s query. If the search query contains a trademark, you’re in trouble too because Google doesn’t allow trademarks into your ad text.

Finally, a keyword “forcefully” stuffed into your headline is not likely to perform as well as a well-crafted, emotive headline. Expanded text ads provides you with space to create something that gets people to laugh, cry, empathize or whatever that makes them want to click on your ad. So, just forget about DKI, stick with the basics which is great copywriting, then go on and write something that moves your audience. You can use the tactics explained in Section 7 to write your ad copies.

Step #5: Use Ad Extensions

Ad extensions play a crucial role in quality scores. They give searchers extra bits of information about your business, which helps them find out what they’re looking for faster. Instead of having searchers swimming around your site to look for a piece of information (your phone number for example), you can make that piece of information an extension that shows up right in your ad. Sounds amazing right?

Having their needed information show up in front of them will increase chances of searchers clicking on your ad. This means this extra layer of convenience will increase your CTR, as Google puts it, “Give your customers more reasons to click”.

Here are the ad extensions that you can set up to improve your quality score -

  • Sitelinks: these are links to other landing pages on your site that you think searchers might be interested in. For example, products or services that you’re offering, downloadable Ebooks or special discounts. Make sure that you come up with appealing titles for these links to attract clicks. You’ll have a two-line description for each sitelink so remember to use it to.
  • Location: you can use this extension to show your address right under your ad. This extension is a great choice for location-targeted campaigns.
  • Call: to make it easier for users to call your business, you can use this extension to display your phone number right in your ad. On mobile devices, this feature shows up as a call button, so making the call is even easier.
  • Call-out: call-outs are extra line of text that you can add to highlight more benefits/offers of your business. They are not clickable but do provide extra information.
  • Structured snippets: this extension enables you to add extra information about your products or services based on a list of categories that Google provides. For instance, you can select “Services” out of that list and set up a structured snippet of the services you’re providing.
  • Price: this extension is to showcase the pricing of your products/services. Though only visible on mobile devices, it can come in handy if you’re running a discount program.
  • Seller Ratings: If you’re given good ratings by a trusted party source (such as Yelp), you can link the ratings from their site to your ad. Once you set this up, visual star rating will display in your ad text, which will surely attract lots of attention.
Google Adwords extensions
Google Adwords extensions
Google Adwords extensions

Step #6: Create relevant landing page content

Your landing page content also plays an important role in Google’s calculation of your quality scores. The more closely connected your landing page content is to your ad copy, the higher quality score you’re going to get. This makes sense because Google surely wants that their users will find exactly what they’re looking for after clicking on an ad that they find relevant.

Make sure that your keywords are present in the title, meta description and meta keywords on your landing page. You’re going to need to integrate keywords into your content too; your headlines and subheadings in particular.

If you’re going to implement the single keyword strategy discussed earlier, you can use a dedicated landing page for each of your ad groups. This strategy creates a precise match between your keyword, ad copy and landing page. Not only will you see an increase in your quality score, but it will also give a significant boost to your conversion rate.

It seems pretty unrealistic to create a dedicated landing page for each ad group that you have. What if you have like a bazillion keywords, which equals a bazillion ad groups using the single keyword strategy? That would make your campaign an A/B testing and maintenance a nightmare too.

Don’t panic, you can deal with this by using dynamic keyword insertion. It allows you to take any text on the landing page and swap it with another text you set up in the associating URL parameters.

This means, with dynamic keyword insertion, you’ll be able to create only one landing page around your product/service; a few strategic places of your landing page such as the headlines and calls-to-action will be automatically customized to match the keyword that the user is googling for. This technique will allow you to maintain high relevance between user’s experience and their search. Sounds like a plan to bump up your quality scores and conversion rates right? ;)

Step #7: Optimize the user experience of your landing page

The more user-friendly your landing page is, the higher your quality score will be and therefore, it’s necessary for you to invest in optimizing your landing page. Make sure that it loads fast, has appealing visuality and a great user experience.

Imagining yourself spending all that time creating amazing content and setting your Adwords campaign just to have searchers bounce away the moment they catch a glimpse of your uninspiring and inconvenient landing page. That not just means you’ll lose conversions, but your bounce rate will be skyrocketed, which will in turn hurt your quality score. You’ll also need to pay attention to some other elements that are important to your overall landing page experience.

  • The offer on your landing page and the one displayed in your ad need to be the same (This is a no-brainer right?)
  • The information about your business needs to be clearly shown so that you can establish trust with visitors.
  • People live in their phones these days, so you should make sure that your landing page is responsive, which means it needs to work well on both PC and mobile devices. If you have seen websites that are not responsive, they’re really annoying.

Step #8: Use branded keywords

If you’re using branded terms, you should already know that this type of keywords consistently land in the quality score range of seven to ten. Wondering why? There are a couple of factors in play.

As your brand name is present across your entire content on your website, branded keywords certainly create a strong match between your ad copies and landing pages. Also, if someone searches for your brand term on Google, they already know you and are likely to already be highly interested in purchasing your product/service. That means they will click on your ad, and probably convert, which boost both your overall quality score and conversions too.

You might find yourself saying, “what’s the point of branded-term ads when your business will show up organically at the top anyway?” That’s right, but your ad in this case will act like a marketing message; the money you pour into your ad implies that you’re doing serious business. Ads also allow you to use extensions to show links for new products, promotions or other details searchers might need (see Step #5 of this section).

One last important point when it comes to branded keywords is if competition is fierce in your market segment, your competitor might be bidding on your brand keywords and will appear in the SERP when your brand is searched. If you’re not in that ads area, that might lead to searchers clicking on your competitor’s paid link instead of your organic link.

10. Google Adwords Planner

Your success with Google Ads is heavily dependent on targeting the right keywords. Wrong keywords will lead you to target the wrong audience; in other words, your ads are not relevant to the search terms that the audience is looking for. This means the clicks you get are going to be much less likely to convert, which will potentially lead you to throw your money out of the window.

10.1. What is Google Adwords Planner?

Google’s keyword planner is a free tool provided by the search engine that can help you plan out keywords for your Adwords campaigns.

Google Adwords Planner

When you input keywords into this tool, you will be provided with a list of keywords that are related to your original keyword, along with data about them such as search volume, competition level, estimated CPC, and more.

10.2. How to use Google Adwords Planner

Although it’s free to use Google Adwords Planner, you need to have a Google Ads account in order to use it. You don’t have an Adwords account yet, it just takes a few minutes to create one.

Once you have set up an account, you can follow below steps to start using Google Adwords Planner.

Step 1: Go to this link to get to the dashboard of your account.

Step 2: Click on the wrench icon at the top right corner.

Google Ads campaign

A drop-down will show up and under the Planning column; click on Keyword Planner.

Google Ads Keyword Planner

Here you’re going to be presented with two options.

Google Adwords Keyword Planner
  • Discover new keywords: this one provides you with keyword suggestions that you can use to plan out your campaign keywords. These suggestions are real data from Google, which means they are terms that Google users are actually searching for.
  • Get search volume and forecasts: this option will provide you with historical search volume and some other metrics for your keyword, along with forecasts for how they might perform in the future.

Let’s go ahead with the first option as it helps your plan out keywords for any campaign that you’re going to run.

Step 3: Click on Discover New Keywords and this table will show up.

Google Ads keywords discovery

Enter the keyword you want to discover in the search, and click on Get Results. You can input as many keywords as you want to. I’m going to go for “leather boots” for this example.

Step 4: Filter the result.

This is the result that I’ve got.

Google Adwords keyword result

(You need to remember to set the location and language to the place where you’re going to run your campaign.)

The keyword you provided section is your original keyword, and the keyword ideas section is related keywords. To get the best possible results out of your campaign, you need to analyze the list, and then select out of it the keywords that are most relevant to your audience and the campaign that you’re going to run. And while you’re at it, write down in your notebook every keyword that you find potential so that you won’t forget any of them.

Google provides you with a set of filters to make this task easier. You can filter by broad match, phrase match and exact match by ticking the box next to Keyword (by relevance) and the filter will show up.

Google Adwords keywords by relevance

For example, you can filter by phrase match if you only want to see results with the original phrase “leather boots” instead of broad terms such as “waterproof boots”.

There is another intuitive filter that you can apply.

Google Adword keyword filters

+) Competition

This option will show you keywords with either “low”, “medium” or “high” competition. Many people get confused by this feature as they think this is for SEO too. Keep in mind that the Google Keyword Planner is built 100% for Google Ads, not SEO. This means the competition score here refers to Adwords competition only (not to Google’s organic search competition). So I’d recommend leaving this blank.

When you input a keyword, hundreds to thousands of results will show up and going through all of them will be exhausting. By making use of these two filters you will save you a lot of time. Once you have all your keywords ready, you can get back to Section 8 and use the single keyword strategy to create your ad groups.

+) Ad Impression share

Ad impression share is the ratio between the number of impressions you have actually got and the expected number of impressions you could receive. This metric relies on your historical data of a keyword; this means if you have not run any campaign on the keyword before, the ad impression share box will be blank.

+) Ad impression share

This is how much that keyword is expected to cost you to land at the top of the page. There are two options: high range and low range. For this feature to work, you need to connect your Google Search Console Account to Google Adwords.

+) Organic Impression Share

This is where you would rank (on average) for each keyword in the organic search result of Google. You will need to connect to GSC for this to work too.

Step 5: Analyze the result.

After you have filtered the original list down to keywords that are potential for your business. Let’s break down what each of the terms in this section tells you.

Google Adwords keyword analysis

+) Keyword (by relevance): These are the keywords that Google considers most relevant to your input keyword.

+) Average monthly searches: This column is self-explanatory. However, take note that this is a range, not an exact (or even rough) search volume. I’ll show you how to get more accurate search volume in the next section.

Caution: you should be watchful for seasonal keywords. This is because seasonal keywords (such as Halloween costumes) can get 50,000 searches in October and 100 searches in May. But the Keyword Planner may say that the term gets “10,000 searches per month”, which is misleading.

+) Competition: This is how competitive the keyword is, which indicates the number of advertisers that are bidding on that keyword.

Step 6: Pick the right keywords for your campaign

In order to pick the right keywords, you need to keep one crucial factor in mind: user intent.

What piece of information is the user looking for? The piece of information they are expecting to get represents the stage of the buying journey they are in.

Google Adwords buying journey
3 stages of the buyers' journey

A user’s search will vary based on where they are on the buying funnel. For example, if someone is looking to buy a pair of leather boots, but don’t know much about what types of leather boots there are, they may search for “best types of leather boots for men”. When they get down the funnel (closer to buying), their search will become more specific; it may be “chelsea leather boots”, “chelsea leather boots shop near me”, or “suede chelsea boots” provided that this person become interested in chelsea boots after having done his research.

Buyer intent is the deciding factor to successful ads, so keep it in mind while you’re deciding your keywords.

10.3. How to know whether a keyword can be profitable:

This is going to get some math involved, but don’t worry, it’s fourth grade math. CPCs vary based on keywords, which means keywords don’t cost the same. The rule of thumb is the more advertisers are bidding on a keyword, the higher that keyword is going to cost (supply - demand). There are keywords on which if you run your campaign, there’s no chance of making a profit.

The question that you’re going to need to answer for each keyword in your list is “Can it be profitable to advertise on this keyword?”. To tackle this you’ll need to figure out the maximum CPC that you’re willing to pay. Then, you’ll need to compare your max CPC against the estimated CPCs in the Google Keyword Planner to see which keywords can be in your list. For example, if your max CPC is $4, and the estimated CPC is $3, that means you have a good chance to profitable on that keyword.

Your max CPC can be calculated based on your website conversion rate, your profit per customer and your advertising profit margin (Advertising profit margin is how much you make for every dollar you spend on advertising; for example, if you spend $1 on advertising and expect to make 30 cents out of it, your advertising profit margin is 30$).

If you don’t have these metrics yet, you’ll just have to use estimations for your first campaigns, and then set up tracking to get more precise numbers. This is the fourth grade math that you need to do.

Max CPC = profit per customer x (1 - advertising profit margin) x website conversion rate.

Let’s say your profit per customer is $300, you’re cool with the margin of 30%, and for every 1000 website visitors, 10 of them convert (conversion rate = 1%).

Max CPC = 300 x (1 - 30%) x 1% = $2.1

Here’s how this formula works.

At the CPC of $2.1, you pay a total of $2,100 to get 1,000 clicks. 10 of them convert, so you make a revenue of $300 x 10 = $3,000.

You spent $2,100 and got $3,000, so the profit is $900.

Your profit/spending is 900/3000 = 0.3 = 30% which is your expected advertising profit margin.


Also, keep in mind that your max CPC must not be lower than the range of estimated CPCs in the GPK. If your max CPC is $5 but the lowest estimated CPC is $10, the only thing you can do is increase your profit per customer or find ways to increase your conversion rate (or both), otherwise it won’t be profitable to advertise on Google Adwords.

10.4. How to make the most out of Google Keyword Planners:

Tip #1: Get accurate search data for your keyword

After you type in your keyword, the search volume Google will show you is just a range as mentioned in the previous section; it won’t show you accurate data unless you’re running an active adwords campaign. However, you can still get exact search volume out of the tool without a running ad, here’s the trick -

First, pick a keyword out of the suggestion list that you want to target, select Add to plan and click on ADD KEYWORDS.

Google Keyword Planners

Then, go to Plan Overview.

Google Keyword plan overview

And see how many impressions you would get if you bid on that keyword -

Google Adwords users search

This number is the number of users search for this keyword per month. And you’ve got an accurate search volume for your keyword, nice? ;)

Tip #2: The Google Keyword Planner Hack

During the keyword research stage, you would want to come up with as many keywords as possible so that you can have lots of options to analyze and pick the best ones. However, you might find yourself stuck as you’re running out of keywords to input into the Google Keyword Planner. What can you do to tackle this headache? Have a look at your competitor! Here’s how. First, go to the Discover New Keyword section of the Google Keyword Planner.

Google New Keyword

Then, instead of starting with keywords, start with a website. After that, you need to find out who the biggest advertisers are in your field on Google Adwords, take their website URLs, and paste them into the search area (one at a time of course). Here’s a website for “leather boots”.

Google Adwords Keyword - Start with a website

You should be very specific here. By this I mean don’t use the home page for this research, otherwise you will have to swim in an ocean of irrelevant keywords (try getting results for only www.dsw.com and you will understand what I’m saying). The link I put into the search area is a dedicated landing page for chelsea boots as I’m trying to get more ideas for this segment. And here’s what I’ve got -

Google Adwords Keyword Ideas

The list does not end there FYI, and the generated keywords are highly relevant, so it will take you much less time to analyze them. Quick, write them down in your note! No more banging your head against the wall for keyword ideas!

11. How to analyze Google Ads successfully:

To successfully manage your Google Adwords campaign, one of the essential tasks to fulfill is monitoring and analyzing the performance of your ads on a consistent basis. That allows you to adjust and optimize for the best results. Analyzing your Google Ads campaign might feel overwhelming, but don’t panic, it does take time to learn but you will be able to get a grasp on the analysis with a bit of patience.

Start with learning the basics; from installing conversion tracking to evaluating your ad performance based on different metrics. Then you’ll see that a thorough analysis can help boost your online marketing efforts tremendously no matter the size of your business. Let’s jump right into it!

11.1. Set up and monitor conversion tracking:

+) Set up conversion tracking

A customer converts when they complete your desired action. Google ads conversion tracking will allow you to know how effectively your ad is converting, which is how many conversions you acquire out of the number of clicks that you have got. Conversions are of variety; they can be website purchases, newsletter opt-ins, app downloads, or phone calls. And the set-up process varies based on the source of your conversions, which is where they come from. Here’s what I mean -

  • Website: If you want to track when a visitor completes a desired action on your website, this is how you need to do the set-up. The action can be anything you wish your visitors to do such as making a purchase, opting in for your newsletters, clicking on a button and so on.
  • App: if you want to track when a visitor installs your app (if you have one) or completes an in-app action, this is how to set up the tracking.
  • Phone: this option allows you to track calls from your ads, calls to a phone number on your site, and phone number clicks on a mobile website. Here’s how to set this up.

You can also set up and track multiple conversions from this list. For instance, you can set up one conversion to track purchases on your webpage, and another conversion to track calls from your ads.

+) Monitor conversions

You can know how many conversions you have acquired by looking at the conversions column in your campaign dashboard. You can also customize how your conversions data is tracked with two setting options: “Include in conversions” & “Attribution model”.

Additionally, you can get more information from other related columns such as Cost Per Conversion, Conversion Rate, Total Conversion Value, Conversion Value Per Cost, Conversion Value Per Click and Value Per Conversion.

No idea what I’m talking about? Alright here’s a thorough explanation from Google. LOL

11.2. Measure your Advertising ROI (Return On Investment):

One of the most crucial metrics that every Adwords advertiser should monitor closely and consistently is the advertising ROI (Return On Investment). No matter what your goal is (increasing sales, generating leads, etc), measuring your advertising ROI allows you to know the ratio of your net profit to your advertising costs; in other words, you can track how much money you’re making and see if your profit goal is achieved.

Keep in mind that to calculate your advertising ROI on Google Ads, you need to set up to measure your conversions first. The rule of thumb is the profit each conversion brings you should be greater than the total advertising cost you pay to get it.

The ROI formula is: Advertising ROI = (Revenue - COGS)/COGS

  • Revenue is how much you acquire from the conversion.
  • COGS (Cost of Goods Sold) is how much you spend on ads to get that conversion.

11.3. Analyze your search terms report:

Google Ads provides you with a search term report that which a list of search terms that people have used, and to which your ads are shown and clicked. The search terms in this list might be different from your keywords due to your keyword matching types.

Also, Google analyzes the connection between the search terms that triggered your ads and the actual keywords in your list, and in the search report, it tells you how closely related these two groups are. This can be immensely helpful because if you know which matching options are working well for which search terms and keywords, you can adjust match types for all of your keywords and allow only the right searches to trigger your ad, which will help optimize your ad spending. Google does provide a thorough explanation about the search term report, you can have access to it here and here is how you can have access to the search terms report in Google account.

Here are some tips on how you can use insights from the search term report to sharpen your keyword selection:

Tip #1: Make the search terms that have high traffic your keywords. A search term that appears in this report is already receiving traffic. Create a dedicated ad with the single keyword strategy for it increases your chance of achieving top rankings for this particular search term.

Tip #2: If a listed search term is not relevant to your product or service, make it a negative keyword. If you’re advertising on a budget, it pays off to monitor your numbers and focus on the areas in which you’re doing best. This will help prevent your ads from being shown to searchers looking for something that you don’t sell.

11.4. Use reports:

You have to link your Google Ads account to your Analytics accounts so that you can see data in the Google Ads report. Also, make sure auto-tagging is enabled; you can do this in the linking process or by setting it up in your Google Ads account settings.

With the Google Ads reports, you’ll have access to post-click performance metrics for searchers who came through your ad to your website, or installed your app. These reports also provide you with important metrics from both Google (e.g., Clicks, Conversions) and Analytics (e.g., Bounce Rate). They are valuable insights that will let you know which advertising strategies are doing the job for you, and which one needs improving. Go to this link to learn everything you need to know about Google Ads Reports.

12. Conclusion:

Google Adwords is a powerful tool that can take your online advertising to the next level. It, however, will take you a huge amount of time and effort to master how to use this tool effectively. I hope this guide has given you a good guidance on how you can navigate your way in your Google Adwords journey.

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