Google AdWords 101

I’ve seen several requests on the various forums of late from new search marketers wanting to know how best to launch their first PPC campaign. So I figured that would make a great first topic for this new column.

I won’t go through generating keywords. You can find great advice on that topic here, here, and here.

Instead, let’s discuss the actual steps of setting up an AdWords campaign and look into the methodology of setting up ads and A/B testing.

So off we go to AdWords. After clicking the Start Now button, you’ll be taken to the start page where you get to choose between a Starter Edition and a Standard Edition.

Google Step-by-Step Prompts

The Standard Edition is the way to go for virtually anyone reading this article. The video offered at the start is all you need.

It asks what language you want your visitors to speak — well at least the language of their browser. Then comes choice of location — countries and territories, regions and cities, customized, which allows you to pick by zip code or by a distance from a chosen spot.

Next, Google prompts you to create an ad. Remember: when writing your ad, the Google Quality Score (define) is impacted by the presence of your keyword in the actual ad text (though for trademarked terms you won’t be able to do this).

Apart from writing the ad, you’ll also be asked to include a display URL. This can be different from the actual page you send the click and is a good place to brand your domain name.

The next is keyword selection, which we’ll leave alone. Hopefully you have a good idea what to do here from reading Carrie Hill’s article.

The next prompt is about pricing. What currency you pay in, how much your daily budget will be, and finally what your maximum CPC (define) will be — the most you’re willing to pay for a single click. Google will give you recommendations for daily budgets — this can be used to understand the potential volume of traffic and can be manipulated to make sure you’re shown to all impressions.

If your CPC is high enough, as well as your Quality Score — that mythical beast part landing page score (based on the keyword being in the title tag, description and in the on page text) and part ad score — you can double your budget beyond what Google recommends and ensure you’re in the search results page for every search of a keyword.

Once you’ve gone through this basic procedure, you’ll be ready to set up billing and begin the game.

I recommend initially creating tight AdGroups with bundled keywords that are synonyms or cover the same topic. This makes it easier at the start to make the ads more specific and thus increase your potential CTR (define). Once you have the ads in place and your billing information set, the campaigns can be turned on.

First, you need a tracking system — a program that can tell you which keywords and ads did, and did not, convert. This is used to calculate your Cost Per Acquisition (CPA).

Your CPA is an essential figure for successful online marketing. Simply, the CPA equals the total spend divided by the number of sales (or whatever measurable is being used).

To get a granular view of your marketing efforts you want to be able to see what each keyword or AdGroup or any separated part of the marketing project is converting at. This way when you manipulate the variables — such as the words of your AdWords Ad — you’ll be able to see the impact it has on the CPA.

Search Analytics

Without a tracking program, you’ll never be able to go beyond the rudimentary level of online marketing. You’ll have to gauge everything as a locked together mass.

Your spending would increase by percentages of total spend: I spent $100 to get 7 customers — so I’ll get 14 for $200. Sometimes it works, but usually it doesn’t.

Tracking programs allow you to divide out every element of a campaign and track its individual results. Most programs work by adding code to the end of the URL that’s used for the advertising.

For PPC (define) you would add the name of the engine and the word or AdGroup so you can tell where the clicks are coming from. An example would be:

You can use your log files to see how often the word is clicked, but a better approach is to use an ROI (define) tracker that will use JavaScript on the pages to measure the progress of searchers/visitors. The regular pages are there to grab all visitors, while the sign up and thank you pages (or the equivalent) are used to measure the conversion.

Next time: Increase conversions with landing page testing.

Related reading

How to lead SEO teams and track its performance effectively: Experts tips
SEO is a team sport: How brands and agencies organize work
Diversifying for long-term PPC search marketing effectiveness
Google Ads announce more changes to match types - Challenges and opportunities