How To Get Started with Google AdWords

As you probably already know, Google is the most popular search engine in the world. There are over 2 billion searches a day, so you can be assured that your potential customers are probably searching for something that you want to show up for. AdWords is a great way to complement your SEO campaigns to drive more traffic to your website and turn it into more customers.

Creating and launching an AdWords campaign can seem like an overwhelming process and most people are intimidated by it because there’s a lot of options to choose from and work to be done to set up a better targeted campaign.

If you are familiar with your product and service cost and the margins, then Google AdWords is the best way to get your money’s worth, and the return on investment can be in hundreds of percentage points. While there are other platforms where you can run ads such as Bing and display networks, Google knocks out the competition in every way. This is why when most people say SEM (search engine marketing), they really mean Google AdWords, and advertising is the greatest source of income for Google. You can see ads on top of search results on Google when you perform a search:

Google’s revenue from AdWords is over $60 billion, so you know that companies and people are really spending money on this. So basically, AdWords is a platform where people pay to have their website show at the top of search results on Google when someone times a specific keyword. Then, when someone clicks on the ad, they will visit a website landing page.

The AdWords marketplace works on the auction model and people bid money for clicks. There are many factors that go into the auction algorithm and the highest bid doesn’t always win because Google combines the bid amount with the quality factor in order to create the best experience for people who are clicking the ad.

adwords ads

Google will show the ad by the company that bids the highest amount for a specific keyword (given that all bidders have the same quality score). If people are bidding less for your keyword, then Google won’t spend your maximum bid per click, so you might end up paying less than your bid. So you should keep in mind that your cost per click can be lower than your maximum bid. This is especially true if your ads have good quality score. Quality score is a metric that is based on the relevancy of your ad and your website and the experience that the user has on your website. If your ads have horrible quality score, then Google won’t show them even if you are the highest bidder.

AdWords is something that you should tap into because of is massive potential, but be warned that is simple but not easy. It’ll take quite some time to master and most people lose money on it because they didn’t have the correct information and were not patient enough to get results.

Set Up Your AdWords Account

To start, simply head to Google AdWords and click “Start Now”. You’ll be prompted to enter your email (use your Gmail account) and homepage URL. After that Google will ask you to create your first AdWords campaign, but you can leave that open for later when you go through this post.

Create A Keyword List

Keywords are phrases that users search for in Google. When you bid on a specific keyword and someone searches for it, your ads will show up for that specific keyword. You get charged by Google when someone clicks on your ad and it charges you for each click. In your dashboard, you can see the number of impressions which is a metric that shows you how many times have your ad been shown to users when they searched for that keyword. To get your CTR (click-through rate), you just need to divide clicks by impressions and you’ll get the percentage of users who visit your website landing page after clicking your ad. CTR is a very important metric because it shows you which ads are working the best and which are not.

You should think about what are the keywords your customers are most likely to use. First, you need to understand the difference between specific and general keywords. For example, if your company sells commercial solar powered tractors, then you should use long-tail keywords that are specific to that market.

keyword list

Don’t make a mistake and use broad terms like “tractor” because you’re going to get traffic from users that are searching for all kinds of tractors, but remember that you are selling only commercial solar powered tractors, so the rest of the traffic is irrelevant to you and you’ll end up paying big money for untargeted traffic. To help with this, you can also set up a negative keywords list that will indicate to AdWords that you don’t want to show up for those broad terms.

If you are operating only in a specific local area, then you should geo-target your AdWords campaigns. Simply include the city name in the keyword and you’ll probably going to get searchers that are targeted and relevant for your business.

The next thing to do is to go to Keyword Planner and start searching for keywords. Try to think like your customer and what keywords they would search for on Google. If you already have a list of keywords that you want to check then paste them in “Get search volume data and trends”, and if you want to search for new keywords then select the first option and paste a phrase so it can have something to work with.

keyword planner

Be sure to choose your target country and target language and in the box below just choose Google. On the right side, you can choose do you want AdWords to show you broadly related ideas or just the closely related ones so you don’t get a lot of unrelated keywords showing in search results.

adwords targeting

When you perform a search, you’ll see the average monthly search volume on Google for your keywords and also the average CPC and suggested bid for it.

adwords ideas

Competitor Intelligence

Next thing to do is to research your competition. By doing this, you’ll reduce your risk level by leveraging competitor data and their ads. This is important because you’ll have a better understanding if is going to be easy or not to outrank them in the auction. You can see what your competitors are doing and leverage their data on which they spent money figuring out which ads, keywords, and landing pages’ work. You can do this at SpyFu, simply enter your target keyword and it’ll show you the results like this:

competitor inteligence

Here you can see the average click-through rate (it can give you a decent idea of what you can expect) and the number of advertisers who bided for this keyword in the past 90 days. Below that, you can see other keywords that had good success on AdWords. You can also click on “Advertiser history” and you’ll be able to see the actual ads that your competitors used!

Calculate Your Budget

This is an important step because is going to prevent you from bidding on keywords that have no chance of being profitable for you, so make sure to do this step before you start advertising. First, you need to calculate what is your maximum CPC (cost per click). Check what’s the estimated keyword PPC in Keyword Tool results and compare it to your maximum CPC to see if you can even afford to bid on it. If estimated CPC is lower than your max CPC, then you can probably bid profitably on that keyword.

You can calculate and figure out your max CPC by your conversion rate and your profit per sale. You should know this number, and if you don’t, then you should track it and figure it out as soon as possible. You can use the formula below to calculate your max CPC and then you should compare it with the estimated CPC you got from Keyword Planner:

Max CPC = (profit per customer) x (1 – profit margin) x (website conversion rate)

Let’s go through this. If your average profit per customer is $100, and out of 100 visitors you convert only 1, then you have 1% conversion rate. If 30% profit margin is good for you, then the calculation would be:

Max CPC = $100 x (1-0.3) x 1% = $1.7

You should keep your max cost per click around the estimated CPC in Keyword Planner. The more clicks and data you have, the more statistically significant it will be and you’ll be able to improve your campaign based on that data.

Setting Up Your Campaign

When you are setting up your campaign, the first thing you need to do is to choose the location. For example, if you are advertising to the entire US, then enter the United States.


Next, under networks, be sure to uncheck the display network. We do this so the ad shows up only in the Google search and not on other websites:

display network

Then just enter your keyword and set your bid to whatever you want (use the calculation we gave you above).

Bidding and Budget

There are three options from which you can choose from:

  • CPM: CPM (cost per thousand impressions) is used in the display network. You can use this option to get your ad in front as many people as possible
  • CPC: with CPC, you are charged when someone clicks on the ad. CPC is a great way to increase traffic to your website.
  • CPA: here you are charged when someone clicks on your ad and then converts.

Writing The Ad

Since you can’t write too much text in the copy, you must keep it precise and short. One of the things you should include is your unique selling proposition. Think what sets you apart from your competitors and what value do you bring to the customer that others don’t? Next critical thing to include is a call to action. If you don’t write any call to action, then your CTR will be lower. You need to tell your customer what you want him to do.


This is the most important part of the ad because the headline should catch someone’s attention and it will be the first thing they read. Google will bold the text if you include your keyword in the headline as well which will give you an edge over other ads. This also makes your ad relevant for the person searching with that keyword. Another strategy is to ask a question in the headline. Ask a specific question that will get the person nodding his head yes. An example would be, if your keyword is “Miami chiropractor” then headline could be “Need a Miami Chiropractor?”. Keep in mind that you can put a maximum of 24 characters in the headline.

Display URL

This is the green link that is displayed below the headline and you can write anything you want there. People usually overlook this and just use their entire domain name. In display URL, you should include your call to action, offer, or unique selling point. Keep in mind that the domain has to match the domain of your website landing page.

Description Lines

In the description, you should write the benefits, describe your offer, or state your unique selling point, plus include a call to action. Limit for description is 35 characters.

When you’re done with writing the ad and saving it, you’ll be redirected to your dashboard and you should immediately pause the ad. In the campaign, Google created the ad group, and when you run a campaign with multiple keywords, you should divide them into groups so you can get around your campaigns easier.

ad groups

You should open your ad group and click on the keyword and set it to phrase match, like on the picture. Broad match is not very targeted because then Google can show your ad to people who use your keyword anywhere in the phrase. Phrase match is your best bet because the query must have your keyword in the exact format, but it can have other words around it.

phrase match


That’s it! If you’ve read through everything above, then you are ready to start on AdWords. AdWords can boost your traffic and give you a bump in sales, however, it does require that you spend time learning it. Advertisers learn through trial and error, so you should start small and adjust as you go. It’s important to know that you need to carefully monitor and manage your campaigns and not set it and forget it. If you feel stuck anywhere, you can find your answers on AdWords support portal.