Google AdWords: What is it, and how can it work for your business?

If you’ve delved into the world of online marketing at all over recent years, chances are you’ve come across Google AdWords at some point. But without a dedicated AdWords pro on hand, you might not have the time to figure out what all the fuss is about and how AdWords can actually benefit your business. That’s where we can help.

So, what exactly is Google AdWords?

It’s a paid advertising service by Google that allows businesses to advertise across its display network, which spans over two million websites as well as YouTube videos, apps, and Gmail (so, basically, the entire internet). As an advertiser, you can bid on the keywords you think your potential customers are searching for when you set up an advertising campaign, and your ad will then be shown to people who are searching for those terms. Any time you see an ad in Google search results or virtually anywhere else online, there’s a high likelihood that it’s a Google AdWords ad.

What are the benefits of Google AdWords?

Where to begin? Just some of the benefits of Google AdWords include:

  • Speed – While other organic forms of marketing like search engine optimisation (SEO) take time to see results, AdWords campaigns can give you a boost in search engine rankings and clicks through to your website almost immediately.
  • Budget control – When budget is tight, AdWords allows you to set a maximum spend and only pay when a specific action is taken (more on that later).
  • On-the-spot monitoring – With Google AdWords, you can track how well your ads are performing, and make adjustments on the fly to optimise your spend.
  • Brand awareness – While not all campaigns will achieve a huge number of clicks, ads are still useful for surfacing your brand to your target audience.

Where do you start?

There are a number of different campaign types to choose from when setting up a campaign:

  • Search Network – These are the text ads that appear at the top of search results any time you do a Google search using keywords the advertiser has bid on. They can also appear in Google Maps or other websites that have partnered with Google.
  • Display Network – Most of us would recognise these as the banner ads that appear on websites. Display ads can be created in different sizes and formats, including image ads, text ads, and rich media ads.
  • Video – There are lots of different YouTube video ad options available, including in-stream ads (before, during, or after videos), video discovery ads (appearing in YouTube search results), and bumper ads (video ads less than six seconds that can’t be skipped).
  • Shopping – These ads are designed for e-commerce businesses, and include a product photo, title, price, store name, and more. They pop up in Google search results and can also be found under the “Shopping” tab.

How to choose a bidding strategy

All AdWords campaigns require you to bid on keywords that are relevant to your business and/or ad. You can bid and pay in different ways depending on your campaign objective:

  • Cost-per-click (CPC) – This option is good for businesses who are looking to increase traffic to their website or interaction with their brand, as you’ll only pay when someone actually clicks on an ad.
  • Cost-per-thousand-impressions (CPM) – This is available on the Display Network only and is based on the number of people who see your ad, so it’s useful for businesses who are aiming to increase brand awareness. With this bidding strategy, you are charged per thousand impressions your ad receives.
  • Cost-per-view (CPV) – if you want to increase views or interactions with a video ad, CPV bidding is the way to go.

While these bidding strategies cover off the basics, there are other complex approaches with more advanced conversion tracking. Learn more about AdWords Smart Bidding.

How to set up an AdWords campaign

Although there are loads of options and customisable features to AdWords, setting up a simple campaign is fairly straightforward. To set up text ads, head to Google AdWords and sign up for an account. Once you’ve logged in, click on “Create your first campaign” and follow these steps:

  1. Choose your campaign name and type – search network, display network, video, etc.
  2. Choose where you want your ad to be shown (Search Network and/or Display Network). You can also decide whether or not to include search partners – we recommend testing with and without to see which option provides the best results for your business.
  3. Choose geographic locations – you can broadly target whole countries or narrow it down to suburb level, which should depend on your specific goals and audience.
  4. Select your bid strategy and daily budget – your strategy should be based on your campaign objectives (traffic, awareness, conversions etc.) and your budget can be adjusted down the track if needed.
  5. Create ad groups – these are groups of one or more ads targeting a certain set of keywords. Fill in your landing page URL (if you have one), your ad group keywords, and your maximum spend for those keywords. You’ll be given some suggestions for keywords, but you can also use Google’s Keyword Planner tool for more ideas. It’s best to stick with one ad group to begin with until you have the hang of the whole process.
  6. Create ads – this is where you’ll create the copy for individual ads. You can start with a single ad, or try a few different variations of copy to see which performs best. Your ad should include your final URL (e.g. yellowpages.com.au), your URL path (e.g. /special-offer), Headline 1 – 30 characters or less, Headline 2 – 30 characters or less, Description – 80 characters or less.
  7. Review your campaign – check that all your campaign details, budget, and ads are correct, and voila – you’ve just set up your first Google AdWords campaign.

As with all things, practice makes perfect, so keep testing out different ad variations, audiences, keywords and so on to find the right formula for your business.

Keen to learn more about online marketing? Take a look at our marketing advice hub.

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