A Beginners Guide to Google AdWords

This article will provide an overview of Google AdWords and how effectively you can use it to set up your marketing campaigns.

So, What is Google AdWords? It’s a platform by Google that is used by business/marketers to advertising on Google’s search network or sites connected to it.  You can leverage Google’s advertising network to bid for keywords to show up in search results as ads.

An advantage of online marketing is that it is much more trackable than traditional forms of advertising. AdWords allows you to place your ads on the basis of location, certain keywords, frequency,  interest, date, time and even on the basis of devices used for your audience. You can have your own budget and you will pay only when someone clicks your ad. There are well-defined metrics that help measure the success for your campaigns by tracking user interaction at each step.

How it Works?

Advertisers pay Google to show up ads and they make money on it. Sound simple? It’s not that straightforward.

Google AdWords works on a bidding system when your ad is ranked based on certain parameters. It is a combination of your maximum bid multiplied by your quality score which determines your actual ad position. Your maximum bid is how much you are willing to pay per click on your ad, and your quality score reflects how well your ad is optimized and relevant to the searcher.

The better the ad rank, the higher you show up!

Quality Score

The Quality Score is the fundamental aspect of Google AdWords bidding. Google wants to ensure that they show relevant ads to the users saved against their searches. They also want to deter low-quality websites from manipulating the system to gain high ranking positions. This ensures high quality of search result as well as a positive experience of the users.

The exact formula behind Quality Score is not publicly known, but it is made up of three different factors:

  • Landing Page: How well does it convert, how is the user experience?
  • Expected CTR: What is your CTR in relation to the average? Higher = better.
  • Ad Relevance: How specific is your ad in relation to the search. Specificity = better ad relevance.

The quality score is on a scale of 1 to 10. You must note that it is calculated at a keyword level, so there will be different scores within the same ad group.

Getting Started

The first step is to decide on the goal of your campaign in AdWords. Every marketing campaign needs an objective and it’s important to decide because of will decide how you will set up and manage your campaign. Your goal can be “Generate 10000 new visitors to my website”, “Acquire 1000 new customers”, “Generate revenue of $100” etc.

The second step is to decide the type of campaign you want to run.

Types of Ads

Google AdWords offers different types of advertising options. The ad type includes:

  • Search: Ad appears on the search result on Google – the most popular of all.
  • Display: Text and Banner ad appearing in partner networks. Most advertisers commonly use them for remarketing to bring back site visitors who didn’t convert.
  • Shopping: Use your Merchant Center product data to showcase ads in Search Results. It doesn’t use keywords – to decide how and where to show your ads.
  • Video:  Video ad formats to engage users on YouTube and as well as video partner sites.
  • Mobile: Reach your audience in mobile – ads in applications.

There is also a campaign subtype which determines which settings and options available, such as the types of ads you can design. These options let you tailor your campaign to match your business goals and focus on the features most relevant to you.

Campaign types are centered around Google’s advertising networks: the Google Search Network, the Google Display Network, and the YouTube Network. These networks make up all of the places where your ads can appear, including Google sites, websites that show relevant Google ads, and other placements—like mobile apps.


The second step is to decide on the keywords that will be part of the campaign. This involves three stages of research

  • Audience Research: Research on your target audience – understand what product or services they are interested in or buying, what the device they use and also understand their behavior online. E.g. Your target audience may browse online during a particular time period. It’s important to understand their psychology. You must also reach out to your existing customers to understand perceptions.
  • Competition Research: Understand your competition well – note their ads and offers, visit their website, product, sign up forms, campaign materials etc. Third party tools can give a really good sense of how your competitors are approaching ads.
  • Keyword Research: This is the most critical place where you need to spend some quality time, as it is the foundation for your campaign. Google Keyword Planner will help you find the most relevant keywords people use to find your product/service/company. Google will also automatically suggest a variety of relevant based on your inputs.

Keyword Match Types

You must understand that people don’t search the same way and may indirectly want something else. Search terminologies can be confusing. This is relevant as you may not want to showcase your ads to irrelevant users. There are many Keyword match types:

  • Broad match: It is the default match type that all the keywords are assigned. Ads with a broad match will showcase on searches with variations like misspellings and synonyms. Adding a plus sign will help modify a broad match keyword. So, you could use a broad match to show your ad to a wide audience.
  • Phrase match: Phrase match can help you show up on searches that contain that exact phrase with any other query words, too. The ad will only appear when the user queries your key phrase using your keywords in the exact order you enter them – but there might be other words either before or after that phrase. Thus, it offers more control than broad match.
  • Exact Match: Ads showcase on searches that match the exact term or are close variations of that exact term. Thus exact match will help to target for a specific group of audience. It is great for targeting, but it restricts reach.
  • Negative Match:  It allows you to specify any keywords that you do not want to show against.  For example, You may not want to display your ad for used cars or second-hand cars. So include negative keywords like “used”, “old”, “second-hand” etc.

Each keyword match types has its pros and cons. A combination of the above would be the best and can be found through testing and optimization.

Setting Up Ad Group and Campaigns

Once you decided the keywords for your campaign, it’s time to categorize them into ad groups. You must understand the buyer’s journey and the intent at each stage. Google allows you to set up something called “Ad Groups” where you target a group of keywords.

E.g. Men’s Clothing will contain keywords like “Men’s Clothing”, “Pants”, “Jeans”, “Suite” etc. This will be one ad group. Another ad group would be Women’s Clothing which will contain keywords like “Saree”, “Skirts”, “Kurta”, “Shrugs”.

So, keywords make up ad groups, and ad groups make up campaigns.

Bidding Types

As said earlier, Google AdWords works on a bidding system. There are mainly two types of bidding:

  • Automated Biddings: Google has it’s own machine learning algorithms that will maximize the benefits for advertisers. You just need to set a daily budget and AdWords will automatically adjust your CPC bids to maximize clicks within your budget.
  • Manual Bidding: For a beginner, manual bidding is a great way to start. It lets you set your own bids at the ad group level, or for individual keywords or ad placements. This can help you save costs and maximize your campaign effectiveness. You can also adjust bids based on a user’s device type.

Performance Metrics

It’s important to measure the success of your ad campaign. The following are some basic metrics used in AdWords:

  • Click-through rate (CTR): No of clicks/No of Impressions
  • Conversion rate (CVR): No of Conversions/Total Number of Clicks
  • Cost-per-click (CPC): Total Amount Spend/Number of Clicks
  • Cost-per-acquisition (CPA): Total Amount Spend/Number of Conversions

Getting the basics right in AdWords is fundamental. Google offers numerous courses and certification in AdWords. You can learn more about AdWords at Academy for Ads.

There is a lot more to explore on this platform and you will be rewarded if you invest time in more advanced features.

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