You might not like it but the reality is that Google controls the online search market, and while having a good SEO strategy helps, the most effective, fast and direct way to get in front of the masses using Google search is to advertise with Google Ads.

Looking for free ways to advertise? Check out these ideas.

Three reasons you should be using Google Ads

1 – Reach

Google has a massive reach across a lot of different areas of the internet. Advertising with Google Ads means you can show up in places like:

  • Google Search (obviously)
  • YouTube
  • Google Maps (stand out from other Google My Business listings)
  • Google Shopping Network
  • Any website or app/game that uses Google Adsense

2 – Relevancy

The key to good advertising is relevancy – that your ad is relevant to the person seeing it. Why? Because it means they’re much more likely to convert (in advertising speak, convert means to make a purchase, sign up – whatever action you are promoting). It’s the reason you’re more likely to see pizza ads around dinner time.

With Google Ads, you can specify when your ad will show, where it appears and to whom. That sort of control is not something you get with most forms of advertising. You can also advertise directly to anyone who has visited your website before, or previously clicked on one of your ads (remarketing).

3 – Intent

Even if your ad is relevant, if the person seeing it is not ready to buy then you’ll be less likely to see a conversion (they may convert later). With Google Ads, particularly in Google Search, you can focus on keywords that potential customers would use prior to making a purchase. Known as commercial intent (CI) these phrases are things like “product x review”, “product x buy online” or “product x vs product y”.

You can choose to increase your budget to focus on these keywords that have a higher commercial intent, and measure how effective they are in increasing your sales.

Before you start advertising with Google Ads

Before you rush to flick the switch on your Google Ad campaign there are a few things you should have sorted first.

  • Everything works – Check there are no broken links on your website, your contact form is working and it works well on mobile devices.
  • The ‘funnel’ is obvious – The sales funnel is the path a visitor (also known as a prospect) takes to convert into a customer (or lead). It’s important the path is clear and user-friendly.
  • It’s up-to-date – Is all the information, including FAQs, up-to-date? All your contact details are current and correct?
  • Tracking/reporting is active – Make sure you have Google Analytics set up (we suggest using Google Tag Manager to manage all your Google code snippets) and working, along with conversion reporting (goals) on key events on the website such as completion of a contact form or a product sale.

This pre-flight checklist can help you avoid wasting ad spend, or sending clicks to a broken or poorly-optimised website.

How to get started with Google Ads

With the right planning and controls in place you can make sure you don’t waste money with Google Ads. Our Google Ads starter pack is a full set-up service that includes setting up your campaigns, keyword lists, ads and reporting, and other controls to make sure your ad spend is not wasted, and put you on the right track from day one. We can also help with ongoing management of your account (zero commission on ad clicks).

Getting started with Google Ads involves a bit of planning work – the better you plan, the more likely your ad campaign will be successful. Remember, it doesn’t matter how good the ad campaign is, if your overall strategy is not well thought-out then you won’t be as successful as you could have been. It’s when a good product (or service) meets a good ad campaign that success is much more likely.

Here are the main things you should cover in your planning document:

  • Primary goal – What is the main thing you want to achieve? More sales, more enquiries, more sign-ups to your newsletter or followers on your YT channel? Try to be as specific as you can.
  • Your target – Describe who you want to see your ad. Google Ads allow you to specify things like when your ad is shown, what times and days, language and location. You can also include things that they are most likely interested in, but these audience sizes are more limited.
  • The buying process – As mentioned above in the pre-flight checklist, the sales funnel should be clear, effective and dead easy for customers. How easy? Read Steve Krug’s book “Don’t make me think” for more on that.
  • Budget – How much do you want to spend? This will depend on a few different factors, such as how competitive your industry is, the value of what you’re selling and how big you want your reach to be. We recommend monitoring your spend closely (especially in the first few weeks) so you can adjust as needed (and see where your spend is going).
  • Measuring success – How will you measure success? One of the big advantages of online ads is the ability to report on each click – where it went and what happened (the setup of reporting and goal tracking is all part of our Google Ads starter pack). You might also choose to track other indicators that relate to an increase in business – offline sales, more enquiries etc.

Update your planning document with any feedback and lessons learned from running ad campaigns – it will become a useful reference point for all your future campaigns.

Creating your first Google Ad campaign

You’re now ready to create your first Google Ad campaign. Log in to your Google Ad account, set up your billing and then proceed to add a campaign.

You will be guided through it step-by-step (and you can go back after the campaign is created to make changes).

Caution: It is possible to lose unsaved keyword or ad text you’ve entered – you might find it more reassuring to copy and paste as you go into a separate document (or use the Google Ads Editor program).

Related: How should you organise your Google Ad campaigns?

The main parts of each Google Ads campaigns are:

  • Settings – Specify things like where your ads will appear in the Google network, location, start (and end) date and daily budget.
  • Keywords/Ad Groups – These are the words that trigger your ad to show in the google search results and will be closely related to your product or service. Related keywords are often grouped together in separate ad groups (learn more).
  • Ads – These are the ads shown (can be text only or include photos) to searchers on Google, which are designed to attract the right people and get them to click through to your website (the landing page). In most cases you will enter a selection of headlines and descriptions that will be used by Google to generate the most effecting version (using Google’s machine learning system). You will need to enter the page on your website you want the ad to send people to – make sure the page is closely related to the ad (e.g. if you’re advertising a pair of shoes send them directly to the buy now page)

Save your campaign and you’re good to go! Remember, monitor it closely over the coming days to check how it’s performing and tweak as needed. If it feels like it’s going badly you can always hit the pause button and call in the Google Ad experts!

The simple guide to getting started with Google Ads (and why you should)
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