If you’re new to the digital marketing world, welcome. Also, what took you so long to decide to advertise on Google?

With Google owning more than 70% of the search engine market share, knowing how to advertise on Google is a must for winning 2020 marketing strategies.

Google is simply the most popular and powerful search engine on the planet.

In this post, we’ll show you the basics of how to advertise on google, covering topics such as Google determines ad placements and strategies to increase your click-through rate.

Think about it, when you have to perform a web search, you don’t say “let me perform a web search,” you say, “I’ll Google it.”

The company has saturated the search market so much that we use its name as a verb for the action it is intended to do. Take that, Bing!

But because Google is so popular, the competition is stiff in the world of Google pay-per-click advertising.

That’s why we wrote this article.

Advertise on Google: What Even are “Google Ads?”

Google Ads (known long ago as Google Adwords) is an online service that allows you to place ads that run either on Google’s search engine or display platforms.

Search ads resemble a typical Google search result and typically appear before organic results.

Organic Google search results are the focus of content marketing, where SEO is critical. To rank organically takes time, yes, but organic content is also often going after customers who are more top-of-the-funnel/just learning about your brand.

Meanwhile, Google Search Ads are a subset of PPC advertising. And PPC ads are a great way to see immediate results. One of the reasons is PPC advertising, such as Google Search Ads, targets bottom-of-the-funnel, primed-to-convert customers.

Perhaps that’s why the ROAS is strong with Google Ads – the average business is making $3 for every $1.60 they spend on Google ads.

Google search ads example

You can tell which search results come from Google Ads and which are organic search results because ads are marked with a small green square that says “Ad.”

You can see that we’re talking about a simple, direct text ad vs. a display.

A display ad is a visual ad meant to capture the attention of users and link them to a landing page or website where a conversion can be made.

Display ads appear on Google itself, but also through its extensive display network.

The Google Display Network consists of millions of websites that agree to have Google place ads on their pages based on the shopping and browsing behaviors of site visitors.

The site, in turn, receives money for every ad click their users make.

Google Shopping Ads have also become popular. Shopping ads appear when people are searching for specific products.

A Google shopping ad features a photo of the product along with its name, price, and any promotions that the company might be running.

For the purposes of this article, we’re going to stick with Google’s search network and dive deep into the advertising process.

Google Search Ads Make You the Answer

Google search ads run on a pay per click advertising model, meaning that advertisers pay every time a prospect clicks on their ad.

Ads can also be set up to be paid per impression if awareness is the goal of your campaign.

Consumers search for a key term on Google, and relevant ads are then shown based on what they were looking for.

These Google Search Ads show up based on what you have bid as compared to competitors. But that’s not all that there is to this process.

Google takes a few factors into account when determining ad rank (the order of which ads are displayed in Google search results). The bid is important, of course, but relevance, along with the quality of the ad in question, also plays a large role.

Relevance and landing page quality are important factors that will allow you to find local searchers with buying intent.

It’s important to make sure that you’re not wasting money on irrelevant clicks.

Thankfully, Google Ads can track your progress beautifully.

Through the service’s reporting system, you can see how many people have viewed the ad, how many clicked on it, and how many of those clicks turned into a conversion.

This helps you maximize your marketing budget and invest in the most helpful areas.

Me first! How Does Google Determine Ad Placement?

Bids are the price that you’ll pay per click. That’s a fairly easy concept to understand. But, irrelevant clicks are wasteful and can drain your marketing budget.

Strategies can be set up to maximize return on ad spend or cost per click. Advertisers can also set an automated bidding strategy to maximize impressions.

When bidding on keywords, different bids are applied to different terms. This all boils down to what keywords are worth more. Higher value terms get higher bids. Again, this is a simple concept.

Google has a tool called Keyword Planner, which gives you a suggested bid while also telling you how competitive the term is. But in order to effectively bid, you’ll need some more strategy.

Brady Cramm of Directive Consulting recommends using automated bidding rules when running Google Ads.

Automated rules can be set through your Google Ads dashboard, which allows you to optimize your content effectively.

Google Ads can automatically increase the Ad Spend for low-cost terms, and it adapts continuously through machine learning in order to maximize your odds.

Google search ads positioning example

Yes, you’re giving up some of the direct control, but Google is a trustworthy company, and chances are it knows how to maximize its own service better than you do.

On Search Engine Journal, Chris Giarratana also recommends geotargeting.

Chris Giarratana

Even if you provide digital products and services, you can benefit by reviewing where your engagement comes from to prioritize media spend in those areas,” he said.

However, industries like apartments, hotels, and lawyers often qualify their ideal customers by how close they live to their physical offices.”

Chris Giarratana, Founder at StrategyBeam

You can also set negative locations, specifically telling Google where you don’t want your ads to show up. This saves you money while improving your chances of conversion. It also effectively increases your bid adjustment for other geolocations.

The quality score of your ad also has a lot to do with relevance. Not only does your ad need to have something to do with the keyword you’ve bid on, but your landing page also needs to be relevant as well.

To ensure that you’re doing this, make sure that some of the keywords that you’re bidding on are also appearing in the ad headline and title. Take that a step further and sprinkle them throughout the copy on your landing page as well.

Google judges your landing page on both relevance and functionality.

Giarratana speaks on the importance of keeping your ad copy and landing page consistent by saying:

Maintaining consistency between your keywords, ad copy, and landing pages should improve your click-through and conversion rates while lowering your CPC. This means you should be able to make more money while also conserving your budget.

Repeat whatever you say in your ad on your landing page. Since you know your customers are interested in your offer and message in your ad, you can increase conversions by presenting the same message and CTA on your landing page.”

Chris Giarratana, StrategyBeam

The quality score and your bid amount work together to determine the overall placement of your ad.

That means someone with a higher bid, but a low-quality score will be ranked under someone with a lower bid and a perfect quality score.

Advertise on Google: It’s All About the Platforms 

Google Ads are not a one size fits all formula. Ad experience differs depending on which platform your prospects are using.

Mobile devices and desktop computers are very different from one another and require different strategies.

It’s important that you don’t overlook mobile platforms as they have a lot to offer. Mobile internet use is sharply gaining popularity, and people tend to perform internet searches when they’re on the go.

Shelly Cihan, who is the digital marketing manager of the Adworkshop agency, said:

Shelly Cihan headshot

Ensure that you are using mobile-preferred ads within your enhanced campaigns.

This allows for customized messages and mobile-specific calls-to-action that will speak directly to your mobile users.

Coupling this with a mobile-optimized landing page will result in higher conversion rates and positive user experience.”

Shelly Cihan, digital marketing manager, Adworkshop

When optimizing content for mobile, your messaging has to be more concise in order to make up for the device’s smaller size.

People on mobile are also usually on the move, so messages should be tailored accordingly. Giarratana echoed the importance of mobile ads, saying:

If mobile drives a significant portion of conversions, then I will usually copy an existing campaign and simply negative bid mobile for the original campaign.

In the same way, I will negative bid desktop in the new mobile-only campaign.

CPC for mobile ads can be 25% lower compared to desktop-only campaigns. You can also take advantage of mobile-only campaigns by focusing on click-to-call extensions.”

Chris Giarratana, founder at StrategyBeam

As he said, the cost per click can differ based on the device. Desktops have the highest cost, and tablets have the lowest, with mobile falling somewhere in between. That’s why it’s important to optimize your bidding strategies accordingly.

Decide in your Google Ads account if you’re choosing desktop, mobile, or both. If you’re running on both (and you should!), make sure you’re running different campaigns for each platform and optimize accordingly.

Google Ads Targeting: Ready… Aim… Fire!

In order to reach the right people, you have to target your ads based on a number of important criteria.

Geographic location plays a huge role in this.

This sentiment was echoed by Joy Gendusa, the CEO and Founder of PostcardMania. She also went on to discuss additional targeting opportunities.

Joy Gendusa headshot

You can also target ads according to type of website (health and wellness, automobiles, etc.).

And you can target prospects by certain Web behavior, like often visited websites that are relevant to your business.”

Joy Gendusa, CEO and Founder of PostcardMania

Targeting takes time, but it saves you a lot of money in the long run and directly increases conversions.

When it comes to targeting a geographic location, you can select a specific radius from a zip code by clicking on advanced search and selecting the option labeled radius targeting.

Remarketing is a targeting strategy that shows your ad to people who have been to your website before. These prospects are viewed as low hanging fruit and should be easier to close due to their familiarity with your brand.

According to Christopher S. Penn, an authority on digital marketing and marketing technology:

Christopher S. Penn headshot

As long as you’ve configured it correctly in Google Analytics, Smart Lists leverages Google’s big data capabilities to track who has visited your website by any means and identifies who is statistically most likely to convert.

Google then pushes that data back into (Google Ads) for you to use in your campaigns for remarketing. It’s a powerful tool that not many people know about or have talked about for making the most of your ad dollars.”

Christopher S. Penn, Co-Founder and Chief Innovator at Trust Insights

Advertise on Google: Keys to the Kingdom (Keyword Selection)

When you’re selecting your keywords, you will want to make sure that they have a high volume and are relevant to your service.

You can use Google’s Keyword Planner tool to help with this.

Google's keyword planner tool

Listen to what Dave Power, the founder of Hiri, has to say:

Christopher S. Penn headshot

If your competition is too high, try finding alternative or more specific keywords.

For example, instead of using ‘email client,’ try ‘email client for Windows.’ This way, you’re targeting specific people who are looking for an email client for Windows.

These keywords might have a lower search volume, but they represent a niche in the market that your competitors are not utilizing.

Your cost per click will be lower and your chances of reaching the right people will be higher.”

Dave Power, Founder of Hiri

There are three different means of getting your keywords to match with a Google Search. Susan Mirkin, recommends using all of them.

Susan Mirkin headshot

Implement all three types of keyword targeting — exact match, phrase match, broad match — into your targeting strategy, then bid the most for exact match keywords and the least for broad match keywords.

You separate ad groups by keyword type, in addition to category, to keep the campaign well-organized.”

Susan Mirkin, Director of Strategic Partnerships at AcuityAds Inc

Let’s take a look at these three types of keyword targeting.

  • A Broad Match means that your ad will show if any of the keywords you’re seeking are hit in the search query. Synonyms are also possible with a broad match. They also come with the danger of showing on irrelevant searches that wastes your ad spend. You can include broad match modifiers in your Google ads campaign to give yourself some added control. You can lock certain keywords in place by putting a “+” in front of the word.
  • A Phrase Match means that the terms need to be in the same order that you’ve specified in order to show up in a search. Other words can be included around them, but that ordered phrase has to exist in there somewhere.
  • An Exact Match means that the entire search has to match your keyword or key phrase 100% with nothing added or changed in any way.

In order to help ease the financial burden of irrelevant clicks, you should use negative keywords.

That’s what Mirkin said.

Susan Mirkin headshot

Always remember to include negative keyword targeting.

Negative keywords are keywords related to other keywords in the campaign that are not related to what is being advertised.

This further qualifies the ads within a campaign, ensuring ads do not show to users who would not find them relevant anyway.”

Susan Mirkin, Director of Strategic Partnerships at AcuityAds Inc

Advertise on Google: How to Track Your Success

What you track and how you define success can vary from business to business and industry to industry.

But what doesn’t change is the need for custom-tailored goals and a way to track and monitor how close (or far) your Google Ads campaign is from achieving those goals.

No matter what business or industry we’re in, when we talk about Google ad metrics we’re almost always going to be talking about:

  • Click-through rate

  • Conversion rate

Let’s run through a bit of a primer…

What is a click-through rate?

A click-through rate (CTR) is the number of people who clicked your ad divided by the total number of people who saw it. If your Google ad got 1,000 impressions and 100 clicks, you’d have a (very good) CTR of 10%.

Every ad you’re running and every keyword you’re bidding on has its own CTR that you need to consider.

Your Google Ad’s CTR (in conjunction with the value of a conversion) is how you monitor whether or not the keywords you found in research are bringing in results and likely to drive a profit.

A less-than-stellar CTR hurts your wallet in more ways than one. If your ad isn’t getting clicks, that shows Google that your product or service isn’t what the users want. So a bad CTR rate will have an adverse effect on your ad rank.

While a “good CTR” will change by industry and keyword, a fair benchmark is 2.88%. If your CTR is below 2.88%, it’s time to dive into improving your ad optimization strategies.

What is a conversion rate?

A conversion rate (CVR) is how many customers completed your desired action on your site divided by the total number of customers who visited it.

For example, let’s say your Google Search Ad had 100,000 impressions with a CTR of 5%. That means 5,000 customers went to your landing page.

If the goal of your landing page was to get a customer to schedule a free consultation, then the conversion rate of your landing page is how many customers signed up for a free consultation divided by 5,000. So, if 100 customers signed up, you’d have a conversion rate of 2%.

But how do you track that? How do you know which Google ad sent those customers to your landing page?

When you set up an ad campaign in your Google ads account, you can also configure Google ad conversion tracking to specify which action you want to track.

For more information, check out our complete post on how to track Google ad conversions.

Advertise on Google: What If My CVR and CTR are Bad?

We told you what a conversion rate is and what a click-through rate is, but what do you do if you’re struggling to get good numbers from your Google ad campaigns?

Here are six things to do if you do not see a good return on your ad spend (ROAS) on your Google Ads.

  • Check your bids:

If your bid is so low it doesn’t fit the keyword you’re going after, your ad rank will be negatively affected.

Sometimes after seeing positive results, beginning marketers will raise their bids without raising their budgets. This means you’re going to get fewer impressions overall, which could hurt your CTR.

  • Check your ad schedule:

Ad schedules determine when your Google ad campaign will show to viewers.

It’s best practice to review your ad schedule every week. Take a look at your last week’s performance and see if your ads need to run at a different time.

  • Check the ad’s status:

As you can tell by now, Google has its own rules of quality. Always check your ad’s status in your Google Ads account to make sure it’s active and hasn’t been rejected.

  • Check if your ad’s copy could be optimized:

This will require split testing (which should be a given).

Copy-testing allows you to check which ad copy performs the best with your target audience. Sometimes an ad is saying the right thing in the wrong way.

  • Check your landing page:

This is specifically for your conversion rate.

A good CVR shows a healthy relationship between your Google ad and your landing page. A bad CVR could indicate that when people get to your landing page, they aren’t finding what they want. This could be a design issue, a copy issue; it could even be a load-time issue.

If you think your landing page can use improvement, check our post on creating landing pages that convert.

  • Check your ad extensions:

Ad extensions are extra bits of information you can put in your ad to help increase clicks or improve the user experience.

Typical Google ad extensions are your company’s phone number or key product or service information.

Ad extensions are usually only displayed for the first few results, but you should set them up in your Google ad account within each campaign or ad group.

To learn more, check out our guide to implementing Google ad extensions in Adespresso.

Now You’re Ready To Advertise on Google

Advertising on the Google Search Network is a great way to get your content out there, but it must be optimized if it has any hope of fighting back against prepared competition.

When you’re running a targeted Google Search campaign, it’s important to closely monitor your results and make adjustments where needed. Doing so will help you stay on top of your goals.

Bring the power of Google to bear for your company and increase your overall visibility and profitability by advertising on Google.