Mastering Google AdWords

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In a recent post, I detailed exactly How I Write Compelling Online Ads, specifically designed to be used on Google’s AdWords platform.

If you followed those instructions, you would now have a comprehensive set of advertisements you can begin using to validate your offer.

Before we jump back into our real-time experiment and show you exactly how we plan and execute an advertising campaign on Google AdWords (followed by Facebook Ads), it’s important to have a working knowledge of the mechanics of AdWords.

Consider this post your Google AdWords Tutorial.

This how-to Google AdWords instructional post provides insight for setting up killer advertising campaigns – regardless of whether you’re promoting products and services online, or trying to draw an audience to a location-based bricks-and-mortar offline.

Admittedly, I actually learned quite a bit while preparing this article – including tons of new and intuitive features that I haven’t been taking advantage of (but will start now!)


Getting Started with Google AdWords

It only takes a few seconds to join Google AdWords.

AdWords is one of the several free Google services, and since you most likely already have a Google account (e.g. Gmail, Google+, Google Drive, etc.), you can register for AdWords in a few easy steps. You need to provide your email, time zone, country, currency, and you’re done – but you can’t change these details later, so think it over which one to select before you finalize your profile.

To begin setting up your ad campaign, you will have to specify your budget, i.e. the amount of money you want to spend on your campaign. Budgets can be a game-changer – obviously higher amounts have a better potential to yield more traffic, while lower budget campaigns may not get you as a high a return on investment. Some experts approximate that you should pay a minimum of $100 per day to get clicks; I budget for $50 per day while muse testing, as I will describe in greater detail in the next post within our Testing the Muse in Practice series.

Either way, you will have to determine your budget for every campaign you start.

When you decide on campaigns and budgets, location is a factor. Which products are you promoting? Where is the promoted business located? If you are promoting an online product or website, location is less a factor. However, if you promote to/or for local businesses or retail outlets; these businesses might be in different locations, different cities or states/provinces.

Create one campaign for each local business. For example, if you promote a small brick-and-mortar bookstore located in New York City, you want New Yorkers to click on your ads. You do not need visitors from Seattle or San Francisco.

You will also need to identify your “campaign type” which will dictate how and where your ads will be displayed by Google. Select search only campaign and display only campaign – these networks cover the majority of Google sites that show relevant Google ads at the top of search results and in the left and right sidebars, and other placements like mobile apps.

When you join AdWords, Google reminds you that your ad campaign should be based on good content instead of focusing on keywords or marketing strategies. Nothing beats valuable content – “Content is King” as the saying goes. Naturally, your best bet at achieving great results is if you write great content and you use Google Ads.

According to WordStream, 64% of potential buyers click on Google ads when they want to purchase an item online. AdWords generates the best return on investment (46%) out of the most important key performance indicators. It means AdWords is more effective than social channels (28%), backlinks (12%) and webinar ads (9%).


One ad group contains one advertisement or multiple ads based on the same keywords. You set a price (bid) for your keywords when the ad group’s ads appear; this is the CPC (cost per click) bid. You set prices for separate keywords in the ad group.

Imagine it as if you were promoting a brick-and-mortar business – when you launch a campaign for your bookstore, you will focus on thrillers, dramas and fantasy. You have a different audience for each genre, so you use different marketing techniques to reach out to them. This is how Adgroups works. You should set a bid for every ad group in every campaign.

Create a minimum of three advertisements for each ad group. One ad should be for dynamic keyword insertion, and each ad should contain at least one keyword and a call to action.

Keyword Insertion

The keyword insertion feature uses braces { } and by using the {keyword:default text} parameter, it will insert the keyword that a potential buyer uses into your text advertisement.

Keeping with our example, if you promote a bookstore that offers crime novels, you can use keyword insertion codes like this:

Headline: We Offer {KeyWord:Crime Novels}

Google AdWords will try to use related key terms in your ad group (“true crime novels”, “historical crime novels” or “Scandinavian crime novels”).

Call to Action

Calls to action that prompt your viewer to click or visit your site or ad are crucial, but you’ll need to be creative. Beware of calls to action that are too upfront (e.g. Click Here). Google frowns upon them and it may penalize you for using them. You must be subtle to convince potential customers to click.

Ad Customizers: Dynamic Content

In September 2014, Google implemented “ad customizers”. It’s a big change, and it can be very helpful.

Ad customizers enable you to use dynamic content in your text advertisements. Dynamic content is versatile, and can be about inventory, price, countdown (time sensitive call to action) or offers. The same ad may have dozens of different versions; each version is geared to the individual needs of the customer.

Ad customizers change your text ads according to the potential customer’s needs: their searches, their location, the device they use, the date when they are browsing the web.

For example, if an internet user from the Gramercy area of Manhattan is looking for women’s shoes in March, ad customizers can display specific details they may want to know: women’s shoes in Gramercy, including their availability, Gramercy-specific prices, possible discounts that are restricted for a time period, or calls to action like “available until 1st April”.

If you have plenty of products whose data always change, this method will be very valuable for you.

Ad customizers may use brand specific keywords. Provide a data feed of product information. Set prices accordingly. When you use dynamic search ads (DSA), Google has access to details from your sites, so it will select your target market based on your website content.

Start with an ad group that targets “all web pages”. Set your advertising bid prices low, because if you use high bids, dynamic search ads may divert traffic from already existing campaigns, which means you will be competing against yourself (never good).

Use ad extensions, such as sitelinks (your URL), call (location phone number), and location (address details) extensions. Extensions provide extra details about the business you promote, so your customers are more likely to click on your ads. Extensions make your ads more visible to potential buyers, they help your ads stand out from the online crowd.

Ads with extensions are also likely to appear above search results and not along the sidebar. Extensions typically generate slightly more traffic with a higher click through rate (CTR), which results in a higher return on investment (ROI). You can use manual extensions or automated extensions.

Shopping Campaigns

If you promote products, you should use Shopping Campaigns; it is a new type of Product Listing Ads (PLA). They are more effective than simple text search ads, because they feature the image of the specific product the buyer is looking for. You know that advertisements with images are more successful than text ads.

Create a data feed. Add every relevant detail that your advertisement should display and include a high-resolution image, too. Google will display it to potential buyers.


We’ve already covered keywords [and will continue to] ad nauseam – and for good reason – keywords are a “key” part of your marketing strategy. Some of our existing resources on this topic include Part 2 and Part 3 of our real-time experiment, Testing the Muse in Practice.

You should select keywords that are close to the ad groups you have. Follow up your ads, see how they perform. You will see which key terms attract traffic and which are able to generate clicks and sales.

Ultimately you should focus on the keywords that provide the highest return on advertising spends (ROAS).

While return on investment (ROI) shows how much profit your ads generate, compared with the costs of the ads, ROAS shows how much revenue you get after every dollar you have spent on advertising. ROAS measures how effective your advertising campaign is. ROAS considers marketing a necessary cost.

Check out your keyword reports on AdWords often. You will see which keywords are performing the best, and you can enrich them with similar keywords. On the other hand, you’ll want to cut back on underperforming key terms.

Consider which keywords drive traffic that is useless, i.e. visitors who do not turn into buyers. After careful review, start to eliminate these keywords.

Google does not use exact match type anymore. It was a very specific and restrictive way to display your ad to potential buyers; they could only see an advertisement when they used the exact key term.

For example, you promoted “Scandinavian crime novels”, and Google displayed your ad only when someone used this term. If they used the words “Scandinavian crime” or “best Scandinavian crime novels”, they never found your advertisement.

The benefit of using exact match type was that this method didn’t draw unwanted traffic, since the related ad would only show because the browser entered those exact words. With an exact match, ads are better targeted, and therefore visitors would have a higher likelihood of turning into buyers.

However, if you had a very niche set of keywords, you likely didn’t get plenty of traffic – so Google stopped using exact match type in 2014.

On the positive side, with the removal of exact match type means you don’t have to bother with overly complicated lists of keywords. AdWords has a wider range now. According to Google, close keyword combinations get 7% more exact and phrase match links with click-through and conversion rates.


Position matters.

Your advertisement should be in the top 3 spots for ads. An ad in the first search position receives 7% more clicks than ads in lower positions. So if your ad is any lower than top 3, you should change the ad or increase the bid. Check out the bid column within your Adwords campaign. If your ads or key terms are not successful because of low-budget bids, Google will show it in the status column.

Bid adjustments can modify your bids. Gear the prices to the potential buyer’s location or the device they use. You can increase the bids; you might be willing to pay more for visitors who are likely to turn into buyers, for example, if they live close to the business you advertise. If you increase the bid, your ad will have better spots when these specific buyers are looking for similar businesses.

You can offer higher bids to optimize your ads to mobile devices, so that buyers can find your ads easier when they are browsing the web via mobile devices. It works the other way around too, where you can offer lower bids for buyers who live far away from the brick-and-mortar business, as they are less likely to become buyers.

Test your Campaigns

Marketing is about testing. Always monitor your marketing tools. Typically, you would wait at least three months before you give up on a marketing campaign. While Testing the Muse, a much shorter timeframe will suffice.

Create at least three ad groups, each ad group should have at least three advertisements and about seven to eight keywords. If you do this, you can see how the headline, the text, and the keywords perform. When you want to test results, change only one component at a time.

Given that Google AdWords is a primary tool for marketers everywhere, there’s no shortage of courses and programs that help you master this advertising platform. This post provides a solid foundation, and if you want to build on this knowledge base, here are a few recommended suggestions:

  • Google’s very own AdWords Help Center (free) – pretty everything you need to know;
  • Pay Per Click Made Easy Training Guide – a unique and easy to understand training guide with the precise information needed to reach your target market; and
  • As previously highlighted, PPC Academy courses – numerous courses and a hand-held approach to consulting for increasing your response rates and conversions.

Best Always,


One thought on “Mastering Google AdWords

  1. […] in conjunction with some of our recent posts on how I write compelling online ads (the techniques), mastering Google AdWords, and validating your ideas with both Google AdWords and Facebook Ads (the tools), as well as some […]

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