How to Get Started With Google Ads

Google Ads can be a great way to attract new customers to your website. In this post I go through a few basics to get you started with using Google Ads successfully and point you to a few other posts that can help you along the way.

Once you have created a Google Ads account, entered your payment information and linked your Google Analytics account, the next step is to create your campaigns, ad groups and keywords.  There is no one-right-way to set-up a Google Ads account, however, what is to follow is a five-step process to get you started.


Step 1: Determine Categories On Your Site


The first step is to understand your site, what you offer and what people will be searching for.  If your company is a skin care company, for example, you will probably offer lotions, moisturizers, toners, etc.  Those are product categories (think of these categories as feature categories).  

However, people will also be searching for solutions to solve issues, such as dry skin, wrinkles, or acne (think of these as benefit categories).  Also, people may be looking for these types of features and benefits from you directly, by adding your product or company name to their search. Those would be branded searches.  

These types of searches are more likely to convert than those that do not include your product or company name (non-branded searches), so you would want to distinguish the two. These categories would be your campaigns.  Under them will be your ad groups and keywords.


Step 2: Build a List of Keywords For Each Campaign

As an example, we’ll use the campaign Dry Skin.  Here are some keywords for dry skin:

  • dry skin
  • rash
  • dry skin on face
  • dry skin patches
  • dry skin on feet
  • dry skin around eyes
  • dry skin around nose
  • dry skin around mouth
  • dry skin on hands
  • dry skin conditions
  • dry skin on legs
  • dry skin lotion
  • dry skin moisturizer
  • dry skin and diabetes

You will want to know how often these keywords are searched – it makes no sense to have keywords that are rarely searched, even more so because rarely-searched keywords will not be served by Google, even when someone searches for them.

There are a number of tools to help you find quality keywords.  Here are a few:

Once you have a fairly comprehensive list, it’s time for step three.


Step 3: Group Similar Keywords 


If you look at the keywords above, you can probably see a few possible groups of keywords.  For example, some of these are for dry skin around the face:

  • dry skin on face
  • dry skin around eyes
  • dry skin around nose
  • dry skin around mouth


Another group could be for dry skin on hands & feet:

  • dry skin on feet
  • dry skin on hands
  • dry skin on legs


And another for dry skin lotion:

  • dry skin lotion
  • dry skin moisturizer


Once you have grouped keywords, it’s time for step four.


Step Four – Create Ad Groups and Keywords


There are a lot of options when you create ad groups, but I’m going concentrate on the basics.  As I stated above, each category will be a campaign.  In this example, we’ll use Dry Skin.  Under that campaign, you can create an ad group for dry skin around the face and another for dry skin on hands & feet, etc.  In each ad group enter the keywords for each of those groups.  It is at the ad group level that the ads that searchers will see, are created.  


There are three ways that keywords can be matched:

  • Broad Match – Ad served if any of the words in the keyword match.  However, if you use a plus sign in front of a word in the keyword, then you are indicating that you want that word in the search query (what the searcher is typing in the search bar).  For example, to have ‘dry skin on face’ as a broad match search, just enter those four words.  If you want to ensure that certain words are always included, you can use a broad match modifier.  In this case a ‘+’.  If we wanted dry, skin, and face to always be in the search query, we would enter it like this: +dry +skin on +face.
  • Phrase Match – Ad served if the phrase is included in the search query.  To enter a phrase match keyword, just put parenthesis around the keyword, like this:  “dry skin on face”.  An ad would not be served if the search query was something like ‘my face and skin is dry’.  That search query, however, would serve a broad match ad in our example.
  • Exact Match – Ad served if the keyword matches the search query.  In all three of these, misspellings are are automatically matched, however, with both broad match and phrase match keywords, if there are additional words in the search query, the ad will still be served.  That is not the case with exact match keywords, only the exact words and their misspellings would be served.  An exact match is entered by putting brackets around the keyword, like this: [dry skin on face].

Which works best?  It will be by trial and error that you will find the right keywords for your site.  To begin, you can start with broad match keywords and update later, depending on performance.  Also, because broad match keywords allow for the broadest number of search phrases, you may get more keyword ideas from those. 


There is another type of keyword that you can employ later, if needed, when you look at results of your campaigns.  Let’s say you are using the keyword “dry skin” and it turns out there is a rock band named “dry skin surfers”.  When you look at your search report, you see a number of searches you are showing up for are for “dry skin surfers”.  You can add a negative keyword, in this case ‘-surfers’, so your ads do not show up for those searches.


Step Four – Create Ads


Finally, create search ads that are relevant to the ad groups that you created.  It’s not effective if you created an ad group for dry skin around face, but your ad only mentions dry skin and the landing page only mentions dry skin.  Also, your Quality Score will be lower and you will pay more for each click to your site.  The Quality Score is how Google judges how relevant your ad is to your keywords and landing page (for landing page optimization, check out my blog post on A/B testing using R – https://daranjjohnson.com/blog/how-to-analyse-your-a-b-tests-using-r/).  


You only have a couple lines to convince someone to click-through to your site.  Make your best case!  In our example, it could be that you have the #1 rated best lotion for dry faces – mention that.  Also, make sure to ask the searcher to take action – ’Shop Now!’, ‘Learn More!’, etc.     


You should have at least three different ads for each ad group.  Over time, remove the weaker ads and add new, fresh ads.  I’ve written a blog post on creating a Shiny app to identify statistically significant weaker ads (https://daranjjohnson.com/blog/how-to-use-r-to-identify-poor-performing-google-ads/).


That’s the basics of setting-up your Google Ads account.  There is a lot more that you can and should do, but this will get you started.