How to Launch a Google AdWords Campaign
November 17, 2015
Advertising is all about converting attention into sales, and every day millions of eyes are cast toward Google, the Internet’s leading search engine. Google’s program for search engine marketing (or “SEM” in the parlance of our times) is AdWords. When a person views the results of a Google search, AdWords text ads appear above and to the right of the unpaid, “organic” results. (Google also provides graphical display ad placements on many web properties, but that’s a subject for another article. Today we’re focusing on pay-per-click text ads.)
- There are plenty of reasons an entrepreneur would want to make pay-per-click search marketing via AdWords part of her overall marketing budget.
- You don’t need to be a creative genius. Making a glossy magazine ad or polished TV spot takes skills most business owners probably don’t have. But most AdWords ads are just text, somewhere between the length of a Tweet and a haiku, plus a link back to your website. Your success will have more to do with SEM strategy and diligence than dizzying creativity, though a little cleverness never hurts.
- You don’t need to be a computer genius. Like anything, there’s a learning curve, but it’s really not that hard. Google AdWords offers plenty of tutorials from setup basics to advanced optimization.
- You can spend whatever you want. There’s no minimum budget, and handy analysis tools will let you see right away what results you’re getting.
- Targeting your audience is easy. You control the geographic boundaries of your audience and the keywords they will respond to.
Interested? Let’s go over the basic steps.
Step One: Size Your Budget
What’s the most you’d be willing to pay for someone to click your ad and arrive at your website? Google AdWords only charges you when someone actually clicks your ad—hence the name “pay-per-click”. But in order for that to work, they do need to find your ad. Just as sound search engine optimization practices can boost your visibility in organic search results, the amount you bid on “maximum cost per click” is one thing that drives your ad’s ranking in paid search results. However, you won’t necessarily pay that maximum for every click. Google values relevancy, so if your ad matches a search better than a competitor’s, Google cuts you a break on the cost. You will also decide on a maximum daily budget to prevent unexpected overruns.
Step Two: Choose Effective Keywords
Suppose you are a Sacramento plumber. You want to catch the attention of people nearby looking for plumbing services. What might they type into Google? They might search for a solution, like “Sacramento Plumber,” but they might also do a search on the problem, like “How to fix a leaky faucet.” Maybe if they’re panicked, they’ll type something more urgent like “plumbing emergency help.” The keywords you choose to trigger your ads are your predictions about what people will search. If your keywords match a user’s search—and your bid for clicks is high enough to beat out relevant competitors—the user will see and possibly click your ad.
To help you brainstorm, you will use Google’s Keyword Tool. You start by entering phrases that immediately come to mind, like “Sacramento Plumber” or “Plumbing Repair.” It will then spit out hundreds of related searches people have used, like “24-hour plumbing,” “fixing leaky toilets” and so on. It will also show you how often users search each term and how much competition there is among advertisers who also use those keywords. You’ll select which keywords/phrases you want to trigger your Google AdWords ad. Google suggests you to select lots of them to see what works best. You pay nothing unless someone actually clicks on your ad, so it doesn’t hurt to experiment. A word of caution: don’t select keywords that are too broad. Selecting “leak” as a keyword can bring in traffic that may not be relevant to what you are selling.
Step Three: Write Great Text Ads in 100 Characters or Less
The basic Google AdWords text ad has a title (25-character max), two lines of body copy (35-character max each) and a web address (35-character max). Incorporating the keywords you already selected as your triggers is recommended. Also, don’t just write one ad. Write a few. Remember there’s no big downside to having underperforming ads. If no one sees or clicks them, it costs you nothing.
For the URL, you won’t necessarily link to your home page. You want to drive people to the page in your site that’s most relevant to their search, which might be your Services page or your Contact Us page.
If you don’t yet have a website, that’s not necessarily a deal breaker. Google recently added an option in which the text ad links to a Google profile page for your business that’s super easy to make. Of course, having a clean and professional mobile-friendly website—even a simple one—offers undeniable marketing benefits and confers a sense of legitimacy that are important. Bringing your website up to an effective standard will help convert clicks to clients/customers, but that’s another topic.
Step Four: Create a Path for Your Visitors
Congratulations! You have gotten your first click and subsequent “paid visitor” on your website. It’s obvious they’re interested since they clicked on your text ad. Now what do you want them to do? Sometimes website visitors need to be cajoled into action. Consider the path you want the visitor to take and lay it out so it is VERY EASY to follow. This might mean creating a new landing page for your AdWords campaign that ties explicitly to the text ad you created, answers likely questions and leads the visitor to “buy now” or “call now.” Put yourself in the visitor’s shoes and make sure their path to action is clear.
Step Five: Track Their Performance, Adjust Accordingly
Google AdWords helps you determine which text ads work best. Suppose an ad click leads to a sale in your online store. You can set things up so that when the user sees that “Thanks for your Order” page, a snippet of code reports a conversion to Google. You’ll be able to see which ads are getting the most clicks and which are actually making sales. For successful ads, you might experiment with their maximum cost per click value to see if that improves their sales or ROI.
By this point, you may be wondering whether all this is the kind of thing you should do yourself or have it done by an expert. That depends. If you’ve got more time than you have money, we say relax and try it out. On the other hand, if you want to get the most out of Google AdWords, it’s not a “set it and forget it” type of thing. It is an iterative process that involves strategizing, experimenting, analyzing pay-per-click results and tweaking further until you feel you’re getting the best possible return. Also, even though a campaign is relatively simple to set up, there is a lot to learn about advanced approaches such as A/B testing, localization strategies and integrated call metrics—things that can squeeze the most value and analytical insight out of the process.
So if time is your most scarce resource, or if you prefer to leverage expertise not already in house, it’s not a bad idea to reach out to a marketing partner. One who really knows the ropes with a Google AdWords campaign. As a matter of fact, we know just the place….