Google Ads, also known as Google AdWords, is an SEM platform used by millions of businesses. It’s one of the quickest ways to reach your target market and start generating sales or leads. Thanks to its keyword targeting and an arsenal of tools and settings, it tends to give us advertisers the results we want. In this resource, we’re going to go through the Google Ads campaign setup process in “expert mode”, with all features and settings.
Beginners often get stumped during this process. It can be confusing. As an example, how can one choose a bid strategy if he is not familiar with them? We’ll do our best to educate you about the choices you’ll be making, not just instruct you to make a choice.
You won’t be a PPC expert after mastering this Google Ads setup process but you will be on the way to becoming one since you’ll understand the essential parts of a successful campaign.
You’ll start off with a “wizard” or guided Google Ads campaign setup. We’ve divided it into different sections and numbered the steps you’ll need to take in each one. However, first you need to create a Google account if you don’t have one already. You cannot create a Google Ads account without a Google account. If you have a Gmail account, you can use that. Or you can create a Google account at accounts.google.com/signup/.
Now we can sign up for an Ads account.
Head over to ads.google.com and click on sign in or start now.
Sign in with your Google account but do not click next. Instead, click Switch to Expert Mode, near the bottom of the page. That’s right, we’re removing the training wheels!
Each campaign in your Google Ads account has one goal. The goal indicates how Google should measure success. Each goal is compatible with certain campaign types and tends to work best for audiences who are in a specific stage of the buying cycle or buyer’s journey. Read on to find out more.
Sales: This is for businesses that primarily want quick, revenue-generating transactions, whether they’re on the website, in a physical store, or elsewhere. This goal is not for “lead generation,” when there is a sales process before the transaction happens. You should select this goal when you expect the consumer to make a purchase before interacting with any representatives.
Buying Cycle Compatibility: Decision stage (or consideration stage, in some cases)
Leads: This goal is for campaigns that include a consultation or some kind of personalised communication with a representative. It can also be used for campaigns that aim to generate specific actions on the website, such as email list subscriptions or document downloads.
Buying Cycle Compatibility: Decision stage
Website Traffic: This goal simply aims to get traffic to your website. It’s not a good one to choose if you’re looking for a strong ROAS (return on ad spend) but it could be a good choice if you need awareness.
Buying Cycle Compatibility: Awareness
Product & Brand Consideration (Not available for search campaigns): Another goal that isn’t really geared towards generating immediate revenue, this one uses video and display campaigns to encourage people to consider your products or services.
Buying Cycle Compatibility: Awareness or Consideration
Brand Awareness & Reach (Not available for search campaigns): As the name suggests, this goal aims to make your audience more aware of your brand. It tends to maximise the reach of your campaign, meaning more people will see your ads. Many are likely to be in the awareness stage of the buying cycle, which means ROI won’t be immediate. Though, targeting consumers early can strengthen performance at later stages in the cycle. Develop a strategy to continue communicating with people who learn about your brand during an awareness campaign.
Buying Cycle Compatibility: Awareness
App Promotion (Not available for search campaigns): This goal is specifically for app creators. It encourages app installs and engagement.
Buying Cycle Compatibility: Any (Many app campaigns encourage impulse installs, where people install free or low-price apps on a whim because they look so cool, useful, or fun!)
Store Visits: Tracks consumers using their mobile phone location to find out if seeing an ad led them to visit a physical store. More information here. You must speak to a Google representative to start using this goal.
There are 5 campaign types: search, display, shopping, video, and discovery. This resource focuses on the search campaign type. Search campaigns show text ads, without any images, at the top and bottom of search engine results pages, as shown in the image below.
Select the actions you will count on. Choosing these will change your setup process a little bit, based on your specific needs. For example, if you want to receive phone calls from potential new clients or customers, select phone calls and Google will prompt you to enter your business phone number.
Google will now ask you to set up conversion tracking, which is how you’ll track and log important interactions with your market. Usually, “conversions” refers to purchases, signups, or other important actions.
Without conversion tracking, measuring your performance in a meaningful way might be difficult. Take your time with this, as it can be tricky but is an important step. Plan on revisiting it before you start running ads.
Click “installation options”. If you have access to your website’s CMS and feel comfortable adding some code to the <head> section, click on install tracking code yourself and get it done. If you’re not comfortable doing this alone, you can click email instructions to your webmaster and send the instructions to someone who can do it for you.
Before you click continue, make a mental note that there are several ways to manage conversion tracking and you’ll need to take some time to study them. One of the ways is by using Google Tag Manager, which many advertisers prefer. It uses a “conversion linker tag” instead of a tracking code.
Measureschool does a good job of explaining Tag Manager’s benefits here and teaching how to set it up here. In addition to viewing those, we recommend carefully reading Set up conversion tracking for your website to familiarise yourself with the different ways you can gather useful data.
Once conversion tracking is set up, you can look in your Google Ads account to make sure the correct conversion actions are being logged. Go to Tools & Settings > Measurement > Conversions. In the Include in Conversions column, conversion actions with the value “Yes” are being counted in your data. Those with the value “No” are not being counted except in All conv tallies.
If you need to give a conversion action the “No” value so that it won’t be counted, click on the conversion action title (in blue text) and then click EDIT SETTINGS. Scroll down to Include in “Conversions”, click the dropdown arrow, and then deselect the box. Do the same if you need to give an action the “Yes” value, except select the box instead of deselecting it.
Many advertisers search their keywords, click their ads (which costs a little bit of money), and then follow through with a conversion action to make sure everything functions correctly. Keep in mind that you won’t be able to see your ad if your settings don’t allow it. If you’re not targeting your own location, you usually won’t see your ad, for example. Temporarily change your location targeting settings to do a test conversion, in that case.
At this point, Google asks us to determine some of the structural elements of our campaign.
Enter a campaign name that represents your strategy. For example, the locations you plan to target and the products or brands your advertising can be included in it. You can also include any scheduling or settings you’d like to use in your campaign name.
Then, deselect Include Google Display Network. It’s generally recommended to exclude the display network from search campaigns because including it makes analysing your data more complicated. If you want to create display ads, create a separate campaign for them.
Select the regions in which you would like to show ads. You can enter countries, states, cities, or zip codes. You can also select advanced search to add locations in bulk or select a radius around a city or zip code.
To make sure your ads don’t appear to people who are in a region, you can exclude locations by clicking on them and then clicking exclude.
Enter the language of your advertisements, landing pages, and keywords. It should all be in the same language.
Selecting a language doesn’t automatically translate your ads or anything like that. It will just make sure people who speak the language are the ones who see your ads. For example, we’ve selected English. Now our ads will be shown to people who have English set as their language in Google’s settings. The selection should match the language of all your advertising collateral.
Audiences can help to restrict the users who see your ads to people who are more likely to be interested in your products. There’s no need to select one. We recommend trying your campaign without audience targeting at first. Test an audience after a month or two if your performance isn’t meeting your standards. Also, think about setting up a remarketing campaign.
For more information, read our in-depth audience targeting guide here.
Since we don’t know which keywords we’ll bid on yet, enter a placeholder for your budget. Go with a small amount. We’ll instruct you on how to calculate your actual budget later.
Go ahead to the Bidding section and select your bid strategy. For an in-depth comparison of all the Google Ads bidding strategies see our resource here.
You can click show more settings to have a look at the 3 options within. Usually, you won’t need to adjust these but do so as needed. They are as follows:
Conversions: Allows you to set a specific conversion action to track within this campaign instead of using the conversion settings at the account level.
Ad schedule: Allows you to avoid showing ads during specific timeframes. For example, when nobody is available at your office to answer a call.
Ad rotation: When the default setting (i.e. Optimise: Prefer best performing ads) is chosen, Google will automatically show the ads that work best more than the other ads. The best-performing ad is chosen based on your bid strategy. If you’ve chosen maximise clicks (or selected that you want to “focus on” clicks), Google will show the ad with the best click-through rate more than the others, for example.
You don’t need to finalise your extensions right now. You can add them later, after you’ve chosen your keywords. But let’s try to put a few in place. It’s recommended that you follow best practices.
You can find out more about ad extensions here.
But for a quick overview, these are commonly used extensions:
Location extensions display your physical business address so that consumers can easily navigate to you. They also link to your business listing so that people can see your reviews, photos, and other information.
Affiliate location extensions help consumers find stores that sell your products. These are for brick-and-mortar retailers, not e-commerce stores.
Callout extensions are short, simple phrases that encourage people to click your ad. Advertisers use callouts to mention their accolades (e.g. a marketing agency might use “Google Ads Partner”) or special offerings (e.g. “Free Shipping on All Orders”).
Call Extensions display your phone number or a phone number that forwards to your business. These are clickable so that users can call you directly from the ad. They’re a good choice for businesses with sales teams. However, if you use these, you might want to limit your ad schedule to hours when someone is available to answer the phone at your office
Sitelink Extensions link to pages of your website. They’re great for taking up space on the search engine results page (valuable real estate) but the pages they link to need to be high quality or your conversion rates may suffer. Try to link to pages that might encourage visitors to complete a conversion or upsell them. A page full of relevant testimonials, for example, or one about your team’s impressive achievements (if you’re a service provider) might be good ideas.
Price Extensions list products and their prices so that people can see what you’re offering. They don’t show images like Google Shopping ads, however. If you offer a wide range of products, make sure this kind of extension is added to the appropriate ad group so that you're not trying to sell something to someone who is looking for something completely different.
App Extensions encourage people to download your app. They show your app logo, its reviews, its title, and a brief description. Of course, this extension is only an option if you offer an app.
Structured Snippet Extensions organise and display lists in the following categories:
You can see that the fictitious sunglasses retailer above lists the brands it sells with a structured snippet. A hotel might use the amenities snippet to show that it has a pool, a spa, and kitchenettes available to guests.
Lead Form Extensions put a lead form right into the search results page so users don’t even need to visit your website to provide their information. The beta version of this extension was introduced in 2019.
If you’re not sure what kind of extensions you’d like to use yet, they can be added later. No problem. But don’t forget to use some! They can make a big difference.
Click save and continue.
On the next page, Google will ask you to name your ad groups and choose keywords. But we need to do keyword research first, and we can’t access Keyword Planner until we’re done with this setup process. That’s why we’ll just enter a placeholder ad group name and keyword before clicking save and continue.
Feel free to play around with the daily estimates and get keyword ideas tools you’ll see on the right-hand side of the page. We’ll get to keywords in our keyword research section, though.
Likewise, on the following page, create some placeholder ad text. You’ll need to enter at least one headline and one description. Or you can cancel and delete the ad before moving forward.
This is the last page of the account setup wizard! Make sure your selections are correct. If they are not, it may lead to confusion regarding taxes, bills, or reporting.
Select your country and time zone making sure it is correct so that there’s no confusion about your bills. You may have a promo code if you were referred by someone, or you may leave it blank.
If you use a legal business name or you’re setting up the account on behalf of a business (whether you’re part of the business or not), you should select business as the account type. Otherwise, you can choose individual by clicking the dropdown arrow. If you choose business, make sure you enter the legal business name.
You’re done with the Google Ads campaign setup wizard but your campaign still needs some work. You entered several placeholders, remember? We’ll help you replace those. Then we’ll teach you how to go the extra mile and get better results.
In part B, we talk about how to align your keywords, ad groups, ads, and landing pages. You’ll also get an idea of how you can improve your key performance indicators. Good campaign managers never leave their accounts alone after setting them to “active”. You’ll need to monitor and optimise.
Now you’re ready to do some solid keyword research. The idea is to come up with as many keywords as you can and then narrow them down to create a high-potential list that your budget can support.
The process is as follows:
Start by coming up with keywords in the following categories. Let’s imagine we’re selling audio speakers. Our brand name is “Teknikus Audio”.
Product: A line of audio speakers
● Teknikus MR-3 speakers pair
|Include the brand name and sometimes a product type indicator; “speakers”, in our case.|
|Product||● Outdoor speakers|
● Desktop speakers
|Include a product but no brand.|
|Competitor||● Blaupunk desktop speakers|
● Desklite speakers with amp (not a Teknikus product)
|Include competitor’s brands, products, or services but not your own. The idea is to make your product look better somehow.|
|Substitute product||● Boom box|
● Portable stereo system
|Describe something that might be used instead of your product. Our examples aren’t exactly speakers but they can do what speakers do in most cases.|
|Complimentary product||● 40 watt amp |
● RCA to HDMI adapter
|Refer to a product that compliments or is often used with the product you’re selling. Often, audiophiles buy an amplifier to power a set of speakers, for example. Be careful. Use these only when you think they’re likely to result in conversions.|
Keep in mind that product and brand keywords are usually the most relevant keywords. They describe what your target audience is looking for, not similar things or things that compliment them. For that reason, they’re likely to give you better conversion rates.
We’ve published some in-depth keyword research instructions here.
If you find it difficult to come up with keyword ideas to start with, 25 of 30 at least, use Google Keyword Planner. Sign in to Google Ads, then go to Tools & Settings > Planning > Keyword Planner. Then click Discover new keywords.
You can get keyword ideas by entering a list of basic keywords or by entering a website URL which Google will crawl and use to list some ideas for you.
The first way we can do keyword research in Google Ads is by using some base keywords. Imagine we want to advertise architectural design services. Let’s use “architecture firm”, “commercial architect”, and “architectural consultant” as our base keywords. Just press Enter on your keyboard to enter a base keyword before you start typing the next one. You can enter a domain if you want to keep keywords closely related to a website’s content.
Click get results and you’ll see a list of keywords that are related to your base keywords. However, you’ll need to narrow them down in the refine keywords section. Just deselect categories that aren’t relevant. In our case, for example, we aren’t advertising landscape architecture, so we’ll deselect that. We expand the Discipline category to find it.
At this point, there still may be lots of irrelevant, unusable keywords in your list. Keep removing irrelevant categories as necessary.
You can see that Google gives you some useful columns in the table.
Avg. monthly searches is the average quantity of searches that may trigger your ad during the timeframe and using the criteria you have selected at the top of the page.
Make sure your locations, language, networks, and timeframe are correct. If they’re not, your figures will be incorrect.
Competition gives you an idea of how difficult it will be to get impressions. It indicates how many advertisers are bidding on the keyword. More advertisers (i.e. “high” competition) means you may have to bid higher to get impressions.
Top of page bid (low range) is what advertisers paid (per click) for a spot at the top of a search engine results page during a time when that spot was not particularly expensive, hence “low range”. Top of page bid (high range) is the typical cost per click when the top-page spot was on the expensive end of the range, most likely due to bids being increased during primetime or busy times.
The second way we can do keyword research in Google Ads is by extracting keywords from a website. Go back to the Discover new keywords tool at Tools & Settings > Planning > Keyword Planner. Then click Discover new keywords.
Click start with a website. Enter your website URL. If you want to get keywords from a single page, enter the page URL and select use only this page.
Click Get results and you’ll see a table much like the one we went over in the previous section. You can refine your results in the same way as well.
Google doesn’t match your exact keywords to user searches. However, keywords match types can narrow your impressions to users who search phrases that are more similar to your keyword phrases. Here’s an overview.
Broad match keywords actually don’t limit impressions. Instead, they broaden your audience. If your keyword is desktop speakers, users who search for computer audio system might see your ad. Adding a “+” to a word within a broad match keyword limits searches to those that include that specific word.
Phrase match keywords limit impressions, for the most part, to users who search a phrase that includes an exact phrase. For example, the phrase match keyword “desktop speakers” might trigger an ad for a user who searches Teknikus desktop speakers.
Exact match keywords limit impressions to users who entered an exact phrase into Google, with few exceptions. The keyword [desktop speakers] would trigger impressions for the searches desktop speakers and desktop speaker but probably not for any others.
We provide an in-depth guide to keyword match types here. If you’re not familiar with this useful targeting tool, we recommend reading through it.
Negative keywords improve campaign performance by cutting down on unwanted clicks and increasing keyword relevance. They can also help keep click-through rates up. Especially when you’re using broad match keywords, make sure you create a negative keywords list.
For in-depth information about negative keyword lists, see our resource here.
Remember when we entered a placeholder budget? Now we’re going to find out how much our keywords are likely to spend every day. Go back to Keyword planner at Tools & Settings > Planning > Keyword Planner.
This time, click Get search volume and forecasts.
Copy your keywords and paste them into the box before you click get started. Your forecasts depend on your keyword match types, so make sure you enter the right ones.
On the next page, check to make sure a few things are correct:
Any keywords that do not have any clicks in the forecast can be eliminated, or you can change their match type to a broader one to find out if it would get clicks (this is sometimes not very accurate). But beware of going too broad, as you might get clicks you don’t want.
You’ll see the forecasted cost for the timeframe you selected. Divide that by the days in the timeframe and you’ll get your daily budget, which appears underneath the total cost.
To edit your campaign budget, click Campaigns, in the left-hand column, and edit the budget of your campaign by hovering over the budget and clicking the edit icon (a little pencil).
Don’t forget this is your daily budget! Click Save.
If you’re looking for a more sophisticated way to create keyword lists, there are several tools you can use. Some popular ones are SpyFu and SEMRush. We’ve published a rundown here.
At this point, we know what our keywords are and how much we’re likely to spend on them. Now we need to divide them into closely-related groups. Doing this helps us better align our keywords, ads, and landing pages. When people search for “desktop speakers”, they should see an ad that includes that exact text or very similar text. Here are a couple of simple guidelines:
Here’s an example of some closely related groups.
To create ad groups, click campaigns and select the campaign to which the new ad group should be added. Then click the + button to create a new ad group.
When you’re inside an ad group, click on Ads & Extensions and then click the + button to create an ad. You’ll need to create one responsive search ad and two or three text ads for each ad group.
With responsive ads, Google will use the headlines and descriptions that tend to work best, based on the ad group’s data. The best-performing text ads will receive the most impressions, similarly.
Users might see a few of your headlines together in the same ad. The same goes for descriptions. Think about how your ad content might keep a user engaged. You want them to read the next line or go ahead and click. Include a CTA (call to action) such as “book a consultation” or “buy now” in at least one headline and description.
Your headlines should include the keywords in the ad group or similar phrases. You’re competing with other advertisers and with organic search results for clicks. Grab attention but most importantly, let the searcher know that you’re offering what they want. Include your keywords.
You can create 3 headlines in text ads and up to 15 in responsive search ads. The more the better.
Entice the user with the benefits of your product or brand. You can create 2 descriptions in text ads and 4 in responsive ads. Each description can be 90 characters long. Try to type at least 65 characters for each one. Short descriptions leave space unused on SERPs.
You can add suffixes to the URL that appears in your ad. This will not change your final url (the ad’s destination) but it can help your ad stand out. You can use this opportunity to include your keyword again, for extra emphasis. If you want, you can also include a CTA or selling point (e.g. /ranked-no1-LAX) here. However, you cannot change the main domain name.
Don’t forget about your ad extensions (link to section). Make sure they are organised and use as many as you can. These can be added at the ad group, campaign, or account level. Think about where they are most applicable for getting clicks.
Just as the ads of an ad group should include that ad group’s keywords, or similar phrases, so should your landing pages. You want visitors to know they’ve found the right page, first and foremost. However, landing pages are an art form and there are several elements you should include so that you can push your visitors over the finish line, to a conversion.
Here are some helpful tips for landing page design and content.
Learn more on how to optimise your landing page here.
Optimisation: Improving Your Google AdWords Campaign
You’ve done a great job educating yourself, completing the Google Ads setup process, and using best practices to get the best results you can. But good campaign managers don’t stop here. At the very least, you’ll need to monitor your account to make sure things are OK. You don’t want to spend money for nothing and you probably have a minimum performance level in mind. There are a number of things you can do to improve performance. Below are some useful pointers.
Congratulations! If you’ve gotten to this point without giving up or skipping steps, you’re doing great and your campaigns should be off to a decent start. It may take time to reach a level of performance that satisfies you, though. Keep optimising. Troubleshoot your problems by searching questions you have in Google.
Resources like our blog are full of helpful information. We are rated as one of the best SEM companies in Singapore when it comes to SEM in Singapore. For the record, we’ve helped over 500 clients with their SEM campaigns. Contact us today to discuss how we can play a role in your success! Get a free proposal today.
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