What are Google Ads?


What are Google Ads?

Written by Brendan Wright

May 06, 20
What are Google Ads?

Google's advertising service Google Ads (formerly known as Google AdWords) is now 20 years old and still the gold standard for pay-per-click (PPC) advertising.

These unobtrusive ads have pride of place in Google search results and Maps, appearing at the top or side of the page with a link to your site or your contact details. Ads are generated when users enter the search terms you've bid on and you only have to pay when they click on the ad. This is what we call PPC or Pay Per Click.

Paid search results are distinguished by the 'Ad' label, but they otherwise look very similar to organic (non-paid) search results. Your ads can also appear on other sites that have partnered with Google when you make use of Display Ads.

If you're thinking about including PPC ads in your digital marketing mix, Google Ads should be your first port of call, even before Facebook Ads. Read this short guide to find out why you can't afford to ignore Google Ads and how to get started today.

What are the benefits of Google Ads?

Pay-per-click advertising (PPC) isn't the cheapest form of online marketing, so you'll want to make sure you're making the best investments with your marketing budget.

If you're struggling to improve your Google ranking with traditional SEO alone, Google Ads could give you the boost you need – especially since your competitors are probably already running campaigns of their own and may even be targeting the same search terms including your brand name.

Sponsored links on search engines are more effective at driving business to websites compared to other paid ads, as they target people who are actively searching for what you offer giving you a higher conversion rate. Google isn't the only search engine that offers paid advertising, but with 92% of the global market share (according to the latest StatCounter data), it's the obvious choice.

Google claims that advertising on their platform delivers an estimated 800% return on investment (ROI) for marketers. That means you can earn $8 for every $1 spent on Google Ads – as long as your ads are well targeted and optimised.

You can monitor the success of your ad campaigns through Google Analytics by setting up Conversion Tracking through Google Tag Manager (GTM) to continue making improvements as you go.

Google Ads aren't limited to the search results page either. They can also appear on Google Maps, other Google-owned services such as YouTube and Blogger and third-party sites across the Google Display Network.

eCommmerce websites are also ustilising Google Ads to display the sites products, which is conveniantly positioned at the top and right of the search results.

How do Google Ads work?

Just like organic SEO, Google Ads are based on keywords. Keyword research will give you an idea of what type of search terms people are using to find a company like yours, so you can create ads that target these specific search queries.

When you've decided which keywords you want to target, you place a bid of how much you're willing to pay when a user clicks on the ad (pay per click). An alternative to PPC is cost per impression (CPM), which involves paying when your ad is shown 1,000 times, regardless of clicks, although this is less common.

Your bid amount is only one of several factors Google uses to decide whether to show your ads or those of a competitor. The algorithm also takes into account:

  • the context of the search (determining user intent)
  • the user's location
  • the quality and performance of your ad
  • the quality of your landing page (where the user is taken after they click)

Improving your Quality Score with Google can mean your ads show more often and more prominently, as well as lowering the cost per click.

How to use Google Ads

Getting started

Google makes it fairly straight forward to get a new ad campaign up and running, however if not done correctly can cost you alot of time and money.

On the Google Ads homepage, click 'Get started' and follow the steps to create your ads. If you've already prepared your ad text, images or other media, your ads can be ready within the day.

Bidding on keywords

Once your ads are good to go, it's time to bid on your target keywords. You can let Google calculate a bid amount that suits your budget or you can set a manual limit if you want to avoid overspending on certain ads. The price per click will depend on:

  • how competitive the keyword is
  • your industry
  • your location
  • the quality and performance of your previous ad campaigns (if any)

Remember, you'll only be charged when someone clicks through your ads (or per 1,000 ad impressions if you choose this option).

Landing pages

You might want your ad to link to your homepage or a different page on your website, but you could increase conversions by directing users to a specially optimised landing page instead. This makes the transition easier and guides people where they want to go, so they're less likely to click away.

Tracking results

Google makes it easy to analyse your ad performance and conversions, but it takes a little setting up. By linking Google Ads to your Google Analytics account or your website's CMS, you can monitor results across all channels. You can also set up conversion tracking to track specific interactions, making it easier to prove ROI.

Why aren't my Google Ads performing?

If you're already using Google Ads or you've run campaigns in the past and not seen the results you wanted, that doesn't mean you should give up. Like any marketing activity, advertising on Google involves a lot of research, time and a level of skill and experience to know which keywords to target at which time and how to budget for the best return.

Some of the most common reasons Google Ad campaigns fail are:

  • Targeting the wrong keywords – a general keyword is usually more expensive and less effective than a more specific term.
  • Poor ad copy – ads should persuade people to click through to help solve their query. Running A/B tests with different ad copy will show you which headline and copy is most successful.
  • No landing page – without a landing page to guide their journey through your website, users might be confused about where to go and leave.
  • Low Quality Score – improving your reputation with Google will have cumulative benefits for getting your ads seen and lowering their cost.

Need help with Google Ads?

iST Digital has helped local companies to grow their business with Google Ads and other PPC and digital marketing channels for more than 12 years. We can help you create winning ads and choose the most effective keywords to boost leads, enquiries and traffic through your door.

Talk to our experts today to find out how we can help you!

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