This article is part 2 of a 5-part mini-series.
Learn PPC Series Navigation:
- Part 1: What Is PPC?
- Part 2: Starting Your PPC Account (You Are Here)
- Part 3: How Bidding Works in PPC
- Part 4: Navigating Your PPC Account
- Part 5: Optimizing Your PPC Account
So, you’re ready to start advertising with PPC. In this article, I’m going to show you step-by-step how to go from having no Google Ads (AdWords) account to receiving your first paid search click.
Even if this isn’t your first time starting a PPC account, this tutorial could be useful, as I plan to touch on some handy tools to help start off on the right foot.
Be forewarned: there is a lot of hand-holding in this article, in the name of being thorough…
Let’s get started!
How To Start a Google Ads Account
Step 1: Sign Up for Google Ads
Start by signing up for a Google Ads account here: https://www.ads.google.com/. Hit “Start Now” and enter your information. Sign in if you already have a Google account, or just click “Create account.”
Tip: It’s a good idea to use a business email address for your advertising. Try to avoid using your personal email.
When you reach the following prompt, make sure you click “Experienced With Google Ads?” This will allow us to take more control of the account and access far more features later.
Next, you’ll reach this page, which asks which type of campaign you’d like to start:
For the purposes of this tutorial, we will select “Create an account without a campaign.” This will allow us to access Google Ads tools and do our research before setting up our first ad campaign.
Note: that you will be able to create any of these campaign types later, should you so desire.
Next, select your billing country, time zone and currency, and click “Submit.”
Your account is now ready! To gain access, click through the “Explore Your Account” button.
Step 2: Learn The Account Structure
There are four major components to the PPC account hierarchy:
Campaigns: Serve as the highest hierarchical level in a PPC account. These can be considered general categories or groupings of product types. For us we’ll have “Cheap Books” as a campaign. For a computer store, you may have “Laptops” and “Monitors” as some of your campaigns. Campaigns are also where you can make high level settings, like which geographic locations you want your ads to appear in. We will go into more detail on campaign settings later on.
Ad Groups: Within campaigns, you have ad groups. Ad groups serve as more specific categories or products. Each campaign will have several ad groups, each distinct from the others. We may have “Cheap Used Books” and “Cheap New Books” as separate ad groups within our “Cheap Books” campaign.
Keywords & Ads: Within each ad group will be a set of keywords and ads. Keywords and ads are grouped together and are inherently tied to one another, hence the name “ad group.”
Keywords are the search terms for which you want to appear on Google. For our “Cheap Used Books” ad group, we may have keywords like “buy cheap used books online” and “where to buy cheap used books”. If someone searches for one of these words on Google, one of our ads may appear.
Ads are what are shown to the user when one of your keywords is searched for. You can customize the wording and call out specific benefits to choosing your business. Writing good ads is critical to getting more traffic to your site. It is the first point of contact between your potential customer and your business, and first impressions matter! Here is an example of a paid search ad on Google:
Now that we have a basic understanding of how a PPC account is structured, we can start to figure out how to organize our specific business or product. That starts with doing some keyword research.
Step 3: Conduct Keyword Research
The next step in launching a Google Ads account is to conduct some research. What types of searches do you want to appear for on Google? How are people actually searching for your product or service?
As you may have noticed, for this tutorial we will make believe that we own an online used bookstore. We sell all sorts of books, and we help consumers sell their books, too.
To find out how people are searching for these products, we will use the “Keyword Planner” tool in our new Google Ads account.
How to use Google Ads Keyword Planner:
Navigate to the Keyword Planner:
We want to give the tool some keyword ideas. Enter some words that you think might be relevant to your business. In our case, we will enter 2 seed keywords:
- Used books online
- Used bookstore online
Note: It is possible to add another website URL here if you know of any competitors in your market. For example, we could add “thriftbooks.com” (someone else’s online bookstore).
The resulting table shows us some searches that happen on Google that are related to the keywords we entered. It also shows the average number of times each term is searched per month, the “competition” rating in Google Ads, and a potential cost per click.
I’ve selected some keywords that are:
- Highly relevant to our business and products
- Medium or low competition (ideally)
- Relevant to each other (Ex. Group keywords that contain “cheap” together)
- Moderate average monthly searches
Note: It is possible to sort and add filters to the results with the “Add Filter” button. For example, you can filter out high competition keywords from the results table.
While picking keywords, try to group similar keywords together. Each grouping will become its own ad group. Remember, this is vital! Your account could become overly complicated if you are not organized from the start.
We will group together keywords like “cheap used books” with other “cheap” keywords. For now, we will focus on just one ad group, but later you should come back to the planner and add other ad groups.
Once you have selected a few similar keywords, check them all, then click “add to Ad Group” and give your ad group a name. We will name ours “Cheap”.
Now let’s change the match type to “Exact Match” (we’ll discuss what this means later). Now, click “Add Keywords” and then “Ad Groups” on the left-hand side of your account.
You should see something like this.
First, we want to change the “Max CPC” to something very low, maybe 0.10c. Then we’ll click “Create Campaign.”
Give your new campaign a name and a daily budget (keep the budget low for now) and save. Move on by clicking “Create Ads” and you will be redirected back to your account.
Good work! We now have a campaign, an ad group, and some keywords created.
Now for perhaps the most important step, the ads.
Step 4: Create Compelling Ads
Your ads are the customer-facing part of your account. These are the words that will be seen when your potential customers search for your keywords.
There are countless guidelines and tips on how to write better ads. These are great for long term testing and continued refinement to your ads. However, today we’ll cover the basics to help you make your first ad a great one.
How to write compelling ad copy
- Be Honest
Don’t try to sell an idea to your customer that you can’t follow through on. We wouldn’t write an ad that states, “Used Books in Perfect Condition.” We have used books, but some of them are not in perfect condition.
Instead we may say “Gently Used Books” or “Pre-Owned Books For Less.” If the promise in your ad doesn’t align with reality, your customer satisfaction, and ultimately business, could suffer.
75% off? Really? Comparing other ticketing websites, prices are comparable, maybe slightly cheaper, often more expensive. If I can’t trust that you have 75% off prices, why should I believe anything else in your ad?
- Spelling & Grammar
This is a no-brainer. No one wants to click on an ad that reads “Buy My Prodducts! Their Really Grate.”
If you think you may struggle with using proper grammar, use a text editor before setting your ads live. There are also plenty of copy writers on UpWork.
- Touch On Emotion
Humor, urgency, love. These emotions are innate human responses. Try to play off basic human emotion in your ads, but only if it’s appropriate! It can be difficult to create new ideas that tap into emotion, but these can often be the most effective ads.
- Study The Competition
Use Google and Bing to see what your competitors are doing in their ad copy. Which ads do you like best? Which would you click on if you were shopping?
If someone else who has been advertising for longer than you has tested and proven their ad copy, maybe it’s worth emulating. See what is out there already before you start!
- Be Relevant
This is key. When I search on Google, I expect to see exactly what I’m looking for, right away. Make sure your keywords and ads are highly relevant to one another. They’re grouped together for a reason.
Keyword: Cheap Used Books
Ad copy: Buy Cheap Used Books– Save Money, Read More.
Keyword: Cheap Used Books
Ad copy: New Books For Sale – Shop Now
Not only does it lead to more clicks, but Google will also reward you for having highly relevant ad copy. Make sure you really understand this point before moving on!
- Use Proper Capitalization
This is best practice. “Use Uppercase On All Of The Words In Your Ad Copy. Period.”
With these guidelines in place, let’s write our first ad for Cheap Used Books. We’re going to pretend we have a 10% off sale going on for the sake of the example.
Click on “Ads & extensions” and then the round “+” button.
Now we can fill in all of our ad fields.
Ad fields: These are the various components of your ad copy. Each has a character limit, and an intended purpose.
Final URL (No character limit) – This is the landing page on your website. This must be a real URL – it is what your customers will see upon clicking!
Headline 1 (30 characters) – Main callout – This is the first thing a user will likely read.
Headline 2 (30 characters) – Secondary callout.
Headline 3 (30 characters) – Third callout.
Path 1 (15 characters) – URL paths – you can make these up to increase relevance.
Path 2 (15 characters) – These are not real URL paths; it’s just made up.
Description Line 1 (90 Characters) – Get more descriptive. Start explaining why your business is great.
Description Line 2 (90 Characters) – Continue to elaborate on the awesomeness of your business.
So, what makes our ad great?
We are highly relevant, using the words “cheap used books” and “affordable” to drive home the point that we have low-priced used books.
We didn’t make any promises we won’t keep.
We called out a 10% off sale we are having and inspired a sense of urgency to shop sooner rather than later.
All our spelling and grammar checks out.
If the preview of your ad looks good, go ahead and make one or two more ads, slightly modifying some of your ad copy. This way, you’ll have 2 or 3 ads that will show on a rotating basis. Eventually, Google will find the best performing ad copy and show it more often.
With practice, your ad writing skills will improve, and you will start to get a sense for what type of messaging works best for your business. Be sure to follow the policies set forth by Google. If you violate the terms, you may end up with disapproved ads or even account suspension (you really don’t want this).
Once you have your ads saved, your final step is to set up billing and go live!
Step 5: Set Up Billing & Go Live!
By now you’ve probably noticed this banner at the top of your account:
Click “Fix It,” and enter your credit card information. If you don’t see the banner, just click “Tools & Settings” and then “Billing Settings”.
Tip: If you need to find anything in your account at any time, try tapping “G” and then “T” on your keyboard. This will bring up a search box. Try searching “Budgets” or “Campaigns” or “Extensions”.
Now is a good time to double check that your budgets and bids are set conservatively.
Click your campaign along the left sidebar. Click on your daily budget and adjust it to an appropriate amount.
Note: Google can spend up to 2X your daily set budget. Each campaign has it’s own daily budget, so keep that in mind if you create multiple campaigns. Learn more about budgets here.
If you would like to add additional campaigns, you can go back to the Keyword Planner and repeat the same process, or you can follow these steps:
How to create new campaigns in Google Ads
- Click Campaigns on the left-hand side bar.
- Click the circular “+”
- Either load the campaign settings of your first campaign, or start a new campaign
- Select a campaign goal & campaign type
- Fill out the campaign details, budget, targeting settings and ad groups.
You’ve successfully started your Google Ads account. The opportunities are huge, so continue to learn how to manage your account in the next part of Learn PPC: Beginner.
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