Beginner’s guide to Google Ads: Part I

We all know Google: it’s one of the most used search engines in the world. When you’re looking for something specific, chances are high that you’ll head straight to Google. Google is also known for its advertising platform, which is called Google Ads. You’ve probably seen Google Ads before. These are the ads that show on, for example, the top and bottom of a search result page, a.k.a. Search Ads.

Google Ads is great when you want to get your website up-and-running as quickly as possible. Instead of having to wait around for your website to grow and build up content over the course of a few months, Google Ads allows your website to jump straight to the #1 search result.

Even though Google Ads is quite straightforward, it’s not easy. It takes time and errors to master. But you have to start somewhere! Therefore, in this beginner’s guide to Google Ads, we’ll go through some of the basics.

Different forms of advertising

There are a lot of different forms of advertising to choose from. In order to know how Google Ads works, these are the ones you should know:

  1. Search ads
    When you type in something in Google you’ll get to see organic search results and search ads. The organic search ranking is determined by the content on your website, whilst the ads are paid for in Google Ads. It’s important to know that organic search results are independent of the search ads: the two do not influence each other.


  2. Display ads
    You’ve probably seen some display ads before. These are image ads seen on websites/apps.


  3. Video ads
    Video ads on platforms such as YouTube are becoming more popular.


  4. E-mail ads
    Google also allows you to have advertisements in Gmail. These can be seen in the Promotions tab on the top.


The basics of Google Ads

Google Ads can be divided into the Google Search Network and the Google Display Network. Let’s dive a bit deeper into the two.

Google Search Network

The Google search network consists of all Google-owned search engines (including Google Scholar and Google Maps) and its search partners. Search partners are other websites that show Google Ads in their search results. In the search network, ads are shown because customers are searching for something. 

Google Display Network

Alongside the Search Network, you also have the Google Display Network. In the Google Display Network, ads are displayed to people who don’t necessarily look for them. The ads are shown outside the Google-owned environment (third-party websites and/or apps). A great example is YouTube.

Key Google Ads terms that you need to know

Before we can start using Google Ads, you’ll need to know some basic terms:
The first word you need to know is the keyword. A keyword is a word or phrase that Google users are searching for. Your ads will show up for the keywords that you pick.

A click is something that’s registered when someone sees your ad and clicks on it. If the advertisement only appears on a page a person is visiting, this is called an impression. An impression doesn’t necessarily mean that the visitor has seen your ad. 

The good thing is that in Google, you can choose to pay-per-click. This means you’ll only pay when a visitor has actually clicked on your ad.

This brings us to the click-through rate (CTR). The click-through rate tells us the percentage of users that lands on your advertised page after seeing your ad. The click-through rate is important because it’s a good indicator of how successful your ads are.

Then you have the maximum cost per click (max CPC), also referred to as the bid. This is the highest amount of money that you want to pay for a click. This can, for example, be $1.

However, the max CPC isn’t necessarily what you actually will pay per click. You also have the actual CPC. The actual CPC is lower than the max CPC if advertisers are bidding less for the keyword that you are bidding on. This means that in reality, you pay less than the $1 you’re willing to pay for.

A conversion is any valuable action that you want visitors to do after having clicked on one of your ads. This can be: buying something, clicking on a link, booking a table in a restaurant, downloading something, visiting your store, subscribing to a newsletter, etc. You can have multiple conversions.

The conversion rate (%) will tell you the percentage of conversions you got after a click. And the cost per conversion will tell you the cost per conversion in comparison to the cost of the whole campaign. The lower the cost per conversion, the better.


How does Google Ads bidding work?

Google Ads is like an auction house. Every time someone searches for something, in the background an auction is happening. In this auction, several advertisers have set a budget and a bid for a keyword. The bid is how much an advertiser wants to pay per click. In the auction is then decided whose ads are being shown: the highest bidder, with the highest ad quality score, wins.

I hear you thinking: quality score? Well, the quality score shows how well your ad matches with someone’s search. How the quality score is determined is Google’s secret. However, we do know that one key factor of the quality score is relevancy. Your ad has to be relevant to what people are searching for – you have to choose the right keywords.

Creating your first campaign

Before you start creating campaigns, it’s important to think about a few things:

  1. What do you want to achieve with your ads? What’s your goal?
  2. On which network do you want to advertise? If you want to target people who are searching for something specific: search ads. If you want to get your name out there through banner ads, reach a lot of people, and improve visibility: display ads.
  3. How much can you spend on advertising on Google? This depends on your return-of-investment. Start small.
  4. What is your target audience: where are they located, what are their characteristics, where do they search & which keywords are they using?
  5. Which bid strategy do you want to use? Do you want to pay per click or let the system try to get as many clicks as possible?
  6. What do you want to tell searchers?

When creating your first campaign, it’s important that you don’t spend too much money. You’re probably still figuring out how the system works and you don’t want to lose money. Also, make sure to not overcomplicate your campaigns – keep it simple. Lastly, be patient and keep on learning: it takes time to master the art.


Are you ready for part II?

This was it for part I of the beginner’s guide to Google Ads! In part II we’ll discuss in detail how you can create a search campaign.


If you need help with your Google Ads strategy and campaigns, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Our certified Google Ads strategists can help you and create campaigns that reach your goals.

More about our services here

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