What is Google ads?

what is google ads

Let’s step aside from all the advanced tactics on Google Ads and get back to basics. I was browsing around and noticed that there are still a lot of people who never tried Google Ads. Some even don’t really understand what it is and how it can be useful.


Let’s step aside from all the advanced tactics on Google Ads and get back to basics. I was browsing around and noticed that there are still a lot of people who never tried Google Ads. Some even don’t really understand what it is and how it can be useful.


So Today, let’s take some time and explain what exactly Google Ads is.
Whether you’re a complete newbie to digital marketing, a business owner trying to sell the world’s best homemade cookies, or a marketing pro aiming to hone your skills, this article is designed just for you.


We’re not just surviving but thriving in this high-speed digital epoch. Getting a grip on Google Ads is not a flamboyant extravagance, like, say, a diamond-studded monocle. It’s a bare necessity, akin to having, well… eyeglasses. It’s the cornerstone of hitting the bullseye when targeting your audience, ensuring every advertising cent performs like a dollar, and charging full steam ahead towards your marketing objectives.

And when we talk about online advertising, Google Ads is like that old friend who is everywhere. It’s powerful, reliable, and doesn’t miss a single party.


In this blog post, we will demystify Google Ads, explaining not just what it is but also how it works, why it’s important, and how you can leverage it for the growth of your business. We will cover everything from its basics and types to setting up your first campaign and avoiding common mistakes. This guide aims to provide a solid foundation for your Google Ads journey, helping you navigate and utilize the platform effectively.


So, whether you are just getting started with online marketing or you are looking to refine your existing knowledge, this guide is your one-stop resource to learn about Google Ads. So, let’s dive in and unveil the power of this incredible platform.


Stay tuned as we embark on this enlightening journey. In our next chapter, let’s start with a brief history of Google Ads.



A Brief History of Google Ads

Today, Google Ads has become a significant player. But this didn’t happen overnight. The platform has a rich history that’s shaped and changed the course of online advertising.


Google Ads, formerly Google AdWords, was launched in October 2000. Initially, it was a straightforward, self-service platform, allowing advertisers to set up their campaigns directly. The ads were solely text-based, and the interface was simple, reflecting the nascent stage of online advertising at that time.


As the internet evolved, so did Google Ads. Google introduced a significant feature in 2002: the Cost-Per-Click (CPC) pricing model, revolutionizing how advertisers were billed. It meant advertisers would be charged only when users clicked on their ads, thereby aligning the advertisers’ costs with their results.


In 2003, Google Ads underwent further evolution with the introduction of the Ad Rank algorithm, bringing the concept of Quality Score into play. This meant it was no longer just the highest bidder who won the top ad slot; relevance and quality also became key determinants.


2005 saw the introduction of site-targeted advertising for text, image, and video ads, followed by the launch of the Google Display Network in 2006. This network enabled advertisers to place their ads on a vast array of websites across the internet, not just on Google search result pages, thus massively increasing their reach.


Over the years, Google Ads continued to expand and diversify its features. The introduction of remarketing in 2010, for example, allowed advertisers to show their ads to users who had previously visited their website, thus improving conversion rates.


Fast forward to 2018, Google AdWords was rebranded as Google Ads to reflect the platform’s extended capabilities beyond just ‘words’ and to represent the full range of advertising capabilities across Search, Display, YouTube, and more.


Throughout its history, Google Ads has constantly evolved and adapted to changing consumer behavior and technological advancements. It has introduced and refined countless features, from machine learning and automated bidding strategies to more ad formats, to meet the growing needs of businesses.


Today, Google Ads is a comprehensive and versatile platform serving millions of advertisers globally. The journey it has undertaken from a simple, text-based ad platform to a sophisticated, multi-faceted advertising powerhouse is a testament to its importance in the digital marketing landscape.


In the following chapters, we’ll delve deeper into the mechanics of Google Ads, exploring how it works and how you can harness its capabilities to drive success in your advertising campaigns.


Understanding the Basics of Google Ads

Before diving headfirst into the intricacies of Google Ads, it’s essential to grasp the fundamental concepts. Understanding the basic elements and functions of Google Ads can equip you with the knowledge to leverage the platform effectively.


What is Google Ads?

At its core, Google Ads is an online advertising platform developed by Google. It enables advertisers to display brief advertisements, service offerings, product listings, or videos to web users. The platform operates on a few models, from cost per click to cost per view. It depends on your campaign type.

The most popular is a CPC bidding model (cost per click) because you only pay when the ad is clicked. This makes it easier to understand the performance of your campaigns.

However, automated bidding is right there at the top. But for it to work, you need conversions. If you want to get your message to a wide audience, you might like bidding models based on reach, such as cost per 1000 impressions.


How Google Ads Works


Google Ads functions like a massive digital auction house. Businesses bid on the chance to show their ads to specific segments of Google’s vast user base. When a user performs a search, Google dives into the pool of bidding advertisers and chooses a set of winners to appear in the valuable ad space on its search results page. The “winners” are selected based on several factors, including the quality and relevance of their keywords and ad campaigns, as well as the size of their keyword bids. This is how Search campaigns work.

Display ads or Youtube ads work similarly. You also compete for a specific position, and the price depends on how competitive the landscape is.
We will discuss more about different campaign types later in this post.


The Elements of a Google Ad


Since Search Ads are the most popular and the ones I usually recommend to start with, let’s see what a typical ad looks like.

It has several key elements:


Headlines: The first line of your ad and usually the first thing users notice. It’s crucial to make it catchy and relevant. Google displays 3 headlines at a time.


Display URL: This is your website’s URL as it appears in the ad. It can be different from the actual landing page URL, providing an opportunity to include relevant keywords.


Descriptions: This is where you describe your product or service. It’s your chance to persuade users to click on your ad and visit your website. Users can see 2 descriptions.


Extensions: These are additional snippets of information that can be added to your ad, such as contact information, links to specific pages on your site, or business location.


Display ads also can have texts similar to Search ads, but you also add images, hence display ads. You can add video to the mix as well. Google’s responsive display ads will adapt to any format on the web to show your information.


Youtube ads are just videos you choose to advertise. I’m sure you have seen one or two annoying videos while watching something you like.



Targeting in Google Ads

Understanding the various targeting options within Google Ads is critical for the success of your campaigns. It enables you to reach the right audience, increase the effectiveness of your ads, and ultimately, optimize your advertising budget. Let’s delve deeper into each targeting option.


Keyword Targeting

Keyword targeting is fundamental in Google Ads. You choose relevant keywords that potential customers might use when searching for your product or service. If a user’s search query matches your keywords, your ad has the chance to be displayed.


Demographic Targeting

Demographic targeting allows you to show your ads to specific groups based on age, gender, parental status, and income. It’s a useful tool that helps ensure your ads are seen by the demographic groups most likely to be interested in your offering.


Custom Audience Targeting

Formerly Interest and affinity targeting, Custom audience targeting enables you to reach users based on their specific interests, habits, and life stages. It’s an effective way to ensure that your ads are presented to people who are likely to be interested in your products or services.


Geographic & Location Targeting

With geographic and location targeting, you can display your ads to users in particular regions, from broad areas like countries, to more specific ones like cities or postal codes. This is especially useful for businesses that operate in specific locations or offer location-dependent products or services.


Ad Scheduling and Dayparting

Ad scheduling and dayparting allow you to choose specific days and times to run your ads. This helps you reach your audience when they are most likely to see your ads and take action, improving the efficiency of your campaigns.


Device Targeting

Lastly, device targeting enables you to specify on which devices (desktop, mobile, or both) your ads will appear. Given the different browsing behaviors on different devices, this feature can help improve your ad performance.



Different Types of Google Ads


Now that you’ve grasped the basics, let’s delve into the different types of ads you can create within Google Ads. The diversity of these ad types ensures you can reach your audience in numerous ways depending on your marketing objectives.


Search Campaigns


Search Campaigns are the most common type of Google Ads. They appear next to Google search results when people look for products and services you offer. They’re typically text-based and are triggered by keywords that you choose.


google ads results for lawyer in nyc


Display Campaigns


Unlike Search Network ads, Display Network Campaigns allow advertisers to place their ads on many websites across the internet, not just on Google search results. These ads can be in the form of text, images, or even video and are excellent for building brand awareness and reaching users while they’re browsing online.


responsive display ads


Shopping Campaigns


Shopping Campaigns are ideal for e-commerce businesses. They show users a photo of your product, a title, price, store name, and more. These ads appear in the Google Shopping tab and, sometimes, next to search results and near text and responsive ads. They offer users a strong sense of the product you’re selling before they click the ad, which can lead to higher conversion rates.


shopping ads


Video Campaigns


Video campaigns let you show video ads on their own or within other streaming video content on YouTube and across the Google Display Network. This type of ad campaign is becoming increasingly popular, with more and more consumers engaging with video content.


video ads


App Campaigns


If you’ve developed a mobile app and want to promote it, Google’s App campaigns are the way to go. These campaigns can help increase your app’s visibility, drive more app downloads, and engage existing users. Your ads will be eligible to appear across Google’s largest properties, including Google Search, Google Play, YouTube, and the Google Display Network, as well as within other apps.


app promotion ads


Each type of Google Ads campaign has its unique advantages and can be used effectively based on your specific marketing goals. Whether you’re looking to drive website visits, increase phone calls to your business, or generate more store visits, there’s a Google Ads campaign type tailored to your needs.


In the next chapter, we’ll explore the benefits of using Google Ads and why it is a vital tool in your digital marketing arsenal. So, stay with us as we continue to uncover the world of Google Ads.



The Benefits of Using Google Ads


With so many online advertising options available today, you may wonder, “Why should I use Google Ads?” Here are some key benefits that illustrate why Google Ads is a powerful tool for businesses of all sizes.


Increased Visibility


Google is the most widely used search engine worldwide, processing over 3.5 billion searches every day. Advertising on this platform can significantly increase your brand’s visibility. Google Ads allows you to reach potential customers right when they’re actively searching for products or services like yours.


Advanced Targeting Options


Google Ads offers powerful targeting capabilities that allow you to tailor your campaigns to the audience you want to reach. You can target users based on keywords, demographics, location, interests, browsing behavior, and even the type of device they use. This granular targeting can help you connect with the right audience and maximize your ad spend.


Flexible Budgeting


Whether you’re a small business or a multinational corporation, Google Ads can fit your advertising budget. The platform operates on a pay-per-click model, meaning you only pay when someone clicks on your ad. You can set daily budget caps and maximum bids, allowing you full control over your ad spend.


Measurable Results


One of the biggest advantages of Google Ads is its measurability. The platform offers a wealth of data and metrics that help you understand exactly how your ads are performing. You can track clicks, impressions, conversions, cost-per-click, and more. This wealth of data can provide valuable insights and help you make informed decisions to optimize your campaigns.


Fast Results


Unlike SEO efforts that can take months to yield results, Google Ads can deliver immediate results. Your ads can start appearing and attracting potential customers as soon as your campaign is live. This makes Google Ads an ideal strategy for businesses looking for fast returns on their marketing investment.
Google Ads is a versatile and powerful platform that offers increased visibility, advanced targeting, flexibility in budgeting, measurable results, and speedy outcomes. By leveraging these benefits, businesses can create effective advertising campaigns that drive substantial returns.



Setting Up Your First Google Ads Campaign

Now that you’re familiar with the theoretical aspects of Google Ads, it’s time to get hands-on. Creating a campaign is not hard as Google has all these tutorials and guides.

However, setting it correctly for the best performance is a challenge.


The goal of this post is not to show you how to create a campaign, as it is a separate post on its own. But I want you to understand the steps involved in setting up a campaign. The good part is that most of the steps are the same for any campaign type.


1. Create a Google Ads Account

Obviously, you will need a Google Ads account. It’s free to create, so go ahead, ads.google.com. You will need your Gmail email to sign up.


2. Set Your Campaign Goal

Once you’ve logged into your Google Ads account, you’ll need to set a goal for your campaign. Google provides various options like ‘Sales,’ ‘Leads,’ and ‘Website traffic.’ Choose the goal that aligns best with what you want to achieve with your campaign.
My tip here. Most likely, you will be taken to a Google Ads Express account, a light version of Google ads. Don’t use it. Go through the steps on creating your first campaign and then pause it. Go to settings and switch to Expert mode.


3. Choose the Campaign Type

Next, choose the type of campaign you wish to run. The options are ‘Search,’ ‘Display,’ ‘Shopping,’ ‘Video,’ and ‘Smart.’ The type of campaign you choose will depend on your goals and where you want your ads to appear.

My tip here. Don’t use Smart campaigns. Start with Search.


4. Select Your Audience

Now, you need to select your target audience. Google Ads allows you to target your audience based on several factors, including geographic location, age, gender, and even their interests or habits. Make sure to target your audience as precisely as possible for the best results.

My tip here: if you will start with Search campaigns, the audience plays a lesser role. Keywords are the main factor here. With other types, yes, think hard about your audience.


5. Set Your Budget

Set a daily budget for your campaign. This is the maximum amount you’re willing to spend each day on your campaign. Google might exceed your daily budget, but don’t be alarmed, the monthly spend will even it out.


6. Choose Your Keywords (for Search campaign)

Now comes one of the most critical steps – keyword selection. These are the words or phrases that will trigger your ads when people use them in their search queries. Choose keywords that are relevant to your business and that your potential customers are likely to use when searching for your products or services. Keyword research is very important. Take your time.


7. Create Your Ads

Now, create the ads that users will see in their search results. An ad typically consists of a 3 headlines, URL, and 2 descriptions. Ensure your ad is compelling, uses relevant keywords, and has a clear call to action.

For Display ads, think about the images you want to show.

For YouTube Ads (video campaigns) you will have to create a video.


8. Set Your Bids

Finally, you’ll need to set your bids. This is the maximum amount you’re willing to pay each time someone clicks (or views, or converts etc.) on your ad. You can allow Google Ads to automatically set and adjust bids for you, or you can manually set your own bid amounts.

My tip here: start with manual bidding. Automated bidding works great if you have conversions in your account. Conversions is something you want the user to do on your website (sign up, buy, fill out a form etc.)


9. Review and Launch Your Campaign

Review your campaign settings, ensure everything is correct, and then launch your campaign.
As I mentioned, this is only a brief explanation of the steps. There are a lot more things involved in creating campaigns the right way.



Optimizing Your Google Ads Campaigns

Creating your Google Ads campaign is just the first step. To ensure your ads are effective and drive the results you want, it’s crucial to continually monitor and optimize your campaigns.


Just like with campaign creation, campaign optimization is a huge topic. I won’t be able to lay out everything here. But I want to understand what is involved in optimizing campaigns, so you would know what to expect.


Keyword Optimization

Keywords are the backbone of your campaign. Regularly review your keyword performance and adjust accordingly. Remove underperforming keywords and add new ones that might perform better. Also, consider using different keyword match types (broad, phrase, exact, and negative) to refine your targeting.


Improve Your Quality Score

Your Quality Score is a critical factor in determining your ad performance. You can improve your Quality Score by enhancing your ad relevance, landing page experience, and click-through rate (CTR). Make your ads more relevant to your keywords, ensure your landing pages offer what your ads promise, and optimize your ad copy to improve your CTR.


Utilize Ad Extensions

Ad extensions provide additional information and can significantly increase your ad’s CTR. Consider using extensions such as sitelinks, call extensions, location extensions, or structured snippets to provide more information and make your ads more engaging.


Optimize Ad Copy

Your ad copy is what communicates your offer to potential customers. A compelling ad copy can significantly improve your CTR and conversions. Test different ad copy variations to find out what works best for your audience. Always ensure your ad copy is relevant to your keywords and landing page.


Use Remarketing

Remarketing is a powerful tool that allows you to show ads to people who have previously interacted with your website or app. It’s a great way to re-engage users who have shown interest in your products or services.


Adjust Bids for Devices

Google Ads allows you to adjust your bids for different devices. If you find that your ads perform better on certain devices, you can increase your bids for those devices to maximize your results.


Schedule Your Ads

You might find that your ads perform better at certain times of the day or days of the week. Use this information to schedule your ads to run during these high-performance times and make the most of your budget.


Regularly Review and Adjust Your Campaign

Lastly, remember that optimization is an ongoing process. Regularly review your campaign performance, make necessary adjustments, and test different strategies to find what works best for your business.



Advanced Google Ads Strategies

Now that we’ve walked through the basics of setting up and optimizing your Google Ads campaigns, let’s dive into some advanced strategies. These tactics can help take your campaigns to the next level and deliver even better results.


Using Dynamic Keyword Insertion

Dynamic Keyword Insertion (DKI) is a feature that allows you to automatically insert your targeted keywords into your ad copy. This can make your ads more relevant to user search queries, improving your CTR and Quality Score.


Employing Advanced Bidding Strategies

Google Ads offers several advanced bidding strategies like Target CPA, Target ROAS, Maximize Conversions, and Enhanced CPC. Experiment with these strategies to see which one drives the best results for your campaigns.


Leveraging Audience Targeting

In addition to keyword targeting, Google Ads also offers various audience targeting options. You can target users based on their demographics, interests, habits, and even based on their past interactions with your website (remarketing). Use these advanced targeting options to reach your ideal audience.


Testing Different Ad Formats

Don’t limit yourself to just text ads. Google Ads offers a variety of ad formats, including image ads, video ads, shopping ads, and more. Test different ad formats to find out what works best for your business.


Using the Google Ads Script

Google Ads scripts allow you to automate common procedures or interact with external data, saving you time and enhancing performance. Scripts can be used for tasks like bid modifications, generating reports, and much more.


Exploring Competitive Analysis Tools

Use competitive analysis tools within Google Ads, like the Auction Insights report, to understand how your performance compares to other advertisers. This information can help you make strategic decisions to outperform your competition.


8. Utilizing Google Analytics Data

Link your Google Ads and Google Analytics accounts to gain deeper insights into user behavior after they click on your ads. This data can help you optimize your landing pages and overall conversion funnel.


Each of these strategies requires a careful, calculated approach. It might seem a lot to you now, but it gets easier if you take everything step by step. And it is better sometimes to hire someone, be it an agency or a freelancer, and focus on growing your business instead of learning the ins and outs of Google ads.



Common Mistakes to Avoid When Using Google Ads

Whether you are going to do Google Ads by yourself r hire someone, it is important to know what kind of mistakes one can make.

Here are some common errors that marketers often make and advice on how to avoid them.


Ignoring the Importance of Keywords

The foundation of a successful Search campaign lies in effective keyword targeting. It’s important to conduct thorough keyword research to understand what your target audience is searching for. Avoid selecting overly broad or irrelevant keywords. Keep refining your keyword list over time based on performance data.


Neglecting the Negative Keywords

Negative keywords help prevent your ad from showing up for irrelevant search queries. Forgetting to add negative keywords can waste your ad budget on clicks that don’t convert. Regularly update your negative keywords list to refine your ad targeting.


Writing Poor Ad Copy

A compelling ad copy can significantly improve your click-through rate and conversions. Avoid writing vague or misleading ad copy. Ensure your ad copy is relevant to your keywords, clearly communicates your offer, and includes a strong call to action.


Sending Traffic to Irrelevant Landing Pages

The page you send users to after they click your ad (landing page) plays a crucial role in converting them. Avoid sending users to irrelevant or generic pages. Your landing page should match the promise of your ad and provide a seamless experience for users.


Not Utilizing Ad Extensions

Ad extensions can enhance your ads by providing additional information and increase their click-through rate. Not utilizing them is a missed opportunity. Use relevant ad extensions to make your ads more engaging and helpful.


Failing to Track Conversions

Not tracking conversions means you don’t know whether your ads are leading to valuable customer actions like purchases, sign-ups, or form submissions. Make sure to set up conversion tracking to measure the effectiveness of your campaigns and optimize them for better results.


Setting and Forgetting Your Campaigns

Google Ads campaigns require continuous monitoring and optimization. Avoid the mistake of setting up a campaign and then forgetting about it. Regularly review your campaign performance, test different strategies, and make necessary adjustments.


Overlooking the Importance of Mobile Optimization

It’s essential to optimize your ads and landing pages for mobile. Avoid ignoring the mobile experience. Test your ads and landing pages on different devices to ensure they look good and function well.




Google Ads vs. Other Advertising Platforms

Google Ads, Facebook Ads, and LinkedIn Ads are all robust advertising platforms, each with its unique strengths and weaknesses.


Google Ads dominates the field of search advertising. Its vast network covers more than 2 million websites and apps, reaching over 90% of internet users. Its strengths lie in capturing intent – a user searching for a product or service has a high potential to convert. However, Google Ads requires careful keyword selection and bidding strategies to avoid excessive costs.


Facebook Ads, on the other hand, excels in detailed demographic and psychographic targeting. The platform allows advertisers to leverage user data to create extremely detailed audience profiles. Furthermore, it’s an excellent platform for visual storytelling through images and videos. However, Facebook Ads may not work as effectively for niche B2B markets or technical products.


LinkedIn Ads shine for B2B marketing. LinkedIn’s professional focus means you can target users based on job title, industry, company size, and other career-related demographics. It’s an excellent choice for businesses selling professional services, software, or job recruitment. The downside is that LinkedIn’s cost per click (CPC) is usually higher than Google and Facebook.


Choosing between these platforms depends on your business type, goals, and target audience. For instance, a B2B software company might find more success on LinkedIn, while a fashion ecommerce brand might prefer the visual format of Facebook Ads. It’s essential to understand your audience and objectives to select the right platform for your needs.

I also wrote an extensive post on “Are Google Ads Better than Facebook Ads?”.



Exploring Other Google Marketing Solutions

What I like about Google ads, is that it’s a part of Google. And Google has a lot of useful products.
Broadening your digital marketing strategy to include these other platforms can boost your online visibility, drive more traffic, and increase conversions. Let’s explore them.


Google Analytics

Google Analytics is an indispensable tool for digital marketers. It gives you insights into how users find and use your website, helping you make data-driven decisions. Learn how to use Google Analytics in conjunction with Google Ads to understand the full customer journey and optimize your campaigns.
For example, I wrote a post on How to build Google ads reports in GA4?


Google My Business

For local businesses, Google My Business is a powerful tool to increase local visibility. Learn how to set up and optimize your Google My Business listing, and understand how it can help boost your local SEO efforts and attract more customers.


Google Shopping

If you’re an ecommerce business, Google Shopping is a platform you should explore. Learn how to set up your Merchant Center account, create product feeds, and run shopping campaigns that can significantly boost your online sales.


Google Tag Manager

Google Tag Manager helps you manage and deploy marketing tags (snippets of code or tracking pixels) on your website without having to modify the code. Learn how to use Google Tag Manager to streamline your tag implementation and management process.


Looker Studio
Looker Studio (formerly Google Data Studio) turns your data into informative dashboards and reports that are easy to read, easy to share, and fully customizable. Learn how to use LookerStudio to create comprehensive reporting dashboards that can help you visualize and analyze your data.


Google Search Console
Google Search Console helps you monitor, maintain, and troubleshoot your site’s presence in Google Search results. Learn how to understand and use Search Console to measure your site’s search traffic and performance, fix issues, and make your site shine in Google Search results.




Google Ads is an incredibly powerful platform for businesses looking to reach new customers and grow their online presence.


Remember, the key to success in any advertising platform, including Google Ads, lies in understanding your audience, setting clear objectives, testing, and continuously optimizing your campaigns. And while Google Ads is a highly effective tool for many businesses, it’s just one piece of the digital marketing puzzle.


As you dive into the world of Google Ads, don’t be afraid to experiment and learn. Digital marketing is an ever-evolving field, and the strategies and techniques that work today may change tomorrow. Keep up with the latest trends, continually refine your skills, and don’t hesitate to seek expert advice if you need it.


Thank you for taking the time to read this post about Google Ads. I hope you’ve found it informative and helpful as you embark on your Google Ads journey.


Please share this post if you find it valuable. It’s a lot more satisfying talking to a larger audience ;).



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