a man wearing glasses

If you are anything like the average person, you use Google 3-4 times a day. Google boasts a shocking 9 billion searches every single day. Despite this incredible volume of traffic, you've never put in your credit card number to subscribe to a search plan or paid a fee to look up restaurants near you.

That's because Google is not just the world's leading search engine. It's also the world's leading advertising platform, earning over 27% of all digital ad revenue. Google is a giant in the world of advertising, so putting Google Ads to work for your marketing campaigns is a proven strategy for success.

Getting started with Google Ads marketing can appear overwhelming from the outside. Google's built-in tools simplify the process but also make it more expensive. This guide will show you how to get started with Google Ads marketing like a pro.

Key takeaways:

  • Google is the world's leading search engine as well as the world's leading ad platform.
  • Using Expert Mode will allow you to make the most of your advertising budget.
  • Optimizely specializes in digital experiences, so you can advertise something worth drawing attention to.

Beginning with Google Ads marketing

All you need to start your first Google Ads campaign is a Google account and a URL to which you want to draw traffic. Google Ads coordinates advertising across several avenues, including YouTube ads, Google search results, banner ads on other websites, etc. With over 92% of the market share, Google is the world's leading search engine, so you can easily create ads that reach thousands of people across multiple ad channels with Google Ads.

This guide will focus on Google search results as an example, but the overall process will be the same for other types of advertising channels.

When a user makes a Google search, there are two ways to make sure that your webpage is at the top of their results:

  • Organic results result from good SEO (search engine optimization) and relevance. Organic results are appealing because they're functionally free—you don't have to pay Google to be a relevant search result—but the major downside is that achieving page one is highly competitive. Depending on your industry, earning a top listing on an organic search can be difficult or impossible without paid intervention.
  • Paid results are at the very top of the page of every Google search, appearing ahead of even the most relevant and optimized organic results. The downside of paid results is that—as the name suggests—you have to pay for results. The upside, however, is that paid results appear at the top of a search result list based on your bid for the relevant keywords.


image source

Define your strategy and budget

As with any journey, your Google Ads marketing journey will be full of crossroads. Making the right strategy for your organization necessitates that you have a well-defined destination.

The first component of your strategy is your landing page. A well-optimized digital experience goes a long way toward converting potential leads to loyal customers. For your Google Ads campaign to succeed, your landing page will not always necessarily be your website's home page—the target URL should be a page catering to the specific needs of your audience and optimized to convert searchers into buyers.

The second component of your strategy is your budget. There are several ways to measure ad inventory budgets: the amount you're willing to pay per impression, per click, per conversion, etc. Depending on the nature of your business, you may be willing to pay hundreds of dollars for each converted customer, or you may only be willing to pay a few cents. Your budget will depend on the nature and scale of your operation, but determining this budget ahead of time will allow you to allocate resources more efficiently throughout the process.

Plan for iteration. You probably won't nail your campaign on the first try, and even if you do, you will need to test it to verify its quality. In advertising, A/B testing (or "Split Testing") is a method of running multiple concurrent ads to evaluate their performance in an apples-to-apples comparison. Rather than budgeting for one large campaign, budget for flexible, iterative, ongoing campaigns.

Target your audience

An advertisement in the newspaper is likely to reach anybody who reads the paper, whether they are interested in your product or not. For some businesses, newspaper and print advertising is highly effective, but it requires advertisers to market to a large audience. Instead of casting a wide net, Google Ads helps you spearfish by targeting specific audiences based on multiple characteristics.

The tradeoff in target segmentation is that the more filters you apply, the higher your price per click will be, but as you narrow in on your target audience, each click is more likely to reach your desired users. Conversely, a broad audience is cheaper per click, but you are less likely to reach the quality traffic you seek. Targeting an audience is about finding the sweet spot where your price and value per click are in the optimal balance.

For that reason, you don't want Google to automate this process for you. Google Ads, by default, will suggest things like demographics, descriptions and keywords, but two things power this automation:

  1. Its algorithms make guesses about your marketing plan based on your URL. While this technology is impressive, it isn't a substitute for human planning. You know your campaign more intimately and thoroughly than Google does.
  2. It makes money off of ad dollars. That means that it has an incentive to suggest more expensive services, whether they best suit your needs or not.

For those two reasons, don't use Google's automated suggestions. After answering a few introductory questions, a link to Expert Mode will appear at the bottom of your screen. Select Expert Mode, but don't worry if you don't feel like an expert yet! You'll be well on your way to success with a little trial and error.

graphical user interface, application

image source

Google will ask you about your objectives and campaign type. Objectives range from sales, web traffic and local store visits, while campaigns include search campaigns (the example in this guide), shopping and performance max—a type of campaign that incorporates multiple ad channels into one campaign.

After you've answered those questions, Google will allow you to choose your target audience and define your budget before moving on to the Keywords section.


Once again, Google will try to automate this part of your journey by suggesting keywords based on your target URL. While these suggestions can be helpful, they will most likely be incomplete—you should always review Google's suggestions and rely on your own keyword research.

With Google Ads, you can use broad match (matches keywords, semantic variations and synonyms), exact match (matches only the exact word or phrase) and even negative keywords to avoid. For example, if your business shares a name with a popular restaurant, you may want to include keywords relevant to your business while omitting negative keywords like "restaurant."

After you've entered your keywords, the next page will give you options for multiple headlines and descriptions. The best practice for crafting headlines and descriptions that stand out is to use eye-catching text that includes numbers, special characters (if relevant) and appropriate capital letters. 

Headlines can be 30 characters, and descriptions can be a maximum of 90. Try using as much of that space as possible to get the most value out of your ad dollars.