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17 February 2014

Understanding Google AdWords: A Step by Step Guide

Posted By: AIB Business

Most SME owners are accustomed to wearing several hats – sales, accounting, technology, marketing – and continuous learning is usually par for the course in running such a business.

Google AdWords is one tool that can help SMEs to raise awareness of their business. With Google AdWords, you:

-  choose where your ad appears
-  set a budget you’re comfortable with (and change it whenever you like)
-  can track the success of your ad campaigns
-  can reach new customers you might not otherwise reach.


In this article, we aim to demystify Google Adwords by guiding you through setting up ad campaigns and helping you make them as successful as possible. You will learn how to structure your account, how to pick the right keywords, how to write your ads – giving you the tools you need to build effective and successful campaigns.

Bear in mind that getting the most out of AdWords requires ongoing experimentation. Whether you’re brand new to AdWords or are an AdWords veteran, following the guidelines below will help you create and hone your campaigns to give you the maximum possible return on your advertising investment. Let’s get started …


Organising Your Account

Once you’ve created a Google AdWords account (via, organising it will provide a solid framework, making it easier to determine which of your ads, campaigns, and keywords are working, and which aren’t, so you can alter or add campaigns as necessary


Step 1: Plan your campaigns around your business needs

Before you start building your campaigns, it’s important to develop a plan for your AdWords advertising. Think hard about your business and what you want to accomplish with your ads.
For every campaign you create, you get to choose a budget, pick where your ads appear geographically and select where your ads appear online (on search pages, content pages, or both).

When you’re creating your campaigns, ask yourself the following questions to get a better picture of how you should set them up to maximise your AdWords success:

  • What does your business offer?
  • How is your business different from its competitors?
  • What do you want to achieve with your advertising?
  • How much do you want to spend per month?
  • Who’s your core audience?
  • Where do you provide services?

Step 2: Stick to one goal per campaign

Once you know what you want to do with your AdWords campaigns, it’s time to put your plan into action. Structure each campaign around just one goal – like increasing signups or selling more of a particular product or service. We suggest you separate campaigns by theme or product line. A good tip is to use the same structure for your campaigns as you do for your website.

Remember to keep your audience in mind. Target only the locations where you offer services.

Finally, give each campaign an appropriate name – such as its goal. This makes tracking and editing your campaigns much easier later on.

Think quality. Quality defines everything at AdWords, from how much you pay to how your ads perform. AdWords uses a formula called Quality Score to measure your ads’ quality and rank your ads among other ads on a page. Ads that relate to what your customers are looking for and that link to relevant content get higher Quality Scores – and the higher the Quality Score, the less you pay to show on the first page of search results.


Step 3: Split each campaign into ad groups

Ad groups let you segment your campaigns into multiple parts to achieve even greater focus and simplicity. Just like campaigns, each ad group should have one common theme – for instance, focusing on a single product or service that you offer. This makes it simpler to create focused, effective keywords and ads.


Picking the Right Keywords

Keywords are the guts of your ad campaign. They set the entire advertising process in motion. If users are looking for your product or service, they’ll find you more quickly if you’ve chosen the right keywords.

Step 1: Expand

Your first step is to come up with as many keywords relating to your campaign as possible. What words would someone search for on Google to find your product or service? Try writing down every keyword that comes to mind. You can refine your list later.

Step 2: Group

Next, move your keywords into the ad groups where they’re most relevant. Remember to structure your ad groups in a way that makes sense and is easy to track.

Step 3: Refine

Get your erasers or red pens out; it’s time to refine your keyword list. Cut from your list keywords that are too generic, irrelevant, or obscure. Also, look to remove keywords that are too specific. Two- and three-word keyword phrases usually work best.

You might also try keyword matching to control how precise a user’s search phrase must be to trigger your ad on Google search pages. You have four matching options:

Broad Match reaches the most users by showing your ad whenever any variation of your keyword has been searched.

Phrase Match narrows your reach by showing your ad only when the search term contains your keyword.

Exact Match narrows your reach even more by only showing your ad when the search term is exactly the same as your keyword.

Negative Match prevents your ad from showing when a word or phrase you specify is part of a search term. For example, if you are selling deluxe goods, you may wish to specify “cheap” as a negative match keyword so that your ad won’t appear when that word in included in a search term.

Examples of Keyword Matching


Match type

Special symbol

Example keyword

Ads may show on searches that:

Example searches (that will trigger ad)

Broad match


women's hats

include misspellings, synonyms, related searches, and other relevant variations

buy ladies hats

Phrase match


"women's hats"

are a phrase, and close variations of that phrase

buy women's hats

Exact match


[women's hats]

are an exact term and close variations of that exact term

women's hats

Negative match



are searches without the term

baseball hats

Writing Targeted Ads

The text of your ad is what attracts potential customers to check out your business and the products and services you offer. Ads that convince people to click on them are clear, specific, and compelling. The idea is to “target” your audience by convincing your customers that your products or services are what they’re looking for.

To see which of your messages resonate with customers, write three or four ads at one time. Then check your clicks. The ads with the highest click-through rates (CTR) are your top performers. Once you know which of your ads work, you can rewrite poorly performing ads so they’re more in line with the good ones.


Step 1: Create your headline.

The best headlines relate directly to the keywords being searched.

Step 2: Develop your description text.

The description should convey both key details and benefits of your product or service. It should also include a call to action e.g. “Register now” or “Download the report”.


Step 3: Designate display and destination URLs.

The display URL (the web address users see when they view your ad) doesn’t have to be the same as your destination URL (where users land when they click your ad). But it must be an actual URL for your site. Choose a destination URL that promotes the exact product or service your audience is searching for, rather than your usual home page.


Putting it All Together

You have now created the essential parts of an AdWords campaign and just need to put it all together within your Adwords account.

Search advertising is dynamic – users are forever searching for different products and services, and smart advertisers revise their ad campaigns constantly to keep them performing well. In this ever-changing environment, you should regularly test and refine your account structure, keywords, and ads. With AdWords, you have the unique advantage of being able to experiment with your advertising as often as you like. Use your account performance stats (such as click-through rates and conversion rates) to get immediate feedback about how your advertising is doing. Then make changes to your campaigns as necessary – which is easy with AdWords.

If you would like more information on Adwords or how to set up your Adwords account, email the Google Adwords team via

Written by: Google

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