The dummy guide to setting up your first Google ad


I have a confession. My first ever attempt at Google Ad was in July 2016. Real recent. I may not have a wealth of knowledge when it comes to search marketing but I was managing the ads almost 8 hours a day, for two full months. And the experience is still fresh in my head so I hope this post will help someone out there who is experimenting with their first Google ad.

Step 1: Brainstorm all possible keywords and create a few Keyword Lists

Before you jump into thinking of the right message to target your audience, the easiest thing to get going is probably to brainstorm about the keywords. Think about the keywords your customers are most likely to use when they search. For example, my clients were mid sized companies that are raising funding and I guess they could start by searching for PE names. So what I did is that I went to Preqin and downloaded the entire list of VC names and include them in my keyword lists. The keywords may not be obvious, as customers may not include your product in the search keywords. Hence, it is important to put yourself in their shoes to imagine the kind of keywords they will use.

Having mental block? Try using keyword planner like to help you. It is also important to separate the keywords and ideally limit 25-30 words per list so that you can drive specific ads to those keywords. It is not about quantity by quality and measurable results.


Type of keywords

  • Broad match is the default match type and the one that reaches the widest audience.
  • Phrase match offers some of the versatility of broad match, but like modified broad match, introduces a higher level of control.
  • Exact match is the most specific and restrictive of the keyword match types.

Which type should you choose? There is no definite answer for this, and my advice is to try all three for each keyword and then monitor the quality and conversions over time before removing the type that is the least useful.

Including Negative Keywords

Negative keywords enable you to exclude certain keywords from your campaign. Do not neglect this as this can save you at least a few dollars. When you include the negative keywords, your ad will not appear in search results for these words. Hence, doing this helps you to increase the likelihood that the ad is shown to a relevance audience and increases your conversion rates.

Step 2: Create a Google AdWords Campaign

Yay! Finally! You rub your hands together, fingers poised on the button to launch the campaign. Hold on a minute. There are still several tips and considerations you need to think through before launching that ad, for maximum results.

Choose the right campaign type

  • Default: Ads will appear on both Google Search Network and Google Display Network on all devices. Choosing this would give you fantastic CPM or CPC for a few days but trust me, it gives you little in terms of ROI. The Google display network is powerful but it should be deployed in a separate way. Stick to Search Network for a beginner and you will do just fine.
  • Search Network Only: Ads will only appear on Google’s search results and relevant sites that are part of the Search Network. These include Google Maps, Images, Shopping and AOL. Yes, stick to this.
  • Display Network Only: Ads will appear on websites in the Google Display Network, which include all of Google’s partnering websites — like YouTube and Gmail. Nope, not this one.
  • Display Network Only (Remarketing): This option shows your ads on the display network to people who have already visited your website in the past. This can help reach people who have already showed interest in your website and may be a good fit for your product or service. Not this one as this is a whole new discussion for another day.

Google search partners

Google search partners include amazon, etc and they give high conversions, usually if you are running an ecommerce company. However, these sites involve higher CPC costs. Hence, if you have a limited budget, refrain from using the search partners nd uncheck this box.

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The next one you want to customise is Location. Location is usually the easiest to nail down as it doesn’t make any sense if your store is based in New York and your ads target someone in China. Be sure to go down to the city level, not just country level, to ensure that your ad is truly targeted. This also helps you save money on not targeting those outside of your desired geography and increases the ROI.

Bidding and Budget

There are various options, depending on your objective.

CPC: This option, cost-per-click, only charges you when someone clicks on your ad. This is a good option if you are focused on driving traffic to your website. I usually pick this one.

CPM: CPM, or cost per thousand impressions, is used in the display network. This is helpful for increasing brand awareness.

CPA: CPA, or cost per acquisition, charges you when the person who clicked on your ad converts, often into a sale. This can be used with conversion tracking and other applications. Ensure that when you choose this, your website is set up for an action by the customer, such as a form to fill up etc.

Manually set your bids for clicks: This allows you to choose what you want the max CPC to be for any given keyword. As a beginner, do not do otherwise as you probably don’t want to end up paying loads for little conversions.

AdWords will then help maximize clicks within my target budget: This option enables AdWords to set the CPC for your keywords while staying within your budget in order to get the most clicks each day. This option is good if you had an advertising budget you constantly want to reach, and are unable to spend the time monitoring and adjusting your campaigns.

Ad Extensions

The features in Ad Extensions can be placed under your ad if they are relevant to your business.

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My advice is, even as a beginner, use the sitelinks extensions. Not only it doesn’t increase the cost of your ad, it helps your ad to appear bigger and therefore encouraging more clickthroughs. It also allows the customer to click on the specific link of your ad and that usually increases the conversions. According to Google, on average, ads with location extensions see a 10% boost in clickthrough rate. Call extensions can typically increase clickthrough rates by 6-8%

Advanced settings: Schedule

Make sure that you actually limit the time of your ads, as your desired audience is unlikely to click on your ads during midnight, so save that money. Unless you run an international business.

Next is ad delivery, rotation, and frequency capping. This setting allows you to customize how you want Google to show your ads. Within the Ad delivery, rotation, and frequency capping settings, you can do a few things:

Optimize for Clicks: AdWords will show ads that are likely to provide more clicks to your offer. This is useful if you are looking to drive traffic to your website.

Optimize for Conversions: This will let AdWords show ads that have the highest conversion rates. This is useful if your business is more concerned with conversions than traffic.

Rotate Evenly: You can also rotate all ads evenly for a set amount of time, and then optimize after. This allows for ample testing time to see which ads work best. I usually use this one first, monitor the results for a while, before choosing either option above when I could identify the killer ads.

Frequency Capping: Frequency capping will limit the number of times a specific user sees your ad on the display network. This will help you avoid showing your ad to the same person many times. In the example above, there is a limit of 5 impressions per week per ad, to avoid over-burdening one user with the same ad.

To create a text ad, you must have a title that is no more than 25 characters, and two lines of text that are no more than 35 characters each. Rules of thumb include:

  • Phrase your ad as a question, it usually works well
  • Specify the call-to-action
  • Keyword relevance is critical, make sure that you think through the entire process of how the prospect is going to search, the keywords they will use and the ads they expect to see
  • Use dynamic insertion! Read here for more information on how to use it

Finally, Create an Ad Group

Once your campaign is created, you can begin making ad groups, starting with a relevant title you will be able to remember later.

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This is very important, even as a beginner, as you will be testing different assumptions on the kind of keyword group, message etc. The number of ad groups you create does not affect the cost of the campaign and it will help you to analyse the results more effectively.

Phew… this is a long post… If you have any question, feel free to leave them in the comment box below.

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