READY… SET… GOOGLE! A Handy Guide to Google Ads Setup

A handy guide to step you through the Google Ads Setup process so that you can get your business found.

You’ve decided.  You’re ready. Your website is ready. You’re sure about it.  Yes, it’s time to take the first big step into the world of online advertising and get Google Ads setup so that you can launch your very first campaign.

You open the Google Ads page and suddenly you’re struck with the overwhelming fear that one wrong move could cost you thousands and thousands of dollars.

In the immortal words of Douglas Adams, the most important thing to remember is… Don’t Panic.

Getting Started With Google Ads

Once you get through the initial Google Ads setup and start seeing the results of your first campaign, you’ll soon realize that the benefits of having a Google Ads account to help you find new customers far outweighs the initial steps that it takes to get a Google Ads campaign started.

And it’s easier than you might think.   Google provides a very straightforward 4 Step process that you helps you setup your first campaign, and it’s much, much, much easier than doing your own taxes.

STEP 1 – Create a Google Ads Account

Setting Up a Google Ads Account

As with most things these days, you need an account to use Google Ads.  If you already have a Google account (for Gmail or a Google Analytics dashboard), you can log into that account and setup Ads through it.  If not… Don’t Panic… setting up an account is just as easy as creating an account on most shopping sites.

However, Google does take one additional step to verify your contact info (phone & email) to make sure you are really “you” before you get started.  Don’t Panic… just make sure you have your phone handy and you’re ready to receive a text or phone message with the verification code.

STEP 2 – Craft Your First Google Ads Campaign 

By filling out some straightforward details, you can have your first campaign setup and ready to go fairly quickly.  This is broken out by Google which guides you through the key areas of your first campaign.

GOAL: What are you trying to achieve with your campaign? Is it to drive sales? Generate leads? Or perhaps it’s something more brand-centric such as awareness, consideration, or visitors to your website. Google provides unique “guided” setups based on what your goals are.

BUDGET:  Keep your budget small at first.  Although it may not seem like much, a $100 a day budget can add up really quickly.  You can increase the budget at any time once you know things are working the way that you want them to.

LOCATIONS:  Where do you want your ads to be seen?  If you’re an online store… where do you ship?  If you’re a local store or service company, what area do you cover?  You can select a country (or more).  A state or province (or more).  City (or cities).  Or narrow it right down to a particular zip code (or zip codes) only.  It’s very simple to select and add locations.

NETWORKS:  Search & Display are two different places you can show your ads.  Search will appear when someone searches for a keyword you pick (e.g. Shoreview Pizza Delivery).  Display ads show up on other sites which have relevant text to the keyword you picked (Pizza Recipes).  For anyone new to Google, I highly recommend starting with Search only.  Once you get comfortable, you can try out display at a later date.  And I would never recommend starting with Display Network only. That’s a fast, fast, fast way to burn through your budget.

KEYWORDS:  What words do you want to bid on?  Google is nice enough to use your site to suggest about 15 – 20 keywords to start with.  That’s usually plenty to start a campaign, and you can increase or decrease as needed later.  They are not always right in what words they suggest, but they are better than you would expect.

And, if it picks all sorts of wrong keywords, it probably means that you have an issue with your website’s copy not being relevant to your brand… but that’s an entirely different topic to be covered at a different time!

Try to keep the keywords as relevant as possible.  If you’re a high-end woman’s show store, don’t try bidding on “shoes” as that will be too generic.  Women’s shoes narrows it down a touch. Women’s leather shoes could work, or particular brands that you carry would work as well, especially if you target a specific location.  

Longer phrases will be more relevant but drive less traffic.  That’s not a bad thing when you have a smaller budget. But don’t go too far, because very, very long keyword phrases may never get any searches and it’s almost impossible to optimize a campaign without searches.

NEGATIVE KEYWORDS: These are the keywords that you DO NOT want your ad to be shown for. Taking the Women’s Shoes example above, you may wan to add Free, Donate, Used, Cheap, or other non-relevant keywords that could be searched for in combination with Women’s Shoes but are not searches that are relevant to your brand.

BID:  This is probably the trickiest part of the whole process… how much are you willing to pay for each person who clicks on your ad?  This depends quite a bit on who you are, what you sell, how likely visitors are to buy it from you and how much you sell it for.  I can’t give you a starting point, but so I usually recommend leaving that as “automated” by Google, as long as you have your budget set above.  Let it run that way for a couple of days to figure out the average cost per click, and then change your bid to suit your needs once the campaign has started.   If this makes you nervous, Don’t Panic… you can set your own amount and adjust it later if you find that you’re not getting any clicks.

YOUR AD: Your ad is 4 parts stitched together; a Headline (25 Characters) a Display URL (Your Website Address) and 2 Lines of Text (35 Characters Each).

One note is that these don’t always appear in separate lines, so you need to write in such a way that it makes sense whatever way it appears.

I’d highly recommend writing this ahead of time so that it’s ready and waiting for you when you get to this step.

It’s also VERY important that your keywords, ad copy, and website all “match” from a keyword perspective.

For example, if your keyword is “Women’s shoes” but your add text is “Buy High Heels” and your landing page is “Designer Fashion” Google will see this as a negative relevancy signal and will show you lower in the paid search results, even if you bid higher.

Try to align your Ad Groups to Keyword Sets. For example:

Women’s Sandals Keywords –> Ad Text about Buying Women’s Sandals –> The Women’s Sandals Category Page on your site.

STEP 3 – And How Will You Be Paying For That?

Google Ads Account Billing Setup

Step 3 is a straightforward billing step.  If you’ve ever purchased anything on line, you’ll be quite familiar with this step. With Google, you don’t pay upfront, you pay after your ads run and will be charged automatically either when your balance reaches a set amount, or 30 days later… whichever comes first.

STEP 4 – Making Sure

Review Your Google Ads Setup

The final step is your review process.  You get another chance to double-check everything make sure things are the way you want them to be, from all of the settings you have above.

Don’t rush this. Check your budget to make sure you didn’t accidentally add an extra zero. Check your ad text for spelling errors. Check your link to make sure it takes the user to the right place on your website.

However, you can always change things later, so even if you press “Start” and you realize that you’ve made a mistake, Don’t Panic… you can pause the campaign very quickly, fix the issue, and restart it at any time.

Once your ad is live, do a search for the term you’ve bid on and look for your ad. This will let you see how your competitors are promoting themselves in Google search.

Keep in mind that, depending on your bid, your budget, and other campaign settings – as well as Google Ads algorithm factors – you may not actually see your own ad. That doesn’t mean it’s not showing at all. Give it time and check your stats.

If you’re not getting enough impressions, it usually means one of 3 things:

  1. Your Bid is too low
  2. Your Budget is too low
  3. Your keywords, ad copy, and website page are matching up from a keyword standpoint.


Completing Your Google Ads Setup

Once you’re campaign is ready, there is one more step required to make sure you can track the success of the campaign.

To do this, you’ll need to add a tracking code to the confirmation or “Thank You” page on your Website. 

The “Thank You” page will vary depending on your goal. If it’s sales, it would be the order success page that loads after the checkout is complete. If it’s leads, it would be the submission confirmation page.

If you manage the website yourself, this is easy to cut and paste.  If not, Google provides this information in an easy-to-share format that you can send to your website designer.

Once you’ve logged in your new Google Ads account, click on Tools then Conversions and follow the steps outlined.

I would recommend pausing your campaign until this tracking code is launched.  But once the code is posted on your site, you can quickly launch the campaign and start tracking orders or leads.

Once the campaign is live, check it frequently – at least twice a day – over the next few days to see what it’s doing, which keywords are working, which aren’t.  Once you have a good sense of how it’s going, you can reduce how often you check it to be more appropriate for your budget.

There isn’t an exact science, but a very rough guideline for ongoing Google Ads Optimization would be as follows:

Monthly BudgetFrequency
Under $100Once a Month
$500 – $2,499Once a Week
$2,500 – $4,999Daily
$5,000 – $9,999Twice a Day
$10,000 – $24,999Frequently Each Day
Over $25,000Hourly or More

If you really want to get started, but still aren’t sure you have the time and ability to setup the campaign on your own, remember… Don’t Panic… there are Google Ads specialists who can help you create a campaign or help manage an existing campaign you don’t have time for any longer.

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