Recap of Google Ads Basics and Best Practices Webinar

recap google ads basics and best practices

This article is a recap of the Google Ads Basics and Best Practices webinar that Azlo hosted on July 23, 2020. Watch it here

In our ever-increasing digital world, it’s necessary that business owners understand the varied marketing strategies they can use to grow their companies. One of the easier entry points for small business owners is Search Engine Optimization (SEO), but it’s not the only useful tool at their disposal. Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is a way to acquire website traffic through paid marketing. 

Like anything, if you’re new to SEM, it might feel overwhelming and complicated. 

In our latest webinar, hosted by Chris Slowik, Director of Customer Acquisition at Azlo, and Johanna Gumbrill, Director of Paid Media at Jordan Digital Marketing, we break down what you need to know to get started, best practices, and helpful tips to maximize your marketing campaigns. 

The whole point of SEM is paying to get clicks and visitors to your website

With SEM, you pay for ads to show at the top, above the organic ads, of a search engine results page. While Google isn’t the only search engine you can incorporate into your SEM strategy, it does play a role in the big three: 

  • Google (owns 87% of the market)
  • Microsoft Bing (owns 8%)
  • Yahoo (Powered by Bing, owns 3%)

You may immediately think of Google when you hear the word search engine, but there are plenty of other search engines, including Amazon and LinkedIn. 

How is Amazon a search engine? Well, customers access Amazon to read about products, see reviews, find shipping information, and compare products/companies.  

Amazon is highly recommended if you sell goods.

LinkedIn is useful for business-to-business (B2B) sales. Why? You can use it to drive leads and reach key decision-makers at companies within your target market.

Other popular international search engines include Baidu (from China) and Yandex (from Russia). 

What you need to know about Google SEM

First, a lot of these concepts can also apply to Bing. In fact, Bing has a tool that allows you to import Google Ad campaigns directly into Bing.

SEM is like an alphabet soup. Here are some important acronyms and terms to know:

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for your SEM campaigns

  • Impressions - The number of times your ad is shown/viewed. These are free. 
  • Clicks - Refers to when your ad is clicked, at which point you are charged.  
  • Click-Through-Rate (CTR) - Ratio of clicks/impressions. A higher CTR generally means better performance.
  • Cost-Per-Click (CPC) - Average of what you pay for each click. In other words, it's all you’re costs ÷ each click
  • Conversion - Lead/Purchase - Essentially, a conversion is when the goal of your ad is realized. For example, if the goal of the ad was for the viewer to download a file or make a purchase, you have achieved a conversion when the file is downloaded or the purchase is made. 
  • Cost-Per-Conversion (CPA) - Average cost of what you pay per conversion. This is one of the most important KPI indicators to measure return on investment (ROI).

What are you comfortable paying in order to gain a customer or make a sale?

This depends from person to person. But you probably don’t want to pay more than what your service/product costs. 

  • Conversion Rate (CVR) - Ratio of conversions/clicks. The rate at which people land on your site and make a purchase or sign up for service.

You want to make it easy for that conversion to occur. 

For example, if a customer comes to your site, make it simple for them to make a purchase. This should include a smooth and logical flow from a well-written, appealing ad (with intentional keyword usage) to a landing page that gives the customer what they want and is intuitive.

KPIs in Google Ads

Click here for a KPI cheat sheet.

What are the building blocks of paid search?

These are the four key ingredients for a successful paid search campaign recipe:

  • Keywords - Build a keyword list and write ads
  • Ad Copy - Write top-notch ads using those keywords
  • Bids - Set competitive bids to win the Google auction
  • Landing Page - Make a stellar landing page that will drive the customer to take the desired action on your site

How do you know what a good bid is?

The Google Keyword Planner is a great tool for this. 

Google will provide some guidance as to what payment needs to appear at the top of the page on search results.

So if Google is showing a recommendation of $15 dollars, bidding at $5 dollars isn’t going to result in “top of page” outcomes.

Keywords 101

What’s the difference between a keyword and a search query?

Keywords are what you place a bid on and what serves to trigger an ad. A search query is what a person types into a search engine text box.

For example: A keyword could be “business bank.” But a customer might type something like “online business banks” into a search engine field. 

Keyword research for paid search

Not all types of keywords serve the same function. Here is what you should know: 

Broad: Avoid these if you are on a limited budget or are launching a campaign for the first time. This is because you have less control since your ad may be picked up by a broader search query. 

BMM: has + signs. Each term next to a + sign must appear in the search query in order for your ad to be triggered. There can be additional terms and they may appear in a different order. 

Phrase match: Eliminates “being out of order” issue that happens with BMM. There can be additional words, but the order of the keywords is the same. 

Exact match: The search query will exactly match the keyword. 

Negative keywords: If you forget to include “negative” keywords, you can waste a lot on ad spend. To use negative keywords appropriately, think about what search results you don’t want to show up

In the example above, “Azlo savings account” is shown. But Azlo doesn’t offer savings accounts. So it is important to add the negative keyword (savings account) so that Azlo doesn’t appear as a result for someone looking for online savings accounts.

Check out this part of the webinar for some more examples of negative keywords

Types of Keywords: Brand Vs. Non-Brand

Brand refers to any keyword/product that uses your brand name. This can include your brand name or a product that has part of your brand name but is a specific product. 

Non-brand keywords, on the other hand, describe your product but do not use the product or brand name. 

One possible strategy is to keep the brand versus non-brand apart and run separate campaigns instead of trying to blend the two. Also, to control where search queries match, add your brand keywords as negatives to your non-brand keywords. 

How to Select Keywords

Limited budget?: Start with a smaller, but high intent, group of keywords. 

Want higher control over search queries?:

  • Avoid pure broad keywords (the ones with no + sign)
  • Start with exact and broad match modified (the ones with + signs) 
  • Include negative and brand negative keywords

Play around with some different terms. Put yourself in the mind of a person performing a search. What would you search for? If you searched for something, what type of result would frustrate you?

Visualize the sales funnel and come up with some high-value, well-defined keywords. The Google Keyword Planner has a tool to help you do this. To use the planner, insert your webpage URL or some relevant keywords for your business. Google will use this to suggest keywords and a structure for a campaign. 

. Again, go through your own sales funnel and build a list that fits your business best. 

Another great thing about the Google Planner tool is that it gives you access to performance tools such as:

  • Monthly search data
  • Keyword competition
    • Look for low-competition, high-search keywords
  • Average CPC for top of page

Giving structure to your ad campaign

After you build a keyword list, it's time to build the campaign.

Google Ads account structure

Expanded text ads and ad extensions

Expanded text ads allow for three headlines and two descriptions. However, not all of these ads will appear all the time on a Google search result page. 

But Google likes to see that your ad is built this way. Therefore, you should build the ad so that regardless of what elements show on the results page, the ad makes sense. 

Listen to this real example of text ads and how to use ad extensions to your benefit.  

Other examples of ad extensions are location extensions, which can help potential customers physically find your business. The ads will show your address, a map to your location, or how far your business is located. 

Landing page must-haves

Google Tag Manager is highly recommended because instead of having a tracking tag on every page of your web site, the tag management system is housed in a single place on the web site. The advantage of this is if it's ever necessary to debug the tracking code, it can be done much easier than if there are multiple locations for the code. 

Budgets and bidding

With all the strategies presented to you, you might find yourself asking, “How much money should I spend on ads?”

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer here. But to come up with a response, you need to ask yourself how much money are you willing to spend to acquire a customer.

Take that value, and multiply by five to 10. 

Amount willing to spend per customer x 5-10 = minimum daily budget

This is why it makes sense to start with a small group of keywords.

If you are operating with a small budget, don’t despair. Jordan Digital Marketing created a guide to help you optimize your campaigns.

Bidding options

  • Manual
  • Enhanced CPC
    • You set the bid manually, but then you select the eCPC which will allow Google to bid for you, making small adjustments to maximize conversions.
    • After some time of running ads and gathering data, you can turn on automated smart bidding to try and reach the goal of Target CPA (an important KPI). The goal here is for Google to maximize conversions while minimizing your cost as much as possible.  

Click here to jump straight to the information on bidding in the webinar.

And finally, here are some more useful tools and resources for your marketing campaigns:

If you’re looking for more ways to grow your business, make sure you stay up to date with the Azlo blog.

Evan Thomas lives in Seattle and enjoys writing about personal finance, small business, and healthcare. He is passionate about improving people’s physical and financial well-being as well as exploring our great planet. You can find him at

Hi there! This post exists to offer you (hopefully) useful information but it cannot take the place of personalized professional advice. Please consult a qualified expert if you have questions about your business. Also, Azlo doesn’t endorse any third-party sites that are linked here.

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