Getting Started with Google Ads

As a small business owner in today’s world your business really needs to have a presence online. The starting point for this is normally to create a website, and then to engage in various digital marketing activities. One such activity could be the use of Google Ads.

Getting Started with Google Ads

What are Google Ads?

The basic concept of Google Ads is that when someone types a search term into Google, seeking a particular product or service, a number of ads are triggered. The resulting ads will show either towards the top or the bottom of the resulting Search Engine Results Page (SERP). A click on the ad takes the prospective customer to a page of your website known as a landing page, the purpose of which is to convert the lead you’ve just acquired into an actual customer.

Google determines which ads to show and in which positions on the SERP based on a number of factors. These include the price you are willing to pay for the ad to be displayed for each particular keyword. This is called the bid price since you are bidding against your competitors in order to achieve the desired position on the SERP.

The Google Ads Platform

Once you’ve created a Google account and signed in to the Google Ads platform, it may seem rather daunting at first as so many options and features are available. The first step is to create a Campaign, then within that Campaign you will have Ad Groups, the Ads themselves and the keywords you intend to target.

The Campaign

Google Ads Campaigns are often geographically targeted, particularly for local businesses servicing a particular geographical area. Within the campaign settings you will define your target area, your maximum daily spend and a number of other important criteria.

Ad Groups

You can have one or more Ad Groups within a particular campaign, and within each Ad Group one or more Ads which each point to the same landing page. Within the Ad Group you define the bids for the keywords in that Ad Group although these can also be customised at the keyword level.


The ads themselves can take a number of different forms but a typical text ad has a landing page destination, three headlines and two lines of description. Not all the text you define will necessarily be shown in the ad as the exact format of the displayed ad is at Google’s discretion.

The text of the ads should correlate closely with the keywords in the Ad Group and one of the options provided is to include the keyword text within the ad itself. Your purpose is to get the attention of the prospective customer so that they will want to click on your ad after typing their search term into Google.


Keyword research is at the heart of Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising as the keywords are what the prospective customer types in to Google with the result that your ad is triggered. You may be able to think of many different possible keywords relevant to your business and you are free to include practically as many keywords as you like. Keywords can be one or two words long (these are known as short-tail keywords) or they may contain multiple words or short phrases, in which case they are called long-tail keywords. You should aim to have a good mix of short and long-tail keywords. In general the short-tail keywords will be more competitive, resulting in a higher cost per click.

Landing pages

The one element of your campaign that isn’t defined within the Google Ads platform itself is the landing page. This is the page on your website which is the destination when an ad is clicked. Content on this page should correlate closely with the targeted keywords themselves and the text of the ad. The purpose of your landing page is that the prospective client would take whatever next step you are after, for example to make a booking, to complete a form, or to call you. Ideally you will create a landing page for each Ad Group, which clearly speaks to the customer’s intent with the keyword they have entered.

Quality score

The prices you pay for your clicks will vary in real time and will depend on quality scores defined for each keyword by Google. The calculation of the quality score is based on the relevance of the ad triggered by that keyword, the landing page experience for the prospective customer, and Google’s estimate of how likely it is that your ad will be clicked.

Performance monitoring

It’s important to monitor how your ads are performing on a regular basis. Within the Google Ads platform you will be able see the exact text typed in by prospective customers which has triggered your ads. You can use this information to build out your keyword list with additional long-tail keywords. You also have negative keyword lists which are lists of keywords which, when included in the customer’s search, should not trigger your ad.

You can also see the positioning you’ve achieved for your ads on the SERP and you can use this data to determine whether you need to adjust your bids to give your ads greater visibility. Of course you may also find that your ads are regularly appearing in the top position which means that you may be paying too much for those clicks. Through a process of regular review and trial and error, you can determine the most suitable bid for each keyword.

In conclusion

This has been a top-level introduction to the concepts and building blocks of the Google Ads platform. Hopefully it’s been enough to demystify the concept and get you interested in learning more to determine whether this is something you might want to include in your digital marketing arsenal.

This article was written by Norm McLaughlin, founder of Norm’s Computer Services, a local computer repair business in Brisbane Australia.

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