Google AdWords Q & A: The Basics

July 7, 2014 - Posted by LifeLearn
We’ve been talking a lot about Facebook advertising recently, but that’s not the only place to advertise online. Have you ever wondered how to get one of those little ads that appears at the top or side of Google search results and on certain webpages? You might be looking for Google AdWords.  

What is Google AdWords?

Google AdWords is the advertising program that serves the ads you see on Google search results pages (at the top, right side, or bottom of the search results) and on certain sites that partner with Google. Writing the ad that the consumer will see is the same as writing any other ad – you’ll need a short headline, two lines of terrific copy (that fit Google’s Editorial Standards), and the link to your website. After you design your ads, you get to choose the keywords that trigger them, determine your target audiences, and set your budget based on cost-per-click (CPC).  

What are keywords?

In this context, keywords are the words and phrases you choose to trigger your ad. In other words, a business may choose the keywords “veterinarians in Boston” so that when a Google user searches for veterinarians in Boston, their ad might come up. There is no real limit to the number of keywords you can associate with your ad, but the Help Center states that the most effective ads have between 5 and 20 keywords. You can also choose words and phrases to exclude; these are called negative keywords.  

Wait…if more advertisers are using a keyword than there are spaces for ads, which ads are served and what order are they put in?

Excellent question! Google really wants to serve the most relevant ads possible to help users find exactly what they are looking for. To figure this out, they have an algorithm to determine Ad Rank.  Ad Rank is calculated based on:  

What is keyword bid?

When you choose your keywords, you also choose how much you are willing to pay each time a customer clicks through to your website. Every time a user searches using a keyword, an auction takes place behind the scenes, and Google will factor in the top bid for the keyword when determining Ad Rank. Your maximum bid won’t always be what you pay – the actual cost will be the next increment higher than the other advertisers are willing to pay, just like at a real auction.  

What is Quality Score?

The ad’s Quality Score is based on the extent to which Google’s automated system thinks your ad and landing page are relevant and useful to someone looking at your ad. Yes, you read that right – it is not just based on your ad quality, but also how relevant it is to what your website says you do, and how useful your website is for people searching for those keywords. You can see the Quality Score of your keywords in your AdWords dashboard – learn more here.  

What are Ad Extensions?

Ad Extensions display extra business information with your ad, such as your address, phone number, special offers, etc. Google’s behind-the-scenes algorithm calculates any added value these extensions provide to the user and factors that in when it calculates the Ad Rank.  

Okay, so how do I choose effective keywords?

In an ideal world, you want to strike a balance between phrases that are broad enough to capture anyone who might be looking for your services, while still being narrow enough to only capture people who are looking for your services. In other words, sure, anyone searching for “dog health” has the potential to be a client, but it doesn’t mean that they will be – with a search like that, the user could be anywhere, looking for anything related to dog health. On the other hand, a keyword choice such as “dog veterinary care on Main Street” may be too specific. Keep it simple by thinking like a person who lives in your area and is searching for the services you provide — use their language, too (e.g. they’re more likely to use “dog” vs. “canine”). One solid choice is “veterinarians in [your town].” You’ll also want to include keywords related to any specialized services you offer. Google also has a handy tool called the Keyword Planner that does all kinds of things, from helping you figure out new keywords, to showing the search volume for keywords, to estimating the traffic you’ll get from the keywords you’re considering.   All set? You can get started with Google AdWords here. It will walk you through each step, and you’ll be serving up ads in no time.  
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