To use Google AdWords, you need to have an actual Google account. This is something you probably have already—if not you can register one here—and if so, you can head straight over to adwords.google.com and sign in with your Google account credentials.
We recommend using a different email address to your work or professional one so that your inbox isn’t bombarded with AdWords-related emails.
When you have signed in with your Google account for the first time, there are a few things you will need to do, and AdWords will guide you through the process. Some of these things are—
- Setting your preferences such as time zone and currency
- Adding billing information (automatic or manual)
- Waiting for bank verification
Depending on which billing method you choose—e.g. credit card or bank transfer—you may need to wait to be verified. Whilst credit card payments are instant and don’t require verification, direct bank transfer payment options do.
Also, be careful about choosing automatic payments over manual ones. Automatic payments will debit your card or account when you reach your billing threshold. This is fine if you have set a pre-defined amount (e.g. £50) but if you don’t then you can end up being taken by surprise with a large bill.
Manual payments are, in my opinion, the better option—you top-up your AdWords account with a custom amount and AdWords will deduct PPC charges from this. Once this balance is gone, your ads will be paused until you add more funds.
Fleshing Everything Out
You shouldn’t simply create an account and then dive into creating advertisements… there’s quite a lot you can do prior to publishing your first PPC ad to improve your chances of it being successful (and prevent you wasting your money!) Spend time to learn about the AdWords interface and try some of the following tips out.
1. Decide where you want your ads to be shown
AdWords lets you target very specific areas and it’s a good idea to make full use of this. You can choose entire countries, cities, suburbs, and custom geographical areas by inputting coordinates and lat-long information, or by setting a radius in kilometres around a specific location.
2. Change up your “bid strategy” and set your budget
To exercise more control, it’s a good idea to modify your “Bid strategy” from the default setting to “I’ll manually set my bids for clicks.” By doing this, you will be able to get used to AdWords without blowing a whole lot of money unintentionally. You can always change this later.
Next, define your daily budget. This is the maximum amount of money that Google will charge your AdWords account each day. At first whilst you are still learning, I recommend setting a low daily budget and opt for manual instead of automatic payments.
3. Decide on your keywords
If you don’t know what keywords to target (or what keywords are!) then I recommend carrying out some keyword research. PPC keywords help you target the people who are relevant to you and are likely to be interested in your site.
When you are first starting out with AdWords, I recommend only targeting a small handful of keywords that are most important and relevant to you. Over time, you can build this number up by targeting different keywords with different ads.
Whatever you do, don’t instantly dump AdWords full of keywords. Instead, use the interface to explore different keywords and keyword variations to find the ones that will work best for you at the current point in time.
4. Set your maximum cost-per-click (CPC)
CPC, or “default bid”, is the amount of money you will pay each time somebody clicks on your ad. The actual CPC depends on the value of your ad as determined by keywords. If you are targeting popular keywords, then your CPC will be more expensive.
If you don’t have a huge budget when starting out with PPC, it is better to decide on keywords with a lower cost as this will enable you to reach a larger number of people.
5. Create your first ad
Google AdWords has a specific template for ads—
Line 1 (Headline): Up to 25 characters and should include your keyword. 25 characters isn’t a lot, so you may need to abbreviate. More people click ads that have the keyword displayed in its headline.
Line 2 and 3: These lines let you input 35 characters each. This is the meat of your ad. Be succinct and straight to the point—tell the user why they would benefit from using your product or service.
Line 4 (URL): Paste the URL of the page you want anybody who clicks your ad to land on.
6. Always check on your ads and keywords
When you have an ad live, the best thing you can do is constantly monitor it—this helps you figure out whether the keyword(s) you are using are the right ones and are delivering results.
Keep an eye on your budget, too—make sure your funds aren’t being drained straight away (if they are, target different keywords) and that you are getting the positions in Google search results that you want from your budget.
A Note on Ad Extensions
In addition to the PPC ad itself, there are several extensions that can be added on to appear below it. There is a comprehensive list of extensions that can be found on the AdWords site, and these include—
- Product and service pricing
- Phone numbers and other contact information
- Direct links to different areas of your site
Whilst extensions can be very useful, I advise using them straight away. It can be very tempting, but plugins and extensions further complicate AdWords and as a first-time user, you want to get used to the platform itself before you begin adding on extensions.