“People ask me, ‘What do you think of Michelin?’… I don’t cook for guides. I cook for customers.” –Gordon Ramsay
World-renowned chef Gordon Ramsay cooks for his customers, and so should you. Well, cook up Google Ads, that is! Whether your chef skills are rusty or you’ve never cooked before, I’m going to help you serve your customers a steaming, hot plate of the most delicious Google Ads campaign they’ve ever seen.
Tie on your apron and follow me as I walk you through my ultimate recipe for running Google Ads like a Michelin star chef. Your potential customers are hungry for what your business has to offer, and after this guide, they’ll be stuffed!
If you are starting off in a totally fresh and new account, you’ll start by going to ads.google.com and clicking “get started.” Once you set up your account, Google will prompt you through setting up a Smart campaign right off the bat. This is enticing for advertisers who don’t want to put in the work, but taking the time to build out your own customized campaigns is worth it.
So do not choose your “Main advertising goal” as Google asks, and instead click the option to “Switch to expert mode.”
Think of your Google Ads account like a kitchen. Do you only make scrambled eggs in it? Hopefully not! You might make a steak dinner when you want a protein boost, soup when you have a cold, enchiladas when you want to spice things up, and so on. Well just like there are different meal types, there are different campaign types for different purposes.
What are the different campaign types?
To pick a campaign, Google will first ask you to choose an objective. Depending on your objective, it will then show you which campaign types are available. For this guide, we’re going to create a Search ad so let’s choose website traffic.
Now we can see what’s available:
Pro tip: As you build out your account over time, don’t limit yourself to just one campaign type. You’ll want to run a mix of campaigns that align with your PPC goals. Just like a healthy kitchen is used to create a variety of meals, a healthy Google Ads account has a variety of campaigns.
Once you know what meal you’re going to make, it’s time to get your kitchen ready for cooking. In our Google Ads analogy, this is where you’ll pick out your general settings for the campaign, like:
Just like you need to tell your guests when your dinner party is, you need to tell Google when to show your ads so you’re only spending money when it counts. For example, you could avoid showing your ad in the wee hours of the morning when people may be uninterested in converting.
To set your schedule, click on “show more settings” and pick your start and end dates and ad schedule.
Pro tip: Beware! The schedule defaults to the timezone your account is set in, so if you’re advertising to audiences in different time zones, you’ll need to do some math. We’ve got you covered here on how to set up ad scheduling right.
When you host a dinner party, you don’t invite everyone you’ve ever met. You choose a select few. This way you can cater the experience to their specific tastes and interests. Similarly, you don’t want your Google Ads campaign to show to the world. Here is where you set your location and language.
Pro tip: Check off presence to avoid showing to people “interested in” in your chosen location who aren’t actually there. Learn more about location targeting here.
When it comes to cooking, seasoning is tricky. Too little and the meal is forgettable. Too much and you’ll overwhelm your tastebuds. Your Google Ads budgets are the same: spend too little and you’ll never get out of the learning phase. Spend too much and you’ll burn through your monthly budget in a week.
To calculate a budget that is just right, you’ll first need to ballpark your monthly spend. Start with some keyword research and look at Google Ads benchmarks for your industry to anticipate your average CPC or CPA.
Now, divide that number by 30.4 (the average number of days in a month) to arrive at your daily budget.
Let’s put this into practice with an example:
Now it’s time for the taste test. Does this amount of budget work? Continuing on with this example:
Given average conversion rates, this is a high expectation. Take baby steps by setting your expectations lower. As you gain more traction, your budget could expand and you’ll also accumulate the data you need to make optimizations and lower your cost per click.
Pro tips on setting your budget
Just as there are different ways to cook a meal, there are different ways Google can spend your budget, depending on your goals. To pick your bid strategy, select “Or, select a bid strategy directly (not recommended).”
Then you can select from the options available to you.
There are two categories of bidding strategies:
I’ll use a personal anecdote to explain why automated bidding would be helpful. When I first started snowboarding, I had the rental shop pick my gear because I had no idea how I’d handle different types of terrain or what my personal preferences would be. Now that I have experience, I use a specific type of board because I know what works for me. Automated bidding is just like that. You can check out our full breakdown of the automated bidding strategies here.
You’ll see additional settings for this section, like ad rotation.
In my experience, this usually doesn’t get touched too often and is dependent on a business’s unique situation. By default, Google will prefer the best-performing ads. That makes sense because you’ll want to get the best bang for your buck with whatever ad Google chooses to show.
However, if you decide to test ads against one another evenly or have ads with different types of copy that you want seen, you may opt to do an even rotation.
The next step in running Google Ads is one of the most important ones. You can’t make a recipe without ingredients, and you can’t run Google Ads without keywords.
Keywords are the words and phrases your target is typing into Google Search. With Google Search ads, you bid on keywords that you want your ads to show up for. We’ll get to keywords in a minute, but first, here is what your screen will look like:
PPC keyword pro tips:
When you input your keywords, you’ll also need to indicate which match type you want. This is because there are many searches a person could perform (called queries) that aren’t identical—but are still super relevant to— your keywords. Match types help Google understand which of these variations of your keyword you’re looking your ads to show for.
You’ll want to mix up your match types to give yourself flexibility. Here are the three match types from least to most restrictive:
Pro tip: There is no right or wrong match type, as these will depend on your goals. My best advice is to try out all three and see what works best when optimizing your keywords. If you’re completely unsure, though, phrase match is a safe bet. It’s a happy medium between casting a wide net and maintaining relevancy.
Negative keywords are terms you select that you don’t want your ads to show for. For example, if I’m advertising CDL classes, the term “CDL” could easily apply to folks looking for jobs within the industry. SoI might negate “jobs,” “positions,” and “openings” to avoid people looking for jobs rather than education.
Alright, everything is prepared and cooked. Now it’s time to serve. In the hit cooking show, Hells Kitchen, plating presentation matters just as much as taste. No one will eat something that doesn’t look appetizing even if it tastes good, and no one will click on a lame ad even if it has a great offer.
As of June 2022, responsive search ads will be the only standard Search ad you can create, so your ad creation window will look something like this:
Google Ad copy pro tips
When you make a great meal, the entree is the main attraction, but sides never hurt. And sometimes, they can complement the entree. Ad extensions are just like that. These are additional lines of information that can beef up (pun intended) your ad to improve CTR and make it stand out.
An example of sitelink extensions that give the viewer more ways to click on this ad
The worst thing that can happen is they don’t show or drive clicks, but they won’t make your ad fail. The purpose of ad extensions is to elevate your ad, so there’s really no harm in trying these.
To add extensions to your ads, navigate to the Extensions section from the left-hand column. From there, the Google Ads platform will prompt you through the process.
The best part is, Google is always adding and improving the ad extension options. Check out our Google Ads extension cheat sheet to explore all the ones out there you can try to spice up your ads.
Let’s get saucy! Too much sauce is never enough sauce, and that concept applies whether I’m pouring gravy on my potatoes or practicing PPC. Don’t be afraid to go crazy with your extra settings, like device targeting.
On manual bidding on Search, you can choose to adjust how much you’re willing to pay for clicks coming from certain devices. However, you can also exclude them all together by bidding down by 100%.
Have fun with it. Don’t be afraid to try a couple different combinations of strategies to zero in on your ideal audience. And don’t rule anything out off the bat. For example, you could limit your results if you exclude a device without data to back that it’s underperforming first.
Pro tip: For Display campaigns, you’ll also have this option in the form of a checkbox in your campaign settings. For all campaign and bidding types, you can view your performance by device in the Devices section of Google Ads—perfect for those looking to adjust their strategy accordingly for mobile or desktop.
What’s dinner without dessert? Disappointing. What’s an awesome Google ad without a landing page? Failure.
Sounds harsh, but the hard part of being a PPC expert is that I sometimes have to break the news that advertisers don’t want to hear yet need to know. At the end of the day, you could have the best ads in the world, but if your landing page isn’t optimized you’ll never see results.
Getting the right user to click is half the play, but your website is what brings them into the end zone. My final Google Ads account structure tip today is to pay attention to where you’re bringing your viewers: to a (hopefully) great landing page.
Here are a few landing page best practices to follow:
Dinner is served! Be sure your billing information is good to go, then save your campaign to set it live. Now what? The rest is all about tracking performance. Here are my final tips:
Get comfortable with PPC reporting to set yourself up for success, since you can pause or adjust your campaign at any point. With that, you’ll also want to familiarize yourself with key PPC metrics to find areas of optimization moving forward. You may also want to watch out for any pesky ad disapprovals that could hinder your campaign from running.
Other than that, you’re good to cruise. In fact, give your campaign some time to breathe and collect data. I always say the hardest part of PPC is patience! Try not to make changes more often than every two weeks to 30 days, and that period may need to be even longer for new campaigns. So, relax and digest this amazing new Google Ads campaign you just built!
I don’t know about you, but I’m stuffed…with the knowledge of how to run Google Ads! Before you go, I’ve put the steps to run Google ads into a Tupperware container for you:
To recap, here is how to run Google Ads in 13 steps:
Susie is the Content Marketing Specialist at WordStream, where she uses her experience as a PPC consultant to share tips, tactics, and best practices in the ever-evolving marketing and advertising space. Outside of work, Susie loves to get outside for some snowboarding or (once the cold weather melts away) hiking!
See other posts by Susie Marino
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