last Updated 11 August 2023

An Introduction to Google Ads

Google Ads (known as Google AdWords until its rebrand in 2018) is an online advertising platform used to drive potential customers to your website. It works on a pay-per-click (PPC) model which means that, unlike traditional advertising where you pay for your advert to appear, with Google Ads you only pay if someone clicks on your advert to visit your website.

These PPC adverts appear on the Google search results page at the top and bottom of the page, above and below the organic results. On a standard dekstop display, there are usually up to seven ads on each page - four at the top and three at the bottom. 

According to Google’s introductory guides and videos on getting started with Google Ads, setting up a new campaign is easy.

First you tell Google what your keywords are. These are the words or phrases which will trigger your advert to appear when someone types them in while searching on Google. Your keywords need to be the type of terms that you think will be searched for by a potential customer. So, for example, the keywords for a website selling clothes might be things like:  dresses, bow ties, leather gloves, school shoes, short sleeve shirts, black jeans, scarves, etc

You then have to tell Google how much you are willing to pay for each click on your advert. This is called your maximum cost per click (CPC). Google Ads works on an auction basis, so the amount you bid is one of the things that will affect how good an ad position your get. Generally speaking, the higher your bid, the higher up the page your ad will appear.

Having chosen your keywords and set your bids you then have to write your advert copy. Your advert has room for:

  • three headlines of up to 30 characters each
  • two lines of description text of up to 90 characters each 

So it's important to get your message across succinctly.

You then need to make sure each advert points to the most relevant landing page on your site so as the visitor always gets straight to what they were searching for.

So, on the face of it, setting up Google Ads is pretty simple. But there's a problem...

Google might earn more from your ads than you do

If you follow the default options that Google gives you and don’t take the trouble to explore some of the more advanced features of Google Ads, then you are likely to end up spending a lot of money on clicks and getting little back in return.

To set up an Ads account correctly there are a number of things you need to get right:


You must make sure you do proper keyword research and pick the right keywords. Pick ones which are too broad (such as clothes) and you’ll pay too much per click and/or attract people who are not serious prospects.

You also need to understand and use negative keywords to stop your ads from showing in response to the wrong kind of searches. For example, if you only sell adult clothes, you need to make sure that words like “children” and “kids” are set as negative keywords.


It’s no good having just one advert. You should have lots of different adverts so as:

  • you can test out different marketing messages to see which is most effective at generating clicks and
  • you can make sure you have ads that are relevant to each of your different keywords – so as, for example, someone searching for leather gloves sees an advert about leather gloves, someone searching for trousers sees an advert about trousers and so on, rather than all searches triggering an ad that is simply about clothes in general.

This helps improve your Quality Score (see below).

Quality Score

It's not all 'bout the money

Google rewards advertisers who deliver relevant and high quality results. Every keyword in your account is given a Quality Score from 1 to 10. A higher Quality Score means your ad will appear more often, and in a higher position on the search results page. You could even appear higher than another advertiser who is bidding more than you per click but who has a lower Quality Score.

To achieve a high Quality Score you need to have an ad and a landing page that is highly relevant to each keyword, and your ads need to have a good click through rate (CTR). That’s another reason why it’s important to have well written ads that grab people’s attention.

Account Structure

In order to get a high degree of relevancy between your keywords and your ads, you need to split your long list of keywords up into lots of small groups of keywords which are closely related to each other. You then write specific ads for each group of keywords.

Choosing the right account structure and understanding how to use campaigns and ad groups makes this task much easier. It will also improve your Quality Score and so reduce your cost per click.

Bids and Budgets

You need to set your CPC at the right level. Set it too low and your ads will appear too far down the page, or not at all. Set it too high and you’ll quickly burn through your budget.

As a general rule you need to find a CPC that gets you in the top three positions on the page, although you don’t necessarily need to be at number one to get the best results.

Ad Extensions

Google allow you to display extra info underneath some of your ads – things like your address, your phone number, or extra links to other pages on your website. Adding these extensions makes your ad stand out more and can increase the number of clicks you get and improve your Quality Score. Yet it’s a feature that many new advertisers overlook or are unaware of.

Display Network

Having done all this, you then need to decide whether, in addition to advertising on Google’s search results pages, you want to use display ads and/or remarketing ads to drive even more traffic to your site.

What are display ads?

Display advertising is where text or image ads for your website appear on other people’s websites – usually sites which are related to what your website is about or, in the case of remarketing, on any site if it is being visited by someone who has already visited your website.

Whenever we set up a new Google Ads account for a client, or take over their existing account, these are some of the main things we do at the outset to ensure that their campaigns have the best chance of success. Having set it all up according to these best practices we then start the ongoing process of optimising the account month by month in order to continually improve your PPC results.

About the author 

David Miles

As a digital marketing consultant, author and trainer, I specialise in helping businesses in the financial services sector use the internet to get more enquiries and increase profits.

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