Setting Up Your First Google AdWords Campaign - A Step-by-Step Guide

Setting Up Your First Google AdWords Campaign – A Step-by-Step Guide

My goal when I first joined Ladder was to be more than just a Content Marketer.

I wanted to learn more about paid marketing and digital advertising, and see how I can integrate these paid growth tactics to a robust content marketing strategy.

A few months ago, I started by experimenting with Facebook Lead Ads as a way to grow our Ladder Newsletter (don’t forget to subscribe if you haven’t already).

This week, I graduated to launching my very first Google AdWords campaign!

I know most of the digital marketers who have visited our blog are fluent in Google AdWords by now, but I wanted to document how I created the campaign from start to finish (including the few mishaps along the way) for junior marketers, business owners, and entrepreneurs looking to try their hand on a new advertising platform.

But, first thing’s first…

Step 1: Getting familiar with Google AdWords

Before I launched my first campaign, I had Stefan, Ladder’s director of marketing, walk me through the Google AdWords.

He started by briefly explaining some common terms you’ll see often as you set up a Google AdWords ad.

As an example, you’ll need to set up a “campaign” and an “ad group”–but they’re not the same.

A campaign is a set of one or more ad groups (i.e. ads, keywords, and bids) that share a budget, location targeting, and other settings, and an ad group contains one or more ads which target a shared set of keywords.

You also may be tripped up by the “daily budget” and a “bid amount?” What’s the difference?

The daily budget is the amount that you set for each ad campaign to specify how much, on average, you’d like to spend each day. When you’ve reached your budget, your ad will stop showing. The bid amount is the maximum amount of money you’re willing to spend each time someone clicks your ad.

Then, Stefan walked me through the process of selecting a daily budget, selecting the right keywords, budding options, and so much more.

If you don’t have someone to walk you through Google AdWords, I recommend reading some supplemental beginner’s guides on the ins and outs of AdWords campaigns. Here are a few that I referenced:

Step-By-Step Keyword Tactics for Effective Google AdWords Campaigns

Google AdWords Made Simple: A Step-by-Step Guide  

Watch AdWords video tutorials for beginners – Google Support  


Step 2: Setting Up a New AdWords Campaign

Step 2 is creating a brand new Google AdWords campaign. Stefan and I wanted to create a new campaign targeting small business.

To get started, open your AdWords account, click on the red + Campaign button. When you do, you’ll see a list of places Google Network options of where you would like your ad to be displayed.

I want my ads to display at the top or bottom of Google Search Results, so for my campaign, I selected Seach Network only. How to Start a New AdWords Campaign

Next, you’ll be taken to the campaign settings page. To begin, name your campaign in the Campaign name field.

Since I selected Search Network only as the display type, I can now specify additional details. To have additional features and options available for the Search Network, I selected All features.

However, not that I didn’t select Mobile app engagement, Dynamic Search Ads, or Call-only ads. These features are optional, but you can select the best option to help you accomplish a specific goal, like app sign-ups or more phone calls to your business.

Setting Up Google AdWords Campaign

Next, I scrolled down to the Networks section. Here you can decide whether or not you would like your ad to be displayed on sites owned by Google’s search partners. Search partners are websites in the Search Network that partner with Google to show ads and will extend the reach of your ads.

To save money, I decided not to show my ad on search partner sites.

Google AdWords Search Partners

Next, I selected locations. For this initial campaign, I decided to target only the United States. In future campaigns, I plan on also including the United Kingdom.

Setting a Google AdWords Location


Step 3. Setting Your Bids and Budgets

The next big step is figuring out your bid strategy, daily bid, and budget.

Google AdWords allows you to set bids in two ways. The first is an automatic bid strategy–this allows AdWords to automatically sets bids for your ads based on that ad’s likelihood to result in a click or conversion.

There are different automatic bid strategies that can help you accomplish specific goals. For instance, you can choose to Maximize clicks, which will set bids to get you the most amount of clicks within your budget, or you can Target CPA (Cost-per-acquisition), which automatically sets bids to get you the most conversions while maintaining your target CPA.

The great part about using an automatic bid strategy is that Google will do most of the heavy lifting for you, however, since you’re not in direct control of the amount you’re spending, you can easily run through your budget faster than you thought.

Instead, Stefan recommended starting with a manual bid strategy, which will allow me to set my own maximum CPC bid amount. After selecting a manual bid strategy, Google will prompt you to enable Enhanced CPC, where they will automatically adjust your bids to maximize conversions. For the purpose of this campaign, I disabled this feature (not shown in the screenshot below) to have as much control over my bid adjustments as possible.

Selecting an AdWords Bidding Strategy

So now that I’ve selected my bid strategy, how do I come up with an amount to bid?

I started with Google Keyword Planner. Since my target keyword is “small business”, I ran that keyword through Google Keyword Planner to figure out, on average, how many people search for that keyword every month, how competitive the keyword is, and a suggested bid.

As you can see, the keyword “small business” has 27,100 monthly searches on average, low competition–meaning my ad has a better chance of ranking in a higher position–and a suggested bid of $3.55. Google Keyword Planner -Suggested Bid

Therefore, in Google AdWords, I set my bid at $3.55–with the knowledge that I can always increase my bid later (I eventually bumped it up to $4).

As for my daily budget, I started at $30 per day, but if a particular ad performs well or performs poorly, I can always adjust the daily budget accordingly.


Step 4. Ad Extensions

The next step is selecting an ad extension. An ad extension is the additional business information shown at the bottom of your ad, like an address, phone number, store rating, or more webpage links.

For this campaign, I chose to use Callouts, which will display descriptive text like beneath my ad.

Google AdWords Ad Extensions

For this campaign, I chose to include three different callouts that provide more information about our data-driven strategies, our Ladder Playbook, and the Ladder Planner–our drag-and-drop marketing tool.


Step 5. Scheduling and Ad Delivery

The next step is scheduling your campaign. Start by selecting a start date and end date, but if you want your ad to run indefinitely, select None as the end date–which I did with my campaign.

However, if you’re planning on running a seasonal campaign or promoting a limited-time offer, I recommend setting an end date.

In addition, you can determine the exact days and times you would like your ads to run by creating a custom schedule. For instance, if you want your ad only to run on Mondays from 12:00 AM to 6:00 PM, create a custom schedule to prevent your ad from showing on any other date and time.

I recommend using a custom schedule only after you’ve gathered enough performance data from your campaign to determine the most effective ways to optimize your campaign.

Ad acheduling and ad rotation in Google AdWords

The next section is selecting a method for ad delivery. This is extremely important because if you have multiple ads in an ad group, this will allow you to choose which ads are shown more often.

Here, you can choose to optimize your best performing ads, meaning they will enter the auction more often, based on clicks.

You can also optimize based on conversions, rotate your ads more evenly for at least 90 days, and then optimize for clicks, or, like I did with this campaign, you can rotate your ads more evenly for an indefinite amount of time, and not optimize.

Why did I choose to rotate my ads indefinately? I knew that I wanted to test 3 different copy variations in this campaign’s ad group and in order to determine the best performing variation performs better, I want to make sure they are all shown as evenly as possible. When I determine a winner in about 2 weeks, then I can manually optimize the best performing ad.

After determining your ad delivery rotation, I skipped the more advanced features, like setting up dynamic search ads and campaign URL options and hit Save and Continue.


Step 6. Selecting Your Target Keywords

The next big step is selecting your target keywords. If you have no idea what keyword you want to target in your AdWords campaign, stop right here and read this blog post on performing keyword research before proceeding. 

After performing your keyword research, you’ll want to select a handful of keywords to add to your ad group. Before you do, make sure you’re familiar with match types.

  • Broad Match: Broad match will allow your ad to show whenever someone searches for that phrase, similar phrases, singular or plural forms, misspellings, synonyms, stemmings (i.e. floor and flooring), related searches, and other relevant variations.
  • Broad Match Modifier: A broad match modifier is very similar to broad match, except that this option shows your ad in searches that include at least one of your keywords. To designate a broad match modifier, use the plus sign before your keyword (i.e. +small +business).
  • Phrase Match: A phrase match will display your ad in searches that match a phrase, or are close variations of that phrase, with additional words before or after–but not in the middle. To designate a phrase match, use quotation marks around your keyword (i.e. “small business”).
  • Exact Match: An exact match will display your ad in searches that match the exact term or are close variations of that exact term. To designate an exact match, use square brackets (i.e. [Small business]).
  • Negative Match: A negative match allows you to prevent displaying your ads on searches with that term. To designate a negative match, use the minus sign (i.e. -small business jobs).
Match Types in Google AdWords Ag Group
Photo Credit: Neil Patel  

With these match types, enter 5-20 keywords using these modifiers.

You’ll also see in the screenshot below a box to the right with long-tail keywords. These are keywords from previous or existing ad groups that I can add to a new ad group. This feature may not be available when you create a new ad group.

Adding Keywords in Google AdWords

Author’s Note: Not all of the keywords in the screenshot above are currently active in my campaign.


Step 7. Creating an Ad Group

Now comes the fun part: creating an ad group! Remember that your ad group is where you’ll create one or more ads which target a shared set of keywords.

Start by creating an ad group name and then determine what kind of ad you would like to build out. You have four options:

  • Text Ad: A text ads are the simple AdWords ads that show above and below Google search results.They all have three parts: headline text (in blue), a display URL (in green), and description text (in black).
  • Dynamic Search Ads: Dynamic search ads use content from your website to target your ads to searches. So when someone searches on Google with terms closely related to the titles and frequently used phrases on your website, AdWords will use these titles and phrases to select a landing page and generate a clear, relevant headline for your ad.
  • Mobile App Engagement: These ads allow you to target people who have installed your app to try your app again, or to open your app and take a specific action.
  • Call-Only Ads: Call-only ads are designed to encourage people to call your business, and only appear on devices that can make phone calls.

Google AdWords Text Ad

For my ads, I decided to create three text ads. To set them up, you’ll need to include a final URL to your website or a dedicated landing page (don’t forget your UTM’s!).

Next, you’ll need to create a headline for your ad. However, you’ll need to two headlines separated by a dash. Each headline cannot be more than 30 characters (including spaces).

How do you create a compelling headline in such a tiny space? Here are a few tips:

  • Use a Twitter character counter to help you keep track of your character count.
  • Follow Upworthy’s Headline Writing Process. Upworthy’s editorial team is required to write a minimum of 25 headlines before choosing the best one. It can be a time-consuming process, but this is a great process to follow if you’re having trouble creating a headline.

Then, you can create a unique URL path. A URL path is part of the display URL in expanded text ads, typically displayed in green text below the headline and above the description. You can fill out these fields to give potential customers an idea of where they will end up on your site once they have clicked your ad, so the text you put in the fields should describe the product or service described in the ad in more detail.

Finally, write your description. You’ll only have 80 characters (including spaces) to convince a potential customer why they should click on your ad and visit your website. This is a perfect place to provide value, talk about a discount or offer, describe the benefits of your product or service, etc.

In my campaign, I created three text ads targeting people searching for “small business” that directed potential clients to our homepage. Here’s are my ad variations:

Google AdWords Text Ad Example 1

Google AdWords Text Ad Example 2

Google AdWords Text Ad Example 3

You’re almost done! Once you’ve created your ad, if you have a new AdWords account, make sure to set up your billing information. You can learn how to do that here.

Once that’s set up, click Finish and create ad and you’re good to go! Note that may take a few hours for Google to approve your ad and begin running it.

Managing Ads in Google AdWords

That’s it! Have any questions about Google AdWords? Tweet us at @LadderDigital. We’re here to help!