5 tips for your first Google AdWords campaign

Right from the start in online business, even if your company hasn’t achieved a strong brand awareness in the market yet, display advertising on Google AdWords is an efficient solution to improve your chances of users finding you on the search engine. Search engine traffic from sites like Google, Bing, and Co. represents the majority of all unique visitors for most websites. There are many online agencies designed to help you to run efficient and successfully targeted display ads online, but theoretically, even a beginner can create and manage their own campaign. We’ll offer 5 Google AdWords tips for beginners looking to run campaigns on the market-leading search engine ad network.

Google AdWords for beginners

Creating and operating an AdWords campaign isn’t the work of magic – good preparation, basic know-how, and plenty of dedicated hours are essential requirements for success. For readers who are new to the concept of Google AdWords, there’s an introduction to the basics of AdWords in the display advertising section of our digital guide. Once you’ve followed this guide to create your own account, find the right keywords for your project, and written your display ad text, then your first Google campaign is all but ready to go. So what happens if the success doesn’t follow?

If you’re finding that your campaign isn’t quite hitting the mark you’d hoped for, it’s a good idea to take a step back and try to find out where you’ve gone wrong. There are a few simple and basic ground rules that every marketer working on Google AdWords should be aware of.

Choose the right account option

Once you’ve created a new AdWords account and are all set to start your first Google campaign, there are two options available to you: you can either start via the tab ‘First Campaign’, or you can click on ‘I’m an experienced AdWords user’. The latter leads to the advanced version of Google AdWords, but most users starting out on Google AdWords take the safer option and create their first campaign in the standard version. What they don’t realize is that ‘Beginner mode’ removes a number of interesting functions and options that can be used to really benefit a campaign right from the very start. As a result, most experts recommend that all users set their first campaign up with all the extensive options available. The general consensus? It’s better to take more time to get familiar with the vast amount of functions available to you on AdWords, rather than take the easier but less professional route. On the whole, you’ll see this change reflected in your campaign’s performance and results.

Separate your Display Network

With AdWords campaigns, you can display your ads in the Google search engine results pages (SERPs) as well as on the Google Display Network. If you leave the settings as default, all campaigns will be run on both channels. That doesn’t usually make a whole lot of sense, as they have different basic requirements for success. Both need different types of planning, design, and optimization, depending on what you’re hoping to achieve on each.

On Google’s search engine, users enter concrete search terms into the search bar – as a marketer, you can react to this, optimizing your display text and landing page to match certain corresponding keywords, allowing you to show a potential user the perfect search result for their desired search term.

Display marketing, on the other hand, involves Google ads being placed on topic-relevant websites from their ad network – websites like blogs or news portals. Users surf these sites, reading content and watching videos, without searching for any particular product. The challenge here is to grab the attention of the internet surfer and convince them to click on your ad. You’re trying to break their flow of reading without being too simplistic or disturbing them.

So display networks and Google searches offer completely different starting points to grab customer’s attentions and as a result pose marketers entirely different challenges. You should separate these two channels and optimize them individually. Trying to run the same Google AdWords campaign on both channels would be counter-productive.

Determine match types

Through different match types, marketers have the option to determine which search terms trigger the ad to be displayed. Many people simply opt for what’s known as the broad match as their keywords. A broad match is exactly what you’d expect from its title: Google will display the ad for all search queries that match the keyword to some extent. The presumption that many beginners make is that this will mean they reach as many potential customers as possible. The problem is that Google sometimes interprets a broad match slightly incorrectly. 

The consequence of this is that the ad will also display for less relevant keyword matches. A classic example of this is for an online vase shop: a broad match for the keyword ‘vase’ is the keyword ‘flowers’. The connection between the two terms is close, but in the context of display advertising, it’s actually rather counter-productive. The reason being that people searching for flowers presumably aren’t interested in seeing ads for a vase shop. This means that the click-through-rate (CTR) will drop – leading to money being wasted.

The best tactic here is to activate all match types. Alongside the option for a broad match’, you can include:

  • Phrase match = search terms have to include fixed phrases
  • Modified broad match = searches have to contain certain terms but they can be in any order
  • Exact match = search queries have to match an exact keyword

Another important tip is to work with negative keywords. This can help prevent easily arising scenarios like the example given above. If, as a vase shop operator, you don’t want your ad to be displayed when users search for ‘flowers’, then you can simply enter ‘flowers’ as a negative keyword. This will stop your ads from ever being displayed when this term is searched.

Optimizing your search terms is really the most important task when it comes to running a successful AdWords campaign. It’s recommended to regularly check up on current trending search terms, and to see which searches your ads are being displayed for. This is the best way to identify irrelevant or unprofitable keywords. By excluding these unsuitable keywords, you can continue to narrow down your target group, avoid scatter losses, and ensure that your budget is better spent at the end of the day.

Critically analyze your campaign structure

Google AdWords offers you the chance to create different campaigns with different ad display groups – you should take advantage of this. A classic mistake made by AdWords beginners is to enter lots of search terms into one, single ad focus group.

At first glance, keywords like ‘branded notebook price comparison’ or ‘branded notebook review’ appear to be really strong. They cover the same products, but the search intentions of the user are different for each. But users in these cases are in different phases of the purchase decision process. So you should take the time to create a differentiated ad group structure. By separating these, you can ensure that users in each different phase of the decision-making process will receive the appropriate ad text, link, and corresponding reference to your website.

Define your goals and use tracking correctly

Just as we discussed in our advice section on getting started with Google AdWords, the challenge for AdWords beginners is to optimize their ads relative to their respective marketing objectives. Since budget is typically limited and profitable keywords are heavily courted, this can be very difficult indeed. So we recommend that every Google campaign you run has a clear, calculated goal. Without something well-defined and concise to aim for, you can end up throwing lots of money down the drain very easily without achieving anything. It’s not enough to simply accept scatter losses and wasted expenditure as part and parcel of a paid advertising campaign. For the idea planning and optimization, you need to fully understand the integrated Google AdWords tracking feature.

Google AdWords offers many options for tracking, which often aren’t properly utilized by marketers. First of all, every user should activate conversion tracking by default. This is relatively easy to do using Google AdWords’ support section and can be used for many different goals: sales, contact enquiries, newsletter registration, or downloads. By using this in conjunction with Google Analytics, you can achieve an even more precise analysis and optimization. KPIs like retention, bounce rate, or number of pages visited can be included here, too. These tools are essential for optimization – for further tips, you can view our full guide to display ad optimization.

Conclusion

Running your first Google AdWords campaign is a significantly tougher challenge than most marketers realize. Without the right preparation, training, and knowledge of the many options Google offers advertisers, you can quickly find you’re throwing money away. Budgets are usually tight at the beginning – leaving little room to experiment. Because of this, you should strategize and plan analytically to make sure you get the most from your Google campaigns. By following our Google AdWords tips, you can give yourself the best possible starting block.