Google Ads: what is it and how to use it properly?

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It is crucial to stand out from the competition online. Not only does this require an effective SEO strategy, but sometimes a paid search strategy, including a well-run Google Ads campaign, as well. Formerly named Google AdWords when it was first launched in 2000, this platform enables advertising placements to be displayed across the entire Google distribution network.

But what is Google Ads exactly? How does it work? How can you use it properly to achieve your own marketing goals?

Google Ads: a definition.

Google Ads is a paid advertising platform dedicated to businesses willing to promote their offerings efficiently on the Web. But let’s be a bit more precise: it is an advertising platform that belongs to a very specific online advertising funnel named Pay-Per-Click, on which, usually, advertisers pay for each click from users on their online ads.

Google Ads is huge and reaches tons of users.

There are various and particularly important reasons that strongly suggest (even oblige) you to use Google Ads if you have a paid advertising strategy.

The first one is related to the specifics of Google which is simply, and by far, the largest search engine in the world. As of July 2020, it had 70.62% of all search engine market shares on desktops/laptops, and a whopping 94.29% on mobile according to NetMarketShare.com. The search engine also computes on average 40,000 search queries per second, which equates to 3.5 billion searches per day, and an amazing 1.2 trillion searches per year!

Therefore, the Google Ads give you access to an endless number of potential customers when your search ads (which are written ads) are published on the Google Search Network.

But that’s not all. Google Ads is also comprised of the Google Display Network, which includes all the relevant Google owned platforms outside of Google search (i.e. Gmail, Blogger, Google Finance, YouTube) and a huge number of independent affiliated websites. This network, which is primarily focused on the contextual publishing of banners and video ads, is simply the no. 1 of its type when it comes to global reach. As a matter of fact, that second advertising funnel from Google reaches 90% of internet users worldwide.

You now have a better idea as to why Google Ads is, by far, the biggest advertising network on the World Wide Web.

Advertising with Google Ads is amazingly efficient.

Another simple reason of Google Ads success is that Google makes sure that the right ad pops up at the right moment during navigation. How come? By simply assessing the relevance of the ads shown vs. the type and/or the history of users’ online navigation. Indeed, Google makes sure that only the ads that are relevant to initial search intent (Google Search Network) or with the content of the page and/or history of navigation (Google Display Network) are shown. By doing this, Google allows advertisers to show the right ad during the right time frame, therefore increasing the probability of interaction between the users and their ad.

Moreover, especially for the search network when you chose CPC bidding, you can also see your return on investment to the exact dime. As you pay only when users click on your ads, you will be able to see how many of them interacted with each of them, thus seeing which ad performs best, and what adjustments would be needed for the others to perform at a higher level. And if you add the fact that you can stop your ad campaigns and that you can adjust the daily limit of your advertising budget at any time, then you have the one of the best, if not the very best, means to advertise your products/services directly to your customers!

How does the Google Ads platform works?

In a nutshell: Google Ads shows your ad to potential customers that have an interest in your products or services.

To have your ad displayed by Google, you will first have to go through a bidding process that will pit you against other advertisers in an auction process on users’ search terms (« keywords ») to determine the order in which each winning advertiser will appear either on the Google Search or the Google Display Network.

The bidding system

The bidding amount will settle the score (pun intended) between two bidding competitors with the same quality score. The higher the bid is, the better the Ad Rank will be. As a result, the better your position will be at the end of the auction process. For this, you will have to determine a maximum price you are willing to pay for a click on your ad.

There are other bidding types, but mainly two exist. Each of them works differently and may affect what you will pay at the end:

By selecting this kind of bidding, you ensure that you only pay when users click on your ad.

When selecting this method, you will not pay per click on your ad, but per thousand impressions (i.e. for each thousand times your ad has been shown to users).

How much will I pay Google?

Well, usually, much less than you could think. In the worst case scenario, you won’t pay more than the limit you fixed for your daily budget, multiplied by 30.4 times, which is Google’s average number of days in a month, as it bases ad spending on a monthly basis.

Your account may spend more on certain days, do not freak out: it is to compensate for the days when your ads did not reach their budget limit. All in all, Google will scrupulously respect what you allow your Google Ads account to spend if you fixed your daily budget accordingly without modifying it afterwards. Google, as we stated above, allows you to cap your daily budget to the limit you want.

Ad Rank: the variable that determines the position of each ad during the auction.

Google does not directly attribute a position to ads during the auctioning process. It relies on a variable, called the Ad Rank, that determines the position of each ad during the bidding. What it is? Simply put, it is a number that allows Google to quantitatively evaluate the overall value of each ad that enters the bidding process.

Ad Rank = Bid Amount x Quality Score.

As it is an auction, you could infer that you would just need to outbid your fellow competitors to get the best position. But this would create a potential issue for Google: irrelevant ads shown to users compared to their search/navigation intent.

The bid amount is therefore weighted in by a variable which measures the relevance of each ad entering the bidding process. This variable is called the Quality Score which considers the following factors:

  • The maximum amount an advertiser is willing to pay for each click on his link
  • The quality of the ad as well as of the landing page
  • The minimum ranking thresholds defined by Google (to guarantee high quality ads)
  • The competition of the auction (if 2 advertisers have an identical offer but one of them decides to pay more for each click, they will have a higher position in the ranking)
  • The search context (where the users live, which medium they use, the keywords entered, etc.)
  • The expected impact of the ad format and extensions (for example if your contact details have been entered in Google Ads).
As it is a variable dedicated to representing the relevance of all the ads during the bidding process, the Quality Score is also based upon other sub-factors used to determine it more accurately:
  • The expected Click Through Rate (C.T.R) of your ad, which can be defined as the expected number of customers that will click on your ad divided by the expected number of times your ad will be shown on the Google Ads network. The determination of its actual value is based on the history of your ad’s actual CTR.
  • The relevance of the keywords you selected for your ad to show on the Google Ads network vs. The ad execution (ad content + ad call-to-action) vs the original searcher’s intent.
  • The expected user experience (UX) delivered by your landing page, which relies itself on a few variables. The most important ones being:
    • The actual relevance of the content of the page VS the ad execution and the keywords entered by the user in its search query.
    • The actual context in which this content is shown to the user (page load speeds, the way the content is written, and the overall navigability of the website).

Viewing your Google Ads account Quality Score

The Google Ads Quality Score report will give you a rank on a scale from 1 to 10 according to different criteria such as the expected click rate, the user-friendliness of your site or the relevance of your ad. The higher the number, the higher the quality of your ad and the better its performance.

Google Ads campaigns

Different types of advertising campaigns are available on Google Ads, each of which determines where users will be able to view your ads.
  • Search Network Campaign: your text ads appear on the Google search results page as well as on Google Play, Google Images and Google Maps, among others.
  • Display Network Campaign: to display your images and videos on the Google Display Network, YouTube, Gmail, etc.
  • Shopping Campaign: your ads are displayed in the Shopping tab, in Google Search, Google Images and on the Google Display Network, to name a few.
  • Video Campaign: your ads are displayed on YouTube only, and available in InStream and OutStream formats.
  • Apps Campaign: they can be displayed on all sites and locations in the Google network. They can be in image, text, video or HTML5 format.

The importance of keywords

As you already know, you must be visible and ideally appear among the first search results for users to find you; to do so, use relevant keywords. But depending on your objectives, these keywords may vary and have a different scope.

For example, a broad match keyword will allow you to reach a wider audience and is sort of the default mode; if you sell sports cars and buy this keyword in broad match, users will be able to find you if they enter sports car, sporty car, sportive car, sports vehicle, car, etc. On the other hand, exact match keywords will greatly reduce your audience to target it more precisely; for example, if users enter sports car, you will not be able to appear under sports vehicle, sporty car, sportive car, etc.

Finally, targeting the exact phrase (phrase match) will broaden the number of users who can find you and enter the exact keyword and other words. Let’s take the example of sports car again; users will also be able to find you by entering cheap sports car, sports car in Laval, and sports car for cheap for example.

Mistakes to avoid when using Google Ads.

You have your goals and money to invest in your Google Ads strategy; but before you start creating your ad head-first, there are a few precautions to take to avoid common pitfalls!

The wrong choice of keywords—inappropriate mapping, imprecise words—could lead to a bad campaign. Omitting to use ad extensions, not configuring the geographic location correctly and not having ad variations can also harm your campaign.

In addition, it is important to add negative keywords to limit the exposure of your ads to unwanted searches. The addition of these keywords will allow you to have a more qualified audience and therefore more clicks.

Conclusion: if done properly, Google Ads can be the BEST WAY to do paid advertising online.

An access to an endless number of potential customers, an incredible adaptability to various online marketing/advertising goals, a fair bidding system that ensures that only the best ads are shown at the right moment, and a total control on ad spending and goal tracking: Google Ads is clearly the most capable online PPC platform to date, and will normally be for many years to come.

It is also a vast and complex discipline that represents, for certain specialists, their entire career. And at LeadStream, we are highly specialized on how to use Google Ads to get the most out it for your own online advertising objectives. So, if you are not a Search Engine Marketing Specialist but want top-notch Google Ads advertising, communicate with us!

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