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9-Part Google AdWords Set Up Plan

9-Part Google AdWords Set Up Plan

by kobura02
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1 – Start Here

From the Author

adam-kreitmanI’ve been generating leads and sales using Google Adwords for the better part of a decade and I’m very excited to share what I’ve learned with you in this Execution Plan.

If you’re new to AdWords and think it can help your grow your business… if you’ve been struggling trying to manage your own campaigns… or if you’re a local business owner and have been running an AdWords Express campaign and leaving things in Google’s hands (which can be a very dangerous place to be!)… this course will be well worth your time.

It’s going to take you through the process of setting up a basic AdWords Search campaign – the RIGHT way. A way that’s designed to give you the best chance of putting more money in your pocket than Google’s pockets.

I see too many AdWords accounts set up by business owners (or even companies that “do AdWords”) that are poorly structured and have little to no chance of success. The sad thing is many business owners who have campaigns like this think AdWords doesn’t work and give up on it.

But the truth is that AdWords could be a highly profitable endeavor for them if they had a campaign that was set up correctly.

This course will give you the basics on how to set your campaign up correctly from the get go (or fix one that’s been set up poorly).

Now I know you’re probably very eager to dig in and start building your first campaign. However, stick with me for just a few minutes before doing that, because I’m going to share some information with you about AdWords that’ll give you a much clearer picture of how to get the most out of AdWords for your business.

This is 1000 foot overview, Big Picture type stuff that’s important essential to keep in the back of your mind as you go through this course and set up your own campaign.

AdWords is a VERY complex beast and it’s easy to get lost and overwhelmed. But if you keep this foundational stuff in mind as you build and manage your campaign, it’ll help you keep a better handle on things.

I’m ready to get started!  Are you?  Let’s go…

~  Adam Kreitman, Founder – Words That Click – Email Me

Why Adwords?

Before you make the leap into AdWords, it’s worth getting a clear understanding of why you may want to use it in the first place.

Here are 6 of the biggies:

  1. Nearly Instant Page 1 Rankings

AdWords is the quickest way to get your business listed on Page 1 of Google…the #1 place your prospects are looking for you. Things like Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Local Search (Google Places) are great strategies, but they take time (often months, if at all with all the Panda and Penguin turmoil) to get results with them.

With AdWords, you set up your campaign and can see your ads on Page 1 pretty much immediately.

  1. Reach Highly Motivated, Targeted Prospects

On AdWords, you’re reaching people who are ACTIVELY looking for your business. This isn’t like TV, radio, magazine or even display advertising where you have to interrupt people from doing something else and try to get them to notice you.

People are identifying themselves to you as hot prospects through the keywords they type into Google. When they type that keyword in, it represents a pain, a desire or a quest for information that they need solved…NOW!

If they see your ad and believe you can help them, you have a very qualified and motivated prospect coming to your website.

  1. You Only Pay for Clicks/Website Visits 

You only pay when someone clicks on your ad.

Again, going back to TV, radio and newspaper advertising…it doesn’t matter how many people see your ad or, of those that see it, how many are qualified prospects. You pay a set fee.

With AdWords, you only pay for people who are interested enough to click on your ad and visit your website. This helps you use your marketing budget much more efficiently and effectively.

  1. Geographic Targeting

For local business owners, AdWords may be the only way you can reach most of the prospects who are looking for you on Google.

Take the example of someone who wants to buy a new mattress. If they just type in “buy a mattress”, Google will show mostly national results in their organic search results. For a local business to compete on that level for SEO is nearly impossible. Plus, most of the people typing in “buy a mattress” are not in your local area anyway so they’re not good prospects (unless, of course, you have a mail order business).

With AdWords, however, you can limit your ads to specific geographic locations. This means if you own a mattress store in Chicago, you can set your AdWords campaign so that your ads are only seen by people in the entire Chicago metro area, specific cities/towns/zip codes around Chicago, or a specific radius around your business.

In this case, the organic search results would still show all the big national mattress companies/sellers, but your ad can show up in AdWords and reach searchers you couldn’t reach by doing SEO.

  1. Control

As an AdWords advertiser, you have a tremendous amount of control over your campaign. A short list of things you control includes:

  • The keywords your ads show up for
  • Your monthly budget
  • How much you’re willing to pay for a click
  • The geographic areas where your ads appear
  • The days/times your ads run
  • The messaging of your ads
  • The page on your website the ads lead to

Understanding what you can control and how to control them is key to running a successful campaign.

  1. Highly Effective Keyword Research and Market Research Tool

You can use AdWords not just for generating traffic and leads, but for research.

One way is using AdWords for keyword research. Understanding what keywords your prospects are typing into Google to find you is critical to search marketing. The problem is Google doesn’t necessarily share the most accurate keyword data (and has been sharing less and less recently).

And this data is especially hard to get for local keywords.

But by using the AdWords Search Query Report (which we cover in this course), you can get a clear understanding of the actual keywords prospects are typing in to find you. You’ll also be able to see how many times each keyword is being typed in per day/month.

(AdWords is the only way to get accurate data like this and I’ve set up campaigns for clients for the sole purpose of collecting keyword data.)

You can also use AdWords for market research. You can use it to test out offers, headlines, book titles (did you know the title of Tim Ferriss’ best seller “The 4-Hour Work Week” was decided by an AdWords test?), landing pages, etc.

When you find an offer, headline, title, etc. that works well in AdWords, there’s a good chance it’s going to work well in other marketing pieces.

Here are a few articles that show some examples of how to use AdWords forkeyword research or market research.

Okay, with that little bit of background out of the way, are you ready to start building your AdWords campaign?


Your campaign’s success starts with one important step that most people skip. Let’s take a look at what that is…

Choose Your Goal

One of Steven Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is “Begin with the end in mind.”

And that’s certainly true of highly effective AdWords campaigns as well.

Before you build a campaign, you want to know what you’re trying to achieve and what the goals for your campaign are.

Some of the common goals for an AdWords campaigns include:

  • Making a purchase on your website
  • Generating phone calls
  • Getting customers to come into your store/office
  • Promoting a special
  • Downloading a coupon
  • Branding
  • Downloading a Whitepaper, Special Report, etc.
  • Signing up for a newsletter
  • Collecting keyword data
  • Testing marketing copy, headlines, etc.
  • Promoting a new service or product

Your specific goals will affect how you set up your campaign. Here are a few key parts of a campaign that could be affected by your goals:

Ad Copy

If you want people to download a coupon, your ad should say something like “Special Web Only Coupon – Save 25% Here”.

For a whitepaper or special report, your ad should promote the report “Free Report:  5 Foods To Avoid At All Costs – Download Here”.

To generate phone calls, it could be as simple as “Boston DUI Attorney – Know Your Options. Call Us Now! We’re Here 24/7”.

(TIP: For a campaign set up only to gather keyword data, I’ll purposely write crummy ads because I don’t want clicks…I just want to see how many impressions the keywords generate.)

Landing page

A landing page is the page on your website that a searcher lands on first after clicking one of your ads.

When someone gets to your landing page, make sure it’s crystal clear what it is you want them to do.

(Quick side note: Having a strong call-to-action is on your landing page is critical. And generally you’ll want to place the call-to-action is above the fold (i.e. they don’t have to scroll to see it). Basically, you want to make sure that, unless the visitor to your landing page is brain dead, they know exactly what they’re supposed to do and how to do it.)

And, as with the ad copy, your landing page should support the goals you have for your campaign whether it’s encouraging a call, signing up for a newsletter, making a purchase, etc.

Bidding strategy

Is a call worth more to your business than a newsletter sign up?

Do you find customers who download a coupon tend to result in more business than those who download your special report?

If you’re running a campaign for branding purposes and there are a few important keywords you want your business to always show up for, you need to be willing to bid high enough to get into one of top spots in AdWords in order to “own” that keyword for your brand.

Knowing the value of the goal(s) for your campaign and how much each type of lead is worth will go a long way in determining how much you can afford to pay for clicks.


We’ll cover keywords in depth in another module as they are critical to the success of your campaign. For now, just understand that your campaign goals will certainly play a role in what keywords you select.

For example, if you’re an electrician who is setting up an AdWords campaign with the purpose of promoting generator installation service after a big storm knocked out power, your keywords will include words like “generator installation” and “Chicago generator” as opposed to sticking with more generic terms like “Chicago electrician” or “electrical contractor”.

If you own a restaurant and are offering a coupon, you may want to add keywords like “restaurant coupons” and “restaurant discounts” to your campaign.

Set Up Your Account

If you don’t have an AdWords account yet, now’s the time to set one up! (If you have one already, you can skip to Step 3.)

(NOTE: This step is pretty straightforward but just one piece of advice before you do it…don’t enter your credit card information yet!! We want to make sure your campaign is set up exactly the way you want it before turning that information over to Google. This insures that you don’t make a mistake and wake up tomorrow with a $5000 credit card bill!

Google will not run your ads until they have a working credit card on file. But, even without entering your billing information, you can still select keywords, set bid prices, write your ad copy, and set the campaign settings. And that’s what we’re going to do first. Once you get everything set up and make sure it’s set the way you want it, then you can give Google your payment information and turn the campaign on.)

With that in mind, head over to http://google.com/adwords to sign up for AdWords.

There’s not much to this, just a few quick things to keep in mind here:

  1. If you don’t have a Google account yet, you’ll need to set one up in order to use AdWords.
  2. In the initial setup, you’ll be asked to select your country, time zone and currency. These can’t be changed once you set up your account, so review your selections and make absolutely sure they’re correct!

After you complete the initial setup, Google will send you an email with a link for you to verify your account. Once you do that, you’re done!

Piece of cake.

Now on to the next step (oh, and you didn’t enter your credit card information, did you?!)…

2 – Setting Up Your First Campaign

How to Use This Section

Now that you’ve got an AdWords account set up, let’s head over to your account’s settings. The Settings are going to have a big impact on when/where you ads are shown, what you pay for clicks and some other important factors. Let’s make sure they’re set up correctly!

When you log in to your new AdWords account for the first time you’ll get a screen that looks like this…


To set up your first campaign simply click the big (you guessed it!) ‘Create your first campaign’ button.

Once you click on that button, you’ll go to the ‘Select campaign settings’ page which looks like this…


(NOTE: If you already have a campaign set up you can get to the Settings page by clicking on the campaign name in the left sidebar and then selecting the ‘Settings’ tab as shown in the screenshot below.)


Let’s go through all the settings you’ll want to set up for your new campaign…

Choose a Campaign Type

Even though the Campaign Name is the first field listed on the set up screen, we want to set the Campaign Type first (this is a bit confusing but we do this because if you name your campaign and then change the Campaign Type, Google will delete your Campaign Name you’ll have to name it again).

You have a few different options for Campaign Type. A lot of new AdWords advertisers mess this up and wind up spending a lot of money for clicks that have little value. Here’s how to set it up the right way when you’re first getting started…

For your campaign, select the ‘Search Network Only’ option:


After you’ve selected that, then select the ‘All features’ option next to it:


Let’s quickly take a look at why we’re doing this.

When you select “Search Network Only” there are a few places where you can run ads through Google AdWords which are found in the “Networks” section a little further down the page…

Google Search Network – This means your ads will run only on Google.com. This is what most people think of when they think of AdWords.

Include search partners – The search partners are other search engines like AOL and Ask.com that don’t have their own PPC programs so they partner with Google to display AdWords ads on their sites. We’ll usually include search partners traffic in campaigns and would recommend you do as well.

Together, Google search and Search partners make up the ‘Search Network’ which you just selected under Campaign Type.

Besides the Search Network, however, you also have a few other options which I’ll mention but DO NOT use them for your first campaign. They are:

Search with Display Select

Display Network Only

The Display Network is a very different beast from Search. Google’s Display Network (GDN) is a network of websites ranging from small blogs up to highly popular sites like the New York Times that run Google ads on them (it’s a source of revenue for these sites… if you own a website and choose to put Google ads on it, you get a percentage of the revenue generated whenever a visitor to your site clicks on an ad).

On the GDN, your ads can appear on web pages that are related to your keywords. So if you’re a jeweler in Des Moines, you can potentially have your ads appear on the New York Times website for an article related to jewelry (and geo-targeting applies here, so you can configure things so your Display Network ads are only displayed to those in your local area).

The important thing to understand here is that, in contrast to Search, people on the Display Network are NOT actively looking for you. They are reading/surfing/gathering information and are generally not in buying mode. The ads you write, the bids you set, the keywords you pick are VERY different on the GDN than for Search.

While the GDN can be a great advertising option for a business, we’re not going to cover it in this course. We want to start with Search first and get your business in front of the people who are actively searching for what you offer. Once you get that part working, then you can give the Display Network a try down the road.


This is another Campaign type option you have when you set up a new campaign. If you run an e-commerce site, a Google Shopping campaign can be a highly effective campaign type to use. However, since this course is focused on Google Search, we’re not going to cover Shopping campaigns.

So, bottom line, you want your ads showing on the Search Network. And by selecting the ‘All features’ option instead of the ‘Standard’ option, you get more control over your campaign (including some cool features we’re going to use to make your campaign stand out from the competition!)

Choose a Campaign Name

Okay, now that you’ve selected your campaign type as “Search Network only” and “All features”, now it’s time to circle back to the ‘Campaign Name’.

No big tricks or secrets here, just name the campaign something meaningful.


We do this because you may want to add more campaigns in the future and if you just use Campaign #1, Campaign #2, etc. as your campaign names, it’ll make it harder to remember what the focus of each campaign is.

I give campaigns names that quickly tell me what they’re about.

If I’m doing it for a business that has locations in different cities, I’ll name the each campaign after the city the campaign focuses on.

If it’s for an ecommerce business, I’ll often name the products each campaign focuses on (i.e. TVs, Digital Cameras, Tablets).

I also recommend including the type of campaign in the Campaign Name so you can easily tell if it’s a Search campaign, Display campaign, Remarketing campaign, etc.

For this course, we’re going to set up a campaign for a fictional local landscaping company. So I’m going to name the campaign we use as our example “Landscape – Search”.

(Note: If you decide you don’t like the name you gave your campaign, you can always change it whenever you like.)

Choose Locations, Devices and Languages

For Devices, there’s nothing to set up in this section for a Search campaign so just skip this one for now.

For Languages, there’s nothing much to explain…for most of you, stick with the default setting which is English.

For Locations, Google defaults the location for your new campaign to “United States and Canada” which is usually not where you want your business’ ads running.

(If your business targets people on an international level, we recommend breaking out different countries into different campaigns. You will often find the ideal bid prices, ad copy, etc. will vary from country to country so it’s best to treat them separately.)

If you’re just targeting sales in the U.S., simply select “United States” and you’re done.


If you run a local business, you have a lot more targeting options at your disposal. There are two main ways to target people geographically:

  1. Target a specific state, metro area, county, congressional district, city and/or zip code (and, yes, you can target multiple states, metro areas, congressional districts, counties, cities and/or zips in one campaign)
  2. Target a radius around a specific city or zip

Which one you choose is largely based upon where you live and how large an area your business serves.

Here are a few examples…

  • A tax attorney based in Omaha may target the entire state because they’re licensed to help anyone who lives in Nebraska.
  • A bridal shop in Atlanta could target the entire Atlanta metro area because brides will likely drive anywhere in the area to find the perfect wedding dress!
  • An auto repair shop in a suburb of Dallas may want to target the city their shop is located in (and, perhaps a few surrounding cities) to get the hyper-local neighborhood business.
  • An electrician who only serves clients within 50 miles of their shop should use radius targeting.

So think about where your customers are and set your geo-targeting accordingly.

Whether you’re going to choose a specific region/city/zip to target or do it by radius, you’ll want to select the ‘Let me choose…’ option under ‘Locations’ on the Settings page.


Next, start typing the name of the city (or state or zip) you want to target in the box. In this example, we’ll use Boston.

When you do this, a pop up window will appear that looks like this…


Notice the first option is ‘Boston, Massachusetts, United States’ and it has the word ‘city’ after it. You’d select that if you want your ads to appear only within the city limits of Boston.

However, down the list a little ways is ‘Boston MA-Manchester NH, United States’ with the words “Nielsen® DMA® region” under it. That’s the option you’d select if your business serves customers throughout the entire Boston metro area.

There are a number of other ways to target by location…

If you want to only target the city of Boston and a few select surrounding cities as well, click on the “Nearby” link and up pops a list of congressional districts, counties and cities in and around Boston.

Simply click ‘Add’ to any of the options where you want your ads to run and it’ll be included in your targeting.

(Note: If there are locations where you don’t want your ads to appear, you can do this by clicking ‘Exclude’. This is a good option if you select a metro area but there are a few parts within the area that you don’t want your ads to run in.)

Another very useful geo-targeting option is using Radius targeting. To use it, click on the ‘Radius targeting’ link as shown here…


In the ‘Target by radius’ screen you can type a city name, zip code or even a specific address in the box at top and then select the Radius around that point you want to target. The map will then show you where your ads will appear.

In the example below I used the zip code for Brookline, MA and want my ads to appear in a 10 mile radius around it.


Once you define your radius, click the little ‘Add’ link below it and you’re done.

Lastly, for the Location settings options, you can ignore the ‘Location options (advanced)’ at the bottom. The default options are fine for now.

Choose a Bid Strategy

For the Bid strategy, under Basic options, select “I’ll manually set my bids for clicks” (Google defaults to the option of having them set your bids for you).


We’re doing this because you want to be in control of what you bid for your keywords, not Google!

The default bid is the default amount you’re willing to pay for your keywords. You can set the bids for every keyword in your campaign individually, but Google will use the number you enter here as the default value.


How much you bid for a keyword depends largely on how competitive your industry is. If you’re the only underwater bowling instructor in town, then you can probably bid $0.10 for your keywords and still get top rankings because you have no competition.

However, if you’re a DUI attorney in Los Angeles, then you can probably expect to pay at least $60 per click for high page 1 rankings.

Until you pick your keywords (which we’ll cover soon) or, more realistically, until you start running your campaign, you’re really not going to know how much you’ll need to bid for your keywords.

So, when first starting a new campaign, using a Default bid of between $2 – $3 is as good a number to use as any (understanding that this number will likely change quite a bit).

What you set your total campaign budget at is completely up to you. A few things to keep in mind here…

  1. The budget you set here is a DAILY budget. So if you’re willing to spend $900 per month on AdWords, divide $300 by 30 to get a daily budget of $30.
  2. You’ll never spend more than your daily budget over a 30 day period. However, on any given day, the actual amount you spend may be more than your daily budget. If this happens, however, don’t worry. On other days you’ll spend less than your daily budget so everything evens out over a 30 day period.
  3. Setting a budget that’s too low may work against you because your ads will only appear a small percentage of the time people type your keywords into Google. This also means that it will take longer to get meaningful data and determine if your campaign is successful or not.

A lot of people ask me how much they should budget for their AdWords campaign. My answer is how ever much will let you sleep at night. You can always go higher or lower on the budget any time you want once your campaign starts.

So, when all’s said and done, this is what your Bid strategy should look like (though your numbers may vary)…


Last thing here…for ‘Delivery method (advanced)’, you can stick with the default ‘Standard: Show ads evenly over time’ for now (though once you have a campaign that’s working well, I’d recommend switching to ‘Accelerated’).


Create Ad Extensions

Ad extensions are a great way to make your ads stand out (and many advertisers don’t use them effectively!).  We’re going to ignore these for now however because we’ll have a whole section just on Ad extensions and how to use them effectively later in this course.

Change an Advanced Setting

Just one thing to worry about for now under the Advanced settings… Ad delivery.

The default is “Optimize for clicks” We don’t want that. Instead, select the last option “Rotate indefinitely”.


The reason we’re doing this will become clear when we talk about writing ads and split-testing (the short answer for now is that this will allow us to better determine which of our ads are performing the best).

That’s about it for your Campaign settings…that wasn’t so painful, was it?!

Now just click ‘Save and continue’ at the bottom of the Settings page to save everything you’ve just done.

Once you save your settings, you’ll end up on a page where you’ll be prompted to create an ad group, write an ad and pick some keywords. Don’t fill in any of these fields! We’re not going to set this stuff up until we’re ready and we’re not ready yet!

So for now, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click the ‘Set up billing later’ button.


This will create ‘Ad Group #1’ in your campaign. Forget about it for now because it’s time to focus on one of the most critical parts of your campaign…picking the right keywords.

3 – Choose Keywords

How to Use This Section

Okay… Campaign created. Settings set.

Now it’s time to get to the heart of your AdWords campaign and choose some keywords!

Keyword research is so critical for one simple reason…you have to know what keywords your ideal prospects are actually typing into Google to find you (i.e. not the ones you think they’re typing in). Otherwise you’re just handing Google your credit card and asking them to take your money from you.

Every business is different and seemingly small differences in keywords can have a big effect on results. So take some time to make sure you understand the basics of keyword research and do some of your own research to find the best keywords for your business.

Now keyword research could be an entire course in and of itself. And there are no shortage of guides around to show you how to find the best keywords for your business.

For our purposes in setting up a very basic AdWords campaign, we’re going to simplify the keyword research process as much as possible. Our goal is to identify a list of 5 – 10 “bulls eye” keywords… the ones that you believe to be the most relevant keywords to your prospects and your business.

So Step 1 is to generate a list of possible keywords. And there are two ways I’ll show you how to do this. You can use both or just chose one or the other. It’s up to you.

Method 1 – Use a Spy Tool

This is my preferred way of generating a list of good keywords quickly.

Why? Because you’re able to use your competitors’ hard work to your advantage to take a lot of the guesswork out of keyword research!

With this approach, you’ll need to sign up for one of the Spy Tools available online like iSpionage, SEMRush, Spyfu, etc. (Some of these tools may have free trials, but you will have to pay for them if you want to use them long term.)

The first thing you want to do is identify your competitors who are currently running an AdWords campaign. Do this by going to Google, typing in a few keywords related to your business/product/service and see who shows up in the ads. (The AdWords ads appear at the top of the screen and down the right side when you do a search on Google. They now have a little “Ad” identifier next to them as you can see in the screenshot below).


Next go to your Spy Tool of choice (I use iSpionage) and enter the URLs of your competitors who are using AdWords.

When you do this, you’ll be able to get a list of the keywords each competitor is bidding on. And next to each keyword, you will get data about it such as an estimated cost per click and the monthly search volume the keyword gets (keep in mind these numbers may be highly inaccurate).  Here’s a screenshot of the results for an advertiser in the Boston landscape niche…


Most, if not all of these tools, will also provide some sort of Keyword Effectiveness Index or KEI (this is what iSpionage calls it, the others may have different names) that gives you some idea about the economic value for the keyword.

Do this for a few competitors, see which keywords they’re bidding on and find the ones that have a high KEI, get some decent traffic each month and, using your own common sense, you determine are highly relevant to your business.

(If you want to get a little more advanced, download the keyword lists for your competitors into Excel and you can sort the data in there to more easily find your initial target keywords.)

Here’s a YouTube video that gives an example of how this process works in iSpionage. If you’re using a different Spy Tool, there should be tutorials available on using them as well.

Method 2 – Use the Google Keyword Planner

I’m not a huge fan of the Google Keyword Planner. I think you can generate a better initial list of keywords using the Spy Tools. However, Keyword Planner is free and can help you come up with a decent list of initial keywords for your campaign. Here’s the basics on how to use it…

First, head over to the Google Keyword Tool in your AdWords account. You’ll find it under the ‘Tools’ tab.


Once you select the Planner, chose ‘Search for new keyword and ad group ideas’.


Next, enter a few seed keywords related to your business/product/service in the ‘Your product or service’ box as we did in the image below and then click the ‘Get ideas’ button.

The Planner defaults to showing you the ‘Ad group ideas’ tab. This can be helpful for coming up with keyword ideas and ways to segment your campaign into Ad groups (more on Ad groups  later). But, for now, I’d recommend clicking on the ‘Keyword ideas’ tab and looking through the list of keywords.  As with the keyword list you’d get from a Spy Tool, you might want to download this list into Excel to make it easier to view and manipulate the keywords to find the best ones for you. The download button is located in the red box in the screenshot below.

Choose Your Keywords

At this point, you’ll have a list of anywhere from a handful up to 800 or so search terms from your Spy Tool and/or Keyword Planner research. Now it’s time to narrow it down to the best 5 – 10 keywords we’re going to launch your campaign with.

There are a few key factors to look at when doing this.

One is KEI (or equivalent metric) so you get an indication of which keywords are the most valuable to your competitors and, likely, to you as well.

Another is search volume. One of the first sorts I’d recommend doing is to sort the keyword ideas from highest to lowest number of monthly searches. We do this because you want to focus on relevant keywords that are getting as many searches as possible.

The last I’ll mention here is search intent. This requires some common sense on your part. As you’re looking at your list of keywords, try to determine the intent of the searcher typing that phrase into Google. Are they just doing some research? Are they further along in the buying cycle and close to making a purchase?

Here are some examples from businesses in different industries to give you some ideas on how to think about the search intent of keywords…

Home Theater Company

Keyword: home theater

This keyword is very broad and is likely being typed in by someone in the information gathering stage, looking for industry news, etc.

Keyword: home theater installation

Much better because this keyword is likely someone further along in the buying process – they could be looking for help installing a new home theater or they could be a DIYer looking for information on how they could install their new home theater.

Keyword: home theater installer

By typing “installer” this person indicates they are looking for a person/company to install a home theater which makes this the most highly targeted of the 3 keywords for a home theater company looking for installation work.

Ecommerce company selling digital cameras

Keyword: digital cameras

This is way too broad of a keyword, especially when you’re first starting out. It’s got huge search volume, but most of these people are likely at the very beginning of their research phase.

Keyword: Canon 70D reviews

This keyword is likely being typed in by people who have done quite a bit of research and have narrowed down their choices when it comes to which camera to buy. They haven’t quite made up their mind yet and are looking for reviews on this camera model (and likely some others too) to help them make up their mind.

Keyword: buy Canon 70D

When someone puts the word “buy” in their search phrase, they’re nearing the end of the buying cycle. If you’re selling Canon 70Ds, you want to be in front of these searchers.


In this niche the high traffic keywords are ones like “landscaping”, “landscape” and “garden design” and are probably way too broad (at least for just starting out with a new campaign). Terms like “landscape architect”, “lawn service” and “landscaping company” are much more targeted terms that are likely being typed in by someone close to making a decision to hire a landscaper.

Keep these examples in mind as you’re going through the list of keywords you get from the Google Keyword Tool.

Ultimately what you’re looking for are the keywords that have a good combination of traffic, KEI and relevance to someone looking to buy.

(One quick note if you own a local business. Keywords that may be too broad by themselves may be more attractive candidates when they’re paired with a city name. For example, who knows exactly what the true intent of someone typing in the term “flowers” is? However, if they type in “flowers Portland”, the chances they’re looking to buy flowers, and do it locally, is much higher.)

Okay, now you have a list of keywords that your absolute picture perfect prospects are typing into Google. These are going to be the keywords you start building your campaign around. You can easily add more keywords after the campaign launches.


4 – Organize Your Campaign

How to Use This Section

One of the biggest mistakes I see business owners make with AdWords is they pick a bunch of keywords, throw them into a campaign, write an ad and that’s that.

A problem with doing things this way is that different keywords have different meanings. Someone typing “lawn service” into Google is looking for something very different than the person typing in “landscape architect”.

If you have the same ad showing for both these keywords, you’re going to miss out on a lot of potential business because your message is going to miss the mark a lot of the time.

You want your ads to match your keywords as closely as possible. When someone’s searching for “lawn service” you want an ad that mentions green lawns, 10% off weed and feed, mowing from $20, etc.

People looking for a “landscape architect” are more likely to respond to ads that mention award winning designs, that you’re a Master Gardener with 20+ years experience, a free initial design consultation, etc.

In an ideal world every keyword in your campaign would have its own ad. While that may be possible in a campaign with 5-10 keywords, as your campaign grows and could potentially have dozens, hundreds or even thousands of keywords, that’s just not practical.

So to help organize your keywords and ads, AdWords lets you create Ad groups. An Ad group is simply a group of closely related keywords and ads in an AdWords campaign.

Let’s take a look at how to set them up…

In Section 3, after you saved all your Campaign settings, you actually created your first Ad group. We skipped over doing anything with it then, but now’s the time to return to it and create new ones.

In the left sidebar in your AdWords account, click on the name of the Campaign you set up earlier…


That will take you to a view of your campaign that defaults to showing the ‘Ad groups’ tab. Under that tab, you should see the Ad group that you already created which was given the very generic name ‘Ad Group #1’.


Next, click on Ad Group #1 so you’re now viewing things at an Ad group level.

Group Your Keywords

The first thing we’re going to do here is add some keywords to your Ad group.

Before we do, it’s time to revisit the list of 5 – 10 keywords we created in the last section and divide them up into related groups.

Using our example from the landscaping industry, I came up with the following list of 10 keywords:

  • landscape design
  • landscapers
  • landscape architects
  • landscaping company
  • landscaping companies
  • landscape companies
  • lawn care companies
  • lawn care service
  • lawn care services
  • lawn mowing service

I’m going to group these into 4 different groups like this:

Group 1: landscape design, landscape architect (I’m grouping these together because they’re likely being typed in by people interested specifically in the design aspect of landscaping.)

Group 2: landscapers, landscaping company, landscaping companies, landscape companies (These go together because they are keywords typed in by people looking to hire a company for a landscaping project.)

Group 3: lawn care companies, lawn care company, lawn care service (These keywords are being typed by people looking for mowing, fertilizing, aeration, etc. services for their lawn.)

Group 4: lawn mowing service (This one is purely focused on mowing so I’m keeping it separate from the lawn care keywords.)

There’s no right or wrong way to do this. The important thing is to just try to organize your keywords into tightly related groups. This will make it easier for you to write targeted ads that address exactly what the searcher is looking for.

Add Keywords to Ad Groups

As you’ve probably figured out by now, each of these keyword groups will become an Ad group in your AdWords campaign.

To add the keywords to Ad Group #1, simply click on the big red ‘+ Keywords’ button as shown below…


…then enter the keywords from one of the groups you created into the box, one per line, and click the ‘Save’ button…


Congratulations…your campaign has its first keywords!

Rename Your Ad Group

Now that you have some keywords in the Ad group, we’re going to rename it so it’s something a little more meaningful. That way when we have multiple Ad groups and are looking at a big list of them, it’s clear what the theme of each one is.

To rename this Ad group simply click on the name Ad Group #1…


… type the new name into the box (in this case “Design”) and click ‘Save’.


5 – More On Keywords

How to Use This Section

You’ve picked 5-10 keywords to start your campaign with. In the last section, you put those keywords into tightly related Ad groups.

While picking the keywords is an important step, there’s a bit more that goes into how you use keywords in an AdWords campaign.

Understanding how this works will make sure that you’re in control of what search terms your ads show up for and that your budget is focused on the most important keywords for your business.

Understand Match Types

In AdWords, keywords can be assigned “match types”. The match types you choose for a keyword will determine what search queries your ads show up for. Let’s take a look at the 4 different match types:

Exact Match

This match type means someone has to type your keyword exactly as it appears in your campaign in order for your ad to be displayed. You designate exact match by putting square brackets around a keyword like this…

[lawn service]

If you have the exact match keyword [lawn service] in your AdWords campaign, the only time your ad could appear is when someone goes into Google and types “lawn service”.

Phrase Match

For phrase match, your keyword has to appear in the same order as it appears in your campaign in order to trigger your ad. Phrase match is designated by quotes around the keyword like this…

“lawn service”

If you have the phrase match keyword “lawn service” in your AdWords campaign, your ad could be triggered for the following search queries:

  •  Best lawn service
  • Lawn service Austin
  • Dan’s Lawn Service and Landscaping

The above terms will be triggered for phrase match keywords because the words “lawn” and “service” appear next to each other in each search query.

However, with phrase match, your ad would NOT be triggered by the following search queries:

  • Lawn mowing service
  • Lawn and landscaping service

Phrase match keywords would not be triggered by those search queries because the words “lawn” and “service” do not appear in the same order as they does in the campaign.

Broad Match

With Broad match, Google will show your ad for “similar phrases and relevant variations” to the keyword.

This includes plurals and misspellings…but also a whole lot more.

Here are some examples of Broad match keywords in campaigns I’ve seen and the actual search queries that Google has shown ads for:

  • Keyword: Solar panels   Search queries: solar system, solar batteries, solar energy
  • Keyword: Math tutor      Search queries: math teacher, safe private tutor, math tutorial
  •  Keyword: Ear surgery      Search queries: hearing implants, otoplasty cost, ear implants

As you can see, “similar phrases and relevant variations” may not result in your ads showing up for the most relevant search queries.

Now don’t get the wrong impression here. All things considered, Google’s algorithm does a decent job and will display your ads for a lot of highly relevant search terms.

My point is to show you that you have to be really careful if you use Broad match in your campaigns!

(There are those who say Google will never fail to reach its quarterly revenue goals because they can just tweak the algorithm that determines which search queries trigger your ads to run for your Broad match keywords. But I’m not that cynical!)

However, especially when you’re just starting out, I would advise you NOT to use Broad match keywords in your campaign. As you get more comfortable with AdWords, you can experiment with it later on.

Broad Match Modifier

Broad Match Modifier (BMM) kind of falls between Broad and Phrase match in that you have more control than with Broad match but it’s not quite as restrictive as with Phrase match.

The way BMM works is you put a plus sign ‘+’ in front of your keywords like this:

  • +lawn +service
  • +dui +attorney +dallas

What this tells Google is that the keywords with the plus sign in front of them HAVE to appear in the search query in order for your ad to be displayed. However, unlike with Phrase match:

  • The words can appear in any order in the search query string
  • Other terms can appear before, after or in between your keyword string
  • Misspelled and plural versions of keywords can still trigger an ad

Using “+dui + attorney +dallas” as the example, here are some search queries that would trigger an ad:

  • Dui attorneys dallas
  • Dui attorneys in Dallas TX
  • Dallas TX DUI attorney
  • Dallas attorneys for dui
  • Dui attorney dallas

I’m a big fan of Modified Broad Match, especially for local campaigns where you’d use the main keywords in the campaign plus city name(s) as in the “+DUI +attorney +Dallas” example above.

(NOTE: Things are not always black and white in AdWords. And there’s a setting, hidden under the ‘Advanced Settings’ tab in your Campaign Settings that you should be aware of.

This option is called “Keyword matching options” and affects how Exact and Phrase match work. It used to be that if you used those two match types your ads would not appear for any plurals, misspellings or other variations of the keywords in your campaign.

They’ve changed that so now the default is that, for Exact and Phrase match keywords in your campaign, your ads CAN appear for “plurals, misspellings and other close variants”. Here’s a screenshot of what this setting looks like…


For a new, small campaign don’t worry about this setting too much. For larger, more advanced campaigns, you may want to select ‘Do not include close variants’ so you have more control over things.)

Understand Negative Keywords

Negative keywords are words or phrases that, if they appear in a search query, you don’t want your ads to run for. They can be added either at the Ad group level or the Campaign level.

Let’s say you own a golf store but don’t sell Nike golf balls. You can add ‘Nike’ as a negative keyword to your campaign to make sure that your ads don’t appear when someone is searching for Nike golf balls.

Negative keywords are a great way to keep your ads from showing up for irrelevant searches which will save you money!

If you are using Broad, Phrase and/or Broad Match Modifier in your AdWords campaigns, adding Negative keywords is NOT optional if you want to see ROI on your AdWords spend.

Add Match Types To Your Campaign

With the overview of match types behind us, what does it all mean for the campaign we’re setting up for our fictional landscaping company?

To keep things simple, what I’m going to suggest is that you stick with just Exact and Broad Match Modifier to start.

And since we’re using BMM, we’ll want to add Negative keywords to the campaign.

This is how we’re going to do it…

First, let’s change all the keywords in our campaign to Exact match (they’re currently at the default of Broad match right now).

In the left sidebar, click on your Campaign name. Next click on the Keywords tab. You should now see all the keywords you’ve added in your campaign.


Next, select all of your keywords. You can do this with just one click by checking the box as shown in the image below…


To edit the keywords, click the Edit button above the keywords and select ‘Change match types…’ from the drop down menu.


This will bring you to the following screen that allows you to change the match types for all the keywords in the campaign. Since all our keywords are Broad match right now, make sure ‘Change match type from…’ is set to ‘Broad match’.

Then change the ‘Change match types to…’ to ‘Exact match’.

Because we want both BMM and Exact match versions of each keyword in our campaign, we’re going to check the box at the bottom of this screen that says ‘Duplicate keywords and change match types in duplicates’.

Your screen should now look like this…


Now you’ve got all your keywords as Broad and Exact match in each ad group!

Next we’re going to change the Broad match keywords to Broad Match Modifier. To do this, you’ll need to go into each Ad group individually and change the keywords manually.

So select one of your Ad groups from the left side bar and then make sure you’re still in the Keyword tab. Next, click on one of the Broad match keywords in the campaign (the Exact match keywords have the brackets [] around them).

Click ‘Yes, I understand’ when the little ‘Before you edit this keyword…’ window pops up and then add a plus + sign in front of each word of your keyword and click ‘Save’.


Repeat this for each Broad match keyword in your campaign.

(Tip: If you ever have to convert a large list of keywords to Broad Match Modifier, use a free online tool like this one.)

Add Negative Keywords

Lastly, we’re going to add Negative keywords.

To find negative keywords for our campaign we’re going to head back over to the list of keywords we generated from our Spy Tool and/or the Keyword Planner.

What you’re going to do is start scanning the list to find keywords that are NOT related to what your company does or the type of prospect you’re trying to get to your website.

When you see one that’s not a good keyword, add it to a text file to make things easy for yourself when it comes time to add the negative keywords to your campaign.

Among the terms we don’t want for our landscape business are: salary, jobs, online and software because we’re not looking to hire people through AdWords, we don’t do online landscape design and are not selling any software (we’re actually not doing any of these things because it’s not a real company, but you get the idea!).

Once we go through the list of keywords and add all the possible negative keywords, we’re going to edit the list a bit so we’re only with the terms aren’t relevant to your business.

For example, take the term “landscape architect salary”.

It’s really the word “salary” that we want as a negative keyword. So, in the text editor, I’m going to delete “landscape architect” and just leave “salary”.

I do this because any search term that includes the word “salary” isn’t relevant to my business whether it’s “landscape architect salary”, “landscapers salary”, etc. By just adding “salary” as a negative keyword, I know I’m going to avoid any variation of a search term that has “salary” in it.

(Note: Negative keywords have match types just like regular keywords do. So just adding the word ‘salary’ (no quotes, brackets or anything else around it) to the campaign makes it a Negative Broad match keyword which will prevent our add from showing any time the word ‘salary’ is in a search term.

If we added [landscape architect salary] – with brackets – it would be a Negative Exact match keyword and would only prevent our ad from showing if someone type the phrase ‘landscape architect salary’ into Google. But would not prevent our ad from showing for terms like ‘landscaper salary’, ‘salary of a landscape architect’, etc.)

After editing the list for our fictitious landscape company, here’s the list of negatives that I’m going to add to my campaign… all as Negative Broad match keywords.

  • photos
  • photo
  • salary
  • software
  • online
  • jobs
  • job

(Notice in the case of ‘photo’ and ‘job’ I added singular versions of the terms just to cover my bases.)

Still with me? (I know, Google doesn’t make this one so easy!)

No worries, we’re just about done!

Okay, now take that list of negative keywords you’re left with in your text editor and copy it again. Go back to AdWords and make sure you’re on the ‘Keywords’ tab.  Towards the bottom, under all your keywords, you’ll see a ‘Negative keywords’ link.


Negative keywords can be added at the Ad Group or Campaign level. For now, we’ll stick with adding the keywords at the Campaign level. As you get a little more advanced, you can start adding Ad group level Negative keywords.

You add Campaign Negative keywords on the right side of the screen, so under ‘Campaign level’ click on the Add and select ‘Add keywords’.


Next paste your keywords into the box and click ‘Save’.


Congratulations, you’re done with your initial list of keywords – both positive and negative! 🙂

6 – Write Your Ads

How to Use This Section

Okay, it’s time to write some ads for your campaign!

Your ad copy will determine whether someone clicks on your ad or not so let’s spend some time talking about how to write good ads.

Writing ad copy for AdWords ads is challenging because you don’t have much space. Your AdWords text ads are made up of 4 lines…

  • A headline – which can be up to 25 characters long, including spaces.
  • Two lines of descriptive text which can be up to 35 characters each (70 total characters) including spaces.
  • A Display URL which is where your website address goes which can also be up to 35 characters.

Before we get into some tips on writing ads, there are a couple of important strategies/concepts related to ads that are worth covering.

Let’s get started!

Understand Split Testing

Split testing is an advertising concept that’s been used for decades, dating back to the earliest days of direct marketing.

The basic idea is that you don’t really know what headlines, messages, offers, etc. your prospects are going to respond to. So you want to test a few different ad variations and let your prospects “vote” for the one they like best.

When you have one ad that produces more leads, sales and/or the best ROI compared to another ad in the split test, that’s your winner. Regular split testing will lead to significant improvements in your marketing results.

Split testing in your AdWords campaign is very simple….Google does most of the work for you.

In each ad group in your campaign, you should write two ads (you can write more than 2, but I’d recommend sticking to just 2 when starting out). Google will automatically rotate your ads so approximately half of searchers will see 1 version of your ad and the other half will see the other version.

In your campaign, you’ll be able to see which ad version gets the higher Clickthrough rate and, more importantly, conversion rate (if you’re tracking conversions). When you see one ad outperform the other, you keep that ad, delete the other and replace the “losing” ad with a new ad.

(The reason we selected the ‘Rotate indefinitely’ option for our ad rotation in the Campaign settings is so our ads will keep rotating until we declare the split test winner and not have Google cut the split test short.)

Then you repeat the process.

This formula is the surest way to improve the performance of your AdWords campaign over time.

Understand Market Research

Now here’s the other key concept to keep in mind when it comes to ads. AdWords is a great way to send targeted traffic to your website but it’s also an excellent market research tool.

You can use your ads to test out different offers, headlines, potential book/seminar titles, benefits, tag lines, etc. for your business. Chances are when people respond favorably to them in AdWords they’ll respond favorably to them in other places as well.

So when you find an ad that’s working particularly well in AdWords, take the wording of the ad and insert it into other marketing materials…your website, direct mail, email marketing campaigns, etc. because it’s very likely to produce good results there too.

Tips for Writing Ad Copy

So what does it take to write a good AdWords ad?

The easiest answer I can give you is to put yourself in the mindset of your ideal prospect. They have some need, some desire, some problem they need solved that’s making them sit down at their computer (or with their mobile device) and type a word or phrase into Google.

Think about that conversation they have going on in their head for a minute. Then think about, if you were in their shoes, what would you want to see in an ad that would you make you want to click on it?

  • A special offer or discount?
  • A unique promise to solve their problem?
  • A free special report or download?
  • Some other benefit you can offer?

Besides the searcher, you want to take into account the keywords in the Ad group you’re writing the ads for.  In general, you want the ads in each Ad group to closely reflect the keywords in the Ad group.

Now, unfortunately, this course can’t write your ads for you so, instead, here are some general tips for writing effective AdWords ads that will help guide you as you write your ads.

Tips for Writing Effective AdWords Ads

  • Know Your Goals – What is the ultimate action you want someone to take – call your store, download a report, place an order online? Your ads should reflect what you want the prospect to do.
  • Include a Call-To-Action – Closely related to the above, tell people exactly what you want them to do by including a call-to-action in your ads such as “Call Now”, “Download Your Free Report”, or “Order Today”.
  • Use your keywords – This has a few key benefits. First, it helps with Quality Score (the algorithm Google uses to determine how much you ultimately pay for a click). Also, when the keyword someone types in Google appears in your ad, it will be in a bold font which makes your ad stand out more.
  • Ask a Question – Questions often capture people’s attention more than a statement. Instead of “Get Rid of Termites” try “Termite Infestation?”. Instead of “Experienced and Insured Plumber in St. Louis” try “Looking for a Reliable St. Louis Plumber?”
  • Let them know you’re Local! – If you run a local business, use city names, local landmarks, the big university in town, etc. to let people know you’re a local business and not some big box national chain. I often find ad copy that contains local references often outperforms ones that don’t.
  • Reference holidays/local events – When your ads mention upcoming events, they appear more timely and relevant to searchers.
  • Use Numbers – Use numbers like price, % discount, ROI, etc. They break up the words/letters and make your ad stand out a bit visually. They also add specificity to the ad which is always good to have.
  • Speak to your prospects’ pain – Why are they searching in the first place? Leaky faucet? Want to lose weight? Business floundering? Get to the emotions of why someone is searching for what you have to offer.
  • Focus on benefits – People don’t want to know what your product does, they want to know how it can make their lives better. You want to focus on emotional outcomes your product/service provides, not the technical specs.
  • Don’t say the same thing as your competitors’ ads – A lot of ads for the same keywords look the same. Take some time to see what your competitors’ ads are saying and then find messaging that positions you uniquely in the marketplace.

For some ad writing inspiration, here’s an article I wrote about top performing ads in some highly competitive markets…11 Successful AdWords Ads and Why They Crush the Competition

Also, if you use one of the Spy Tools I mentioned in the Keyword Research section, you can use those tools to see the ads your competitors are running. Don’t copy them, but pay attention to the ad copy the top competitors are using. You can also look at the ad copy of top advertisers in other niches to get ideas for your ads.

Understand Display/Destination URL’s

You can send traffic from your ads to any page on your website you want (the first page that a searcher lands on after clicking your ad is known, appropriately enough, as a landing page).

In general, you do not want to send traffic from AdWords to the home page of your site. You want to take people to the page on your site that’s most closely related to the search term they typed into Google.

People don’t have a lot of patience online. If they type in “buy Nike golf balls” and you take them to the home page of your sporting goods store’s website, they’re not going to hunt around to find the golf balls page on your site.

If, however, you take them straight from your ad to the golf balls page on your site (or, better yet, a page with a special on Nike golf balls) then you have a much higher likelihood of having them contact you, come into your store, and/or buy from you. 

Destination URLs

As you’re writing ads, keep the keywords in the Ad group in mind and find the page on your website that’s most relevant to those keywords. That page will become the Destination URL in your ad. You set the Destination URL by simply copying and pasting (or typing in) the landing page URL into the Destination page URL box when creating your ad.

Destination URL are not displayed publicly.

(Note: While you’ll typically set the Destination URL at the Ad group/ad level, it is possible to have a different Destination URL for each keyword in an Ad group. For our purposes starting out, that’s probably not necessary, but I just wanted you to know that’s an option.)

Display URLs 

The Display URL is the URL that’s displayed with your ads. As mentioned before, you have a 35 character limit to work with here.

The Display URL has to be to the same URL as your Destination URL (i.e. you cannot have a Display URL of ‘http://bestgolfballdeals.com’ with a Destination URL of ‘http://joessports.com/golfballs’).

However, you can use the Display URL to squeeze in an extra marketing message because only the domain name has to match the Destination URL. This is a trick many AdWords advertisers still don’t take advantage of.

But you can (and should) take advantage of it by putting some text either after the domain name or before it using a subdomain.

So, for example, if you’re sending traffic to a landing page at ‘http://joessports.com/golfballs.html’ (this is your Destination URL), you can use a Display URL of:

  • joessports.com/15%OffToday
  • joessports.com/GolfBallSale
  • brooklyn.joessports.com (using a subdomain like this is a great way to localize your ads by using city names)

Again, as long as the domain name in your Display URL is the same as in your Destination URL, you can put anything you want after the ‘.com/’.  This is a great tip to make your ads stand out more.

Write Your Ads

Now that we know how to write a great ad and are familiar with Display and Destination URLs, let’s add some ads to your campaign!

First, select the Ad group you want to write your new ad for and make sure you’re on the ‘Ad’ tab. Next, click on the big red ‘+ AD’ button and select the ‘Text ad’ option as shown below:


That’s going to bring up the following screen where you can enter your ad text and URLs. Simply fill out each line (you won’t be able to type any more when you reach the character limit for each line), click ‘Save ad’ and you’re done.


Now repeat this process for all your Ad groups, making sure you have 2 ads in each one.

And, by the way, you don’t have to write completely original ads for each Ad group.

For the example above, the ad went in my ‘Landscape Design’ Ad group. However, I may use this same ad in my ‘Landscape Companies’ Ad group, but just change the headline to more closely match the keywords in that Ad Group. So, instead of ‘Boston Landscape Design’ I’d change the headline to ‘Boston Landscape Company’.

The rest of the ad would be the same.


At this point you have created a more organized, more targeted and just generally better AdWords campaign than most advertisers create!

You could activate the campaign at this point and be in pretty good shape. But there are some other easy concepts we’re going to cover that will help take your campaign up another level.

7 – Create Ad Extensions

How to Use This Section

Ad extensions are just that…extensions or extra bits of information that can be shown with your ads on Google.

Most businesses advertising on Google don’t take advantage of ad extensions which is a mistake because they are very easy and effective way to boost the Clickthrough rates on your ads.

There are currently 5 types of ad extensions available in an AdWords account. We’re just going to focus on the three that will prove most useful for most businesses – Sitelinks Extensions, Call Extensions and Location Extensions.

Let’s take a closer look at each…

Add Sitelinks Extensions

Sitelinks are additional links that appear under your AdWords ads when your ad ranks in one of the first 3 positions in the AdWords rankings at the top of the search results.

Here’s a couple of examples of what they look like:




Notice how these ads have 4 links under the main ad that searchers can choose from.

The first thing to point out is that Sitelinks extend the size of your AdWords ad so it takes up more space and stands out more from your competitors who aren’t using Sitelinks. That definitely helps your ads’ Clickthrough Rates.

You can also use the text of the Sitelinks as a way to add more marketing copy to your ads and include things you couldn’t quite fit in your Headline and 2 lines of description text.

They are also a way to get people to the page on your site that’s most relevant to them as quickly as possible. In the example of the Cosmetic Dentist in Austin, people who want to see pictures can go to the “Smile Gallery”, those thinking they need braces can click on “No Braces Needed”, searchers worried about money can click on “Affordable Financing” and I’m not quite sure where the “Just 2 Visits” link goes (I didn’t want to click on their ad to make them pay for my curiosity/research!).

As mentioned earlier in this course, you want to take people to the information they’re looking for as quickly as possible. But often, even based on the search queries searchers type into Google, you may not know what page on your site is the best one to take a searcher to

By using Sitelinks, however, you can create custom links that lead to different pages on your site. When a searcher sees your ad, they can pick which Sitelink option most closely describes what they’re interested in. And when they click on it, they’ll be taken directly to the most relevant page on your site.

Let’s talk about how to set up Sitelinks.

Sitelinks can be added either at the Campaign level or the Ad group level. To add them at the Campaign level, select the campaign you want to add them to from the list of campaigns on the left side of the window in AdWords.

If you to add them at the Ad group level, then just select one of your Ad groups from the list of Campaigns/Ad groups on the left side of the window in AdWords.

Either way, once you create a Sitelink, it’s very easy to add/remove them from Campaigns and/or Ad groups.

So let’s set up our first few Sitelinks…

First, go to the Ad extensions tab and select ‘Sitelinks Extensions’ from the drop down menu…


This will bring up the Sitelinks extension screen. To add a Sitelink extension, click on the big red ‘+ Extension’ button…


… which brings up the Edit campaign Sitelink extension screen. If you’ve already set up Sitelink extensions in your campaign, they will appear in this window. Since we haven’t set this up yet, your screen should be blank and you’ll want to click on the ‘+ New sitelink’ button toward the bottom of the window.


That pops up the following screen where you can enter all the information for your first Sitelink…


In the ‘Link text’ box, you’ll type the name of your Sitelink. This is what will be displayed as the blue text link that searchers see under your ads. You only have 35 characters here so make sure the text is descriptive so people know exactly what kind of information they’ll find on the page it links to.

In the ‘Link URL’ box, enter the URL of the page on your site you want this Sitelink to point to (FYI… your Sitelinks each have to point to different pages on your site. So if you’re thinking of setting up multiple Sitelinks and linking them all to the same landing page, nice thought… but you can’t do it!).

Skip the other settings for now and click ‘Save’.

Congrats! You’ve added your first Sitelink.

Now, repeat the above process for each Sitelink you want to create in your campaign. I’d recommend creating 4 of them. Here’s what I did for our landscape company…


You can see on the screen above that the Sitelinks are grayed out on the left side of the screen. That’s because they’re all added to this Campaign.

If I wanted to remove any of the Sitelinks from a Campaign and/or Ad group, I’d just click on the double arrow next to the Sitelink name on the right side of the window above and that would remove the Sitelink.

To add it back, I’d simply click the double arrow next to it in the left window.

Got it? Good!

Again, remember that in order for Sitelink extensions to appear your ad has to be running in one of the top 3 spots in AdWords that show up above the organic search results (i.e. they won’t appear if your ad appears on the right side of the search results screen).

So if you’re using Sitelinks, be sure you’re bidding high enough so that your ads appear in the top 3 spots at least some of the time.

Add a Call Extension

Interested in getting prospects to call your business? If so, then you should add a Call extension to your AdWords campaign.

Call extensions make it easier for prospects to call you by displaying a phone number along with your ad. You can set Call extensions up to run on mobile devices and/or desktops and laptops.

Here’s how to set it up…

First, select ‘View: Call Extensions’ when you’re on the ‘Ad extensions’ tab as shown here…


Next, click the big red ‘+ Extension’ button:


That’s going to bring you to a screen that looks like similar to the screen we used to add our Sitelink extensions…


On the above screen, click the ‘+New phone number’ button toward the bottom of the screen.

That will take you to the following screen where you enter your phone number information…


In the ‘Phone number’ box enter your business’ phone number… the number you want your prospects to call.

Next you have the “Show my ad with” option. You have two choices here. You can choose to have your own phone number displayed next to your ad or you can have a Google forwarding number displayed.

The advantage of using a Google forwarding number is for tracking. If you use a Google forwarding number, anyone who calls that number will be tracked in your AdWords account. That gives you additional information that’s helpful in determining the effectiveness of your AdWords account.

If your business’ number is a toll-free number, I’d recommend using Google’s call forwarding number. It doesn’t cost you anything and gives you that additional helpful info.

If you run a local business, then I’d recommend using your own phone number. We’ve found that having a local number, with a local area code in your ads will perform better than using a toll free number.

For the next two options, ‘Show the following links’ and ‘Device preference’, just stick with the default settings and then click ‘Save’. That’s it for Call extensions.

Add Location Extensions

If you own a local business, then Location extensions let you show your business address and phone number along with your ad. When you’re primarily interested in highlighting your business’ location and getting visitors to come to you, location extensions are the best option.

Also, adding them is another way to get your ads to take up more space (and attract more eyeballs) than the competition.

Here’s the example from the cosmetic dentist in Austin again…


Notice the extra line of text under the ad copy (and above the Sitelinks) with the business’ address and phone number. Clicking on that link will take searchers to Google Maps to see where your company is located and to get directions.

Here’s how to add a Location extension to your ad…

Click on the ‘Ad extensions’ tab in your campaign and make sure ‘Location Extensions’ is selected under ‘View’ as shown here…


Next click on the big red ‘+ EXTENSION’ button to start the process of adding a location extension to your account.

When you click this button a screen will pop up that will let you Import your business’ information from your “Google My Business” (aka Google Places, Google+ for Business, Google Local, or whatever the hell Google’s calling it by the time you read this!).


In any case, if you own a local business, you should have an account like this set up to get your free Local listing on Google. Simply go through the steps to link this account to your AdWords account and Google will import all your business info so you can use Location extensions.

(Insider Tip: It is possible to manually enter business info here, but you have to do it through AdWords Editor, Google’s desktop application for editing AdWords accounts.)

Save your settings and you’re done!

Okay, now that you’ve got your Ad extensions set up, it’s now time to move on to one of the most important, yet most overlooked component of an AdWords account. Getting this right will make the difference between an account that limps along and one that crushes the competition.

8 – Set Up Conversion Tracking

How to Use This Section

Lots of clicks and high Clickthrough rates are great, but it’s really about the conversions. At the end of the day, you want to know if your campaign is bringing you business or not.

If you’re able to optimize your campaign based on conversions, ROI, ROAS (Return on Ad Spend), etc., you’ll be light years ahead of most of your competitors).

A conversion can be any one of a number of different actions that a prospect takes including…

  • Phone call
  • A sale/purchase on your website
  • Visit to your store
  • Sign up for a newsletter
  • Download a free report/whitepaper
  • Quote request
  • Get a coupon

Let’s look at how to set Conversion tracking up in your campaign and, depending on your type of business, some challenges you may face with Conversion tracking.

Install Tracking Code

The easiest way to track conversions in AdWords is by using the conversion tracking code that’s available in your AdWords account.

This code will track conversions on your website when a site visitor performs an on-site action you want to track – i.e. makes a purchase, fills out a contact form, downloads a report, signs up for your newsletter.

It allows you to track conversions back to individual ad groups, ads and keywords so you know exactly which parts of your campaign are converting and which aren’t. This is extremely helpful information to have when trying to optimize your campaign.

Here’s how to set up conversion tracking in your account:

Go to the Tools tab and select the ‘Conversions’ option:


Click the big red ‘+ Conversion’ button


Give your conversion a descriptive name (i.e. Purchase, Contact Form Completion, Newsletter Sign Up). Then, in most cases, leave the Source Webpage and click ‘Save and continue’.


On the next page you get to (screen shot below), first select the ‘Conversion category’ based on the goal of the conversion you’re setting up. For ‘Conversion window’ and ‘Count’, I’d recommend just sticking with the default settings for now. (If you want to get more advanced, you can dig around in the AdWords help section to see if you want to change them at all).

‘Conversion value’ allows you to assign a value to each conversion so you can calculate things like ROI and ROAS (Return on Ad Spend) right within AdWords. The options are pretty straightforward and if you want to get fancy, again, you can dig around in the AdWords Help section. But, to keep things simple, we’re going to pick the ‘Don’t assign a value to this conversion action’.

I’d recommend leaving the ‘Markup Language’ and ‘Tracking indicator’ settings as is and click ‘Save and continue’


If you have someone helping you install code on your site, select the ‘Someone else makes changes to the code’. This will let you email the code and instructions directly to that person from within AdWords.

If you’re doing it, select ‘I make changes to the code’. Click Done.


If you chose to email the code to someone, you’re done. The code and instructions will be sent to them (just follow up with them because I’ve had issues with this email not going where it’s supposed to).

If you selected ‘I make changes to the code’, when you click Done a window with your tracking code will appear. Copy it and then place it between the <head> and </head> tags in the code of the “Thank You” page(s) for your site. This is the page (or pages) that a visitor lands on after they take the action you’re tracking.

For example, if you’re tracking when someone fills out the Contact Form on your site, after they fill out the form they’re likely taken to a page that says something to the effect ‘Thank you for filling out our Contact form. We’ll be in touch with you shortly.’ That’s the ‘Thank You’ page your code should go on. If you have questions about this, click the Learn more link above the code in AdWords to get a thorough explanation.

Track Phone Conversions

For a lot of businesses, a phone call is the most valuable type of conversion they can get. And there are a couple of ways you can track phone calls in AdWords.

The first is to use Google’s Call Extensions which we discussed in the previous section on Call extensions. Though, as we mentioned, it’s not a perfect system that has some drawbacks.

3rd Party Phone Tracking

If you really want to gather a lot of data about your phone calls, you can use a 3rdparty phone tracking system. These systems can be expensive, but there are ones available that allow you to track calls back to specific keywords in your AdWords campaign. Not only that, but you can use these 3rd party systems to track phone calls from other sources online (i.e. organic traffic) or offline (TV, Direct Mail, etc.) as well.

One reasonably priced system that allows you to do this is from a company calledCentury Interactive. Last time I checked, they charge $25 – $30 per month and then $0.08 per minute on phone calls received through their system. I have some clients using them and the service has worked very well.

If your business gets a lot of leads by phone, it’s worth spending the money to track your calls so you know what sources of traffic are the ones making the phone ring.

9 – Activate and Monitor

How to Use This Section

Congratulations, you’ve now built your AdWords campaign… the right way!

Now all that’s left to do is turn it on and start monitoring your campaigns.

Let’s set your campaign live and then we’ll talk about some ways to monitor and optimize your campaign.

If you haven’t entered your billing information yet, now’s the time to do it.  Let’s get started!

Set Up Billing Information

Set this up by going to the Billing tab and select Billing preferences. On this page, simply follow the prompts to enter your billing information.

On the Settings page, I’d recommend going with the default option of “Automatic payments”. This is basically the pay as you go plan and you’ll only be charged for the clicks you accrue in your account.

With the manual option, you give Google a lump sum and Google deducts your click costs from that.

Once you’ve got your payments taken care of, go to your campaign tab and change its status from ‘Paused’ to ‘Enable’ as shown below.


At this point your campaign is live!

In many cases your ads will start running almost immediately. However, sometimes Google will want to review your ads first. This review may take a few minutes, hours or, in rare cases, days.

Your Campaign is Live… Now What?

One quick word of warning because I know as soon as you activate your campaign you’re going to want to go to Google and see if your ads are there.


This will affect the data you see in your AdWords account and could potentially have a negative impact on your Quality Score.

If you want to see what your ads look like on Google, there’s a tool you can use in AdWords that will let you do that without impacting your campaign at all. It’s called the ‘Ad Preview and Diagnosis’ tool and you can find it under the ‘Tools’ tab.


To use the tool:

  1. Type in your keyword
  2. Select your location (or the location your ads should be running)
  3. Click Preview

This will give you a snapshot of the Google results page and will tell you whether your ad is running or not.

Okay, with that out of the way, let’s look at some reporting.

There’s no shortage of reports you can run in AdWords. And there’s a seemingly unlimited number of ways to slice and dice the data you have access to.

Since we’re all about keeping things simple here, we’re going to stick to the essentials ones you should focus on.

We’ll start by viewing impressions and clicks on your ads.

Check Impressions and Clicks

I’d start checking this an hour or so after you activate your campaign just to make sure your ads are running.

If you’re not getting many (or any) then first double check to make sure your campaign, ad groups, ads and/or keywords are not still paused.

To do this, click on the appropriate tab (Campaign, Ad groups, Ads or Keywords) and look in the left column. As in the screenshot below of the Campaign tab, if your campaign is paused, you’ll see a gray double bar to the left of the Campaign name and ‘Paused’ in the ‘Status’ column.


If things are Active, as is the case in the screenshot below of the Ad groups tab, you’ll see a green dot to the left of the Ad group name and the message ‘Eligible’ in the Status column.


Again do this for your Campaigns, Ad groups, Ads and Keywords to see if there are any Status messages that indicate something’s not right.

If you go 24 hours or so after activating your campaign and it’s still not getting any Impressions or Clicks, then you may need to either:

  1. Add some more keywords
  2. Use a less restrictive match type for your keywords
  3. Raise your bid prices.
  4. Contact Google Support to figure out what the heck is going on

Once you’re getting impressions/clicks, ideally you would still take 1 minute out of each day to make sure nothing funky is going on in your campaign. But if you only check every few days or once a week, you’re in better shape than most.

When you review the data in your campaign keep an eye out for two main things:

  1. Keywords/Ad groups that are getting a lot of impressions (200 or more) but no clicks. That’s a sign that either the Keyword(s)/Ad group is not attracting the right kind of traffic, your ad copy needs to be improved or your bid is too low (see the sections on Avg Pos and Bid Prices below). If you’re not sure what’s going on, you may want to pause the keyword/ad group and focus on ones that are performing better.
  2. Keywords that are performing very well and getting high CTRs and/or conversions. For these, you may want to create a new Ad group and move these top performing keywords into their own Ad group (if they aren’t already). This will let you better optimize ad copy and bid prices for these words to try to get even better performance out of them.

Check Average Ad Position

You can view the average position that your ads appear in the rankings at the Campaign level, Ad group level, Keyword level or Ad level.

I’d focus on an Ad group level first and then, if necessary, dig down to the keyword level.


The reason Avg. Pos. is important is it’s a major factor that affects the CTRs of your ads. Having your ads appear in one of the first 3 spots in Google, above the organic search results, can easily increase your CTR by 10x or more compared to the same keyword and ad combination appearing in the sidebar or at the bottom of the search results page.

When you check your average ad position, make sure it’s not too low. If you’re averaging 7 or less, it’s going to be hard to get clicks (not impossible, just hard).

If you check at the Ad group level and notice a low Avg. Pos. then take a look at things at the keyword level. See if maybe one or two keywords are pulling the average down. If those are good keywords for you and you have the budget, then increase your Max CPC for those keywords (however, always keep an eye on conversion data… the top positions may not be the most profitable ones for your ads to run in).

Check your Avg. Pos. at least once a week to make sure it’s holding steady.

Check Ad Performance

As we’ve talked about earlier, split testing your ads is one of the key ways to improve the performance of your AdWords campaigns. So once your campaign is up and running, it’s important to monitor your ads to see how well they’re performing.

To check ad performance, select one of your Ad groups from the menu on the left side of your screen. Then click on the Ads tab to see the ads for just that Ad group.

Here are some sample ad stats for a campaign for a local mattress store:


There are a few things I’m looking for when it comes to ad performance.

First, I look for ads that are significantly underperforming based on the number of impressions they’ve gotten. If I go to an Ad group and see an ad that’s gotten 200 or more impressions and no clicks, I’ll usually trash the ad and replace it with another. That’s not the case in the example above so we’re good on that front.

I’ll also look to see if I can determine the winner of the split test in each Ad group. (A general rule of thumb is you want each ad to get at least 30 clicks before declaring a winner.)

If you need hope determining whether or not you can declare an ad a winner, use the free tool at spilttester.com to enter the data from each ad in a campaign and it will tell you if there’s a statistically significant difference or not.

If you can declare a winner, delete (or at least pause) the losing ad and replace it with another. Doing split testing like this on a consistent basis is the best way to improve your campaign’s Clickthrough rates over time.

When you’re looking at this data, make sure you’re not just looking at the data from one day. Set the date range for the last 7, 14 or 30 days, depending on how many clicks/impressions your ads group gets. If you have a very low traffic campaign, you can even do a custom date range and look back over the previous 3 months, 6 months or whatever timeframe you’d like.

Also, keep in mind that the ad with the highest CTR may not produce the highest number of conversions. So, if you’re tracking conversions within AdWords, factor that into your split test calculations.

Check Search Term Report

The Search Term report is one of my favorite reports in AdWords. This is the report where you can see the actual search terms that people typed into Google before clicking on your ads.

I’d recommend checking this report once a month. You can run it either at the Campaign level or at the Ad group level.

(Note: Before you run the Search Term report, be sure to change the date range for the data you’re looking at to the ‘Last 30 Days’ or a longer time frame if it’s been a while since you’ve checked this out.)

To run the report, make sure you’re on the Keywords tab in the Campaign or Ad group you want to run the report for. Once on that tab, click the ‘Details’ button located immediately above the table of keywords. This brings up the ‘Search Terms’ drop down menu as seen in the image below…


At this point, either choose “Selected” or “All”.

If you check one or more of the boxes next to a specific keyword(s), then you can choose “Selected” to see the search terms for ONLY the keyword(s) you selected. If you’d just like to see the search terms for all the keywords in the Campaign or Ad Group, then select “All”.

Once you run the report, spend some time looking at the search terms. (You can either do this directly in AdWords or, if you prefer, you can click the Download button to download this report so you can look at it in a spreadsheet program like Excel.)

As you’re looking at the keywords, you’re looking for two main things:

  1. Are there relevant search queries that are getting a good CTR and/or resulting in conversions that are not already in your campaign as an Exact match keyword? These terms are good candidates to add to your campaign.
  2. Just as important, if not more so, is to see if there are terms showing up that are not relevant to your business. If so, add them to your Ad group or campaign as a Negative keyword. As we mentioned earlier when we talked about negative keywords this will limit the money you waste on irrelevant clicks and help boost your CTRs.

Check Conversions

Since it’s all really about conversion, you definitely want to keep a very close eye on conversions if you’re tracking them in your campaign.

If that’s the case, see what keywords/search queries are resulting in conversions. Also, look at which ads are resulting in conversions.

You want to optimize your campaign as much as possible around conversions so when you see keywords that are converting, see if there are close variations of those keywords you can add to the campaign to try to get more/similar traffic.

Also check the bid prices and Avg Pos of those keywords to see if it makes sense to increase the amount you’re bidding for each keyword.

On the ad side of the equation, if there are specific ads that are resulting in conversions, you may want to show those ads more often or add a variation of the ad to other ad groups.

Check Bid Prices

In setting up this simple campaign, we didn’t worry about bid prices too much. But once your campaign goes live, it’s important to keep a close eye on them.

There are a few key things you’ll want to look at when it comes to bid prices to help you understand how to adjust your bids.

Look for keywords where Google is showing the message ‘Below first page bid’ and gives you an estimated first page bid price (they’re always happy to tell you where you should be spending more money!). Here’s what that looks like:


Before you reflexively go to edit your bid price, take a look at your average position. I’ve seen Google show the ‘Below first page bid’ message for keywords that have an Average Position in the top 3 rankings.

But, if the keywords really do have a very low Average Position, it may be worth upping your bid to be at or above the first page bid estimate.

  1. Look for keywords that are not performing very well (very low CTRs or lots of traffic but no conversions). Depending on the Avg Pos and how much you’re spending in clicks for these keywords, they may be good candidates for bid reductions.
  2. Look for keywords that do have high CTRs and/or are converting for you. See what you’re currently paying per click and what that’s getting you as far as Avg Pos. These are candidates for potentially increasing your bids.

Raising or lowering your bids is simple. Just click on the bid price for the keyword you want to change the Max CPC for…


…type your new Max CPC in the box and click Save.


The Last Word

adam-kreitmanWe’ve come to the end!

By now you should understand what it takes to build a starter campaign in AdWords. And do it the right way so that you’re in control of your marketing dollars.

The whole idea here is to get you comfortable with the basics of AdWords and have an understanding of how to give yourself the best chance to succeed…even if you have a small budget.

At this point, you should let your campaign run for a while and see how it performs for you. Run some reports and make some changes to optimize your campaign based on results.

When you get to the point where this initial campaign seems to be working for you and you’re getting some leads, you may want to take things to the next level.

That involves increasing your budget, adding more keywords to the mix, testing some completely new ad copy and/or landing pages, etc.

You’ve come a long way in this short course.  I’ve been managing and consulting businesses on their AdWords accounts for nearly a decade and I get better at it every day.

With the foundation in AdWords you got from this course and some experience in managing your campaign, you’re well on your way to becoming an AdWords master.

~ Adam Kreitman, Founder – Words That ClickEmail Me

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