So you’ve decided to try out a pay-per-click (PPC) campaign for your business. Awesome! Paid search is an extremely powerful tool and a valuable asset for enhancing your company’s online presence. But let’s be honest here – Google AdWords can be a little intimidating when you’re just starting out. There are a handful of decisions to make when you’re setting up your campaign, and it’s not always clear how to approach them.
Let’s assume you’ve already compiled a list of relevant, long-tail keywords that you want to target. (If you haven’t, check out these keyword selection tools to help you out.) Once you've compiled your keyword list, you’re ready to create your AdWords account. Here are 3 important how-to’s for getting started.
1. How to Structure Your Account
The structure of your account in Google AdWords is critical to the efficiency and success of your paid search campaign. So you have your keywords, you have the list of keywords that you're buying, and then you have the ad that you want to show when somebody types in one of those keywords. Now you want to group together the keywords for which you want your ad to be displayed, so that you can create highly relevant ad copy for these keywords and increase the likelihood that the searchers are going to click through.
You can do this by creating a grouping of related keywords in what is called an “ad group.” So let’s say you have the keywords ‘tennis shoes,’ ‘best tennis shoes,’ and ‘shoes for tennis.’ You can create a ‘Tennis Shoes’ ad group, put those keywords in the ad group, and create an ad that is closely targeted to those keywords. Then if your company also sells other kinds of shoes, you can set up more ad groups, maybe for ‘Walking Shoes’ or ‘Running Shoes.’
Let’s say your company also sells shirts though. Google lets you structure your account on one more level as well, and that is by “campaign.” So you can take all of your ad groups for shoes, put them in a ‘Shoes’ campaign, and then create another campaign for ‘Shirts’ with its own ad groups, keywords, and ads.
It's important that you structure your account in such a way that your keywords and your ad copy are tightly woven together. Then you can use your ad groups and your campaigns to keep them nicely bucketed together and better organized.
2. How to Set Your Budget
When you pay Google for your PPC campaign, you don’t whip out your credit card every time someone clicks on your ad. Instead, you set a daily budget on the campaign level. So for each campaign, you can dictate how much money Google can spend on those ad placements per day. For example, you can say you want to spend $300/day on your shoe campaign and $200/day on your shirt campaign, and Google won’t exceed those amounts.
But what if all that money is spent in only an hour or two? After all, if you have highly relevant or very popular keywords, you do run the risk of blowing through your budget quickly. Well, Google also offers a feature that allows you to request that your budget be spread out throughout the entire day. This works well for brands that want to establish a presence throughout the day.
The daily budget cap is certainly a reassuring feature, especially for those who are just starting out with paid search. You can set a low budget when you get started, slowly begin measuring success and lead quality, and try your hand at optimizing your campaign before you really invest a lot of money in it.
3. How to Optimize Your Ads
Now, just because you set a daily budget of, say, $500, doesn’t mean that the entire budget will be spent every day. Google will try to spend your full daily budget, but the ability to do so ultimately depends not only on your keywords but also the effectiveness of your ad copy. After all, if you can’t get anyone to click on your ads in the first place, you’re not going to be paying anything. This is why ad copy is critical to an effective PPC campaign.
When it comes to creating your ad, there is essentially a formula for it, since Google limits the number of characters you can use. The four numbers you need to remember are: 25, 37, 35, 35.
You have 25 characters for the title, which is displayed in blue text as the first line of the ad. Then you have 37 characters for the display URL (also called the ‘vanity URL’), which is not the actual URL to which your ad directs viewers, but is simply for display purposes. For example, if my ad is about blogging for business, I could set the display URL to be www.hubspot.com/blogging, even if this isn’t the site to which I’m redirecting. The URL to which you actually direct clicks to your ad is called the ‘destination URL.' These will often be longer and may contain tracking codes, which makes them messier. So of course, you wouldn’t want these displayed in your ads anyway.
Then you have two description lines of 35 characters each. You’ll notice in the sample ad above that there are actually two calls-to-action there. The first line informs viewers that they can use blogging to generate leads, a more general piece of information, whereas the second line is a call-to-action for a specific offer. Make sure you maximize use of the limited number of characters you’re given in order to make your ad as effective as possible.
So now you know how to structure your account, set a starting budget, and plan your ad copy effectively. Go ahead and get started! And don't forget, optimizing each of these things, though important to do well from the start, takes time and testing. Don't get caught up in getting it perfect right away. Just do your best, and go from there.