adwords basics cover pic

Google AdWords Basics: A Beginners Guide to Starting PPC

Neil Andrew

Neil Andrew

June 16th, 2019

Neil is Scottish so when he's not writing for PPC Protect he's eating haggis and watching Braveheart.

google invalid clicks report

For those of you that don’t know, AdWords is a huge PPC network that is owned by the search engine giants Google. Having been around since the year 2000, millions of businesses now use AdWords on a daily basis to drive traffic to their website. In fact, many companies rely on PPC as their primary source of traffic.

With its vast network of partner websites and millions of keywords to bid on, almost any business can take advantage of Google AdWords. If you’ve never used pay per click marketing before and are thinking of giving it a try, then you need to learn the AdWords basics.

To help you out with your first AdWords campaign we’ve put together a helpful list of the dos and don’ts. But before we jump into making your first campaign, let’s take a quick look at how AdWords works.

How Google AdWords Works

how adwords works

AdWords works on a simple principle that other users bid on keywords to determine whose ads are shown. Whoever bids the most for a keyword will take the number 1 spot, while other users will take the remaining slots underneath.

With most keywords offering 3 to 4 ad slots at the top of the results page, you don’t need to be number 1 to get significant traffic.

Users also have the choice to decide if their ads only appear on Google’s search network or on their partner websites. Both options have their advantages and disadvantages which we’ll cover later, but for now, it’s important to understand ads are not just limited to Google.

In the most simple terms, that’s how AdWords and many other PPC networks work. People bid against other people on keywords and, depending on how much they bid determines where their ads are displayed. It might sound simple but with plenty of advanced features available it can get complicated pretty fast.

The fact that AdWords is very easy to use is just one of its many benefits. There are many other advantages of using Google AdWords, such as:

  • Largest PPC network out there
  • Wide audience reach
  • Millions of partner websites available
  • Quick to set up campaigns
  • Instant results
  • Smart bidding and daily budgets
  • Great tools and advanced analytics

With its easy to use interface and countless benefits, you really have no excuse not to use AdWords. To help you understand AdWords a bit more, let’s take a more in-depth look at how the bidding works.

AdWords Basics: Bidding

adwords bidding

AdWords basics involves understanding how the bidding system works. Like we mentioned earlier, bidding on Google AdWords is relatively simple. Depending on how much you bid and how much other users are bidding will determine 2 things; your advert position, and how many clicks you get.

If no adverts are running on a particular keyword, then you will display at the top regardless if you bid 1 cent per click or 10 dollars per click. Once other people start bidding on the keyword, your ad could be pushed down to position 2.

Depending on the keyword and competition can also influence how many ads are displayed on a page. Currently, popular keywords can have up to 6 adverts on page 1! This means that you don’t necessarily have to hold the number 1 spot to get clicks.

There are several bidding strategies you can use for your campaign, but the 2 most common ones are manual bidding and automated. With the manual CPC strategy you simply enter how much you are willing to pay per click, and it stays fixed forever. Of course, you can always change the number in the future, but Google will never charge you more than the amount you set.

The other strategy is the automated feature by Google that works out how much you should be paying per click. Simply enter a maximum daily budget you are willing to spend, and Google will work out the rest. This is great if you are new to AdWords or just think Google will do a better job of optimizing your campaign and keywords.

bidding strategy

This picture shows the current automated bidding strategies available from Google.

AdWords Basics: Display Network

display network

Before you go out there and create your first campaign, it’s also important to understand Google’s display network. As you probably well know, adverts are displayed on Google’s official website when you enter a keyword. However, what most people don’t know is that Google has a huge display network full of millions of other websites.

If you’ve ever been on another website and noticed adverts, then the chances are they are from Google. Currently, Google has over 2 million partnership sites that display their adverts in exchange for advertising revenue. This means you can target people while they are browsing their favorite website, watching a YouTube video or even checking their Gmail account.

google search display

The picture above shows an entire campaign for the keyword “PPC”. As you can see the max CPC is set at £1 and it is using the Google search display only. This means the advert will only display on Google’s search engine instead of their partner sites. The estimated clicks for the campaign are 7.5 – 9.17 per day and the estimated impressions are 413 – 504 per day.

google network display

To show you how using the Google display network can significantly change the campaign results, we’ve set up the same campaign but turned on the display network. Comparing the number of clicks and impressions to the other campaign we can see that both of them are up.

Since the Google partner websites usually have a much lower cost per click, we’ve managed to get some extra clicks and expand our reach without paying a penny more. The quality of the traffic received might be debatable as to if it’s better or worse, but this example shows how enabling the search partners can affect your campaign.

AdWords Basics: Quality Score

quality score

As we said before, AdWords is fairly simple, but some features can be very complicated. Quality score is one of those features. If you’ve never heard of quality score before then don’t worry, most AdWords users don’t even know it exists!

To put it simply, quality score is a part of AdWords that can significantly influence the cost and effectiveness of your advert. Similar to a credit score that affects things such as how much you can borrow and what you can buy, quality score affects how much you pay and how your ads perform.

When you make an advert and run a PPC campaign, there are many factors that help determine your quality score. Your click-through rate, landing page quality, keyword relevance and historical AdWords account performance all play an important role.

By improving your quality score, Google rewards you with lower cost per clicks and a higher ad ranking. If you want a successful PPC campaign, then you need a good quality score.

Improving your quality score takes time and lots of optimization. By constantly making changes and tweaking your adverts you can slowly improve your quality score over time.

To improve your quality score, you need to:

  • Research new relevant keywords to add to your campaign
  • Organize your keywords more effectively into ad groups
  • Rewrite your ad text to improve your click through rate
  • Optimize your landing pages, so they are relevant to your adverts and reduce your bounce rate
  • Add negative keywords to your campaign which are wasting your money

Once you’ve optimized your campaign and have made several changes, it’s important to keep at it. You might think you’ve done all the optimization you could possibly do, but trust us, there is always something else you can do.

AdWords Basics: Ad Creation Stage 1

When you first open up AdWords it can look very confusing, especially if you have no PPC marketing experience. With so many tabs and options, it can be hard to know where to start first. When you first open up AdWords you’ll be greeted with the home page which looks like the picture below.

start screen

Since you clicked on this guide to read about AdWords basics and how to setup up a campaign, we’ll click the “create your first campaign button”.

This will bring us onto the first page of the campaign creation process which should look like something below.

first page

Section 1

The first section asks you for a campaign name and what type of campaign you want to create. In our example, we’ll call it PPC Protect. It also allows you to pick between displaying your advert on Google or using Google’s search partner display network. Depending which option you pick here will also determine which fields change below. In this example, we’ll keep the setting on “search network with display select”.

Section 2 

Since we picked the “search network with display select” option in section 1, we get to choose which network our ads are displayed on. By default, you have to have your advert displayed on the Google network, but as we mentioned earlier, the search partners is optional. We’ll keep everything ticked so we get the maximum exposure for our money.

Section 3 

By default, our ads will display on all mobile platforms and tablets. Later on we can change the individual settings of our adverts to decide what devices we want them to show on.

Section 4 

Next up is location targeting and where we want our ads to display. The chances are you’ll only want to pick the top quality countries such as the UK and US to start off with. If you’re a local business then you’ll obviously only want to pick the country you are operating in. In this example, we’ll leave the UK selected.

Section 5 

If you happened to pick other countries to target in the previous section then this section is pretty important. Google won’t auto-translate your adverts, but if you do want to display an advert in another language, you’ll have to pick it from this list. Since all of our adverts are in English we’ll just keep the default box ticked.

Section 6 

This section covers the bidding of your adverts and what bidding strategy you are going to use. You can decide if you want to pay a fixed amount per click, or let Google auto-bid for you and change the bid depending on your daily budget. In this example, we’ll just set the manual CPC to £1 and the max budget per day to £10.

Section 7 

The last section on this page covers ad extensions which are useful but fairly advanced features. Since there are too many ad extensions to cover here, we suggest reading this useful guide made by Google. Once you’ve filled out the first page, it’s time to move on to the second page.

AdWords Basics: Ad Creation Stage 2

Now we’ve got the basic settings out of the way it’s time to actually make the advert. The second page is split into 2 main sections, the advert itself and the keywords you are targeting.

page 2 created

Section 1 

As you can see from the picture above this section is fairly self-explanatory. Simply enter your ad group name with something that’s relevant to your campaign and then start writing up your first ad.

The most common type of ad is the text ad, and Google has a useful tool that helps you visualize how it will be displayed once it’s live.

By filling out the necessary ad info, the visualization tool will update and show you how it looks. When writing your ad you want to make sure it is attention-grabbing and is full of relevant keywords. Remember you always want to try and improve your quality score!

Section 2 

Once you’ve got your fantastic ad all written out, it’s time to decide what keywords the ad will show up for. If you want to super optimize an ad then you can pick only 1 keyword and let it run for that. Most people use several keywords for one advert which is fine, just make sure all of the keywords are similar and relevant.

Once you’ve decided on your keywords, you’ve successfully set up your first campaign! All you need to do now is enter your billing details and your advert will be visible to thousands of people.

What They Don’t Tell You About

Now you know the AdWords basics, it’s time to move on to the more advanced topics. These advanced PPC techniques allow you to do things such as optimize your campaigns and produce a higher return on your investment.

These techniques might look like they’re improving your marketing efforts but they’re all missing out on 1 major problem: click fraud.

Click fraud is a huge issue in the PPC industry nowadays and affects millions of businesses worldwide. If you’ve ever run a PPC campaign, then the chances are you’ve been victim to click fraud without even knowing.

To protect your adverts from fraudulent clicks you need click fraud detection. With some keywords costing upwards of $5 a click, even preventing a few fraudulent clicks can save you money. To see how much money you could save using PPC Protect, try our free trial below.

Click below to try out a 14-day trial and banish your click fraud forever.

Get A Free Traffic Audit

Do you know how much of your budget is being spent on invalid clicks? Your campaign performance could be being reduced by as much as 30%. You won’t know until we’ve run our free traffic audit.

Start Your Free Audit

How many invalid clicks do you get on your account?

How much spend is wasted on fraudulent clicks?

Are your competitors wasting your budget?