How to advertise your business at the top of a Google search
It's much more affordable than you think.
What are Google Ads?
Looking for a larger buyer or customer audience? Advertise on Google – it's the highest trafficked website in the world and boasts an average 700% return on the investment. Though traditional search engine optimization (SEO) can help get your web page near the top of a Google Search result, Google gives you the option to bypass SEO and pay to play with Search Ads, Display Ads, Video Ads and App Ads.
1. Search Ads
Search Ads appear at the top of a Google Search results page in nearly the same form as an organic Google search result. The only difference is that a Search Ad is noted with a small "Ad" badge next to the link. Search Ads appear in Google searches made with matching or similar keywords to the text content of an ad. In most cases, Search Ads appear directly above organic results, giving your ad a better chance of driving more traffic (prospective customers) to your website.
To build a Search Ad, use Google's Keyword Planner tool to find target keywords relevant to your industry, product or service to bid on.
- Bid – The money spent on an ad to appear in searches that use certain keywords.
- Keyword – The search terms people enter into a Google Search when looking for a particular good, service, information, etc.
Be sure to select relevant location(s) in Keyword Planner to ensure you're using the same terms and phrases as other individuals selling the same products and or services in your area.
Once you've selected relevant keywords to your business, write ads aligning with those terms. Google provides guidance on writing effective ads, but generally, the ads should include a description of your services, clear calls to action (instruction for the users on what you want them to do), and a link to your website.
Responsive vs. Traditional Search Ads
There are two kinds of Search Ads.
Traditional Search Ads give you complete control over your ads. You write the headline and description for each ad and then Google displays the ad exactly as you created it, each time it appears in a search result.
Responsive Search Ads use Google's artificial intelligence to determine your most effective ads and automatically display them. When developing responsive Search Ads, advertisers write up to 15 headlines and up to four descriptions. Google then uses those to generate, test and adjust combinations of those headlines and descriptions to create an ad that performs best with your audience.
Responsive Search Ads are a new offering from Google, and in most cases, result in more effective results than traditional Search Ads. However, they do not give you as much control over your advertising campaign. Learn more about getting started with your search campaign here.
2. Display Ads
Display Ads are image ads that Google displays on the websites that are part of the Google Display Network. This means Display Ads are shown on other websites – not at the top of a Google Search results page.
- Google Display Network – A group of over two million websites that partner with Google and allow Google to display its ad content directly on those websites.
Unlike Search Ads, which appear in search results based on the keywords you purchase / bid on, Display Ads are presented to users who either meet the demographics of your target audience or who have visited your site previously.
For example, if your landscaping business serves middle-class homeowners in Miami ages 35 – 72, Google shows your Display Ads on the websites (that are part of the Google Display Network) visited by middle-class homeowners in Miami ages 35 – 72 and by the people who have visited your site before.
Although Display Ads don't appear in Google search, they do offer the ability to differentiate your brand from the competition through images. Presenting your distinct imagery to a targeted audience can help establish greater brand awareness. Display Ads are usually cheaper than Search Ads, too.
Like Search Ads, advertisers can set up two different types of Display Ads:
Uploaded Display Ads put the creative ball in your court. These are images you make yourself. If you choose to create the images yourself, be aware that every web page it appears on is different. So even if your ad qualifies for a certain placement on X website, it may not appear if it doesn't fit a page's unique size specification.
Responsive Display Ads hand most creative control to Google. All you need to do is upload images, headlines, videos, your logo and their descriptions (or choose from a collection of stock images), and Google will generate, test, and adjust different combinations of those to create Display Ads that perform best.
Maximize your ad budget by layering target parameters to yield more valuable clicks – clicks made by audiences who have more relevance to your ad. The two categories of targeting parameters are people and context. With people, you can serve your Display Ads to certain groups based on demographics or audience interests and behaviors. With context, you inject your Display Ads in pieces of content that relate to certain keywords or topics.
3. Video Ads
This is easy for those who already have video content on their own YouTube channel. Like Display Ads, Video Ads are aimed at a target audience that's based on demographics.
YouTube is a search engine. Choosing keywords relevant to certain YouTube searches in your Video Ad will place that ad before, during or after videos that are relevant to your target audience. Video ads can also appear on videos on partner sites and apps within the Google Display Network.
4. App Ads
If your business uses an app, you can use App Ads to make your app display in Google Search, Google Play, within other apps, on YouTube and more.
To start App Ads, submit the text you want to appear in the ad, include images to help your App Ad stand out, and define your ad settings (your budget, language and location). If your app is listed in the Google Play Store, Google will use your app's listing to generate App Ads and match them to the most relevant ad placements available. Google's system will rotate ad combinations and adjust bids automatically to get the most downloads for your app.
Google App Ads appear in multiple places, including a Google Search Result page, the Google Play Store, YouTube and third-party sites. Google will match your ad to search terms that are relevant to your app or its category and produce keywords using Google Play search terms that have led people to your app.
Add Ad Extensions to your ads to provide users with more detailed information about your business and its website for free. Adding ad extensions to your ads improves the efficiency of your ads by giving users more information about your business and by making it easier for them to find you, contact you and more. Ad extensions can be configured when you setup your Google Ads.
Five Google Ad extensions you can use:
- Sitelink Extension
Provide additional links to your site to help your ad stand out.
- Call Extensions
Allows you to add a phone number and other contact information to your ad.
- Location Extensions
Adds your business' location so Google can offer directions to your store and make it easier for new customers to find. Location extensions are also required if you want your ad to appear on a Google maps listing.
- Offer Extension
Allows you to add a promotion you're currently running to your ad, encouraging users to click your ad over others.
Add a link to an app download for mobile users.
How much do Google Ads cost?
Because you can set your own budget and demographic parameters, Google Ads are usually much cheaper and more targeted than "traditional" advertising mediums like television, radio or print.
Google's payment structure, known as pay-per-click (CPC), keeps your budget in check. This payment structure is exactly what it sounds like: you, as the advertiser, have the power to choose how much money you spend on a daily or monthly basis. This amount, called your bid, is configured during the ad setup process.
Depending on the amount you bid and the payment structure of your ad, your advertisement will remain visible until your budget is depleted.
Controlling cost per click
Ad cost varies. While the average CPC is only about $1 to $2, CPCs can range anywhere from a few cents to as much as $50. While there's no exact science to calculating CPC, you can manage and estimate CPC using Google's Keyword Planner tool. When you review the keywords you want to target, Google will provide an estimated CPC. In most cases, you want to look for keywords with high search volumes but low competition. Those are the keywords many people are searching for and which few organizations are using.
If you're running a Display Ad campaign and want to generate awareness for your business, you can also use a cost-per-thousand-impressions bidding structure (CPM). This means that you only pay when your ads are seen on sites in the Google Display Network.
Advertisers can also pay via cost-per-engagement (CPE). This payment structure only draws cash from your budget when a user completes a specific action or goal that was predefined when you set up your ad.
Seem complicated? Don't worry, keep reading to learn how Google helps you every step of the way.
How Google makes ad setup easy
Google has tools that make it easy to start your digital advertising campaign. For example, the Keyword Planner tool, in addition to helping you find keywords for your business, also walks you through the Google Ads setup process. Simply type in the industry of your product or service and the tool puts you well on your way.
Google also has a bid simulator tool that makes it easy for you to calculate CPC. Again, though the calculus behind CPC may seem two lessons short of quantum physics, you can control parameters around your CPC bid by setting maximums, minimums and other options that help you exert more control over your ad so its CPC doesn't spiral out of control and leave you with a less-efficient ad that eats your monthly budget in two clicks.
Google Ad Rank
Even if you advertise on Google, know that you're not guaranteed the top position on a search result page. The exact position of your website's ad ultimately depends on ad rank. Ad Rank is like the Google food chain – it's a determination of where your ad is placed among the other ads and webpages that appear in the same Search result.
Ad rank is reliant on two factors: quality score and bid amount. Bid amount is simply the money you spend, but quality score is a little more involved.
Quality score is based on the quality and relevance of your ad. An ad's quality and relevance is measured by the number of clicks it receives, or its click through rate (CTR). CTR is heavily dependent on how well your ad matches what the user was searching for. CTR is determined based on three factors:
- The relevance of your keywords to the Google Search. Again, keywords are words that are used to describe the content of your page. For example, if your page is about landscaping services, you'd likely use keywords and phrases like landscaping services, lawn care, etc.
- If your ad copy and call to action (CTA) deliver to the expectations of the users' search. Users looking for products and services are ready to make a purchase. When searching for their new landscaping service, they're looking for a tool in your ad where they can request a bid, call you, email you, or schedule services.
- The user experience of your landing page. Is the layout of your ad and landing page easy to navigate? Does it lead the consumer in the direction you want to take them, and is the page responsive to viewing on a mobile device like an iPad or smartphone? Is the page fast or slow? Ads with better user interface are rewarded with a higher quality score.
If you're just getting started with Google Ads, focus on quality score. The higher your quality score, the better your ad performs, making it easier to acquire leads while boosting efficiency, reaching more sales leads and reducing costs spent on advertising.