How to advertise with Google

A comprehensive guide to Google’s pay-per-click advertising

12 MINS Team

Are you confused about how to advertise on Google? Are you worried that it’s too expensive for your small business? Learning the ins and outs of Google advertising can seem super complicated. Plus, as a busy business owner, you have so much on your plate already that it may seem impossible to fit in one more thing.

Related: Learn more about professional PPC services with

We’re here to tell you that advertising on Google is not as hard as you may think. But first, let’s take a look at why advertising on Google is so important for a small business.

Why advertise on Google?

Simply put, Google is the number one place Internet users visit to search for products, answers, services, places — you name it. Yes, there are still other search engines out there, but Google is far and away the dominant player.

If you consider the search engine statistics, 81% of consumers research online before shopping for products in stores. When those shoppers go online to do their homework, where do you think they go? Google accounted for 93.12% of all global Internet searches.  To put that number in perspective, Google processes more than 40,000 search queries per second on average. That’s more than 5.6 billion searches per day.

What does it all add up to? Whether you sell to consumers or to other businesses, to millennials or their parents, it’s safe to bet that your customers spend a lot of time on Google.

“That’s great,” you may say, “but I get plenty of customers to my website without advertising.”  First, does any business ever have enough customers? Second, Google ads show up above organic search results — and look very similar. The only real difference with paid search, is that they have the word “Ad” in a little box next to them.

Chances are, customers in a hurry to find what you sell aren’t paying attention to that little box. They just want the result that’s most relevant to their search, and they’ve learned the closer to the top of the search engine results page, the more relevant it is. In fact, one study reports that about half of people can’t tell the difference between ads and organic search results at all. With all this in mind, it’s strongly advised that you at least test Google ads as part of your overall local digital marketing strategy.

10 Google Ads terms you should know

Understanding key terms related to Google Ads is essential for effectively managing and optimizing your online advertising campaigns. Here are some important Google Ads terms you should know:

Ad group

An ad group is a set of keywords, budgets, and targeting strategies within a larger advertising campaign. It helps you focus on specific goals.

For instance, if you’re promoting a bag sale, you might create ad groups for online sales, women’s bags, and men’s bags. Each group can have several ads designed for those targets.

Ad Rank

Ad Rank is a critical factor in the placement and visibility of your ads within Google Ads. It is a numerical value that determines the position of your ad on search engine result pages (SERPs) and whether your ad will be displayed at all in response to a user’s search query.

Ad Rank is calculated based on various factors, including your bid amount, the quality and relevance of your ad, and the expected impact of your ad extensions. A higher AdRank means your ad can be in a better spot on the search results page, which can help more people see and click on it.

Ad spend

Ad spend refers to the money you allocate for your advertising campaigns. How you calculate it can vary – it might cover just what you spend on ads, or it could also include fees for agencies and people managing the ads.


Whenever there’s an available spot for a new ad on Google, they hold an auction. People who want to show their ads bid in these auctions to secure the ad space.

Campaign type

Google Ads gives you options for different campaign types. These choices provide flexibility, allowing you to customize your campaigns to match your goals. You can pick from various campaign types, each suited to specific purposes.

You can choose from the following campaign types:

  • Search campaigns. These campaigns display text ads on Google’s search engine when users search for specific keywords related to your products or services.

  • Display campaigns. Display campaigns showcase visual ads (banners, images, videos) on websites, apps, and videos within Google’s Display Network. This is ideal for brand awareness and reaching a broader audience.

  • Video campaigns. Video campaigns promote your videos on platforms like YouTube and Google Display Network to engage users through video content.

  • Shopping campaigns. Shopping campaigns are designed for eCommerce businesses, allowing you to showcase your products directly within Google’s search results, including images, prices, and links.

  • App campaigns. App campaigns promote your mobile app across Google’s network, including search, YouTube, and Google Play, to increase app installations and engagement.


When a user sees your ad and decides to visit your website by clicking on the ad, that’s considered a click. Advertisers often pay for each click their ad receives as part of their advertising costs.

Clicks help measure the effectiveness of your ad in attracting users to your website or other landing pages or page.


Conversion refers to a specific action that a user takes on your website after clicking on your ad. This action is typically aligned with your advertising goals, such as making a purchase, signing up for a newsletter, filling out a form, or completing any other desired activity.

Conversions help you measure the effectiveness of your PPC ads in driving valuable outcomes for your business and allow you to track the success of your advertising campaigns.

Headline and description

For your own ad copy to be effective, a compelling headline and description are crucial. These short lines must match what people are searching for, answer their concerns, and provide essential info. Including the keyword in the headline helps them know you have what they need. The description should clearly address their needs without being overly enticing. A strong headline and description help your ad shine, even if your bid is lower than the competitors’.


An impression is the number of times your ad is shown to a user on a webpage or search results page. Impressions help measure how often your ad is seen by people, even if they don’t click on it.

Match types

Match types refer to the way you control which search terms or keywords trigger your ads to appear. Different match types help you specify how closely a user’s search query must match your chosen keywords in order for your ad to show.

There are several match types:

  • Broad match. Your ad may appear for searches that include misspellings, synonyms, related searches, and other variations of your keywords. It offers the widest reach but may also be less targeted.
  • Modified broad match. Similar to broad match, but with more control. You add a “+” symbol before certain keywords that must be present in the search query.
  • Phrase match. Your ad shows for searches that include the exact phrase you’ve specified, even if there are additional words before or after it.
  • Exact match. Your ad appears only when the search query precisely matches your chosen keyword or a close variant.
  • Broad match modifier. You can specify certain keywords with a “+” symbol, which ensures those terms are included in the search query, but it still allows variations and synonyms.

How to advertise on Google

Now that you know why Google advertising is such a good idea, let’s take a look at how to do it.

Getting started with Google Ads

Google’s pay-per-click (PPC) advertising platform used to be called AdWords. Now it’s integrated with other products they offer and is known as Google Ads. It’s free to sign up and create a business account. Just select a method of payment, and you’re ready to start advertising.

PPC advertising means you only pay when someone actually clicks on your ad — that’s good news because it means you control how much money you spend. You can check out our PPC Guide for Small Businesses to understand more about PPC marketing.

Choose a goal for your campaign

In order for your Google ads to start appearing online, you need to create a campaign in AdWords. Each campaign should have a specific goal.

For example, the roofing company I mentioned earlier might have a goal to get people to see video ads and call their business for a quote. The eCommerce company might have a goal to get users to click on the ad and go to a product category page. Google gives you the option of selecting from different goals, such as increasing sales or getting leads, so it’s easy to figure out which one works best for your small or local business.

Choose a location for your Google ads to appear

The more narrowly you can target your ideal customer with your Google ads, the better. For a local business, location is a big part of that targeting.

For example, if you own a roofing business in Los Angeles, maybe you serve customers in Orange County or even San Diego. But unless you’ve got multiple locations, you probably can’t help customers in San Francisco.

With Google advertising, you can choose the location of customers you want to see your ads. Why is that important? Well, if the roofer in our example above doesn’t specify a location for the ads to appear, they might end up with homeowners in San Francisco (or even Connecticut!) clicking on their ads. That’s a waste of money because your business pays for every click. By specifying Los Angeles locations for display ads, business owners can target customers in the exact area where they want to get leads and customers.

Choose times for your Google ads to appear

The time and day that your ads show up in search engine results can make a big difference in your success. Fortunately, Google lets you control these factors, too.

For instance, if you’re selling software to business customers, they’re probably looking for your products during business hours. In this case, try setting your ads to run between 9 and 5 on weekdays. On the other hand, if you own a brewpub, you might want to set your ads to run in the late afternoons and evenings (for happy hour) and on weekends.

Select the right bidding strategy

Google ads rely on keywords, and not all keywords are created equal. The keywords that are the most popular (the terms that users search for the most) generally cost a lot more money per click. Since you’ll be bidding against other business owners on the same keywords, battling for your ads to show up in front of internet searchers, there’s also competition. So the popularity of a search phrase or keyword and the amount of competition greatly affects the cost per click and the minimum price an advertiser can bid on it.

Artificial intelligence (AI) can actually simplify your marketing. There are many AI marketing tools for small businesses, some of which are designed to take care of your bidding in Google Ads for you.

Google Ads also has built-in AI, called smart bidding, but it has to be used in the right situations. Danny Gilbert writes on Search Engine Journal explains:

 “…if for example, you have a small account or your campaigns are already performing very well (maybe you are exclusively running brand campaigns), then smart bidding may not be worth the loss of control.”

Create narrow ad groups

Ad groups are created within an ad campaign and used to really target specific groups of prospects. For example, a store that sells infants’ and children’s clothes might want to create ad groups targeting parents of infants, parents of older children, parents of boys, and parents of girls. Each ad group should have different keywords or relevant keywords to that specific target market.

By creating different ad groups, you narrow the target of your ads. An ad that appears in response to a search for “newborn clothes” will be different than one for “back to school clothes.” The more relevant your search ads are, the more successful they will be.

Write relevant ads

Google recommends using at least one of your keywords in your ad’s headline. You can use other keywords in the rest of the text but don’t just string together a list of keywords. It’s important to make sure the text is relevant to what the user is searching for.

In addition, the ad should take the user to a relevant landing page on your website. For example, if someone searches for “newborn gifts,” the link in that ad should go to the page on your website that sells gifts of some kind for newborns, not to the section for preschool kids. 

Track your Google advertising results

Tracking the results is just as important as starting your Google advertising campaign. Set up conversion tracking in order to see what happens after a customer interacts with your ad. For example, do they click, call, or fill out a leads form?

AdWords has a tool you can use for conversion tracking, or you can do it using Google Analytics, which you should use to gather insights about how your business website performs in Google. Sync your Google Analytics account with your AdWords account to be sure you’re tracking ad results properly.

Refining your Google advertising

With every aspect of Google advertising, you can fine-tune your budget, timing, wording, location, and more based on what gets the best results. Unlike traditional print advertising campaigns, you don’t have to wait weeks or months to see which ads drive the most traffic to your business or generate the most leads.

In today’s fast-paced business environment, that’s a real advantage — and as a small business owner, you want every advantage you can get, right?

Speaking of advantages, does your local business have a listing on Google’s local search directory? Creating a local business listing using Google Business Profiles will amp up your business’s online presence. Basically, it ensures that your business shows up in Google Maps and Google Search, making it easier for customers to find you. It can also help you to run location extensions in your Google AdWords campaigns.

Both B2B and B2C businesses can benefit from Google Business Profiles.

Stand out with Google Ads

We’ve only scratched the surface of how to advertise on Google in this post, there’s still a lot business owners can explore. We started talking about location extensions but there are other types of ad extensions you can try, too. You could try remarketing, which is when a user searches for baby clothes on Monday, and then your ads for baby clothes follow them around the Internet. You can even use Google display ads or shopping ads to show images shopping ads or videos.

There’s a lot to learn and to try with Google Ads but at the same time, you can simply start with what you learned in this post and try just one ad group at a time and see how it goes. If you’re struggling with the ins and outs of how to advertise on a Google ads account, reach out to pay per click marketing experts that can help get you set up and running right away with tools that can do all the heavy lifting. Google Ads is such an exciting tool for small local businesses when used right.

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