Google Ads (formerly known as Adwords) is a largely daunting and confusing platform. There’s no way to just ‘hop in and try it out’ with Google Ads, forcing new people on the platform to use their Ads Wizard which is about as much help as a chocolate teapot.

Rather than walking you through a quick tutorial of how to set up a text ad, the Ads Wizard makes you create an ad using a creator not usually seen or used by anyone with experience on the platform. This is in fact, rather damaging and only add to the confusion and mystery around Google Ads by anyone who hasn’t delved into the hours of training needed to become certified in Google Ads.

For those of you who want to bypass the training and get stuck into it, here are the essential need-to-knows for planning and running a successful Ads campaign first time. So with that, we’ve assembled a list of 10 essential features you didn’t know you could use with Google Ads.

1) Keyword Planner

Whether you’ve heard about the Keyword Planner before, it’s important to know how to use it effectively. We’ve already covered some of the ways you can use the Keyword Planner when it comes to writing website copy and a content strategy for SEO, but its actual purpose is for Ads.

The Keyword Planner shows you search volumes and bids for the keywords and phrases you’re thinking of adding to your campaign – but it also shows you a large list of other, similar keywords and phrases that you can add to your list. It’s worth investing the time into looking through the Keyword Planner – if you think you know every search term used to find your business, think again! Some keywords and phrases might not have the search volume you thought they did, or you might find that bidding on certain keywords will blow your budget.

2) Negative Keywords

These are equally as important as your keywords as you don’t want your Ads showing in searches that aren’t relevant to your business. The Keyword Planner tool can bring to your attention keywords that might be similar but aren’t what your business offers.

For example, your business might be offering space for a ‘workshop’ – is this the kind of studio workshop where someone could create their art, or is it a meeting room for training?

Using the Keyword Planner, Search Console, ‘Searches’ data in your Ads dashboard (if you are running or have run a campaign), and your own knowledge, you can compile a pretty good list of keyword search terms you definitely don’t want your Ads to appear on. Again, these have the same rules as keywords in that you can apply broad match, phrase match, and exact match modifiers to refine your keyword. Don’t know what that means? Check out our blog on keywords here.

3) Radius Targeting

Yes, you can target by location, but did you know you can also target by radius? This little trick is perfect for businesses who know that they have a local audience, such a restaurant or hairdressers, or a flower shop with a local delivery option, and will therefore want to target those in the area. It’s a rather unique feature in the sense that not a lot of advertising platforms have this option. You can also set bid adjustments to increase depending on how close the person making the search is to your location – getting comfortable with bid adjustments, and knowing whose view or click is worth paying more for, is an important key to success.

4) Sitelink Extensions

Everyone wants their Ad to stand out which is why Sitelink Extensions are essential. With those you can add a phone number, locations, special features and direct links to pages of your website. All of these are totally trackable, so you’ll be able to see how many people clicked on your telephone number to give you a call based on your add as well as having data that shows where on your ad people clicked through to.

Did they click on the main link to your specified landing page, or did they click through one of the sitelink extensions because it was more helpful? Sitelink Extensions are really easy to set up so we suggest they become a staple of your Ads.

5) The Display Network

You may have heard of the Display Network, but what is it exactly? The Google Ads Network is split into two:

  1. The Search Network: where your Ads are displayed in Google and Google partner search results, such as AOL and Yahoo (if you opt-in)
  2. The Display Network: where your Ads appear on websites across the internet

There’s a couple of major differences. The Display Network requires you to create image ads as well as text ad so they can be shown across their network – image Ads have an average of 0.1% higher click through rate than text Ads alone, so it makes total sense to ensure you have Display Ads created for each variable so you can maximise the reach.

Ads are also charged based on Cost per Click not by impressions. According to Google, Display Ads are said to reach 90% of internet users, as the vast majority of websites seem to host Ads, but with this reach comes complex management – such as placements and audiences – if you really want to maximise your reach.

6) Managing Placements

With Display Ads you do get some say as to where those Ads will be placed, but you need to manage it. If you have specific websites in mind then great! If not, we suggest you use the Audience targeting options to get an idea of where your audience is and where your Ads might go. You can start by adding your competitors to the exclusions list – though you don’t have to – and keep a close eye on where Google is placing you ads. Always check out your placements’ website and be in control of where your ad goes.

7) Audience Interests

Under the Audience’s tab you’ll notice that you can add audiences – this is only applicable if you’re running Ads on the Search and Display Network. Audiences can be targeted based on their interests and will ensure that your Ads appear on websites that are hosting content that matches the interests specified in the Audiences tab. They work alongside keywords, so it’s not a case of one or the other. We recommend you have a look through all the different interests available. Some might be an obvious choice for your campaign and some may spark inspiration. If in doubt, run the campaign with the Observations setting so you’ll gain more insights into the interests your audience may have, and set bids for these accordingly.

8) Bid Adjustments

Bid Adjustments are one of the most important features you need to be comfortable with. It might seem like an ‘advanced strategy’ but it’s really not. Bid Adjustments ensure your bid is increased on platforms, placements, locations and keywords that you want your ad to place highly on, and decreased where you aren’t so fussed about having your ad place at the top.

You can run an automatic bid strategy, where you can set an upper cap on the maximum bid, and use bid adjustments, ie +10% or -10%. But in order to manually bid on keywords you must have a manual bidding strategy set up overall. We don’t suggest this for beginners or for those testing a campaign as it’s hard to know what you’d expect to pay for clicks/impressions on those keywords without having any real-time data based on your actual budget.

9) Ad Schedule (Time of Day)

Setting the times of day you want your Ads to run is necessary to ensure you’re maximising your budget and Return on Investment. If you’re a B2B you can safely assume that employees of other businesses will likely be working between 9am-5pm when making a search relevant to your business – but remember, if your audience is global, you’ll need to take into account time zones.

However, we’ve found that office workers, particularly within tech, will be searching between 8am-8pm, Monday to Friday. For B2Cs it’s harder to predict the time of day when search volumes will be highest; we’ve found that people aren’t typically searching between 2am and 6am but, as always, when it doubt test.

10) Quality Scores

It’s really easy to overlook Quality Scores when it comes to writing Ads. You might think that your amazing Ad copy is sure to get your bid low and your placements high because that’s the ultimate goal, but, in some respects, you have to forget what you know and instead write you Ads based on the keywords in your campaign.

It’s really the keywords that dictate your entire campaign and what you pay, so your keywords need to be present in your Ads – headlines and descriptions – and on your landing page (the page you want people to click through to). Otherwise you’ll get a low Quality Score meaning higher bid cost, lower overall placement, and Ads not being placed frequently.

You can check the quality score of each Ad in the Ads and Extensions tab. If it’s anything less than a 7 you need to take a look at your keywords, ad copy, and landing page to ensure that they’re cohesive. To learn more about Quality Scores read our guide here.

Conclusion

We hope that this beginner’s guide to Google Ads has taught you some things that you didn’t know before. You can head over to your Ads account and try some of these features out for yourself, or we’re more than happy to take the stress out of Ads for you.

The OggaDoon team have done the hours and certifications, and have worked on a number of successful Ads campaigns for clients across a range of businesses. If you’d like to discuss Ads for your business we’re more than happy to set up or manage a campaign for you – just get in touch.