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What Is Google Ads, and Why Should You Use It?

Max Freedman
Max Freedman

Google Ads can make a company more successful if the campaign is implemented correctly.

The marketing world has changed dramatically in recent years, and Google Ads is one of the platforms driving this transformation. Indeed, Google Ads is one of the most effective methods of paid online advertising.

Google Ads allows businesses to reach anyone who uses Google to search for information, products and services online. When used properly, Google Ads has the potential to send you large numbers of people who want exactly what you have to offer. If you don't currently have a Google Ads account for your business or you don't use your Google Ads account to its full potential, you should seriously consider taking full advantage of this platform.

What is Google Ads?

Almost every time you see an ad for a company's landing page rank as the first (or second, or third) search result on a Google search, it's not just the result of good SEO; the company likely has a Google Ads campaign underway.

Through Google Ads (formerly known as Google AdWords), you pay to have a Google ad for your business displayed to customers who search for relevant terms on Google Search and Maps. Google Ads is a key digital marketing tool for any business that is looking to get meaningful ad copy in front of its target audience.

Through Google Ads, you pay only for actual, measurable results, such as website clicks and business calls. This structure is known as a pay-per-click (PPC) campaign. You can set a monthly Google Ads campaign ad-spend cap that Google will automatically follow, and you can choose to make your target audience global or local.

How does Google Ads work?

Now that you know what Google Ads is, you may be wondering how it works. When you embark on a Google ad spend, first you'll tell Google which of these three goals you're aiming to achieve:

  • Increase calls to your business.
  • Direct more visitors to your store.
  • Guide people to your website or company landing page.

Then, you'll determine whether your ad copy will be delivered to a global or local audience. Next, you'll use images or three short sentences to tell Google what makes your business stand out, and Google will use this data to help you create your ad copy. Finally, you'll set your budget, which Google will use to predict your Google Ads campaign's success, and Google will take your ad live. Your target audience will see your ad rank high and appear as a top search result, and as more people click on your PPC campaign ads, your business will come closer to fulfilling its preset budget.

The five types of Google Ads

The aforementioned steps are consistent across all Google Ads campaigns. No two campaigns are exactly alike, though; in fact, there are five distinct types of Google Ads:

  • Search Network campaign. Through a Search Network campaign, your ad will appear on not just Google Search and Maps but also hundreds of other Google search partners, including YouTube and Google Shopping. On any of these sites, when users search terms related to a keyword for your campaign, they'll see your ad.

  • Display Network campaign. Through a Display Network campaign, you can get visual ads in front of people using products in the Google Display Network, including Gmail and YouTube.

  • Shopping campaign. Through a Shopping campaign, Google will use your web store's product data, instead of a user's keyword, to determine how and where within Google Shopping to show your ad.

  • Video campaign. Through a Video campaign, your company will be promoted via a video ad displayed on YouTube and other Google Display Network properties.

  • App campaign. Through an App campaign, your ad will be displayed on Google Search, YouTube, Google Play, AdMob, the Google Display Network, Google Discover, Google's search partners and many other publishers that display app ads.

No matter what type of campaign you choose, it will likely include more than one ad group. Each ad group may represent a different product you want to market to the same audience, and each ad group may have a unique keyword set.

What is the difference between Google Ads and Google AdSense?

Google Ads allows businesses to easily advertise themselves on Google properties. By contrast, Google AdSense lets people who own platforms – such as blogs, websites and forums – to monetize these properties via ads for other businesses. Google uses its Google Ads Auction feature to determine which ads are shown via AdSense, and Google Ads users may need to tailor their ads to fare better in the Google Ads Auction.

How much does Google Ads cost?

A major reason to use Google Ads is that you have full control over the cost. If you set a budget, Google Ads will never exceed it, and the program will predict your results based on the budget you set. [Read related article: Breaking Down the Beast: How to Understand Google Analytics]

Why you should use Google Ads

Here are some of the benefits of using Google Ads in your digital marketing strategy.

1. It increases leads and customers.

Google Ads is one of the best tools for lead generation. If your campaigns are set up properly, it has the potential to send extremely targeted leads to your website, opt-in form or other online property.

Google Ads allows you to focus on the people who are searching for what your business offers. This means you can continually refine your searches so that only people who want to buy your products or services are sent to your websites through this platform. 

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2. It's a flexible marketing platform.

Anyone who uses Google Ads regularly will tell you that it's an extremely flexible marketing platform. It's suitable for all kinds and sizes of organizations. You can literally turn internet traffic on and off using this system. It is also compatible with a wide range of other marketing platforms and software systems.

You can easily customize campaigns to focus on specific types of online users. For example, you can target people by location, the type of device they're using and the Google-owned website they're accessing (e.g., Google search, Google Maps, YouTube).

You can also set your own budget for specific areas of a campaign. For example, you could set daily budgets and limits on the amount you're willing to spend on clicks for specific keywords. 

3. You get a high return on investment.

Unlike other marketing strategies, Google Ads makes you pay only for ads people click on. Once you optimize Google Ads campaigns, you can get a high return on investment, which may not be possible with other marketing strategies.

However, this takes time, and you have to find out which approach suits you and your business. To get a clearer picture of what will give you the best results, you have to continually test and track your campaigns. Google Ads is perfect for this because it's very transparent, and the information you need is readily available.

When you find areas of your campaign that give a good return on investment, you should focus your efforts and budget on those areas. If a campaign or parts of a campaign are costing you money, discard them. Invest that savings into successful campaigns and campaigns you will test in the future. 

4. You see fast, transparent results.

Google Ads is known for delivering quick, straightforward results and reports of your campaigns.

It's easy to analyze the progress of your campaigns because the dashboard gives you all of the information related to each campaign, such as the ads clicked, the keywords that website visitors entered and the cost of clicks.

These features make Google Ads an extremely transparent and intuitive system. 

5. It taps into huge, high-quality traffic sources.

Because of Google's market dominance and massive customer base, the search giant can send businesses a huge amount of traffic every day, if those businesses have the budget for it.

Google prides itself on displaying relevant content and ads, and the company continues to evolve and improve its search engine algorithms to produce the most relevant search results and ads. This has a positive effect for businesses that advertise through Google Ads, as these ads send high-quality leads and visitors to your business's website, e-commerce store, opt-in form or other online assets. The people Google sends to you are more likely than people coming from other sources to become customers, opt in to your email list, request information or take whatever action you want them to take.

6. You find out more about your market.

It's important to get into the minds of your ideal customers. Understanding your audience makes it much easier to deal with customers and find out what they want.

However, this is extremely difficult to do. Traditional methods, such as questionnaires and interviews, produce limited results.

Google Ads, on the other hand, yields information about customer habits and requirements that business owners of previous generations could have only dreamed about. Some of the valuable data Google Ads lets you learn about your customers include the keywords they use to find your website, their location, the devices they use, and the times and days they search.

You can use this information to improve your products and services, as well as to refine your marketing efforts so that you do not waste money advertising to people who are not interested in what you have to offer.

Google Ads is one of the most powerful advertising tools ever created. It deals with millions of searches by internet users every day and then gives business owners a unique opportunity to convert many of these people into business leads and customers.

Many businesses are turned off by the expense of advertising on Google Ads, especially if they are unfamiliar with how this platform works. However, if you are smart about your online advertising strategy, the rewards from Google Ads can be huge.

How to set up a Google Ads campaign

Follow these steps to start a Google Ads campaign:

  1. Log in to your Google Ads account.
  2. Click Campaigns on the left-hand side.
  3. Click the plus button.
  4. Choose "New campaign."
  5. Select your campaign goal, or create a campaign with no goals.
  6. Choose a campaign type.
  7. Click Continue.
  8. Decide your campaign settings.
  9. Click Save and continue.

From there, use the above advice to create the ideal Google Ads campaign.

Additional reporting by Tommy Wyher.

Image Credit: Ralwel / Getty Images
Max Freedman
Max Freedman,
business.com Writer
Max Freedman is a freelance writer who covers best business practices for business.com and culture for publications including The A.V. Club, MTV, Paste, FLOOD, and Bandcamp. He lives in Philly and doesn't miss his native New York.