The Beginner's Guide to Google Ads | Captain Coder

The Beginner’s Guide to Google Ads

Marisa VanSkiver / April 11, 2022

woman running google ads campaign

After we talked about running digital ads last week, do you feel like you’re ready to start with Google Ads?

Google is the number one search engine on the planet. If you want your business to be discoverable it’s certainly an easy place to start. With Google’s advertising platform, you can grow your business and be seen by a huge amount of people. Including your ideal customer!

Google has a handy guide for getting started with ads, but that can get a bit overwhelming. So let’s cover the basics to get you started. I’ll also break down the types of ads you have available and the first steps to creating a successful campaign.

The Basics of Ads on Google

The good news, in case you were wondering – you can successfully advertise on Google, even as a small business.

The great thing about digital ads in general is that they help us to even the playing field. Even with a smaller budget than the big guys, we can still reach our target customer and turn a profit.

There’s just a few things you need to keep in mind before you start.

You Need a Strong SEO Foundation

With any kind of campaign on Google, you’re going to be running ads to your website as the destination. Having a strong SEO foundation is the best way to ensure you’re successful.

If your website isn’t first following their basic best practices for on-page SEO, Google won’t trust that you’re going to provide a good experience for their customers. When your website is optimized for regular search, it means that you have what Google wants you to for them to send ad clicks your way.

Can you still get clicks without optimizing your site for Google? Sure, but Google will also have a harder time of knowing who to serve your ads to.

You Need to Be Relevant

Google wants to deliver the right people to your website. Not because they care about you as the business owner, but because they want to help their customers.

If you are running an ad to target women looking for health coaching services, your ad copy needs to mention that. Pretty simple.

You can actually save money with your Google ads by keeping everything relevant to what you’re trying to target. Google will actually show your ad above someone’s with a higher budget if your ad copy, materials, and even landing page are more relevant to the targeted keyword and keyphrase.

Keep your language super clear and easy to understand to help that.

Your Landing Page Matters

Picture this scenario – someone clicks on an ad because it tells them a service or product will solve their problem. But they get to the website and find nothing that mentions what they were looking for. Or it’s hard to see exactly how that business helps. So that person bounces and heads back to Google to keep looking.

That’s exactly the scenario Google wants to avoid. They want their customers (the person clicking on your ads) to get the answers they’re looking for. Google keeps track of allllll of that data, so if people keep hitting your ad only to bounce quickly, Google takes notice and won’t show your ad as often.

Like we mentioned last week, best practice is to create a landing page specific for that ad campaign. You almost never want to just send someone to your homepage. It really tells them nothing about what they were looking for.

You Can Set the Budget

One of the great things about running your ads on Google is that you have 100% control over your budget. Only have $2/day to spend? Then that’s what you spend!

A decade ago, there were horror stories of business owners running up huge bills in ad spend. Thankfully, Google has made running ads a lot more fool proof to help prevent those issues, though you’ve always had control.

Using Google’s Keyword Planner (it’s free) you can find not only the keywords you might want to target, but how much you might need to spend. It even gives you a cool sliding scale tool that allows you to choose where you might land in the day’s rankings for how much you’re willing to spend.

Types of Google Ads

I’ll be honest – Google’s ad network is one of the most sophisticated out there. Not only can you appear amongst other search results, but you have the opportunity to reach people across the internet and even through targeted video ads.

Let’s dive into the ad types most needed by service-based professionals like yourself.

Search Network (PPC)

The classic but still highly effective, the ads that appear on Google’s search pages are their Search Network ads. You may have heard them also called Adwords, Pay Per Click (PPC), or Paid Search.

These ads are shown on Google itself, above other search results. You want to use search ads to generate sales or warmer leads. Their cost is typically higher per click, so it helps with your ROI. It’s not just about ROI though. When someone is searching for an answer on Google, they’re ready to find a solution. Make sure your ad and the associated landing page delivers that solution pretty immediately.

Display Ads

Display ads are the visual ads you see on others’ websites. In fact, Google estimates you can reach 90% of the internet through their display network.

These ad consist of an image, logo, or other graphic and some text. Personally, I recommend using Responsive Display Ads. It lets Google put the assets together the way they think will give you the best results and will display best on any device.

Display ads are great for generating that first bit of interest. They’re cheaper per person and they’re all about making that first impression.


These, of course, run on YouTube. YouTube is not only the second largest search engine, it’s where we go to learn and be entertained (at the same time usually).

Yes, you’re probably saying that people will just skip your ads but the numbers just don’t match up. Plus, YouTube has some really great targeting abilities because of people’s watch history info. If you’re targeting correctly, video ads can be incredibly successful for your business.

This is a bit of a mix between those warmer and colder leads, depending on who you’re wanting to reach.

Creating a Successful Ads Campaign

Hopefully you’re already thinking about what kinds of ads work for you and what you might want to do for your first campaign.

Before diving straight into a new Google Ads account though, there are some key factors to a successful campaign.

Set Specific Parameters – Location, Budget, Keywords

The most important part? You want to be incredibly specific! Set specific locations (you may not want to target the entirety of the US) and ensure you’re reaching your audience where you want to reach them.

Make sure you’ve chosen a budget and set up your max. You want to ensure that you’re not going over what you can actually afford to spend each month.

Also – do your keyword research! The awesome thing about Google Keywords Planner is that you can throw your own website and landing page in there and generate recommended keywords to target. You can even throw in a competitor’s if you need to get some ideas.

Make sure you’re doing the upfront research to maximize your relevancy score and improve the people that will be clicking on your ad.

Write Compelling Copy

No matter how you’re running a Google ad, you don’t have a ton of space to write a lot of copy. Make sure what you’re using resonates with your ideal client and gives them a reason to click on your ad.

How do you do that? Include the keyword/keyphrase in your ad, make sure you’re hitting a pain point of some kind, and tell them you have the solution. Then give them an incentive to click! It’ll take some practice to finesse your copy, but Google actually gives you great tools that guide you as you create ads.

Measure & Test

If you’re not willing to check in on your ads and make some tweaks, then you shouldn’t be running ads. Google ads are rarely a “set it and forget it” thing. Instead, be prepared to spend some time checking on your ROI, seeing how many leads you’re getting, and even where you might be losing people.

Much like with all digital marketing, data here can really tell a story of what’s working and what’s not. When I create Google ads, especially for the first few months, I’m often tweaking once or twice a week. You’ll learn far better what’s working and what’s not, and you can even apply that to your organic strategies, too.

Grow Your Business with Ads

If you’re ready to start growing your business at a rapid rate, Google ads is a great place to get started. It can help you leverage your business against your larger competitors and reach more of your ideal client faster.

You just need to make sure you’re all set and ready to go before you craft that first campaign!

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