Google AdWords Step by Step Guide

Please note: this article is over 12 years old. Information may be out of date.

You must have an excellent keyword list selected if you want to get the most out of your advertising campaign with AdWords. Google is a costly form of advertising, therefore you will definitely need to do what it takes to benefit as much as you can. With that said, let's start our training on the steps to developing a great keyword list.


To start with you need to have a core list of targeted keywords. These are the words that your customers will type in to Google search to find your goods and services. Which keywords would you use to guide people to your website? Which are the most commonly searched, with the least competition?

Wordtracker offer a great tool to answer these questions for you, and it's FREE! Ok, they do offer a better subscription for $329 US per year, but the free version is also a great asset to use and in most cases is enough to determine the best keywords for your target audience when using Google AdWords.

There are many different search terms that will describe what you are offering and get your customers to your website, but how can you know which ones to use when advertising your goods and services? Follow these instructions:

  1. Write down the search terms that you think would best suit your business I advise you choose 10 base keywords and save these into a spreadsheet on the top of your list.
  2. Go to and enter your keywords in the space provided. Wordtracker will give you a list of keywords related to your base keyword. It will also tell you how many times these keywords have been searched. You can choose from here the higher searched keywords to add to your base keywords as an ad group.
  3. Key in your keywords (one at a time) into Google yourself, on the top right hand of the search results there will be a number displayed, this is the number of results for the search. If you then go and put "quotes" around your keyword in the Google search and run the search again, the number will then tell you how many websites are actually optimized for the particular keyword. Add these figures to your spreadsheet for future reference.
  4. Ideally you want keywords which receive a lot of searches (the number without quotes) and as little as possible optimized websites (the number with quotes). Anything under 10,000 results is great; these are the keywords you want to use.
  5. By now, you should have a smart list of targeted keywords. I suggest you keep track of the results of these search terms on your spreadsheet by monthly impressions so you can get a sense of which are more popular than others and which ones are working better for you.

Now that you have created a list of keywords to efficiently attract your customers it is vital create an inviting ad to bring them into your site. Google are strict with their guidelines:

  • Text only
  • 25 character title line
  • Description of your product or service in 2 lines up to 35 characters each
  • Your URL is limited to 35 characters also

It is vital that you use this space as wisely as possible to give prospects a descriptive and concise message about your product or service and to drive sales for best results.

Title Lines

Your title line is the first thing that your potential customer will see when searching for goods or services in which you would like to assist. With Google's affiliate network some sites will only display the title in their search results therefore with these distribution sites the only way you can propose the value of your site is through your title description. The title is really your only chance to catch a person's attention, even when it comes along with a full description, your title line is what will catch the interest of a prospective customer, transitioning them to read further and then click on to your site.

Remember, you only have 25 characters to accomplish this! So let's go to the spreadsheet we created in the previous article. Choose your most popular keyword and write a description of your product or service around that keyword with a sales driven message to entice.

Here are a few methods that have been proven to increase clicks if you can at all use them:

  • The word 'free' will increase clicks
  • Capital letters draws attention
  • A price will increase clicks if you are offering good value

It is not hard to change your message with AdWords so you can try a few different approaches to find the right words and phrases which will generate the most clicks. It is also a good idea to compare titles with those of your competitors, this way you can ensure that yours is the most appealing and really knock them out the way.


This is the main area of your sales pitch. You grabbed their attention with your title now you need to continue through and convince your potential customer to click on your link and reward themselves with the benefits that you have to offer. You must give as much relevant information as possible about your service to encourage qualified prospects to click on your site for further information, and also to discourage random clicks from unqualified prospects that do not quite fit into your target demographic.

In your description, include information that will outdo your competition. Any special products or services, better credit terms, hard to find products, flexible payment options, wider selection etc.

Where to Direct Your Link

So you have managed to get the customer to land on your site, nice and easy hey... The most important part now is to land the customer on the page of your site which is the most relevant to the search term. It is essential that your customer lands on a page that contains the exact information they were searching for which is not necessarily your home page.

Study each of your search terms to identify their most appropriate landing pages, and keep a record of this in your spreadsheet along with your keywords.

You also need to make sure that your page loads quickly to avoid impatient prospects abandoning the process, and check the links that you deliver are active as Google will charge per click, regardless.

Congratulations! Now you have great keywords and search phrases along with titles and descriptions to place you above your competition!

Now we will learn how to limit the distribution of your ad to interested prospects only.

Limiting your Ad Distribution

An essential component of AdWords is the limiting the distribution to those who are most targeted. It is by far a waste of your investments to be paying for unnecessary clicks to your site as well as risking your marketing strategy as far as Google are concerned. Stated on Google AdWords website, each account is evaluated after every 1,000 ad impressions are delivered. If the CTR (clickthrough rate) for your account falls below the varied minimum required CTR (which is on average 0.5%) Google will only show your ads occasionally on underperforming keywords. Keywords then may be disabled if they don't improve.

On the other hand, if you get a very high clickthrough rate on a basic keyword you will be paying through the roof so to speak so how do we moderate the CTR, and get your ads specifically to your targeted audience?

Improve Your Display Campaigns & Get More ROI

The answer is simple. Use Google's built in tool which provides

  • Phrase Match
  • Exact Match
  • Negative Keywords

The default setting for AdWords is 'Broad Match', which will bring your site up for a search using a keyword which is the same as one of the words in your search term but has a completely different meaning eg, if you were advertising toy box in a broad match your ad will be shown when somebody searches for wooden box, toy cars, toy dolls, box sets etc. These searches are far from targeted!

Making Sure Your Ad is Targeted

One way to target your ad appropriately is to use the 'Phrase Match' feature in Google AdWords. This will target searches that have searched for your phrase in order, this way the ad is going to target the audience that you intended to target. To do this simply place your search terms in "quotation marks" ensuring that only terms that include both terms in the correct order will bring up your ad such as toy box, toy box black or wooden toy box.

Another way to limit the distribution of your ads with Google AdWords is to use the 'Exact Match' feature which will only display your ad when the exact search is performed, narrowing your results, but targeting your audience very specifically. To do this you would place [parentheses] around your search term. Now, only the exact search term 'toy box' will cause your Google AdWords ad to be displayed.

The final tool we will be discussing is 'Negative Keywords'. This feature will exclude your ad from being displayed when any word is searched along side of your keyword. For example if you use the word 'free' as a negative keyword your ad will not be displayed when the word free is used as part of the search term. To do this you need to place a minus sign in front of your search term. Therefore if you want to exclude all searches for 'free toy box' and 'plastic toy box' our keyword list would include the following:

  • free
  • plastic

The information in this article will instantly place you into a group of Google AdWords marketers who have top clickthrough and conversion rates even if you have no prior Google AdWords experience you should by now be able to be top competition for others in your category.

Some advertisers want their ad positioned up the top of the search listings in the number 1 position at any cost. This approach is for those who are not afraid to spend up big in return for major traffic. The top listing is obviously the best position for any advertiser to be in, in most cases the top listing gains a lot more traffic than any of the lower listings. This approach can be very expensive to maintain and is only recommended for advanced marketers. This strategy can also cause a bidding war; only 1 ad gets to be in this position!

The opposite of this strategy is to bid no more than the minimum bid. Google AdWords bids can range from 9 cents up, obviously with the more popular words being much more expensive. Therefore the 9 cent terms will be the less popular which don't generate a lot of clicks. Using this strategy you will be assuming that prospects will look through the whole list of ads, and click on the lower bids.

Another approach is to look at the competitor's listings and what they have to offer. Then you would position your ad next to the listings which are uncompetitive to your ad, therefore attracting more clicks to your Google AdWords ad over the competition.

If you want your Google AdWords account to run on autopilot, without needing to alter or adjust any settings too often you could use a sensible approach of bidding simply what you would consider the maximum you are willing to spend per lead or qualified prospect who lands on your site. So if you expect to spend no more than $2.50 for each customer who lands on your site then you would bid $2.50 on your best keywords, with no need to research what the others are bidding.

Needless to say, you are able to access your AdWords as much as you like to make any changes if required.

Tracking Results

When you register your Google AdWords account you will be generating information which will help you to optimize your marketing activities. Google need to monitor the activity of each of your keywords and what your active bids were at the precise time of clicks in order to bill you.

These click reports will help you to optimize your activities therefore you need to familiarize yourself with the data that is provided. You will be able to see which keywords and search terms are generating their money's worth of clicks and which ones you could do without.

Depending on what you are promoting and your company website you may be able to create unique tracking URL's for each keyword or search phrase. If you do have this option it is a great benefit. Ideally, you want to know which keywords, descriptions and titles are getting the highest return on investment (ROI).

Return on Investment Report (ROI)

Regardless of how accurate you are able to track sales records I recommend you maintain an accurate as possible ROI report in order to manage your campaign by sales. If you are able to optimize your listings so you can benefit from the ones which are driving the highest volume of sales for the lowest cost you have successfully attained the desired outcome.

The aim here is to place all valid information onto a chart so you can easily see the results you are after. The headers of your chart will be:

  • Site: The site you are referring to (in this case, Google)
  • Keyword: The keyword or search phrase which has generated the click
  • Total cost: The total cost over the report period for the specified period
  • Clicks: The number of clicks your listing received during the reporting period
  • Cost Per Click: The average cost per click
  • Sales: Number of sales the keyword generated during the reporting period
  • Cost per Sale: Total cost divided by sales will give you the total cost per sale.

These reports are time consuming, but also well worth your efforts as this report will save you money and increase your sales in the long term. There are also outsourcing options for accurate ROI reporting.

This brings my Google AdWords article to a close. I am confident that the information that we have discussed will assist any marketer, including those of you who are new to PPC advertising, with Google AdWords techniques. These tips will place you above your competition and ensure you receive maximum clicks at a minimum cost.

Improve Your Display Campaigns & Get More ROI

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About The Author

Kelly and Andrew are Australian based internet marketers dedicated to support and guidance for upcoming entrepreneurs.

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