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Advertising on Google is a great idea for any business, but can be a little daunting for a first-time user. Here is you can start your AdWords campaign on a good footing and avoid losing your shirt.

Eyes Wide Open

The first thing to remember when advertising on Google is that Google is a publicly traded company that is responsible to its shareholders to increase value. That means they are trying to make as much profit as possible. Advertising comprises over 90% of Google’s revenue, so that profit comes from advertisers. Google is very smart and has lots of ways to get you to spend your money. These steps will make sure that you are only spending money that is profitable for your business as well. Truly a Win-Win situation.

Step 1 Conversion Tracking

Before you’ve spent a single dollar, make sure you have correctly installed conversion tracking. For a lawyer or HVAC company this might be a form submission on your site or a phone call. For ecommerce companies this will be actual transactions.

This is how you know what is working and what isn’t working. Conversion tracking will surface which keywords are driving conversions and which aren?t. You’ll see which ad copy gets conversions and which doesn’t. You’ll see things that cost you money and don’t generate conversions (kill this stuff). Without conversion tracking you’re flying blind, so this is step 1.

Step 2 Exact Match Keywords

I could write an entire post about keyword match types in AdWords, but AdWords already did. Read it here. There is some nuance to it, but when you’re starting an account and you want to be very focused with your budget, use exact match keywords. They have square brackets around them and look like this: [keyword here].

This match type informs Google that you don’t want to show up for something related to what the person searched (broad match), something close to what the person searched (modified broad match), or a search that had the keyword in it somewhere (phrase match). It tells Google you want people who searched that keyword and only that keyword. This means you show on fewer searches, but they will be more relevant and clicks will be higher quality.

Step 3 Write More Than One Ad

In the online marketing industry there is an acronym ABT that means Always Be Testing. It’s a motto that every online marketer should follow. Start by writing more than 1 ad for each ad group. That way you can have two different approaches (features vs. benefits or time-saving vs. low cost) being shown to potential customers and their clicks tell you which they like better. That’s right, you can turn AdWords into your own personal focus group. Here’s a post I wrote telling you exactly how to do it.

Step 4 Set Bids & Budgets Correctly

AdWords has two different bid suggestions in their keyword tool. One is the first page bid and the other is the top of page bid. While you can use these as general guidelines, I recommend you take them with a massive grain of salt. Instead, look at your average position.

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Average position tells you where your ad show up. Average position of 2.0 says you’re showing up very well. If it’s 6.7 you should probably increase your bids. This is real data based on your actual bid and quality score, so you can trust it much more than and AdWords ?recommendation.

Also, set your campaign daily budget at an amount you can live with, but not so low that you couldn’t get at least a few clicks/day.

Step 5 Send People To The Best Page Possible

I recommend you use dedicated landing pages for AdWords traffic. However, I understand that sometimes there are limitations (resources, budget, etc.) so I’ll talk in more generic terms.

First though, your home page should most likely not (won?t say never, but close) be a landing page for AdWords traffic. Why? Because you know something about this person based on what they searched. We call it intent. With that intent, what page is better at delivering what they want? If you don’t have a page that’s better than the home page you probably should make one. Get people what they want and make it quick. Your conversion rate will thank me.


These 5 steps will help you start an AdWords campaign that is measurable and focused. You’ll know what’s working and what isn’t and then you can adjust and optimize as you go. Now get out there and get started!