I am sure you’ve heard stories of companies running Google Ads and having massive success.  You start to think about all of the sales you can get if you just threw up a few Google Ads.  You do a bit of research and you discover that you have to bid on keywords, set a budget, create campaigns and use extensions!?

It becomes overwhelming and most small businesses write off Google Ads after they spend a few hundred dollars without any results.   Google Ads work and they can give you results right now.  You can get up and running in less than an hour and if you do it right, you can start generating new sales at the end of the hour.

When people search on Google, they’re looking for something specific.  They are searching with intent, they are heading to Google to find solutions for their problems, and often times they are looking to purchase a product/service.

We love SEO, but it can't be rushed. Think of Google Ads as your way to go for more immediate results.  Before we jump into the Google Ads tutorial, here are a few stats that highlight the power of Google Ads:

  • 64.6% of people click on Google Ads when they are looking to buy an item online (Wordstream)
  • 89% of the traffic generated by search ads is not replaced by organic clicks when ads are paused (Google)
  • Businesses generally make an average of $2 in revenue for every $1 they spend on Google Ads. (Google)

Creating your Google AdWords Account

You can set up your Google Ads account at: https://ads.google.com/home/

They have a guided setup where you answer questions like your email address and website that you will be sending your ads to. You will also set your country, time zone, and currency.

The setup is pretty straightforward. There are some options and extensions for your ads that take a little more consideration, and we can walk you through that in the “Advanced” section on this page.

Tip> If your budget allows, take advantage of Google’s support.

01 Quality for Free

Note that once you have an AdWords account set up, you can import that into a Bing Ads account as well. That will post your ads on Bing, Yahoo, and AOL searches. bingads.microsoft.com.

Here’s What You’ll Need Before You Start:

  • A website (better: landing pages on your website)
  • Keywords — search terms you want to advertise on (better: organize those keywords into groups)
  • Ad copy and headlines — The messaging of your offer or service

1. Choosing Your Keywords

First, What are Keywords?

When you see “keywords” in reference to ads (or maybe “paid keywords” to be more precise,) think of these as the phrases people search in Google, and your ad would appear in front of them as a possible solution.

If a business sold balloons for special occasions, their keywords might include:

  • Helium balloons
  • Mylar balloons
  • Send a birthday gift
  • Kids party supplies

Keyword Match Types

Using the example above, their ads would work well for helium balloons and kids party supplies. If our seller wanted to cut corners and just go with any “balloon” search, that opens the door to bad matches.

Hot air balloon rides

This has nothing to do with their business, but they would end up losing money on any of their ads that people clicked. Choosing the right keyword match types is a major part of running an effective campaign.

Here’s a brief overview:

Exact Match: [helium balloons]

This should match searches with only this term as you typed it — without additional phrases tacked on before or after. The words have to stay in order.

Returns your ad on searches for helium balloons

Special note: It also returns your ad on “close variants,” and that includes misspellings like helium baloons.

Phrase match: “helium balloons”

This keeps your phrase together as you entered it (and in order),  but other words can come before or after (just not between) your words.

Returns your ad on searches for: buy helium balloons, helium balloons delivered

Special note: Won’t return ads on helium filled balloons

Broad Match: helium balloons

This will return variations (similar to what you saw with exact match), but it doesn’t have the limitations of whatever comes before or after it.

Returns your ad on searches for helium balloons for parties, inflatable balloons

Modified Broad Match: +inflatable +balloons

This adds a touch more control to broad match. Like exact match, it returns on variations (misspellings, abbreviations, plurals, and stems (like turning “inflate” to “inflated” or “inflatable”)

Returns your ad on searches for balloons inflated with helium, best balloon inflation techniques

One of the important things to note about broad modified is that it does not trigger for synonyms like broad match does. This is often times misunderstood. Broad modified is more like using exact match with a wild-card.

Read more here about choosing the right match types.

Start with the Best Keywords for Your Campaign

Since you pay for any click that your ad gets, you want to match your ad to the most relevant searches possible.

You can brainstorm keyword ideas, but there’s a short cut. We recommend these steps to find the most profitable, effective keywords for your campaign.

Find the Best Longtail Keywords for Your Market

Tip> Keywords are not case-sensitive. Also, avoid non-standard characters like: ! @ % *

2. Best Practices: Ad Copy

Once you are ready to create your ads, follow these best practices for writing headlines and ad copy.


You have 25 characters to grab someone’s attention. Forget calling them “readers;” at this point they are “browsers,” skimming the page to see what might answer their search.

02 Headline

Your headline should be attention-getting (but not misleading), relevant, and clear. Every headline has the same single objective: make them read the next line.

Create headlines with the actual searches in mind. It’s tempting to use an umbrella term like “A wide selection of ink toner” for all ink toner products, but you’re missing out on a feature that plays in your favor.

Google often bolds the words in a headline that match what the user searched. If the user searches HP cyan refill, a better headline is “Cyan refills for HP printers.”

Tip> Consider dynamic keyword insertion. It automatically drops the exact keyword into your headline, and it’s best used in your highly-specific ads for products or services that you offer.

When the ad on a “print your own t-shirts” search tells them that they can indeed print their own t-shirts, you can expect a qualified visitor clicking through to your site.

Ad Copy

Be enticing and clear about what you can do for the reader. You have 2 lines (of 35 characters each) to describe your offer.

03 Ad

Your ad copy is your shot at getting someone to understand what you offer and then click through to learn more or to take advantage of that offer. Anything vague or mysterious can only waste your money on clicks from high bounce rate visitors.

When you are setting up your account, be prepared with ad variations for different keyword groups. This might be a product line or different services. For example, your ads for “print your own t-shirts” would be different from your ads for “custom kids t-shirts” since the reader has a specific product in mind.

Landing Page

High-performing ads get customers to your site, and you pay for them whether or not the visitor buys (or signs up). That means to be successful overall, your ads need to point to a strong, relevant landing page that delivers on what the ad promised.

The great thing about the display URL is that it does not have to be the actual landing page URL. You can take advantage of this and use it to your marketing advantage, by creating a display URL like www.mysite.com/keyword-you-searched-for. (Any matching keywords in the URL usually get automatically bolded in the results, too!)

Most sites do keep the same domain in the display URL as in the actual destination URL. It’s a good practice.

04 URL

3. Adjust Default Settings

We usually accept default settings as the easiest path when starting something new. In Google Ads, they aren’t always in your campaign’s best interests and could cost you money.

Before you launch a new Google Ads campaign, you might want to turn some of those off (or edit). Here are the most important tips to remember.

Don’t go for the combo deal.

Google suggests that you start with a package deal -- search and display advertising.

The display setting will eat through your budget before you’ve had a  chance to find your groove.

Choose your own features

Once you select the search network, it turns on the Google Ads Campaign Default Settings. Added-on features like these can cloud the process when you're just starting. We suggest that, here, you turn on “All features.”

This will give you a few more choices that make sense at this stage.

Expand your extension options

The hidden extensions are a bit more advanced and probably used more once you’ve got a campaign underway. I can see Google’s reason for cutting potential distractions, but they might be a good fit for you. Decide for yourself. These are the options you would otherwise miss:

  • App - This shows up on mobile and tablet searches, letting you connect your ad to your app.
  • Reviews - Your ads can include customer feedback from 3rd party review sites.
  • Callouts - This is additional information to highlight a unique service like “free shipping” or “price matching.”
  • Structured Snippets - Pull details about a product or an offer from your landing page into your ad.
  • Site links extensions offer extra real estate for your ads and help your ads stand out a bit more. Also, they provide links to possibly more relevant content

Advanced settings

Here are more options that come available when you turn on “all features.”

  • The schedule setting is a budget stretcher. It helps you reach people at the right time. It also starts and ends your campaign if you need to run your ads across specific dates.
  • Ad delivery/ad rotation - You can run multiple ads for the same search. It lets you try new messaging or spread out what you want to say. (See more details below.)
  • Dynamic search ads - This is a unique setting for businesses with many products or services. AdWords will serve up content from your landing pages (that Google has indexed) to match the search.
  • Campaign URL options - Give you flexibility to add tracking codes to your URLs.

(Tip) - A word about ad delivery/ad rotation

There is some tricky language in the ad rotation options that could give you a false sense of confidence.

Unless you have a short amount of time to manage this campaign, avoid the auto-optimize options. They’re tempting, but you need objective data to really know what is working well. Remember, testing is crucial to your business success.

Rotate your ads evenly until you have enough feedback about click through rates, conversions, and costs to choose a winning message.

Target a location

The default setting captures a broad group. If you have location-based products or services, a targeted location is a good way to save money from clicks that aren’t likely to convert.

If you don’t want to show ads to anyone outside of your geographic coverage area, be sure to choose “people in my targeted location.”

Don’t scroll past this one. It’s shown as “Location Settings (Advanced).”

Understand Who Search Partners Are

Google turns on “Search Partners” by default. It’s important that you learn more about where your ad might appear outside of a Google search result page.

Other than YouTube, Google doesn’t clearly state the full list of their search partners, but it mentions that there are hundreds of qualifying sites. That includes sites that use the Google search tool on their page as well as other search engines like AOL and Ask.com.

That expands the potential reach of your ads, and click through rates on those sites do not affect your overall Quality Score. However, Google leaves room for adjustment when it states that your ad might appear on "other pages related to the person's search."

Google continues to update and grow its ad platform, so--even if you are creating your third, tenth, or 20th campaign--review the default settings with a bit of scrutiny. They aren’t always in your campaign’s best interests.

I’ve started an account, but where do I go from here?

4. Expand keywords by reviewing what works for your competitors

Your competitors have already road-tested an approach with the same audience you’re targeting. Learn what worked and also from what didn’t.

Watch for patterns and consistency. When a competitor runs an ad on a keyword, that’s notable. When that same competitor bids toward the upper range for this keyword and does so month after month, that tells you that the keyword is promising. Pay attention to the keywords they buy repeatedly–as well as the ad copy they run with it.

Pro Tip: Here are 6 ways to create an effective Adwords strategy

5. Advertise on long tail keywords

Once you establish core topics that work for you, it’s time to explore longer search phrases that stem from them. Use your more successful keywords and brainstorm ways that people would ask specific questions about them. Use locations and situations for inspiration.

Core Keyword Long Tail Suggestion
Find a plumber Licensed plumber for water heater repair
Screen shot software Screen shot software for iPad
Photography Online digital photograph course

Using long tail keywords gives you a 3-step boost:

  1. The visitor is already tuned in to what you’re offering.
  2. You can be ultra-specific with your landing page, giving your quality score a boost.
  3. Strong quality score leads to lower CPC and better ad position, which means more clicks for less money.

Tip> There are tools to help you find more effective long tail keywords for your campaign. We’ve listed a few.


Type a ”starter keyword” idea into SpyFu’s search bar, and select the Related Keywords tab. SpyFu finds the results from competitors who buy the core keyword and also looks at similar keywords those sites buy month after month.

Uber Suggest

If you start with a root word like “coffee” the tool serves up longer variations that might inspire new keyword ideas for you–“coffee shops near me.” You can ask the tool to suggest keywords tied to universal search types like images, shopping, YouTube, and news.


Similar to SpyFu, enter a keyword and get new ideas for expanded, similar terms. It tacks on the search volume with few other results to help limit distractions.

Google Auto Suggest

Type some of your keywords into Google, and note the phrases that Google suggests. These suggestions are updated in real time and sure to generate some traffic, since they are based on actual user searches and not a word bank.

Google Auto Suggest

6. Try new ad copy ideas

Have you updated your ad copy since you launched your campaign? If not, small tests can pay off big. Not only does optimized ad copy drive more people to your site (per ad), but a better click through rate leads to higher quality scores.

Let your current standings guide you:

  1. Set a benchmark with every version of your ad copy.
  2. Compete against yourself. Try to improve your performance over where you are now. Don’t worry about click rates that other businesses or industries get. Start with small wins and build from there.
  3. Come up with variations/changes that are still relevant to that ad group or keyword.

Measure more than just traffic counts.

Be sure to measure wins by their bottom line. In other words, just because ad variation A gets more clicks, ad variation B may get more conversions. And, just because ad variation B gets more conversions, ad variation C may account for higher-dollar sales.

When possible, always measure performance by ROI, or more common among advertisers: ROAS (return on ad spend). By doing this, you are guaranteed to identify the true winners and losers in your AdWords campaign.

7. Advanced Options


Extensions are optional features you can turn on that give your ad more options. They can give the reader your phone number or location. Or, they can show different site links that that you want searchers to see (like About Us, Schedule an Appointment, or Menu).

05 Extensions

There are also automated extensions that pull in site reviews and ratings.

Tip> Along with the cost per click for an ad, you might pay for a click on certain extensions like downloads and calls. Additionally, your ad must meet a minimum Ad Rank to qualify for extension use.

Your Ad Rank is the combination of your bid and the quality of your ad and landing page.

This lets you set your ads to run only during set times of the day. Dayparting, when done well, helps you target your customers when it makes the most sense, and it could drop your ad costs. This might be ads for a lunch special between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., or ads for a weekends-only promo that points to a time-sensitive landing page.

Tip>Find this in AdWords as a “custom schedule” or an “ad schedule” in the Settings tab.

A visitor comes to your site and browses your sunglasses page. They move on to other websites, and your ad for the same tortoise shell sunglasses that they saw appears while they’re reading a news article or scrolling through videos.

That’s remarketing in action. You can set it up for your display ad to appear on another site through the Google Display network or as a text ad through the Google Search Network.

06 Remarketing

Tip> You will need to get a snippet of code from AdWords and place it on your site. Then, set up lists so that Google knows exactly what the visitor has to see or do on your site before it triggers your ad on another page.

Dynamic Keyword Insertion

As mentioned before, using dynamic keyword insertion lets you instantly customize the ad to match what the visitor was searching.

07 Dynamic Insert

You can dynamically insert the search term into the headline or into the ad copy itself.

A word of caution: scour your match types on these keywords carefully, because if you don’t offer exactly what they searched, your ad ends up wasting you a click and frustrating a potential customer.

Example: Phrase matching “soccer cleats” with a dynamically inserted keyword can show up on a search for “youth soccer cleats.” If you have only adult sizes, this isn’t a good ad.

(Bonus!) – Use AdWords Templates to fast-track your campaign setup

I am going to show you exactly how to download and use Spyfu AdWords templates in 2019.


The best part?

You can download your AdWords templates right now!  If you don’t see your industry, you can submit a template request and we’ll work on getting that built.

If you prefer to watch a video, check out our tutorial below:

Let’s jump right in…

1. What’s in the template?

One of the hardest parts of advertising online might be solved with a ready-made Google AdWords campaign. Having already-built PPC campaign templates lets you fast forward through the set-up.

Deciding to launch a Google AdWords campaign is the easy part. It’s tougher to actually get it running. After brainstorming and researching keywords, you might be looking for reassurance that you’re investing in the right ones. Then, you’ve got to group them and write relevant eye-catching copy and bid competitively without losing too much of your budget.

SpyFu’s multiple tools help PPC managers with all of these steps, but we realize that the project can feel daunting. That’s where these AdWords templates can help.

At SpyFu, we don’t run PPC campaigns for customers, but we do study millions of them and we’ve created PPC campaign templates from this data. All of that research and knowledge tells us that there are a few components we could fine-tune and put into production.

We rolled those ideas into the design of our AdWords Templates tool (built into the SpyFu site).

Our AdWords campaign templates are handcrafted by our expert team. They act like a starter kit that you can take and apply to your business. You can choose your industry from our list and get your PPC campaign up and running within minutes.

drop down menu options for AdWords templates

The template is a file that includes pre-written ads for the most strategic keyword groups in that specific industry. What you get for “Pest Control” will be very different from what you’d get for “DUI Lawyer.”

Each template lets you set up a full, ready-to import AdWords campaign. The PPC templates include:

  • Relevant keywords for that industry, set to exact match
  • Bids — the price you plan to pay for each click — based on SpyFu competitive keyword data
  • All keywords organized into ad groups
  • Attention-grabbing ads: headline and copy for each ad group

2. How does it work?

Go to the AdWords Templates tab on SpyFu.com. Select an industry from our drop-down list, and we’ll immediately start the download. (Look for it in your downloads file or on the downloads bar.)

where is my downloaded template

All you have to do with the template is save it so you can import it into the AdWords Editor. The Editor will read the file to fill in the blanks as though you’ve spent hours building a campaign.

3. Do I need any special software to use it?

  1. Google Ads Editor
  2. An active Google Ads (Adwords) account

The template itself is a CSV file (a lot like an Excel spreadsheet), but you only need to save it. You will need to download the AdWords Editor from Google in order to put the template’s data to work.

4. Can I make changes?

Yes. The template gets you started, and you add the final touches before making it live. You’ll need to make basic changes like updating the URL for each ad. You can customize the campaign further like adding branded keywords and product keywords with their own ads.

It’s also important that you review the preset bids (and adjust if necessary). These are made to be competitive but skew low. We believe that you should be testing and updating your bids, so we give you room to move up. Overall, it’s important that they fit your budget.

The campaign doesn’t go live until you decide it’s ready. You’ve got total control over the keywords that you advertise on, how much you will bid for each one, the wording of the ads, and even the date that the ads start running.

comparison of required updates to optional updates in AdWords campaigns

5. You can do as much as you’d like to customize the campaign.

showing a targeted location on a map

Make as many edits as you’d like or keep it simple. Even taking just 5 minutes, you can get a new AdWords campaign off the ground without the tedium or headaches that go with it.

We’ve made them easy to use. There are instructions on the page to guide you along and offer any explanations you might need.