A Google AdWords Primer for E-Commerce Stores

With their domination of the internet, you’d think that Google would invest in a few UI designers. Unfortunately they don’t seem to think it’s worth the effort, and so we’re left with a clunky Adwords interface that looks like it came straight from a 90’s horror flick. After all, we’re still going to use it aren’t we, so why bother improving the design.

If you’re new to paid advertising with Google, you’re probably a little initimidated by the Adwords interface. It’s large and complicated and more than enough to deter you from setting up a campaign. However, if you’re looking for some quick traffic, there’s no better way to get started than with ads. While organic traffic is better for the long run, paid traffic can give you that quick boost you need at the start.

This primer will be your quick start guide to setting up your first Google Adwords campaign. Set aside a couple of hours and follow the steps in this primer to get up and running.

Step 0 – Create a Google Adwords account

If you already have a Gmail account, there isn’t much you need to do here. Head to AdWords and login with your Gmail account.

Step 1 – The Key lies in the word

The first thing you need to know is what keywords you want your ads to show up for. Keywords are the seach terms that people enter into Google. Google, in turn, sends back links and ads relevent to those search terms. If someone searches for “dog collars” in Google, they expect to see only stores and ads for dog collars.

If you don’t know what terms your customers are entering into Google, you can’t set up ads. That’s why you need a list of keywords that your customers will most likely use and that’s why Google has the all-important Keyword Planner (previously known as the Keyword Tool). Keyword Planned can be found under the Tools section in the navigational menu of Google AdWords.

You’ll see a screen that asks you what you’d like to do. Click on the first option – Search for new keyword and ad group ideas. You’ll then need to enter the product or products you want to advertise. This is what Google uses to generate keyword ideas.

You can get very specific or use general product groups depending on what you sell. For example, if you sell pet supplies, you can type in ‘pet supplies’ and other general terms. However, if you only sell dog collars, then entering ‘pet supplies’ might get you keywords related to cat food and that’s pointless. In fact, you can even set up negative keywords for words you don’t want showing up at all.

Google also allows you to target certain locations and languages. For example, if you only serve USA/Canada, or only English speakers, then there’s no point looking at results from South America.

When you’ve entered your information, click the ‘Get ideas’ button and wait for Google to do its magic. You’ll see two lists – Ad group ideas, and Keyword ideas. Ignore the Ad group ideas for now and click over to Keyword ideas.

The first entry is the keyword you entered. Below that are the related keywords that are being searched for when buyers look for your product. For example, the keyword ‘dog collar’ throws up related searches like ‘leather dog collars’, ‘personalized dog collars’ and so on.

To the right, you’ll see various data corresponding to each term. Average monthly searches is the number of times people have used that particular word or phrase in the Google search bar, averaged over the last 12 months. If you’ve put in an country or language filters, this number changes accordingly. If you hover over the little graph icon, you’ll see the numbers for every month of the last year. This is a cool way to see if that keyword is seasonal or stable across months.

The competition tells us how many other advertisers are bidding for that keyword. Google, thankfully, gives us a High, Medium or Low rating instead of some arcane number, so it’s easy for us to tell if a keyword is tough to advertise for or not. You want to look out for the hidden gems, the words with fairly high searches but fairly low competition.

The suggested bid is really the CPC or Cost-Per-Click. It’s an estimate of how much it would cost you to get a click on an ad that targets that keyword. Ad impression share is not useful to you right now so ignore it.

You can start adding keywords to your ad group. Pick out keywords that are relevent to your business. The best ones are the ones that are used most in searches but don’t have much competition. Try to pick as many as you can because we’re going to eliminate a few in the next step.

Step 2 – Estimating Traffic

With your list of keywords, head to the traffic estimation section of the Keyword Planner. If you’ve saved your keywords in an ad group, the group will show up automatically in this section. Otherwise you can enter your list manually and get estimates.

You need to enter a bid and daily budget to get detailed estimates. The daily budget depends on your budget but the maximum bid should be based on your conversions. Let’s say you sell each dog collar for $100 and you make a profit of $50. Yeah I know, that’s one expensive dog collar, but you use authentic Italian leather.

Anyway, let’s say your conversion rate is 1%. That means one out of every 100 people who visit your site purchases your dog collar. So to make one sale, you need 100 clicks on your ad. 100 clicks leads to a profit of $50. That means each click is worth no more that 50 cents.

Play around with different budgets and bids to optimize the cost of your ads. Google will show you a bunch of metrics for every bid-budget set you enter. You can view the metrics for the ad group as a whole or for individual keywords. Head over to the keywords tab to see th numbers for each word. The clicks per day are the average number of clicks you can expect, while impressions are the number of times the ad will show on a search.

The average position of your ad is an important one. Because there will be other advertisers using the same keywords, Google will place one above the other based on the bids. Obviously Google wants to maximize their revenues, so they’ll give the better position to someone who’s willing to pay more. An ad position of 1 is the best. Anything more than 8 means you’re not on the first page. If this happens, increase your bid to get a better position.

When you’re done playing around, pick out the best keywords and discard the rest. Some words just won’t get enough traffic, while some are just too expensive. There’s no point wasting time or spending money on these words when you can get clicks anyway from other words.

Step 3 – Start your campaign!

Alright, the grunt work is done. Now comes the fun part! Set up your campaign and watch the sales come in. Head over to the ‘Campaigns’ link in the header and start a new campaign.

Google offers different types of campaigns based on which network you want your ad to show up in –

  • The Search Network – This includes Google search results, and related search partners. You can select between four sub-types within this category. ‘Standard’ ads are just your regular text ads while ‘All features’ includes, as the name suggest, all available features. You also have the options of Product Listing Ads, for which you need an account with Google Merchant Center, and Dynamic Search Ads, which create ads dynamically based on search terms and related words from your site’s content.
  • The Display Network – This consist of Google’s partner sites, like Gmail and Youtube. Again, you have four options, the first being the ‘All features’ option. ‘Promote in mobile Apps’ lets you reach users on their iOS or Android phones. This is a good option if most of your customers shop on your site through their phones. ‘Remarketing’ targets people who have visited your site, and works well on shoppers who didn’t make a purchase, enticing them to come back to your site. ‘Engagement’ type ads are interactive ads that use rich media like photos and videos.
  • Search with Display – This is a combination of the two networks and is best if you want to reach the largest audience. You have the option of a ‘Standard’ ad or ads with ‘All features’.
  • Shopping – Choose ‘Shopping’ if you want to create Product Listing Ads from your inventory in Google’s Merchant Center. Ignore this for now, we’ll tackle it in a different post.

After selecting your campaign type, you need to customize your campaign. First up is the Location you want to target. If you ship worldwide, you can select ‘All countries’, otherwise enter the countries you want your ad to show in. You can even drill down and get really specific if you’re a local store. You can also exclude certain places, so if you ship to all US states except Alaska, you can select US as your country and enter Alaska as the state to exclude.

You can also target certain languages. Your ads will then show up for people who have entered that language as their primary language in Google. It will, however, remain in the language that you created it.

Next up is your bid strategy and budget. With bid strategy you can choose whether you want to manually set bids for your clicks, in which case you’ll be asked to set a default bid for keywords where you haven’t specified a custom bid. This setting gives you flexibility in choosing which keywords you really want to focus on by setting higher bids. If you don’t want to set this up on your own, or you don’t have the time, you can let Google do it for you and they’ll optimize your bid strategy using their algorithms.

Your budget puts a cap on how many times your ad shows up. This is so that you don’t end up spending more than you can afford. As your ad shows and you get clicks, your spend will get closer and closer to your budget and the frequency of your ad will reduce. If you chose Display Network only as your campaign type, you’ll get the option to show your ads at a regular interval or with decreasing frequency.

Next, there’s ad extensions. This just adds some extra data to your ad to make it more informative. For example if you have a retail store you can enter your location, and if you have call support you can enter your phone number.

Finally there are some advanced settings where you can really get into the nuts and bolts of your campaign. For example, you can manually set the times of the day you want your ads to show up and the frequency cap. The keyword matching option is interesting because it lets you include search typos and close variants of your keywords. So if your product or brand has a complicated name and people sometimes misspell it, this is a good option.

When you’re done, click the ‘Save and continue’ button at the bottom to go to the next step.

Step 4 – Create an ad group

An ad group is simply a group of advertisements with a common set of keywords. You can have multiple ad groups in a campaign, and within each ad group you can have multiple ads each targeting a specific keyword. For example, if you sell collars for dogs and cats, you can set up one ad group targeting cat collars and related keywords, and another targeting dog collars and related keywords. You’ll need to set up at least one ad group to get going.

You have multiple ad options, including app ads, mobile ads, product ads and dynamic ads. We’ll focus on the simplest of them, the text ad. That’s the you see in most searches. Google has two locations for your ads as you can see when you run a search. There’s the promoted links above the search results, and then there’s a bunch on the right sidebar. As you craft your ad copy, Google shows you a preview of what your ad will look.

You haven’t got too many words to play with so your ad copy needs to be short and captivating. You want to keep the copy relevant to the keyword you’re targeting, because that’s what the customer is looking for. An ad showing cat food for a dog collar search won’t get clicks.

You also want to give people a reason to click on your ad out of all the others. Offer something enticing, like a freebie, or a discount. You can even direct customers to a particular landing page that has a first-time offer with the Destination URL field.

You’re almost there now. Remember that keyword list you created earlier? Plug that in to the keywords box for the ad group. You can set your default bid for all the keywords in this ad group now but you can always change it later for each individual keyword.

Save the ad group and you’re done. Congratulations, you have your first ad up and running!

What’s next? Start optimizing your ad copy, and create more variations to test out different ads and landing pages. You can also run a parallel Product Listing Ad campaign for maximum benefits. We’ll be writing posts on both topics shortly so subscribe for updates.

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