Get started with Google Adwords

Google Adwords

In a single punch, Google sums up their Adwords digital advertising with the following ad they placed in a newspaper:

Google Adwords Newspaper Ad Globe & Mail

This was actually a witty little publicity stunt by them, since they were showing that traditional print media isn’t the best way to advertise (the irony of actually using traditional media to do so isn’t lost on us). Print isn’t necessarily something we think you should overlook, but that depends on your industry and location. What we do think, or rather what we know, is that ads on Google work. If someone is looking for a new pair of running shoes, a supermarket or a haircut, odds are pretty high that they’ll search for it using Google.

Whether you are selling goods or services or have any type of business, big or small, there is a really significant chance that your customers are already searching for what you’re offering. Are your customers finding you?

Organic results vs. paid results

Let’s start by explaining the difference between natural or organic results and paid results on Google.

When you do a search, you’ll get results that are arranged based on your browsing habits, location and device used, but for the most part most searches will include organic results and paid results. Below are the results from a desktop search:

Google search results organic and paid

And below are the results from a mobile device:

Organic and paid search results for mobile

For the purposes of this article, we’re not really going to dive into the organic results. Important as they are, things like Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), Page rank, content and all that is for another day. It is complementary to getting more people to visit your website, but it needs a somewhat separate approach.

The paid results don’t just appear with search engine searches, but also on Google’s massive affiliate network: if you use Gmail you’ll be familiar with the email-content relevant ads on the top/side or if you’re reading certain blogs you’ll see ads for related websites and businesses on the side. These are paid ads put in place with Google Adwords.

Getting started with Adwords

So, you want ads to appear when people are searching for you or your industry? We’ll, let’s get going!

Head off to and log in with your Google account (or create a free one).

The steps are pretty straightforward, as from the four steps below, but we’ll go through all of them.

Welcome to Adwords

Now you need to put some thought into what you want your campaign to accomplish. Think about what your budget is going to be, where you want the ads to show (certain cities/countries/languages) and if you want your ads to show just for search campaigns or also on content pages. Think about a goal like “get more people to visit my site” or “sell more mountain bikes”

Click on create your first campaign.

We’re going to create ads for a fictional mountain bike shop called CycleFast. Our first campaign is just to sell more mountain bikes, so we’re calling it “Mountain bikes”. We only want these ads to appear for Google searches and their display network.

Choose campaign name
We’re going to include the Google search network in our result and have our ads display for desktops, tablets and mobile devices.

Since we’re a (fictional) Cape Town bicycle shop that currently only ships to a couple of cities, we’ll select them as our target location:

Adwords - choose target locations

We need to set how much we want to spend on our campaign. Later on we’ll enter some keywords that we want to bid on: the more competitive a keyword, the more expensive it becomes. We can decide how much money we want to spend on each person clicking on our ads or we can have Google set the bids within our budget.

Bidding options

For our ads, we’re going to include ad extensions to show our telephone number for customers to easily get in touch with us.

Extend Google ads with phone number

Let’s save and continue.

Save and continue

Now after we’ve set up our Mountain bikes category, we can set groups of ads for this category. We’re going to create three groups of ads: Huey mountain bikes, Dewey mountain bikes and Louis mountain bikes (the three types of mountain bikes that we sell). For our first ad group and ad, we’ll choose:

Create Google ad

We’ll get an instant preview of what our ads will look like:

Ad preview

Now we need to set our keywords for the ads. Think like a buyer when you choose the keywords – what are you most likely to search for when looking for a certain product, page or service? There are long tail keywords, such as “” and short tail keywords such as “bicycle”.  Over time you’ll refine your campaign to have keywords that a lot of (relevant) people are searching for, but the ones that aren’t overly competitive (so that you wouldn’t have to pay too much when people click on them).

Keywords Google Adwords

Google has a great keyword tool to help you if you’re stuck.

We know that our customers are often on the Cycling World forum and that they read the Mad Horse blog on the Mountain Madness website, so we’ll add these.

Google ads placement

We’ll make small variations of each of our ads to try to find out which ones people are more likely to click on. These variations are easy and fast to make.

Once we have our ads under our ad groups under our campaign, we can set up billing.

The billing setup is very straightforward. If you have an Adwords Voucher from PayFast, you can click the more actions tab and select Apply a promotional code. Unfortunately all of our current vouchers have been redeemed. We’ll let you know if and when we receive more from Google!.

It’s not over!

Now that you have your ads up and running, you need to monitor them. Google gives a wide array of (free) tools to monitor your account and visitors to your site.

A few things worth repeating:

1.  Make sure the landing page (the link where your ad will go) is appropriate to the content of the ad.
2. You understand the goal of your ads (what you want it to accomplish) and what you are paying (or willing to pay) to accomplish those goals.
3. Keep testing, tracking, analysing and refining. With hard (nay, smart) work, you’ll soon see results.

Useful links

Google’s step-by-step starter guide.
A printable PDF called “A guide to building successful Adword campaigns”.
A (60 minute) Webinar video  by Webucator called “Introduction to Google AdWords“.

We hope this little tutorial helps you in getting started with Google Adwords. As always, we appreciate your comments and feedback!

The Team @ PayFast