Google Ads 101

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A Basic Guide to Understanding Google Ads

The world of digital marketing is ever-changing, which is especially true when it comes to digital advertising. One of the most popular forms of digital advertising is done on Google Ads. Although a powerful tool for businesses to have in their arsenal, Google Ads can be intimidating for small business owners due to its steep learning curve and technical aspects.

What is Google Ads?

Google Ads is an online advertising platform run by Google that is designed to help businesses advertise their services and products to consumers. There are many different forms of Google Ads, such as search ads, video ads, and display ads, among others. Search ads, which are the bread and butter of Google Ads, appear when a user types a search into Google that matches the keywords the ad is running on, but we will dive more into this later. 

Google Ads offers businesses the opportunity to target consumers that are making intent-based searches. When someone enters a search into Google, they have a goal in mind, whether it be to find new information, hire a new contractor, or buy a new couch. There is a purpose behind their search. This is where Google Ads differ from many other types of online advertising. With other advertising platforms, the advertiser targets the type of audience they want their ad to be shown to, whereas with Google, your audience comes to you through your selected keywords.

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How Do Google Ads Work?

While no one outside of Alphabet, Inc. knows all of Google’s intricacies when it comes to their algorithm, we are here to tell you what you need to know. 

When creating a search campaign on Google Ads, an advertiser will be taken through a series of basic steps, such as choosing a bidding strategy and selecting locations to target. A bidding strategy, such as maximize clicks or maximize conversions should be carefully chosen based on how much historical data a campaign or an ads account has, and the goals of the advertiser. Next, the advertiser will choose the keywords they want to target. These are extremely important as they are what will trigger ads to compete for a chance to show up when a user submits a search query. It is vital that an advertiser chooses keywords that are relevant to their service or product. For example, if a company sells specialty coffee, they will want to choose keywords such as “specialty coffee” and “best gourmet coffee.” Advertisers will also need to decide whether they want their keywords to be matched on a broad match, phrase match or exact match basis.

After choosing keywords, the advertiser will need to create the ad that will show up when their keywords are searched. This involves writing relevant and eye-catching headlines along with descriptive and enticing descriptions. Lastly, you will need to add your assets, such as sitelinks, call-outs, and structured snippets, among others. Now it is time to set a budget and publish the ad! 

Once a campaign is published, Google will start to serve the ad when people search for keywords that the campaign is set to bid on. When a user triggers a campaign’s keywords, an ad auction begins. During this split second auction, Google will decide which ads will be served based on a variety of factors including the relevance of an ad, budget, and ad rank. If an ad makes it through the auction, it is shown to the user who has the ability to click on the ad to be redirected to the advertisers landing page.

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Best Practices for Google Ads Success

Before building out campaigns in Google Ads, advertisers should always make sure to conduct thorough keyword research through a tool that measures keyword volume and competition. There are free options, with Google even having their own tool inside of the Google Ads platform, as well as paid options, such as Semrush. While the keywords an advertiser chooses to target need to be relevant to their company, they should also take into consideration the volume and competition difficulty of the keyword.

When running Google Ads, advertisers should always have conversion tracking set up, either through Google Ads, or even better, through Google Analytics, which is officially switching over to their new platform, GA4, on July 1, 2023. Tracking conversions through Google Ads or Analytics is an absolute must for anyone running Google Ads as it is what tells advertisers if their ads are resulting in sales, leads, clicks to key landing pages, and/or form sign-ups. This provides advertisers with the data they need to make decisions on how to best optimize their ads.

While the content of an ad is very important, equally as important is where the consumer ends up after clicking on the ad. Advertisers should make sure that the landing page is optimized including relevancy and matching the keywords the ad was triggered by. 


While running successful Google Ads is no easy feat, there are steps advertisers can take to simplify the process while setting themselves up for success. This blog covers just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to running successful Google Ads, but there are many great resources available for learning and even becoming certified in Google Ads.

Don’t have time to get certified yourself? No problem! Our team includes Elizabethe Coates, a certified Google Ads Specialist (who actually wrote this blog!) If you need help running Google Ads campaigns, Meerkat Media Group is here to help.

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