Getting Started with Google Ads: Beginner FAQ Guide

Think of this FAQ as your step-by-step guide to mastering Google Ads. We’ll tackle the essentials, answer your most burning questions, and give you that insider knowledge for successful campaigns if you’re new to Google Ads; great! Let’s take this journey together.  If you’re already experienced, this guide may provide valuable reminders and troubleshooting tips.

The Fundamentals

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So, Google Ads… what is it?

Let’s ditch the corporate jargon and break it down. Google Ads is Google’s massive self-service advertising platform. It’s where you bid for placements across the Google product system to reach users. Win the bid (which we’ll talk about later), and your ad magically appears at the top of the Google search results page (SERP) and other Google inventory. This includes Paid Search and Shopping, obviously, but also includes the extensive ecosystem of YouTube, Gmail, and other Google Apps. 

How does this whole Google Ads thing work?

Google Ads is an online advertising platform that uses a bidding system. Advertisers can create ads that target specific keywords and display them in search results. Picture it like an exclusive auction with Google. You’re bidding on keywords or audiences related to your business. Google Ads uses a system called pay-per-click (PPC). That means you fork over some cash only when an interested person clicks on your ad. There are other pricing models for YouTube inventory, but for the most part, most targeting is based on cost-per-click. 

Google Ads? SEO? Help, I’m drowning in acronyms!

Breathe! Let’s simplify. Google Ads and SEO (Search Engine Optimization) help you land in Google search results. Here’s the critical difference.  Google Ads is paying for express shipping. Results are faster but come with a price tag. SEO is that scenic hike to the top; it requires sweat and long-term strategy but is cheaper overall.

How much does Google Ads cost?

That’s like asking how much it costs to build a house – it depends on your ambitions! It’s beautiful. You get to set your budget. That could be pocket change or a small fortune, depending on the keywords you chase. Google has a handy guide to setting your advertising budget.

Getting Started

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I’m convinced! How do I start this Google Ads?

It’s simpler than it looks, we promise! First, head over to the Google Ads. Hit the big “Start now” button and follow the step-by-step guide.

What essentials do I need for my Google Ads adventure?

Before embarking, think of these as your digital survival kit.
Google Account is your trusty key to all things Google. If you have Gmail, you already have one!
While a website is technically optional, having a website for those ad clicks is highly recommended. Don’t have one? Google can help you whip up a simple one!
Finally, know your advertising goals: More eyeballs on your brand? Conversions galore? This gives your campaign direction.


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Keywords sound essential, but how do I find the right ones?

Choosing the right keywords is a big deal. Luckily, Google’s Keyword Planner is your all-knowing tool. This planner tells you how hot a keyword is (search volume), if it’s got expensive competition, and offers tasty alternatives. Get started with Google’s Keyword Planner. Alternatively, paid tools like SEMRush and SpyFu provide additional keyword planning tools.

Okay, I have keywords. What do I do with them?

Building a Google Ads campaign is fun! You craft your ad groups with relevant keyword themes, plan your match type to align with your strategy, and craft keyword-optimized ad copy to help maintain the highest quality score for your target keywords.  Start small, in paid search, and work from there.  Broad match topics and DSA can be a great starting point for general campaigns until you have specific keyword targets you are comfortable designing a campaign with. Aside from directly targeting keywords, investigate how to use these to generate custom interest audiences that can be used in creative channels. 

Campaign Management

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How do I manage my Google Ads budget?

Remember the golden rule: A well-managed budget means a happy client. Google makes it easy! You can adjust those daily budget caps to control spending, plus play with bids to adjust how much campaigns are utilizing their daily budget. It’s a delicate dance between staying competitive and not busting your bank. Need some expert guidance on those financial moves? Google has a guide on managing your campaigns.  

This bidding thing has me stumped. Can you explain it like I’m five?

There are manual bidding strategies and automated bidding strategies.  The manual is the traditional PPC model, where advertisers are accustomed to setting a maximum CPC bid. With automated strategies, these automatically shift bids for us based on the bidding strategy and the goal we are optimizing toward in the campaign.  Automated bidding strategies should almost always be your go-to, except for Brand Search campaigns or manual CPV / CPM campaigns in video.  

How do I target my ads so people click them?

From location and language to interests and browsing habits, your choices for targeting are endless. It’s all about selecting the right keywords or audiences. For targeting options, dive right into Google’s instructions.

Okay, my ads are crafted, and budgets are set, but how do I know if this is working?

Keeping an eye on initial performance stats is critical! Track cost, traffic, conversions, and CPCs. Monitor your search query report diligently to find negative keywords to help refine traffic.  

Help! My Google Ads aren’t showing. What’s the deal?

We’ve all faced the panic of a “missing” ad. Think of this as digital troubleshooting 101. It might be low bids, ad relevance, or an account-setting mishap. Check the status of your campaigns, ad groups, and ads of the affected campaigns.  Check to see if you have any recent conversions.  Check audience list sizes to see if they fell under the threshold for being data eligible.  These are all common account issues that cause new campaigns to tank.  Utilize the Ad Preview and Diagnostic Tool and your Google Rep to troubleshoot problems you cannot solve by quickly reviewing your account. 

Optimization & Power Moves

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Crafting excellent ad copy is intimidating. Any help?

Let’s channel your inner creativity! Aim for attention-grabbing headlines, specific benefits (Unique Selling Points, Unique Value Props, Benefits, etc.), and that ever-important call to action (CTA). Don’t be afraid to experiment with dynamic elements, like Dynamic Keyword Insertion tokens, which can help improve quality scores.

What’s this CTR I keep hearing about? And do I need to care?

CTR stands for “click-through rate”. Picture it as measuring the overall sexiness of your ad. A high CTR means tons of folks are clicking, so Google says, “Ooh, people like this one!” and usually show it more often. Optimizing titles, descriptions, and alluring CTAs is a CTR super boost. Expected CTR is also a metric that factors into Quality Score, so making sure CTR is as high as possible for individual keywords is an optimization tactic you will want to engage in frequently. 

Conversion tracking just sounds complicated. Do I need a developer?

Conversion tracking is the MVP of advertising measurement. It is the key to automated bidding strategy optimization. Conversion data equals decisive decision-making! There are several ways to set up conversion tracking, and your industry, tech stack, or even your goals can all change the method and implementation of Google Tracking.

We recommend utilizing Google Tag Manager, especially with Server Side Tracking, to house your GAds and GA4 tags, along with other channels you may be advertising on.  We also recommend Enhanced Conversions.  Learn more about how to set up Google Ads Tracking through GTM.  

How do I keep these campaigns feeling fresh and compelling?

Google Ads isn’t “set it and forget it,” Regular tune-ups are essential to staying one step ahead! Analyze your data, adjust bids, review the SQR, and break out top performers. Think of it as tending to a very profitable digital garden. Google even has an entire section on optimizing your campaigns.

So, how do I outsmart the competition? Spill those insider secrets!

There’s no silver bullet, but try this winning combo: spy tools for competitor analysis, snagging those long-tail keywords for cheaper clicks, and tweaking your ads to outshine the crowd. Here’s the thing: staying ahead of the game in Ads means constant learning and experimenting! Stay on top of auction insights, note when competitor terms appear in your search queries report, and deeply dive into campaign performance where impression share and click share seems too low. 

Extensions sound fancy. What exactly do they do?

Imagine extensions as power-ups for your ads! They beef things up with useful links, contact info, promotions, etc. For example, a restaurant could have extensions adding their website menu or making reservations right from the ad.

Does remarketing still work?

Remarketing is your second chance in the digital world. It’s the art of retargeting visitors who once took a peek at your website but didn’t convert. For Google, if you have dynamic remarketing lists set up correctly, this will fuel your Display and Performance Max campaigns with personalized, responsive product display ads. 

What’s the point of Google Ads Editor? Do I need another tool?

The editor is for the professionals – and a lifesaver for serious advertisers. Need to bulk-edit a ton of campaigns? The editor has your back. Crave offline access to campaigns? You got it! This power tool unlocks next-level campaign management – a bit overkill for beginners, but worth learning later!


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Help! My ad has been denied. What did I do wrong?

It happens to the best of us! Google lists common reasons ads get disapproved (think sensitive topics, shady claims, etc.). The fix usually involves changing a word here and fixing an image there. Get those ads back in the game with their official policy violation help section.

My account got suspended. Is this the end of my Google Ads dream?

Not necessarily! It’s like getting benched mid-game – disappointing, but you might have another chance. First, dig into the reasons behind the suspension. Common triggers are billing hiccups or policy violations. Once you pinpoint the issue, Google often provides steps to fix it and get those ads running again.

My CPC is through the roof! How do I get it under control?

High CPC (cost-per-click) means those clicks eat your budget faster than a midnight cookie session. Try these money-saving moves: refine your keywords for cheaper long-tail alternatives, boost your Quality Score (Google’s measure of ad quality), and revisit your bidding strategies.

I need help finding results – are Google Ads a bust?

Slow down! Success rarely happens overnight. Double-check your setup: Are you targeting the right people? Are your ads enticing enough? Conversion tracking should also reveal areas for improvement. Give your ads time to cook – data takes time to tell the story. Don’t lose hope just yet! If you are still stumped, reach out for a free audit. 

Well, you are done! You’ve covered much ground in the Google Ads landscape. From the basics to some advanced techniques, you’ve expanded your knowledge. But remember, Google Ads is an ever-evolving platform.  Stay curious, keep experimenting, and you’ll continue to see positive results.