The Basics of Google AdWords

Google AdWords is an extremely powerful advertising tool when used efficiently; however it can be daunting when starting out. To help out new users, here are some of the basic vocabulary and tools for using Google AdWords.

It is important to get oriented with the organization of your Google AdWords account. Here is a helpful and simple image of how it is broken down:


*image borrowed from
Second: Vocab Lesson
Campaigns - Campaigns are your plan to reach the people who are most likely to want your offerings. Campaigns use the following elements to make sure your ads are visible to the right people at the right time

  • keywords - search phrases you think your customers may use when searching for something related to your offerings
  • ads - this is your unique messages about your offerings. It can be text, image, or video so long as you describe your offering, include the key selling points, and tell customers how to respond
  • targeting methods - conditions for when to show your ads such as location, language, device and so much more

Keyword Match Types - these settings help control how closely the keyword needs to match a person’s search term in order to trigger your ad

  • Broad Match - allows your ad to show for searches on similar phrases and relevant variations
    • example: kittens
  • Phrase Match - allows your ad to show only for searches that include the exact phrase or close variations
    • example: “adopt a kitten”
  • Exact Match - allows your ad to show only for searches that use that exact phrase, or close variations of that exact phrase, and no other words
    • example: [adopt a kitten]
  • Negative Match - ensures that your ad does not show for any search that includes that keyword
    • example: -free
    • searches that won’t match this negative keyword is free kitten adoption, free kitten calendars, who wants a free kitten

Average CPC - Average cost-per-click is the price you pay each time someone clicks your ad. Avg. CPC is very useful when you want to compare the performance of different keywords, campaigns and ads.

Landing Pages - a landing page is where you send your customers after they have seen and clicked your ad. Also referred to as splash pages or product pages.

Auction - An auction is the process that occurs with each Google search to decide which ads will appear for that specific search and in which order those ads will show on the page.

  • When someone searches, the AdWords system finds all ads whose keywords match the search
  • From those ads, the system ignores any that aren’t eligible, like ads that target a different country or are disapproves
  • Of the remaining ads, those with sufficient quality scores and bids may show, ordered on the page based on their Ad Rank (a combination of Quality Score and bid amount)

Return on Investment (ROI) - ROI is how much profit you have made from your ads compared to how much you have spent on those ads. It measures the ratio of your profits to your advertising costs.

  • This is the most important measurement for advertisers - it shows the real effect that AdWords has on your business. While it is helpful to know the number of clicks and impressions you get, it is even better to know how your ads are contributing to the success of your business.

Conversion - WHen a person who clicked your ad completes a valuable action on your website, such as buying something or requesting more information

  • A conversion occurs when a click on your ad leads directly to a behavior that is valuable to you, such as a purchase, a newsletter sign up, lead, view of a certain page, or download. You can decide what action should count as a conversion for your business
  • Conversion Tracking is a tool you can use to help identify what customers do on your website after clicking you ad

Lastly: Tips for writing a great ad
This can all be very overwhelming, and this glossary only scratches the surface. But, in order to get the most out of Google AdWords is to write a great ad. Here are some tips on writing an ad that translates well:

  • Always be clear and specific. Remember these three things when writing your copy:
    • Originality
    • Transparency
    • Navigability
  • Include a call to action.
    • Let your users know what to do once they have clicked on your site
    • Use words that are calls to action. Some good terms to remember are:
      • Call Today!
      • Browse!
      • Get a quote!
      • Download today!
  • Work a well performing keyword in, preferably in the headline of your ad
  • Ask yourself “Why should someone click on my ad?”
  • Remember that your display URL is part of your ad copy
    • Use it wisely. You can put absolutely anything in your display URL, provided that the domain matches with the domain of the destination URL. For example:
  • Ask yourself “Why should someone click on my ad?”
  • Write more than one ad!



Love your well structured posts:) I have been using ad words for months, but counting ROI was something I had not thought about. As far as I understand it, you need to use Google Analytics to measure conversion tracking. I wonder if I'm just old fashioned because I prefer my websites not to connect to any third party websites. I really hate how nowadays loading up a site, actually takes you to several domains at the same time. Like it clean and simple. May.

Helpful info you have here. One thing people can do on a regular basis is to look through the search query reports to determine what additional keywords they should create ad groups for and also which they may want to add to their negative keyword list. Adwords account set up is important but monitoring the performance of the campaign is also very important to getting a positive ROI.

The other thing that could be mentioned is the use of Broad Match Modified keywords in place of Broad Match keywords. These will give you more control over what keywords your ad shows for. It can be a God send, especially if you've ever dealt with the headaches of having Broad Match keywords showing your ads for highly irrelevant keywords and wasting a lot of your ad budget.

Great resource!

Great summary on Google Adwords. Pay Per Click is becoming increasingly costly, and when basic mistakes are made, the client or perhaps you will pay the price. Knowing your metrics to determining your actual ROI is critical to this process.

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