Google Ads (formerly known as Google Adwords) is Google’s online advertising program. The program allows advertisers to create digital ads that are intended to reach an audience that is interested in their business offerings. The Ads platform runs on a pay-per-click (PPC) advertising system which means you only have to pay when a user clicks on your ad.

Google Ads is an ideal promotion platform for business advertisers for the following reasons:

  • Directly targets customers by showing ads in places where people go to find information.
  • Access to both a local and global audience
  • Reaches target audience at the optimal time due to segmentation and personalization

How does it work?

Google Ads can be thought of as a digital marketplace where businesses pay to have their ads ranked at the top of search engine results or displayed on major websites. The Google Ads network is divided into two categories:

The Search Network

When a user types a query in the search engine, Google analyzes the AdWords advertisers pool and decides if there should be an auction. An auction is automatically triggered if multiple advertisers bid on a keyword that Google decides is relevant to the user’s search query. It is important to note that advertisers are bidding on keywords, not search queries. Google will then enter the keyword from your account that it finds to be most relevant to the current auction. Upon completion of the auction, the specified ad will appear in the search results, and this is what the users will see.

Ad rank is a critical factor that determines how many clicks you will get. Ad rank is essentially how high or low your ad will appear in the search results. The two components that determine your ad rank are CPC (cost per click) bid and quality score.

  • CPC Bid: If the amount of money you’ve decided to pay for each click is greater than the amount your competitors proposed, your ad ranking is more likely to be higher.

  • Quality Score: This is how well an ad, ad group and landing page relate to what a user is looking for. It is calculated on a scale from 1-10 based on the following three factors:

  1. Expected clickthrough rate (CTR): A keyword status that measures how likely it is that your ads will get clicked when shown for that keyword without considering other factors like your ad’s position, extensions and other ad formats that may affect the visibility of your ads.
  2. Ad relevance: a status that measures the compatibility between your keyword and your ad.
  3. Post-click landing page experience: how relevant your post-click landing page is to your ad, and how much it relates to the user’s search term. Google is concerned about all of a user's experience with your website, not just the ad. Make sure your website is well designed and user friendly for the best results from your ads.

The Display Network

The second Google Ads category is the Display Network. Google Display Network is a powerful system that allows businesses to serve display ads via text, image and video on major websites. GDN is the #1 global display ad network as it reaches over 90% of internet users worldwide.

Display ads are the visual banner ads that you usually see in the header or side bars of your favorite websites. While Google Search Network allows businesses to target users typing specific words or phrases into Google’s search engine, the Google Display Network, on the other hand, is a more passive form of advertising as it targets online users who are not actively searching for the products/services you offer.

Google uses contextual targeting to match ads to relevant users and websites in the Display Network. It is so beneficial because it allows advertisers to select the types of web pages where ads will appear, block ads from certain users and webpages and use it for remarketing purposes.

What are the benefits?

Using Google Ads comes with a variety of advantages for your business. Some of these benefits include:

  • Customers can associate specific phrases and keywords with your business.
  • You can directly target your audience, meaning the ads will follow a customer to other Google sites which will improve conversion rates and reduce cost-per-click.
  • You can choose which websites host your ads.
  • You can better focus on your targeted market by zeroing in on specific regions and cities
  • AdWords will identify who is searching for your products/services
  • AdWords will remind users of what they previously searched for, which will keep your business fresh in their minds.
  • AdWords can help you optimize current campaigns and maximize overall success and effectiveness.

How do I pay for it?

There is no one set price for Google Ads. The costs are actually dependent on the advertisers’ budget, industry and level of competition. As stated, Google Ads is a pay-per-click advertising system. This means that your ads will be displayed for free, and you only have to pay once someone clicks on it. They use a live auction system which means the click prices are determined by the amount of competition, and how much they are willing to pay for a click.

You don’t need to study all the details about how bidding happens and how much to bid. Google is an expert at getting your ad in front of the right people at the right price. The automations in Google Ads will help you determine how much to spend to see the maximum return on your ad investment.

The key to making the most out of your efforts is to ensure that you construct a well-designed and optimized Google Ads campaign. If your ads are targeting the right people, are optimized for maximum reach, and have an appropriate cost-per-click bid for your industry, your ads will be shown to the most responsive niches within your audience and will increase your chances of a higher return on investment. However, if your campaign is poorly designed, you run the risk of paying a lot of money for clicks that never convert.

How do I get started?

Google.com lists the following steps for getting started with Google Ads:

  1. Start by selecting your goal, like getting more visitors to your website or more phone calls to your business.
  2. Next select the geographic area where your ad should be shown. It can be a small radius around your business or much broader, like cities, states or entire countries.
  3. Finally, craft your ad and set your monthly budget cap.

Once your ad is approved, it can appear whenever users in your target area search for a product or service like yours. You only pay when users engage with your ad, like clicking your ad or calling your business.




When managed correctly, Google Ads can be an affordable marketing effort that effectively targets qualified and in-market prospects. In order to see the best results, make sure that you understand the ins and outs of the Google Ads criteria for higher rankings. Also be sure to map out your budget, track your spending, conduct research for effective keywords and create relevant and enticing advertisements. If you are still hesitant to try Google Ads, consider starting small and adjusting your campaigns based on results.

Read more about developing a digital ad strategy for your business in our guide on advertising.

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