Is your resolution to drive more customers to your business website in 2013?
To do that, you may want to experiment with pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, also called search engine marketing (SEM). Google AdWords is the biggest player in PPC, so we’ll use that service as an example to show you how easy it is to get started.
Why Use AdWords or Other PPC Services?
AdWords lets you create your own online ads and deliver them to your target audience right when they’re interested in the products or services you offer: that is, when they are searching Google with keywords that describe your business’s offerings.
In addition to helping you sell products, you can use AdWords to promote your business, raise awareness, or increase traffic to your business website.
One of the great things about AdWords is that you can spend as much or as little as you want. There’s no minimum spending commitment.
You set and control your daily budget from your own online dashboard, which is also where you set up and control your ad campaigns.
You’ll also be able to measure the results of your AdWords campaigns and make adjustments to optimize your results. You can change your ad campaign at any time, including your ad text, settings, and budget.
So, let’s get started…
How to Get Started – Create Your AdWords Account
- Go to www.google.com/AdWords/ and click the Get Started Now button.
- If you have a Google email address and password (from Gmail or another Google service), click that radio button and decide if you want to use the same login for AdWords or create a new account. You can also create a brand new Google Account for use with AdWords if you don’t have one.
- Set your time zone and currency preferences. Note: you cannot change these currency and time zone preferences later. Currency should be simple: you’ll be paying Google in dollars. The time zone you enter affects reporting on your AdWords ads (which days you got clicks and what times during the day or night you got clicks). Entering Pacific vs. Eastern Time will change your reports by 3 hours (and potentially move some clicks to another day).
This is all you need to do to create your account. Click the Sign in link to go to AdWords and create your first ad campaign.
How to Set Up Your First Campaign
Today, we’ll give you a general overview and tips about the AdWords campaign settings you will need to choose to get started. We’ll follow up in the coming weeks with additional posts to help you finish setting up and launching your campaign.
When you log into AdWords for the first time after you create your account, you’ll go to a custom landing page for first time users prompting you to get started (see screenshot above).
You may want to first explore some of the helpful information offered on this page. There’s a 3 minute introductory video as well as links to a Beginner’s Guide and common questions.
When you are ready to get started click the Create your first campaign button.
Select Your AdWords Campaign Settings
This page lets you specify setting for your whole campaign. If you’re not sure about what certain terms mean, hover your mouse over the question marks for an explanation.
Don’t worry, although some of these settings seem like very big, broad decisions, you can come back and modify your settings at any time (unlike the currency and timezone preferences above).
- Campaign Name: choose a name for your first AdWords campaign. We recommend you keep it simple. Focus on one product and name the campaign for that product (or perhaps a location if you are only going to advertise in one place).
- Type: The default setting is for Search & Display Networks. Display means text ads that are displayed on relevant pages like banner ads are, as opposed to ads that show up when people search. Many people like to test one of these at a time. To do that, select Search Network only from the drop-down menu. You can also specify Standard or All features at this point (keep at Standard for now unless you know you want to use some more advanced AdWord features).
- Networks: Here’s where you decide if you want to include Google’s search partners or just the Google Search Network. If you want to keep things as simple as possible, uncheck search partners. If you want to advertise more broadly, slick to include partners.
- Devices: Leave the radio button selected to have your ads show up on all kinds of devices (desktop & laptop computers, tablets, mobile devices) or click Let me choose… if you want to narrow your focus (some new advertisers like to wait to add mobile after some initial results with regular computers).
- Locations: This setting is very important. You want to make sure your ads show up to potential customers without wasting your budget advertising to people who can’t buy from you. Unless you operate internationally, you will either select United States or the Let me choose… option. For Let me choose, enter a country, state, city, region, or zip code. If you are an accountant in Los Angeles, you might want to enter Los Angeles as your location. After you click to add one location, you can add others or exclude other locations. For example, you could add the state of New York but exclude New York City if it doesn’t apply to your business. Some businesses like to start as broad as possible (to reach the widest audience) and then refine the locations later. Others like to start with the most focused location possible (where are your very best customers?) and expand from there later.
- Bidding and budget: It’s money time. First you need to choose how you will bid for your ads. The Basic options are that you will manually set your own bids (what the maximum you will pay for any click on your ads) or have AdWords automatically bid to try to maximize the number of clicks you get based on your budget. Enter the maximum amount you want to spend per day (the actual amount may vary up to 20% on any one day, but over the month it will even out). Click the Advanced options if you want to bid based on conversions (if you have Google Analytics set up). You can also bid based on impressions if you are using the Display network.
- Ad extensions: Extensions are optional. Click Location to have your business address and phone number show up with your ad (good for local search). Click Sitelinks to have multiple links to different pages/sections in your site show up as options to searchers (you may get more traffic but it may be less targeted). Click Call to have your business phone number show up on iPhone/Android mobile phone searches. Click Social to allow people to be able to +1 your business’s Google + Page from the ad results.
Click the Save and Continue button when you have finished making all your settings choices. Remember, you can go back and change these at a later time.
Creating your first AdWords Ad Group and writing your first ad are the next step, which we’ll cover next week.
Happy New Year!