AdWords Mastery Guide: How to Start Small & Win Big

AdWords Mastery Guide: How to Start Small & Win Big

If you’re among the 1 million advertisers using AdWords, then you’re on the proven path of generating leads and increasing sales on your website. But it doesn’t just happen with the click of a finger. If you have budget but lack time, then don’t let your campaigns slide. Investing in Google AdWords management can easily fix this. If time is on your side, then this simple guide will help you find ways to create and manage your campaigns better.

Oliver Wood
Oliver Wood

If you’re among the 1 million advertisers using AdWords, then you’re on the proven path of generating leads and increasing sales on your website. But it doesn’t just happen with the click of a finger. If you have budget but lack time, then don’t let your campaigns slide. Investing in Google AdWords management can easily fix this. If time is on your side, then this simple guide will help you find ways to create and manage your campaigns better.

I’m going to skip the basics and assume you know what AdWords is. Instead, let’s get right into the thick of tactical ways to run your campaigns, how to test and refine, and continually optimise so that you get your maximum ROI. But if this is all new to you, or you’ve been out of the game for a while, then read this easy to understand article on Google AdWords and how it works first.

Ways to advertise on Google

The great thing about advertising on Google is you have a number of options. Each serves a different purpose depending on what you’re trying to achieve:

Search Network


If you advertise on the search network, your ads will be displayed on Google’s search results pages. If you’re starting out, we recommend you stick with just search and not the ‘search with display select option’ as it will chew up your budget. We also believe it’s better to keep search and display ads as separate campaigns.


Advertising on the search network is great if you want to expand your reach, have a limited budget and sell a product or service that users need now (such as a plumber or electrician).

Call tracking



A great feature found in search is call tracking (website call conversions), which allows you to identify and measure calls from your website, that have come as a direct result of visitors clicking on your ad.

Display Network



The display network is Google’s version of display advertising. It reaches over 80% of global Internet users, serving 180 billion impressions a month. The Google Display Network (GDN) helps you capture the attention of users when they’re browsing other websites that relate to your industry. In other words planting a seed early in their purchase decision process. Your ads can appear in either text, image, video or even rich media formats.

Advertising on the GDN is great if you’re looking to expand your online presence and:

  • Promote brand awareness
  • Sell a product or service that generally doesn’t result in an immediate purchase
  • Sell luxurious or eye catching products/ services



The GDN also offers remarketing, which is a form of online advertising that allows you to target users who have visited your website but never converted. You have the ability to re-engage and show ads to them while they’re browsing the web.

Things to consider before you begin

It’s important to get your campaigns right from the start. Failing to set them up correctly could put your budget into jeopardy very quickly. So before you jump into actively running your campaigns, we recommend taking a step back to think about the following:

  • What’s your goal?

You don’t just spend money and hope to get results. Having a clearly defined goals will help you stay on track as you build your campaigns. What action do you want from visitors clicking on your ad? What do you want to achieve?

  • Set a budget

You don’t need a big budget to be successful with AdWords. Running targeted campaigns will get you results and there’s a number of ways to achieve this, which I’ll outline throughout. Also, if you’re just starting out it’s best to set a small budget. Consider how AdWords fits in with your overall marketing strategy and any KPIs you’re setting against it.

  • How does your website scrub up?

It’s important to have a quality website and a dedicated landing page for every campaign you create. It needs to captivate to ensure your visitors will convert. Your ads can get them there, but then it’s all up to your website to make sure you’re getting those conversions – and merely sending them to your homepage isn’t going to cut it.

  • Be patient

Although paid search does deliver faster results than SEO, it still takes time to get a winning formula. Invest the time to regularly track and optimise your campaigns, and things will fall into place. You should stick with it for at least 6 weeks before you would ever consider pulling the pin.

Get the basics right

If you’re setting up a Google AdWords account for the first time, you’ll be prompted to include information about your first campaign. We’ve summarized the key areas below, but for a more in-depth look, check out Neil Patel’s step by step AdWords setup guide.

  • Determine your budget

The average CPC is between $1 and $2 on the search network and under $1 on the display network. To set a daily budget, it helps to work out your maximum cost per click (CPC). Neil Patel has a great formula for calculating your AdWords budget.

Understanding how much AdWords costs isn’t easy, but the beauty of it is you can adjust your budget and pause your campaigns at any time.

  • Establish your target audience

Here you need to assign your location, choice of network and keywords.

Keyword research

There are a number of ways to build up your keyword list. Start with looking at your own website, search query reports, your competitors and this handy keyword guide. You should also focus on bidding on your own brand. With Google keyword planner you can search for possible keywords you want to target. Here you’ll see the average monthly searches, and the average CPC for each. This is where knowing what your maximum CPC helps, as you can easily determine whether it’s a keyword you should focus on.

  • Set your bid

If you’ve calculated your maximum CPC earlier, then you already know what your initial bid should be. But bid management can get a little more complex than this.

  • Write your ad

Getting your ad copy right is crucial so don’t rush this one. There are a lot of tips out there so I won’t dwell on it, but check out these resources: Ad Text Optimisation: How to Improve Your PPC Ads 8 Creative Ways to Write More Effective Google AdWords Copy After you’ve setup your campaign, it’s a good idea to put on the brakes for a second and pause it so you can adjust your AdWords settings, as some of the default settings set by Google are less than ideal.

Pick the right strategy

Your campaigns are in motion and now is when the real work begins. The first 6 months will be make or break, and it all depends on how much time you dedicate to Optimising your campaigns. However, spending too much time on the non-essentials can also have a destructive effect on the profitability of your campaigns. Pick the right strategy and stick with it. You need to have patience. These days, there’s no shortage of information on PPC hacks, tools and expert advice that can easily distract and lead you off course. If you lack the discipline to stay committed to a strategy consider hiring AdWords experts to help keep things ticking along; just choose your budget, discuss your strategy and pay only for results.

Conversion tracking


Tracking your performance is vital if you want to get the best results from your AdWords campaigns. You’ll gain insights into which keywords are converting, and in turn optimise your campaigns to ensure you get the best ROI.

Setting up conversion tracking is relatively straightforward. You can do this via your dashboard, then simply paste the tracking code into the relevant page on your website where you want to track the conversion. Make sure you set this up before you push any campaigns live.

You should also hook up your AdWords tracking to Google Analytics to gain even more data on how your campaigns are performing.

Choose high intent keywords


Don’t overlook the importance of keyword selection. Choosing broad terms may get you the clicks you’re after but not the conversions. And you’ll also find yourself paying a higher CPC for each keyword.

Focus on highly relevant keywords that are likely to generate the desired action once a visitor lands on your website. Put yourself in your customer's’ shoes and think, if you were ready to ‘buy now’ what keywords would you be using? In most cases it wouldn’t be the same as someone who is still researching a product or service.

Keyword match types


Choosing the right keyword match type will help trigger the right kind of searches.

Broad match is great if you’re after lots of traffic, fast – due its wider reach, but it won’t always match the user's’ intent because it allows for variations to the query you’re bidding on.

Broad match modifier lets you assign parameters around specific keywords so that they must appear in order for the ad to be displayed.

Phrase match is more targeted. Your ad will be triggered if someone searches using the exact keywords you’re bidding on, but allows for other keywords to be included on either side.

Exact match will only target users who type in the exact keywords you’ve assigned. It’s likely to attract the most qualified traffic, but you won’t get as many impressions.

AdWords automatically set broad match as the default. Test out what works for you, but just know that broad match will drown your budget if you’re not generating the conversions you’re looking for.

More keywords please!

Other keyword categories you should include in your mix are:

  • Long tail

It’s harder to get the clicks because long tail keywords aren’t used as frequently as a single generic term. The searcher is more likely to convert though, as they are usually further along their purchase journey. And for you, the CPC comes at a lower cost.

  • Negative

Adding a negative keyword list helps keep your costs down too, by eliminating ads shown to people who include one of your negative keywords in their search query.

  • Branded

Nobody wants their competition siting where they should be, which is why you should bid on your branded keywords. Yes you may dominate the organic listing, but there’s nothing stopping your competition from taking the paid position if you aren’t. They’ll fork out a lot on their CPC, but not in your case due to its associated high relevancy. Allocating budget to this will ensure you dominate the SERP for your brand.

Create effective ads and landing pages


You’ve nailed your keyword options, now you need to make sure they’re aligned with your ad copy and landing page.

I’m saying landing page, as you should never send a potential customer to your homepage. How can you be sure they’ll find what they’re looking for? The more relevant the content the better the user experience, the more likely they’ll convert, and of course Google loves it when you’re relevant too. A big thumbs up for your Quality Score.

One quick one for relevancy is to include your keyword phrase in your ad copy and then also in your landing page headline.

We’ve already covered off writing effective ad copy so let’s focus on your landing page for a bit. Think about what the customer would expect to see after clicking on your ad. What problem are you solving for them? What benefits or values does your product or service provide – what is your unique selling proposition (USP)? And how is their overall user experience? Things to consider are:

  • Layout of the page
  • Call to action
  • Use of images / video
  • Social proof

(Perhaps link to the article I produced for you on CRO?)

Carry on testing

It pays to test! Everything you’ve done to this point is no doubt great in your mind but you won’t know what works best until you’ve explored other options and tested it out.

Testing is an effective way to increase your CTR, Quality Score and conversions. All from making some of the smallest of changes to your ads!

Conducting split tests on your ad copy is a great way to see what works and doesn’t. You can easily do this in AdWords by manually changing the variables of your ads under the ad group you’re testing, or use the campaign drafts and experiments feature.

You can test:

  • Headline
  • Description line
  • Call to action
  • Display URL

The key is to ensure you still send visitors to the same landing page and only change one criteria per test. So if you’re testing a new headline, don’t also change the call to action.

You should separately test out your landing pages too. Kissmetrics sum this all up nicely with their ultimate guide to Google AdWords campaign management.

Maximize Profitability

With the results you’ve analysed from regular testing, you can apply your findings to your campaigns to generate more leads and conversions, without having to spend more money on your ads to drive traffic.

Other areas you can look at to further optimise and manage your budget allocation better include:

  • Review your geotargeting – set up the geotargeting report in AdWords to see which locations are responding to your ads. You can shift your budget to the regions performing well or find outliers and adjust them.


  • Consider device targeting – optimise your campaigns and modify your bids across desktop, mobile and tablet devices.


  • Create custom ad schedules – this is a great way to limit your spending to the most optimal times. Once you’ve determined which days or times are proven to be more popular with your visitors, you can increase your bids around the times you’re likely to attract more traffic. During the off peak, decrease your bids to save on your budget. Creating ad schedules can be done at campaign level.


  • Clean up your keywords – with all the conversion tracking and testing that you’re doing, you’ll start to see which keywords are under performing or proving too expensive for your efforts. You can remove, reshuffle or adjust your bids for these keywords to help make steady improvements.

  • Re-marketing – nurture and stay engaged with your window shoppers until they’re ready to come back to your checkout. Tailor your ads effectively by keeping your brand top of mind while they browse the web, and you’ll convert that traffic into customers. Easy peasy!


At the end of the day if you’re getting loads of traffic that’s great, but only if they’re resulting in conversions. Always keep your goals top of mind, check your campaigns regularly and tweak to make improvements. Get all of these ingredients right and you’ll dominate the AdWords game.

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