How to Set Up Google Ads – The Ultimate Checklist

How to Set Up Google Ads – The Ultimate Checklist

For twenty years, Google Ads has been helping businesses all over the world reach their audience, increase their profits, and achieve success. This advertising platform has always been the most popular choice in the world since when it’s used correctly, the impacts on your business can be huge. It is not an overstatement to say that Google Ads is literally the greatest and most successful marketing resource that has ever existed in human history.

However, for anyone new to this platform, it can seem quite overwhelming with a lot of new terms to learn, strategies to understand, and keywords to come up with. Because it can feel like an enormous challenge to understand the inner workings and get started, we’ve devised the ultimate checklist to help you know exactly what to do! Our aim is to help you get comfortable with the basics of Google Ads, so you can have the knowledge necessary to set up your own campaigns, driving traffic to your own website, or have more knowledge to understand and vet Google Ad Service providers that will run all your campaigns for you.

This article will help you understand not just what you need to know and how to do it, but it’ll also help you decide if Google Ads is even the right thing for your business in its specific life cycle. Having all the information in one place is the best way to determine whether this is a marketing avenue you want to put some of or all of your budget into. The steps we will cover are:

  • Learning Basic Terms
  • Organizing Your Account
  • Setting Your Budget
  • Choosing Your Keywords
  • Setting Your Keyword Match Types
  • Setting Your Landing Pages
  • Choosing the Devices
  • Writing Your Ads
  • Connecting Your Account with Google Analytics
  • Activating Your Campaign

1. Learning Basic Terms of Google Ads

As you get started with your Google Ads research, you’ll come across several words that you may not know or maybe don’t completely understand within specific contexts. Let’s look at the most important and common basic terms and definitions to always know what is being discussed.


The amount of money you choose for your bid is the maximum amount you’re prepared to pay per click. The actual cost will vary but you may also pay the full amount from time to time. So, only choose an amount that you’re willing to go to so you don’t go over your budget. The higher the number the more likely you are to get a higher position with your ad.


When someone types the keywords you have chosen into Google, your ad may appear. For example, if you choose pressure washing in Atlanta GA as your keyword, whenever someone types this into Google, it will match with your ad and show it to them as one of the top results.

Google Ads will help you choose your keywords or phrases based on your industry, target audience, etc, so don’t worry too much about knowing beforehand which words you need to choose to get the best results. You can also improve your keywords over time as you do more keyword research.

CPC – Cost Per Click

The cost per click relates to the bid amount we spoke about above. The amount of money you pay when someone clicks on your ad is calculated and you are left with your CPC. Again, you won’t always pay your maximum amount.

Furthermore, while the CPC will vary depending on several factors, you’ll always be able to see how much you’ve been paying in your Google Ads account.

Ad Rank

Your rank score is determined by aspects such as your bid amount, quality score, and more. The better your score, the higher your amount, and so on, the better your ad ranking is. You’ll be able to see this ranking in your account and see the metric so you can make any improvements or adjustments.

Quality Score

A high-quality score will help your ad rank better and reach more people. Your score is based on how relevant your keywords are to your landing pages and your ad overall. As well as increasing your ad’s position in the results, a great score can also lower your CPC.


Every time someone follows an action (set by you) after clicking on the ad, you have a conversion. For example, say your goal is for people to request a quote for your services. Every time someone clicks through to your website from the ad and then clicks to request the quote, this is one conversion. To track phone calls, you will need a service like CallRail that will track what calls came from your ads and send that data back into Google Ads.

2. Organizing Your Account

The best way to organize your account from the beginning, to have the best chance of success, is by dividing your services or products into categories. You should then base the structure of your account on these categories. Mirroring the structure you already use on your website is a great option.

In your Google Ads account, you’ll find two different levels of organization:

  • Campaigns – the higher level
  • Ad Groups – the lower level (you can choose to have various ad groups within your campaign)

Campaigns represent bigger categories in your company and the ad groups represent smaller and more specific categories.

So, for example, if you own an electronics store, you might set your campaign and groups like the following:

Campaign 1 – Electronic Devices

  • Ad Group 1 – Mobile Phones
  • Ad Group 2 – Laptops
  • Ad Group 3 – Tablets
  • Ad Group 4 – Game Consoles

Campaign 2 – Electronic Accessories

  • Ad Group 1 – Chargers
  • Ad Group 2 – Earphones
  • Ad Group 3 – Controllers
  • Ad Group 4 – Cables

By creating separate campaigns and ad groups along with your keywords, you help keep your ads relevant and easy to find. The more you can use, the more people will be aware of what you sell and click onto your site knowing you have what they need. The key is to be specific and focused, this way you’ll reach far more people.

3. Setting Your Budget

One of the most important parts of setting up your Google Ads is setting your budget. Hopefully, if you are at this point in your business, you should already have a budget plan for your marketing costs so you’ll be able to figure out how much you’re willing to spend on your Google Ads.

The amount of control you have with Google Ads is specific and detailed, so you’ll never have to worry about overspending. You will be given two options for your spending; your bid amount and your daily budget.

Your daily budget is the amount you’re prepared to spend in total each day. Google Ads will spend up to 2x your daily budget in a single day, but no more than 30x your daily budget in a month. And your bid amount is the cost per click you are willing to go up to if necessary.

Since this is your first campaign, we recommend that you spread your total budget out evenly across the entire campaign. For example, put the same amount of money into each campaign and ad group. You should use an equal amount of money until you know which campaigns and ad groups give the best results for your company. Once you know which areas are doing the best, you can then set those campaigns and groups with higher limits and reduce your budgets in the other remaining ones.

You can also adjust your budget if you are trying to promote a particular product, service, or offer. You can change and reset your budgets and limits any time you want so don’t worry about being tied down for a set period.

We can give you a good starting point for your bids and budgets, but ultimately each business will have different needs. Therefore, if you would like a more in-depth look at bids and budget then just click here. You’ll be able to find even more information if you’re not yet certain about how much you should be spending and when.

4. Choosing Your Keywords

Your keywords should reflect what your audience is already searching for in Google. Your keywords have to be relevant and specific so that your ad is triggered as frequently as possible.

For example, if you offer power washing in New Jersey, then your keywords should be “power washing New Jersey” as this is the most likely search term people will use when looking for your service in this area. Any words outside of this spectrum aren’t likely to be used and your ad might not appear. The landing page you have connected to your ad also needs to be relevant to the ad. If someone does search “power washing New Jersey”, then your landing page should go to either your ‘home page’ your ‘power washing’ page, or even better a dedicated landing page created to only receive traffic from your specific ad group. If you link an irrelevant page such as your blog or terms of service, or roof cleaning, people will be more prone to clicking off your website and going elsewhere.

Don’t worry if you’re feeling overwhelmed at the thought of choosing the best keywords and phrases. As we said in the opening of the article, Google has tools to help you find the right ones for your business. Just click here to see Google’s Keyword Planner.

The keyword planner is a free tool that generates a list of keywords for your ad campaigns. Not all the suggestions on the sample list will be super relevant so it’s up to you to choose from the list but it offers you a great foundation.

As well as helping you come up with the best keywords, the planner will also offer you help with knowing how much your bid amount should be for each word or phrase. Since the planner runs an analysis of all the keywords being used in all ongoing ad campaigns, the planner knows which words are the most competitive and the most expensive. The more competitive the word, the more you’ll have to pay. However, the more you pay, the higher up your ad will be placed.

Knowing beforehand roughly how much your bid amount should be for your chosen keywords in order to have an impact and reach an audience is extremely helpful in ensuring you budget correctly and don’t spend your money too quickly.

Don’t worry if your budget doesn’t stretch to the highly competitive and expensive keywords, choosing slightly lower-cost keywords will still yield fantastic results.

5. Setting Your Keyword Match Types

In Google Ads, there is a setting that allows you to refine when your ad is going to show up. This is called the keyword match type and there are 5 options for you to choose from.

  • Broad Match
  • Phrase Match
  • Exact Match
  • Negative Match

Broad Match

Unsurprisingly, the Broad Match shows your ad in the broadest way possible. For all campaigns, this option is the default setting. When you use this option, any searches that have your keywords (in any order) and for any related search terms will trigger your ad. Essentially if you want to light your budget on fire, go with this strategy (just kidding don’t do that).

Phrase Match

With this option, you can choose to have your keywords show up even if the user has typed in other words as well either before or after your phrases. So, for example, if your keyword is “drawstring backpack”, you can also show up in the results for “drawstring backpack for sale” “colorful drawstring backpack”, and so on. If you want a phrase match, add quotation marks around the keywords that you want to be included in the results.

Exact Match

As the name suggests, with an exact match, your ad will only show if someone searches using the exact keyword or phrase you have chosen. If you would like to use Exact Match, add brackets before and after your keywords. For example, [gray drawstring backpack near me].

Negative Match

Using Negative Match is the perfect way to stop your advert from being triggered by searches that are irrelevant to your business. For example, if you sell expensive sunglasses, it would be a waste of your money if your ad was shown by someone searching for “cheap sunglasses” or “sunglasses on sale”.

To prevent your ad from showing up, add a minus sign before any irrelevant words, such as -cheap, -for sale, -bargain, etc. Utilizing the negative match will stop you from spending money where you are guaranteed to get no conversions because your ad is being shown to the wrong audience. When it comes to optimizing your Google Ads negative keywords is the name of the game. You can cut your costs significantly as over time you compile more and more negative keywords, this takes work and constant monitoring and tweaking but in order to get your cost per click as low as possible you need to spend some time optimizing for negative keywords.

Despite these explanations, we understand if you’re still struggling to get your head around each choice and its benefits for you. But don’t worry. If you would like a more detailed look at the five choices and some help with knowing which you should use then check out Google’s guide on keyword match types.

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6. Setting Your Landing Pages

Your landing page is the page of your website where users will end up after they have clicked on your ad. You can have multiple landing pages if you have multiple ads running, you don’t need to have the same landing page set for each one. This is how you can make each landing page more effective by structuring it based on the specific ad group that is running to it.

The most important thing to consider when setting your landing page is that it is relevant to the ad itself. For example, if your advert is selling a particular product, ensure that your landing page is the page where visitors can buy the product.

Don’t just send people to your homepage and expect them to then search for the product themselves. If someone clicks on an ad for a product or service, they are going to leave if they are not taken to the exact page they need to buy the product or service.

7. Choosing the Devices

Now comes the part where you need to decide what type of devices your ad should show up on. Are your customers most likely going to be searching from their desktop or their mobile device? Or perhaps both?

If you know that people will most likely search on their phones then you should have your ads showing for mobile-only or vise versa in order to get the best results from your budget. If you’re not sure then the safest option is to choose both and analyze the results after some time has passed to see which area is worth spending more money on.

Ads for mobile are set up in a different way to other devices so if you need help in this area then check out this guide for Google Mobile Ads.

8. Writing Your Ads

You may feel a little stumped when it comes to writing your ad. After all, this is your chance at a first impression so it has to be as perfect as possible to entice people to want to know more and click onto your website.

It’s normal to feel nervous about the writing aspect. For this, you can hire a professional to write it for you, or if you want to have a go at it yourself, then we have some advice to hopefully help your process.

  • Include all relevant keywords or phrases
  • Include a call-to-action such as “sign up now!”, “learn more here”, or “shop now!”
  • Check and double-check for any spelling or grammar mistakes. Poor spelling or grammar can be an instant turn-off even if the mistake is minor.
  • Keep your ad clear, concise, and interesting. Don’t waste space with irrelevant information or boring details.

Writing your ad could take ten minutes or it could take ten hours. Don’t rush the process and only stop when you are completely happy with it. It is better to take more time and get it right than go with your first quick draft and have it not be what the customer wants. This is also something that you can continuously monitor, tweak, test, and improve.

9. Connecting Your Account with Google Analytics

Linking Google Analytics with your Google Ads is essential if you want to see all the important information and statistics from your ads, website visitors, and more.

On your Analytics page, you’ll be able to see how many people clicked on your ad and where they came from. You’ll also be able to see what they do on your website after they have clicked through, how much time they spend on each page, and how many pages they visit.

Having these kinds of numbers can really help you understand what’s working and what isn’t. If the majority of people are clicking on your ad then immediately leaving your website, you’ll know that something isn’t working for the customer and you can access what changes need to happen to ensure that visitors are staying longer or clicking on your calls-to-action.

While having Analytics set up isn’t mandatory, you’ll have greater success with your adverts and conversions if you do. The insights you’ll have will be invaluable when it comes to understanding what your customers want, how you can improve your ads and website, and how to make your marketing budget go further.

10. Activating Your Campaign

You’ve now checked off every box and are ready to activate your campaign! This is the exciting part as you now get to see all your hard work in action.

Once your campaign is active, you should be checking back in regularly to see what kind of results you’re getting and making any little changes that you think could help improve the numbers. Sometimes, the best strategy will come after some trial and error so be sure to have patience in the beginning as you try and find your groove. Do not expect a fantastic customer acquisition cost right when you start, you will probably even lose money when you first start but don’t be discouraged, with time and work, you can make Google Ads easily your most profitable marketing stream.

While this article has covered the ten main steps involved, you can consult Google’s Help Guide at any time for extra information or help directly from them.

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Are Google Ads Worth Paying For?

If you are a small business you may feel like Google Ads aren’t worth paying for. After all, with so many huge companies out there with massive marketing budgets, it can feel like you won’t ever be able to compete.

However, even those on a smaller budget can still have great success! Because Google Ads is as much about keywords, quality scores, and content as it is about cost, you can easily compete with the big guns so long as your ads hit all the right criteria.

Since you can make changes to your ads or stop them completely at any time with no penalties, you don’t have to worry about losing money if you aren’t getting the results you want. Put these strategies into practice and continue to learn more and get better with Google Ads over time. If you would like to skip the line, and never lose a penny with Google Ads then we highly recommend utilizing a professional who not only is a Google Premier Partner but one who is entrenched in your specific industry. If you sell used cars then using a Google Ads company that mainly serves plumbers will not be a great fit for you. If you are in the home service industry there is no other company we recommend higher than Creatively Innovative. Check them out and ask them for a free strategy session where they can give you heaps of information and advice about how you should proceed with your marketing efforts. I do not receive any compensation for referring them, they are simply the best and I want my friends and clients to use the best.

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About The Author

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Ryan Golgosky
180 Sites Ship Captain - Design Enthusiast - Jiu-Jitsu Junkie - Follower of Christ - Always Caffeinated

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