Google PPC campaigns pack a profitable punch into your marketing strategy — get started with this comprehensive beginner’s guide.

Here, you’ll find: 

  • What PPC campaigns are
  • How PPC campaigns help you reach marketing goals
  • PPC daily budgets and terminology
  • How to create a rock-solid PPC campaign 

Google generates billions of search queries every day.

Your competitors know this. They leverage this search volume by crafting engaging ad copy coupled with SEO strategies to put themselves on the map — the map being Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs). 

Google PPC marketing is one of the biggest vehicles transporting your brand and product offerings to their desired destination: your future customer’s radar. 

Whether you’re a brand-new marketer or a seasoned business owner looking to boost sales, Google PPC campaigns are a must for your marketing strategy. 

Don’t know where to start? You’re in the right place.

At HawkSEM, we’re experts at kicking Google Ads campaigns into high gear with our PPC management services. 

Back to your PPC Google campaign: why do you need it, and how do you get started? We’ll cover everything you need to know in this beginner’s guide to PPC campaigns. 

Happy friends enjoying sightseeing tour in the city.

Don’t let Google’s algorithms scare you. We’ll tell you exactly how to please them and boost your ad rank and conversions. (Image: Adobe Stock)

What are Google PPC campaigns?

Google PPC campaigns are an advertising strategy where brands pay a fee each time web searchers click on their ad from Google’s SERP. Google Ads is the most popular platform for PPC (or pay-per-click) ads, though you can create similar digital marketing ad strategies on social media or Bing.

A PPC campaign includes ad copy, images (display ads), and/or video content. Selective keywords, careful headlines, and strategic assets like ad extensions and bids work together to attract your target audience on Google’s SERPs. 

Google uses strict criteria like relevance and Quality Score to select top ads for each search query. If your ads are relevant, optimized, and consistent, Google will likely reward you with a high position on the SERP. However, you’ll need to bid higher budgets for top SERP status if competition is thick.  

Don’t let Google’s algorithms scare you. We’ll tell you exactly how to please them and boost your ad rank and conversions. 

What is an average PPC budget?

Google recommends a daily budget of $10-$50 for beginners. However, you could spend a lot more on bidding based on your industry and competitors. For example, legal-related keywords cost nearly triple that of regular keywords. 

Still, your PPC expenditure depends heavily on your bids and CPC (cost per click) averages.

Need more budgeting insights? Check out our full guide on search engine marketing costs.

Why do brands need PPC Google campaigns?

If you want more website traffic, conversions, and sales, Google Ads is your best friend. One word: results.

Quicker results and instant audience reach

Every business needs an SEO strategy, but it’ll take six months to a year to see serious results. Plus, Google Ads can place you at the very top of the SERP in a fraction of the time — we’re talking mere minutes to create an ad. Of course, you’ll need a few months to really get the ball rolling. 

For example, check out this PPC transformation for our client, California State University – Northridge. With 2-3 months of ad copy perfection and PPC data monitoring, we improved CSU’s lead volume by 50% with half the cost per acquisition (CPA). 

Google PPC campaigns also allow for instant audience connections — especially on mobile. In fact, 60% of people on their smartphones have contacted businesses directly through a PPC ad through ad extensions, which are additional links to webpages and phone numbers below a Google Ad. 

But even if they don’t call, the ad is still a solid investment because you’re beefing up your Google presence by building brand awareness. 

Superior ROI

Google Ads provide a $2 return for every dollar spenttalk about ROI. But more than that, Google weighs in both Google search clicks and ad clicks, jumping that ROI estimate to an $8 return. Still, this isn’t the case for every business. These returns only apply to businesses with a solid PPC strategy (and, ahem, experts managing it)

But you see the appeal. Imagine spending $50 on 25 clicks and getting $1,000 in revenue. That’s not pocket change!

Customization and control

Notice an ad under-performing? A few tweaks to your Google Campaign might do the trick. At any time, you can adjust your ad keywords, negative keywords, bids, location targets, and more. Plus, Google campaigns let you customize your ad spend to meet your marketing objectives and budget changes. 

For example, an executive at Inspire, parent company of Dunkin’ Donuts, Arby’s, and Sonic, playfully compares his team to day traders. They monitor Google Ad performance and specific KPIs in real-time. This allows them to adjust their ad spend and foster more conversions — lightning speed optimization that you simply can’t accomplish with other digital marketing platforms. 

We’ve leveraged that same real-time customization for our clients’ PPC campaigns. For example, we revised ad copy and messaging, added more product ad photos, and adjusted location targets for 686, an e-commerce brand. All that translated to a colossal 562.45% increase in SEM revenue. 

So we know the benefits of running dynamic PPC campaigns, but how do you get started as a beginner? First, you’ll need to know the basics.

Terms for Google PPC campaigns

Quality Score, ad rank, match type — are you drawing a blank? No problem. Before you jump into building your first campaign, let’s cover a few must-know terms in the Google Ads dictionary.

  • Campaign type: You can pick from endless Google campaign types, from text and image ads to shopping and video ads. Text ads, or search ads, are most common. These include ad copy, headlines, and keywords. Display ads are similar, but use images as well.
  • Ad groups: These are collections of multiple Google Ads based on a specific category or keyword. 
  • Quality Score: Google rates your ad’s quality against competitors’ ads with a Quality Score. This numeric score is based on ad relevance, landing page user experience, and expected click-through rate (CTR). 
  • Keyword match type: Keywords are the terms your target audience types into Google. Match types categorize keywords by exact (word-for-word queries), broad match (includes large long-tail keywords with your initial keyword), and phrase match (related keywords). 
  • Landing page: This is the webpage your Google Ad links to. Your landing page is your chance to convert web visitors into leads and customers. HubSpot shares that landing pages addressing buyer fears pump conversion rates by 80%. You’ll skip yards if you present your products as a direct solution to your customer’s problems. Just don’t forget to tie your offering with the neat ribbon of a personalized CTA!
  • Retargeting: Also known as remarketing, retargeting helps you cater to a special type of web visitor: one who has already seen your content. You might use a more aggressive strategy with these users since they might be further along the buyer’s journey and ripe for conversion.
  • Ad rank: This is your ad’s position on the SERPs. Google determines your ad rank by multiplying your Quality Score by your bid.

Vocabulary in check? Boom. Let’s build you a fresh Google Ads campaign. 

Getting started with PPC campaigns (Google Ads): 7 Steps

Muscular man and woman lifting heavy barbells

Stronger keywords mean your ads will be more relevant to your target audience and location. (Image: Adobe Stock)

1. Get set up in Google 

You’ll start by signing in to Google and visiting the Google Ads website. After clicking “Start Now,” you’ll be prompted to fill out the following information:

  • Business name
  • Landing page (web page your ad will link to)
  • PPC Advertising goal (more leads and sales, calls, physical visits, or YouTube engagement)
  • Your Google Analytics link helps you easily track metrics and ad performance, including page popularity, high-traffic keywords, and revenue. 

Once you plug in those details, you’ll be prompted to write your ad headline and description. But Google actually analyzes your web page and proposes ad copy options for you to consider (more on that later). 

Before you decide on headlines and descriptions, you need to find some keywords. 

2. Choose strong keywords

You won’t rank for a slew of 50 keywords in your first campaign. By all means, conduct enough keyword research to have solid contenders. Just choose the most relevant ones for your first campaign. 

Google will suggest a few in the campaign creation process, but use other tools like Google’s Keyword Planner or the Moz Keyword Explorer for keyword research.

Next, you’ll need to create an ad group(s) and then you’ll work on multiple ads. 

You might start off with a SKAG — single-keyword ad group. But that single keywordshould be long-tail and specific. 

For example, your men’s footwear shop won’t break a dent in the competition if you center your SKAG around “men’s shoes.” At least not right away. But if you add more detail and really target your ideal audience? Try “men’s dress shoes Little Tokyo LA” instead. Stronger keywords mean your ads will be more relevant to your target audience and location. 

You know what else ensures relevance? Negative keywords. These keywords are red flags for Google to avoid when ranking your ads. In this case, you might avoid “women’s dress shoes Little Tokyo LA” if you were working with a broad match type. You won’t get to plug negative keywords here, but keep it in mind when you’re tweaking each ad after you complete these initial steps. 

3. Create relevant, engaging ad copy

Your ad copy should appeal to your reader’s pain points, communicate how your product solves them, and channel your brand values — all in 2-3 lines. Easier said than done, right? We love HubSpot’s advice for ad copy. They recommend writing down all of your product’s valuable features, distilling each feature into as few words as possible, and then crafting the ad copy. 

Check out competitors for inspiration, but don’t rely on them too much. Moz reminds us to keep headlines and descriptions as unique as possible. 

Google will prompt you with multiple headline boxes where you can play around with options. Make sure you include your primary keyword in the headline and description, and proofread to perfection. 

  • Grammar and keywords? Check. 
  • Brand voice? Check. 
  • Customer sentiment? Check. 

What’s next?

4. Build a brand-new landing page

You might consider crafting an ad to relate to one of your existing web pages. 

But remember, your ads are ranked based on ad relevance and landing page user experience. 

Our advice? Create a completely new, customized landing page altogether. Why? For starters, you’ll maximize alignment and relevance to your ad — a clear qualifier for high Quality Score and ad rank. Second, you’ll improve previous landing page elements with a fresh pair of eyes, from loading time and calls-to-action (CTAs) to updated brand messaging. 

Back to Google Ads — a few more technical details before your ad goes live.

5. Choose a location and budget

You can toggle your Google Ad to appear in one or multiple cities. Or, you could target specific neighborhoods by address. 

Next, you’ll set a daily budget. Google will offer some suggestions based on your keywords, industry, and website, but you can also customize your own budget. 

That’s it! Five steps later and you’ve created your first Google Ad. But your work isn’t done yet. Once you enter your billing information and pay for your ad, you still need to track and optimize performance to assess what’s working and what isn’t. 

6. Start tracking conversions

You’ll use data from your Google Analytics dashboard to gather invaluable data that will make your ads more effective. Start tracking any of the following conversions: 

  • Website conversions: Email signups, sales transactions, page views, clicks
  • Calls: Phone calls from your ad extension
  • App: Downloads and signups

Ok, so what do you do with this data? 

7. Monitor, analyze, and optimize

The clicks are piling up, but are your conversions? Use Google Analytics to track your Ad performance and compare them across different Ad groups and campaigns. Notice where your audience is coming from, and whether they’re buying your products. 

If not? You might need to conduct a bit more audience research or target a different location. It could be as simple as a few bid adjustments for competitive keywords, or a few phone Ad extensions (now called assets) to encourage people to get in touch quicker.

Don’t be discouraged if performance isn’t where you want it to be right away. A well-oiled campaign takes about three months to bring you ample results. 

Still, you’ll need to dedicate significant time to tweak each ad for optimal performance.

That’s where our PPC management services shine. Our proprietary tech platform, ConversionIQ, is a data marketing dashboard for your Google Ads & Analytics performance, complete with data tracking, trend predictors, and optimization opportunities. 

Combined with our expert PPC marketing insights, ConversionIQ helps our clients reduce ad spend and improve leads, traffic, and revenue with every ad campaign. 

The takeaway

PPC campaigns are a marketer’s bread and butter with the right tools, insights, and strategy. What’s more, Google Ads is a helpful platform with endless resources to help you get started. 

Search advertising spending is expected to reach $112 billion next year, with Google taking the biggest slice of the pie — for good reason. We’ve used our expertise and tech to leverage Google Ads for countless clients, helping them expand audience reach, skyrocket sales, and dramatically reduce ad spend. 

Need help getting started? We’re ready to help you launch your first Google Ads campaign and generate results. Get in touch, so we can get to work. 

Christina Lyon

Christina Lyon

Christina Lyon is an entrepreneur and writer from sunny SoCal. She leads Lyon Content, a tight-knit team of bold creatives, and crafts engaging written content that helps brands sparkle and scale.