Google Adwords is the tool that allows you to place your adverts on Google’s search results page, and on websites displaying Google’s Adsense around the internet. Google Adwords Position IllustrationAdwords is a great way for website owners to drive traffic to their site. You define the keywords and terms that your wish to associate with your adverts, and you only pay when someone clicks on your advert, not just when it’s displayed.

Setting Up an Adwords Account

This is intended to be a brief guide as to how to get started using Adwords, not a click-by-click account of what to do.

To start using Google Adwords, you’ll need to do the following:

  • Navigate to the Google Adwords page and either sign in using an existing Google account, or create a new one. It should be noted that you can only associate one Adwords account with each Google account at this time, so if you’re doing this for someone else, it’s a good idea to create a new account for this purpose.
  • There’ll be lots of questions about your country of residence, payment method, VAT / Sales tax status etc. Most of this information cannot be changed at a later date, so try and get it right!
  • Once you’re through all that, you’ll be able to create a new ‘Campaign’

Create an Adwords Campaign

An Adwords campaign is a collection of keywords and ads. Each campaign has a few settings that apply to the budget, targeting, language and location of the adverts. You can also specify which ‘devices’ a campaign’s adverts will be displayed on, e.g. Desktop Computers, Mobile devices, tablets, etc.

For instance, you could create a Campaign that has a daily budget of £5, targeted to all english-speaking users that live in Lancashire, UK. These settings can all be modified later.

The main features of your Campaign, and the really important reasons that your endeavours will be successful or not, are ‘Ads’ and ‘Keywords’.


Ads is the term used for the content that will display to anyone who reads your advert. In its simplest form, an Ad is three lines of text – a clickable headline, and two lines of text below. You also get options regarding which webpage you would like your ad to be directed to.

A good ad will draw the user’s attention and give them a brief description of the service you offer. You can associate several ads with each Campaign so that you can experiment with different wording. Adwords provides information on how many ‘Impressions’ and ‘Clicks’ each Ad is attracting. The vital statistic for an advert is really its ‘Click Through Rate’ (CTR). This is the percentage of users who saw your ad displayed and then clicked on it. In my experience so far, a good CTR is around 1% to 2%.

You’ve got to remember that your Ad will most likely be displayed with others on the same page, so there’s got to be something about it that makes it stand out. I’d recommend writing about 4 or 5 ads to start with, all using different wording, and then in a week or so, drop the ones with a poor CTR and write new ones to replace them. Successful ads can be copied as new ads with maybe just an odd word changed to see if this leads to any improvement.


Keywords control when your ad will be displayed. They are also the basis on which the cost of your Ad is calculated.

When Google is deciding whether to show your advert in its search results page, it’s comparing the search terms of whoever is using the page with your keywords and the text contained in your Ads. Good keywords are vital if you’re going to get the right traffic visiting your site.

Let’s say you define the following keywords for a web design business: ‘internet’, ‘web design’, ‘MyWebCo web design, Deansgate, Manchester’. These all seem quite reasonable given the type of business you’re in. However plenty of people will be searching using the term ‘internet’ or ‘web design’, and it’s not really all that specific to your business, plenty of other businesses could be associated with the same keywords. This means you’ll get plenty of ‘Impressions’ for your Ads, but most likely the majority of clicks will be from people who have no interest in your business at all and they’ll just leave straight away. Remember, you payed for that click, so Google is richer and you’re poorer as a result! So vague keywords that give your Ads thousands of Impressions are not really the way to go.

It’s also possible to go the opposite way and ‘MyWebCo web design, Deansgate, Manchester’ is probably a good example. This is such a specific search, that Google’s normal search results would have only contained a few results, and most of them would have pointed to your website too! You’ll have very few clicks for keywords that are too specific, and end up paying for traffic that would have visited your site anyway.

Finding the right keywords that drive traffic to your site but don’t bring in users who have no interest in your service is a difficult balance. I’d start with 5 or 10 keywords and let it run for a bit. Adwords will suggest additional keywords too, and you can drop ones that don’t work. A Google Analytics account is almost essential in getting your keywords right.

Another consideration for your keywords is their cost. Assuming you use automatic bidding as part of your Campaign settings, Google will set a Cost Per Click (CPC). You are bidding against other Adwords users for the right to show your Ads. If there are lots and lots of people using the keywords that you have used, you’ll have to bid more to get your Ad displayed, and pay this amount if you attract a click. Rare keywords will attract less competition, and therefore a lower CPC, however there’s no point in a keyword that’s so rare nobody ever searches for it! Normal CPC seems to be around £0.70, but there are massive variations with keywords. I’ve got a campaign running that contains one keyword which leads to around one impression a day, but has a CTR of 34%, and a CPC of only £0.23! Excellent for a campaign that has a very limited budget, but perhaps a little too specific for a site that wanted large volumes of traffic.


In summary, Adwords is probably the best way of attracting internet traffic to your website. But you’ve got to spend a lot of time refining your Ads and Keywords to get the results you want. Lots of traffic that leaves your site immediately is expensive and brings no benefit to you. On the other hand, only tiny amounts of traffic aren’t going to grow your business. It’s finding the right balance that’s the difficult bit!

Further Reading

Adwords brings in quite a bit of cash for Google, so their documentation is pretty good!