How To Set Up Your First Google Adwords Campaign

AdWords is Google’s online advertising platform – a quick and easy way for you to get your website in front of your customers. As with all advertising, it comes at a cost, but by taking some simple steps you can create a cost-effective campaign to bring in targeted traffic.

Step 1: Research – What Do You Want to Advertise?

Whether you offer several products and services or just one, decide now what you want to advertise. When you’re starting out it’s wise to keep things simple: Just promote your most profitable product or service – it’s the most likely to give you the best return on investment.

Now brainstorm the types of words and phrases that people might use to describe what you’re offering. Put these into the free Google keyword tool to find a list of phrases that someone might use to find you. Make a note of these; you’ll need them when you create your campaign.

Try Googling some of the phrases (AKA keywords) that you’ve discovered. You’re checking for two things:

  1. Does Google show businesses like mine when I search?
  2. What wording is used in the ads (particularly the ads at the top of the search results)?

If you see completely irrelevant websites in the search, potentially the keyword isn’t worth bidding on for you. If you see ads from businesses like yours, write down any good phrases that you might be able to use.

Now describe who might buy from you and what motivates them: Do your clients live or work within 10 miles of your business? Are they enthusiastic about your friendly service or do they care about affordable packages?

You should now have a clear idea about what you want to advertise, the words potential clients will use to find you and what kind of ads they are likely to respond to.

Step 2: Getting Set Up on AdWords

Creating the account is perhaps the easiest step. Go to and follow the instructions.

At the end of the process, you have the option to sign into your AdWords account, go ahead and do this. You’ll be taken to a welcome screen where you can create your first campaign.

Step 3: Create Your Campaign

In your AdWords account you can have several campaigns. You can make a number of choices at campaign level:

  • Your daily budget.
  • The geographic location you want your ads to show in.
  • The devices (computer, tablet or mobile phone) you want your ads to show on.
  • Whether you want your ads to display just on Google search or on other sites too.

In your campaign you have multiple ad groups. These ad groups should contain closely related keywords and ads that relate specifically to those keywords.

Start with a basic campaign that shows your adverts on Google search – you can learn how to do more complicated campaigns once this is up and running.

So create your campaign using the following settings:


Search Network only – All features


Google Search – untick the box “Include search partners”


All available devices


Click “Let me choose…” and type in the area you want to target, e.g. United Kingdom, England or Manchester. If you want to target people in a number of areas, keep using the search box to add extra places.



Bidding option

I’ll manually set my bids for clicks. This means is that you can choose how much you want to pay for each keyword. So if you find one sends lots of customers to you, you can bid more without affecting your other bids.


Choose a sensible budget based on how much you can afford to pay for advertising.

Advanced settings – keyword matching options

Do not include close variants.

Step 4: Create Your Ad Group(s)

You have already gathered together a list of keywords that you want to bid on – so that your ads can appear in the search results. We now need to decide what keywords belong together in a group.

Before you start filling in your ad and keywords as Google is guiding you to do, take a minute to organise the keywords into related groups. If you are an accountant, your keyword list might look like this:

Small business accountant

Accountants in Nottingham

Accounting services for small businesses

Nottingham accountants

Small business accounting

Accounting Nottingham

These keywords can easily be split into two key concepts – Nottingham Accountants and Small Business Accountants. So we would need two ad groups, one for each concept, that contain the relevant keywords.

The reason that we don’t put all keywords into a single ad group is so that you can write a really compelling ad that speaks to potential clients. In the example above, not all of your small business clients will be based in Nottingham and vice versa.

Note, if you only have a small number of closely related keywords in your list, you may only need one ad group.

So, now we can get to work, and first you need to write your ad. Use what you learned in your earlier research, combined with your keywords in the ad.

Don’t worry about writing the perfect ad now: you can test different ideas to find what works. If you’re stuggling for inspiration, try these tips on writing successful ads.

Now paste your keywords into the ad group. At this point, you only want your ad to appear when someone types exactly your keyword into Google. Use square brackets around the keywords to tell Google this.

E.g.:         [Nottingham accountants]

[Accounting Nottingham]

And finally, set a default bid – this is how much you want to pay for clicks on your ad for that group of keywords.

Set a figure that you’re happy with. If you only make £10 from selling your product, it isn’t sensible to pay £1 for every click. However if you make £1000, you can probably afford to bid that much – or more!

This bid is not set in stone – you can make adjustments if you find you find you’re paying too much or too little.

You now have the option to either go straight to billing information or to create more ad groups. Ideally you should create as many ad groups as you need, then enter your payment information.

And now you have your first AdWords campaign up and running. Creating a great AdWords campaign isn’t complicated, but to make the most of it, make sure you put some thought into it so that you know you’re really paying for potential customers to see your ads.

micro business actionToday’s Micro Action

Take some time today to identify if Google Adwords could work for your business and plan your first campaign.

Katie Saxon

Katie Saxon is a Google AdWords Certified Individual and a Bing Ads Accredited Professional. She works for Boom Online Marketing, managing PPC campaigns for both big and small companies.

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  1. brian crockett says:

    hi all, can anyone explain how facebook advertising works? thanks brian

    • I’ve done FB advertising campaigns for clients (when I was an online community manager) and it’s simpler than Adwords. You do need to be prepared to put a LOT of time and effort in, and have a decent budget. It can work well, but it needs a lot of investment before you know if it will work well for you.
      Rosie Slosek recently posted..3 Reasons Tax Returns Belong With CakeMy Profile

  2. Hi Brian,

    Thanks for stopping by. Facebook advertising is really a whole topic on its own – and it’s quite different to the AdWords system – so it’s hard to do it justice in a blog comment!

    In a nutshell, where on AdWords you bid on keywords, on Facebook you bid on demographics. So you need to figure out exactly who your target customers are – their age, gender, location and ideally some of their likes and interests. You can then target these specific Facebook users with ads designed for them.

    That’s a really basic explanation – if you want to know more try reading this beginner’s guide to Facebook ads
    Katie Saxon recently posted..Job Opportunities: Graduate Online Marketing Executive and Apprentice Office AdministratorMy Profile

  3. Katie, I market to a particular kind of person (who is always a one man band and generally service based), rather than to keywords or a market segment. I’ve been wondering if Adwords would work as I spend at least 2 hours on each new lead and I could waste a lot of time getting leads that don’t fit.

    Rosie Slosek recently posted..3 Reasons Tax Returns Belong With CakeMy Profile

    • Hi Rosie,

      It sounds like you have 2 concerns – how you get the right keywords and then how you get the right customers from the traffic that you’re getting. Is that right?

      Firstly keywords:

      If you have a very specific market, you’re likely to find that your keywords will have small numbers of people searching for them, so don’t worry too much about volume. If you do accounts for a lot of photographers, absolutely use phrases like “accountants for photographers”. If you target a specific area, put this into your keywords. The keyword tool might not be very helpful for you, instead think about how you – or more importantly your customers! – would describe what you do.

      Secondly enquiries:

      You can use your ads to help qualify customers. So for example a luxury brand might include their high prices to discourage bargain hunters, and you might want to say, for example “One Man Bands Only”. After all no click may well be better than wasting your money on the wrong people!

      You can then reinforce this message on your website – use wording like “Are you a one man band? Need accountancy support? You’re in the right place”. (I realise this might not be the perfect wording for you, it’s just to give you an idea of what you could say!)

      And then maybe have a quick fire questionnaire for new clients to get a feel for whether they are the right clients for you, when you’ve made it to the enquiry stage!

      Google is great for testing things out – if you find a keyword doesn’t work for you, turn it off. If you aren’t getting traffic to your site, try a new ad. And there are lots of ways to improve the quality of the traffic that you’re getting – but that’s another post entirely! Has this helped – or do you still have a million questions?
      Katie Saxon recently posted..Job Opportunities: Graduate Online Marketing Executive and Apprentice Office AdministratorMy Profile

      • Hmmm. I think it’s just that the people I want, wouldn’t be putting the right keywords in that fit me. I’ll keep an eye on it. It’s hard to know sometimes if an approach doesn’t fit (which I think probably is the case with me), or that a person just doesn’t know how to use it!

        Thank you.
        Rosie Slosek recently posted..3 Reasons Tax Returns Belong With CakeMy Profile

  4. Katie,
    This is a great post for someone looking to start out with Adwords advertising. One thing your readers might want to check out is the different Match types that are available. It’s especially important to understand the difference between Broad Match and Modified Broad Match now. I think many advertisers aren’t aware of this difference and they are having their ads shown (and budget spent) on keywords that aren’t really from their target audience.
    Jack Duncan recently posted..Keyword Grouper: How To Group Keywords For Keyword Clustering & MappingMy Profile


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