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Five essential tools to help you get through the maze of Google Ads

246 million unique visitors. 3.5 billion daily interactions. Access to almost 80% of the world’s internet audience.An estimated 700% return on investment. With stats like these, it doesn’t really need explaining why all 21st century businesses need to think aboutwhere Google Ads should sit in their marketing mix. It is the undisputed king of internet advertising, to such an enormous extent that even the growing challenge from Amazon doesn’t pose much of a threat in the short term, although Facebook Ads is a different story, and one best saved for another feature.

Launched just two years after its globe-conquering parent company, Google Ads has been the biggest driver of the pay-per-click (PPC) advertising model which now dominates the web. Whether you want to increase website traffic, nudge people into real world interactions such as store visits, or directly drive sales, Google Ads can almost certainly help you because its reach is so vast, also including the behemoth which isYouTube, which it presciently bought way back in 2006.The advertising giant has had rough periods, notably when majorbrands pulled advertising after they found they were being associated with hate speech, but has always recovered. Its enormous popularity isn’t always down to it beingsimple however – in fact, Google Ads has been subjected to sustained criticism over many years from advertisers unhappy with how complicated it can be to set up a successful campaign.

This is perhaps inevitable when there are so many interrelated factors to consider when setting up advertising which makes a real impact. That’swhyPPC hero say “it can be intimidating to dive into the world of PPC advertising”, and it’s also why you are going to need tools to help you navigate this particular maze: here’s our run down of some of the best essentials.

The first and most crucial tool you are going to need isgood old-fashioned knowledge, which can either be free, very expensive or somewhere in between. Businesses which start creating Google Ads too quickly and without understanding exactly how they work often lose money, and are discouraged from persisting. You need to spend some time researching exactly how Google Ads works, or hire someone who already knows to advise you so that you understand everything from keywords to quality scoring.

Once you have the right knowledge in place, it’s time to move onto a totally free and essential tool – Google Ads Editor. This launched in May of last year and replaced and revamped and improved the increasingly rusty looking Google AdWords Editor. It is the best place to apply your new found knowledge and set up well designed and clearly targeted ads, and in its new version it is much faster, easier to use across multiple accounts (particularly valuable if you are working in an agency), easier to search, and provides better information on ad effectiveness and recommended daily budgets. It puts you in the driving seat, essentially, and as PPC Expo write in their review of the Editor, by “taking a proactive approach to improving your account management, you’re more likely to hit your goals sooner.”

Once you have got to grips with the basics, it’s time to move onto the more technically advanced tools to help you progress to the next level.First up is another free Google tool, Keyword Planner, which can be invaluable when it comes to that crucial ingredient to Google Ads success – finding the right keywords. It’s a simple and flexible tool which can help you find a set of effective keywords for your products or services. All you have to do is type in what you offer and let the Planner do the rest. It can then help you to filter those keywords down and hone them to the point of being laser targeted. Brian Dean of Backlinko simply calls it an “awesome tool”.

SEMrush will take you another level higher, by helping you identify the keywords which will hit your targets by tracking the keywords your competitors are already using that are working and converting for them. As in all search engine marketing – and that’s exactly what Google Ads is, though a surprising number of people categorise it differently – you need to know exactly what your competitors are doing in order to gain or maintain commercial advantage, and SEMrush is one of the most effective ways of learning this.SEMrush also allows you to examine keywords and “phrase-match keywords”, an essential Google Ads parameter for phrases that closely match keywords. SEMrush is also sophisticated enough to offer suggestions through its SEO Ideas function, and as PC Mag wrote in their review, the ability to “offer proactive suggestions and optimization recommendations can’t be overstated.” The only catch is that this tool can be pricey for smaller businesses, though free trials can be utilized to assess its potential.

The next step is to actually create ads that work, and this part is as much art as it is algorithm. You need your ad to grab attention and feel 100% of the moment and relevant. Very few people can capture the zeitgeist without help, especially in this fast moving world, so a valuable tool like BuzzSumo can help you identify the most shared content across the web and then dig down into keywords and niches. Even if BuzzSumo is more often used for SEO development, the same principles that can be used to create catchy blog headlines can also be used for catchy PPC ad taglines. Again, the only downside here is price, though we believe it can be worth every cent. The Next Scoop blog is also impressed, giving “a big shout out to BuzzSumo for its unique and multilateral functions.”

These tools should give you the information you need to begin running your campaigns, so the next stage is to make sure that they really are working as you hoped. If your ads are designed to drive traffic to your website, as most are, then it’s time to deploy another free Google tool – Google Analytics. While Ad Editor will give you lots of valuable raw data including costs, clicks, impressions and conversions, it doesn’t tell you what happens in that space between click and conversion. Linking the two will deepen your knowledge considerably of how your ad and your landing page are working together, and whether you need to consider retooling one or both to increase your effectiveness. Ad Espresso ran a whole feature about Google Ad Editor and Google Analytics called “The Perfect Pair”, and there’s no doubt that they are at their most effective when used in conjunction with each other, bringing us pleasingly to full circle.

This isn’t an exhaustive list of tools by any means, and the more you work with Google Ads the likelier you are to need even more specialist tools, including a lot more from Google (such as Ads Scripts for increased automation, or the Ads App for working while on the move) and other more specialist commercial offerings (such as the competitor tracking Spyfu or Certified Knowledge, which helps you build your all important Quality Score). However, if you can master the five tools above you should be able to deliver real value to your business through Google Ads, and that will be the perfect moment to take a breatherbefore you venture even further into the maze.

 

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