We thought that this is an important topic, so we explained information about Google search ads campaigns as if to a child: what they are, why they are needed, and how to set them up. We provide a detailed guide on all the setup steps and share tips, take notes!

The article is aimed at students, beginner marketers, and small business owners who promote their products online independently.

This is a complete guide, after which you will be able to set up search campaigns yourself, choose the right type of ads, and create assets.

What will be discussed

What is search advertising in Google Ads?

Search advertising is one type of advertising campaign within Google Ads. Essentially, it consists of text ads labeled with the tag “Ad”. These ads appear in Google search results either at the top or bottom of the search page.

Search advertising is where personalized advertising in Google began. Sellers would display their ads, and potential buyers would choose products or services on the website.

The main advantages of search campaigns:

  • Easy to create: No additional objects are required. Everything needed is in the advertising account.
  • Quick to launch: Ads are displayed immediately after campaign setup.
  • Targeted at interested users: Google shows ads not only based on keywords but also targets advertising to users interested in the product.
What Google search ads look like
What search advertising looks like
How does search advertising look like

What Google search advertising was like: a historical analysis

AdWords offers the most advanced technological features, allowing any advertiser to quickly develop a flexible program that best fits their marketing goals and budget online.

Larry Page, co-founder and CEO of Google, 2000 рік 

How ads are ranked

In 2000, Google created the advertising service Google AdWords (nowadays Google Ads). Google’s competitors (Yahoo! and AltaVista) operated on an auction-based model, where higher positions in search results were awarded to advertisements that bid more money.

The process that determines the placement of advertisements in the ad listings is called an auction.

Therefore, the more a advertiser paid Google, the higher their ad would appear. However, Google developed its own auction system.

Unlike competitors, Google’s auction took into account the relevance and click-through rate of the ad. If an ad was clicked on frequently, even if the advertiser didn’t pay more, it would receive a higher rating. Thus, cheaper and more relevant ads could generate more revenue.

Indeed, Google incentivized the creation of high-quality advertisements and content because it was beneficial. And it remains so to this day.

Content of advertising announcements

In 2000, advertisements consisted of two headline rows and one description row, labeled “Sponsored” or “Advertisement” at the beginning of the ad.

The headline could contain up to 25 characters, while the description could contain up to 35 characters. The headline explained the specific product or service the ad was about, while the description provided more details about what was offered and urged the user to take action.

In 2016, AdWords featured three headlines of up to 30 characters each and two descriptions of up to 90 characters each.

Additionally, in 2019, Google introduced a new ad format called Responsive Search Ads (RSA). Now advertisers can create up to 15 headlines and 4 descriptions. Google tests various combinations of headlines and descriptions for display based on the context of the search query.

What search ads looked like

In the 2000s, advertisements labeled as “Sponsored Links” were placed in the top and right-hand sides of the page. Today, they are positioned at the top and bottom of the page.

The company Mediative conducted a study in 2005 and 2014. Researchers tracked the eye movements of 53 people as they searched on Google. 

Where is the best place to place search ads

According to the research findings, in 2005 users viewed the page in a “golden triangle” pattern. If a site was not in the top three positions, it received very few clicks.

In 2014, users searched in an “F-shaped” pattern. Eye-tracking data showed that users scanned the page vertically down the left side. Users stopped scanning the page horizontally. This change is attributed to people being accustomed to scrolling down in mobile versions and transferring this behavior to desktop browsers.

In 2016, Google stopped displaying search ads on the right side of the search results page.

Mykola Lukashuk

Expert commentary

Google is constantly improving its search results and introducing new assets, among other things. Sometimes, these improvements also bring complexities to managing advertising, such as in 2019 when they removed the average position metric.

It’s important to be in the top 1-2 positions, especially on mobile, where there are only 2 search results displayed above organic search. Instead of relying on the position metric, we now focus on auction-based performance metrics: impression share, top of page rate, and absolute top of page rate.

Nick Lukashuk, CEO of marketing.link

What you need to do before launching the campaign

Before starting a search campaign, analyze:

  • the product/service you are advertising,
  • sections on the website,
  • company advantages and its Unique Selling Proposition (USP). 

When the surface analysis is ready, proceed to a deeper one. Familiarize yourself with four metrics:

  • Analytics
  • Goals and Events
  • КРІ
  • Landing Pages

 Let’s examine these points in more detail.

Analytics

Install Google Analytics 4 on your website and link it to Google Ads.

Google Analytics 4 is a tool provided by Google for collecting and analyzing data about user behavior on your website: how users find your site, what they do on it, and how long they stay.

Goals and events

This is a way to track what happens on your website and what actions your visitors take: adding a product to the cart, clicking on the phone number in the header, engaging in a chat, or even staying on the site for more than 2 minutes — anything you wish to track can be monitored.

A conversion is an event that is recorded when a user interacts with your advertisement and then performs a valuable action for you. For example, if you have an advertisement for legal services, then conversions would include the number of filled-out forms or clicks on the phone number. However, if it were an online store, then conversions would be purchases made on the site.

KPI 

Once your campaign goals are set, identify KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) — the crucial metrics of effectiveness. After all, nobody wants to pay for unnecessary conversions.

What to do before launching the campaign Identify the KPIs

Landing pages 

A landing page is where users land after clicking on an advertisement. The landing page should facilitate conversions.

Mykola Lukashuk

Expert’s comment

Conversion for a marketer is an action taken, such as a submitted inquiry or contact left (call, messenger message, chat).

The marketing responsibility zone is to drive users to the site who leave conversions. When the sample size is too small, micro-conversions are used (adding to cart, starting form submission, interacting with a widget).

Advertising cannot be expensive; it’s either profitable or not.

That’s why in ecommerce, we focus on the ROAS metric adjusted for tracking inaccuracies due to iOS and the California GDPR of 2023, taking into account LTV.

On average, for ecommerce businesses where purchase decisions are made within 1-3 days and the margin is 33%, the breakeven point, where a $100 invested budget yields $300 in sales, corresponds to a minimum ROAS of 300%, as indicated by the Conv.Value/Cost metric.

In B2C, the focus is on achieving better performance indicators, while in B2B, there is more emphasis on analytics: micro-conversions, various stages of the funnel, emphasis on product categories that drive revenue, repeat sales, associated conversions, tracking users throughout their journey, attribution model comparison, and CRM tracking.

Nick Lukashuk, CEO of marketing.link

Requirements for Landing Pages:

  • Relevant. If the advertisement promises a discount on perfumes, then the landing page should have specific information about the perfume discount.
  • Understandable. Bright content that grabs attention, answers questions, and soothes pains.
  • Simple. The user should quickly find what they need.
  • Structured. A good page helps users understand what they should do on the page.
  • Fast. The page should load quickly so that the user does not close it due to long loading times.

How to Create a Search Advertising Campaign in Google Ads

Search campaigns can be created in two ways:

  1. In the Google Ads Interface.
  2. Using Ads Editor.

In this section, we will provide an example of setting up a search campaign for the Hair Care niche.

A search advertising campaign in the Google Ads interface

Open your Google Ads account and go to the Overview page. Click on “+ New Campaign”.

Search advertising campaign in the Google Ads interface

Next, choose the campaign objective based on your desired outcomes.

Important: Google may first offer you the choice of goals, and then the desired campaign type.

Step-by-step instructions for search campaigns

  1. Define the campaign goal and select the campaign type as “Search”, then specify a name.
  2. Choose a bidding strategy.
  3. Select networks, targeting locations, and languages spoken by your customers.
  4. Create ad groups, add keywords, and write ads.
  5. Set a daily budget.
  6. Review to ensure no errors were made during setup.

Goal and campaign type

For search campaigns, choose one of three goals:

  • Sales
    This goal is suitable for increasing sales and conversions online, by phone, in an app, or in-store. It’s also for attracting customers who are already familiar with your company.
  • Leads
    This goal is needed to encourage customers to show interest in your products or services.
  • Website traffic
    This goal is for encouraging potential customers to visit your website.

You don’t have to choose the main goal necessarily; you can do it after launching the campaign. But remember, one campaign equals one goal.

Purpose and type of search campaign on Google

After selecting the goal, choose the campaign type — Search.

Search advertising campaign in the Google Ads interface

Determine the pathways to achieve the goal. That is, specify the exact action the user should take for the campaign to achieve the desired result:

  • visit the website
  • make a phone call
  • go to the online store
  • download the application
  • fill out a form

These actions may vary depending on the chosen goal of the search campaign.

How to create a search advertising campaign on Google

Campaign Name

The campaign name should be clear so that it immediately indicates what service/category of products is being advertised.

You can also indicate the campaign type — Search. Orient yourself on the structure of the advertising account to avoid confusion and chaos.

At Marketing Link, we always use the direction we are promoting and targeted geographic location in the campaign name.

Name of the search campaign

Campaign Settings

To reach your target audience, first select the basic settings for your campaign:

  • Networks: Choose on which platforms your ads will be displayed. Add the Google Display Network (GDN) if you have an unlimited budget.
  • Location: Target the location where your ads will be displayed.
  • Languages: Select the languages spoken by your customers.
Setting up a Google Ads campaign

Keywords and Ad Groups

The effectiveness of your campaign depends on the quality of your keywords.

In the screenshot, there’s an example where an ad for sushi delivery is shown for a search query for pizza delivery. This is not good. Avoid this. You may get impressions, but not clicks, if the ad is irrelevant.

Keywords and ad groups in search campaigns
nick MYKOLA LUKASHUK

Expert’s comment

Low search demand is the only justified use of broad match keywords based on Marketing Link’s experience.

Additionally, setting up a DSA (Dynamic Search Ads) group with added negative brand terms and cross-negative keywords that are active in other categories can be helpful.

If you’re testing broad or DSA due to low demand, it’s essential to systematically work with search terms (separate report in Google Ads) and, upon discovering interesting clickable synonyms, additionally gather new keywords.

Before selecting keywords, Marketing Link recommends evaluating synonyms in keyword research tools and checking the meta tags and titles of competitor pages. By using these tips, you can find the most extensive list of keywords possible.

Nick Lukashuk, CEO of marketing.link

Where to look for keywords? 

Google itself suggests searching in the Keyword Planner. To do this, enter the URL of the page with the selected category of products or simply enter the category name.

There are also third-party services for keyword research: SEMRush, Ahrefs, Moz, Bing, Serpstat, and others.

You can also come up with your own keywords. However, you won’t be sure exactly what users will search for with these terms. Google may deem such keywords as Not Suitable due to low search demand.

Lisa Delyk

Expert’s comment

When collecting keywords, carefully exclude search terms, apply negative keywords at the campaign or ad group level (if each group is set up for different product categories or services).

Divide keywords into relevant groups to ensure more accurate targeting and facilitate tracking of results.

When creating ads for search campaigns, consider their quality. For an “Excellent” status, the ad text should contain keywords and be unique.

Test the ad scheduling feature for specific hours and days. It will help analyze the campaign’s effectiveness at different times and adjust the ads for times with higher interest in your offer.

Liza Delyk, PPC-specialist in marketing.link

Keyword Grouping Methods

In Google Ads settings, there’s an option to add keywords to ad groups. Ad groups are important for organizing ads based on common themes.

At Marketing Link, we use two methods — SKAG and STAG.

STAG

In one ad group, there are keywords that are similar in direction. STAG requires more time for setup and initial logic for structuring the account.

For example, in a hair care search campaign, you need to create three ad groups — for shampoos, masks, and conditioners.

Accordingly, in the shampoo ad group, you need all keywords related to shampoo. You can use only keywords that include the word “shampoo” and its variations. Or you can also use specific product names.

Each keyword should lead to a relevant landing page. That is, if a user searches for “garnier solid shampoo”, lead them directly to the page for that product. If you lead them to a general page for all shampoos, the potential customer will need to make an effort and spend time searching for the desired product. They will get tired in three seconds and go to competitors.

Do everything to minimize the user’s actions. This will increase the chance of a purchase.

STAG search ads
SKAG

In SKAG, each ad group corresponds to one keyword. Therefore, SKAG has more ad groups than STAG.

SKAG saves time in setting up campaigns and can sometimes bring chaos to the account.

Include the keyword in the headlines and descriptions of each ad. This will increase the ad’s click-through rate (CTR).

SKAG search ads

Therefore, in the hair care search campaign, you would need 20 ad groups, each corresponding to a specific keyword. Here’s how a specific ad group for the keyword “hair care shampoo” would look like:

What search campaigns look like when setting up

Important: Don’t forget about keyword match types. The match types include broad, phrase, and exact.

Negative keywords

Use negative keywords to prevent ads from showing for irrelevant search terms. For example, in a hair care search campaign, you don’t want your ads to appear for body care-related search terms.

Negative keywords in search campaigns

Also, create a list of negative keywords and refine it. Add categories that are completely irrelevant to what the company does. You can also include competitors, informational terms (“reviews”, “why”, “how”), names of countries where you don’t provide services, and so on.

Negative keywords in Google search useful tips

Headlines

In this section, we will discuss adaptive search ads.

Write at least three headlines of 30 characters each and at least one description of 90 characters. Ideally, fill in all empty fields, so write all 15 headlines and 4 descriptions. All texts should complement each other but be independent. 

adaptive search ads

Be specific and clear, use appealing keywords, create a call to action for the reader. Highlight the main benefits of the offer.

Check grammar and punctuation. Avoid using complex sentences. Make sure headlines and descriptions correlate with each other in random order.

How to create a search advertising campaign in the Google Ads Editor interface

Google Ads Editor is a convenient tool for working with bulk edits and changes.

The Editor saves time by eliminating the need to manually input advertisements for each ad group, especially if you have more than just a couple.

You can make the same changes in the Editor as in the web version. The advantage of the Editor is that you can directly import all the data from a regular Excel file.

Gather your keywords and come up with headlines and descriptions for your ads. 

Template for a search campaign

We have created a template for a search campaign so that you can easily set up the campaign.

📌 Search campaign template — Marketing Link

What to do with the template?

The template has two tabs — for ad groups and keywords, and for ads.

How to create a search advertising campaign in the Google Ads Editor interface

Tab Keywords

Fill in each field — campaign name, ad group, keyword, and its type. Add negative keywords irrelevant to the campaign by using “-” before the keyword.

You can create multiple search campaigns simultaneously. To do this, write in the file the same information for the campaign with a different name.

Template for launching ads in Google Editor

At the account level, navigate to the Keywords tab and make bulk changes.

Changes to your account

Paste the data from the file, then save the changes.

How to create a search advertising campaign in the Google interface

Advertisements tab

In each column, fill in the campaign name, ad group, all headlines and descriptions, paths, and final URL.

Advertisements tab

Repeat the same process as you did with the keywords, but this time in the corresponding tab for responsive ads. 

how to create responsive ads

Important: Expanded text ads are no longer supported by Google.

Specify the budget, bids, geo-targeting, and everything else — you can now publish the campaign. 

Congratulations, you’ve saved a bunch of time!

Types of ads in the search network

The most common types of ads in the search network are:

  • Dynamic Search Ads
  • Adaptive Search Ads 
  • Call-focused ads

Dynamic Search Ads

Dynamic Search Ads, or DSA, are very similar in structure to adaptive ads.

However, the main difference is that DSA ads are created automatically. Google matches the user’s search query with the content of the target pages on the website and generates ad headlines itself. The ad text is static, meaning it needs to be created manually. It should be universal for all possible generated ads.

The URL of the page is also automatically selected by Google depending on what the user is searching for.

Types of ads on the search engine network

Features of Dynamic Search Ads

  • Website information should be clear and understandable to ensure that the potentially generated headlines are meaningful.
  • There’s no need to gather keywords, saving time. However, pay special attention to negative keywords processing.
  • Ads are displayed for low-frequency terms. Unlike regular search campaigns where keywords searched less than 10 times a month might not trigger ads, in Dynamic Search Ads, they can.
  • Ad objects (assets) can be used to occupy more space in the search results.
  • DSA doesn’t compete with regular ads in the search results, reducing their cost.
  • DSA is ideal for online stores with a large range of products.
  • DSA may not be suitable for industries where Google recognizes content as “restricted”, such as gambling, adult stores, medical products, and others.

Call-Only search campaign

A Call-Only search campaign is geared towards “hot” calls. It’s ideal for users seeking something quickly and need immediate assistance: forgot to order flowers, urgently need to find a tire service, quickly contact a veterinarian, and so on.

Call-Only ads

Features of Call-Only Search Campaigns:

  • Mobile-Focused: Call-Only campaigns are designed specifically for mobile phones, making them most effective on mobile devices.
  • Service-Oriented: Call-Only keywords should be “hot”, indicating when a user is ready to take action (e.g., “order a tow truck now”, “urgent flower delivery in Kiev”). It’s best suited for service-oriented industries and may not be suitable for e-commerce where all details are clear from the product card, and users don’t need additional clarification from a specialist.
  • Concise Text: Call-Only ads have limited space for headlines and descriptions compared to adaptive ads.

Objects (assets) of Google Ads search ads

What are assets

In Google Ads, ad assets are parts of advertisements that expand the capabilities of advertising campaigns. They provide additional useful information about the company, services, or products. They are displayed within the ad in the search network or on Google partner websites.

Assets are not always shown, but they increase the visible space of the ad in the search results, giving it an advantage over competitors.

Objects (extensions) of Google Ads search ads

Why add assets

Assets increase the size of the ad, so it takes up more space in the search results. This is important so that users see more valuable information about the company right away and turn to you specifically.

Types of ad assets

There are manual and automatic assets. 

You can add them at the account, campaign, and ad group levels.

Manual assets

Dynamic sitelink assets

These are links to specific pages with reviews, portfolios, or specific product categories. Provide a description of the additional link. Highlight the benefits, call-to-action, and encourage users to visit the website.

Manual extensions in search ads Additional links

Callouts

These are brief statements, key features, or highlights of the brand, product, or service. They are similar to additional links but are non-clickable. Callouts help focus on the key benefits of the advertising proposition.

Manual extensions in search ads Callouts

Structured snippets

These are assets with a list of key aspects of the business, such as services, customer amenities, brands, or types of products.

Manual extensions in search ads Structured descriptions

Images

Images add attractiveness to the advertisement and make it stand out among competitors. They convey the brand’s atmosphere and showcase products or services in action.

Manual extensions in search ads Images

Lead Forms

These are lead forms that streamline the collection of contact information from interested users. By using this data, you can send personalized offers and newsletters to potential clients or learn more about the interested audience and their needs.

Manual extensions in search ads Forms for potential customers

Phone Numbers

You can integrate a phone number into the advertisement, allowing users to contact you directly without having to search for it on the website.

Manual extensions in search ads Phone numbers

Prices

Using price assets in advertisements allows interested users to quickly view the prices of your business. This reduces decision-making barriers and helps attract customers actively seeking specific prices.

Manual extensions in search ads Prices

Promotions

Promotion assets are designed for special offers. You can specify the conditions under which the customer will receive a discount or gift. Customers will be interested in cooperation because everyone loves discounts, right?

Manual extensions in search ads Promotions

Addresses

Include the physical location addresses. Addresses increase the visibility of offline businesses and attract local customers to stores and showrooms. This is useful for local businesses such as restaurants, shops, or beauty salons aimed at attracting clients from a specific region.

Manual extensions in search ads Addresses

Apps

A cool assets for businesses that have an app. This way, you can encourage users to go to Google Play or the App Store and download it.

Manual extensions in search ads Links to apps
Automated assets

Visually, users cannot distinguish automatic assets from manual ad objects. However, in terms of settings, automatic objects save time for marketers. They also dynamically adapt to the context and can be both links and structured descriptions. Let’s take a closer look.

  1. Automatic Call assets. Google Ads will find the phone number on the website and add it to the asset.
  2. Dynamic Sitelink assets. Google automatically chooses which pages of the website to show in the assets based on the user’s search query. For example, for ads about air compressors, it’s likely that there will be a link to the compressor servicing page in the assets.
  3. Dynamic Structured Snippets. Google automatically selects business-related keywords that are displayed in the snippets. Caution: there’s a risk of getting generic machine-generated text that may not attract users to click on the ad. It’s better to specify such advantages manually. They display specific details of the advertising offer, which vary depending on user queries.
  4. Addresses. Addresses are automatically updated based on user location data. This is important for businesses with multiple locations or those that change addresses over time. If you haven’t specified the physical address of your business in your advertising account, Google will determine it automatically. However, even Google’s guidelines recommend manually specifying the required addresses for greater accuracy.
  5. Seller ratings. These are reviews so that users know which advertiser offers the best services. They are displayed in text ads and free offers.
Automatic search ad extensions Seller rating

How to add ad assets

Ad assets are located in the Ads & assets section.

How to add ad extensions

Click on each ad assets object you want to add and provide the necessary information.

For example, for additional links, write a headline, descriptions, links, and review how they appear on different devices. Ensure that the information you provide is clear, attractive, and aligns with your business goals.

How to add ad extensions to Google

Make sure the assets are configured correctly, review them again, and save the changes.

After saving, the assets will undergo review by Google Ads. Later, they will be included in your ads and shown to users.

To check which automatic ad assets are in your advertising account, click on the three dots in the object menu and select Automatic objects at the account level.

How to check ad extensions

Once again, perform the same action in the Automatic objects window and select Additional settings. Here, you’ll be able to adjust the settings of automatic objects.

How to add automatic ad objects

How to evaluate the effectiveness of assets

  1. Utilize conversion data.
    Analyze conversion data: Compare the number of conversions from assets with the total number of conversions from ads.
  2. Monitor key performance indicators: 
    • CTR: A high CTR indicates that assets are attracting attention.
    • Costs: If the cost of assets justifies high conversion rates and profitability, it indicates their effectiveness.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to create a search campaign in Google?

1. Determine the campaign goal and select the campaign type “Search”, then provide a name.
2. Choose the bidding strategy.
3. Select the networks, targeting locations, and languages spoken by your audience.
4. Create ad groups, add keywords, and write ads.
5. Set a daily budget.
6. Review to ensure no errors were made during setup.

How to create an advertising campaign in Google?

1. Sign in to your Google Ads account.
2. Select “Campaigns” from the left-hand menu and click on “Add campaign”.
3. Choose the campaign type, such as “Search campaign” for displaying ads in Google search results.
4. Select your bidding strategy.
5. Add the campaign name, budget, language, GEO targeting, start and end dates.
6. Choose your target audience by specifying demographic characteristics, interests, or using location settings.
7. Create ad groups, add keywords, and ads.
8. Review the campaign settings and make sure everything is correctly specified. Click “Save campaign” to complete the creation process.
9. Launch your advertising campaign by activating your ads and tracking their impact and results. Continuously improve your campaign based on data analysis and the demands of your audience.

How to upload your audience to Google?

1. Sign in to your Google Ads account.
2. From the “Tools & Settings” menu at the top, select “Audience Manager”.  
3. In the “Audiences” tab, click on the “+” button.
4. Create a Custom segment and enter the interests your users have. For example, buying a washing machine, ordering a washing machine in Kyiv. Save the segment.
5. In the “Your Data” section, add audiences of users who have interacted with your company: website visitors, users who viewed product information, and so on.
6. Select the user interests related to your advertising campaign in the Interests and detailed demographic data section.
7. Add Exclusions and Demographics for those user audiences who should not see your ads. For example, in a promotional campaign targeted only at potential customers, exclude those who have already made a purchase.
8. Name and save the audience.

Conclusions

  1. Search campaigns are essential for introducing a new audience to the brand and promoting products or services to an already familiar audience.
  2. Advantages of search campaigns: 
    • You determine the search terms for which people should see your ads, ensuring that you attract only relevant audiences.
    • You can control campaign costs, adjust strategies, and experiment within small budgets.
    • Ads from search advertising campaigns are immediately displayed to users after moderation.
  1. Disadvantages of search campaigns:
    • It takes a lot of time to research relevant keywords and clean up irrelevant ones (using negative keywords).
    • In some industries, the cost per click may be high due to intense competition.
    • Constant monitoring of the campaign is required to ensure it delivers results.
  1. With search campaigns, you can achieve the following goals:
    • Increase revenue by reaching potential customers actively searching for products or services.
    • Find new customers who are searching for relevant keywords related to your business.
    • Close sales with users who are already familiar with your offerings, effectively targeting those in the consideration or decision-making stage of the buying process.
  1. Common mistakes to avoid when setting up search campaigns include: 
    • Incorrect selection of keywords.
    • Failure to clean up negative keywords.
    • Inaccurate or unclear ad copy.
    • Incorrect geo-targeting.
    • Setting bids too low or too high.
  1. To understand if a search campaign is effective, track:
    • The number of clicks and CTR (click-through rate).
    • Conversions achieved.
    • Percentage of impressions compared to competitors.
  1. Google Ads assets display additional information about a product and take up more space in the search results. As a result, competitors will have less space available for their ads.
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