How to Run Google Ads: The Step-by-Step Recipe to Success

Getting the right user to click is half the play, but your website is what brings them into the end zone. My final Google Ads account structure tip today is to pay attention to where you’re bringing your viewers: to a (hopefully) great landing page.
Let’s get saucy! Too much sauce is never enough sauce, and that concept applies whether I’m pouring gravy on my potatoes or practicing PPC. Don’t be afraid to go crazy with your extra settings, like device targeting.
Tie on your apron and follow me as I walk you through my ultimate recipe for running Google Ads like a Michelin star chef. Your potential customers are hungry for what your business has to offer, and after this guide, they’ll be stuffed!
Pro tip: Check off presence to avoid showing to people “interested in” in your chosen location who aren’t actually there. Learn more about location targeting here.

Table of contents

Step #1: Click on “Switch to expert mode”

Put your chef’s hat on

An example of sitelink extensions that give the viewer more ways to click on this ad
Dinner is served! Be sure your billing information is good to go, then save your campaign to set it live. Now what? The rest is all about tracking performance. Here are my final tips:
“People ask me, ‘What do you think of Michelin?’… I don’t cook for guides. I cook for customers.” –Gordon Ramsay
There are two categories of bidding strategies:

Step #2: Pick your campaign type

What meal are you going to make?

Once you know what meal you’re going to make, it’s time to get your kitchen ready for cooking. In our Google Ads analogy, this is where you’ll pick out your general settings for the campaign, like:
how to run google ads - recipe card

  • Search (the campaign type we’ll be using for this guide)
  • Display
  • Video
  • Shopping
  • App
  • Discovery
  • Local
  • Performance Max

how to run google ads - screenshot of google ad campaign location targeting settings and options
how to run google ads - selecting campaign type from choices presented on google ads screen
how to run google ads - before you select a campaign you select from a set of goals exemplified here
I’ll use a personal anecdote to explain why automated bidding would be helpful. When I first started snowboarding, I had the rental shop pick my gear because I had no idea how I’d handle different types of terrain or what my personal preferences would be. Now that I have experience, I use a specific type of board because I know what works for me. Automated bidding is just like that. You can check out our full breakdown of the automated bidding strategies here.
Then you can select from the options available to you.

Step #3: Set up the campaign

Prepare the kitchen

how to run google ads - example of choosing a google ad campaign start and end date

  • Campaign name: This can be whatever you want as it doesn’t impact your performance. As long as your campaign is easy for you to recall and organize within your account, you’re good to go.
  • Network: You can opt to have your ads show on Google’s partner networks. These are subsidiaries that Google owns that are allowed to show your ad. This can broaden your reach for a lower cost, but will make it harder to achieve a high impression share.

Let’s put this into practice with an example:

Step #4: Set your ad schedule

Pick your dinner date

Alright, everything is prepared and cooked. Now it’s time to serve. In the hit cooking show, Hells Kitchen, plating presentation matters just as much as taste. No one will eat something that doesn’t look appetizing even if it tastes good, and no one will click on a lame ad even if it has a great offer.
To pick a campaign, Google will first ask you to choose an objective. Depending on your objective, it will then show you which campaign types are available. For this guide, we’re going to create a Search ad so let’s choose website traffic.
What’s dinner without dessert? Disappointing. What’s an awesome Google ad without a landing page? Failure.
Think of your Google Ads account like a kitchen. Do you only make scrambled eggs in it? Hopefully not! You might make a steak dinner when you want a protein boost, soup when you have a cold, enchiladas when you want to spice things up, and so on. Well just like there are different meal types, there are different campaign types for different purposes.

Step #5: Specify location & language

Create your guest list

Pro tip: For Display campaigns, you’ll also have this option in the form of a checkbox in your campaign settings. For all campaign and bidding types, you can view your performance by device in the Devices section of Google Ads—perfect for those looking to adjust their strategy accordingly for mobile or desktop.
PPC keyword pro tips:
What are the different campaign types?
how to run google ads - responsive search ad tip cheat sheet

Step #6: Calculate your daily budget

Get your seasoning juuust right

Other than that, you’re good to cruise. In fact, give your campaign some time to breathe and collect data. I always say the hardest part of PPC is patience! Try not to make changes more often than every two weeks to 30 days, and that period may need to be even longer for new campaigns. So, relax and digest this amazing new Google Ads campaign you just built!
how to run google ads - screenshot of ad group naming steps
Now we can see what’s available:
So do not choose your “Main advertising goal” as Google asks, and instead click the option to “Switch to expert mode.”

Here’s an example

Just as there are different ways to cook a meal, there are different ways Google can spend your budget, depending on your goals. To pick your bid strategy, select “Or, select a bid strategy directly (not recommended).”

  • You’re looking to spend $200 per month
  • 200 ÷ 30.4 = 6.57
  • You may want to round that out for better PPC budgeting. That gives you about $6.50 per day to spend on one campaign, or to spread across multiple campaigns (depending on your strategy).

Image source

  • Say your goal is to get at least one conversion per day.
  • Your research shows that you can expect an average CPC of $3.25.
  • With a budget of $6.50 per day, you’ll realistically only be able to afford a maximum of about two clicks per day.
  • One of those two clicks better convert!

Now it’s time for the taste test. Does this amount of budget work? Continuing on with this example:

Negative keywords are terms you select that you don’t want your ads to show for. For example, if I’m advertising CDL classes, the term “CDL” could easily apply to folks looking for jobs within the industry. SoI might negate “jobs,” “positions,” and “openings” to avoid people looking for jobs rather than education.

  • Do: Understand how daily budgets work. For example, if you set a daily budget of $8, Google might spend $12 on one day if it means more clicks and conversions, and spend only $6 on another day to level out your costs for the month.

Keywords are the words and phrases your target is typing into Google Search. With Google Search ads, you bid on keywords that you want your ads to show up for. We’ll get to keywords in a minute, but first, here is what your screen will look like:
Image source

  • Don’t: Expect your budget to stay the same forever. In PPC, a little flexibility goes a long way. There’s no reason to dump budget into a non-performing campaign because you expect it to work.
  • Don’t: Lowball your budget. While it’s understandable that all advertisers want to be cost-efficient, a low budget will limit you. You need to spend money to make money.
  • Do: Use the Google Ads budget report to look at daily and monthly projected spend across your account.

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You’ll see additional settings for this section, like ad rotation.

Eliminate food allergies! (Negative keywords)

best ecommerce landing page examples - freshly
You will see the audience segments section, but you can skip that. This is where you would add your remarketing lists, but this isn’t a common strategy for search ads.
how to run google ads - example of google ad network options

Step #9: Create your ad

Plating presentation

how to run google ads - screenshot of a google ads budget report insights
Given average conversion rates, this is a high expectation. Take baby steps by setting your expectations lower. As you gain more traction, your budget could expand and you’ll also accumulate the data you need to make optimizations and lower your cost per click.
how to run google ads - breakdown of keyword matching behavior
I don’t know about you, but I’m stuffed…with the knowledge of how to run Google Ads! Before you go, I’ve put the steps to run Google ads into a Tupperware container for you: World-renowned chef Gordon Ramsay cooks for his customers, and so should you. Well, cook up Google Ads, that is! Whether your chef skills are rusty or you’ve never cooked before, I’m going to help you serve your customers a steaming, hot plate of the most delicious Google Ads campaign they’ve ever seen.
To add extensions to your ads, navigate to the Extensions section from the left-hand column. From there, the Google Ads platform will prompt you through the process.

  • Don’t forget your CTA. Calling your viewer to an action is, after all, the point. Be sure you’re always clear in what the end goal of their click will be. Use terms like “sign up today,” “call now,” and more to help increase conversions.
  • Don’t be boring. Market with emotion to make waves on the SERP and use our ad copy examples for inspiration.
  • Don’t overdo it. Think of your ads as the “face” of your business. Just like presentation on a plate, you want them to button up your brand nicely. Don’t sacrifice this aspect of your copywriting in favor of a bunch of aggressive CTAs.

Step #10: Add on your ad extensions


The worst thing that can happen is they don’t show or drive clicks, but they won’t make your ad fail. The purpose of ad extensions is to elevate your ad, so there’s really no harm in trying these.
how to run google ads - example of adding keywords into an ad group
how to run google ads - screenshot of device bid adjustment section in the google ads platform
how to run google ads - screenshot of responsive search ad creation portal
To recap, here is how to run Google Ads in 13 steps:
Sounds harsh, but the hard part of being a PPC expert is that I sometimes have to break the news that advertisers don’t want to hear yet need to know. At the end of the day, you could have the best ads in the world, but if your landing page isn’t optimized you’ll never see results.
how to run google ads - example of sitelinks on an ad in the serp

Step #11: Device targeting and extras

Sauce it up!

Pro tips on setting your budget
how to run google ads - switching to expert mode in this example here will give you more manual capabilities
In my experience, this usually doesn’t get touched too often and is dependent on a business’s unique situation. By default, Google will prefer the best-performing ads. That makes sense because you’ll want to get the best bang for your buck with whatever ad Google chooses to show.
how to run google ads - example of button to select a bid strategy directly
To calculate a budget that is just right, you’ll first need to ballpark your monthly spend. Start with some keyword research and look at Google Ads benchmarks for your industry to anticipate your average CPC or CPA.

Step #12: Don’t forget your landing page


how to run google ads - an example of setting a google ad campaign budget
Google Ad copy pro tips
how to run google ads - chart of all bid strategy options and types
When you host a dinner party, you don’t invite everyone you’ve ever met. You choose a select few. This way you can cater the experience to their specific tastes and interests. Similarly, you don’t want your Google Ads campaign to show to the world. Here is where you set your location and language.

  • Cover the technical aspects. Optimize for page speed and make sure it’s responsive and secure.
  • Focus on the CTA: Be sure that the button, form, or whatever your action is clear and easy to access. It can be easy to get lost talking about all the great things your brand has to offer. But your visitors came with a goal in mind, be sure they can quickly and easily complete it.
  • Have a clean, attractive design: Use these landing page examples for inspiration!

Are you burning through your budget? Find out instantly with our free Google Ads Performance Grader.

Step #13: Set your ad live


Now, divide that number by 30.4 (the average number of days in a month) to arrive at your daily budget.
Just like you need to tell your guests when your dinner party is, you need to tell Google when to show your ads so you’re only spending money when it counts. For example, you could avoid showing your ad in the wee hours of the morning when people may be uninterested in converting.
Pro tip: Beware! The schedule defaults to the timezone your account is set in, so if you’re advertising to audiences in different time zones, you’ll need to do some math. We’ve got you covered here on how to set up ad scheduling right.

How to Run Google Ads in 13 steps

how to run google ads - example of the ebb and flow of google ads daily budgets
As of June 2022, responsive search ads will be the only standard Search ad you can create, so your ad creation window will look something like this:

  1. Switch to expert mode
  2. Pick your campaign type
  3. Set up your campaign
  4. Set your ad schedule
  5. Pick your location and language
  6. Determine your budget
  7. Select your bidding strategy
  8. Add your keywords
  9. Create your ad
  10. Add on extensions
  11. Target devices
  12. Optimize your landing page
  13. Set it live!

Posted by Contributor