How to Use Google Ads

How Google ads work, how to decide if they’ll help promote your business, and what you need to know to get started.

Do Google Ads work? The short answer is yes, of course they work. The longer answer is yes, but they don’t work for everyone. 

So, how can you tell if Google Ads will work for your print shop? Here we’ll break down how Google ads work, how to decide whether or not using them is a good option for you and your business, and what you need to know to get started.

How Google Ads Work

Google runs a relatively open marketplace for eyeballs. If you can answer a few questions, Google (for a fee) will help you find customers through a pretty fair bidding process that goes something like this: 

  1. You and all of your competitors place a bid for your customers to see an advertisement.  
  2. Google looks at all the bids and the pages those ads lead to. 
  3. Then, it uses its algorithm to determine what its customers (people searching) will respond to best. It’s an evaluation of the ad copy that reflects the page/product it leads to. If you’re advertising Father’s Day T-shirts and the ad click goes to your Contact Us page and your competitor has an ad on the same topic that leads to a page full of Father’s Day T-shirts, then they have an advantage.  
  4. Google then combines that information with how much you’re willing to pay and runs its own internal digital auction for those searching eyeballs and decides the when, where, how many times, and what to charge for each search/ad combination.  

The Questions Google Asks

A lot more goes into the auction process and setting up effective Google Search Ads, but here’s the simple version of what questions you need to answer. 

#1: What is the purpose of your ads?  

This seems most obvious – to sell more stuff! And that’s certainly what I would choose for you, but some businesses want to generate foot traffic, some want to drive traffic to their ecommerce store, and some want to sell something in particular. Maybe it’s a specific set of designs, a subscription plan, or you want to land more wholesale clients. You need to pick one goal per campaign.  

#2: Where will the ads lead to?  

Sending everyone to your home page is rarely a profitable strategy. Most businesses get the best results by matching ads to specific landing pages on their website or e-store.  

There’s a reason Google looks at the relationship between ads and the pages they lead to even after they’ve collected their money for that click. It’s because the better the searcher’s experience, the more likely they are to click on a Google Ad again.  

If someone’s looking for funny Father’s Day T-shirts, clicks on an ad, and doesn’t find them there, that makes people think twice about clicking the next time. Google will penalize you by not sending you any more clicks at all or charging you more for every single one.  

#3: What words do you want to be found with?   

What marketers call “key words” are search terms your potential customers might use to find you. “Custom T-shirt printer,” “DTF T-shirt transfers,” and “funny football tees” are just a few examples.  

Google will ask you to enter a list of these terms when you create your first ads. Or you can let Google choose those terms by entering your website address. Then Google will pull out the terms it thinks you probably want to be found for.

Pro Tip: This is a great test for your website. If what Google chooses doesn’t match what you would select, then your website isn’t sending the message you think it is.

#4: What does success look like?  

“Sell more” doesn’t really cut it when you can check your account every day to see how much you’re spending. Are you looking for technical success involving numbers of website visitors or views of a particular product? What about quotes, sales, or numbers of new customers? Is there a particular Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) you’re targeting? 

Don’t know? Don’t advertise! 

#5: What are you willing to spend? 

Here’s what’s not going to happen:

You’re not going to open a Google Ads account, spend an hour creating ads with a $100 budget, and get any results (depending on how you defined results above). 

Even if you start with $1000 or more, or $10,000 or more, you won’t get any real results in Week 1, and probably not in Month 1. Because there are so many variables in what makes Google Ads successful, it takes time to test first what works, then what works best and most profitably.  

So, let’s rephrase – How much are you willing to spend to discover what works? 

#6: Will you be able to tell if using Google Ads makes you money?  

The worst outcome of starting with Google Ads is getting to the end of 90 days or six months and just not knowing if it made a difference.

You simply have to be able to track how much you made vs how much you spent. It doesn’t have to be perfect, and it never will be, but at the end of every month, you need to at least be able to tell what you spent and what you earned.  

Quick Advice 

Google search ads require work. Much of it is technical work to set up the ads properly and get the tracking implemented so you can measure success (or the lack of it) properly.  

So don’t just “try it” unless you have the budget and the tenacity to work it to a profitable point – then it can pay off in a big way.

Pro Tip: Google is in the business of making money by selling ads. Keep that in mind every time you get a call from a Google Ads rep.

Have more questions? Comment below.

Bio: Mark Stephenson is a digital marketing strategist, partner, and educator. He is the driving force behind Clients First Marketing, a boutique marketing firm dedicated to empowering small business owners through comprehensive marketing solutions, educational resources, and tailored CRM systems. With decades of experience in digital marketing, sales, and management in the customization space and beyond, Mark brings a unique, holistic perspective to the ever-evolving world of online marketing. Find him on LinkedIn.

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