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15 Tips on How to Create Your First Paid Search Campaign

Create your first paid search campaign on Google AdWords. Find out dos and don'ts.

PPC 101: Creating Your First Paid Search Campaign | SEJ

Creating your first AdWords campaign is exciting, but it can be tricky if you don’t follow best practices. Keep reading this article to find out what to do, what to avoid, and how to skip beginner’s mistakes.

#1 Keep Your Keywords Targeted

Targeting broad keywords to generate more traffic is not going to get you far. Traffic will most likely not convert and you will end up spending your budget in no time.

Your strategy should focus on advertising to targeted keywords to be able to send highly qualified traffic to your website.

#2 Search for Negative Keywords

Look for negative keywords as you are searching for the ones you want to target. This is going to save you time and money. Negative keywords are an asset for your campaign and keep you from wasting money by showing up for irrelevant terms.

#3 Watch for Keyword Match Types

Keywords match types tell Google what search terms you would like your keywords to appear for. You should have your keywords as exact match if you want to target the exact keyword the same way you typed it.

If you want to target a specific phrase or a variation of a phrase, you should be using phrase match.

Finally, if you want to have something a bit broader you should go for broad match modifier or broad match keywords.

Here is a table from Google that explains it perfectly:


#4 Don’t Mix Search and Display Campaigns

Display and search campaigns are optimized in different ways. Creating a campaign both for the search and display network won’t let you maximize the efficiency of your marketing budget.

Best practice is to create one campaign for the search network and one for the display. This can be easily selected right in the first steps of the campaign creation.

#5 Test Ads

You should always run more than one ad per ad group to test what works best and generates good performance for your business. For best results, you should create tests that focus on one element of the ad each.

For instance, you could start with a headline test and continue with a description line 1 and description line 2 test. This approach allows you to find out what specific change is having a positive or negative impact on your stats.

#6 Distribute Your Ads Evenly for Testing Purposes

You should set your account to distribute ads evenly. This is a best practice that allows you to test ads faster and with a higher statistical relevance because Google will distribute your ad variations in equal parts.

You can decide whether to rotate your ads evenly for 90 days and then optimize or to rotate them indefinitely. These two methods will make sure that you can keep testing ads over time. (The other methods are likely to decrease the serving ratio of ads that the Google algorithm won’t consider likely to convert.)

#7 Set Up Conversion Tracking

Running a campaign without tracking conversions limits your chances to be successful because you cannot figure out what keywords, ads, or campaigns are actually producing good results.

Setting up conversion tracking is easy and it only requires a few minutes. Here’s how to do it step by step.

#8 Don’t Try to Show Up First All the Time

Sometimes lower positions are more profitable than the first ones. This is particularly true if you are looking for some volume but have a limited budget.

Test what position generates the best results and try to adjust your bids to target it.

#9 Breakdown Keywords in Targeted Ad Groups

Don’t keep all of your groups into one ad group. Break them down into as many ad groups as possible to be able to customize your ads to the keywords of each ad group.

This will help increasing the CTR and quality score, which are two fundamental metrics to lower the CPC that you need to pay for a given ad position in an action.

#10 Monitor Performance by Time and Day

Different hours and days are likely to have different performance. Monitor trends like that to find out when you should reduce bids or pause ads.

You need to perform days and hours analysis at the campaign level to customize your strategies in the most targeted way possible.

#11 Set Up Sitelink and Other Extensions

Sitelink extensions are extra lines of texts that appear in your ad and direct people to other pages of your site than the landing page. Sitelinks help you get more real estate on the search page and help boost the CTR.

This is what sitelinks look like:


Google offers many more ad extensions such as location extensions, call extensions, and callout extensions. Find out more about available extensions for your business here.

#12 Test the Landing Page

Successful landing pages can make a huge difference in the success of your marketing campaigns. Test how different content can influence the conversion rate.

There are several elements of a landing page you could test: call to actions, texts on the pages, images, the use of a video, the color of the buttons and much more!

Check out some potential tests for your landing page here.

#13 Don’t Set Up Display Campaigns With Poor Targeting

Display campaigns can be a great source of traffic, but they can also become quite expensive and ineffective if not set up correctly.

Display campaigns can have any or multiple targeting. You can choose among interest, keyword, placement, topics, demographics, and remarketing lists.

You should always combine one or more methods from the ones above to be able to maximize the effectiveness of your advertising budget and to avoid wasting money on irrelevant placements.

#14 Plan to Test Remarketing

Remarketing is an advertising strategy that consists of advertising to people who have already visited your website. You can also exclude people who visited your website and did convert in order to avoid wasting budget on customers you have already acquired.

You should install a remarketing code right from day one and have a plan to roll out a remarketing campaign within the first weeks of the campaign launch. Here is a step-by-step guide to creating a remarketing list.

#15 Use Google Analytics

Google Analytics is an extremely helpful source to understand how your website visitors behave on your site. Are they staying long enough on the web pages? Are certain pages causing a high exit rate? Is there a traffic source generating better performance for you?

Answering all of those questions will get you closer to achieving your business goals. In order to get started with things you need to make sure you link your Google AdWords and Analytics account and track AdWords traffic directly in the Analytics interface.


Are there other important tips for beginners? Please share them in the comments section. 

Image Credits

Featured Image: Created by author for Search Engine Journal
All screenshots taken March 2015

Category PPC
Rocco Baldassarre Founder & CEO at Zebra Advertisement

Rocco Baldassarre is a digital marketing consultant and entrepreneur. He is best known for being the founder of the award ...

15 Tips on How to Create Your First Paid Search Campaign

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