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The Essential Google AdWords Starter Guide

Google AdWords Starter GuideWhat is Google AdWords?  How does it work?

If you are new to paid search advertising these are among the first questions you will have.  Let’s cover the basics and bring you up to speed on how to get started with Google AdWords advertising.  After all, before you become an expert you have to start at the beginning.

Before you start…

There are four essential elements you absolutely MUST have in place before you even consider launching any Google Adwords campaigns if you hope to achieve the best results:

You need (1) a product or service, (2) an advertising budget, (3) a website, and (4) a conversion goal.  With these four components in place, you’re ready to get started with your PPC advertising.

You already have these four requirements?  Great!  If you haven’t already done so, create your Google AdWords account.

How does Google AdWords work?

Google AdWords ads above above and alongside organic results in the SERPAdvertisers bid on keywords in order to serve an ad which, when clicked upon, leads the searcher to a website landing page where a conversion goal, such as a lead generation or purchase, can be completed.

Advertisers compete against one another in the Google AdWords auction for select ad slots on the Google Search results page.  Advertisements will appear primarily above or to the right-handside of organic listings.

The Google AdWords auction is based around two fundamental elements: keywords and cost-per-click (CPC) bidding. Advertisers bid on search terms related to the product or service they provide.  The CPC bid is the maximum amount an advertiser is willing to pay each time their ad is clicked.


Google AdWords Account Structure

Let’s consider the account structure to grasp how the AdWords system works.  It helps to think of Google AdWords as if it were an automobile engine with many moving parts.  Each part, which is comprised of many other smaller parts, has a primary function.  But all of engine’s parts work together to achieve one ultimate goal.  Google AdWords is very similar in this regard.

The AdWords account contains one or more campaigns.  Each campaign contains one or more ad groups.  Each ad group contains one or more keywords AND one or more ads.
Google Adwords Account Structure


The Google AdWords account contains all settings related to billing, user access, preferences, and notification settings.


Budgeting, targeting, and several other functions are controlled at the Google AdWords campaign level. Each campaign is assigned a daily budget (the amount you are willing to spend each day), and the AdWords system will work to spend up to that point each day that the campaign is active.

You will also determine device targeting, location targeting, language targeting, and a number of other settings at the campaign level.

Ad Groups

The main function of ad groups is to organize your keywords and related ad copy into very small, tight-knit groupings. Doing so will help to ensure that your keywords are as relevant as possible to the ads they trigger.  You will set a CPC bid at the ad group level which applies to all keywords housed within the ad group.


Ads are triggered by the keywords that reside within the same ad group.  They are comprised of a headline, two description lines, a display URL, and a destination URL.  When developing copy you must adhere to strict Google Adwords advertising policies.

Ads are the face of your product or service.  The ad copy should be keyword-rich, enticing to a consumer, and accurately represent what they will find when they click through to your website’s landing page.  It is on the landing page where you will drive a goal completion.Google AdWords Keyword Match Type Reach


A keyword is a word or phrase that an advertiser selects to bid upon.  Keywords should be relevant to the advertisers products or services.  When searched by a user, keywords will trigger the ads which are housed within the same ad group.

Google AdWords recognizes five different match types which, when put to use, can either broaden or restrict potential ad reach.  Each match type is denoted by using a variety of symbols:

  • Exact match keywords have the narrowest reach.  They will be triggered when they match exactly to the search phrase being bid upon in the exact word order.  No other words can appear in the users search query.  Exact match type is denoted by surrounding the keyword phrase in square brackets ([]).  Ex: [keyword phrase] 
  • Phrase match keywords will be triggered when a user’s search query contains the exact phrase that is being bid upon in the exact word order.  Other words and phrases can appear before or after the keyword phrase but NOT within the phrase.  Phrase match type is denoted by surrounding the keyword phrase in quotation marks(“”).  Ex: “keyword phrase”
  • Modified broad match keywords will be triggered when a user’s search query contain the words used in the keyword phrase in ANY order.  Other words and phrases can appear before, after, OR within the phrase.  Modified broad match type is denoted using plus signs (+) before each word in the keyword phrase.  Ex: +keyword +phrase
  • Broad match keywords have the broadest reach.  They will be triggered when the system detects that the keyword is SIMILAR to the users search query.  The search query doesn’t need to contain any of the words or phrases that were used in the keyword.  Broad match keywords are denoted by using no symbols.  Ex: keyword phrase
  • Negative match keywords are used to exclude your ad from serving when particular word or phrase is included in the user’s search query.  If a search query contains one of your negative keywords, your ad will not serve.  Negative match keywords are denoted by using a minus sign (-) before the FIRST word of the phrase.  Ex: -keyword phrase


This Google AdWords beginner’s guide will help any advertiser started with a new Google AdWords account.  Find even more paid search tips and tricks from the LunaMetrics blog or attend a LunaMetrics training event in a city near you for expert Google AdWords training.

Stephen Kapusta

About Stephen Kapusta

Stephen Kapusta is a Senior Paid Search Analyst who is drawn to search engine marketing on account of his interest in consumer behavior and propensity for all things digital. His infatuation with paid search thrives on unlocking the mystery behind search intent, then using that knowledge in conjunction with his background in promotional writing and landing page optimization to complete advertising goals.


4 Responses to “The Essential Google AdWords Starter Guide”

Darren says:

Hi Stephen –

Thanks for sharing – nice overview of google adwords account setup, and a good idea to point out the differences in match types.

I’ve written & self-published a short book on ‘how to setup google adwords’. I’ve made it available free in iPad and PDF formats via my website at http://www.mangopublic.com/how-to-setup-google-adwords .

Please feel free to share it with your readers if you think it could be a valuable resource for them.


Joshua says:

Hi, I am interested in learning more about digital marketing. If you have any other resources or links, please do share.

As well, we can connect via Linkedin.
You can add me at eeffocian@gmail.com


karina says:

Loved the graphics!