Google Ads 101

Before I go on, have a watch of Google’s video below, for what they have to say…

Even if you are not tech savvy, you will probably know all about Google’s prominent search engine. On a slow day Google receives over 1 billion searches, that is one billion requests for information every day on the web.

With any large number of people all in one place, business has the opportunity to reach a potential customer and in this case, the rewards are huge for Google.

This does not quite tell the full story though. Google’s search results (on a basic level) are split into two. One part being the organic (natural) results and the other part being the ads (Adwords).

How Search Works

The organic results are determined by Google’s (super secret) algorithm. This is a fancy way of saying Google searches the web and stores as many web pages as it can.

Then when someone types a phrase into Google, a list of results is shown in an incredibly quick amount of time, based on what Google determines to be the most relevant and helpful to the user. A great explanation on how search works by Matt Cutts is below:

The Ads are normally placed at the top of the results and down the right hand side. They differ in the sense that, instead of google choosing for the user what they think is the most relevant result, businesses and sometimes charities “bid” on that term (similar to an auction). Each time an ad is clicked, the advertiser pays a predetermined maximum amount. This is where the term Pay Per Click comes from.

There are occasional misconceptions about this though, as Google will not let just anyone put ads in their results.

Some people have perceptions that Google are wiling to take anyones money to be in the ads, but this is not the case. Businesses have to comply with policies and provide the user with the right landing page experience. A great video from Hal Varian on how the auction works is below:

The above simply states that Google much prefers providing their users with the most relevant search results possible and they will place ads higher that are the most relevant irrespective of how much an advertiser is willing to pay.

Google Ads was launched in the year 2000 and has been changed and improved hundreds of times, mainly to ensure the users have the best experience possible.

With any advertising platform, when it was created the costs were much lower and over time, growth of Google and increases in competition have made costs go up for advertisers.

Google still have a great offer for new advertisers though. The current offer is, if you spend £25, you get £75 advertising for free. This is well worth trying. You can claim your voucher (in the UK) at the below link:

What do Google Ads look like?

In order to have ads show up on Google’s search engine, they are created in Google Ads.  A screenshot of the Google Ads interface is below:

Google Ads Interface

The graph looks slightly intimidating at first, but it is just a graph which calculates a certain amount of clicks (number of people who clicked your ad) each day over your selected time period.

You can change the graph to display other things and this is used to spot trends in your campaigns to improve performance.

The tabs above the graph are campaigns, adgroups, settings, keywords, ad extensions, auto targets and dimensions. This is how you navigate if  you were creating/working on a Google Ads account. Describing these in more detail is not what this post is about, but there will be many more posts on the blog for you to browse.

Search vs Display

So far we have only really covered the search part of Google Ads, but ads can also show on something called the Google Display Network (or GDN). Video time…

The Google display network consists of millions of sites who have given Google permission to place adverts on them. The reason being that when someone clicks one of these adverts, both the website and Google receive revenue. This is also known as Adsense.

On the display network you can target people by age, gender, topic of interest and category of website. With these targeting settings, you might think that the display network performs better than Google search, but more often than not this is not the case.

When people are searching on google, they are actively looking for something. However when browsing a website, They may not want to see ads or be as receptive to them.

This is sometimes referred to as push versus pull marketing. In one case you are providing the searcher with something they are asking for. In another case the user is looking at something and you are pushing your product or service to them.

Google has a very large reach with the display network, so they have been looking for ways to make the most of it. Fairly recently they have introduced Remarketing, which you can read more about here.

Google have also introduced a setting called “display select“, instead of showing ads on the display network as often as possible, they pick and choose when the best time to serve ads will be if they think they will get a user who is likely to convert on your site.

This seems to provide a better quality than the general display network, but still varies in its success.

Google Ads Product Listing Ads

Product listing ads are shown for the most part on something called google shopping. As above these can be shown in normal google search also, normally when the search term is a product and it is a generalised search.

Product listing ads differ from text or banner ads as the ad itself is created from products that exist on your website.

The advertiser chooses which products they would like to be included and google automatically creates the ad from the information you give them and from what is on your website.

If you have an E-commerce site or more of an online shop, product listing ads could be very beneficial to you.

They give the shopper an opportunity to look at the product before they click on the ad and tend to perform very well from a conversion point of view.


I hope this article “Google Ads 101” has helped you.

You should now have a much better understanding of how google works and how Google Ads can help you and your business. It has been a major innovation and businesses are made and lost by mastering this skill!

About the author

Thomas Green is a Certified Google Ads Professional and the director of Ethical Marketing Service, who specialise in Digital Marketing and are experts in PPC.

Call on 01273 634 985 or email: