June 16, 2021

What is a Google Ads Search Campaign?

What is a Google Ads Search Campaign?

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So, you’re wondering: what is a Google Ads Search Campaign? How does a Google Ads search campaign work? 

To help you develop a thorough understanding of what Google Ads search campaigns are and why they’re an important part of marketing strategies for small businesses, we will cover the following topics: 

  1. How can a Google Ads Search Campaign benefit my business?
  2. What is a Google Ads Search Campaign?
  3. How does a Google Ads Search Campaign work?
  4. What is a Google Ads auction?
  5. The importance of keyword order. 
  6. What is a Google Ads quality score? 
  7. How much do you have to spend? 

So, let’s get started with explaining what Google Ads search campaigns are and how they work.

Illustration of a magnifying glass search icon.

1. How can a Google Ads Search Campaign benefit my business?

To start, think about this: how often do you “Google” something? For most of us, it’s a daily behavior. 

The fact that “Google” has become such a big part of our daily lexicon (and that it’s managed to become a verb!) speaks to its importance. 

And, trust us, Google’s importance isn’t just limited to helping us find cool events to attend on the weekend or finding out what that actor’s name is.  Rather, we rely on Google search results to help us make a variety of important decisions, including who we buy our products and services from. 

And which products do you count on the most? The ones that appear on the first page of Google. We’re pretty sure you’ve never skipped to the 27th page of search results when looking for a product or service.

So, in the modern world, Google is an incredibly powerful business tool, and having your business appear in Google searches will be an important part of your digital marketing strategy. 

Ensuring that your business appears in the first page of Google results for relevant keywords and key phrases will get you noticed, get potential customers calling you, and drive traffic to your website. 

When your target audience Googles questions relevant to your business, you want them to see you right there, at the top of the search results — you want to be the person they choose to contact.

So, how do you do that? While there are various factors that can help you rank in Google search results, one potent way of getting yourself noticed is to make use of Google Ads search campaigns.

2. What is a Google Ads Search Campaign?

Picture walking down a busy downtown street in a large city. As you’re walking, you’ll see many storefronts with different signs and imagery, all intended to catch your eye organically, as you’re walking around. 

However, you’ll also see carefully crafted advertisements — like billboards — that businesses pay for to help further their marketing reach. And it’s likely the case that these paid advertisements stick out even more than the authentic storefronts. 

Well, if you think of Google as the busy downtown streets of the modern era, organic search results are the “storefronts” and Google Ads are like the “billboards” companies pay to use.

Companies pay Google to have their ad appear near the top of the research results when members of their target audience use certain keywords or key phrases.

These paid Google Ads then appear right at the top of the page, attempting to catch your eye before you scroll down to the organic search results. 

This is the gist of what a Google Ads search campaign is — it’s a tool that helps ensure your business’ ad will be noticed by your target audience.

3. How does a Google Ads Search Campaign work?

Setting up your Google Ads campaign can be broken down into four primary stages: 

  • Determine your budget. 
  • Choose your keywords.
  • Craft your ad and landing page. 
  • Start bidding and pay the price.

Let’s take a look at what each stage is all about.

Determine your budget.

When you register with Google and begin setting up your ad campaign, you will have an opportunity to specify your monthly budget. Once you set a budget, Google will help ensure you do not exceed that threshold. 

Basically, with a search campaign, Google Ads will only charge you when a lead clicks on your ad. This type of advertising is called “pay-per-click” (PPC) advertising for that reason.

Choose your keywords.

You’ll then need to work with your marketing team and SEO savvy copywriters to choose a list of keywords to target. 

The keywords you choose will be relevant to your business and your target audience and will be carefully crafted to try to secure viable leads. 

In a nutshell, you’ll want to select the keywords and key phrases that your target audience is most likely to use when searching for your product or service. 

However, your competition is also interested in ranking for those keywords, which is why Google uses an auction-style system to determine what the cost-per-click (CPC) to rank for your desired keywords would be. 

For highly sought after keywords and key phrases, you may find that the CPC is too high and wouldn’t fit with your budget. This is one of the reasons it is important to work with a marketing or copywriting professional who can help you find your budget and determine the right keywords to focus on. 

So, at the outset, you and your marketing team will need to decide how much you’re  willing to spend to get the attention of a person searching for your desired keywords, keeping in mind that you are going head-to-head with other businesses interested in appearing in search results for those keywords.

Craft your ad and landing page.

Once you have determined your budget and keywords, you will need to create a carefully crafted, impactful ad to draw your audience’s attention. This means having highly effective copy along with crisp, clean, engaging visuals. 

If you’re trying to drive traffic to your website, you’ll also want to work with your design team to craft an eye-catching, easy-to-navigate landing page (usually with a contact form, subscribe button, or other vivid call to action).

Along with considering your budget or bid, Google assigns you a “quality score” based on the relevance of your ad and landing page. This quality score is a large part of what determines how you rank for your desired keywords and where your ad will appear.  So, you need to get this right.

Start bidding and pay the price.

Every time users click on your Google Ad, you will pay Google a certain price — you’ll pay the cost-per-click (CPC) associated with your ad and keywords x the number of clicks you received.

Keeping in mind that the CPC is calculated using a formula that takes into consideration the popularity of your desired keywords, the average CPC for a Google Ad is $1 – 2. 

Chances are, if you target less desirable keywords, you’ll be able to reduce your CPC spend. However, if you want to show up when your audiences Googles those highly coveted search terms, be prepared to spend more per click.

4. What is a Google Ads auction?

Well, it’s certainly not like it is in the old movies, where a bunch of stuffy old people hold up signs and silently stare at the front of the room. But it’s a similar idea. 

In essence, the more you are willing to spend, the more you are going to get. So, if you’re a larger company with the budget to spend thousands of dollars a month on your digital advertising, chances are you’ll be able to rank higher for the most coveted keywords and phrases. 

However, if you’re a small business with a startup budget looking to spend in the double- or triple-digits, you will likely have to make some compromises on the keywords you target.

Basically, Google Ads figures out which ads should show up with a fast ad auction that happens  every time someone searches Google. Every time! 

You will set your bid — you’ll tell Google Ads the maximum amount you’re willing to pay for a click on your ad. 

Then, each time an ad is eligible to appear for a search, you will be entered into the auction. 

The ‘auction’ (combined with your quality score) figures out whether or not your ad should show and in which position it will show on the page. 

So, when someone searches for something using Google, Google Ads finds all the ads that have paid for the use of certain keywords. Then, depending on how much you’ve set your bid at (how much you’re willing to spend), Google Ads will determine where to place your ad. 

In essence, the winners of the auction get the most coveted Google Ads spots (at the very top of the first page) when users search for their desired keywords. 

5. The importance of keyword order.

Unfortunately, with Google Ads, the less you pay, the less specific you get to be with your keywords. 

For example, if you own a bakery and want to use Google Ads to prompt people to call you or come into your brick-and-mortar store, you may bid on search keywords like: “best,” “top,” “bakery,” “pastry,” “cake,” “muffin,” “city.”

In theory, you’d think that ranking for any of those keywords would be great, that it would drive traffic to your business. 

But, at  the lower end of spending, you’ll only be able to rank for use of those keywords in any random order. 

So, for instance, if someone were to type in “worst muffins in the city,” your  business could show up right at the top. Why? Because someone typed “muffins” and  “city.” 

The saying used to be that “there’s no such thing as bad press,” but most marketers would tell you not to buy into that. 

Now, granted, people probably aren’t searching for the worst things ever as often as they are searching for the best things ever. 

However, when you aren’t able to secure your keywords in a more specific order, it is less likely that your ad will appear to your desired target audience or that it will appear in relevant searches. This means that people may see your ad, but they will be much less likely to actually click on it

So, the more your company is willing to spend in this auction, the more precise you get 

to be with your keywords, and this means that your ads will be more effective.

For example, when someone types in, “best muffins in the city,” if you have the winning bid for the words “best,”  “muffins,” and, “city,” and to have them in that order, you’ll likely be able to make the top of the page. 

But, again, keep in mind that Google also takes into consideration your quality score (that’s the score Google has assigned your ad based on its relevancy to your keywords, clarity, etc.). 

A quick formula is used to determine whether your bid + your quality score out-ranks your opponents, so you’ll also need to make sure you are crafting quality ad content.

6. What is a Google Ads "quality score"?

The “quality score” assigned to you by Google is determined based on:

  • The relevance of your Google ad to the search query. 
  • The relevance of the Google keyword to your ad group.
  • The relevance of your ad to its landing page. 
  • The historical click-through rate of the ad and its ad group. 
  • Overall historical account performance 

There are benefits to having a high score here. 

The main benefit is that your ads will show more often, in better positions. You’ll be at  the top of the page, rather than the bottom, ‘people also searched for’ section. You’ll  most likely then get more clicks. And the higher your score, the less you’ll actually have  to spend. 

Again, Google weighs your bid amount against your ‘Quality Score’. The higher that  score, the less you have to pay.

7. How much do you have to spend?

Exactly how much you have to spend on a bid depends on a few things. 

First, we would encourage you to reflect on your total marketing budget and review your digital marketing strategy. How much of your total budget should you be assigning to your Google Ads search campaign? Would the money you’d need to spend to rank well here be better spent elsewhere?

If you’re confident in your search campaign budget, then the main factor in determining how much you’ll need to spend to lead a successful search campaign will be the competitiveness of your keywords and industry. Again the more desired the keywords are and the more competition you have, the higher your bid and cost-per-click  (CPC) will be, and the more you’ll need to spend to be successful. 

But you’ll also want to take into consideration the location and quality of your ad campaign. If you target the wrong audience or don’t have the amazing landing page needed to draw in your leads, you’ll find yourself spending more for the clicks, with lower conversion rates. 

For more coveted keywords, the average cost-per-click (CPC) that you’d pay when someone hits your ad is just over $2.00. That adds up pretty fast, so you’d want to make your  content count and have a bigger overall budget. 

But, while $2/click may seem like a lot, if you’re generating consistent traffic and your landing page is successful in calling your audience to action, your conversion rate should be going up. In that case, you’ll find you’re enjoying a pretty solid ROI (usually, around $8 for every $1 spent), which justifies the $2/click spend.


While Google Ads search campaigns are just one of the campaign types offered by Google, many small businesses will benefit from investing in a carefully crafted search campaign. 

While you can get your search campaign up and running in as few as 4 steps, you will need to ensure that your search campaign strategy is tailored to your small business and speaks to your target audience. 

For your campaign to be effective, you will need to set the appropriate budget, select the right keywords, carefully craft your ad’s copy and visual materials to speak to your target audience, and ensure that your ad leads to an engaging, easy-to-navigate landing page that will pull your audience in. 

Lumida Ltd. is a fully remote, full-service creative agency serving clients across Ontario.

For a free, no obligation quote for our digital strategy and digital marketing services, you can get in touch here

Or, for more small business guides and resources, you can check out our blog here.

Steve Chambers

Steve Chambers

Steve is a copywriter and content developer with a passion for creating effective, engaging written content.

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