Let’s start with the obvious: Google is the largest search network.
It saw 246 million U.S. unique visitors in December 2018 alone, and people conduct more than 3.5 billion Google searches each day.
Over the years, Google has made changes to the way we search and get results. One of those changes is the addition of Google Ads. Google Ads are a flexible, low-cost way to promote your dropshipping business and sell products online.
Let’s look at how to get started.
- What Are Google Ads?
- Google Ad Formats
- Creating Your Ads
- Google Ads Pricing
- Google Ads Strategies and Best Practices
- Summary on Google Ads
- Want to Learn More?
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What Are Google Ads?
Google Ads, formerly known as Google AdWords, is Google’s advertising platform. Advertisers (ecommerce brands, for example) place bids based on parameters like keyword, location, budget, etc., which determines how often and to whom their ads are served.
Google Ad Formats
Google display ads
Google display ads show up on external websites, which are members of the Google Display Network – a group of sites that reaches more than 90 percent of internet users. The host sites (where the ad is served to users) earn revenue for every click the ad attracts, while advertisers pay for each of these clicks.
Display ads are great if you’re trying to reach a specific consumer group. The Google Display Network has site partners in tons of industries, and you can choose to serve your ad content only in the ones relevant to your target.
There are also different types of display ads:
- Text: these are made of words only
- Image: instead of text, the ad is a static image
- Rich media: includes interactivity and/or animation
- Video: video ads – you see these a lot on YouTube
- Responsive: you upload a few options for imagery and copy, and Google will automatically optimize for more conversions
- Gmail: the ads you see at the top of your Gmail inbox
Technically also a display ad, Google Shopping campaigns are especially suited to ecommerce sellers. These ads show up at the top of search result pages with a keyword that indicates the user is looking for something to buy.
Here’s an example of what Google Shopping ads look like:
Google Shopping ads pull images, prices, titles, and descriptions from your product feed and display them on relevant searches.
Google search ads show up on search results pages. Scroll down on our search for the perfect purple fanny pack, and you’ll see an ad driving to Amazon:
This shows up below the Google Shopping results, but before the organic results – a great place to be. It also blends in with the organic search results (the only indicator being the green “Ad” icon), hopefully enticing click-throughs.
Responsive search ads
Google also has a responsive version for search ads. For these, you’ll enter 15 headline variations and four ad copy variations. Google will run all the combinations and, over time, recognize the top performer and optimize your ads accordingly.
Creating Your Ads
Targeting your audience
If you haven’t already, conduct market research to better understand your audience, their desires and pain points, and how your product and brand fits into that. Use this target market to determine how you target your ads.
Google gives advertisers two main targeting options:
- Contextual targeting: Google uses the category of the host site to determine which ad content is relevant (for example, if you’re selling athletic gear, your ads will show up on fitness-related sites)
- Audience targeting: this is where the advertiser chooses specific demographic information as parameters for who sees their ad
Here’s how that breaks down:
- Placement targeting: the advertiser chooses exactly which websites display their ad(s)
- Remarketing: serves additional ads to users who have engaged with your brand or visited your site in the past
- Interest categories: target an audience based on interests (fishing, beauty, etc.)
- Topic targeting: rather than user interests, you target a specific subject and serve ads in places related to that topic
- Geographic and language: target based on location and language spoken
- Demographic: mainly limited to age and gender parameters
Once you’ve honed in on a specific target market, you can use a combination of the above to run super-targeted ads.
Choosing your keywords
In addition to targeting options, you also choose specific keywords or phrases you want to target (this is especially relevant for search ads). Start with keyword research to see what users are searching for and which keyword opportunities are relevant to your brand.
Pro tip: There’s this important little word when it comes to keyword research – intent. The best keyword opportunities will showcase that the user intent is to research and ultimately purchase a product (if you’re running ads for online sales). Turning back to our fanny pack example, a searcher looking for “fanny pack free shipping” is a lot more primed to buy than someone searching for “are fanny packs trendy?”
When you’ve chosen your keyword, Google will create a list of related keywords that Google curates for you based on searcher behavior. Once you have an ad group of one to five keywords, you can tell Google how closely you want the search query to match those keywords:
- Broad match: this will give you the most reach, serving your ad for searches that are similar to your chosen keyword (this is Google’s default setting)
- Modified broad match: use this if you’re okay with a few related searches, but require a specific word
- Phrase match: like a modified broad match, except you’re mandating a phrase (for example, “fanny pack”)
- Exact match: this is when you want to serve the ad only for searches that are the same as your selected keywords and phrases
Writing your headline and description
Now for the fun part: developing your ad creative. This consists of a headline, description, and possibly image or video (if you’re running those types of ads).
The ad copy is SO important. This is what ultimately persuades a user to click through. If they don’t click through, your ad didn’t do its job.
No pressure, right?
OK, let’s first break it down, using the below example.
For this, our headline is “State Bags Leather Fanny Pack – Crosby in Black – STATEBags.com.” The display URL is www.statebags.com, and the description is “Shop Premium…” and everything that comes after that.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s look at what our limitations are:
- Headlines: Google’s actually made a lot of changes over recent years, and advertisers can now publish as many as three headlines. You have up to 30 characters to play with here.
- Display URL: This should be your website – it’s mainly to instill trust through transparency about where the user will go if they click through.
- Descriptions: Google also added a second description option, each of which can be up to 90 characters long. They also recommend including strong call-to-action (CTA) language here – things like “Buy Today” or “Shop Now.”
Images, rich media, and video ads have their own requirements:
- Animations need to be 30 seconds or less
- All visuals must meet Google’s quality standards
- There are multiple dimensions and sizes to choose from
Note: No ads should be misleading or contain inappropriate content.
To build and publish your ads, go to the Google Ads homepage where you can create an account (if you don’t have one already) and get started. Note that this does require a credit card, so have it handy.
You start by choosing your goal. In most cases, dropshippers will opt for the “Get more website sales or sign-ups” option, though this could change if you’re looking to take orders over the phone or drive foot traffic to a pop-up shop, for example.
Next, you choose your targeting. This totally depends on your strategy. While ecommerce sellers can technically reach a global audience, more doesn’t always mean better. I once worked with a brand that had a young, female audience. They carried many brands, and we always targeted our Lilly Pulitzer campaigns to the southeastern U.S., where the brand is well-known and coveted. You could also target ads in a geographic location you want to penetrate or that has a high concentration of existing customers.
Then, set the language and business category, list products or services you want to promote, and you’re on your way to creating your ad! Your ad editor will look like this:
Here you can also choose to include ad variations or multimedia for different formats. Once you’re happy with the ad creative, you can move on to setting your budget…
Google Ads Pricing
Google Ads pricing isn’t so straightforward – everything is based on competition and the quality of your ad (more on that in a bit).
When you’re setting up your ad campaign, you’ll be taken to a screen where you can choose your budget. It’s up to you to let Google automatically manage bids or if you want to manually control it yourself.
When you’re happy with the numbers, give everything a final review (Google will offer estimated performance at this point). Now, you can also scroll down on your campaign summary to add images and logos.
Add targeted search phrases and keywords on the summary page. Google will suggest some, or you can enter your own.
You can also set up a schedule for when you want the ad to run. Maybe start with all the time and optimize later for when it has the most activity, or check your site analytics to see what time of day you get the most traffic and sales.
How Google Ads pricing and bidding works
How much your ad costs depends on where you want it to appear, how much you’re willing to spend, and how relevant your ad is to the searcher.
Let’s get some definitions out of the way:
- Maximum bid: the most money you’re willing to spend in a day/month on Google Ads
- Cost-per-click (CPC): how much the advertiser pays Google for each click their ad generates
- Cost-per-impression (CPI): how much the advertiser pays Google each time their ad is seen
- Quality Score: estimates the value of your ad on a one-to-ten scale, based on clickthrough rate, ad and keyword relevance, and landing page experience
- Ad Rank: determines where your ad is presented on the page, based on bid amount, ad quality, Ad Rank thresholds, the context of the search, and the expected impact of extensions and other ad formats
There are two ways you can set your bids on ad sets:
- Automatic: let Google do the work and optimize for you, based on competitor activity and your maximum budget
- Manual: choose specific bid amounts for each ad group and keyword, optimizing your ad spend on the top performers
When bidding on your ads, Google accounts for not only your ad relevancy, but also how competitive the keywords are. If many brands are bidding on the same keyword, this drives competition – and prices – up.
Google Ads Strategies and Best Practices
Google Ads are simple to set up, but the real results come in when you take a few extra steps. Here’s a quick checklist for you:
- Add tracking codes: You want to be able to measure and analyze the traffic you’re sending to your site from your ads. You can do this by adding UTM parameters (tracking codes) to your links with the URL builder.
- Connect Google Analytics: To make analytics tracking even easier and more comprehensive, link your Google Analytics and Google Ads account.
- Set up conversion tracking: On the theme of tracking, this will tell dropshipping companies how many online sales resulted from your ads.
- Use highly relevant keywords: Google sets placement and pricing based on ad relevance to the selected keywords. The more targeted your keywords, the better your chances at gaining a more prominent position at a lower price – even for the most competitive terms.
- Start with broad keyword matches: For new dropshippers in particular, it’s OK to start with broad keyword matches. You can see which keywords generate the best results and get more targeted from there.
- Keep an eye on your Quality Score: Google tells you the Quality Score for your ads. It’s a good idea to keep an eye on this over time. Searcher intent can change, and competition can get fierce – you need to monitor it to make sure it continues to perform.
- Optimize the entire user experience: You don’t want just click-throughs – you want click-throughs that lead to conversions. The best way to do that is to provide a great user experience after a user clicks. Quick load time and relevant content are just a couple of ways to make sure you’re delivering.
Summary on Google Ads
Google Ads are a great way for dropshippers to spread the word and drive online sales to targeted audience groups. It’s easy to get up and running – Google walks you through the entire process – but there are important considerations to make sure your investment pays off.
- Don’t be afraid to test in the beginning – formats, targeting, copy, imagery, broad keywords, bids, etc. – to learn what works and what doesn’t. The real value comes from your learnings, which you can apply to existing and future campaigns.
- The Google Display Network has the potential to put your brand and products in front of more than 90 percent of all internet users. That’s a massive opportunity!
- Google Ads pricing largely depends on your quality score: the relevance of your ad to the searcher intent, the user experience if they click, and overall ad performance over time. You can (and should) optimize ads with the goal of improving your quality score.
- Don’t forget to put tracking in place. If you’re investing in ad spend, you’ll want to see how it’s generating ROI – and then double down on those opportunities to generate even more sales.
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