Your ‘Second’ Google Ads Campaign: The Complete Guide

Taking your first steps in Google Ads is daunting. We’ve outlined 7 things to know to ensure it’s time (and money) well spent.

Have you given it a go yet? Over 3.5 billion searches are carried out on Google each day, giving you the ability to present your business to someone looking for something just like it.

Not only that, but creating an account to start advertising is as easy as signing-up to Netflix. If you’ve used the quick ‘Smart’ campaign mode, then your first campaign was live in moments. 

But results can be disappointing. Why!?

It’s because…

  1. For speed and simplicity, most of the tools that make Google Ads so powerful are hidden from ‘Smart’ campaigns.
  2. With a diminished impact and not much data to learn from, you’ll be unnecessarily disheartened.

So unfortunately, for your second Google Ads campaign you’ll have to ignore those ‘Smart campaigns’ and their magic wands, and get to grips with the full version.

Now you’ve dipped your toe in, this guide will help you work out what’s important to know for your second campaign and what can be left for another day, honing in on the most important steps to create a campaign, pick a relevant audience, build some snappy ads and learn from results.

And it’ll get you to the point where you can start to use Google’s own excellent and thorough training courses for becoming an expert.

Finally we’ll also talk you through a few pro tactics, why they work and how you can get started with them.

Ready? Let’s start at the beginning.

Practical tips

1. Connect to your audience strategy

The biggest tip – connect your ads to your strategy. On their own, even the best campaign can’t do much. And every audience out there is bombarded with competing ads.

So, strategy. This means knowing exactly which audience you’re after on each platform, and therefore which benefit, content pillar or offer you should be using too.

We can’t stress this enough – ad platforms are an extension of your strategy, not the end goal.

So ask yourself – which audience is this for? What do they want at the moment they see our advert? And what do we want to tell them?

Practical tips

  • A good place to start is to build a persona of your ideal audience on Google Ads. What makes them different from your other customers?
  • Know their location too. Geotargeting is a powerful targeting feature, and an accurate location is a great way to save budget. 

2. Think about what your audience is searching

The next thing to know is how to turn your strategic audience into targeting for Google Ads.

Google ads are an auction targeted mainly with keywords. 

Basically – people type in word, and campaigns which are targeted at those keywords will bid to be shown at the top of the search results.

This means you need to think really carefully about what your audience might be typing.

If you’re promoting content, or a service, the keywords your audience use might be longer. It could be a question, such as ‘why do cars with red paint always fade?’

If they’re purchasing something, their searches might be shorter and punchier. They might mention a specific brand, or product, or mention deals. Or maybe use adjectives to get more accurate results. Like ‘classic red car for sale near london’.

At a basic level Google Ads can let you bid on topics. Automobiles, cars, for sale etc. But when choosing keywords to target, you need to be specific and to predict what your desired audience is typing in. That way you won’t be paying out for someone to view your car for sale when they’re really just curious about the properties of red paint.

Not only that, but high-volume keywords can be expensive to bid on. ‘Cars for sale’ for example will have lots of campaigns pushing up the price. But ‘Vintage Mercedes in Oldham’ will be cheaper. So again, be specific – it’ll save you money.

Finally, narrow your audience even more by specifying the location.

All the time you’re playing with keywords, you’ll see the potential audience growing and shrinking. Remember a big audience isn’t what you want. It’s the right audience.

Practical tips

  • Pay attention when you’re using Google yourself. What do you type to search for things? What do you expect to see? And what ads actually come up?
  • Have you done your SEO keyword research for your website? If so bring in some of your long-tail keywords (if they are relevant for your audience). If not, use Moz and Google Trends to find keyword ideas (or steal them from your competitors).

3. Understand Google keyword match types

Google Ads keyword matches

This confuses a lot of people. There are four ways of using keywords in targeting, and knowing them can help you save money and hone in on your audience.

Broad match: The default setting. You’ll reach a wide audience but your ad may show up in a lot of irrelevant search results, because it includes similar phrases, relevant variations, synonyms, singular and plural forms and even misspellings. 

So “Mercedes mechanic in Bristol” using broad match, your ad may also show in the results for “cars in bristol”.

Broad match modifier:  By adding a ‘+’ before a keyword, you’ll get slightly more control. Locks keywords into place, so only when a search term contains the phrases or words after the ‘+’, will your ad appear in the results.

For instance, if you bid for “+Mercedes mechanic in Bristol”, your result will never show for search terms like “cars in bristol”.

Phrase match: Here it’s the order that’s important (good for questions). Your ad is only displayed in results for search terms that are in the same order as your chosen keyword. 

This means, if you choose “Mercedes mechanic in Bristol”, your ad will not show for “Bristol Mercedes mechanic”. In order to specify phrase match, simply put your keywords between quotations “”.

Exact match: This option does what you’d expect! It’s the most accurate and the most narrow, and great for situations when low wastage or spend is important. Like a start-up for example! If you have chosen an exact match and your keyword is “Mercedes mechanic in Bristol”, your ad will not even appear for search terms like “best mercedes mechanics near Bristol”.

To specify the exact match, put brackets around your chosen keywords. (Example: [Mercedes mechanic in Bristol]) 

Negative keywords: Negative keywords are the excluded terms that help you ensure your ad is not shown to irrelevant audiences. This feature of AdWords comes in handy if you have a product/service that may share keywords with something that is not related. 

Practical tips

  • Aim for a few killer keywords or phrases rather than a wide spread. Think niche. Or in other words, ‘think click-through-rate’ by being irresistible for a particular search.

4. Optimise your ads funnel

When we say funnel, we could be saying ‘pop the audience in on the homepage and let them fizzle through your site on their own’.

But we’re not saying that, and hopefully neither are you.

If you know your audience, and you’ve worked out what they are searching for and which of your products or pages is useful for them… take them there. Online, people have zero patience and get confused easily. So don’t beat around the bush! 

We won’t overwork this stage, because while it does require some thought to get your funnel right, if your strategy (step 1) is clear, this bit will be too.

Oh you’re raising awareness, you say? Then your homepage is probably right to be honest. 

Practical tips

  • Why guess? Set up two identical campaigns with the same audience and adverts, but direct them to different parts of the site to see which funnel is better. This is called AB split testing. If it feels like a good way to waste money fast, imagine if you never do this, and miss out on more conversions for months and months….

5. Write those Google Ads!

We’ll start with some basic copywriting wisdom to use here.

  1. Keep it short
  2. Make the headline interesting
  3. Be clear about your product, service and benefit
  4. Have a call to action
  5. Always include the most important keyword somewhere

Going further? You can get really geeky by copying competitors.

Simply perform the search your audience will, so you can see what you’re up against. Do this a few times and screen grab or take notes so you can compare.

Are there any trends? Any words that are repeated? Anything, basically, you can copy?

And even better… is there anything you can subvert? 

These might be the ads you’ll be shown alongside, so how can you look different and challenge them?

Practical tips

  • The joy of Google Ads is that you don’t need to spend ages perfecting just one. You can create a handful and let Google test them all to find the most effective. 
  • Also – if you’re brave enough – these are so quick to read that you can send screen grabs of variations to friends and family (or even better, examples of your target audience) for a bit of real life feedback.
  • Don’t mispeel anything

6. Bidding wars

Google Ads bidding strategy

It’s ok to leave bidding on automatic, it really is. 

But if you’re getting into the swing of things, switching to manual means you can add a maximum bid limit to certain keywords, which over time lets you control your return on investment more accurately. 

This is good when you’re established and going from first customers to a steady stream, as you’ll have to be doing some thorough keyword research.

Either way, at this early stage you’ll be wanting clicks rather than conversions or impressions share.

Practical tips

  • If you’re starting out, choosing automatic bidding won’t have as big of an effect as the other steps here. 
  • Take time to learn it eventually, but it’s not an early priority.

7. Pro tactics and resources

AB testing

We’ve mentioned this before. Basically, Google Ads allows you to create different versions of ads to use in the same campaign. But you can also set up AB tests between landing pages, targeting, keywords and locations.

For a good guide to AB testing on Google Ads head too 

Google Analytics

To get the most value from Google Ads, connect it to your Google Analytics account and you’ll see how your new website traffic is behaving on the site. You can compare different campaigns and keywords for conversion rate, bounce rate and more.

To go even further we recommend Hubspot for capturing more details about people who visit your side by clicking on your adverts. Visit for more info.

Bidding against competitors

Sneaky but valid! If your product or service is similar enough, you can try and ‘steal’ competitor customers by using their brand or company name as a keyword. It’s why you’ll often see companies you’ve searched for coming up as an advert above their organic link – they’re paying to stop competitors from being there.

It’s a valid tactic, used by the world’s biggest companies, and might be a good way for a start-up to gain ground. Don’t expect costs to be low however, so organise your budget carefully.

Further learning?

You can’t beat Google’s own certification. Head to and set aside a few hours for the learning course, a day or so to test and let it sink in, then give the certificate a go. It’s completely free, but it’s not easy.

Thanks for reading! Before you go…

Hi. We’re Eva and Nick. 

And together with you, we’re The Good Bamboo.

We’re a hybrid marketing consultancy-agency, focused on growing positive companies fast.

We’re the perfect match of two top marketers, one focused on delivery, the other on creativity.

Our award-winning work together has transformed global giants and launched fast-moving low-budget start-ups.

Give us a challenge! Get in touch below.


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Part of the marketing guidance series from

Written by Nicholas Prangnell

Google Ads certified ID: 52946961