What you need to know about online marketing

Using AdWords for online marketing

Now that you know the basics and benefits of online marketing and have assessed the readiness of your website, let's introduce you to AdWords, Google's online advertising program, and make sure it's a good fit for you.

Search advertising process

How AdWords works

Your ad can appear when someone searches for terms related to your product or service, or when they're on a website with content related to your business. How does this work?

Learn the ABCs of online advertising

Keywords connect you with customers

Keywords are words or phrases you choose when you set up your AdWords campaign. These are terms you think your potential customers are likely to use when searching for products or services like yours.

By matching your keywords with the ads you create, you make it possible for your ad to show when someone searches for similar terms, or visits a website with related content.

Using the right keywords

For example, if you deliver fresh flowers, you could use fresh flower delivery as one keyword paired with an ad promoting fresh flower delivery. When someone searches Google using the phrase fresh flower delivery or a similar term, your ad might appear next to Google search results, or on other websites related to fresh flower delivery.


Step right up and enter the ad auction

So how does AdWords determine which ads should show? It all happens with a lightning-fast ad auction, which takes place every time someone searches on Google or visits a site that shows AdWords ads.

Action steps

AdWords calculates a score, called Ad Rank, for every ad in the auction. Ad Rank determines your ad position and whether your ads are eligible to show at all. Generally, the ad with the highest Ad Rank appears in the top position, and the ad with the second-highest Ad Rank appears in the second position (when ads meet the relevant thresholds). You can think of Ad Rank as having five factors:

  • Your bid - When you set your bid, you're telling AdWords the maximum amount you're willing to pay for a click on your ad. How much you actually end up paying is often less, and you can change your bid at any time.
  • The quality of your ads and landing page - AdWords also looks at how relevant and useful your ad and the website it links to are to the person who'll see it. Our assessment of the quality of your ad is summarized in your Quality Score, which you can monitor—and work to improve—in your AdWords account.
  • Ad Rank thresholds - To help ensure high quality ads, we set minimum quality thresholds that an ad must meet to show in a particular ad position.

  • Search context - With the ad auction, context matters. When calculating Ad Rank, we look at the search terms the person has entered, geographical location at the time of search, type of device used (such as computers or mobile phones), the other ads and search results that show on the page, and other user signals and attributes.

  • The expected impact from your ad extensions and other ad formats - When you create your ad, you have the option to add additional information to your ad, such as a phone number, or more links to specific pages on your site. These are called ad extensions. AdWords estimates how extensions and other ad formats you use will impact your ad's performance.

At the end of the day, what you pay

With cost-per-click (CPC) bidding, you're charged only when someone is interested enough to click your ad and go to your website. You tell AdWords the most you're willing to pay for a click on your ad (called the maximum cost-per-click bid), but you could be charged less.

You have control over your AdWords budget. You decide the average amount you want to spend each day. On the days when your ad is more popular, AdWords will allow up to 20% more of your average daily budget so you won't miss out on those valuable clicks. But don't worry, we'll lower your maximum budget on other days so that, over the course of a month, your overall spend will average out to the limit you've set (assuming your campaign runs for the full month).

So now you know how AdWords works. Now let's make sure it's a good fit for you.

Which online marketing option is right for you?


When you advertise with AdWords, you're making a financial investment in your business. But it takes more than just money to see success. It's also vital that you invest time to regularly check in on your AdWords account and make adjustments until you're satisfied with your return on investment.

Here's a rundown of what it takes to manage a successful AdWords account. If you don't think you can dedicate the necessary time or budget to AdWords, don't worry! We'll point you to Google's other services that can get your business in front of the right customers, without stretching your limits.

Time investment

Plan on signing in to your AdWords account at least once each week. How much time you'll spend there varies, but budget between 30 minutes to an hour per week to check on how your ads and keywords are doing, and make any adjustments to boost performance.

Just like with anything new, it might take a little extra time at first to learn the ropes. We encourage you to continue with the 2 remaining guides in this series. They'll walk you through building the right AdWords campaign based on your goals and tracking and improving your results as quickly as possible.

Don't have the time to make sure your investment pays off? Consider trying one of these time-saving options instead:

Let AdWords Express do the work for you

Managing a business is already a full-time job, and AdWords Express gives you the time to do just that by managing your online ads automatically to help you get the most value from your budget. Just tell us what type of product or service you offer, write your ad, and set a budget—then let us take care of the rest. Learn more about AdWords Express.

Get started with AdWords Express.


Find a certified professional to manage your account

Google Partners badge image Consider hiring a Google Partner to manage your AdWords account for you. Google Partners are agencies, marketing professionals, and online experts who've been certified by Google to manage AdWords accounts.

There are thousands of Google Partners worldwide. You can search for a Partner by name, or search based on your location, advertising budget, or the type of service you want help with. Learn more about how to find the right Google Partner.


Financial investment

All good investments take a little time to show returns—and AdWords is no different. It's best to have a budget set aside specifically for online marketing while you're ramping up.

Use Google My Business to get your business on Google Maps for free

If you're not ready to set aside budget, or you just want your business to show up in more places on Google, give Google My Business a try.

This free service lets you create and manage your business listings in Google Maps so that people can see your business when doing a Google search. Your business information may also appear on Google.com, Google Maps, and Google Earth when someone searches for your business name or category. Learn more about Google My Business.


Still want to continue with AdWords? Great! Head on over to the next guide in this series, Create a campaign that reaches new customers.

Go to the next guide

Was this article helpful?
How can we improve it?