The Essence of Google AdWords in 876 Words

by Adam Kreitman

Last updated on February 19th, 2018

Thanks to an unexpected gift card from a consulting client, I’ve been reading Tim Ferriss’ new book, The Four Hour Chef.

Now, honestly, I have no interest in learning how to cook. With two young kids and a wife who also works full-time, I feel just getting something edible on the table (as opposed to foraging in the meadow outside our house) is good enough at this stage in our lives.

But while the Four Hour Chef is about cooking, it’s really not about cooking. What it’s really about is how to learn any skill by boiling it down to its essentials so you can master it quickly and easily.

One of my favorite concepts in the book is the One Pager. The core concept behind a One-Pager is “to make something intimidating, unintimidating.”

Inspired by this idea, I decided to come up with a One-Pager of sorts for one of the more complicated topics I know about… Google AdWords.

So, here’s my how-to of Google AdWords strategy distilled down from seven years of AdWords experience to 876 words.

Set Your Goals

Know specifically what you’re looking to achieve with your campaign. Is it a specific number of leads per month? Do you want phone calls, newsletter signups, or sales on your site? Is there a certain cost per conversion you want to achieve?

Understand your goals first because they’ll affect how you set up and manage your campaign.

Do Your Research

This is where most of your time is spent when working on a new campaign. Here are the 3 types of research to do:

  1. Keyword Research – Use keyword tools to find the most relevant keywords people are typing into the search engines to find your product/service/company. Plan to spend at least a few hours on this…it’s the foundation of your campaign.
  2. Competitive Research – Study the companies bidding on these keywords in AdWords. See who consistently is ranking at or near the top of the rankings (you can use a spy tool like iSpionage to help). Note their ad copy and offers. Visit their websites. Sign up for their mailing lists. Purchase their products.
  3. Research Your Audience – Where are customers buying and reviewing products/services/businesses like yours online? Read their reviews. What do they love/hate about your competition? What are the deep needs/desires they’re looking to fulfill? What emotions are they expressing? While researching them, look for great quotes you can use for ad copy.

It’s All About the Landing Page/Offer

An irresistible offer on your landing page will overcome a lot of other deficiencies in your AdWords campaign. During your research you saw exactly what all your top competitors are offering. How can you offer something unique/different/better?

Use Exact Match Keywords

When first starting out with AdWords, keep your keyword list very small (5 – 10 keywords) and very focused (the ones people ready to buy are most likely typing into Google). Add all these keywords to your campaign as Exact Match keywords (meaning your ads will only be displayed when someone types that exact term into Google). This ensures your ads only show up for the most relevant search queries and not for variations Google thinks are relevant, but aren’t.

Over time, eliminate the keywords that aren’t getting clicks/conversions and expand upon the ones that are.

For example, if “dentist Austin” is working for you, add more Exact Match variations of it to the campaign. Do this by pairing the word “dentist” with zip codes, nearby cities, and by using variations like “dentists near Austin TX”, “dentists in Austin”, etc.

Group Related Keywords Into Ad Groups

Each keyword in your campaign represents a conversation going on in the mind of your prospects. The more you can continue that conversation in your ads and landing pages, the more likely you’ll get the conversion.

Ideally every keyword would be in its own ad group with unique ads that lead to a unique landing page.  But that’s not practical in most situations.

So group your keywords into tightly related ad groups based on the searcher’s intent. For example, keywords that include “buy”, “purchase”, “best deals”, etc. represent people closer to the end of the buying cycle. The ads and landing pages for these keywords should be more focused on closing the sale.

Keywords that include “reviews”, “information”, “how to”, etc. represent people still doing their homework so the ads and landing pages should be more educational in nature.

Segment It

Search Network traffic is different than Display Network traffic. Mobile traffic is different than traffic from Desktops/Laptops. Tablet traffic is yet another animal.  Traffic from the U.S. is different than traffic from the U.K. Keywords that convert are much different than those that don’t.

Segment the types of traffic that are most important to you out into their own campaigns. Give them their own budgets, landing pages, keywords, etc.

Go With Relevant, Unique, Proven Ads

Ad copy should:

  1. Be highly relevant to the keywords they’re being displayed for (including the exact terms when possible)
  2. Stand out from the competition with different offers, benefits, etc.
  3. Reflect the messaging/offer on your landing page(s).

And make your ads prove their worth. To do this, place at least 2 ads in each ad group and split test them. As a general rule of thumb, after each ad has at least 30 clicks, delete the lower performing ad and replace it with a new one.

Rinse and repeat this process over time and watch your Clickthrough rates and Quality Scores rise.

Track Conversions

Whatever the goals for your campaign, track your results.

Track downloads, newsletter signups, sales, etc. with AdWords conversion tracking. If phone calls are what you’re after, use a Call Tracking service.

Use AdWords, Analytics and/or Excel to compare your key conversion data with your goals on a regular basis and make the necessary adjustments to your campaign.

Mine the Data

You get data from AdWords you can’t get anywhere else. Take advantage of it.

Mine your keyword data to find keywords that are good candidates for Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

Test different messages, headlines and offers in your ads. When you find ones that people really respond to, test them on your landing pages and in other marketing media.

Used this way, AdWords can be the grease that lubes your entire marketing engine.

That’s it.  That’s my One-Pager on the how-to of Google AdWords strategy.  It’s easy to get caught up in the more tactical/technical aspects of AdWords.

Don’t sweat that stuff. Either learn the basics yourself or find someone who’s familiar with that side of things to help. But keep in mind that that’s the low value side of things and is not where the AdWords game is won or lost.

Instead, focus your attention on the strategic side of things laid out in the One-Pager above. Getting these things right is what separates an average AdWords campaign from a highly successful one.



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Adam Kreitman

Adam Kreitman coaches business owners on how to make their websites more compelling to their prospects.. and to Google. He owns Words That Click, a firm specializing in Conversion Optimization and managing Google AdWords campaigns for small businesses.Follow him on


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  1. Harry Prasad says:
    February 7, 2017 at 1:57 am

    Fantastic tips on Adwords strategy. One thing I must mention that we should keep in mind Negative Keywords also which may include review, price, list etc etc. Though it depends on the nature of the service or products you offer. It’s better to create a negative keyword list from Shared Libary > Campaign negative keywords > +List so that it can be applied in any level whether it is Campaign level or Adgroup level.
    However it is an awesome post and keep sharing such beautiful info for Adwords lovers. Thank You

  2. Hans Witthoeft says:
    November 8, 2016 at 12:16 pm

    Great article Adam Kreitman!

    I find the way you write very inspiring

    I’m just getting into Adwords and I was pretty confused as to how quality score works but now have a pretty good understanding.

    Definitely worth a share on my Facebook page.


  3. Manish Agrawal says:
    October 13, 2016 at 9:09 am

    Awesome Article,

    I was very confused in keyword research, and how to use best keyword in my google adwords campaign. but after read this article, i got answer of my all question. now i can easily to improve my quality score in adwords. and make more lead from lowest price.

    Thanks Dear for sharing this information with us.

    I also bookmark this post on my desktop.

    Thanks 🙂

  4. Prajakta says:
    September 12, 2016 at 7:59 am

    Google Adwords as a tool is really effective for Search Engine Marketing. Thank you for such a great blog, it was really helpful.

  5. Virgie says:
    March 15, 2016 at 5:15 am

    On its face this query has a fairly easy answer, with some key metrics to deal with,
    but with every metric there are some key factors to contemplate as you measure your site’s WEB OPTIMIZATION

  6. Anonymous says:
    January 3, 2016 at 5:08 am

    If the website needs far more traffic, you may have already viewed other advertising options.
    Though there are very other marketing avenues you could try so that you can increase
    your traffic, however, search engine optimisation is one of the very guidelines on how to bring in massive amounts of traffic
    that you have never seen before.

  7. Anonymous says:
    December 22, 2015 at 11:57 am

    Excellent article! We will be linking to this particularly great article on our website.
    Keep up the good writing.

  8. Laura says:
    October 31, 2014 at 12:47 pm

    Thank you so much, I really appreciate your article. I’ve also read the 4 Hour Chef, and really enjoy the principles. It’s good to see I’m on the right track with AdWords, and to feel like I have a simple to follow roadmap on how continue.

  9. Ashlee says:
    September 4, 2014 at 2:26 pm

    By way of example, you should realize that the goal would be to increase the PageRank of one’s
    website so that Google deems anyone a specialist within your niche.

  10. Sam Mudra says:
    July 7, 2014 at 7:25 am

    Hi Adam, very interesting article with very practical tips. I also agree that exact match keywords are important point for better conversions for any type of businesses and definitely a good and optimized landing page matters the most. Have seen many companies targeting good keywords, ranking at good position (paid) but heir landing page is miserable & creepy and eventually gets lower conversion rate.

  11. monty says:
    March 27, 2014 at 9:51 am

    Amazing analytics
    Yelp, Bing, google and all the other fine services that are all designed, created and in business to DRIVE traffic to your site all do so and in some cases do so with amazing results.
    I receive the reports, I pour over the analysis looking for ways to fine tune and capture customers when they search for my products. I see the user views, impressions and the 10’s of thousands of customers who are looking for products just like mine.
    Amazing; I make white and black widgets and I’m told at any one time there are one million people in a 30 mile radius who are looking to BUY white and black widgets from a company just like mine and as an added benefit they want a company with a location just like mine.
    My heart pounds as I see the analytics, the number of clicks on my ad and wait for the sales to come pouring in…
    All the services report similar AMAZING activity, it’s even divided by the types of devices used, their mood and color of their hair. They even know how much they’re willing to spend and at no cost to me, costly reports and analysis conducted by some of the most respected organizations in the country all confirm that there really are over one million people looking for products just like mine!
    My heart pounds again as I stress at the thought of keeping up with demand, can my little business handle the influx of orders predicted by and confirmed by and promised by all these fine services.
    Is it foolish to position my little company to all this professional muscle and house power; what if I’m overrun with orders, how will I keep up with demand?
    A call to my campaign consultant comforts me because now I’m told that even though my activity is high and demand for my products is strong, records indicate that it’s the 7th to 9th month that really starts to see orders.
    You can imagine my relief as I continue to enjoy reading all the reports confirming that right now there are over 1 million people looking to buy products just like mine at a location just like I have.
    Wow, wow, wow, who could have imagined a small company like mine would be able to take advantage of such expensive and powerful advertising resources and have it so well defined that only those who are looking for my products are driven to me. It’s simply amazing.
    A double check; yes the store sign is visible, the door is unlocked and there is a dial tone…tapping fingers on the counter looking out the window as all the potential customers drive by.

  12. saurabh khobragade says:
    February 27, 2014 at 10:36 pm

    this is the greate articlr i have read ever gibves all information what i qwant

  13. Roosevelt says:
    August 29, 2013 at 11:17 am

    Great article! I would definitely add some broad keywords and monitor it for a month. then, I would optimize for the keywords with most impression and clicks.

  14. says:
    August 17, 2013 at 12:18 pm

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  15. Darren says:
    August 17, 2013 at 5:28 am

    Hi Adam,

    Nice article on Adwords, and good advice regarding split testing Ads – it can be surprising how a simple change can yield impressive results.

    I’ve experimented with modified broad match for some campaigns which in some cases has worked better than exact match. I can see the point of setting up as exact match though, especially when first setting up a campaign.

    I’ve covered it in a free book I self-published for the iPad on the iTunes store (and PDF version), which are available via my website (at

    Hopefully it helps new adwords users & I think it complements your guide in that I briefly cover topics that you don’t above, and you cover some topics (e.g. using Adwords as a test bed for viable keywords for further SEO)


  16. visit says:
    July 8, 2013 at 7:12 am

    Hello! I simply want to offer you a big thumbs up for your excellent information you have got right
    here on this post. I’ll be returning to your blog for more soon.

  17. Rakshan Sanghvi says:
    June 9, 2013 at 5:56 am

    Hi! I know this is kind of off topic but I was wondering which blog platform
    are you using for this site? I’m getting fed up of WordPress because I’ve had issues with hackers and I’m looking at options for another platform. I would be fantastic if you could point me in the direction of a good platform.

    • Kathryn Aragon says:
      June 9, 2013 at 10:45 am

      Hi Rakshan. It may not be what you want to hear, but we use WordPress with good success. You may just need to add some security measures. Check out this article for details about that. Good luck!

  18. Simon - Planet Glass says:
    May 28, 2013 at 8:29 pm

    Hi Adam,

    great article. I’m just about to set up a new Adwords Account for our new website so I needed to refresh my memory about Adwords.
    Do you have any experience with these $100 vouchers that Google offers? Is there anything to consider or are there any risks?


  19. Andrew says:
    May 7, 2013 at 12:02 pm


    That’s amazing. I have to admit I have never run a google ad, never needed to – I did run a Facebook ad campaign for a client, but that’s a diferent kettle of fish. I do use the keyword tool though, for attempting to optimise blog posts (can’t hurt eh?) and to understand it I have read a fair bit and watched some very lengthy premium tutorials by ackowledged leaders in the field… but I don’t think I’ve understood the subject quite as consisely as I did after reading your post… bookmarked for future reference for sure. Thank you for taking the time to do this.
    Andrew Southard.

    • Adam Kreitman says:
      May 7, 2013 at 12:42 pm

      Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment, Andrew! Glad the post helped you gain a better understanding of AdWords!

  20. Geoff Stock says:
    April 7, 2013 at 8:40 pm

    Hi Adam,
    Thanks so much for an excellent article. I have had great success with my SEO but am about to start using adwords to increase business and sales to my website. This great One-Pager has given me a quick and valuable understanding of what to keep in mind.
    Much appreciated.
    Geoff Stock

  21. Randy says:
    April 5, 2013 at 10:53 pm

    Thanks. This is really of great help especially I am buidling a new website.

  22. Karen Hoffman says:
    March 11, 2013 at 10:29 am

    Hey, Adam! Bill Prenatt sent me a message about your post, thanks for forwarding! One of Bill’s sayings is “keep it simple” and he knows I’m a huge fan of the concept of One Page ANYTHING! In fact love to promote a series of books by Jim Horan and the One Page Business Plan (for diferent types of industries, for womem, for creatives). So this is right up my alley! Going to copy this blog and play with your concepts! THANKS!!! Positively, Karen Hoffman

  23. Mike @ toronto translators says:
    February 11, 2013 at 11:30 am

    Hi Adam,
    I am not the webmaster of our webpage but I have been tasked with doing the adwords. I don’t know that our website is optimized in order to be the most effective. Is there anything I can do on the adwords side that will at least increase our chances of landing some business?

    • Adam Kreitman says:
      February 11, 2013 at 2:37 pm

      Hi Mike-

      The short answer is absolutely! It really comes down to understanding the mindset of the ideal prospects customers you’re trying to attract, what keywords these ideal prospects are typing into Google to find a business like yours and writing a compelling ad that speaks to the conversation going on inside their heads when they type that keyword in.

      Basically you have to earn their attention/click initially on the AdWords side of things and then let your website seal the deal from there.


  24. Salman @ Digital Academia says:
    February 8, 2013 at 5:45 am

    Great Post Adam,

    Really sums up the key things to consider when it comes to Search marketing and it will be Interesting to see how things shape up as Google released Enhanced campaigns 🙂

  25. Lorin says:
    January 31, 2013 at 2:25 pm

    Thanks for this great info. Would be great to see it as an infographic!

  26. January 30, 2013 at 12:28 pm

    Another great article Adam. I love the idea of boiling something as complicated as Adwords down to a one pager. Most of the people who get into adwords without the assistance of a professional like yourself don’t think about one or more of the points you discussed above and the consequences are tragic. Not only do they lose a lot of money, but more importantly, they lose their faith in adword and never try it again, when that’s where the money is … they just don’t have the right tools mine it.

    • Adam Kreitman says:
      January 30, 2013 at 12:33 pm

      Thanks, Bob!

  27. Ian Rhodes says:
    January 30, 2013 at 8:57 am

    Hi Adam – really enjoyed your article. The idea of simplifying the approach to Adwords and placing more focus upon the Landing Page / Conversion factors really does resonate.

    However, utilising purely Exact Match will bring about it’s own issues. Low Search Volume can mean keywords where Google don’t have enough data, or queries, to present Ads when a particular exact match is searched for, receive 0 impressions. Would you agree that using Broad-Modified, alongside Exact, would allow for a greater impression-pool whilst maintaining a high-relevancy approach?

    This way you can utilise negative-keywords through analyis of the Search Term reports keeps your campaigns aligned and brings greater volume-based results?


    • January 30, 2013 at 10:47 am

      Article sums up AdWords execution nicely.

      Agreed with Ian – use mod broad to capture queries in a controlled manner. Then take the good ones to exact

    • Julien says:
      January 30, 2013 at 11:24 am

      I agree with Ian here. Using phrase match would give you more volume to anaylyze from and take action faster. What do you think Adam?

      By the way, I liked you article a lot! Just about to start a new campaign so I’ll definitely use the new focus and test it out! Thanks again


    • Adam Kreitman says:
      January 30, 2013 at 12:33 pm

      Hi Ian and Neil-

      You are both right to bring up the importance of modified broad match. We use it a lot in campaigns we manage in exactly the way you describe…to find good search queries that we can add to the campaign as exact match keywords.

      I didn’t include it in the One-Pager in order to keep AdWords as simple as possible. Modified Broad Match adds a level of complexity (ie. understanding how it functions in a campaign, having to get into negative keywords) that trips a lot of people up in AdWords. So because the whole point of this exercise was to stick to the essentials and eliminate the things that trip people up, I left it out.

      Sticking with exact match does pose some challenges, but I think most people (especially those just starting out with AdWords) would be better served by building a campaign around exact match keywords.

      Thanks for the comments!

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