What is AdWords Search?

When looking at online marketing you may well have heard of ‘AdWords’, but what is it?

Simply put, it’s Google’s advertising service which, when done correctly, allows you to show your ads to the right people at the right time.

AdWords allows you to advertise in a number of ways, they offer display adverts, Video ads, Shopping ads (formally PLAs), Gmail Native ads and Search ads.

In this post we’re going to discuss what AdWords search is and the very basic components that make up a campaign.

Where you’ve seen these ads

You’ve probably already seen these ads in the search engine results page (SERP) when searching for something on Google. They appear both at the top of the page above the ‘organic’ results or at the bottom of the page below the ‘organic’ results. They sit seamlessly and look similar to the results below, such as this below:

Screenshot 2017-01-29 at 17.22.19.png

As you can see, these ads are marked by a green box with the word ‘ad’ inside. When you click on these ads, you’ll be taken to a page on the advertiser’s site and the advertiser will pay once you have clicked – we’ll discuss more about the auction system later.

You may have previously seen these ads on the right-hand-side of the results page in the past, however Google removed these in 2016 and allowed for 4 ads to be shown at the top of the page as opposed to the previous 3.


To get your ads to appear in front of people you’ll need to bid on keywords that trigger your ads. When your keyword matches a search, the ad will show in the SERP.

There are 3 types of keywords:

  1. Brand Terms: These include branded words in the term, for example ‘Nike running shoes’
  2. Head Terms: These are broader terms, for example ‘running shoes’
  3. Long-tail-keywords: These are more specific terms ‘red womens running shoes’

The more specific the keyword, the more likely you are to get relevant clicks – although this can drastically reduce the amount of times you ad is shown.

To add further relevancy, you also have the option of ‘Match Types’. There are 4 types of these which decide what search terms trigger your ads:

  1. [Exact Match]: when using exact match terms your ad will show only when the exact term has been searched for.
  2. “Phrase Match”: These trigger ads when someone has searched for your keywords in the exact order you enter them, potentially with other words before or after the term.
  3. +Broad +Match +Modified: When using the + sign it tells Google that the search enquiry must include that word. This still reaches a wide audience and can be considered somewhere between phrase and broad match.
  4. Broad Match: This recognises any word in any order. For example if your keyword is ‘running shoes’ it could be triggered by someone searching for ‘red womens running trainers’. This is AdWords’ default option and will work on this match type unless otherwise stated.
  5. Negative Keywords: These terms are keywords that you specifically don’t want to show for, for example if you are running ads for mens running shoes, you may want to add ‘women’ as a negative keyword. 

Ad Copy

The most important thing to remember is that you’ll want to keep your ad copy as relevant to your keywords and landing as possible. You have a limited amount of space to get your message across with the following character limitations: headline 1 (30 characters), headline 2 (30 characters), description line (80 characters).

You’ll want to keep this a relevant as possible to help maintain a higher quality score, this helps improve your ad rank as you’ll see below.

It’s also worth running two ads in each Ad Group (ad groups allow you to group keywords together to trigger specific ads) and rotating them indefinitely to see which one performs best. Once you find out which ad works best, swap the less performing ad with another and continue the cycle to continue optimising your ad copy.

Ad Rank

Google uses an algorithm to decide where your ad appears in the SERP. This is calculated using your quality score (as mentioned above) and the max bid set for the keyword.

The above highlight the very basic components of campaigns from AdWords. There are a lot of extra features that are worth exploring such as ad extensions, bid adjustments (for locations, devices and time/day), remarketing lists (to bring previous visitors back to your site) and many others.
Why not get in touch and discuss an account build or some training to bring this knowledge in-house?


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