• Tony Grant

Review: 6 key lessons that will make you better in Google Ads.

Updated: Apr 30

As a marketer, you will know Google Ads is a great platform and powerful.

The platform can be confusing, and if you’ve struggled to make this channel work, you’re not alone.

The Google Ads intermediate course

The course is hands-on, practical and provides frameworks, resources and tools. You wouldn't be able to get anywhere else. Also, there are amazing tips along the way, to ensure your campaign performs as well as it can do.

Why Learn Google Ads?

CXL Institute offers a broad spectrum of marketing courses. As a certified conversion optimiser, I wanted to learn how to drive quality traffic to websites. Combining my skills in CRO with PPC seems like a pretty powerful mix.

CXL is the only skill-building platform that uses the world’s top 1% of practitioners as instructors. And boy do you want to listen to these guys.

6 key lessons learnt in Google Ads

  1. Metrics that matter

  2. Is Google Ads commercially viable

  3. Targetting search

  4. Creating & Structuring campaigns

  5. Ad Groups

  6. Techniques and routines to optimise campaigns and ad groups

BONUS: There are some really useful resources and tools included in the post.

What are Google Ads?

Google Ads is an online advertising platform. Enabling advertisers to present brief advertisements of their service/ product listings, to generate new leads, sign-ups and/or transactions. Essentially, spend $1, make $2 - easy right...there is more to it than that.

1. Metrics that matter

Like in Google Analytics, AdWords is full of data and it can be overwhelming. It is imperative to understand which metrics are most relevant to achieving your goal.

You can start by separating metrics into primary & secondary.

Primary metrics:

  • ROI (Return On Investment)

  • Volume of sales

Secondary metrics

  • CPC (Cost per click)

  • Conversion Volume

  • Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) Define

  • CTR (Click-through rate)

  • Quality Score

  • Impression share

Looking like a lot? It is, however, you're not expected to improve all these metrics at the same time. Remember, the aim of the game is to make money.

2. Is Google Ads channel viable for me?

One of the first tasks to do is understand if Google Ads is commercially viable for you. It is essential to understand all the components that need to happen to make money.

Here is a useful Google Sheet PPC calculator

Take the time to understand the metrics and create different models. This will allow you to adjust your campaigns once they are live.

A good ROI X8 might be possible, but, when you finish playing around with the numbers you may find lower conversion volume is viable too. This is why it is important to work out the differences in traffic performance.

A few metrics to look out for:

  • Agency fee

  • Close rate

Ignore industry averages, focus on your actual business impact. A word of warning, Google is great, but don't rely on their metrics, use as an indicator, gage at best.

Google may suggest CPC and conversion, but it depends on your business. You could get sent all the leads in the world if you don't have a good sales funnel then your ROI is going to be low. So take them with a pinch of salt (link to PPC and CRO match made in heaven blog)

Native Google ads tools

Image: Google Ads, Keyword Planner

Keyword planner allows you to start formulating keyword phrases to attract new customers. Don't worry about search volume & forecast report. Again performance depends on many different variables.

Once you have entered your keywords you will be presented with a lot of data. You should discard the competitiveness and bid price. Again, this is relevant to you, not Google. That doesn't mean to say the data is useless, it's interesting to see how different keywords perform.

There are some other good tools to help broaden your keywords:


Paid (if you have a spare $100)

The PPC Temperature Law (BOFU)

A phrase all PPC experts will be familiar with is the PPC temperature law. It's a quick assessment to understand the intent of the traffic you are advertising to.

Display Ads are very cold leads, as are video and social. The user isn't seeking for you and is most likely, 'scrolling' through social media, reading informational articles and watching cats videos. They are distracted and bored. At the other scale, search tends to be high intent. They know what they are looking for and searching for it.

When using different paid channels such as display, social and video. It is key to align the call to action with the temperature of that lead. E.g. There is no point having a 'Sign up for $100 per month' for display. The likely hood of that person converting is low. Ensure the intent and temperature line up.

Image: Johnathan Dane

3. Targetting search

When targetting keywords in Google Ads, there are a few things to understand:

  • Keyword match types

  • Negative keywords

Match types

There are 4 methods google allows you to use to attract new customers:

  • Broad match: high reach, low conversions. Google will look at each keyword individually regardless of position. E.g. Keyword phrase 'Digital Marketing'. Google will present the advert to anything with 'marketing' or 'digital' in the search. Not the greatest.

  • Broad match modified: Like broad match, it will look at the words individually. The key difference is both keywords need to exist. Google doesn't care about order and includes plurals and caps.

  • Phrase: This match type will ensure your keyword phrase stays the same. but, it can have anything before and/or after that phrase. E.g. The best 'digital marketing' agency; looking for 'digital marketing' jobs.

  • Exact - As you would expect, targets the exact keyword phrase.

As you can see, Google has structured match types in a way to cast your net wide. Attracting a higher reach. And as we move through the match types, phases become more specific. Reducing reach but more relevant.

Negative keywords

Something to be mindful of as your campaigns mature are 'negative keywords'. As you start to collate and analyse data, you may notice certain keywords aren't converting. To ensure your maximising your campaigns, you can tell Google what to present and what not to present.

4. Creating a campaign in Google Ads

By now, you know Google Ads is a viable channel for you commercially. You have researched possible keywords to bid for, so let's build a campaign. Here is what to do and what not to do when it comes to building campaigns.

4 key pillars of campaign types

  • Brand

  • Competitor

  • Generic

  • Informational

Tips and tricks you may not know

  • View through the assisted - time frame of purchase or goal

  • Target people regular not show inters

  • Language all languages (Spanish might search in English)

  • Do not optimise for ad rotation

  • Use manual ads for CPC

5. Creating Ad Groups

Great, the campaign is ready, now to create the Ad group. This is the most important lesson I learnt on the course.

If you are just starting, use a single keyword for your ad group. Be granular, it is easier to analyse the performance rather than nesting.

In your Ad group, it's important to set your targeting variety.

Single keyword ad group

  • +coffee +machine

  • “Coffee machine”

  • *coffee machine

It is recommended to create two ads per group to see what messaging works best. If you have a large account then download

Google Editor. This tool is fantastic and allows you to create ads very quickly in one place.

6. Optimising Google Ads campaigns

It is very hard to get it right the first time. So it is important to set time aside to carry out optimisation activities to maximise your ROI.

The course breaks these tasks into weekly and monthly to help keep you focussed.

Weekly Optimisation

  • Ad testing - validate scientifically optimise and validate

  • Bid adjustments

  • Negative keywords

  • Keyword expansion

  • Automatic placements

Monthly Optimisation

  • Device bid adjustments

  • Time-based bid adjustments

  • Geographic bid adjustments

  • Search partner performance

  • Micro conversion tracking


This is about 1/10 of what I have learnt from this course, and I'm proud to share it with you.

The course covers many more subjects such as:

  • Dynamic Search Ads (DSA) - looks at the domain and recommends keywords

  • In-Market audience layers - refine and add audiences

  • Keyword mining campaigns

  • How to filter and analyse the data

  • Display Advertising

You can see the full course curriculum here

I highly recommend this course. You will learn so much, it's practical, short, sharp and to the point helping get you started in Google Ads.

You also get a pretty cool certificate at the end of the course.

Still not sure...

This course is NOT for you if...

  • Get rich quick

  • Are not willing to put in the time

  • Try to improve vanity metrics

This course IS for you if...

  • Want to make more revenue

  • Wish to cut through most of the BS and optimize for what’s important

Skills you should have before taking this course

I had a basic understanding of Google Ads, but you can do this course if this subject is new to you. It will take you longer, but you can do it at your own pace.

My advice, don't rush, take the time to understand the metrics, jargon and structure. The rest will fall into place after, time, practice and experience.

Be curious and willing to put the hard work in. You'll be rewarded in the long run.

Supporting material

Relevant courses


Further reading


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