How To Setup Your First AdWords Search Campaign

  • adwords-setup

Setting up your AdWords search campaign effectively can make a big difference to how quickly you will achieve positive ROI (Return On Investment). Here are some tips to help you get started on the right path:


  • The first thing you should do is research your competitors’ ads. Perform a search on Google for the types of products or services that you offer and take a look at the top 2 or 3 ads. To be in the top spots, generally ads have to be quite well written. These businesses would have spent time, money & effort to test various ads and identify those that work. Use these as starting points for writing your own ads.
  • In doing your competitor research, you will also begin to identify keywords that you should be bidding on. Your next step is to research these keywords using the Keyword Planner tool in AdWords. When you do, you’ll discover other keywords and you’ll be able to see how competitive various keywords are and how popular they are.

Create Search Campaign & First Ad Group

Create the search campaign with the following settings.

  • Search Network Only
  • All Features
  • Include Search Partners
  • Geography – target your primary area
  • Bid Strategy – for new campaigns start with auto bidding, setting the limit at $5. Later you can switch to manual bidding.
  • Budget – set your daily budget to at least $20 per day.
  • Extensions – add all possible extensions, including location, site links & call. If you have a social page, add that as well.
  • Ad Rotation – Rotate Indefinitely. You want to have 2 different ads in every ad group rotating evenly so that you can see which of the two is winning over time. This will allow you to write better ads over time.

Create first Ad Group & Ads from research above. Make sure to create 2 different ads for split-testing.

Create Other Ad Groups

Create all other researched ad groups. Make sure every Ad Group has 2 ads for split testing.

Add Campaign Negative Keywords

Add the following list of negative keywords to get started. Remove any keywords that are needed, for example, if it’s a rental business, remove “rent” related keywords from the negatives list.


Add to this list any other negative keywords needed to stop irrelevant searches coming through.

Setup Conversion Tracking

Once you’ve setup your first campaign, next you need to setup conversion tracking. Conversion tracking is important not only so you can see if your advertising is ROI positive, but more importantly so you can test ads, keywords, bidding strategies and settings to determine the best combinations over time. That is, combinations that deliver the best ROI.

You should setup both “Thank You Page Conversion” tracking & “Call Conversion” tracking so that you can get as much conversion data as possible.

Ad Preview & Diagnosis

Once the ads have been approved, use the Ad Preview & Diagnosis tool to see how your ads come up in searches. If they don’t come up you will see why and you can make adjustments, such as increasing your bidding, adjusting your ad text or landing page to improve relevancy. Now you’re starting to get into the routine of optimisation…

Optimisation Routine

Set yourself a schedule to routinely optimise your campaign. This should be done at least once a week. Here are some things to consider including in your optimisation routine:

  • Split-testing of ads – 2 ads in every ad group. This will help you identify best wording, best calls to action, prices vs no prices, etc. Testing frequency will depend on your budget.
  • Search Term Report analysis – use this to identify keywords to add/remove/modify or add to the negatives list
  • Bidding adjustments to ensure you’re not being outbid by your competition. Things to look out for here are things like your Search Impression Share (IS) and the Lost IS either due to budget (increase budget) or to rank (increase relevancy)
  • …and more. Unfortunately I can’t list everything, but hopefully enough to get you started.

Keep it Manageable

Keep your campaign manageable. Having too many ad groups can make it harder to manage routine activities such as split-testing of ads, looking for opportunities, etc. Your budget will only stretch so far, so keep in mind the fact that some of your keywords, groups or ads may not get sufficient clicks to test anything effectively.