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Ultimate Guide to Google Ads

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Good & learned a lot.
17 September 2021 (09:53) 

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What Others Say About the Impact of the Last Edition of This Book

“I’ve used the Ultimate Guide to Google AdWords since the first edition. Transforming a client’s unprofitable AdWords account into a cash cow—churning out $30 to $35k profits every month. Just scratching the surface of the book’s contents.

“This is the best book on AdWords, period. Plus, it’s a dang good book on internet marketing. Not only can you use it to tap Google’s huge traffic stream, you’ll also convert the thundering hordes of traffic into buyers and profits in your pocket. Do what I do—don’t just buy and use it yourself; buy copies for your friends!”


“I’m often asked by peers in my niche how I manage to rank so well in search engines and not go broke using Google AdWords. There are a couple of reasons—I’ve been subscribing to Perry Marshall’s newsletters since 2003; I’ve read every one of his books; I listen in on all the conference calls he organizes; and finally, I IMPLEMENT his strategies and tactics.

“The Ultimate Guide to Google AdWords lists for $24.95. Only a fool would continue to run Google AdWords campaigns and NOT invest in, study, and implement the ideas in it. And no, you’ll not find an affiliate link to Amazon here. Just get the book!”


“I bought this book to learn how to get better results from AdWords for my clients. The advice given is easy to follow, and following up on the results of your campaign is exciting. I’ve already seen a huge increase in clickthrough rates for the different customers and campaigns I run. I get far better results for less money.

“I would recommend reading Ultimate Guide to Google AdWords to anyone interested in starting AdWords marketing, or tuning their current campaigns for better results. On the other hand, I’d like to keep what’s in here a secret.”


“Naming this the Ultimate Guide is not a fluke. I have been twea; king the hell out of the ads I’m using to lead searchers into my funnel. Over the past few weeks, I’ve managed to get one of my ads up to just over 7% CTR from a previous 1 to 2%!”


“I thought I knew it all. I set up an AdWords account and a couple of days later I came back to check if I was rich yet. Unfortunately, the only thing that happened was Google enjoyed free access to my bank account. Luckily the traffic was not that high so it was just a couple hundred dollars. And I made no money.

“Frustrated, I went online and did some research. Every forum, article, and blog seemed to be talking about Perry Marshall, so I decided to get Ultimate Guide to Google AdWords. 30 minutes into reading my mind was blown away.

“Next, my Quality Score went up from an average of two and three to a six and nine for various keywords. At the same time, my cost-per-click went down from over $4 to about $0.50.

“The rest is history. Seriously, if you don’t know the stuff in this book don’t even think of AdWords. This is THE guide.”


“An exemplary Google AdWords manual that could easily prevent costly mistakes and help boost profits.”


[Editor’s Note] These testimonials are in reference to the previous version of this book, which was titled using the former name for what is now known as Google Ads: Google AdWords.

© 2020 by Entrepreneur Media, Inc.

All rights reserved.

Reproduction or translation of any part of this work beyond that permitted by Section 107 or 108 of the 1976 United States Copyright Act without permission of the copyright owner is unlawful. Requests for permission or further information should be addressed Entrepreneur Media Inc. Attn: Legal Department, 18061 Fitch, Irvine, CA 92614.

This publication is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is sold with the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professional services. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional person should be sought.

Entrepreneur Press® is a registered trademark of Entrepreneur Media, Inc.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

An application to register this book for cataloging has been submitted to the Library of Congress.

ISBN 978-1-59918-673-3 (paperback) | ISBN 978-1-61308-430-4 (ebook)

Printed in the United States of America

25 24 23 22 21       10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1



Wait! Before You Read This Book …

If You’re a Rank Beginner

If You’re a Veteran Pay-Per-Click Marketer

Advanced Material for Go-Getter Google Advertisers

The Winning Method the World’s Smartest Marketers Stole from the Wright Brothers

How the Wright Brothers’ Savvy Testing Method Made Them “First in Flight”

People Who Test, Fly. People Who Rely on Brute Force, Die

Marketing Misery: Not Necessary


Chisel Your Way In: Frank Talk About the Google Ads of Today

The Three Niche Domination Strategies of Google Ads


How to Force Prospects to Choose Your Site: Make Them Buy from You, Not Your Competition

Here’s How to Make Sure They Find You and Buy From You—Not Someone Else


Planning and Goals

Your Website Is Not a Brochure

How Much Is Your Customer Worth?

Before You Spend a Dollar, What’s Your Growth Plan?

The Three-Part Mindset

Your Quick Action Summary


Getting Started: Doing Your Research

The Big Networks

Getting Started with a Search Campaign

What Are Your Competitors Doing?

Keywords for Search Ads

Your Quick Action Summary


Vanquish the Thickest Competition with a Killer USP

Six Essential Elements of a Power USP

Your Quick Action Summary


How to Build Your First Campaign

How to Get Started the Right Way

How to Arrange Your Campaign Settings

What Does an Ad Group Do, Exactly?

How Much Should I Spend?

Your Quick Action Summary


Conversion Tracking: How to Know Where Every Penny You Spend Is Going

The Four Types of Conversions You’ll Want to Track

How to Set Up Conversion Tracking the Right Way

Take Advantage of Analytics

Your Quick Action Summary


Bidding Strategies: Tools to Keep Your Spending Smart

Start with Manual Bids

Where Do You Set Bids?

Bid Strategies

Bid Strategies to Avoid

What Is Smart Bidding?

Upping Your Game with Bid Adjustments

Risky! Beware of Bid Stacking

Every Campaign Needs a Budget

Your Quick Action Summary


Keywords: Ads Success Starts Here

How to Find the Most Profitable Keywords

How to Get the Most from Google’s Keyword Planner

Step Up Your Game Using Keyword Matching Options

Negative Keywords

Your Quick Action Summary


Supercharge Your Clickthrough Rates: How to Write Google Ads That Pass the Test

Regular vs. Responsive Ads

Components of an Ad

Our Top Ten Favorite Ad Copy Tests

See in Advance How Your Ads Will Look

Follow Editorial Guidelines and Keep Google Happy

Supercharge Your Clickthrough Rates with Ad Extensions

Your Quick Action Summary


Landing Pages: Making Powerful First Impressions That Convert

What Is a Landing Page?

Maintain the “Scent”

The Two People You Need to Keep Happy

The Essential Landing Page Checklist

Ensure Your Landing Pages Are Compliant

Give Your Web Developer the Day Off: Create Your Own Landing Page

Your Quick Action Summary


Choosing and Mastering Search Campaigns

Deciding When a Search Campaign Is Right for You

Setting Your Campaign Goals

Mastering Search Campaigns

Back to Basics, Briefly

Three Types of Keyword Search Campaigns

Dynamic Search Ad Campaigns

Call Campaigns

Smart Campaigns

Discovery Campaigns

Your Quick Action Summary


How to Get Your Ads on Millions of Websites with Google’s Display Network

Display vs. Search

Bidding for GDN



Building Your GDN Campaign

Measuring Your GDN Campaign

Managing Your Display Campaigns

Your Quick Action Summary


Remarketing: The Single Most Profitable Online Advertising Strategy

First, Update Your Privacy Policy

Create and Install Your Code

How to Build an Audience to Remarket To

How Long Do I Keep People on My List?

Other Audience List Examples

How to Create a Remarketing Campaign

How to Write Remarketing Ads That Get Clicks and Conversions

Should You Try Customized Landing Pages?

Some Advanced Remarketing Tips

Your Quick Action Summary


Google Shopping Campaigns: A Huge ROI Boost for Ecommerce

How to Set Up a Google Shopping Campaign

How to Get Your Google Shopping Campaign Up and Running


Negative Keywords

Some Advanced Shopping Campaign Tips

Ongoing Management of Your Shopping Campaigns

Your Quick Action Summary


YouTube Advertising: Billions of Eyeballs for Pennies

by Tom Breeze

What Works on YouTube?

The Message

The Method

Targeting on YouTube

Putting It All Together

Your Quick Action Summary


Gmail Campaigns

How to Set Up a Gmail Campaign

Experiment Away!

Your Quick Action Summary


Targeting Audiences

Why Use Audience Targeting?

What Are My Targeting Options?

Available Audiences

Your Quick Action Summary


Mastering Tracking

Tracking Phone Calls

Tracking Revenue

Tracking Micro Conversions

Understanding Your Data

The Pros and Cons of Phone Call Tracking

Advanced Conversion Tracking Options

Your Quick Action Summary


Niche Domination, Part 1: Chisel In Where the Chiseling Is Easy

Three Signs of an Overlooked Niche

The 80/Survey Technique for Hyper-Responsive Intelligence

The 80/Protocol

Your Quick Action Summary


Niche Domination, Part 2: Playing Games You Can Win

The “Working Stiff to $400 Million” Niche Domination Strategy

Success Through Elimination

Your Quick Action Summary


“Deep 80/20”: It’s Not What You Think … And I Can’t Tell You How Profitable It Is!

Back When I Thought I Understood 80/20

80/20 Applies to Just About Everything You Can Measure in a Business

80/20 Isn’t Just Divided into Two Groups

There’s an 80/20 Inside Every 80/20!

You Can Overlay Multiple 80/20s and Double Your Mojo

80/20 Is Why “Peel and Stick” Is So Powerful!

Perfectionism Can Get in Your Way!

The Myth of the Long Tail

Some 80/20 Rules of Thumb


How Email Transforms Those Expensive Clicks into Long-Term, Profitable Customers

How to Put Personality and Pizzazz into Your Email Marketing

Power in the Personal: Six Keys to Email Marketing Success

A Medium That Will Never Go Away

Opt-Ins: More Than Just an Email Address?

They Can Knock Off Your Product, but They Can’t Knock Off You

Your Quick Action Summary


Getting More Advanced: Tips and Tricks to Improve Your Success

Quality Score Explained

Impression Share

Drafts and Experiments

Segmenting Your Data



Recommendations Tab

Your Quick Action Summary


Mastering Optimization

Why Does Optimization Matter?

What Changes Should You Make?

When Should You Make Changes?

Your Quick Action Summary


Automate the Grunt Work and Manage Campaigns with Ease

How to Set Up Automated Rules

What Are Scripts?

How to Set Up a Script

Useful and Simple Scripts (Freebies!)

Google Ads Editor

Troubleshooting Your Ad Campaigns

Your Quick Action Summary


Google Analytics: Know Exactly Where Your Visitors Come From and Where They’re Going

A Million-Dollar Ad Tracking Discovery from My First Big Client

What Happens After the Click?

First Step: Macro vs. Micro Conversions

Assigning Values to Your Goals

How to Get Google Ads and Analytics Talking to Each Other

Analytics Remarketing


Google Tag Manager (GTM)

Your Quick Action Summary


How to Hire the Right Google Ads Agency

A Word of Warning Before You Outsource

What Payment Model Should You Follow?

11 Questions to Ask Before Hiring an Agency

Who Will Have Ownership of Your Account?

Your Quick Action Summary

About the Authors

Perry Marshall

Bryan Todd

Mike Rhodes



Wait! Before You Read This Book…

If you’re brand-new to Google Ads and you’re just getting started, you MUST read this short section first.

And if you’ve got years of Ads experience under your belt or you already own an earlier edition of this book, we’ll give you shortcuts and page numbers for the advanced, new material in the book at the end of this preface.

The first thing you need to do is go get your online bonus material at There, you’ll also find a collection of supplemental material that I consider vital to this book (because Google is constantly fussing with things), and you’ll get in line for a series of updates you’ll need as Google’s system changes.

OK, now that you’ve done that, let me tell you how to go about learning Google Ads.


There’s an old saying: “You can’t learn to ride a bicycle at a seminar,” and it definitely applies to Ads. Google Ads and, really, everything you do in direct marketing is hands-on. It’s not theory. It’s the real world. It’s the school of hard knocks.

About that last part: When Google Ads (formerly Google AdWords) was brand-new, there were many inexpensive clicks available, and you could find your way by making lots of cheap mistakes.

Those days are over. Today, that strategy will get you slaughtered.

When you open a Google Ads account, go ahead and enter your keywords, write some ads, and set some bid prices. It’s OK if you don’t really know what you’re doing at this point. The first few chapters of this book will show you exactly how to do it. But here’s the most important thing of all:

Set a low daily budget, say $5 or $10 per day, to make absolutely sure that your first experience with Google Ads is a GOOD one—not a painful one. The worst thing you can do in your new career as a Google advertiser is accidentally run up $2,500 of clicks that you don’t know how to pay for. All advertisers have to go through some trial and error before things really come together. Google will make many assumptions about how to set up your account that are wrong, and if you blindly follow its menus, you’ll make some costly mistakes.

Another giant mistake advertisers make is assuming that Google is “benevolent.” Not true! If I had a dollar for every person who told me, “The Google rep called me with some friendly suggestions and … well, I lost thousands of dollars,” I’d be a good deal richer. Google does have a Green Beret team of crackerjack reps who know what they’re doing, but only huge advertisers and premium agencies get those guys. Everybody else gets reps who are hustling to meet their sales quota. Most Google reps have never spent a single dollar of their own money buying Google Ads, let alone been required to make a profit and meet payroll. And once they have your money, you will never get it back. Sleep with one eye open.

The best thing you can do is enjoy the process of watching those clicks come in and seeing your handiwork produce results. If you’re hands-on from the word “go,” everything you read in this book will make ten times more sense.

So go ahead and get started. Create your Google Ads account, roll up your sleeves, and jump in. We recommend you read the first two chapters to get a good overview of Google Ads, direct marketing, and all the strategy behind it.

If you’re just starting out, or you want a refresher, we cover the fundamentals in Chapters 3 through 7. They’ll give you a fantastic grounding.

Then, when you’re ready to dive into the more advanced material, Chapters 8 to 28 will cover every technique you need to get into the top 1 percent of all Google Ads practitioners.

As you go from one chapter to the next, make changes to your account. You’ll literally be able to see the performance difference in a few hours.

But before you even spend $10 on Google clicks, please make sure you’re using this book as your guide. If you don’t, you’ll make a slew of common mistakes and blow a lot of cash you could have used to grow your business. Also make sure you access the special reports and the audios and videos in the Book Bonus members’ area. They’re at


This is the sixth edition of the Ultimate Guide to Google Ads. We’ve added new chapters and sections that reflect the sharpest and most current Google strategies, including:

Getting started with your initial market research

Planning and goal setting

Campaign types

Using “discovery” campaigns

Targeting audiences for search and Shopping

Mastering your tracking

Mastering optimization

Plus, we’ve got significant updates on:

Building your first campaign

Bidding and budgets


Landing pages


Automating and using Google’s AI

Analytics and attribution

Whether you’re a seasoned veteran, you’ve read the previous editions of this book, or you’re already a pay-per-click ninja, I bet you’ve never seen these before.


I’ve added new, advanced material at for aggressive marketers, including extended reports and videos for all the strategies I just named: YouTube advertising, advanced campaign types, and improved Display Network techniques, as well as USP, “bionic” Google ads, and savvy market selection.

Once you’ve registered for the bonus material, you’ll also receive the regular updates we send out about Google’s ever-changing system.

One last thing: I mince no words. Google is THE benchmark for advertisers and information providers worldwide. In fact, from the standpoint of ordinary people getting things done every single day, Google is the most trusted brand on the web. If you’re up to Google’s standards, you’re world-class.

So don’t bring a knife to a gunfight. I’m not saying it’s easy. It is not. But I do promise—it IS rewarding.


The boneyard of modern civilization is littered with “great” marketing ideas that never got off the ground.

Think of the trillions of dollars companies have spent developing products, only to find out that their products weren’t what people wanted in the first place.

Let’s not assume you’re a corporation with billions of dollars to spend. Instead, let’s assume you’re a regular person who quit a cushy job to pursue an entrepreneurial vision. As you calculate it, you’ve got to start making a profit in six to nine months before you run out of money.

If that’s you, then you can’t afford to make a mistake. You can’t spend three months developing a product and then find out in month six that it has to be totally redesigned. That’ll kill your business and send you back to the J.O.B. with your tail between your legs.

Let’s make sure this never happens to you.

How can you prevent it? By testing your product idea and even your website on the cheap, using Google, before you’ve spent a lot of money. With the internet, you can find out if a product idea will succeed or fail for a few hundred to a few thousand dollars.

If you do this, you can be sure that the product you develop will be well-received.


The year: 1903. The place: a houseboat on the Potomac River, USA.

Just weeks before Wilbur and Orville Wright flew the world’s first airplane at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, Samuel Pierpont Langley (seen in Figure P–1 on page xvii), a well-funded engineer and inventor, was attempting to launch an airplane of his own—with the assistance of an entire staff.

FIGURE P–1. Samuel Pierpont Langley

Langley’s assumption: Put a big enough engine on the thing, and it would fly. He focused all his effort on that one project: creating an engine powerful enough for a plane to go airborne. On October 7, 1903, Langley tested his model for the very first time.

The plane crashed immediately after leaving the launch pad, badly damaging the front wing.

Two months later, just eight days before the Wright brothers’ successful flight, Langley made a second attempt. This time the tail and rear wing collapsed completely during launch.

Langley was ridiculed by the press and criticized by members of Congress for throwing away taxpayer dollars on his failed projects. (Can you imagine the cynicism? I’m sure many sneering reporters believed that nobody could or would ever fly.) Disillusioned by the public response, Langley abandoned his vision.

Wilbur and Orville Wright, meanwhile, had a completely different approach: build a glider (which you can see in Figure P–2 on page xviii) that would glide from a hilltop with no engine at all. They focused on balance and steering. Power was almost an afterthought. Only after the glider worked by itself would they try to put an engine on it.

After three years of tedious experimentation, the glider was working well, so they commissioned bicycle shop machinist Charlie Taylor to build them an engine. It was the smallest engine he could design—a 12-horsepower unit that weighed 180 pounds.

And on December 17, 1903, at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, Wilbur and Orville Wright made history.

FIGURE P–2. The Wright Brothers’ Test Glider

The Wright brothers changed the world and earned lasting fame, while few have ever heard of Samuel Langley. Their approach of making the plane fly before applying power was the winning idea.

Langley … had spent most of four years building an extraordinary engine to lift their heavy flying machine. The Wrights had spent most of four years building a flying machine so artfully designed that it could be propelled into the air by a fairly ordinary internal combustion engine.

—Smithsonian, April 2003

Skill comes by the constant repetition of familiar feats rather than by a few overbold attempts at feats for which the performer is yet poorly prepared.

—Wilbur Wright

Samuel Pierpont Langley died in 1906, a broken and disappointed man.


You don’t want to die a broken and disappointed person. You want to die rich and famous. Or at least rich, right?

Then there is a direct comparison between the Wright brothers and your career as an internet marketer.

The search engine is the motor. Your website is the glider.

A motor without a good set of wings does you no good. When you put an engine on a glider, you have a plane. When you feed traffic to a website that can “fly,” you have a business.

And as smart marketers like Claude Hopkins have known for more than a century, you get the wings to work through careful, systematic testing.

This is not a new concept. For more than 100 years, smart, savvy marketers have followed these principles of proven good sense and made their advertising dollars go many times further.

In 1923, Claude Hopkins wrote:

[A]dvertising and merchandising become exact sciences. Every course is charted. The compass of accurate knowledge directs the shortest, safest, cheapest course to any destination.

We learn the principles and prove them by repeated tests.… We compare one way with many others, backward and forward, and record the results.…

[A]dvertising is traced down to the fraction of a penny. The cost per reply and cost per dollar of sale show up with utter exactness.

One ad is compared with another, one method with another. Headlines, settings, sizes, arguments, and pictures are compared. To reduce the cost of results even 1 percent means much.…

So no guesswork is permitted. One must know what is best.

Building a business online doesn’t have to be guesswork. It’s not a crapshoot. It’s a science. Wise men and women before us have taken the risks, tested the limits, learned the hard lessons, and laid down a clear path for us that we can follow with confidence.

Whether your business is entirely online or only partly so, the foundation remains the same: Start small, test carefully, make modest improvements, get deeper insights into your market, and then test some more, and you’ll know that your business is going to grow.

This well-worn path builds a sales process that works. And when you have a persuasive website, you have a glider—just like the Wright brothers. All you need to do is put a lightweight engine on it, and you can fly.

Add Google traffic the smart way, and you’ll have a business that soars. Google Ads can bring you a lot of traffic, and that traffic is valuable to the extent that your website can convert it to leads and sales.

When you’re getting started, Google is like a lightweight engine you can turn on and off instantly. You can test your glider safely without crashing, killing a potential joint venture partnership, or blowing through a lot of money.


Thousands of people go to bed every night wondering Why? Why can’t I make any sales? Why can’t I earn any real money at this?

This is not necessary, but it’s a lesson that the scorched dotcoms in the late 1990s learned the hard way. They were like Langley—they focused on the engine instead of the wings. When their business didn’t take off, they just poured more gas into the engine, and when that didn’t work, they put it on a rocket launcher and forced it into the air. Inevitably they crashed and burned.

But you don’t have the time or money to pour into product ideas and sales messages that, in hindsight, were “almost right.” Your spouse won’t let you blow the grocery money or college savings on a hunch.

Reality is a great teacher. The people who click on your ads will tell you what they want if you ask them, and they’ll show you what they want if you watch them.

Follow the guidelines in this book, and you’ll be a world-class promoter in your market, your niche, and your chosen profession. I wish you the very, very best of success.

—Perry Marshall

Chicago, Illinois

Chapter 1

Chisel Your Way In: Frank Talk About the Google Ads of Today

Years from now, the story of you and all the other players in your market will be just like the story of Google vs. Excite, HotBot, Infoseek, AltaVista, Yahoo!, and MSN: a bunch of losers, a couple that turned out sort of OK, and one massive success story.

I want YOU to be the success story. The alpha dog.

In this chapter, I’m going to outline a few vital strategies that can determine whether you succeed or fail in online marketing and Google Ads. I’ll conclude with some frank discussion of what it takes to make Google Ads work today. Stick with me a minute for a brief internet history lesson.

Remember the dotcom bubble, when half the world thought Amazon’s Jeff Bezos was a genius and the other half deemed him a bloody fool? Do you remember the late ’90s, when it was obvious to everybody (OK, almost everybody) that the internet was a Very Big Deal and the stakes were very, very high? That’s why the dotcom bubble happened—investors and entrepreneurs alike were determined to win on this new playing field, no matter the cost.

The internet is not merely another communication medium. As my friend Tom Hoobyar said, it is a fundamental shift for humanity that’s as important as the discovery of fire.

I remember sometime around 1999 or 2000, Yahoo! Auctions was trying to make a go of it. I was selling stuff on eBay at the time, so I tried Yahoo! Auctions, too. They were advertising all over the place, and their fees were lower than eBay’s.

But I quickly discovered that Yahoo! Auctions didn’t have as many buyers, and my stuff didn’t fetch as high a price on Yahoo! as it got on eBay. I didn’t want to sell an item for $17 on Yahoo! if it would fetch $20 on eBay.

As a seller, I wanted to go where the buyers were. Buyers want to go where the sellers are. This synergy between buyers and sellers is called the network effect. The network effect says the value of a network is equal to the number of members squared. So if in 1999 Yahoo! Auctions had one million users and eBay had two million, eBay wasn’t just twice as powerful—it was four times as powerful. Yahoo! couldn’t overcome the advantage of eBay’s sheer numbers.

As you know, eBay went on to become the web’s number-one auction site. There isn’t even a close runner-up today.

The network effect is twice as big on the internet as in the brick-and-mortar world. Why? Because the internet is almost frictionless. This quality paradoxically introduces a new kind of friction: the nearly effortless dominance of the number-one player over all competitors. The other players are at their mercy.

This has everything to do with you and your quest to dominate your market. I will get to that in just a minute. First, a quick story.

Way back in April 2002, I went to my first internet marketing conference, Ken McCarthy’s System Seminar. There, I heard Jon Keel speak on pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. Jon was my first true inspiration as an online marketer. He devoted most of his presentation to Overture, which was the dominant PPC service at the time. But he also spent a few minutes talking about Google Ads, which he hadn’t played with much yet.

By this time, eBay was already the king of online auctions, and I knew that now they had claimed this position, it would be hard for anyone to steal it away from them. So while Jon was still talking, I raised my hand and asked:

“Jon, is it possible for a pay-per-click engine to become a search monopoly, like eBay has a monopoly on auctions?”

Jon didn’t know. I had a hunch it was true, but I didn’t know why.

After the seminar ended, I went home and opened my first Google Ads account. Within a few days, I knew I’d discovered the most amazing direct-response marketing tool in history and launched a beautiful magic carpet ride that has yet to end.

At that point, Google was just another player in the dogfight between MSN, Yahoo!, AltaVista, HotBot, Excite, Infoseek, and a dozen others. There was no clear winner yet—they were all just beginning to move away from the “free” model. Search engine optimization (SEO) was still easy to game.

I personally liked Google much more than the rest, but I was in the minority. Many people still didn’t even know what Google was. Nobody at the time realized that Google was poised to become the 800-pound gorilla of the internet.

In those early days of Ads, I wondered:

In this frictionless world, where every search engine is only one click away from any other, and only one browser setting away from being the default, how can any one search engine dominate?

In hindsight, that was a dumb question. Here are some better ones:

If one search engine/auction site/map service/ecommerce store/butcher/baker/candlestick maker is clearly just a little better than everyone else, what is going to stop everyone from buying from them instead?

And when that fabled tipping point happens, and they get thousands or millions or billions of dollars in their coffers, what is going to stop them from reinvesting the profits and getting better and better until they are absolutely unbeatable?

A year after that conference, in 2003, Google Ads hit critical mass. It reached the point where everyone was seeing their competitors’ ads on Google and wanted to know how they got there. Affiliate marketers figured out that every word in the English language (and most other languages) was up for sale. The world got sucked in by Google’s irresistible gravitational pull.

Where Overture was clunky and poorly thought out, Ads was elegant and magnificently executed. Sure, Ads had its flaws, but it was fundamentally right. It was a marketer’s dream. Over the next five years, Google exploded with breathtaking force, outpacing Overture as a PPC platform, raking in billions of dollars, and going public (in 2004).

Google, which was just a little better than all the other search engines, started getting a lot better.

Google Maps became almost otherworldly in its sophistication. Soon you could take a virtual tour of anywhere on earth with Street View. In 2006, Google bought YouTube, which became the world’s number-two search engine and the default place to upload videos of your kids’ ballet recitals.

Ads started adding features; eventually almost every form of targeting you could imagine became possible, no matter how granular. Local businesses started tuning into Google Maps. Consultants and agencies started pitching, “I’ll get you listed on Google.”

Once Google added Google News (2002), Gmail (2004), and its popular web browser Chrome (2008), it became entrenched, as unbeatable as eBay. The other search engines were and are vastly inferior. You’d have to spend a trillion dollars to unseat Google at this point, and you would still probably fail.

This “winner-take-all” phenomenon is what the dotcom boom was really all about. Sure, there was a lot of dumb stuff—sock puppet mascots and whatnot. People take big risks when trillions of dollars are on the line. But they knew the potential rewards were huge. The present dominance of Google, Amazon, Apple, and Facebook proves that.

So what does all this have to do with you?

The winner-take-all phenomenon is just as true at your level and in your market as it was for eBay and Google and Facebook—especially if you run a purely online business or any business with a national or international market.

In my book 80/20 Sales and Marketing, I describe how it’s a law of nature that 80 percent of the money comes from 20 percent of the customers, 80 percent of the sales come from 20 percent of the products, and 80 percent of the cars drive on 20 percent of the roads. The 80/20 rule applies to almost everything you do in business.

But here’s something I don’t really talk about in that book: On the internet, most things aren’t 80/20. They’re 90/10!

The web, the “great equalizer,” the leveler of all playing fields, is in fact even more unequal than real life. Ninety percent of the customers use 10 percent of the search engines. Ninety percent of your traffic comes from 10 percent of your ad campaigns. Ten percent of the advertisers get 90 percent of the traffic.

Winners win big and losers lose big on the internet because it’s so frictionless.

Online marketing is a blood sport. You are playing for keeps. If you think Google Ads is going to be some small task you can delegate to your part-time assistant … if you’re planning to stick your toe in the water and dabble in it … or if you think you’re just going to spend an hour or two buying some clicks and get rich …

Ditch this book right now and go find some other delusion to indulge in.

Because it’s not going to work that way.

You’re either going to do this right, dominate your competition, and return with the spoils, or you’re going to go home with your tail between your legs. You’ll be just another Yahoo! Auctions, and the whole thing will end up being a painful lesson and a tax write-off.

This is not some miscellaneous activity that’s going to make you a little extra money. This is big—if you want it to be. If you’re not serious, don’t even start.

If you’re in business at all, this is the game you’re playing. It’s a 90/10 game, and you’re either among the wannabe 90 or the wealthy 10. There isn’t much of an in-between. If you’re not one of the top three, you’re toast. This isn’t just true on Google—it’s true everywhere on the internet.

Some people may tell you otherwise … but they’re lying. There’s no lack of con artists on the web. So if you want to make a middling living doing mediocre work, go babysit a kiosk at the mall, where you can accost a few dozen people every hour as they walk by.

But if you’re going to play on the internet, you need to pick a game you can win, and then you need to play for keeps.

It is far easier to be number one—and stay there—than it is to be number four or number ten and fight over the scraps with all the other losers. As the “number-one Google Ads author” for the past ten years, I can assure you it’s true.

When you’re number one in your market, all the traffic flows your way because people make more money sending their traffic to you than they make keeping it to themselves. You’re the star—the default go-to person everyone talks about. You get treated to the best deals, approached by the best vendors, offered first right of refusal on the best joint ventures, and presented with the seat of honor at the head table. Reaching out to an adjacent niche and dominating that one, too, becomes easier and easier.

When you’re number ten in your market, you just hope your spouse’s salary will cover the mortgage and groceries.

With Google Ads, 2 percent of the advertisers get 50 percent of the traffic. So you need to decide to be one of the players in the top 10 percent, who share 90 percent of the spoils with Google.

Google is the gold standard. Your ability to buy Google clicks is the measure of your sales mojo, the litmus test of your ability to be number one in your market. Do you have the best sales machine? Can you be number one? Are you inching up on number one and quickly becoming a contender? Or are you fading away?

Once you know how to do Google Ads, you’ll find out exactly how you measure up.


There are three main ways you can dominate the Google Ads game:

1. If you can afford to spend even one penny more than all your competitors to buy clicks, sooner or later you will be number one. This is Jonathan Mizel’s famous “Unlimited Traffic Technique.” When you have the best sales funnel and conversion rates, you get easy access to all the traffic, not just some of it.

2. If you can’t be the big fish in a big pond, be a big fish in a little pond. This is very important, and it goes hand in hand with the third strategy:

3. If you can find a little pocket where the competition is thinner and you can dominate, you can chisel your way into an overlooked market in Google Ads. (There are millions of them right now, and there always will be!) You can grow from there—even if you’re David facing off against Goliath.

Until every single person on earth who searches Google finds the thing they are looking to buy, there’s room for you.

I know what you’re thinking: “Yeah, Perry, that’s great. But it’s a Catch-22. How can I dominate a market if I can’t get traffic? And how can I get traffic if I haven’t yet figured out how to dominate a market?”

Every single piece of advice in the rest of this book falls under one of these three strategies. In the pages to come, Mike Rhodes, Bryan Todd, and I are going to take you by the hand and show you how to use them.

Google’s job is to thin the herd. Our job is to make you fat.

Chapter 2

How to Force Prospects to Choose Your Site: Make Them Buy from You, Not Your Competition

Google gets searched about 6.5 billion times every day. That’s 75,000 searches every second.

Google can bring thousands of visitors to your website 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, whether you’re taking a shower, eating breakfast, driving to work, picking up your kids at school, making a phone call, sleeping, daydreaming, busting your butt to meet a deadline, chasing down a customer, typing an email message …

And that traffic to your site can all happen on autopilot: 100 percent predictable and completely consistent, like clockwork.

Twenty years ago, that was an impossible dream; today, it’s a reality.

And of all the different traffic sources you can buy (we wrote the world’s most popular book on Facebook advertising, too), Google is the steadiest, the stablest, and the most predictable. If you want traffic 24/7/365, Google is unmatched.

Think of the lengths to which we entrepreneurs, business owners, and salespeople go just to get a company off the ground or to get a sale. I could recount in agonizing detail the years of my life I spent working the phone, pounding the pavement, making cold calls, renting trade-show booths, going to no-show appointments, and booking meetings that were a total waste of time.

But not anymore. Now customers come to me.

They’ll come to you, too.

Google Ads has been the biggest revolution in advertising in the past 50 years. Never before had it been possible to spend five bucks, open an account, and have brand-new, precisely targeted customers arrive at your website within minutes.

There are a lot of different things you might want from Google. Maybe you’re adding an online component to your retail operation, looking to get steadier cash flow and deeper discounts from your suppliers. Maybe you want to make your payroll easier or position your consulting business better.

Maybe you’re already getting traffic to your site, but free listings are too unreliable. Maybe you’ve had some success selling on eBay, and now you want to play with the big boys. Maybe you’ve been futzing around with social media, and you’ve finally decided it’s time to make some serious money. Maybe you’re a working parent, and you want to be able to spend more time with your family.

If you’re privy to the secrets of online marketing, all those opportunities will open up to you. You’ll have fresh, hot sales leads waiting in your email inbox every morning when you sit down at your desk. You’ll have customers buying from you around the clock.

Instead of chasing customers, they’ll come to you. Instead of trying to guess whether your next product launch will work, you can know. How is this possible? Because in the past decade, the direction of commerce has flipped.

In the old days (are you too young to remember the 1990s?), entrepreneurs and salespeople pursued customers with phone calls, letters, and newspaper ads. Now customers hunt down businesses on the web.

Back then, you had a list of prospects you would contact and try to get them to buy. Now the buyers—millions of them—are trolling the web every second of the day, looking for businesses that can scratch their itch.

Ever heard Woody Allen’s saying “80 percent of success is showing up”? The phrase takes on a whole new meaning in the 21st century. If your restaurant just shows up on Google and its search partners when people type in the right phrase, a starving crowd will bust your doors down. They’ll fill every table and flood the kitchen with orders. If they like the daily special and the desserts, they’ll come back and eat again and again. There’s a feast going on—if you show up.

Here, you’ll discover the secrets of showing up at the right places and times, and in front of the right people. And if you’re already advertising on Google, you’ll learn how to cut your bid prices 20 percent, 50 percent, or even 70 percent or more.

This book is for:

Ecommerce marketers

Local retail stores and service businesses

Niche product marketers

Homebased businesses

Authors, speakers, consultants, and publishers

B2B marketers collecting sales leads

Nonprofits, churches, and charities

Resellers, repair services, and parts suppliers

Online communities and membership sites

Google Ads can help your business whether you’re a little old lady selling quilts in eastern Kentucky or a multinational corporation. You don’t have to be a web developer to excel at this; many of the best online marketers are nontechnical people who succeed simply because they understand their customers.

A lot of these success stories are from “invisible entrepreneurs.” By invisible, I mean that their next-door neighbors have no idea what they do, but they’re quietly running micro-empires from their spare bedrooms. And they’re in hundreds of industries, ranging from the mundane to the ridiculous to the outrageously specialized. Some of these guys and gals are making serious cash: tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars a month.


Got a watch with a second hand?

Tick. 75,000 people just searched Google and went to somebody’s website.

Tick. 75,000 more.

Tick. 75,000 more.

That’s 4.5 million people a minute, every minute, all day long, all night long.

Here they come: 75,000 every second.

Are they finding your website? Are they buying from you? Or are they finding someone else’s website and buying from them instead?

They should be finding you. Many of them will come to your site, buy from you, and come back again and again, if you follow the simple instructions in this book.

Google Ads can be the traffic monster that feeds your autopilot marketing machine and churns out a profit for you every day and every night, hitting the entire world up for customers while you sleep. Not just bringing you tire kickers but highly qualified buyers who are actively looking for what you sell right this minute.

If the internet matters to your business, then no book you’ve ever bought has more potential to make or save you money than this one.

This book is written so you can blow through it fast and get going immediately on your plan to make serious money with Google insider marketing tactics. That’s the fun part: quickly implementing killer tactics that will flood your business with prospects and profit.

But there’s a serious side, too. I’ve held nothing back here. So not only will you know how to play the Google Ads game, but you’ll also discover how to craft powerful marketing messages and hooks, bond with your customers, and dominate your market.

In this book, you’ll discover:

Tragic, costly mistakes that almost all Google advertisers and online entrepreneurs make—and how to easily avoid them (including techniques Google should teach you but doesn’t).

How to disaster-proof business startups and product launches and pound the risk out of new ventures. (Most times, you’ve only got one or two shots to nail it; why would you want to leave anything to chance?)

Profiles of successful online businesses. Having coached hundreds of online entrepreneurs to success, I’ve accumulated a list of vital characteristics that separate the winners from the losers, many of which defy normal “business school wisdom.”

How to create ultra-persuasive Google ads and web pages that not only convert visitors to buyers but automatically improve with time as well, making it impossible for your rivals to catch up to you.

The advanced (but simple) shortcut secrets of getting deep into your customer’s head so you know exactly where their hot buttons are and how to punch them at will. The result is fanatical customer loyalty and a rabid customer base that eagerly buys almost everything you ask them to buy.

If you’re already advertising on Google, you’ll get 30 percent to 300 percent more visitors, for less money than you’re paying right now.

While many hardcore “let’s get after it” types will mark up and dog-ear this book for later reference, you can start seeing results while you’re reading it. There are shortcuts you can use tonight and see the results before you go to bed an hour later. Your business can literally improve by tomorrow morning.

So strap on your crash helmet because you’re in for a wild ride. Onward!

—Perry Marshall

P.S.: I’ve created an online supplement to this book with more than $85 worth of extended book chapters, audio interviews, information on specialized topics, and ongoing updates on Google’s ever-changing rules. You can access it at

P.P.S.: Here are some cool success stories I’ve gotten from my customers:

I’m telling everyone that your book is “required reading” if they want to market online. I actually read your “Definitive Guide” in one day, and that evening started my first Ads campaign. I now have four of them running, and the average clickthrough rate for all campaigns is above 2 percent. I also get well over a 3 percent CTR (some as high as 15 percent) on my more targeted keywords. This has increased the traffic to my sites tenfold in some cases and has made my monthly revenues much more consistent (which is always nice). Best of all, I’ve never had a keyword shut down by Google for low CTR, and I’ve only done one round of “peel and stick” with my ads. I give all the credit to my recent Ads success to you and your book.


I first purchased Perry’s Ads guide about five years ago and just recently purchased the newest version.

That’s about five years of Perry Marshall information, and I’ve never once been offered a dream. I don’t do Ads advertising because I can’t afford it.

But Perry never promised me that I could get rich using Ads; i.e., he never tried to sell me a dream. I really appreciate that. Like he said, Ads is not a business. It’s a tool you can use to advertise your business, and I don’t know anyone that’s more qualified than Perry Marshall that can teach you how to benefit from Ads.

I can promise you this. This information will save you a lot of money and possibly even an arm and a leg … it all depends on what kind of fish you’re swimming with.


Since your last coaching call, we made the keyword matching changes as you recommended and have the following to show you. Our overall CTR is 4.4 percent—our best ad is 12.4 percent and the worst one is a very respectable 3.1 percent!


I’ve been a faithful Perry fan since I met him at a Dan Kennedy event about five years ago. I own most of Perry’s products, I’ve been through the Bobsled Run twice, and I attended a four-man intensive at his house last year.

Perry always tells it like it is. He’s not like most of the “gurus” out there always trying to sell you their next product or coaching program. Perry gives us rock-solid advice on how to grow our business or how to sell more products. He repeats his solid advice over and over with no sales hype. That’s why we love and trust Perry. That’s why I’ve been a longtime customer and I buy everything he offers.

Recently, I took a real job after being on my own for ten years. I’m now an online marketing/SEO analyst for a local software company. I’m managing their Ads campaigns, which are over $20,000 per month worldwide.

Using what Perry taught me, I increased their CTR from just over 1 percent to over 6 percent in just one day. They’re running three times more ads on the same budget, and they’re getting better-qualified leads.

Think about using your knowledge managing Ads campaigns as a consultant or for a company. There are tons of online marketing jobs out there right now, and most pay over six figures a year. I never thought I could go back to a real job, but I love getting that steady paycheck and going home at 5 o’clock every day not worrying about keeping my business going. Plus, I’m consulting on the side still, so I’m making more than I ever have.”



Your Ads guide is worth hundreds of times its cost. And the free advice in your marketing emails—one story in particular about the Wright brothers and Samuel Langley—has been absolutely priceless.


I was getting about 2,830 clicks per month with Google Ads at $1.06 per click. I’ve spent about eight hours total reading your stuff and implementing it. Based on the results of my last few days, I am on track to get 7,815 clicks in the next month and spend the same $3,000 a month … a savings of $23,400 per year, or $2,925 per hour for the eight hours I have invested. This is without doubt one of the absolute best investments I’ve ever made, and I haven’t even started! And yes, I have done most of this while sitting at home in my underwear.


I had spent almost $100,000 on wasted SEO firms and websites with no real reward. I discovered Perry on another podcast I was listening to and have learned so much in only a year. I have just started employing his processes on Google Ads and am reaping the benefits already. I appreciate your delivery of information and the lack of BS in your sales tactics …

You bring great info to the table so we do not have to sort through to find what is useful. It’s simply amazing watching my clickthrough rate go from 0.3 percent up to 48 percent in less than 30 minutes.

The most important part is I AM BEATING THE COMPETITION in cost and, better yet, finding areas of “no competition.” Thanks for such awesome marketing advice. Your material is by far the most valuable I have purchased. Your concepts are working for me, and I intend on running this as a service for a lot of my web hosting clientele.”


WOW! I got a 500 percent increase in response … with just a quick “Band-Aid” fix. Can’t wait to see what happens when I follow all your suggestions.



Chapter 3

Planning and Goals

It’s a safe bet you can quickly describe to most people what your business does and how you do it. You may even be able to explain simply and clearly how you’re different from your competitors. But what is the true purpose of your business?

You may have seen the Simon Sinek TED Talk “Start with Why.” Customers need to believe in what you do. More important, they need to believe in the reason you exist.

You can and should have a larger purpose. You can marry that purpose to a specific objective. Take these as an example:

The XYZ industry has lost its way, and my business is going to be the exception.

People are changed for the better by what we do, and my goal is to reach twice as many next year.

I’m doing this because I want to help promote truth in the world.

If we grow our net profit 30 percent, we can feed three times as many children in Mozambique.

I’m here to build a strong, reputable gathering place in the community—one I’ll be proud to leave to my children and grandchildren.

It’s that message—addressing why you’re in business—that needs to be at the forefront of your marketing efforts. In this chapter, we’ll discuss how you can incorporate your “why” into your advertising planning and goals.


Measurable objectives drive everything. Specific goals, tied to your greater purpose, drive your marketing and your website.

And let’s be clear: Your website is not a brochure.

Building an attractive, functional site used to take a team of graphic designers and web developers. Not anymore. With a fairly inexpensive solution, you can create a platform that gets people to take action: contact you, ask for help, make a purchase, or just fall head over heels for your brand.

A good goal is one where you identify a specific number you want to reach (either a percentage or a dollar target) and (ideally) a date before which it needs to happen.

If you’re an ecommerce business, it might look like this:

Gross profit from online sales will be 20 percent more for June than it was for December.

Or, if yours is a lead-generation business, something like this:

Our volume of leads will be 40 percent higher in October than in July, while maintaining an average cost per action (CPA) of $70 or less.

Note that you can have basic goals and stretch goals:

A basic goal would be: “To keep the lights on, we need to sell a minimum of 1,000 small units this month.”

A stretch goal would be: “Our aim is to grow 40 percent this month by selling a minimum of 1,400 small units.”

Your website is a major part of the plan that will help you accomplish that.

Measuring Small Steps

If it’s leads you’re after, tracking them is simple enough. But if you’re measuring something grand, like gross profit over the four-month period from early July to the end of October, how will you know at any given point—say, on a Thursday in late August—if you’re headed in the right direction? What are some smaller, more immediate metrics you can use to measure your progress toward that bigger goal?

Some are obvious:

Your number of sales

Your number of new leads on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis

Your various conversion rates

And some involve a little more nuance:

For an ecommerce site, you can track return on ad spend (ROAS), or the revenue you generate for every dollar of ad spend. (A ROAS of 5.5 means you take in $5.50 for every $1 you spend on advertising.)

For a lead-generation website, track your cost per action (CPA) or cost per lead (CPL)—that is, how much it costs you to acquire each lead.

There are other, still smaller metrics you can watch, such as impressions and clickthrough rate (CTR). But don’t get too hung up on measuring impressions. Yes, it’s important that people see your ads and it’s important that they click, but it’s an example of what we call a “vanity metric.” And CTR is certainly valuable, but it doesn’t measure actual sales outcomes.


Knowing why you want to bring in customers—that is, understanding the good you want to do in the world—is indispensable.

But how much does it cost you to acquire a new customer? And how much are they worth to you over time? Knowing that number will help you make this process repeatable and sustainable.

You may have heard of LTV, or lifetime value. This refers to how much, on average, each customer is worth to your business over a specific time period. For example:

If you’re a personal injury lawyer and your average client has one case with you that brings in $30,000, their lifetime value is $30,000.

If you’re an online fashion retailer and your average customer will buy three items from you each year over the next three years and spend $100 each time, their lifetime value is $900.

If you sell vitamins and the average person makes 12 monthly purchases from you at an average of $20 per purchase, then your customer’s lifetime value is $240.

Different business models have different LTVs, along with different buying cycles and customer behavior. If you’re clear on how much revenue a new customer brings you, and what your margins are on that revenue, you can calculate the maximum amount you can spend to get a lead or generate a sale.

An Example

Let’s take that personal injury attorney as a lead-generation case study.

If your average client is worth $30,000 in gross revenue, and you know you need roughly 100 leads to get one client, then your break-even point is $300 per lead. (That’s $30,000 divided by 100.)

That’s the maximum amount you can pay to acquire the new client—or so it would seem. But there’s more you need to think about.

Figure Your Real Costs

Namely, you have to factor in the other costs of doing business: paying your team, running the office, and keeping the lights on.

Your plan is to acquire a client, and the average client will pay you $30,000. But you’re also going to spend (in this example) $20,000 servicing the client and keeping your business running.

So now it looks like you have a margin of $10,000. But be careful: this is not profit. It’s the total amount you can pay to acquire a new client and still break even.

So the real goal revolves around that $10,000 figure. You can’t spend any more than that to bring in a client. And if it takes 100 leads, then the most you can spend per lead is actually $100 ($10,000 divided by 100), not $300.

Once you know that number, every dollar you spend less than $100 to acquire a lead becomes actual profit—i.e., money to be reinvested in growth, money for your savings account, or money in your pocket.

Every business is different, so you’ll need to calculate your own numbers. But this illustrates how vital it is to know your customer lifetime value. Having a solid back end and knowing that you can make repeat sales over time will make all the difference in the world.


Some years ago, Mike’s marketing business WebSavvy worked with a small manufacturing company in Adelaide, South Australia, that made doors and windows. One day, just three months after they started running ads on Google, the owner called Mike.

“I don’t know what your team is doing,” he said, “but please dial it down. The guys on my shop floor can’t keep up with the demand.”

What a wonderful problem to have! Mike was delighted. The WebSavvy team had optimized the account to the point that the customer was inundated with new leads.

Thankfully, Google Ads is like a tap that you can turn on or off, up or down, once you’ve built the machine and all its pieces are in place. In this case, WebSavvy stepped in and reduced the flow of leads while the customer quickly assembled the necessary sales and customer-service resources. With that ready, they could open the tap back up and service the flood of new leads that came in.

So think about your business. Now that you’ve set some goals and identified your key metrics, you need a plan to reach your target. So with a specific goal in mind and a date you’ve set to achieve it, consider these important questions:

What resources do I have available that will help me achieve the goal?

How many team members do I have who can devote time to this?

What kind of cash can I set aside for experimentation?

If this Google thing completely tanks, what’s my next option going to be? (And is there any reason I can think of as to why it might fail?)

If this goes supernova, can I deal with it? Can I dial it back if I have to? Can I marshal more team members and resources to meet demand?

For a copy of the Repeatable Planning Process that WebSavvy uses, go to


We are convinced that the size and condition of your business is just an outward reflection of your inner mindset. As you grow as a person and your mindset expands, your business will do the same.

Here are three fundamental attitudes we recommend you bring to the table when working with Google Ads. They will greatly improve your odds of success.

I’m Here to Experiment—and Get Lucky

Google Ads is a game of experimentation. It’s about continually testing an endless assortment of new ideas:

New keywords

New ad copy

New landing pages

New offers

New types of ads

New targeting methods

If you can’t tolerate occasional small failures, or seeing a precious idea tank, or discovering that you were wrong, Google Ads is not for you.

Advertisers who are willing to experiment with fast and crazy ideas will reap the rewards in the long game.

Always be testing. The minute it becomes clear that an idea has failed, pause or delete it. When a new idea gets you improved results, hang onto it. Think short-term downside, long-term upside.

I’m Investing Now. Returns Will Come Later

At first it may feel like you’re just spending money, with very little to show in return. But if you’re testing as we described above, then what you spend with Google is a down payment toward future earnings. As Mike’s old options-trading mentor used to say, “You’re investing money in the market to buy data and learn fast.”

I’m in It for the Long Game

If you expect Google Ads to be profitable from day one, prepare to be disappointed. It’s going to take work, time, and continued investment to uncover what resonates in your market with your customers.

And remember: This is digital marketing. There’s so many things you can measure and tweak. The positive feedback loops are endless. That’s the power of the Google Ads marketing machine.


Thinking ahead, knowing where you want your business to end up, knowing how you’re going to measure it, and accepting the process—that’s the key.

Sit down by yourself, with your business partner, or maybe even with your whole team, and put down on paper why you exist. What’s your larger purpose in the market and in the world?

Answer: How do you want to grow and expand over the next month, the next quarter, and the next year?

Identify: What numbers are you going to watch most closely as this progresses?

Chapter 4

Getting Started: Doing Your Research

By now you’ve worked out why you’re in business, set your goals, and built your website.

You’re ready for traffic, right?

Almost. There’s a little more work to do first.

It’s time to kick off your advertiser shoes and step into those of your prospect.

The first thing to think about is: Where are all the places they might look for you or bump into your business? It might be through a Google search. It might be through an app or a game. They might be browsing other websites trying to find a product or service such as you offer.

Depending on where they find you, they’ll encounter different kinds of ads. Let’s take a closer look at the types of Google ads they might see.


Google is split into two huge networks: Search and Display.

If your prospective customer is using Google Search, they’ll see one of two possible types of ads: a search ad or a Shopping ad.

The search ad is a few lines of text, typically shown at the top or bottom of the search results page on Google.

The Shopping ad is for retailers. It’s a small square image that appears at the top of search results, with the name of your product, your price, and the name of your store.


The Display Network consists of more than two million websites and more than a million apps. These range from huge sites like and down to the smallest blogs, forums, and niche websites.

Owners place a small piece of code on their site to tell Google where it can show ads, and Google does the rest. The system “understands” what each site is about and what its visitors are interested in.

As a visitor arrives at a website, Google takes stock of two things:

1. All the data collected about that person, including sites they’ve been to recently and what actions they took on those websites

2. All the information about the website itself and how previous visitors to the site have behaved

Google combines all that data and in a fraction of a second decides which ads to show the visitor. If the person clicks on one of the ads, Google will share a portion of the click price with the site owner.

The Display Network is vast. On it you’ll see many different types of ads, the most common being a simple banner ad. These come in different sizes and can be static or animated.

YouTube and Gmail

No doubt you’ve seen ads on YouTube, the world’s second-largest search engine. One type of ad is a short video that plays before your chosen video starts. Another is a banner that appears on the right side of the page as you’re watching a video.

Google also owns Gmail, the world’s largest email platform, with more than 1.5 billion users. You’re likely to see ads there as well.

Google is constantly experimenting with new ads, formats, and placements. You’ll encounter ads on your phone, on your tablet, and inside various apps.

Let’s talk about Search. We’ll save Display, YouTube, and Gmail for later in the book.


Is this your first time using Google Ads? You’ll find search campaigns the easiest to set up and tweak. They’re a great way to learn the fundamentals.

Pay-per-click boils down to three indispensable elements: bidding, targeting, and messaging. Let’s look at all three.


A bid is your way of telling Google how much you’re willing to pay when someone clicks on your ad. You’ll set it up with what’s called a maximum cost per click, or max CPC. You won’t always pay that full amount; Google will usually charge you a bit less, but it will never go above that limit.

How much are you willing to pay to get a new visitor to your site? If you’re unsure, start with a bid of $1. You can always adjust it later.


This is how you tell Google who should see your ad.

There are myriad ways to do this, but the two main ones involve keywords and audiences. When you give a keyword to Google, you’re telling them to show your ad to people who are searching for similar phrases.

We’ll have more on audiences in later chapters.


What should your ad say?

The key is figuring out your prospect’s intent. Why are they searching on Google right now? What do they hope to find? What itch do they want to scratch? What conversations are going on inside their head?

Then think of an ad that reflects that intent. What can you offer that your competitors can’t? What can you say that demonstrates you have exactly what your prospect is looking for?

Remember, your ad’s only job is to get them to click on it. It’s your website’s job to persuade them to take action and buy. Consider what message will trigger the click, and then think about how to continue that conversation on the landing page you send them to.


The internet is transparent. You can see what other advertisers are doing and learn from them. Visit your competitors’ websites often. What offers are they making? What hot buttons are they pushing? Can you do better?

Think about the keywords your prospects might use to find the products and services you sell. Go to Google and search on those. Which of your competitors are running ads on those search terms? Are they saying things or trying offers you hadn’t thought of? Is their message different from yours?


As business owners, we’re often too close to our own services to be able to think like our prospects. So do a little asking around. Talk to people you work with. Poll your friends and family. Find out how they might go about searching for your product or service. You might even invite a friend to do a search while you look over their shoulder. You’ll be surprised at what they show you. Watch and learn.

Collect keywords from your own brainstorm sessions and your conversations with others, and create a list of two- and three-word phrases. (Not single words. That way you get clearer search intent.) Later in the book, we’ll tell you how to use Google’s free Keyword Planner tool. But for now, start building that keyword list. It should have more than one but fewer than 100.

In the next chapter, we’ll talk about how to set yourself apart from your competitors. After that, we’ll walk you through setting up your first campaign.


Write down all the places your prospect might look for you or encounter your business—Google search, an app or a game, or other websites.

Start with a Google search campaign.

Decide what you’re willing to pay to get a new visitor to your site. If you’re unsure, start with a bid of $1 per click.

Find out your prospect’s intent. Why are they searching on Google, and what do they hope to find? What conversations are going on inside their head? Think of an ad that reflects that.

Talk to people you work with. Poll your friends and family. Find out how friends and family, or people you work with, might go about searching for your product or service. Brainstorm and collect keywords, and create a list of short phrases.

Chapter 5

Vanquish the Thickest Competition with a Killer USP

Michael Strickland of Boulder, Colorado, runs Ship a Car Direct, a company that transports cars across the country. He enrolled in our 12-week, hands-on, first-click-to-first-sale marketing funnel improvement lab. Like many people who take this course, he assumed we were just going to go “ninja” to the nth degree on Google Ads.

Sure, we did that, but in the very first live small-group session, I asked him, “Michael, why should I ship my car with your company instead of any other company out there?”

Michael didn’t have a solid, meaty answer to my question. Sure, he ran a good company, and they delivered quality and good service and all that. But it was a deer-inthe-headlights moment for him.

I told him, “Michael, you must create a great answer to that question.” So we started building his unique selling proposition (USP) together. Two weeks later, Michael emerged with a powerful new USP and his “Damage Free Guarantee,” which you can see on his website today at

That was the tipping point of Michael’s business. His sales doubled in six months. Yes, all his experimentation and optimization of Google Ads was helpful and necessary. But his ads didn’t light on fire until his USP was solid. Once he had a terrific answer to “Why should I buy from you?,” customers started responding, and the business went supernova.

The business ventures that fail the fastest are the ones that have no USP. The businesses that have their USP crisply and clearly defined acquire customers and grow.

So what is a USP?

It’s the “thing” that makes you unique in the marketplace—it’s what customers can get from you that they can’t find anyplace else. You can also call it your “unique selling position” or your “value proposition.”

Having a USP gives you a clear response for these questions:

How are you unique?

In what way are you different from your competitors?

Why should I buy from you, rather than from someone else?

Why should I care at all about you or anything you sell?

The term was coined by Rosser Reeves (1910–1984), a pioneer in the use of TV ads who wrote Reality in Advertising, one of the most respected advertising books of the 20th century.

His message on USPs was simple:

Your ad has to have some way of clearly saying, “Buy this product, and you will get this specific benefit.”

Your promise has to be one that your competitor cannot or does not offer.

Your promise has to win over new customers.

You see, a USP is worthless if it doesn’t actually persuade people to buy from you. A USP is the knife edge of your chisel. A power USP enables you to “chisel your way in,” anytime, anywhere. If you’re not getting enough traction, sharpen your USP.

In this chapter, I’m going to give you a method for defining your USP, as well as for testing elements of your USP in your Google Ads to determine what gets you the strongest response.


Any time you’re communicating with a prospect, you can appeal to any one of these, a combination of them, or all of them together:

1. You’re unique because of the buyer you serve.

2. You’re unique because of what you sell.

3. You’re unique because you have an unusual angle.

4. You’re unique because of what your product or service does not do.

5. You’re unique because of the time frame around your offer.

6. You’re unique because of how you guarantee your product.

How many of these elements are already true of you? Or, if not, what can you change in your business so that any or all of these elements become true of you?

We’ll explore them one at a time.

You’re Unique Because of the Buyer You Serve

Your business gets traction when you zero in on a niche. Maybe you target people in a specific demographic—a certain age, gender, income level, or religious or political leaning. Or maybe you solve a very specific kind of problem—a rare health issue or a peculiar type of software malfunction. Maybe you cater to a particular hobby. If you’re in B2B, you might serve a specific narrow vertical or a particular stripe of business owner. Maybe you only work with companies of ten employees or less.

In extremely rare cases, you could be unique because there’s no limit to whom you serve. For example:

My hiring and recruiting system is unique because it works for virtually any position in any business, anywhere—from the ecommerce business in the UK to the information marketer in Chicago to the nursing station in the Australian outback.

—Nancy Slessenger, Vinehouse Hiring

Test the unique-buyer approach in your ads, whether you serve a unique demographic, help people with a unique struggle, or focus on a unique niche.

You’re Unique Because of What You Sell

Do you offer a service where others only offer a product, or do you offer a product where everyone else is selling services?

Are you the thing for sale, as a skilled technician, consultant, coach, or performer? Are you the entertaining or compelling personality that makes the business what it is?

If so, beat your drum. Having a story to tell will instantly separate you from the herd. I’ve made a name for my business by telling my unusual story:

“How an Inexperienced 29-Year-Old Punk Ignored All the Usual ‘Marketing Wisdom’—Grew a High-Tech Business 2,000 percent in Four Years, and Sold It for 18 Million Dollars!”

Test the “unique thing for sale” in your ads. For example, sell a product instead of a service, or sell your unique story.

You’re Unique Because You Have an Unusual Angle

There are so many “angles” you can use to separate yourself from competitors. Here are just a few examples:

You promise a unique and specific outcome.

You have a noteworthy track record.

You deliver an unusual level of quality.

The experience of doing business with you is one of a kind.

You offer a unique payment plan.

You can use acronyms and proprietary labels for products you sell and methods you use that get results. That approach always gets people to sit up and take notice.

You’re Unique Because of What Your Product or Service Does Not Do

We call these “negative promises.” They’re just as powerful as positive promises—often more so.

Maybe there’s some unwanted ingredient or feature your product doesn’t have. Maybe there’s a bad result you prevent. Maybe there’s some prerequisite for effectiveness that your product lets users bypass, saving them time. Maybe your product avoids cost or waste.

You’re Unique Because of the Time Frame Around Your Offer

You can promise results within a set amount of time or for a set amount of time. How specific can you actually get? The more explicit you are, the better your ads will perform.

Ads that use actual numbers generally perform better. It’s practically an ironclad law. There are two reasons why: 1) the brain processes number symbols faster than written words, and 2) numbers make your message specific.

Prospects love promises that are specific, clear, and unmistakable. Advertising legend Claude Hopkins explains:

The weight of an argument may often be multiplied by making it specific. Say that a tungsten lamp gives more light than a carbon and you leave some doubt. Say it gives three and one-third times the light and people realize that you have made tests and comparisons.

You’re Unique Because of How You Guarantee Your Product

Give your offer an “or else”—a penalty to you if you don’t deliver. Refund your customer’s money. Replace your product. Redo your service.

The more ballsy and specific you make it, the more your prospects will sit up and take notice:

“Double your money back.”

“Triple your money back.”

“Your money back plus $1,000.”

“We’ll refund your money and pay our competitor to come in and give you a replacement.”

Combine your “or else” with a specific time promise, and your message has power.

A Killer Strategy for Generating Sales Leads

Are you trying to “chisel your way in”? Your business must have a great USP—and so should the very first offer you use to attract attention. For decades, direct marketers offered free reports and white papers to bring in sales leads. “Free report: How to cut your back pain in half in 15 minutes or less.”

Those still work, and perhaps to an extent, they always will. But the amount of value you have to offer to get a prospect’s email address has risen exponentially as the web has matured. That “free report” strategy is tired at best and obsolete at worst. Many times it simply does not stand out at all. Everyone has a free report or a free video. You can see that simply by scanning your competitors’ ads.

A much less common strategy that still works quite well is what I call the Disqualification Approach: offer some kind of tool to help many of your visitors figure out that they are not your customers. Let me explain.

When we wrote the first Ultimate Guide to Facebook Advertising a few years ago, I was concerned that most people who bought the book would eventually figure out Facebook was not for them. At the time, Facebook’s ad platform was still primitive, and it was not appropriate for 60 to 80 percent of businesses. (That has since changed.) I didn’t want people buying my book and giving it two stars on Amazon because their ad campaigns failed.

So we created a tool, It scores people from one to ten based on ten easy-to-answer questions. After they get their score, they can enter their email address to get a customized report that explains it. If people get a score of less than six, we tell them to not even bother with advertising on Facebook.

This works extremely well. It gets lots of sales leads for us, and they’re qualified sales leads because most of them are people with high scores. The fact that we actively push people away who are not good customers gives us tremendous credibility when we tell someone, “Yes, indeed, you should invest in Facebook advertising and education.”

When you build a tool like this, if it doesn’t disqualify a significant number of people who use it, the tool and your sales pitch are wrong. As I preach in my book 80/20 Sales and Marketing, sales is first and foremost a disqualification process. Most people are not right for you, so get rid of them at the outset.

A disqualifier lead-generation magnet helps you write better ads.

Which of these (older format) ads would you rather click on?

Facebook Ads Are Hot

Discover the Secrets to Mastery

Free Online Training Video


Is Facebook for You?

Before (!) You Squander Time & Money

Take This Free 60-Second Quiz

Consider these two ads in terms of the offer. Which one is more appealing? Which one promises you the most immediate gratification and appeal? This is a huge aspect of marketing through Google Ads. It would be very rare for a training video to go viral, but our quiz did; in fact, many bloggers and authority sites happily recommend it.

Ultimately, the offer your ad describes is more important than the words you use to describe it. What does your customer get by clicking on your ad? And how fast do they get it? How soon will it make a difference in their life?

This deserves serious thought and, most of all, serious experimentation!


Determining your USP is key to your Google Ads success. You can create yours by identifying what makes you unique, like:

The buyer you serve

What you sell

Your unusual angle

What your product or service does not do

The time frame around your offer

How you guarantee your product

Your mission: Test as many of these concepts in your Google Ads as you can find the time for. Some will completely tank—plan on it. But somewhere among these USP concepts will be a new winning ad and a new, proven way for you to approach your prospects, regardless of what media you use.

That is how you hammer out your USP in the crucible of the marketplace.

Chapter 6

How to Build Your First Campaign

When you set up a Google Ads campaign, you’re actually creating a set of instructions that tell Google which ads to run, when to run them, and how much to charge you for it.

Experts say you need more than one campaign. And we agree. Why?

Here are some basic rules of thumb to help answer that question.

You want different campaigns for different types of ads. If you want to run search ads, Shopping ads, and YouTube ads, these are far easier to manage and track when they’re in separate campaigns.

You want a different campaign for each country or region where you run ads. If you’re spending more money in the U.S. than in Australia, having two separate campaigns will help you control the budgets for each country. It will also let you set different vocabulary and spelling in the ads themselves.

You want different campaigns to track your different products. Let’s say you sell doors, windows, and shutters. You could put all these products in one campaign, but it’s a safe bet that they have different price points and contribute different profit levels to your business. With separate campaigns for each product, you can see at a glance how they’re working individually. Plus it lets you separate out the different budgets, which is especially helpful in seasonal markets. For example, this month you could reduce the budget on windows and increase the budget on doors to match seasonal demand, and then next month you could do the reverse. In this chapter, we’ll walk you through what you need to know to build your first campaign—no matter what your goal is.


The first decision you’ll make is what kind of ad you want to run. There are four main types: search ads, Shopping ads, display or banner ads, and video ads.

It’s a safe bet you’ll start with search ads, so your first campaign will be a search campaign. That’s the easiest type to manage and make profitable.

Inside that campaign, you’ll have a few ad groups. An ad group is just a container that holds ads and keywords—at least one of each. (Though you’ll likely have more than that.)

Your campaign will also have a bid price, which is the maximum you’re willing to pay each time someone clicks on one of your ads.

So when you start out, you’ll have at least one campaign. In that campaign, you’ll have at least one ad group containing at least one ad and one keyword, as well as a bid price. Let’s look at an example.

Example: Training Dogs

Let’s say you offer dog training.

You create a search campaign. Within the campaign, you create a single ad group. We’ll call it “Dog training.” In that ad group, you start with some keywords: dog training, Labrador training, and poodle dog training.

You write an ad.

For the campaign, you set a maximum bid price of $2 per click.

You turn it on, and it goes live.

Someone goes to Google and searches for “dog training for poodles,” and Google decides to show them your ad.

If they click on your ad, you’ll pay a fee to Google. The vast majority of the time it will be less than $2.


Bid Price $2



Ad Group#1


dog training

Labrador training

poodle dog training


There are a few key things you need to address when creating your first campaign. We can think about it in terms of what might go wrong:

You could attract either the wrong people or nobody at all.

Your ads could be irrelevant or just plain ineffective.

You could pay too much … or not pay enough for your ads to show.

And to combat that, you want the right targeting, the right messaging, and the right bidding and budget. We’re going to walk you step by step through a basic setup here in this chapter, which will adequately cover those three bases for you as you get started.

Here’s how to set up your first campaign.

1. Navigate to the Campaigns tab on the left of the screen.

2. Click the big blue + button to start the process.

3. Click New Campaign.

4. You’ll have the option to choose a “goal.” This can help you get started easily, but it can also limit the features available to you. For the most flexibility, choose Create a Campaign Without a Goal. If you’re already overwhelmed, choose Leads if your site is designed to get leads or Sales if you’re selling products.

5. Next choose your campaign type. We recommend starting with Search.

6. Then choose the result you want (website visits, phone calls, or app downloads). We’ll cover call tracking later in the book, so pick Website Visits for now.

7. Click Continue to get to the General Settings page.

8. Choose a name for your campaign.

9. Choose the networks you want to show ads on (uncheck Google Search Partners and Display Network for now).

10. Choose the location where your ads will show. Start with the smallest, most local option, e.g., your local town or state, rather than the whole country.

11. Ignore Audiences for now; we’ll start with just keywords.

12. Set your daily budget. Pick a small amount of money that you’re prepared to lose.

13. Bidding: You’ll have to dig a bit here to find Manual Bidding, which is what we recommend when starting out. Choose Select a Bid Strategy (as seen in Figure 6–1 below) and then Manual CPC (Figure 6–2 below) from the drop-down menu.

FIGURE 6–1. Select Your Bid Strategy

FIGURE 6–2. Choose Manual CPC

14. You’ll be prompted to use Enhanced CPC, which is fine. This allows the system to make a few decisions for you without ignoring your direction completely.

15. You can ignore the other settings for now.

Other Options

You’ll be prompted as part of your campaign setup to add in some ad extensions. Ignore those for now.

You can set start and end dates for your campaign. In most cases, you wouldn’t use this option unless you were setting up a campaign for a specific promotion or holiday period and you wanted your ads to shut off after a certain date.

You’ll be given a few URL options to help with tracking and measurement. Ignore these for now.

Unless you’re targeting a specific minority language group, set your campaign to the single dominant language in your geographic area.

You’ll see sections on audiences, ad scheduling, and ad rotation. Again, you can skip these for now. We’ll cover them in more detail later in the book.


We mentioned above that you’ll have a few ad groups within your campaign. But why do you need more than one?

For starters, consider this:

If I’m searching for “Labrador dog training,” I’m much more likely to click on an ad that talks specifically about training Labradors than about dog training in general.

If I’m searching for “puppy training,” I’m far more likely to click on a dog training ad that specifically mentions puppies.

So imagine that you offer dog training. You create an ad group with a couple of ads and 50 keywords. Those keywords are about dogs, dog training, puppies, Labradors, poodles, and more.

But your ads only talk generically about “dog training.” They don’t mention Labradors, puppies, or poodles. That’s a problem. If I’m searching for training for my Labrador, I’m more likely to ignore your ads.

That’s where separate ad groups come in. You can move your Labrador keywords into a new ad group with one or two new ads written specifically about Labradors. Then move your puppy keywords into a different ad group where your ads talk specifically about working with puppies.

This way, you know people typing in those keywords will see relevant, targeted ads. Even better, you can direct those Labrador ads to a landing page specifically about Labrador training and the puppy ads to a page about puppy training.

Again: Targeted and relevant. With this method, we know exactly what your prospect searched for, which keyword has been triggered in our account, and which ad they saw. Now our job is to send them to a page that matches all that, maintaining the chain of relevance to ensure the best experience. They’ve searched, they’ve seen an ad, and now they land on a page with consistent messaging.

A Google ad works best when you can take a visitor to the page most relevant to them.

You can take this concept quite far. Maybe too far. Many advertisers create what we call single keyword ad groups (SKAGs). That’s an ad group containing only one keyword, and an ad written exclusively for that search term.

SKAGs can perform very well, but there are a couple of issues with them. One is the drain on your time and resources. If you’ve collected 5,000 keywords, building separate ad groups for each of those search terms is completely unrealistic.

The second concern is something we’ll cover in more detail in Chapter 26, when we talk about automation. With such narrowly targeted ad groups, each individual group will accumulate very little performance data over time. That becomes an issue, as Google’s machine learning requires lots of data to perform well. You don’t want to hamstring Google.

So which approach do you take?

Start with a small number of ad groups. That means five to ten, if you have around 50 keywords. Group those keywords together in small clusters around tight themes, and make sure in each ad group that every ad reflects its accompanying keywords as closely and literally as possible.

Campaign #2



Ad Group #1

Puppy Training

puppy training

puppy school

puppy obedience

Ad Group #2

Labrador Training

Labrador training

Labrador school

Labrador obedience

To review, each ad group contains three things: at least one ad, at least one keyword, and a bid.

We suggest that you bid only at the ad-group level at this point. Ignore the option to set separate bids for individual keywords.


Understand that Google Ads is a competitive auction. The more advertisers that are bidding on a particular keyword, the higher your bid price will need to be. It’s not unlike the auction on a house: The more people who want to buy the house, the higher you’ll have to bid if you want to win the auction.

There’s one key difference, though: In Google Ads, the spoils don’t all go to the highest bidder. You can’t buy and own a keyword the way you can own a house, in other words. (There are people who believe that if they bid enough money, they own access to a keyword, and no other advertiser can use or benefit from it. That’s simply not true.)

The higher you bid, the more likely it is your ad will appear when somebody searches for your keyword and the higher on the page your ad will show. But the ad at the top of the page does not necessarily belong to the advertiser who’s willing to spend the most money. It’s more nuanced than that.

We’ll go into it in more detail later in the book. For now, we suggest you bid an amount you’re comfortable with and that you can tolerate losing in the short term. Bid too high, and you’ll waste money. Bid too low, and your ads won’t show. The trick is to find the amount that’s just right.

In the beginning, err on the side of caution and pick a relatively small amount. If your ads don’t show often enough, you can always increase your bid.

Recall that you also have the fail-safe of your campaign’s daily budget, to ensure that you never overspend on any given day. As a simple rule of thumb, set your budget to at least five to ten times the amount of your bid. So if your bid price is $1 per click, set your daily budget to $5 or $10 per day. Likewise, a bid of $10 per click means a daily budget of $50 to $100.


What separates profitable Google advertisers from unprofitable ones? The profitable advertisers are prepared to put in the work and optimize their campaigns over time.

To recap, let’s take a look at the most important steps you need to take when building your first campaign:

Create the campaign.

Set a small budget for the campaign—an amount you can afford to lose.

Inside that campaign, start with one ad group.

Research and gather your keywords.

Add the keywords to the ad group.

Write at least one ad.

Set a bid for the ad group.

If you have additional sets of keywords around other themes, create a new ad group for each separate theme.

Turn them live.

Keep what works; tweak or delete what doesn’t.

Rinse and repeat.

The next thing you’ll need to put in place is tracking, which we’ll cover in the next chapter.

Chapter 7

Conversion Tracking: How to Know Where Every Penny You Spend Is Going

Afew years ago, before Google’s conversion tracking was as sophisticated as it is today, my team and I had determined that a certain keyword was a great target keyword for us. We fed $15,000 a month into that ad campaign for years.

Then I brought on a new marketing manager, Jack Born. Jack did some more conversion tracking, and one day he called me.

“Hey, Perry, you know that one ad campaign?” he said. “I don’t think it’s bringing you any paying customers. I think you’re only getting tire kickers from that keyword.”

This seemed totally counterintuitive to me. We were getting lots of email signups and, in fact, lots of customers from that campaign.

Jack said, “I carefully connected the dots, and I don’t think this is the thing that’s paying your bills. Let’s pause that campaign and see what happens to our sales.”

So, with much fear and trepidation, we paused $15,000 per month of traffic.

Sales did not change one iota.

Dang. We had spent $300,000 on traffic that wasn’t converting at all.

Ugh! Ever wish you could get $300,000 back?

Well … if you’re not tracking conversions from that initial click to sales lead to sale, then the odds are 80 percent of your traffic is not converting to sales—you just don’t know it.

If that’s the case, you might as well find out right now!

What’s the difference between a novice airplane pilot and a veteran? Ask any flight instructor and they’ll tell you a beginner relies on sight and gut feeling, while an experienced professional relies on their instruments.

This sounds counterintuitive. You might think experienced pilots with thousands of hours of flight time would reach the point where they could ignore their instruments and fly on instinct alone. But it’s quite the opposite. Novice pilots are unfamiliar with the complex range of cockpit instrumentation and are naturally inclined to rely on their basic senses. Veteran pilots, on the other hand, know your senses can deceive you, and so can your instincts. Instruments, being machines, are far less likely to give you faulty information.

Marketers can be vulnerable to the same errors. We sit down to write a new ad or create a new offer, and we think we know instinctively what will get clicks, what will sell, and what won’t.

But forecasting markets and predicting buyer behavior is nearly impossible. Worse still, determining which keywords, ad groups, and campaigns bring in the best customers can be a completely opaque black box.

Truly experienced marketers understand that nobody knows what works until the target audience has cast their vote. And nobody knows which advertising dollars create the best return until we’ve looked at the hard data.

Fortunately, Google gets this. Their conversion-tracking tools are engineered so you don’t have to guess what’s working and what isn’t. The “instruments” in the Google Ads interface let you measure every last bit of prospective and current buyer activity in precise detail. With these tools in place, even the smallest business can go head-to-head against large competitors knowing exactly where their advertising dollars are having the greatest impact.

Google’s conversion tracking can break down your numbers and tell you where each conversion came from. It can even show you the path your visitors took to find you. Most important, it shows you where the waste is.

Relying solely on gut instinct can kill your PPC results. Do you want to learn how to see exactly where your dollars are going? This chapter will teach you. We’ll show you how to make solid decisions based on hard data by setting up your conversion tracking right the first time. We’ll also show you how to use a thank-you page to welcome new customers and create upsells. We’ll start by looking over the options available to you, and then we’ll walk you through a specific example of how it works.


For every business owner, a “conversion” can refer to a number of different actions that a prospect or customer might take. Some are more valuable than others:

To a blogger, it might be a visitor reading at least three posts.

To a service provider, it might be a visitor picking up the phone or completing a registration form.

To an ecommerce site owner, it might be a visitor making an online purchase.

Google makes it easy to track all these and more. There are four essential types of conversions you’ll want to consider. See Figure 7–1 below.

Type 1. Track When Someone Lands on a Specific Page

This includes the person who sees your thank-you page after completing your newsletter signup form or the buyer who arrives at your download page after purchasing your software. It is the most common type of conversion tracking and the most basic, so it’s worth knowing how to set it up even if you plan to largely focus on other types. We’ll give you an example later in this chapter on how to do just that.

FIGURE 7–1. Four Types of Conversions

Type 2. Track When Someone Calls You After Seeing Your Ad or Visiting Your Site

According to one survey, 70 percent of mobile users at some time or another have seen an advertiser’s phone number on a Google results page and called it.

Putting your phone number in a Google ad is an effective strategy, but you’ll need to do it the right way: by using a call extension or a “click-to-call” ad. Best of all, it’s easy for Google to track.

We’ll talk more about ad extensions in Chapter 10, and we’ll discuss how to set up phone call tracking in Chapter 19. That said, there are a couple of tracking options we’ll share with you here.

One is to use code to swap your regular phone number for a Google forwarding number for visitors arriving from Google Ads. That way, any time someone calls the forwarding number, your ads get credited with a conversion, whether they saw the number in your ad or on your website.

This is available only in certain countries (check the Google website to see if it is available in yours), but if you can take advantage of it, you get access to better reporting. You can even specify to Google that only calls of a certain length will count as a conversion.

The two main benefits are that 1) it’s free (Google will create as many numbers as you need, and they don’t charge you for the calls), and 2) it integrates perfectly with the Google Ads system.

There are also a few third-party tracking options you can try. One is, which is particularly popular in the U.S., but there are other goo