Google Ads: Basics of paying for ads on Google


Google makes the majority of their revenue as an advertising company. Their advertising platform, Google Ads, is very powerful and widely used. With Google Ads, like many other products, you get what you pay for.

Paid vs. Organic

It is important to differentiate between “paid” and “organic” results. When a particular search query is typed into Google they try to show you the most relevant results for your query. The primary 10 links or so shown on the page are algorithmically determined to be the best results for what you have searched. Several types of content may appear in the organic results. This may include YouTube videos, listings on Google Maps and other types of content. To improve your organic search ranking you hire someone to perform search engine optimization (SEO).

Around the “organic” content you will see the ads for various search terms. They are usually shown with an off-white background behind them. They can appear above the organic results, below the organic results or in the right column of the page. The sites that show up in these places are there because they are paying to be there.

Showing up in the organic results takes good content and good SEO. All it takes to show up in the paid results is money.

Campaigns and Ads

You can create different ad campaigns for different purposes. Within these campaigns you can create different ads. For each campaign you can choose the keywords that you want your ads to appear on.

A basic text ad on Google consists of a title, 2 lines of description and the site address. You create your campaign, choose which keywords are relevant and then create your ad. You can create multiple ads with different text and then compare them to see which one is most effective.

Google will show ads when people are searching for the terms you bid on. Google can also show your ads throughout its expansive content network. Many sites out there use a product called Google AdSense to display ads on their site. The sites with these ads on them receive a portion of the funds spent when an ad is clicked. You can choose to limit your campaigns to only the main Google site or to also appear on their entire ad network. For some businesses it makes sense to only have the ads on the main Google site. This is a decision that you can make.


Ads are typically paid for by the number of times they are clicked. You bid a certain amount for your keywords and when someone clicks on your ad the amount is deducted from your account.

You can spend any amount you choose on your Google Ads campaigns. A typical way to approach budgeting is to decide what you are willing to spend per day. You can set Ads to automatically limit your spending to a certain amount, like $10/day. You can also set it to automatically bid on your keywords and it will set appropriate values so you reach your daily target budget. If you are willing to pay more per click than your competition you will show up before them in the ads.

You can choose between automatic or manual payments. Automatic payments will result in your form of payment (credit card or bank account) being charged when your balance runs out. Your ads will keep running and you will be charged over time.

Manual payments allow you to put in a set amount and your ads will run until your account is empty. It is typically recommended to start with manual payments so you do not end up paying more than you are planning on if your account is not configured properly.

Other Features

Google Ads is a very powerful platform and it has features to cause a sparkle in the eyes of every marketing or advertising executive.

You can set ads to run for a particular time of the day or calendar days. For example, if you are a retail business you could come up with very targeted ads to run on “Black Friday”. If you are a plumber who does emergency work on weekends you could set your campaign to increase spending outside of normal business hours. The uses of this platform are only limited by your creativity.

You can also choose particular geographic areas for your ads to run in. You could target a major city, say Chicago, and have your ads run within a 100 mile radius. For certain business types this can make for very effective use of your ad dollars.

Google Ads is a very powerful platform. Paying for ads will definitely increase traffic to your site. Whether that traffic converts into sales or revenue depends on your web site and the services and products you offer.

There are numerous options when setting up your Google Ads account. While it is not a requirement to hire someone to set up your campaigns for you, it can definitely help you make good use of your advertising dollars.

About the author

Bob Lindquist is an expert consultant with extensive experience building web sites, databases and performing internet marketing work for his clients.  He has over 20 years of experience working with clients from a wide variety of industries along with a degree in Computer Science.  Bob is a professional member of the Association for Computing Machinery.

In his free time, Bob is a volunteer Firefighter / EMT and has served on the boards of several not-for-profit groups.

If you are interested in talking about a potential project, use the contact form on