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Google Ads Learning Roadmap [From Beginner to Advanced]

All of us digital marketers started wondering what we should learn first, what the essentials are that we should know and what are the best learning sources.

With that in mind, we’ve created this Google Ads learning roadmap.

However, we’ve also decided to add a few extra advanced strategies that you should learn later on.

If this seems like too much information at once, we’d recommend saving this post so you can return to it after completing each step.

Let’s get into it and learn Google Ads the right way!

Step #1: Understanding the Basics of Google Ads

What is Google Ads?

Google Ads is an online advertising platform where advertisers pay to display their ads on Google’s search results and its advertising network.

At its core, Google Ads is a titan in the online advertising world, a platform that lets you display ads to potential customers actively searching for what you offer.

Imagine standing in a crowded market with a megaphone, but instead of shouting aimlessly, your voice reaches only those interested in your offer.

That’s the magic of Google Ads – targeted, efficient, and incredibly potent.

The Language of Google Ads: Key Concepts

  • CPC (Cost-Per-Click): This is where economics meets marketing. Every time someone clicks on your ad, you pay a fee. Think of it as a toll gate on the digital highway; every vehicle (click) passing through costs you, but in return, leads them closer to your store.
  • CTR (Click-Through Rate): Picture this as a popularity contest. It’s the percentage of people who see your ad (impressions) and then actually click on it. High CTR? Congratulations, your ad is a head-turner!
  • Conversion Rate (CR): This key performance indicator captures the moment a spectator becomes a participant, similar to a magician turning an onlooker into a volunteer. It tracks the percentage of clicks that evolve into a predefined action, such as a purchase or a sign-up, marking the success of the ad in engaging the audience deeply.
  • CPA (Cost-Per-Acquisition): CPA tells you the expense of acquiring a new customer, akin to calculating the cost of each fish caught based on the total expenses of the fishing trip. It highlights the efficiency of your ad spend in turning interest into action, aiming for a lower CPA to signify higher marketing efficiency.
  • Quality Score: Google’s report card for your ad. This score reflects how relevant and useful your ad is to the user, based on your ad’s CTR, keyword relevance, and the quality of your landing page. A high score here can mean lower costs and better ad positioning.
  • Ad Rank: This determines your ad’s position on the search page, influenced not just by your bid but also your Quality Score and the search’s context. It’s like a leaderboard where the criteria include not just speed but style and efficiency, determining how visible your ad will be in the race for clicks.
  • Impression Share: This is the share of the audience your ad actually reaches, compared to the total it could potentially reach. Imagine a pie representing all possible views; impression share tells you how big your slice is, with a larger share indicating a broader reach within your target market.

Campaign Types: Choosing Your Battle

Google Ads offers various campaign types, each like a unique weapon in your arsenal. Let’s break them down:

  • Search Campaigns: These are the bread and butter of Google Ads, where your ads appear on Google Search results. It’s about catching users at the moment they’re searching for what you offer.
Search ad example
  • Display Campaigns: Think of these as billboards on the digital highway. These ads appear on websites within the Google Display Network, reaching users while they’re browsing online.
  • Video Campaigns: A picture is worth a thousand words, but a video? That’s a whole story. These campaigns let you use video content to reach and engage users on platforms like YouTube.

The Golden Rule: Relevance & Quality

Remember, at the heart of Google Ads lies the principle of relevance and quality. It’s not just about reaching people; it’s about reaching the right people with the right message.

Your ads should resonate with your audience, address their needs, and stand out in the ocean of online content.

Understanding these basics is like laying the foundation of a fortress. It’s the start of building your empire in the digital marketing world.

Equip yourself with this knowledge, and you’re ready to dive deeper into the world of Google Ads, where strategy, creativity, and analytics come together to create marketing magic.

Step #2: Setting Up Your Google Ads Account

It’s time to roll up your sleeves and dive into the nuts and bolts of setting up your Google Ads account.

Picture yourself as the captain setting the course. Here, every click is a step, and every setting is a compass guiding your journey.

Step 1: Creating Your Google Ads Account

  • Start at the Beginning: Navigate to the Google Ads website. It’s your gateway to the advertising world. Here, you’ll find the “Start now” button, your first step into this new adventure.
  • Google Account Sync: You’ll need a Google account. If you’ve ever used Gmail, YouTube, or even left a review on Google Maps, you’re halfway there.

Step 2: Navigating Through Initial Settings

  • The Business Basics: Enter your business name and website. This isn’t just formality; it’s about carving your identity in the Google Ads universe.
  • Goal Setting: Google will ask what you want to achieve. Is it website traffic, leads, or brand awareness? This is like choosing your mission. Choose wisely, as it will influence the course of your Google Ads journey.

Step 3: The Heart of Your Account – Campaign Setup

  • Campaign Selection: This is where you pick your campaign objective, you choose the one that fits your campaign goal.
Google Ads Campaign objective
  • Target Audience: Who are you speaking to? Define your audience by location, language, and other demographics. It’s like choosing the right party to accompany you on a quest – each member brings unique strengths.

Step 4: Financial Compass – Setting Budgets and Bids

  • Budgets: Your budget is your arsenal. It’s not just about how much you spend, but how wisely you use your resources. Google Ads offers flexibility – daily budgets that keep your spending in check.
  • Bids: Bidding in Google Ads is like a strategy game. You’re vying for ad placement, and your bid is your move. Start with automatic bidding to let Google’s AI assist you, or choose manual bidding for greater control.

Step 5: Account Navigation and Understanding the Interface

  • Dashboard Dive-In: The Google Ads dashboard is your command center. Spend time understanding its nooks and crannies. It’s filled with valuable insights, tools, and settings that control your advertising fate.
  • Tool Tabs: Explore tabs like ‘Campaigns’, ‘Ad Groups’, ‘Keywords’, and ‘Ads’. Each tab is a chapter in your story, filled with data, trends, and opportunities.

Step 6: Final Touches and Launch

  • Review Everything: Before you set sail, review your settings, budget, and campaign choices. This is your final checklist, ensuring that every detail aligns with your mission.
  • The Launch: With everything in place, it’s time to launch your campaign. Click that ‘Enable’ button and watch as your digital ship sets sail into the vast ocean of Google Ads.

Setting up your Google Ads account is a blend of science, art, and strategy. It requires an analytical mind, a creative spirit, and a strategic approach.

As you complete each step, remember that this is just the beginning.

The real adventure lies in optimizing, experimenting, and evolving your strategies as you navigate through the ever-changing waters of digital marketing.

Step #3: Building Your First Campaign

Launching your first Google Ads campaign is like setting sail on a maiden voyage. It’s thrilling, a bit daunting, but packed with potential.

Let’s steer through this process with precision, ensuring your first campaign is not just a leap, but a giant stride in the right direction.

Step 1: Choosing the Right Campaign Type

  • Know Your Goals: What’s your endgame? Brand awareness, website traffic, or conversions? Each goal aligns with a specific campaign type – Search, Display, or Video.
  • Match Campaign to Objective: For direct sales or leads, go with Search Campaigns. For broader brand awareness, Display or Video Campaigns are your allies. It’s like choosing the right gear for a hike – every terrain demands specific equipment.

Step 2: Conducting Keyword Research

  • Understanding Keywords: Keywords are the lighthouses guiding potential customers to your ads. They’re the phrases people use when searching for products or services like yours.
  • Tools of the Trade: Utilize tools like Google’s Keyword Planner. It’s like a digital divining rod, helping you discover the keywords your audience is using.
  • Balance is Key: Aim for a mix of broad and specific keywords. Broad keywords cast a wide net, while specific ones target niche segments.

✏️ Need help getting keyword ideas? Find out which keywords work best for your brand with our Google Ads AI Keyword Generation Tool.

Step 3: Crafting Effective Ad Copy

  • The Art of Persuasion: Your ad copy is your siren song. It must be compelling, clear, and irresistibly clickable.
  • Highlight Benefits: What’s in it for the user? Emphasize benefits over features. It’s not just a “waterproof watch”; it’s a “watch that empowers adventure in any weather.”
  • Call to Action: Be clear about what you want the user to do next – “Buy Now,” “Learn More,” “Get a Free Quote.” This is your hook, line, and sinker.

✏️ Need help creating effective ad copies? Check out our free AI Ad Copy Generator for Google Ads.

Step 4: Setting Bids and Budgets

  • Budgeting Wisely: Your budget is your fuel. How far do you want to go? Start small, test the waters, and adjust as you gather data.
  • Bidding Strategy: You can let Google automate this or take the reins with manual bidding. It’s a balancing act between visibility and cost-efficiency.

Step 5: Targeting and Scheduling

  • Who and Where: Define who sees your ads (demographics) and where they see them (geotargeting). It’s about being at the right place at the right time.
  • Timing is Everything: Use ad scheduling to show your ads on specific days and times. Like a well-timed joke, a well-timed ad can make a world of difference.

Step 6: Launching and Monitoring

  • Hit the Go Button: With everything in place, launch your campaign. It’s a leap of faith, but one backed by research and strategy.
  • Monitor and Tweak: The launch is just the beginning. Keep an eye on performance metrics. Be ready to adjust sails – bid adjustments, pausing underperforming keywords, refining ad copy.

Building your first Google Ads campaign is akin to constructing a bridge. Each step is a beam, pillar, or cable, supporting the structure that connects your brand to your audience.

It’s a process that demands patience, creativity, and a keen analytical eye. But once complete, this bridge can carry you to new heights of digital marketing success.

Step #4: Tracking and Optimizing Campaigns

Launching your Google Ads campaign is just the beginning.

Now, you’re the captain of a ship in the vast sea of data, where tracking and optimizing your campaigns is key to navigating towards success.

Let’s embark on this crucial part of the journey with a keen eye and a strategic mindset.

Step 1: The Art of Analytics in Google Ads

  • Data, the North Star: Understand that data in Google Ads is your guiding star. It illuminates your path, showing what’s working and what’s not.
  • Key Metrics Unveiled: Focus on metrics like Click-Through Rate (CTR), Conversion Rate, Cost Per Conversion, and Quality Score. These are the compass points that help you gauge the effectiveness of your campaigns.

Step 2: Diving Deep into Campaign Performance

  • Regular Check-Ins: Schedule regular audits of your campaign. It’s like a routine health check-up for your ads, ensuring they’re fit and performing well.
  • Performance Analysis: Use the data to understand user behavior. Are they clicking but not converting? Perhaps the landing page isn’t resonating. It’s about connecting the dots to see the bigger picture.

Step 3: The Optimization Odyssey

  • A/B Testing: Experiment with different elements of your ads, like headlines, descriptions, and call-to-actions. It’s like trying different baits to see what catches the best fish.
  • Keyword Refinement: Keep refining your keywords. Pause underperforming ones, try new variations, and constantly refine your targeting.

Step 4: Landing Page Alignment

  • Consistency is Key: Ensure your landing pages align with your ads. A disconnect here can be jarring for users and hurt your conversion rates.
  • Optimize for Conversion: Landing pages should be clear, engaging, and easy to navigate. They should encourage users to take the desired action, be it signing up, making a purchase, or downloading a resource.

Step 5: Utilizing Google Ads Tools for Enhanced Insights

  • Conversion Tracking: Set up conversion tracking to understand how well your ads lead to customer actions. It’s like having a spyglass that shows you the treasure at the end of the journey.
  • Google Analytics Integration: Integrate with Google Analytics for deeper insights. This gives you a panoramic view of how users interact with your website post-click.

Step 6: Iterative Improvements for Long-Term Success

  • Continuous Learning: Treat every data point as a learning opportunity. Digital marketing is not a set-and-forget endeavor; it’s an evolving landscape.
  • Adjust and Adapt: Be flexible. Market conditions change, user behaviors shift, and you must be ready to adapt your strategies accordingly.

Tracking and optimizing your Google Ads campaigns is a dynamic and ongoing process. It demands vigilance, curiosity, and a willingness to delve into the data.

Think of yourself as a digital detective, piecing together clues to solve the mystery of what makes your audience click, engage, and convert.

With each tweak and adjustment, you’re not just optimizing campaigns; you’re honing your skills as a savvy digital marketer.

Step #5: Advanced Strategies in Google Ads

Now that you’ve got the basics down and your campaigns are up and running, it’s time to elevate your game.

Advanced strategies in Google Ads are like the secret spices that transform a good dish into a culinary masterpiece.

Let’s explore these powerful techniques that can significantly enhance your campaign performance.

Utilizing Ad Assets (Previously Extensions)

  • Enhance Your Ads: Think of ad assets as the accessories that complement your main outfit. They add more information and can significantly improve your ad’s visibility and CTR.
    • Site Link Assets: Direct users to specific pages on your site, like a product page or a contact form.
    • Call Assets: Especially useful for mobile ads, allowing users to call your business directly.
    • Location Assets: Ideal for local businesses, showing your physical location and distance to the user.
Ad extension examples

Geo-targeting: The Art of Location-Based Advertising

  • Target by Geography: Geo-targeting allows you to show your ads in specific geographic locations. It’s like putting up billboards where you know your audience frequently walks by.
  • Localize Your Ads: Tailor your ad copy to resonate with the local audience. A local touch can significantly increase relevance and response rates.

Ad Scheduling: Timing is Everything

  • Choose Your Hours Wisely: Not all hours are equal. Use ad scheduling to show your ads at times when your audience is most active. It’s about being there at the right moment.
  • Dayparting Strategy: Analyze your data to understand which times of the day yield the best results, and adjust your ad schedule accordingly.
Ad Schedule Settings in Google Ads

Remarketing: Turning Browsers into Buyers

  • Follow Your Audience: Remarketing is like a friendly nudge to users who visited your site but didn’t convert. Show them tailored ads to bring them back.
  • Segment Your Audience: Create different remarketing lists for various sections of your audience based on their interaction with your site.

Quality Score Optimization: The Secret Ingredient

  • Improve Your Landing Pages: Ensure your landing pages are relevant, informative, and user-friendly. A higher quality score reduces your cost per click and improves ad placement.
  • Keyword Relevance: Keep refining your keywords to maintain high relevance to your ad copy and landing pages.

Exploring the Display Network and Video Ads

  • Beyond Search: The Google Display Network allows you to place ads on a variety of news sites, blogs, and other niches across the internet.
  • Leverage Video Ads: With the rise of video content, video ads on platforms like YouTube can be highly engaging and offer a great ROI.

Continuous Learning and Adaptation

  • Stay Informed: The digital advertising landscape is always evolving. Keep yourself updated with the latest trends and features in Google Ads.
  • Experiment and Innovate: Don’t be afraid to try new strategies. Test, learn, and adapt. The most successful campaigns are often the result of continuous experimentation and refinement.

Advanced strategies in Google Ads open up a new realm of possibilities. They require a blend of creativity, analytical thinking, and a deep understanding of your audience and objectives.

By implementing these tactics, you can transform your campaigns into highly efficient, conversion-driving machines.

Remember, the key to mastery in Google Ads is not just about learning; it’s about applying, experimenting, and constantly evolving your strategies.

Where to Learn Google Ads

Dive into the vast ocean of resources available for mastering Google Ads. Think of this as your digital library, where each book, each video, and each course adds a layer to your understanding and skills.

It’s a mix of free wisdom and worthy investments, all designed to sharpen your prowess in Google Ads.

Here are the free resources from which you can learn Google Ads:

Free Resources

  • Google’s Skillshop: The place to learn Google Ads. Google’s Skillshop offers comprehensive, free courses, taking you from a novice to a savvy marketer. It’s like learning from the creators themselves. Also, you can get certifications, which every Google Ads marketer should get.
  • YouTube Channels: Visual learners, rejoice! YouTube is a goldmine of tutorial videos, tips, and real-life campaign analyses. Channels like Google Ads, Isaac Rudansky, Paid Media Pros, and Solutions 8 offer free, high-quality content that’s both informative and engaging.
  • Blogs and Websites: Blogs like Google Ads blog, Google Ads developers blog, WordStream, and Search Engine Land are like ongoing lectures from industry leaders, keeping you updated with the latest trends and best practices.
  • LinkedIn: Digital marketing experts love to share their insights and LinkedIn might be the best social media to find those insights. Following people like Adriaan Dekker, Dylan Hey, and yours truly Michael Schroder will keep you in the loop on current Google Ads updates and best practices.
  • Online Forums and Communities: Platforms like Reddit’s r/PPC and the Google Ads Community offer a space to discuss strategies, share experiences, and seek advice from fellow marketers.
  • Podcasts and Webinars: Listen to industry experts share their insights and experiences. Podcasts like PPC Rockstars and Marketing O’Clock can be both informative and inspiring.

And here we have the paid learning resources:

Paid Resources

  • Online Courses and Webinars: Sometimes, it’s worth opening your wallet for deeper learning. Platforms like Udemy, Coursera, and LinkedIn Learning offer paid courses that range from beginner to advanced levels, often taught by seasoned professionals.
  • Books and eBooks: For those who prefer the written word, there’s a plethora of books out there such as You vs. Google Ads.

The Hybrid Path: Combining Free and Paid Resources

Remember, the best learning approach often involves a mix of free and paid resources. Use free materials for foundational knowledge and consider paid courses for specialized, in-depth learning. It’s like training for a marathon – start with regular runs (free resources) and consider a personal coach (paid courses) for advanced techniques.

And of course, don’t forget that practice makes perfect.

Continual Learning: The Key to Mastery

In the world of Google Ads, the only constant is change. Platforms evolve, algorithms update, and strategies pivot. Hence, continual learning isn’t just beneficial; it’s essential. Make it a habit to stay informed, experiment with new techniques, and always keep your knowledge fresh and relevant.

By leveraging these resources, you’re not just learning; you’re building a toolkit that will propel your Google Ads campaigns to new heights. Each resource is a stepping stone, each lesson a building block, leading you toward becoming a master in the art and science of Google Ads.


Congrats, you’ve reached the end of our Google Ads learning roadmap!

You should be familiar with basic and some advanced concepts of Google Ads.

Now, it is up to you to keep learning and stay up to date with the latest news and trends.

Also, there is no learning like actually getting some practice, so we’d encourage you to either start your own projects.

If you need help to start working as a freelancer, this guide will help you get started.

If you want to further your knowledge, check out our Google Ads metrics guide.

Michael Schroder

Michael Schroder

Michael Schroder is a Google Ads and SaaS marketing consultant. He has been managing $200k-$300k monthly ad spend and has worked with 200+ SaaS companies. The thing that makes him unique is his data-led approach and his focus on SaaS businesses.