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Peeling The Adwords Onion

It’ll make you cry unless you’ve boned up on its best practices

Who wouldn’t pay to have someone drawn into the vortex of their website? A simple text ad relating a message about a product or service for which they’re searching achieves such a result, a concept known as , PPC – pay-per-click advertising (aka: Adwords, within Google world).

Within Google’s search network, Adwords functions as an auction to have your ad placed above or beside the “organic” results. Organic involves SEO, those whose websites have abundant keywords, outside links, and loads of content.

Consider PPC checkbook SEO!

Everybody knows at least something about Google Adwords, the king of pay-per-click (PPC). Bing and Yahoo have similar programs, but Google claims to command about 2/3rds of the search market.

Proceed with Caution

Before trying Adwords on your own, and in order to avoid Adwords Express, the simplified, scaled-down version, there’s quite a bit to learn. You can get an idea of the system’s complexity by going to Adwords, signing up for an account, and then taking the free certification exam. Bet you don’t pass without a lot of study. A lot.

Adwords is an onion of many, many peels (and it can make you cry). When you think you’ve reached its core, you’ll be shocked at how many more layers exist. We’ll peel only a few here.

Basic Overview

Google operates two PPC networks. Those text ads that appear in response to your inquiry are part of Google’s Search Network. The Google Display Network consists of text, banner, animation or video ads allocated to websites within the Google alliance.

We’ll set aside the Display Network for now, but ultimately you face a decision: which of the two networks to utilize, or the best mix of the two (probably your best bet.)

Keyword Planner

Of the many tools Google provides its Adwords patrons, the keyword planner is the go-to workhorse. It’s accessed through an Adwords account (free to set up) and it will show you the number of monthly searches for the words or phrases you enter. From this, you can start to devise the keywords upon which you’d like to bid.

Keep in mind that keywords can be individual words or a collection of words in a phrase.

So, you’re a personal trainer in Boca Raton, Florida, looking for clients. Presumably, people in my neighborhood might log onto Google and search any or all of these:

  • Personal Trainer
  • Personal Training
  • Personal Trainer Boca Raton
  • Fitness Trainer/Training
  • Athletic Trainer/Training
  • Fitness Coach

There can be more; many more. But you want the one keyword that most closely aligns with your unique selling proposition. Let’s say you operate a studio location, and all your workouts are conducted in private.


‘….the bid amount is not the only element of quality score. Relevance and landing page quality are also considered..’
Google Adwords

“Private Personal Training” would set you apart from those working inside larger facilities. Or, maybe you provide “group personal training.” Get the idea?

Google’s Match Mania

Google classifies five match types, although most people consider them four with an over-riding “negative” keyword match that applies to all the others. ‘Negative’ keywords function as filters, eliminating the search words or phrases with which they are included. 

A negative keyword for your personal training business might be “certification,” because people who search for “personal training certification,” are looking for a course, not your service. By making “certification” a negative keyword, your ad won’t show in those results and expose you to possibly getting clicks of no value.

Match Classifications

The other match types are:

  • Broad Match – any combination of words that includes both “personal” and “trainer” in any order, or as part of a larger phrase, would include your ad to the auction.
  • Broad Match Qualifier – would let your ad appear when there is a common misspelling, or close variants to the word in your terms, as well as abbreviations or acronyms.
  • Phrase Match – the keywords “personal trainer” would place you into auctions where those two words appeared in that order, either by themselves or as part of a longer term.
  • Exact Match – your ad would be included only in auctions for a two-word search: “Personal Trainer.”


I’m sure people all over the country search for a nearby personal trainer. Perhaps they include a city name or zip code, but if not you could pay when someone in California clicks your ad – unless you’re using geographic targeting.

You can pinpoint location, either by specifying a radius, zip code, or select specified pre-determined neighborhoods. As best it can determine, Google will show your ad only to those in your selected area. You can also specify an income level by percentages (top 10 percent, etc.)


Your ad is included in an auction any time there’s an inquiry matching its keywords. Your bid amount is the maximum you’re willing to pay when someone clicks your ad. A higher bid elevates the chances of your ad being shown, and in which position on the page. But the bid amount is not the only element of quality score. Relevance and landing page quality are also considered, meshed with your bid amount.

When you get a click, you’re charged a penny more than the next highest bidder, even if this is well below your maximum bid.

This scratches the surface. You can also specify days of the week and times of the day for your ad to show. There are also numerous analysis techniques, bid strategies, ad-testing practices and much more.

Start peeling.

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