Learn Marketing Techniques & Strategies From The Experts That Will Leave Your Competition In The Dust

By Ata Khan | July 16, 2019

It’s not just you….the cost of running Google Ads has made it impossible to use the platform. Just take a look at how much we pay for “web design” related keywords in our industry.


A snapshot of a Google Ads search query report.


No, you don’t need glasses, in some cases, we really are paying over $100 per click! I know, crazy right? Who in their right mind would pay that much for a single click (ONE CLICK)?


Apparently we do, and here’s why.


Take a look at that snapshot again. Look at some of our other KPIs. Our keywords are money keywords, our CTR averages at ~26%, our conversion rate is nearly 10%, and the most important metric of them all, our cost per conversion is only ~$255.


Our ASP is roughly $9K (with a high GPM) and considering we close nearly 2 out of 5 leads, running Google Ads (despite the high CPCs) is actually really profitable for us. We can keep paying upwards of $100 per click, and it’s sustainable.


So now the question becomes, how do you do the same?


In this Google Ads guide, I am going to show you exactly how. 


But First, I Need to Warn You


An old cement wall with a sign plastered on it that says "Danger".


This is not for the faint at heart. It takes guts to spend money like this, brains to act fast on the data, and perseverance to stick it out until the end.


This is an advanced marketing maneuver (wrought with risk). But when it works, it’s like finding a pile of gold.


You must follow this guide to the “T”. There are many complicated steps involved and not a single one is trivial. Treat each step like it’s the most important one. 


The entire system hangs in such a delicate balance that glazing any part of this guide could potentially destroy your results.


So take notes, bookmark this page, and keep coming back to it as you work through each action item (it’s all presented in chronological order).


Who This is For


This checklist will help you determine if this strategy is right for you. If you are in a high competition industry like we are, and you can say “no” to any of the following then do not implement this strategy:

  • Does your business run on a B2B model?
  • Is your ASP ~$9,000 or more?
  • Is your average GPM at least 30% or higher?
  • Is your sales team good at closing deals (i.e. are their close rates higher than 10%)?
  • Can you budget at least $10,000 per month on Google Ads (for at least 3 months)?


Now that you know if this is right for you, let’s get right to it! This article will cover the following

  • Google Analytics
  • Google Ads Goals
  • CRM
  • Sales and Marketing Alignment
  • Keyword Research
  • Landing Pages
  • Google Ads
  • Bidding to Win!
  • Maintenance
  • Touchpoints


Google Analytics


A magnifying glass looking at 1s and 0 denoting binary code.


The place to begin is setting up your Google Analytics infrastructure. You can’t run any marketing campaigns without this, let alone a competitive Google Ads campaign.


Google Analytics will help you track campaign performance and report on results. The insights will help you make key decisions on the direction of the campaign, and it will feed event data to Google Ads which will help train the AI (i.e. “Automated Bid Strategies”) to be better at finding high converting traffic for you.


Your GA system should be set up via Google Tag Manager. It should be synced with Google Ads and Search Console, have demographic data enabled, custom audience lists collecting data, and Goals fully set up. 


If you are having trouble setting all this up check out this article which covers everything you need to know to get the ball rolling. You’ll thank me later for this.


Once you have fully set up GA you can move on to the next step.


Google Ads Goals


A soccer ball being thrust into the back net of a goal.


Now even though you have Goals set up inside of GA, you still have to set them up in Google Ads. For the most part you will just be migrating the Google Analytics Goals into Google Ads.


Once inside your Google Ads account, click on “Tools” by hitting the wrench icon on the top right-hand side. When you see the lightbox navigation menu, look to the “Measurement” column and click on “Conversions”.


Snapshot of Goal setting features inside Google Ads


On the next page hit the blue round button (with the “+” sign at its center) near the top left of the page. This will send you to another page where you can create goals.


Start by first “Importing” goals. If you set up your goals in GA then all you have to do is click the “Import” button, choose the “Google Analytics” option from the menu, and then pick the goals you want to transfer over from the list.


Next, you want to set up Phone Call goals. Jump to the “Create Goals” page again except this time hit the “Phone Calls” box.


There are three types of phone call goals. Be sure to set up all three:

  1. Calls from ads using extensions or call-only ads.
  2. Calls to a number on your website.
  3. Clicks on your number on your mobile website.


The first type is the easiest to set up. Hit the “Phone Calls” box on the “Create Goals” page and choose the first option that says “Calls from ads using extensions or call-only ads” and hit continue.


On the next page fill in the necessary information. 

  1. Categorize the conversion as a “Lead”.
  2. Give it a relevant name.
  3. Apply a dollar value to it (we find our leads are worth on average about $500).
  4. Make sure the conversion is counted only once per click or interaction (otherwise your conversion count will be inflated).
  5. Set the call length to 90 seconds (to be sure that you are only counting quality conversations as conversions).
  6. Set the conversion window to 30 days (otherwise really old clicks will start taking credit for conversions).
  7. Choose “Yes” for “Include in ‘Conversions’” (this ensures that data accrued about each conversion is utilized by the Google AI whenever you have “Automated Bid Strategies” set up – very important!).
  8. Choose the “Last Click” attribution model (this ensures that the last click receives credit in the event of a conversion). GA by default runs on the “Last Click” model as well.


Hit “Create and Continue”. 


That’s it! The first type of phone call conversion has now been set up. As long as your phone call extensions are active (which I will show you how to do) you will be able to track calls made to phone numbers displayed on your Google Ads (i.e. the ad copies).


The remaining two types of phone call conversions will help you track calls made to phone numbers on your website.


Go ahead and repeat the phone call set up steps two more times for the remaining two call types. 


Snapshot of Google Ads account setting up phone call conversion tracking.


The difference this time around is that when you hit “Create and Continue” Google Ads will take you to yet another page in the setup process.


This is where you will have to deploy a script via GTM on your website. That script is what allows Google to track calls from phone numbers that are on your website. It’s an integral step.


This video by Measure School explains exactly how to set up that script.


Once the scripts are up and the goals are set in Google Ads, it may take up to 48 hours for them become visibly active (i.e. to change the status to “Verified”).


Customer Relationship Management


Animation with a bunch of human head silhouettes and 1's and 0s in the background denoting binary code.


Having a fully set up CRM system that is hooked to your website will significantly increase your chances of closing leads.


If you don’t have one yet, now may be the time to get that going.


Hubspot offers a free CRM suite. It is very robust and houses three objects by default; Contacts, Accounts, and Deals (i.e. Opportunities)


This blog post by Hubspot will guide you step by step through the CRM set up process. It’s easy and it’s quick!


Sales and Marketing Alignment


Ominous ancient stone monuments aligned with each other facing the sea.


Sometimes setting up a CRM isn’t enough. You also have to be sure that your sales and marketing teams are playing nice with each other.


In particular, your sales folks should be treating Google Ads leads like hot potatoes. They should follow up with them as soon as possible (preferably within 3 minutes), and they should make every attempt to qualify them and advance them to the next stages of your sales funnel.


Not all leads are created equal. And Google Ads leads are not the same as sales generated opportunities. They require more attention and they are more difficult to close (because typically the lead is not as familiar with your brand).


So having a well-oiled sales machine will increase your chances of converting leads to won deals.


The problem is that many businesses are still getting this piece wrong. If you are looking for more detail on aligning your sales and marketing teams then check out this article.


Keyword Research


Stack of small wooden blocks with letters on them spelling the word "Keyword"


Keyword research is an integral part of running a successful Google Ads campaign.


To get started with this step, hit that wrench icon again on top right hand side of your Google Ads account page. Next, click on the “Keyword Planner” link under the first column all the way to the left.


On the following page you will be presented with two options, click the one on the left that says “Discover New Keywords”.


Start by inputting a single seed keyword that you think describes your services best (something that the majority of your prospects search for).


As an example, for Xoobo, that keyword is “web design”. The tool then spits out hundreds of permutations and variations of that keyword.


Snapshot of Google Ads account displaying the results of a keyword search query.


Hit the “Download Keyword Ideas” link on the top right hand corner and export as a .csv file. Save that file on your computer.


Repeat the process for two more seed keywords. Again, as an example, let’s use “web development” and “website design agency”. Save the files.


Now, I know you can just input all three keywords at the same time in the keyword planner, but doing it this way yields more results.


Take your three excel files and copy all rows and columns from the latter two and paste them under the rows of the first one. 


Then deduplicate the rows by hitting the “Data” tab at the top and then hitting the “Remove Duplicates” button just under it.  When the little box pops up, hit “Unselect All” and then check the box next to “Column A”.


This ensures that if there are any duplicate keywords, excel will remove them.


Next, hit the “Insert” tab at the top and then click on “Table” and check the box that says “My Data Has Headers”.


Now you have a nice chart with filters. Go ahead and hit the filter button on column D and checkboxes next to all values greater than 100. This will ensure that the low volume keywords are filtered out.


Snapshot of an excel file containing a list of export keywords.


Sort column A alphabetically, and start going through the list. Your focus should be finding keywords with the highest commercial intent (ignore all other metrics like CPCs, competition, search volumes, etc).


Pick as many keywords as you can (but maintain a high standard, only go for the keywords you know are money makers).


Again, using the “web design” example; the following keywords are a few examples of winners for us:

  • website design services
  • website development services
  • website design agency
  • website design firm
  • custom web design services
  • eCommerce web design company


Once you have filtered down your list to just the winners save the file. This will be your target keyword list.


Landing Pages


Snapshot of conversion optimized landing page for Xoobo.


The image above is a snapshot of the above-the-fold content of a landing page we built. One out of 8 people that viewed this page filled out our contact form.


A high converting landing page is an integral piece of the puzzle! 


While organic pages of your website serve many goals, the sole purpose of a landing page is to convert users into leads. This is why it’s so important to build custom landing pages tailored for your Google Ads campaign.


Landing pages can be a pain to set up. If you require development flexibility, low startup costs, brilliant designs, and easy to run experiments, then I suggest you use a landing page builder like Unbounce.


With Unbounce you can create landing pages on the fly. Choose from 100+ beautifully crafted themes and then edit them using the intuitive Unbounce WYSIWYG editor. 


Once you have your Unbounce account set up, it’s time to start building the landing page.


I find that this guide by Conversion XL really does a great job of explaining how to build a conversion-optimized landing page. It covers everything you need to know.


Be sure to build two or three completely different landing pages and then run them side by side as an experiment on the Unbounce platform.


You can set it up in such a way that a single URL will serve up all landing page versions. You can tweak the percentage share and manage the split right from within the interface.



Use dynamic keyword insertion (or DKI) to increase the performance of your landing pages.


DKI is a feature by Google which allows you to insert a user’s search query straight into your landing page content.


Google appends the search query to the destination URL as a string and then the Unbounce page’s code will capture the string and insert it into designated areas of the content.


You can replace headlines, CTA button text, in body content, meta titles, meta descriptions, etc with search queries.


By inputting DKI where it flows 100% naturally with the surrounding content, your landing page will appear to be more relevant to the end user which will increase conversions (but will also increase quality scores).


Read this guide by Unbounce to get started with DKIs for your landing page.


Google Ads


Snapshot of Google Ads Homepage


It’s time to set up your Google Ads account, go ahead and log in (or create your account if you have not already done so).


Keeping an organized account structure is very important. Use keywords to define how everything is set up.


Campaigns should segment your account by keyword theme (for example “web design” vs “web development”) and campaign settings (such as bid types, campaign types, geo-targeting, etc).


Within a campaign you will have ad groups. Ad groups should further segment the campaign by keyword variations.


For example, we start with a campaign dedicated to the keyword theme “web design”. Within it we set up an ad group containing similar keywords like “web design service”, “web design services”, “custom web design services”, etc, and another for keywords like “web design agency”, “web design firm”, “web design company”, etc.


Ad copies are located within ad groups, and will fire only for keywords nested within the given ad group. This is why the account structure is so important (so that you can be sure that the correct ad will fire for the correct keyword). The ad relevancy this creates will increase CTRs. 


So keep all this in mind and have your target keyword list ready as in the next steps we are going to set up the individual components of your Google Ads campaigns.


Setting Up The First Campaign


Let’s start with setting up your first campaign. Using your keyword list choose a group of similar keywords. The keyword theme should be the name the campaign. As an example, let’s create a campaign called “Web Design”.


In your account, click on the “All Campaigns” link on the leftmost sidebar and then click on “Campaigns” on the sidebar just to the right of it. Then hit that circular blue button with the “+” symbol on it and click on the “New Campaign” link. This will take you to the new campaign page.


Next, from the boxed options choose “Leads”, then choose “Search” below that, then check the box that says “Website Visits”, input your root domain in the field below that, and hit “Continue”.


Snapshot of Google Ads Campaign creation section of the platform.


On the next page name your campaign and edit the settings:

  • Uncheck boxes for “Search Partners” and “Display Network”.
  • Ignore the “Show More Settings” dropdown.
  • Set your location and language.
  • Ignore the “Audiences” section (since we’re focused on keyword search targeting).
  • Set your daily budget to a minimum of $100 per day (per campaign).
  • Under “Bidding”, select “Or, select a bid strategy directly (not recommended)”. Ignore Google on this one, it is highly recommended.
  • From the dropdown choose “Manual CPC” and then place a check mark on the box that says “Help Increase Conversions with Enhanced CPC”. This will give you control over your bids, but at the same time will allow the Google AI to periodically override your bids in order to target users more likely to convert. 
  • Below the “Bidding” section click on the “Show More Settings” link. Under “Conversions” choose your conversion actions specifically (i.e. phone calls, form fills, etc).
  • Leave “Ad Schedule” as “All Day”.
  • For “Ad Rotation” choose “Optimize: Prefer best performing ads”.


Ad Extensions


Now jump down to “Ad Extensions”. Ad extensions are additional chunks displayed next to your ad copies on the search results pages. This means greater web estate on those pages which yields higher CTRs.


You should create as many extensions as possible (as long as they are applicable to your business).


For Xoobo, we created Sitelinks, Callouts, Locations, and Call extensions:

  • Sitelinks – are additional anchored links that accompany your ad copy. These provide a secondary opportunity for clicks. Point your sitelinks to key pages on your main website (i.e. a service/product page, about page, contact Page, homepage, etc). If applicable, you could point sitelinks to additional dedicated landing pages which will help increase conversions.
  • Call – this extension displays a phone number that a user can click on to call your business.
  • Location – this provides your business address.
  • Callouts – these extensions work by providing additional information about your service/business via short text copy. You only get 25 characters, so use it wisely to describe your service/product. For example, for Xoobo, our callouts say things like “Mobile-Friendly”, or “Conversion Optimized”, or “Search Engine Optimized” in conjunction with our web design services.

Go ahead and create as many extensions as possible and then choose the right ones for this specific campaign. Then hit “Save and Continue”.


Ad Groups


Next, we create the ad groups nested under this campaign. We already have the keyword theme, now we have to segment by similar keywords. 


Recall that in our example we used “web design” at the campaign level. Now, at the ad group level we can break that keyword theme down further. One example is an ad group containing “agency” related keywords.

  • web design agency
  • web design company
  • web design firm


Do the same thing by pulling the keywords from your keyword research file.


Start by inputting those target keywords and set your default bid as the average value you see in column H of your keyword research excel file (only for the specific keywords).


You’ll want to bid hyper aggressively to ensure you get the top spot on the search results pages (more on this coming up). But for now, inputting averages at the ad group level is fine.


*Only utilize exact match keywords by surrounding each keyword with brackets like [this]. Do not use any other keyword types. This will ensure that your ad copies are displayed only for the highest value searches.


Set the ad group’s daily budget according to the campaign budget. For example, if you plan on having two ad groups, then divide the campaign daily budget by two, if it’s four ad groups then divide by four, and so forth.


We typically run two ad groups in a campaign, so that would place our ad group budget at $50.


 Hit “Save and Continue” and move on to the next section.


Ad Copies

When creating ad copies, always ask yourself “will this create a streamlined experience for my end-users; from search query, to ad copy, to landing page, to conversion?” In other words, it all needs to flow and feel relevant.


Your ad copies needs to be eye catching, concise, and stand out from the crowd. They should quickly tell the end user what you offer and how you can solve their problem.


In order to finish the campaign setup process, you have to create at least 1 ad copy (although I strongly suggest creating 3 unique copies and testing them).


Start by inputting the full destination URL (complete with “https”). This will be your Unbounce landing page. 


Google offers 3 headline slots. We rarely use the third slot since it gets cut off if you max the character limits for the first two slots.


The headline is generally where an end user’s eyes will go first; make it count!


Here are some examples of headlines that have worked well for us in the past:

  • Our Websites Offer | A Flawless User Experience
  • World Class Web Design | At Your Fingertips
  • Showcase Your Online Brand | With A New Website


As an aside, you can also input DKI into the ad copy headline. With Google Ads it’s pretty easy, just follow this format {KeyWord:Web Design Agency}. This will automatically input the user’s search query in title case into the headline. If the search query is too long it will default to “Web Design Agency”.


Once you have your headline work on the display path. Unless your root domain mentions your service, I suggest inputting your service in path 1. For Xoobo, this made our URL look like the following: “www.xoobo.com/web-design/”


Next, you get 90 characters for the description field. This is where you tell the end user what you offer and how you can solve their problem.


Here are some examples:

  • Discover How a Partnership With Xoobo Can Take Your Business to the Next Level
  • Beautiful Websites That Drive Traffic, Convert Visitors, And Generate Results.
  • We Believe A Business Should Be Proud Of Their Online Brand, Not Ashamed Of It.


Notice that it’s all the title case!


Again, we usually leave the second description line blank since it gets cut off depending on how you are using the first description line.


Ignore the “Ad URL Options” and hit the “Done” button below.


Create two more ad copies (repeating the above steps). Then hit the “Save and Continue” link.


On the next page hit “Continue to Campaign”.


That’s it!  You have just created your first hyper targeted, super competitive Google Ads campaign. Now repeat the process and create more campaigns for your other keyword themes.



Use your ad copy headline on the landing page header for additional relevancy. This helps users feel comfortable knowing that after they clicked they came to the right place. Unbounce can create multiple copies of landing pages on the fly so it’s easy to point each ad copy to a dedicated landing page copy.


Bidding to Win!


Line up of runners ready to start the race.


The key to success with this strategy is outbidding everyone. You must be number 1 at all times and at all costs!


To do this click on the “All Campaigns” link on the far top left hand corner on your account page. Then click on the “Keywords” link on the navigation column to the left. Once on the keywords page you will be able to see a list of all keywords across all campaigns.


Click on the “Columns” link above the keyword list and click “Modify Columns”. On the next page click on the “Attributes” dropdown and then be sure to check the box that says “Est. First Position Bid”. Then hit the “Apply” button.


Google Ads snapshot of keyword report with column modification.


You will now see a new column on the keywords page called “Est. First Position Bid” which will tell you exactly how high you have to bid in order get to the top spot for a given keyword.


Now update your max bids to match the values from this new column for each keyword. Doing so will rank your ads on the top position for your keywords.




A bunch of construction tools laid out on a wooden table.


View your stats every day and constantly adjust your bids to stay in the number one position. Pause ad copies that have lower CTRs and keywords that aren’t driving conversions.


Focus on deep funnel metrics. Sometimes a keyword may be generating leads but they don’t go anywhere. At other times you may have a keyword that generates only a few leads but they result in won deals.


More Touchpoints


Image of a hand touching smooth teal colored water.


These days it takes a lot to convert Google Ads visitors into leads and won deals. These users require many touchpoints for them to believe in your brand. Take a look at this case study by BrightFunnel.


BrightFunnel concluded that it takes significantly more touchpoints each year to hit the same KPIs….scary, right?


We view this barrier to entry as an opportunity!


To tip the scales in your direction and build credibility you will have to increase brand touchpoints.


Set up a retargeting campaign using Google Ads and run it in tandem with your Google Ads campaign. Target the Custom Audience lists that you have built in GA with banners. This will help you stay in front of your users even if they bounced off your landing pages.


Additionally, be sure that your website is optimized for SEO and that you are running a strong content strategy. This will ensure that you are constantly getting in front of your target demographic and at the same time your site achieves organic rankings for the exact same keywords you are targeting via Google Ads.


If you are unsure as to where your site stands in terms of on-page SEO just take a look at this comprehensive checklist and make sure you are doing everything mentioned there.


Summing It Up


Now you have the secret recipe to profitably run a Google Ads campaign in even the craziest expensive niches! The benefits are vast as you can continue to scale and tap into this new source of business.

  • Make sure your business meets the eligibility requirements to run a Google Ads campaign.
  • Set up Google Analytics, Google Ads goals, and your CRM.
  • Train your sales team.
  • Do keyword research.
  • Build the landing pages.
  • Set up your Google Ads campaigns, ad groups, and ad copies (with extensions).
  • Bid high on keywords.
  • Monitor the ongoing campaign.
  • Introduce new touchpoints (i.e. retargeting, on-page SEO, content marketing). 


Do you have any Google Ads strategies that you would like to share? Let us know in the comments section below.


Ata Khan

Ata Khan

Ata is Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer at Xoobo, a digital marketing agency that is on the bleeding edge of the industry. After leading in-house marketing teams at various organizations, Ata quickly realized the space was underserved and felt that someone needed to step in to bring clarity to the field and provide services that truly made a positive impact on businesses. Ata calls on more than 11 years of marketing experience to guide Xoobo on its journey across the industry. Most recently, he led marketing operations at billion dollar tech titan, Ellucian, where he built their marketing analytics infrastructure and generated over $30 million in pipeline bookings via marketing campaigns and various efforts. Before that he directed the SEO strategy for one of the nation’s largest home builder, Ryan Homes, where he was responsible for a ~25% year over year growth of search engine traffic.

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