Editor’s Note: As we are building our SkiftEDU service for marketers and SMBs in travel, we recently launched a new initiative: our new weekly series on digital marketing tips and tricks, SkiftEDU How-Tos. These How-Tos are a series of free in-depth weekly articles around various topics in digital marketing, such as this one below.

As a manager or owner of a business in the tourism industry, you are well aware that each dollar you invest in advertising must generate ROI in order to ensure your company’s growth. Although traditional advertising still applies to different market sectors, digital ads are often more cost-effective and the most efficient way to quickly reach your customers. Whether you operate a restaurant, bed and breakfast or any tourist attraction, you ought to consider online advertising.

When it comes to online marketing options, the first one that springs to mind is the ever-popular Google AdWords. In fact, one visit out of three on a website that is well-ranked on Google comes from sponsored links in search results. It’s therefore crucial to set up an advertising campaign on Google in order to capture consumers’ attention; after all, potential customers often perform searches on the products or services they are looking to acquire.

This article will help you setup your very first Google AdWords campaign. Step by step, you’ll learn the basics to configure your ads. Ready? Let’s do this!

1. It all starts with a plan

Before diving into the technical details, you need an overall plan. Here are different types of promotions you can carry out directly in Google AdWords.

Search engine ads

These are probably the most widely recognized and most effective ads with Google. Why? Simply because you are displaying your ads in front of potential customers that are actively searching for a product or service. In the vast majority of cases, this type of ad should be the foundation of your overall campaign. On average, Google manages 40,000 search requests per second around the world. It stands to reason you have to be there!


Banner ads

Thanks to its AdSense tool, Google has the widest online banner network. AdSense caters to website and app publishers. However, in order to feature ads on these sites, you need to use AdWords.


Video ads

Do you want to run an ad before someone views a YouTube video that is aligned with your target market? You can also set up video ads via Google.

2. Understanding the structure of your Adwords account

Before creating your first campaign, you need to understand how your AdWords account is structured. With an appropriate setup, your campaigns will be much more targeted. You won’t be faced with the problem of paying for ads that, well, don’t pay off! Here is an overview of an AdWords account:


Ad Campaign

This is the foundation of your entire advertising initiative. Here, you will control the scope of your online ads.

  • Daily budget
  • Targeted region
  • AdWords calendar
  • Networks to target (Google search, other websites, YouTube, etc.)

Ad group

Each campaign must include at least one ad group. However, a campaign can have dozens of ad groups. It is via your ad groups that you will associate your targets with your ads.


When setting up ads for search engines, targets are your keywords, which can make or break your campaign. With other campaigns, your targets will be specific websites, areas of interests or even demographic data.


These are the creatives. Text or graphical ads (.jpg, .png, animated .gifs or even an HTML5 script in less than 30 seconds).

3. Creating a keyword-based as campaign

In this example, we’ll create a keyword-based ad campaign. This type is widely used, especially when you have a limited budget.

When you create a campaign and your ad groups, always be explicit in the names you give them. In six months, nobody will remember what “Campaign 4” was about. “Fall 2016 promo campaign” is much more explicit and will be easier to trace.


I suggest to use, right from the start, the option “All Features” to gain access to every type of setting imaginable. When in doubt, just keep the default settings. With respect to networks, the partner network lets any website to use Google’s search engine and share a part of the revenues. If you have a limited budget, uncheck this option.

A word on geo-targeting. You can target cities, provinces (or states), and even an entire country. You can also target a specific zone, which is particularly useful for local businesses (for example, 50 km around your restaurant).

A bidding strategy can be very effective, depending on your website’s business model. For operations linked to the performance of your website, you need to establish conversion KPIs that can be truly measured, such as the number of online sales. If you have offline objectives, you can manage everything manually or let Google manage the process with its cost-per-click (CPC) optimization tool.


The default bid enables you to determine how much you are willing to pay for each click that will drive traffic to your website. What’s the best price? It can range from a few cents to tens of dollars; it all depends on the market sector, available margins and the level of competition. The budget itself limits what you will pay each day. Make sure you you’ve done your homework (and the math!) if you operate with a monthly budget.


The next step consists of creating the basis of your ad groups. You determine a different cost per click for each group; however, you can only change the daily budget on the campaign level. An ad group consists of three components:

  • Keywords: These focus on a specific theme (family vacations, family friendly hotels, vacation packages for a family, etc.)
  • Ads: You should aim for three ads per group. This way, you’ll be able to test different approaches and find out what works the best with your target audience.
  • Landing page: When visitors click on your ad, they have precise expectations. You only have a few seconds to show them you can meet their needs. That’s why each ad group should redirect visitors to a specific landing page, which corresponds exactly to what they are looking for.

Good job! You just created your first AdWords campaign! Want to push the envelope even further?

Adword extensions: Add more bang for your buck


In addition to basic ads, AdWords allows you to provide additional information to potential website visitors. With these extra details, you take over a more significant advertising space than your competitors.

Some of the most popular extensions are: Calls (telephone numbers), Locations (if your business is on Google Maps), Applications (if on Google Play or Apple Store) and Sitelinks (to highlight specific pages on your website).

Understanding AdWords with Google Analytics

Now that your AdWords campaign is up and running, potential customers will start clicking. However, what is the best way to measure your ads’ performance? Make sure you link your campaign with Google Analytics. You’ll be able to quickly pinpoint who has been on your website the longest, who buys and who leaves within a nanosecond. With these metrics, you’ll be able to identify high-performance keywords and ads. Note also that you can link different accounts in Google Analytics’ admin panel. Click here to learn how to link Analytics with AdWords

Now that you have linked your AdWords with Analytics, make sure you setup your dashboard in order to track relevant data for your business. Not sure how to do this? Read How To Set Up Your First Google Analytics Dashboard here on SkiftEDU.


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