5 Best Practices to Help You Get Started with Google Ads

This past October, Google Ads celebrated its 20th year of existence. Google’s stunning transformation from a garage start-up in 1998 to a company with a market capitalization of $1 trillion+ (yes, trillion with a t) in 2020 can largely be attributed to the ubiquity of Google Search and its advertising platform, Google Ads.

Using Google Ads to grow your insurance agency is a proven strategy. However, not many have mastered this marketing tactic because it requires time and attention.

Jerry Nicklow, the marketing director at Huff Insurance, generates up to 30% of his agency’s revenue using paid search. Jerry’s paid search game is so advanced he can simply dial it up at will to generate leads and new business or dial it down when the leads flow is too hot to handle. A good problem to have.

When you’re done with this article, head over to YouTube and watch my interview with Jerry, and two other agents, on how Jerry is using Google Ads. He discusses budget, the time it took to master Google Ads, his strategy and a lot more.

Most agents I speak with are at the beginning of their paid search journey and still deciding if it’s right for their agency. With that in mind, let’s look at the basics of the Google Ads platform and five best practices for when you’re ready to get started:

Where do Google Ads appear?

Google Ads can display in two places — the Google Search Network and the Google Display Network. Here’s a look at each of these:

Google Search Network
Within the Google Search Network, your ads can display on Google Search Sites results and/or on Google Search Partners sites. Here’s a breakdown of each:

• Google Search Sites: your ad can show above or below search results on Google Search, they can appear beside, above, or below search results on Google Play, Google Shopping, Google Images, and Google Maps – including the Maps app.

• Google Search Partners: Google search partners extend the reach of Google Search ads to hundreds of non-Google websites, as well as YouTube.com and other Google sites. Examples include Blogger, Amazon, New York Times, W3Schools, and more.

Google Display Network
Using the Google Display Network can extend the reach of your ads to people while they’re browsing their favorite websites, watching YouTube videos, checking Gmail, or using mobile devices and apps. The Google Display network can show ads on top of a YouTube video, Blogger, Google Finance, AdSense publisher network, DoubleClick publisher network and more.

The Google Display Network can also show ads in more appealing formats than just text. For example, responsive display ads, image ads, Gmail ads and more.

How does Google determine ad placement?

Google uses Ad Rank to determine the positioning of ads.

Ad Rank is a simple calculation between two metrics: max bid and quality score.

• Max bid: A bid that you set to determine the highest amount that you’re willing to pay for a click on your ad. If you set your max bid at $10, all your clicks will each cost $10 or less.

• Quality score: Quality score is a value assigned to your ads, and it’s intended to give you a general sense of the quality of your ads. The 1-10 quality score reported for each keyword in your account is an estimate of the quality of your ads and the landing pages you’re driving clicks to. Three factors determine your quality score are expected clickthrough rate, ad relevance, and landing page experience.

Choosing keywords

Keywords are words or phrases that match people’s search queries with your ad. Select relevant, high-quality keywords. The more relevant the keywords, the better the chances are your ad will display higher and cost less.

If you’re not sure how to figure out what keywords to bid on, use Google’s free Keyword Planner Tool. The Keyword Planner Tool taps into Google data to help you find the best keywords to bid on. Search for words or phrases related to your products or services and the keyword research tool will help you find the keywords that are most relevant for your business.

Keyword match types

Google Ads gives you three match type options when you’re choosing the keywords you want your ads to appear for. They are:


When setting up the keywords for your ad, the keyword match type can help you serve up ads to the most relevant audience. If you’re just getting started with Google Ads, try using exact match. It’s a more conservative starting point and you can slowly transition to phrase match and broad match when you’re more seasoned.

Negative keywords

Negative keywords are critical. A negative keyword prevents your ad from displaying to uninterested or irrelevant audiences. For example, suppose you want to create a Google Ad for the keyword auto insurance, but you don’t want to appear for “SR22 auto insurance.” You can set “SR22 auto insurance” as a negative keyword so you won’t appear for that search.

I hope these five best practices are helpful as you get started on your Google Ads journey.

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