Knowing the fundamentals of AdWords is really important, even if you’re not managing campaigns on a day-to-day basis. This might sound strange at first, but understanding the basics can put you in a powerful position.
If you’re working towards managing your own campaigns (or campaigns for clients), then, yeah, it’s super important, but it’s also important if you’re working alongside people who are actively managing campaigns.
Well, you’ll actually be talking the same language and you’ll be able to jump in with ideas and suggestions that won’t be met by blank looks.
Being fluent in AdWords offers some really great benefits!
I’m going to take you through my top picks for learning (and staying up-to-date) with AdWords.
Now before we jump in, I want to add that the majority of my recommendations are actually directly from Google. This is my disclaimer…
Google knows their product like nobody else (you’d hope so right), but they also have a bit of bias (which is totally okay, I mean it is an amazing advertising platform). This means that every feature and option can come across as sounding brilliant, but when you actually use some of these features they may not work for you in the same way. This is totally fine and to be expected.
I’ve found over the years that some things work really, really well for some people and others just don’t. So when you learn about something that really excites you and sounds like it’s going to get amazing results – definitely be excited and definitely try it out, but don’t put all of your budget behind something that you haven’t tested. Starting with a small trial budget to see if something works for you can provide really valuable insights.
Okay, so here are my top AdWords learning resources...
#1 Free guides
Google has a whole series of guides covering their recommended best practices. The guides cover everything from understanding Quality Score through to understanding attribution and using the different advertising formats. The guides can be a little text-heavy, but they’re a great way to quickly cover important areas of improving your campaigns.
If you’re just getting started with AdWords, then you might want to try Google’s guide to help you get started. It covers basic topics, including an introduction to online advertising. This can be helpful, especially if you’re not wanting to jump in at the deep end!
#2 Free courses
My first suggestion isn’t really a course, but it does provide bite-sized training – it’s Google’s best practice video series on YouTube. Each video covers a different topic, generally in under 3 minutes and they are broken into categories, so you can quickly find the lessons most relevant to you.
I’d also encourage you to become a member of Google Partners. It is actually designed for agencies and people managing AdWords accounts on behalf of others, but I have seen lots of other people join that aren’t really doing this. Once you’ve joined you’ll have access to a whole range of learning material and Google regularly hosts online and in-person courses. (I’ve presented courses for Google across Australia and New Zealand myself and I know from first hand experience people get a lot out of these sessions.)
#3 Paid courses
If you’re looking for a structured learning experience that focuses on the most important aspects of managing AdWords accounts, then you should consider taking my Google AdWords Fundamentals course. It covers everything you need to know to get started.
#4 Creating a demo account
When I’m training people on how to use AdWords, I always, always have a demo account available. It means I can quickly bring up a tool or create a mock campaign without having to worry about any live campaigns. (It’s also super useful when I’m managing campaigns too – being able to quickly check something means I’m not messing anything up in a live account.)
When you’re ready you can head to Google AdWords and sign up for a new account.
Unfortunately Google requires you to enter in your credit card details in order to create an account, so you’ll need to remember this if you’re going to create a demo account. I suggest that you set a daily budget of $1 when you create your first campaign and once you’ve verified your AdWords account you quickly pause this campaign so that you’re not charged.
You might also want to consider the next option...
#5 Using an account to experiment
Having a live AdWords account where you can testing things out, explore and play can be an amazing learning tool. I do this myself when I don’t have hands on experience with an advertising platform. For example, I recently created my own personal Facebook Ad account and plugged in $50 so I could have a play with some advertising features that I hadn’t had a chance to explore yet.
Googlers create 'dollar a day' accounts to give them access to a live AdWords account with an extremely small daily budget (hence the name). It lets people get their hands dirty. If you can afford it I'd encourage you to do the same. Even a small one-off campaign where you test something out can provide you with valuable new skills.
The first book I ever read on AdWords was AdWords for Dummies. It covered the basics really well and it helped propel me into understanding the important features and the basics of managing accounts. It’s been more than a few years since I read the book, so I’m guessing it doesn’t cover the latest features or newest interface, but I’d still recommend it in terms of understanding the most important AdWords concepts.
Another book that I read when I was getting started was Advanced Google AdWords. It went beyond the basics and talks about the testing your ads (super, super important).
And my book, Learning Google AdWords and Google Analytics which outlines the most important AdWords features and also shows you how to use your analytics data to improve and inform your advertising campaigns.
Google’s official AdWords blog covers a range of topics, but the main reason I recommend Google’s blog is to say up-to-date on all the latest features. It seems like every week there is a new feature coming out that gives you even more control of your advertising. So you’ll want to bookmark this one or add it to your favorite RSS reader.
There are also a whole lot of great blogs covering all the latest AdWords developments. I can’t say I visit any of these daily, but I do find myself browsing through posts when I’m looking for something in particular. My top pick is Search Engine Land.
There are some amazing free and paid resources if you’re just getting started with AdWords or if you’re looking to refine your existing skills. I’d recommend trying a mix of resources and then go with the ones that work for you. I really love having a combination of printed resources and online – it works for me and helps keep the right material at my fingertips when I need it most.