What is Google Ads and Paid Search?

Google Ads is a digital marketing platform that allows ad buyers to bid for space on websites. These advertisements can take different forms, including banners and text ads, videos, product listings, and paid search results. Google’s Paid Search offerings allow marketers to place ads at the top of search engine results pages (SERPs).

Rather than buying ad space, Paid Search users actually bid on keywords, and their ads display on SERPs for their target words or phrases, as long as no one else has a higher bid. Since Google has an 83% share of the search engine market, paid search results can potentially reach a worldwide audience.

How Did Google Ads and Paid Search Start?

Google began its AdWords program in 2000, and it quickly became a popular online marketing tool because it was accessible to small businesses without large ad budgets. Over the next two decades, the search engine company added more features, including shopping-based ads, keyword research tools, and the ability to display ads across multiple platforms, including mobile devices. Other important additions included the ability to target ads based on users’ locations.

AdWords did not become Google Ads until 2018. The service had already begun to change before it got its new title. The idea was that Google Ads better represented the current offerings of video and display ads as well as paid search.

SERP screenshot highlighting paid and organic areas


Google Ads and Paid Search are among the most popular digital marketing tools on the internet. Here is a look at the benefits that draw so many people.

  • Targeted ads. Google allows you to target specific users. Your ads will only be shown to people who use certain keywords when searching. You can also target users based on age, location, and language. Google even lets you choose the time of day and devices for your ads. All these settings limit the instances when your ad gets shown to people who may not be interested.
  • Cost controls. Google allows you to buy paid searches in small quantities when you have a limited budget. This helps small businesses with lesser marketing capital launch campaigns that can help them grow their business.
  • Analytics. Google offers analytics tools to help you assess your campaign and keyword choices and make adjustments to increase conversions.
  • User experience. Google Ads users can manage their campaigns from a central dashboard called the My Client Center. This can help simplify the process if you are just starting out.


There are some drawbacks to Google Ads.

  • Keyword mistakes. If you do not select the most effective keywords, you can quickly waste your advertising dollars without any results to show for it.
  • Multiple variables. There are many different parameters to consider, including location, time of day, and language. Each choice is a variable that can affect the overall performance of your ads. All these options can get confusing for novices.
  • Time and money. You can limit your spending with Google Ads, but you need a large enough sample to see if your strategies are effective. It will take more than a shoestring budget to determine whether your campaign will work.

A deeper understanding of Google Ads and Paid Search is essential to avoid the drawbacks and to take advantage of the positive attributes.

Learn More About Google Ads

At In Context SEO  we are currently creating a series of blog posts that will take a deeper dive into  how you can use powerful digital marketing tools such as Google Ads and Paid Search to your advantage. Sign up for our mailing list so that you do not miss these essential insights into the internet’s most powerful marketing systems.

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