How Does Google Ads Work? Learn the Basics

If you have an online business, it’s a given that you should do advertising. Otherwise, how will you put your product or service out there and in front of your target audience? Advertising is one aspect of online business that you can’t afford to ignore.

If you’re considering to spend any amount of dollars on a marketing strategy to reach your target customers, better make sure that you spend it in the right place. In my world, my idea of the right place is somewhere with 3.5 billion daily searches and 246 million unique visitors.

If you’re thinking of Google Ads, then you’re right on the money!

Many of our clients want to dive right into Google’s paid search network but they’re often not sure how the platform works. If you want to learn how Google Ads work, then you’ve come to the right place.

For this article, we’re going to talk about Google Ads, how it works, and some quick tips to help you succeed.

What are Google Ads?

If you’ve been using the internet for a while, you’ll have heard of Google Adwords. In 2018, Google rebranded its ad lineup and it became Google Ads.

This pay-per-click (PPC) online advertising platform allows advertisers to display their ads on Google’s search engine network. Like its namesake, PPC is a marketing channel where you (the advertiser) pays for ad click or impression.

Google Ads is widely considered a very effective advertising network because it drives good-fit customers that are qualified. This means that your ads are displayed to users who are searching for products and services like the ones that you offer. With the help of Google Ads, you can generate more site traffic, leads, receive more phone calls, and receive more in-store visits. This is good because 72% of customers who searched locally have visited a physical store within a 5-mile radius.

Google Ads can work for all types of businesses, whether big or small. However, the barrier of entry for Google Ads is that it can be a difficult platform to master. To get the most out of your Google Ads campaign, you need to know how it works.

Now, let’s start with Google Ads’ two different networks.

Where are Google Ads Displayed?

Google Ads is currently divided into two different networks, each offers different options to cater to a wide range of advertising needs.

  • Google Search Network
  • Google Display Network

Knowing the difference between the two networks and which network to utilize for your advertising is part of your uphill battle for ad space domination. Let’s first define each network.

Search Network VS. Display Network 101

When you think about Google Ads, you’re probably thinking of paid search ads that appear on the Google search engine results page (SERP). As you might expect, those are ads on the Google Search Network. Makes sense, right?

The Search Network is more popular between the two networks, and it also happens to be the most popular PPC channel on the web. The Search Network works because it gives advertisers the ability to engage audiences at the exact time when they are actively searching for your product or service.


You can say that the Google Search Network is like the new Yellow Pages because now prospects use search engines when they have the intent to purchase. Potential customers flip through their digital Yellow Pages using keywords. They have the intention of finding a product or service, which gives businesses a targeted avenue to reach their target audience.

On the other hand, the Google Display Network doesn’t have anything to do with Google Search.

Display Network ads appear on websites that are partnered with Google–sites that are looking to make money via the Google AdSense program. Any website can enroll with AdSense and display ads on their webpages. Then advertisers can utilize the Display Network to market to visitors to those webpages. As of this writing, there are over 11.1 million websites that use AdSense. This should give you an idea of just how massive the Display Network in terms of size and reach.

The main difference between the two is that the Display Network shows ads to people who aren’t actively searching, while the Search Network is for people who are actively searching for information.

In a sense, Display Networks ads are interrupting people as they browse Google-partnered websites. This makes the Display Network a good channel for increasing brand awareness. For instance, if you’re a new business and people don’t know you exist, how can they search for you? The Display Network allows you to display ads where your target audience spends time online.

Where Your Ads Will Appear

Google Search Network

  • The primary channel where your ads will appear is the main Google Search interface. These paid ads may appear at the top or bottom of the search results. Of course, as an advertiser, you want to be in the top 4 positions for your targeted keywords because these positions are immediately visible to the user.
  • In addition to the Google SERPs, your ad may also appear on Google’s other websites such as Images, Maps, and Shopping. These websites also have search facilities that are powered by Google.
  • In your ad settings, you have the option to include “search partners.” With this setting enabled, your ads will have expanded reach and may also appear in other search engines such as AOL,, and many other alternative search engines partnered with Google.

PPC ads on the Google Search Network are activated whenever a prospect performs a search on Google using a particular set of keywords. As mentioned, the paid ads will appear on top (or bottom) of the search engine results page along with the organic results.

Google Display Network

As previously pointed out, Google Display Network has nothing to do with Google Search. Instead, your ads may appear on more than 2 million Google partner websites.

  • This collection of websites includes specific Google websites such as Google Finance, YouTube, Gmail, and Blogger.
  • Other than websites, the Display Network also includes mobile sites and apps.

While Google Search Network ads are excellent for reaching audiences who are far into the buying journey, they are exclusively text-based so they don’t exactly stand out. On the flip side, Google Display allows advertisers to be more creative with their ads, extend their reach to new customers, and increase brand awareness.

“With our core role in transforming a business’s digital presence – we are in the unique position to reinvent their brand for a more digitally focused world through design, content and interaction. The new signifiers of a modern digital brand – are user interface, integrated branded content and interaction.”

Mac-Jordan Degadjor – CEO & Co-Founder

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