Google AdWords

If you are just getting started with online advertising, you may be wondering how much it really costs to advertise on Google. The first step is to understand your options. As an advertiser, decide which platform makes the most sense for you, your business, and your ad budget. For many companies pay-per-click advertising, aka PPC, is a great choice for marketing their business. For other companies Google AdWords may not be the best fit. What degree of investment is needed also depends on your market share, the level of competition in your industry, and your companies growth goals.

AdWords in a Nutshell

AdWords is Google’s main advertising platform for businesses and accounts for roughly 89% of Google’s total revenue. AdWords and related ad products generate nearly $60 Billion each year for the company. That’s a lot of moolah! It’s safe to say their ads are being used widely by advertisers, otherwise Google wouldn’t be growing ad revenue at such a pace.

Little Blue Links

Perhaps you have seen the blue links with the “Ad” icon? Google at one time used a yellow post-it note background for its ads, now it just puts “sponsored results” or “ads” next to the results. You may be asking yourself, “well, can’t people just see that its an ad and skip over it?”. Past studies have shown that in some cases, Google searchers don’t know the difference between paid and organic search results.

DIY AdWords

A majority of new advertisers start with a basic keyword campaign in AdWords with a modest budget of $25-50 per day. They pick a few dozen keywords using Google Keyword Planner and create one or two basic ads. After a few hours or so, they have an ad up and running on Google.

“…they are just buying a lot of unwanted clicks in order to get a handful of good leads”

The problem with this approach is there is very little strategy or targeting used. Most advertisers new to AdWords are not familiar with the powerful features of the platform to decrease their cost-per-lead. Most just see a lot of clicks coming from Google and think “Great! I’m on the road to riches”. In reality, they are just buying a lot of unwanted clicks in order to get a handful of good leads. Before you give up on AdWords after a few months, talk to a professional. Someone experienced in AdWords management and help you reach your goals.

For most companies starting out, $500-1,000 a month in Google AdWords pay-per-click ads may seem like a lot of money. In reality, that budget is a little low.

AdWords Budgeting

For most companies starting out, $500-1,000 a month in Google AdWords pay-per-click ads may seem like a lot of money. In reality, that budget is a little low. Unless you’re running a local pizza shop, $500 isn’t going to go very far. Most industries have a $80-300 cost-per-lead when they are starting out with AdWords. That means that they will only get 3-5 leads on a good month. Perhaps 1 or 2 of those leads will turn into real business. If your business needs more than 5 leads from Google just to pay the bills, this becomes a problem.

AdWords Budget Update: The daily budget for AdWords has changed since October 2017. Your PPC campaigns can now spend up to two times the daily spend and to make up for days when the budget under-spends.

AdWords Cost by Industry

Below are a few examples of different industries and what you can expect from $3,000 per month in Google Adwords based on average cost-per-click (CPC) and average conversion rates by industry.

1. Competitive Legal Website

$20 average CPC
Ad Spend $3,000
150 clicks
7% conversion rate
10.5 new leads

2. Less-Competitive B2B Website

$5 average CPC
Ad Spend $3,000
600 clicks
7% conversion rate
42 new leads

3. Competitive Commerce Website

$3 average CPC
Ad Spend $3,000
1,000 clicks
3.5% conversion rate
35 new orders

4. Competitive Healthcare Website

$60 average CPC
Ad Spend $3,000
50 clicks
7% conversion rate
3.5 new leads

“When planning a budget for AdWords, start with your goals (or desired sales) and work backwards”

Keep in mind to reach these type of numbers you will need someone running your campaign that knows what they are doing with a few years of experience optimizing AdWords. I would not give these projected numbers to someone new to AdWords and expect the same results.

When planning a budget for AdWords, start with your goals (or desired sales) and work backwards. Our Google AdWords Specialists can help you forecast what it might take to reach those goals based on things like search volume and your current Google Analytics data. From that point, you can decide how much you’re willing to spend to reach those goals. A good measure of performance is cost per sale or cost per acquisition/action.

Average Cost-Per-Action (Acquisition)

Ever wondered what the average cost per action (CPA) was in your industry? WordStream released a recent study that shows the average cost by industry. How does your current campaign measure up to the average?

Google AdWords CPA Industry Benchmarks 2016

Wordstream AdWords CPA Industry Benchmarks 2016

AdWords Default Billing

Wether your daily budget is $10 a day or $800, the default billed spend is set to $500 or 30 days, which ever comes first. At the end of the 30 day period or when your balance reaches $500, you will be billed for the balance remaining in your account. You have the option to pre-pay with credit card to avoid seeing lots of $500 charges in your credit card each month. If you average a spend of $5,000+ for a period 3 months, you can request a line of credit from Google. At that point, they will put you on invoicing rather than charging your credit card each week. This is a good option for companies looking to avoid the hassle of dealing with several monthly charges.

Google AdWords Express

For those DIY advertisers I mentioned earlier in the article, Google provides a do-it-yourself ad platform called AdWords Express. Warning: This platform is a dumb down version of full Google AdWords, intended for small mom and pop shops with small budgets. If you have a business that generates $10 million or more a year, this is not a good option. You will be very limited by the lack of features. If you ever wanted to hand an Express campaign over to a professional, they may ask you to start all over with full AdWords.

Google uses the “Pizza” shop example for a reason!


Once you’ve entered in the basic information, Google will auto-generate a campaign based on what you input. There are great local features included in Express for local businesses. The challenge with this platform is the features. Like we mentioned before in the DIY Adwords section, you may end up just buying clicks with a poor return on your ad spend.

The Google Search Network

One small change inside the AdWords settings opens up your campaign to the Google search network partners. This may not be a good first step if you’re just getting started. This small change will open up your ads to all sorts of partner websites where your ads will appear.


In my experience, the network partners are slightly cheaper clicks but may not generate the same results as “Google only” searchers. After you’re comfortable with the main search network, test out what impact this feature will have on your campaign. It could drive up your cost or help you lower your cost-per-lead.

Google Shopping

If you have an online retail business, Google Shopping may be good option. Google Shopping ads appear for product searches based on your settings and bids, similar to how Google Adwords works.


Your budget for these ads may be similar to the budget you have for keywords on Google AdWords. Since the two ad products are connected, you can manage how much you’re spending on Shopping Ads vs. Keyword Bids. Careful not to over-bid on these campaigns since they can really dig into your monthly budget. If you don’t have a budget of at least a couple $1,000 to cover AdWords + Shopping, then you probably shouldn’t bother setting up Shopping ads. Wether you choose to test Google Shopping can depend on how many products are in your catalog. Without enough product in your Shopping feed, you may see lack luster results.

Google Remarketing & Display

Part of the AdWords platform is what’s called Remarketing and Display advertising. If you’ve ever shopped for a car and find that car following you all over the Internet, you know what I mean. These ads will be featured in the display banner ad section of most media websites base on what the advertisers bid.


I would only recommend Remarketing or Display advertising to a company that is already doing well with AdWords or a Shopping campaign. Display isn’t going to drive 1,000s of conversions. Display helps with Brand awareness and may lead to more Brand searches over time. Remarketing, if done correctly, can be a great way to offer deals to your customers to bring them back. Without incentive to return, your Remarketing campaigns can fall flat.

Additional Resources

Below are some additional resources you may find helpful when building your Google AdWords PPC pay-per-click strategy and budget.

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How much does it cost to advertise on Google AdWords?
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How much does it cost to advertise on Google AdWords?
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