In this article you’ll learn how to use Google’s Sponsored Link advertising to build your personal training practice.

Sponsored Links are advertisements that appear when you do a Google search. The ads contain content that
is pertinent to the keywords used in
the Google search. Figure 1 shows the Sponsored Link ads that appeared when I searched the keywords personal trainer troy mi.

Each Sponsored Link ad is based on an AdWords campaign. These campaigns link selected keywords (such as personal trainer) to a specific advertisement. In short, Sponsored Links are the ads that appear, while AdWords campaigns are the tools we use to create these advertisements on Google.

Steps to Creating Online Ads

To put your practice in front of prospective clients looking for your services, here are the steps you need to take:

Go to Click on the “Start now” button and follow the prompts. After you have created your account, select “Billing” from the navigation bar and then select “Billing preferences” (Figure 2) from the drop-down menu. Input the requested billing information to set up your new account. After your account is established, select the “Home” tab on the navigation bar and then select the “Create your first campaign” button.

On this screen you will (a) name your campaign, (b) select the geographic locations in which you want your ad to appear, (c) select languages and (d) establish a daily ad budget.

  • a. Campaign Name. Devise a name that describes this set of ads (Figure 3). For example, you might want one set of ads focusing on weight loss, while another promotes flexibility training. Each will be a separate campaign.
    b. Locations. Select the “Metro area” radio button, then click the “Select one or more other locations” link (Figure 4). On the next screen, exclude any communities that you don’t serve (Figure 5). Google will use this list to block your ad from appearing in these communities. This way you’re not paying for clicks you don’t want. When you’re done, click the “Done excluding” button and then press “Save.”
    c. Languages. You will return to the Campaign Settings screen and be offered the opportunity to add languages in which you would like your ad to appear (Figure 6). If you are serving ethnic communities, click the “Edit” link next to “Languages” and choose the appropriate languages for your ad.
    d. Daily Budget. Finally, determine how much to spend. Leave the “Bidding option” area blank and select “Budget” to establish the maximum you will spend on your AdWords campaign each day (Figure 7). You can adjust your daily budget as often as you like; we suggest selecting an amount you can afford and keeping it stable for a full month. At the end of each month, review your traffic and the amount of business your campaign generated. Then, adjust your budget accordingly.
    Click the “Save and continue” button at the bottom of the page.

Before discussing how to create your Google ad, let’s take a moment to discuss the basics of writing eye-catching advertising text. There are three attributes you should use as guidelines: have an attention-grabbing headline, highlight the unique services or benefits that come from working with you and prepare searchers for what they will see when they click on your ad.

Above are two actual Google Sponsored Link ads (Figures 8 & 9).

Both ads use the same “Personal Trainer” headline, but which would you click on? For two reasons, most people will select the second advertisement. First, it focuses on the benefits of personal training, and second, it grabs your attention by guaranteeing results. (However, guaranteeing results might not be legally prudent).

It’s now time to create your ad. To do this, click on the navigation bar’s “Ads” tab (Figure 10).

The “Headline” and two-line “Description” must be closely related to the keywords you select for this ad, to ensure the ad content is highly relevant to people searching via those keywords. If you have space, consider including your phone number in the description. Some people interested in your ad will see the number and call. (And since they never clicked on your ad, Google won’t charge you!)

The “Display URL” input should be the address of your website. If you don’t have a website, leave this blank.

The “Destination URL” should be the landing page—the specific page of your website that discusses the content of this advertisement (Figure 11). It is a little-known advertising fact that you lose half your audience with every click. Don’t force prospective clients to search your website for their desired content. The most effective AdWords advertisers create special landing pages for every ad campaign—guaranteeing that their content is relevant to each ad. If you don’t have the time or technical expertise to create these custom Web pages, there are a few local search advertising firms who will manage your AdWords campaigns and create custom landing pages for you. (We can send you a locally customized list if you contact us at the addresses listed in the biographies on the following page.)

Every AdWords campaign should use A/B testing. A/B testing is running two versions of the same ad (same message but different text). Google automatically rotates the two ads to track which one performs better. This system is used because no one knows which ad text will elicit the best response. Over time one ad will outperform the other. Periodically, drop the loser and use the winner as the basis for creating a new ad. The better your ad text, the more people will click on it (i.e., your click-through rate, or CTR, will improve). Small changes in an ad can result in big changes in CTR.

To use A/B testing on Google, click on the navigation bar’s “Ads” tab and select the “New ad” button (Figure 12). Simply create another ad. Google will automatically rotate multiple ads and show the higher-performing ad more frequently, increasing your CTR automatically.

To apply your selected keywords to an ad, click on the navigation bar’s “Keywords” tab and type each keyword (single word or phrase) and negative keyword on a separate line (Figure 13). (In an upcoming issue, we will discuss how to select effective keywords, which will give even further guidance.) Click the “Save” button and you’re done!

Some More Advanced Extra Options

You’ve now created a basic AdWords campaign that will effectively communicate the services you offer to prospective clients looking in the communities you serve. If you wish to look at some of the more advanced features, here are a few options worthy of your future consideration.

Ad Scheduling. When prospective clients search for your business at night or weekends, is there a way for them
to contact you? If not, schedule your
ads to run when someone is available
to answer phone calls and e-mails.
To schedule your ads, click on the “Settings” tab of the navigation bar and select the “Manual bidding for clicks” radio button, and then press “Save” (Figure 14).

Next, select the “Edit” link under “Ad scheduling” (Figure 15). A scheduling window will appear, allowing you to restrict the times at which your ad will run. Match these times to when someone will be available to assist customers.

Conversion Tracking. An advertising campaign is only valuable if it generates a profit. This is commonly called return on investment (ROI). To measure ROI you need to track every phone call, e-mail and website visit generated by your AdWords campaigns. To do this, you should purchase a call tracking phone number and use Google’s reporting tools.

Call tracking services provide you with a separate telephone number that forwards to your normal business line. All incoming calls are logged and, at your option, recorded. Using call tracking allows you to measure how many calls are being generated by each ad campaign. You should use a call tracking number in your AdWords text and any custom landing pages. The monthly cost for this service ranges from $20 to $70. To find vendors, do a Google search for call tracking—you’ll see their Sponsored Link advertisements!

In addition to call tracking, investigate Google’s AdWords reporting tools, which can be found under the “Reporting” tab of the navigation bar. Although this is just a brief introduction to some of the more advanced features, it’s important that you, or your advertising consultant, find a way to measure ROI to determine if your advertising justifies the investment.