When you’re finally ready to dip your toe into paid advertising, Google Ads is the obvious choice for a lot of small business owners. While Google endeavors to make the set-up process as easy as possible, it’s good to be familiar with a few fundamentals and have all the information you need gathered so set up and ongoing management is easier. Here are a few Google Ads basics you need to know as a PPC newbie to have a successful paid ads campaign.

What are Google Ads?

pay-per-clickGoogle Ads is an online advertising solution that businesses use to promote their products and services on Google Search, YouTube, and other sites across the web. Google Ads allows advertisers to choose specific goals for their ads, like driving phone calls or website visits. With a Google Ads account, advertisers can customize their budgets and targeting, and start or stop their ads at any time. FYI, Google Ads has gone through a few naming conventions; formerly Google AdWords and Google AdWords Express. You’ll see these terms used interchangeably and now you know why!

Is Google Ads the best form of paid advertising for small business marketing?

If you know what you’re doing, Google Ads are worth it for small businesses. Advertising on Google is great for small businesses that need to reach targeted audiences and want to be able to track their ROI to make sure their efforts are paying off. Budgets can be as big or small as you want; you don’t need a big budget to get started. If you learn how to use Google Ads, especially local ad listings, Google Ads can be one of the most profitable ways to get new business.

Understanding Google’s lingo

Google lingoIt’s good to understand a few concepts to make Google Ads easier to navigate, so here are a few terms to know:

  • Keywords: These are the words or phrases that people type into Google Search, which trigger your ad to appear. It’s good to do some research to know what keyword phrases you’ll be using for your campaigns. There are several keyword planners to help you do this, including Google’s tool.
  • Bid: This is the maximum amount you’re willing to pay when someone clicks on your ad.
  • Ad Rank: This metric helps determine where your ad will show up, relative to other ads. Your rank is determined using your bid, your Quality Score, and other factors.
  • Quality Score: This metric tells you how relevant your keywords are to your ad — and to your landing page. A good Quality Score can lower your bid costs and improve your ad rank in the search results.
  • CPC (cost-per-click): What you pay when someone clicks on your ad.
  • Conversion: A conversion takes place when someone who has clicked your ad goes on to take another action you’ve designated as important — like making a purchase, signing up for a free trial, etc.

There are more terms you can be familiar with, but these are key.

Plan your campaigns

Depending on your business, you may run one small campaign, or you may want to have a variety of campaigns. For example, if you offer three different services, you may want three different campaigns. If you offer 7 products, you may want 7 different campaigns. Under each campaign, you may want to run more than one ad. For example, let’s say you sell vacuums and dishwashers. You’d likely create two different campaigns. Under each campaign, you may want two to three ads. Perhaps under the vacuum campaign, there may be one ad for a high-level vacuum, a mid-range vacuum, and an economy vacuum. You don’t HAVE TO have more than one ad under each campaign but doing so will help you better target your audience by specific keyword phrases and send traffic to the most relevant URL on your website.

Determine your budget

PPC budgetAs with any marketing campaign, you need to determine your budget and stick to that budget. You can increase or decrease later but set one to start. You may quickly determine you’re trying to target too many campaigns with too small a budget, in which case you may rethink your campaigns. For example, let’s say you want to start with a smaller budget, maybe $200. That’s about $6 a day, so trying to run 3 campaigns with two or three ads for each campaign will likely dilute your efforts. When you’re first starting out, it can be a good idea to spread your overall monthly budget evenly across your campaigns, until you get an idea of which ones work best for your business. But in general, you should set different campaign budgets and bid amounts based on your business goals.

Map out your keywords

Know it’s time to pick which keywords you’re using for each campaign and each ad. Keywords are crucial to the success of your campaign so put a lot of thought into this. Here are a few good suggestions from Marketing Donut for picking good keyword phrases:

  1. Think like your customers – what would they type in to find a company like you?
  2. Be specific and targeted.
  3. List different variations.
  4. Use Google’s keyword tool to get ideas.
  5. Use language and location targeting.
  6. Understand keyword matching options (see below)
  7. Pick negative keywords (words you DON’T want your ads to show up for)

Pick your keyword match type

keyword matchWhen bidding on a keyword in your PPC campaigns, you need to choose a keyword match type, which tells Google how aggressively or restrictively you want it to match your advertisements to keyword searches. Wordstream gave a simple description of the types:

Broad match: the default match type and the one that reaches the widest audience. When using broad match, your ad is eligible to appear whenever a user’s search query includes any word in your key phrase, in any order.

Phrase match: offers versatility, but with a higher level of control. Your ad will only appear when a user queries your key phrase using your keywords in the exact order you enter them, but there might be other words either before or after that phrase.

Exact match: the most specific of the keyword match types. Google has recently made changes to the exact match type so that even when using exact match keywords, your ads might match to searches containing synonyms, plurals, or other variations on your keyword.

For the most part, the broad search option will eat your budget quickly, so phrase or exact is the way to have the most control.

Map out relevant landing pages on your site

For each campaign, you’ll want to choose what page on your site to send them to. Sending everyone to your home page is not the best approach. Send searchers directly to the page most relevant for the ad, and the keywords within that campaign and ads.

Create engaging ads

call to actionYour ad is the first impression many people will have of your business, so make sure it communicates that you have what they need. This is easiest when the ad contains the keywords people search for. It will make your ads more relevant to potential customers, and possibly increase your Quality Score.

It’s also a good idea to include a “call to action” in your ad: a clear, concise message that tells the reader what you’d like them to do after seeing your ad. Phrases like “shop now” or “learn more” are good examples.

Start running your ads and monitor results

Google Ads are not set it and forget it. Watch how well ads are doing, which keywords are bringing in the right kinds of traffic (and the wrong traffic). Add irrelevant keywords to your negative keyword list. Change up ad text if needed. Watch which campaigns merit a larger budget vs. a smaller budget.

Having a solid understanding of Google Ads before you start is the best path to success. If you’re unsure how to begin or don’t have the time to commit, considering hiring a small business marketing professional to help with your small business paid search advertising. Want to become even more versed in Google Ads? You can go through Google Ads certification. For now, get started with the Google Ads basics and bring in more leads!

Patty Hughes
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