Many small business owners are hesitant to use Google Ads because they’ve heard the horror stories about budgets being eaten up with no results to show for it. Like any other marketing tool, you’ll get out of Google Ads what you put into it. If you plan well and execute strategically, you have a good chance of seeing results. If you simply throw money at it without any planning or ongoing overview, you will likely waste your money and time. Here are a few simple tips on how to start using Google Ads for your small business.

Start with the end in mind

start with the endThis happens to be one of our favorite phrases when it comes to any marketing effort, and Google Ads is no different. Before you start a campaign, think about what your end goal is and be specific. “Getting more business” or “generating revenue” is a far too broad goal. Get very specific, as well-planned campaigns will do much better on Google Ads. Here are some examples of what a goal might be:

  • Get more people to call about our new product
  • Drive more traffic to our product page
  • Entice people to sign up for a free trial
  • Encourage people to download our free guide

The more specific your goal, the easier it is to build an effective campaign.

Be very selective with your audience

It doesn’t matter what you sell; there is always going to be an ideal client you want to target. Start with the location: where do you want to target your ads? The United States, as an example, is quite a wide net! Even Arizona could be a big audience; your message might get lost. Trying to narrow your audience, especially when you’re first starting out. New Google Ads are trial and error, so start very narrow and expand as you see results. In Google Ads, you’ll have a choice of a radius around your business, or a certain area. Depending on your business, one may make more sense than the other but choose wisely. You might also want to narrow down when your ads show; do you really want them running 24/7? Is your target audience going to see your ad at 3 am? Start with narrow hours like business hours, Monday through Friday, from 8 am to 5 pm. Again, you can always expand based on results!

Really know what keyword phrases you want to target

keywordsOne of the biggest money-wasters in Google Ads is going after overly broad, generic keyword phrases. Think targeted and specific. If you sell real estate, don’t target “real estate.” Get specific, using phrases related to buying real estate, selling real estate, specific cities, types of home dwellings, etc. These keyword phrases consisting of 3 -7 words are called “longtail keyword phrases.” If you’re not sure, work with a small business marketing consultant who can help with keyword research, or use Google’s Keyword Planner. Once you find your keywords and start your campaign, be sure to keep an eye on keywords that are working and get rid of the ones bringing in clicks that don’t convert. If you see certain keywords driving traffic that absolutely doesn’t apply, add them to the negative keyword list. Last, start very specific with your keywords. You have the choice of choosing broad match, phrase match or exact match. Broad match will burn through your budget in no time. Start with phrase match or even exact match to keep your spending under control. Here’s an easy guide by Google regarding match types.

Pick the best page on your site to send visitors to

Another rookie Google Ads mistake is sending all traffic to the home page of your site. You want to make it as easy as possible for the visitor to find the page on your site relevant to the search they put in. As an example, if you sell hiking boots and someone typed in “pink women’s hiking boots, size 8”, send them to the women’s hiking boot page, not your home page. If people must hunt around for what they’re looking for, they’ll leave the site.

Watch the campaign recommendations from Google

Google will try to help you better your ads, so be sure to look at their recommendations often. Consider them carefully to make sure they make sense for you. As an example, they may suggest raising your daily budget because you’re missing out on clicks. Before you raise your budget, go back, and look for wasteful campaigns and keywords first. They may also suggest new campaigns based on keywords. If it makes sense, do it!

Never stop managing your campaigns

MeasureGoogle Ads is not a set it and forget it, even when you think you’ve got it all dialed in. It’s a good idea to check on your campaigns regularly. If they’re performing, great! If you’re starting to slide or conversions are down, you can catch it early and make changes.

Following these tips when you start using Google Ads will help you make your campaigns more successful and not waste your marketing dollars.

Patty Hughes
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